Monday, October 31, 2011

i love halloween!

no, i don't love the drama of the last minute costume changes.
no, i don't love the increase of horror movie commercials on TV.
no, i don't love my son having nightmares about spiders.
no, i am not crazy about haunted houses, and the glorification of death, blood, and violence.

but i DO love the idea of communities opening their doors to complete strangers one night a year. and after opening their doors they offer a treat. a treat they have invested money in for a COMPLETE stranger. i mean for real, how cool is that?

we proudly trick-or-treat around here. we proudly invest time and energy into our costumes. and then we FULLY embrace our time walking around our neighborhood, i don't know investing, in our NEIGHBORS!

we will not be found at a trunk or treat party tonight, a fall festival, or a reformation party (*loud gasp from my baptist and presbyterian friends!).. we will be in our neighborhood engaging complete strangers, ringing their door bells, introducing ourselves, letting people oooh- and aahhh over our cat, cheerleader, princess, and peter pan (disclaimer: all costumes could be changed by 5pm tonight :) looking people in the eyes, giving them a smile and a thank you, letting our tone convey, "we appreciate this small treat", and "a have a good evening!" who knows it could be the first kind words they have heard all day, all week, all month.

i love hearing the crunching leaves, feeling the cool breeze, the sound of laughter floating through the air, the cool pumpkins carved with care, the fun creative costumes, and maybe, just maybe a sweet treat!!

everyone always talks about world peace, mother teresa, and changing the world... what better opportunity when people willingly, expectantly, eagerly, OPEN THEIR DOORS to complete strangers... go spread some treats in your neighborhood tonight!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Virginia Honey and the Winner

it's a sad, sad, day here, our gallon of virginia honey is gone :( typically i would hopping in the car headed to the berry farm to buy more.

i use honey in my coffee and in lots of other things...
i like to buy it local b/c it helps with allergies (or so i hear!)

you all had some wonderful guesses yesterday as to when my habitual coffee drinking began, but Miss Paula was the only one to guess "after Katie was born." Paula please inbox me your favorite coffee and you will be receiving a package ASAP.

It was actually August 28th, approx 8am. I had spent the day before laboring for 14 hours. We had been awake admiring our beautiful bundle til after 12. had a feeding at 2 that went to pot, feeding at 4, that lasted til 5, then a feeding at 7 that lasted til 8. 8 o'clock came around i was SUPER, SUPER hungry and super, super tired. i ordered coffee with breakfast and as it entered the room the aroma filled my nostrils and "ah....relief!"

the next few months the lightning bolt of sleep deprivation struck.. but morning time always spelled relief. babies tend to be happiest in the morning... and so does mom. i would sip coffee and stare at this creature in my arms.. AMAZING.

happy weekend!
hope yours is filled with as little pre-halloween drama as possible :)


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Coffee Snob...

now, this doesn't necessarily mean that i require the best coffee offered on the market (although, i refuse to drink folgers). rather, i am a total snob (or cranky monster as my children say) until i get some coffee. now it's not a yelling, snapping turtle kind of cranky, rather just a silent, reserved, don't speak unless spoken to moment in time. some of you judge and say, "what a poor, poor, addicted woman! she needs more Jesus!" while the latter is always true, i dare you to spend one morning waking up in this house. unless, i was disciplined enough to rise before the sun, (which isn't a bad idea), i awake to an insane amount of "bustling". ok, ok, "bustling" is putting is nicely.... yelling, piano playing, renditions of "jingle bells" and "this little light of mine", arguing, demands in whining tones, hungry bellies to feed, last minute school details to overlook, and on and on.

a cup of warm java filling the belly is the perfect antidote to the "bustling!"

the first person to correctly guess when my habitual coffee drinking began will win a bag of their favorite coffee... so guess away!

so here is to a coffee filled thursday,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Living in the Storm: Remembering When

the holidays are coming and that often brings about some of the most wonderfully scented memories of my mom.
recently, i have been struggling to remember my mom before the disease.

what did her walk look like?
what did we talk about for hours on end?
what did her voice sound like when she answered the phone?
what did she write inside the endless stream of cards she sent my way?

the disease has been coming on so slowly and for so long now that some of those things just disappeared into the gentle fog.

there are moments when i hear her laughing, or see her tickling the kids, or reciprocating zach's torment, that i see HER! it comes in glimpses. quick snippets of the feisty, wise, warm, outgoing, Mama that i adore. you have to catch it when you can and bottle it up in your forever memory bank.

over the weekend we were organizing the basement, sorting boxes and their content. the Lord had seen my internal wrestling and aching, and He brought me this wonderful gift.

It's a letter from 15 years ago. I was headed to a basketball tournament, mom and dad couldn't go so they tucked this letter in my bag.
This is what it read:

"Dear Sara Suzanne,

Well babe, there you are and here I am, at home.  It's all right, I'll just keep on doing your laundry and washing the dishes. You go on now and have fun time while I work! :) I hope you have a fun time on this momentous occasion.  You are a great kid with a big, growing heart for Jesus.  He is faithful my sweet, and will continue to teach you about Himself. He can be trusted with ALL things- talk to Him, listen to him- He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than you ask or think!

I'll sure be praying for you, that you will sense His presence, whether you sit on the bench or play. That you will be encouraged and that you will encourage others. Have fun!

I sure love ya,

And in a matter of seconds I remembered her. Her as a whole person. And in that letter lies everything she would say to me today...

1. a reference to the insane amount of laundry and dishes that i will do for the rest of my life. and a reminder of the amount she has done in her lifetime. :)

2. an exhortation to trust our sweet Savior, NO MATTER WHAT! because He is worthy and able.

3. a reminder that she is always praying for me.

4. and a direct order to be encouraged and to encourage others whether i am "benched" or "playing".

special? doesn't even describe what this letter means to me right now. i so needed to read her bubbly, unscathed, smooth cursive writing... and to remember, HER.... whole!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday, October 25th...

have i mentioned how much i love having a boy around? it is a total hoot and a half. recently we have been letting anderson bring his tricycle inside and ride it on the hard wood floors. we have the perfect "loop". this accomplishes two things.. gets his energy out and keeps him close by so i can keep an eye on him. he has not passed the "unattended outside" test... he is super attached to his bike. he rides it everywhere. he wants to nap on it, eat on it, color on it, etc.. etc.. he has found it to be irreplaceable. his most recent usage for it is a step ladder to wash his hands on.

as you can tell from the picture above he really dislikes clothing. he prefers the natural man look...

his language continues to explode and so does his two and a half year old temper :)

besides when katie was little, anderson has stuck the closest to my side. especially when it comes to being in the kitchen. just today i was making lunch and he pulled up his ladder and said, " mama, i need to mix it because i am the mixing man!"

if you ever have seen he and mark interact you'll agree it's such a shame they don't adore one another.. (sarcasm)

he has the best laugh.ever.

every morning when we drop katie off he insists that she actually kiss him before she leaves the car. air kisses don't work. trust me, we've tried and ended up pulling away from the school with him wailing in his seat...

today could be our last warm day for a while. we are trying to spend every second outside. tomorrow will be 30 degrees colder.

we have not really discussed halloween costumes yet. i've learned to ask one day in advance, and at that point you don't get to change your mind. theoretically.

two nights ago i was awakened three separate times by 3 different children... seriously! and i don't even have an infant in the house :) anderson climbs on the bed leans his head over and with lots of air whispers in my ear, "mama, mama.. are you swweeeping?" i am convinced even if mark slept right inside the door and i slept on the other side of the planet, they would step over mark and come find me.

today we saw a buffalo at the petting zoo. anderson said, "that buffalo is cranky he needs food!" to which julia said, "yeah, just like daddy!" i laughed. HARD!

well, random as it might be hope all is well on this tuesday!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our Jules Vern Turns Six

on friday, this little lady turns 6. that is really hard to swallow. julia was my littlest baby... littlest baby, strongest willed, biggest, most passionate heart..... EVER!

our lives and hearts changed forever on October 21st, 2005. you can read more about here.

julia,, we love your spirit of determination.
we love how gentle you are with others.
we love that you are a meat and potatoes girl.
we love that you don't love chocolate.
we love that you are a cuddle monster.
we love that others think you are reserved and shy... what a laugh :)
happy birthday, to our all or nothing second born baby girl!
big smooches from your mama and daddy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

a morning of "ah!"

it's currently 10:35 and i am still in PJ's. rough life i know :)

this morning we had nothing on the calendar (an odd day indeed). no where pressing to be (accept dropping off katie at 830), no immediate errands that HAD to be run.. so what did we do? well, one of my favorite things.

before we moved to VA and i started homeschooling, i had a house full of preschoolers. most days i was running on very little sleep b/c i was pregnant or had an infant around. consequently, i was in my PJ's everyday til noon. not out of want but our of sheer necessity. many of you know exactly what i am talking about.

anyway, everyday the girls would grab a stack of books and come plop on my bed for HOURS at a time.. when i was pregnant i spent 16 weeks or more sick as a dog. so the kids brought the fun to me. we would read, read, and read some more. the kids were still transitioning from "full time mom entertainment" to playing together. they were little, no one could read for themselves, and them being without supervision was still hit or miss.

we have grown leaps and bounds from those days. the kids play together around the clock... i rarely end up entertaining, two of the four can read, (lucy thinks she can read :), the only one that needs supervision is AJ, and i no longer spend endless hours in the bed, praise Jesus! our house has a completely different feel then it did years ago.

but as of lately my little man can not get enough of the books. big sisters LOVE reading to him, which is FABULOUS but it means that i am not reading as much to him. :( so today, while julia and lucy were playing restaurant with the play dough, i stole anderson away and spent some time cuddling in the bed and reading.. at one point he snuck in the ipod and we bowled together :)

i miss these days. at one point i remember sobbing, thinking i was going to be stuck in preschool hell for the rest of my life. the days seem like eternity until dad walks through the door for some relief... any outing is a huge accomplishment, and life seems like a blurry cloud of toilets, PB&J, and Arthur.

it's amazing, absolutely astonishing how fast it went by. next summer, i could have 3 eligible kiddos for full time school... WHAT? WHAT? how is that possible? (this doesn't mean all 3 girls will be in full time school, but the fact is we have arrived there.)

looking back, i cherish those days in the bed reading until i memorized the words and said it with my eyes closed so the room would stop spinning, play dough covered ice cream cones, bear wants more and more and more and more, cold toes against my legs, and love galore.

now, there is not enough money in the world to send me back to those days.. but atleast i can look back on them fondly.

now, everybody go to the bathroom, put your shoes on, we gotta go somewhere!!


Friday, October 14, 2011

our little stage light!

she was amazing.... duh!

she did better than i even anticipated. although, i covered my face some of the time because i was a nervous wreck... it's ok to laugh at me.

next time i am going to need to hire someone who has a clue about photography... b/c well all of my shots of her on stage didn't turn out :( the lightning is so funky on stage... BUT we got it all on video. ;)

here are some fun photos after the show taken at the mcdonald's ice cream celebration :)

mom really wasn't sleeping :)

 the directors
 proud, proud, Poppo
 now with bunny ears
 sweet treats

 son-in-law + mother in law = super great picture!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

participating in public school: fashion bullies

soon after our pocket slapping incident we moved on to fashion bullies!

a girl in katie's class was ruthless regarding her opinion on katie's clothing.. "those two colors don't go together, you need high heels and mini skirts, your gym shorts and msu shirt aren’t cool (a serious offense in this house :) etc..etc" even to the point where this girl brought a magazine for katie to order some clothes out of. this girl informed katie that her mom was some fashion guru and she was educated when it came to clothes. katie, being very gracious, took the magazine and told this clothes princess that she would talk to her parents about it.... ugh.

 lots of tears were shed. both on her part and mine. security in body image and clothes are VERY important to me for our girls. personally, at her age i didn’t give a hoot what other people thought about me and my clothes, just ask my mother, siblings, and husband :) (julia is following nicely in my footsteps :) maybe that comes with birth order. but i was going to wear what i was going to wear, and so what if you thought it was ugly or unfashionable, i would hit you with my jelly shoes :) but not katie, she is a first born and has more style sense then i do. i have worked very hard at making her feel comfortable in her own skin, and have been very particular about not making her wear clothes that don't make her feel confident. So, this was a very personal attack for katie. after several of these interactions i contacted the teacher to have her step in and work some things out. she was fabulous about it! Before, i had contacted the teacher the assigned seating was rearranged and this young lady was now sitting right next to katie. i thought, "oh no, katie is going to hear about her clothes everyday all day long now"... i was really worried and did the only thing i knew how to do... i prayed! and prayed! and prayed! everyday i asked about our fashion guru.. and with each passing day things got smoother and smoother.

We spent lots of time talking about the importance of taking care of yourself, but not becoming obsessed with our bodies, our clothes, our health, etc. “everything in moderation,” I kept telling Katie. It’s not about the fashionable clothes you wear (or don’t wear ;) it’s about the condition of your heart!” Mark spent lots of good time with her affirming the truth in her about who she is to us, and more importantly who God says she IS. She has been made in the image of the almighty creator of the world, He formed her while she was growing in my belly, He made her specifically, and intricately, no detail was overlooked. She has been FEARFULLY and WONERFULLY made. Katie, took it in stride, just like the pocket slapping incident.
A few weeks later Katie had won a lunch date with her teacher because she had earned so many class dollars. She was allowed to bring one friend… the friend? Of course, the fashion guru. After their lunch together this little girl turned to Katie and said, “you are the sweetest friend I’ve ever had!” I mean really people, I couldn’t make this stuff up. Once again, by the grace of God, our daughter is being used to bring forgiveness and friendship into a little classroom on the hill that desperately needs Jesus.
Two months later and we are already considering sending Julia next year to school.  We are seeing each day the growth in Katie, our relationship with Katie, and all of our growth in our walk with Jesus. Does this happen ONLY for people in public school? NO WAY! But it’s REALLY special to our hearts that God saw our wrestling with this decision and our utter dependence on Him, and has blessed us in ways we never knew existed.

Tonight, Katie is in a play. Did I tell you that?  And while she stands on the stage quoting her lines after weeks of diligent practice, I will ooze with pride. Not because she is some fashion guru, or child actor in the making, but because she has represented her Jesus so incredibly sweetly in the face of huge changes and a stung heart. We have much to celebrate!!

here she is being very unfashionable :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Living in the Storm: please pray!

dear friends,

would you pray for my mom today?  there is no immanent threat or emergency. she just needs prayer. pray that she would be encouraged even though there is so much fuzziness around her. pray that her heart and mind would be filled with peace, and that her internal struggle will settle. pray that she would feel secure, safe, and loved.
pray for my sweet daddy as he continues to care for the love of his life. pray for ALL us kids that we would be helpers and supporters.

thank you for your continued love and support for our family.


Monday, October 10, 2011

if you don't have anything nice to say....

i bet all of you could finish that statement,eh?

"then don't say anything at all!"

my mom repeated this phrase a GA-million times. and on occasion i have used it myself.

one of my favorite things about birthdays is that you get to talk to loads of people that you love all in one day. even if it's just a brief conversation with "i love you's" and "happy birthdays" it's such an encouragement. anywho, one special birthday conversation took place that stuck with me. a friend (i'll leave her name anonymous since i didn't ask permission to use this story on the world wide web) and i spent some time talking about our big move and the pain and grief that was involved. this particular friend has moved her fair share amount of times and has been served multiple cups of intense grief over the years. while speaking about her own dance with grief she said, (and i paraphrase) " i know for myself that it's ok to grieve b/c it means that something was really special or important, but if i stay there, in all actuality i begin to become ungrateful."

WOW! grief has a way of consuming us, doesn't it? grief has a way of making the here and now blurry. it does not mean we are to pull ourselves up off the ground and pretend like everything is ok. it doesn't mean we deny the painful events and circumstances that hurt us, but we DON'T STAY THERE. my mom always says, "you can go there, but you can't camp there!"

i needed to hear that. i don't feel like my grief has been too much or too dramatic. we left something incredibly special. probably something that we will never recreate anywhere else. but i know that if i stay here my heart will become ungrateful and i will miss the HERE and NOW while longing for the then and there. i don't want to do that... i want to treasure what we had in virginia and continue to maintain and grow in our relationships with people there via a new method of long distance. but God has something for us in the here and now!

two things come to mind that i am extremely thankful for right;  our home and a new church we have been visiting.

our home is such a sweet haven. it is warm, it has tons of sunlight, it is a perfect place to host some serious rad parties, it is the right price for our budget, it has new amenities that honestly, i thought i would only experience on vacations, and it is beginning to feel like home. for this we are grateful.

i am pretty excited about a church we have been visiting. it is a PCA church called Woodland Ridge Presbyterian (we have kind of fallen in love with the PCA church.... something i never envisioned happening :)
it is a congregation that exemplifies the many tribes and many nations that scripture speaks to. we worship with people who do not look like us, talk like us, worship like us, and i find myself seeing my God in a WHOLE new light. ask mark, i have spent many sundays crying b/c of how powerful it is to watch these people worship the same God i am worshiping. i am glad heaven will not just be filled with american, caucasian, middle class people who follow the book of church order. i am delighted to see my children interact with other children who it is a struggle to communicate with, but a huge smile translates into all languages! we have found a really special place in Woodland Ridge. We are excited to see what God has for us there, how we can use our time, talents, and tithes to serve this body of incredibly unique followers of God.

we have been called to "rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, again i will say rejoice!"

the Lord has given us an unending list of things to rejoice in. i am praying that even in the midst of some pretty serious changes and pain in our family that we will intentional adore Him, praise Him, and rejoice in Him!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

for this i am thankful..

i was reminded today by an old journal entry that one year ago this week i was beginning to move my way out of my severe bondage to fear. my freedom from being held captive, began after working my way through one of the most powerful bible studies i've ever gone through, "breaking free" by beth moore. obviously, it was through the power of God's word and the intervention of the Holy Spirit that i broke free from these chains. what i learned from those 3 1/2 years of heart ache and unbelievable struggle, was that we have not been called to a life of bondage, but a life of freedom founded in truth. bondage begins with believing lies. lies about ourselves, our God, and our circumstances. lies then grow into deep rooted captivity that build up around us like four walls. the walls bring isolation, and the isolation begins to suffocate life out of our souls. we are left numb and bleeding. i know so many of you, my readers are hurting today. are being held captive by something. i pray that you will equip yourself with the tools you need to begin to break down those walls of captivity around you. that you might be swallowed up by the freedom that God offers when we fill ourselves with truth and stop believing the lies. 

there is more hope than you can imagine!! there is more life giving moments than your heart can hold!!  there is joy to be found. a dance to be danced. a song to be sung. worship and praise to offer to a God who does not leave us in captivity, but has come to set us FREE!!

be blessed today friends!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

goodness in a bottle!

here our some pics from our time with chis and dave.

so fun.
so sweet.

 long distance friendships can be difficult to maintain. chris and dave have been very faithful in not "letting us go" :)  their trip here was such a tangible expression of their desire to maintain a real relationship with us.  we were SO glad to see them. be with them. laugh with them. cry with them. yell at them. hit them. almost run out of gas with them. talk about anit-bowling ;) with them, pester a waitress at cheesecake factory with them, let them see a little bit of our daily routine, BBQ with the extended family, play liver pool into all hours of the night, just generally pick up where we left off...

many people have asked me why it has been so hard to let go of virginia. and really it's because so many in virginia became our family. not just common church goers, acquaintances, friends, but family. we miss it. but we are confident that the miles or years, while changing the dynamic of our relationship, will not tarnish the goodness of our relationship!!

all of our love bentzes!

Monday, October 3, 2011

30 years gone by!!

so the house is totally silent on this my 30th birthday. i have exactly 15 minutes before the children and guests wake up from their sleep... EEEKKK! not hardly enough time to recap my thoughts and feelings about turning 30.

we have a had a weekend FILLED with celebration. and a whole other week in front of us filled with more parties and special events... i feel incredibly blessed and incredibly special!!

for me, these past few weeks have been a culmination of family and friends that God has so abundantly given me over 30 years. getting to be in kansas for my 30th birthday, hug my parents and siblings, AND have chris and dave, here is too much :) i am just grinning from ear to ear.

to sum it up, relationships are deeply important to me, they have been for 30 years. being in community and connecting with other people; near or far, young or old, is VITAL to my heart. relationships are glimpses of glory. they are the only thing eternal. and i stand in awe of the relationships that 30 years has produced.

joy fills this 30 year old heart of mine today!

enjoy the pictures of the murder mystery event, it was TOTALLY RAD!