Friday, August 31, 2012

homeschool heart moments...

recently, i came across a blogger's post entitled "ten reasons why we homeschool". i finished the list and personally agreed with ONE of the ten reasons posted. the other nine just were not reasons that i thought were valid or true in our own home. but that's why we live in america, because we get to make decisions regarding our children whether or not the whole world agrees, (hand me some trans fats, Mrs. First Lady) WHOO-HOO!

one of the ten reasons was, "because we are fearful of the alternative!"

now i have to tell you that i was impressed with this mom's honesty. most people will not, or can not see for themselves, that sometimes fear is the motivating factor to homeschool.

the first 3 years i homeschooled, i had a plethora of fantastic answers about why we homeschooled.  all the while though, the Holy Spirit knew what was controlling me... fear!

God has not given us a spirit of fear. PERIOD. so when we use fear as a reason for keeping us from doing something, or push us towards something, i can say from experience we are acting outside of the will of the Father.  when i read an answer like the one above, i automatically hurt for this woman, these children, this family, because it appears that fear has such a strong hold on this mother's heart that she is functioning out of captivity not FAITH! as moms, we can easily excuse this fear away with convincing ourselves and others that we are making decisions out of our "motherly instincts". but the bottom line is, we don't trust God.

God, oh so graciously, called me out of captivity and directed our steps as a family so meticulously that there was NO OTHER place Katie was going to be last year other than public school. He stripped away my control and dealt head on with my stubborn unbelief. He taught me that He was not going to forsake my eldest child who was in public school, and He taught me that He is very present and very near regardless of where she goes... even the big, bad, public school ;)

i did not go without a fight. just ask mark :) but standing on this side of it, i wouldn't trade it for the world.

this year katie is back at home. and i can honestly say it's not because i am afraid of the public schools. she is home because our family is in transition for the next 3-5 years, and instead of having to move her and the other kiddos, in and out of different districts i want to offer them consistency until we can put our roots down.

i missed katie a lot last year. we all missed katie alot, but in particular julia missed katie last year. i do feel very "at peace" with everyone around the kitchen table again. katie and i diagramming sentences, teaching julia "more than and less than", helping Lucy straighten out her capital M's, and convincing Anderson that his name does not in fact begin with a P, rather and A, (pretty sure katie was reading by 3 1/2...poor, poor youngest children, but man he is cute!! ;)

i was able to catch this picture today and i would label it as #1 on my list of "why we homeschool"...
yes, yes, katie and julia are sitting in a moving box reading. actually, katie is reading out loud while julia follows along in her own copy.

i heart this picture. 

happy long weekend,

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Living In The Storm: Pictures over the years

this is a post about remembering. sometimes it seems like forever ago when mom was whole. it's good, oh so good for the soul to have these pictures!! alzheimer's is funny b/c at each stage you sit and think, "oh, it's getting so bad..whatever shall we do?" but now looking back some these stages that we thought were "so bad" we would give ANYTHING to go back there!

i started the pics in 2005 that's when we went digital. it was also the beginning of the disease.

this post isn't meant to be depressing, rather just a journey about where we have been and the beautiful lady that indwells our Mama-Mama!








this last picture was taken right before things began to spin out of control. i am so grateful i grabbed it! that was nearly 3 months ago. i don't have any current pictures of mom. they would be insensitive and too painful to post. instead, it's nice to just remember her right here... with that big ole beautiful toothy smile of hers... :)

love you mom. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

prayers for the incredible to be revealed!!

if you didn't know it already i am a huge, huge, huge, fan of Beth Moore. i have walked through many of her bible studies and each time i am profoundly changed.  this spring i was able to attend my first Beth Moore conference with my sister and two sweet friends. we have a bible study together and we were studying, "Jesus The One And Only". it was such a fantastic weekend of worship and the word. there were SO many things that jumped out and slapped me that weekend, but one thing in particular hasn't let go of me since then. Beth encouraged us to pray that the Lord would reveal to us the incredible beings that are all wrapped up in our husbands. she didn't ask that tongue and check.. she asked it knowing that our husbands are crippled lambs on a journey, just like us. she asked it knowing that we all married a slice of imperfection, just like us. she asked it knowing that sometimes the mundane can blur the incredible. she asked it knowing that our hollywood ideas of what husbands should be can be sorely unrealistic and perverted. she asked it knowing that we as women can get so caught up in the daily grind of running our families that we overlook the incredible in our husbands.

when we begin to ask God to reveal the incredible that encompasses our husband we are drawn to look at him closer and through a different lens.

sometimes we need to put down our microscope which zooms in on the imperfect and lacking categories and embrace all the daily and intimate things that make our husbands incredible.

almost 11 years ago i married INCREDIBLE!  and over the past 6 months, as i prayed that the Lord would reveal the incredible i was missing, he undoubtedly did. from the little things, like the faithful way Mark gets up and goes to work five days a week. or the way he comes home and jumps right into the middle of the crazy dinner hour and helps me cook. or the patient and fun way he tucks the kids into bed and lingers just a little bit longer than i do to make sure everyone calms down. his sweet texts throughout the day to simply touch base, and his phone call at 4:38pm everyday to tell me he is on his way home.

these small things are HUGE as we share in this dance we call marriage.

the area that i have seen mark's "incredible" really jump out is his unwavering love for myself, my family, and my mom during this season of intense grief. loving someone who is in the throes of grief is extremely, extremely, difficult. sometimes it's like loving a limp noodle. but mark has pursued me, (run after me with intensity) he has refused to let me sink into the quick sand of depression. he has fought for me, when i couldn't. he has calmed me, when i was a chaotic storm. he has helped me laugh, when tears were choking me. he has tipped the scales and taken on a lot of my daily duties with the kids to lighten my load. he has been love, when i have been anger. he has reminded me to get some Jesus, when the demons seem to be swarming. he has been sanity, while i was writing my own admit papers to the funny farm. he has been steady, while i have been freakishly inconsistent. he has been incredible. incredible. incredible.

i pray today that your husband's incredible will smack you across the face and you will see him for who he is, really is...incredible!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012


because... my sweet portable dishwasher was hooked up to the kitchen sink and i needed to thaw dinner :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Katherine Suzanne: The last single digit year...

august 27th, 2003 8:03 pm, dr. shannon carroll placed this blue eyed, round cheeked, precious, 7 pound 11 oz, baby girl in my arms. tears automatically started pouring down both mine and mark's cheeks. she did not cry. not once. she just opened her eyes as big as they could stretch and she began to do what katie does best; connect.

there is something amazing that happens to your heart with each child you bring into your fold, but there is something reserved for the prints that first child places all over your life, heart, kitchen floors, and car windows.

today, our katie bug begins her last year in the single digits. for the rest of my earthly days she will be a two digit girl. more than ever i want to slow this year down and embrace all the "little girl" things about her that i know we could possibly lose. things like; the short amount of time she spends in the bathroom ;), her outlandish giggle that is super contagious, her utter confidence in who she is and not what she does or what she wears, her ability to play pretend, her unawareness about boys, and the little girl body she indwells. something about double digits seems to complicate the innocence i find in her eyes.

if katie continues down the educational path she is on, she will be attending college 9 years from right now. which means we are half way through "raising" her. half way. i can't seem to breathe.

katie love, you made your daddy and i parents, and you opened our eyes to experience love in a totally unbelievable way. our lives are richer because of you, our hearts our fuller because of the WHO you are, our lists are way more particular with you around, our schedule more talked about, our home a far better place because God saw fit to bless us with YOU!!

happy birthday, katherine suzanne!

~Mama and Daddy

Friday, August 24, 2012


life is a series of decisions.

marriage is a series of decisions that you learn to make while considering your spouse and their opinion more highly than your own.

we made a decision this spring to downsize into a smaller home in order to expedite the process of paying off some debt and increase our savings. we (well, basically i told mark on our first date that i was going to raise my own children even if it meant i lived in a card board box, and if he wasn't ok with that then this relationship was headed no where :) also made a decision 13 years ago that my primary "job" would always be Mama. everything else would be secondary. we are still in a season of our lives where we believe my presence in our home is the most valuable place for me to be spending my time. and considering our eldest turns nine on monday, and that kind of sucks the air out of my lungs, i am dumb founded how fast these years are passing me by and i WANT to be here!!

my brother-in-law has a famous saying, "these are first world problems" and they are indeed. consider, if you make more than 35,000 a year you are richer then 75% of the world. if you make more than 50,000 you are richer than 99% of the world. we don't hear about that "1%" very often in the news, do we?

pretty sure according to the rest of the way the world lives we could house like 5 families in our cozy little space. :)

we are redefining, "love is patient" as we wait in line for our one bathroom. we are more eager to come to someone's unnecessary beckoning because all we have to do is take 3 steps down the hall. i am SUPER efficient in my cleaning because i can clean the bathroom and the kitchen AT THE SAME TIME :)  i have been the number one donor to the local goodwill. you quickly find out what is a daily necessity and what is superfluous. the children have been hiding their toys because they know i am in the downsize mode, and if it's not consistently being used, someone else gets to have it. i feel lighter, simpler, and way more at peace in our cozy space. there is little room to hide from one another... fights have to quickly be solved because you are bound to brush passed someone or need to get into someone's space (er... the bathroom) sooner than later. we have yet to host a get-together.... but if we do, wear your skinny jeans so we can all fit!

about two weeks ago my husband bought me one of the sweetest gifts he's ever bought me (that is a bit melodramatic, but if you were washing every dish by hand you KNOW what i mean)! here it is..

if you don't know what it is you haven't lived.

this is a portable dishwasher... heaven on wheels! it hooks up to the sink and cleans your dishes. one of the most necessary appliances in our home... (again, a first world problem with a first world solution!)

we are learning some great lessons during our downsize. mainly, ALL we need is each other.. a roof over our heads, a little floor space, and A LOT OF LOVE!

happy friday,

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


writing the number 5 for julia has been this ongoing demon in our handwriting for YEARS! i am talking about 3 years of dotting her fives because she just could not get the form down. she has avoided math problems that end in 5 because she has dreaded writing them. either that, or i have to dot them for her... otherwise, it's total melt down.

i continue to be amazed at each of the my children's different learning styles. i have known julia for almost 7 years and the past two weeks i have begun to understand her more and more. julia can be irrational and bi-polar (like her mother) but fully motivated by this incredibly passionate personality. however, i have learned that her responses to circumstances are really less about the circumstances and more about this standard she has set in her mind of what her work should be. with katie, i could always over compensate with words of affirmation to get us through a sticky, difficult subject; not with julia. i can compliment til the cows come home, but if she has not reached the standard she has set in her mind, she has not accomplished her goal.

this week we are working on julia communicating with me the goals she has set in her mind, deciding if they are realistic, and then working together to formulate a plan that causes the least amount of stress and bi polar-ness in our home.

back to the 5.

this week we have had to write A LOT of number 5's in math, so before we even set out i worked with julia on this little saying (because "tag in the back by the booty crack" was so successful with anderson) "straight line, straight line, fat-pregnant belly." the straight lines represent the top and middle part of the 5, and the fat-pregnant belly is for the lower-case, b-like, shape. at first, i was saying, "fat belly" and the curve was not large enough, so i added pregnant, and it made all the difference.

yesterday, julia wrote 5's like this throughout her math lesson and i wanted to jump up and down for joy (ok, so maybe i DID jump up and down for joy!)

isn't that the most perfect 5 you have ever seen?

everyday, i learn that more often than not, joy is found in the little things. like; half and half in your coffee, filling unorganized worship music into a tidy little box with labels, flirting with your husband, blueberry balsamic vinegar from the Tasteful Olive,  kisses from your three year old baby boy to wake you up, attic fans, and yes, even conquering your 5's demon!

here's to the little joys you find today!
p.s. i would love to hear about some of your little joys...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

when we pray

this song has blessed me over and over again these past few weeks. this was one of the songs that the kids sang at VBS.

there are so many lines that have just melted into my daily movements.

"when we pray, our hearts are free"

i don't know about you, but my heart needs freedom from a lot of things, freedom from a lot of people. prayer offers me this ability to lay it all down at the foot of the cross, brush my hands off and say, "it's yours...have at it!" true. FREEDOM!

" then you say, get up and go! let the chains fall down, for you have no need to fear!"

what has you in chains today?


prayer offers the answer for us to loose these chains and dance a dance that is unhindered.

music always just soothes the rough edges of my life. it heals on a level that is indescribable.

i hope you enjoy!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Living In The Storm: The Flat Tire

most people at some point in their lives have had a flat tire.  there was a period of time where it felt like we were having LOTS of flat tires. pretty sure it was when mark was in school and we kept avoiding buying new tires because well... we were in school. consequently, we carried a tire inflater (is that a word?) in the trunk of the van, because we just learned to expect a flat tire; the slow, non-shocking, type of flat tire.

or you have the time when we were driving from kansas to mississippi on I-55 and POP-BLITZ-BLAM-OH! we had a flat tire. it was the more shocking, everyone in the car starts crying, and we tried to keep the van from spinning out of control at a high speed... flat tire.

two very different types of flat tires.

can't life sometimes seem like a flat tire?

i mean, like... the slow deflating type. don't we all face situations in our lives that seem to slowly drain our energy, our stability, our focus, our passion? on many levels we come to anticipate them and carry around inflaters (coffee is my choice inflater) in our back pockets. if you are parent, like many of our readers, you know the slow deflation i am talking about. when i had a 5 yr old, 3 yr old, 21 month old, and a new born, i told mark i felt like i was being pecked from sun up to sun down by little chickens, "peck, peck, peck, peck!" between the wants, needs, and the whines, it was an unbelievably exhausting season for me.

then we have those shocking POP-BLITZ-BLAM-OH, situations that happen out of no where (loss of job, loss of home, loss of life, loss of marriage, loss of security,...) and all of the air in our life is automatically sucked out and we are left with mere shreds of an existence. lots of tears are shed and we try and keep our lives from spinning out of control at high speeds.

the older i get the more sensitive i get to the ever present group of people i come in contact with daily that are hurting. whether from a slow leak or an unexpected blow out.

lately, however i have just been trying to patch up the slow leak in my own life.*clause* for future reference it is NOT a wise idea to combine a move with another major life crisis. remember here when i talked about major milestones with my children and how i NEVER combine two MAJOR things at once? i was a really wise person when i wrote that. i realize that i could have not predicted the happenings in my life in the last month, but still.

ok, you are thinking, "where is she going with this? all we have is a flat tire that seems mildly depressed and in need of a some free air from quick trip! wrap this up lady with 3 points and a conclusion!"

i am not really sure where i am going with this, which is odd b/c usually indecision is not my battle.

i guess what i am trying to say is, i've got a slow leak.. i have been more impatient, unsure, inconsistent, moody, hurtful, and selfish these past few weeks than maybe ever before in my life. i feel like i am rotating my tires to see where the slow leak is to patch it up to try and save the tire... but when one hole is patched another is punctured. it can be a very difficult ride here on the tire rotater.

the other night i was having a "moment" with katie. we've been struggling to find our way back to the teacher/student relationship. me being too hard-her being too sensitive. i was asking her to forgive all the screw ups i had that day (there were MANY) and it only took me getting out, "i'm so sorry" before we both started bawling. katie wrapped me up in her arms and through sniffles and snot she said, "Mama, i know this thing with Grammy is really hard for you, it would be really hard for me if you were going through something like what Grammy is going through.. so, i totally forgive you!"

and there, wound up in the heart of my almost nine year old, was the patch that i needed to begin to repair the slow leak in my heart.

katie knew the exact source of my slow leak. not only did she know it, she accepted it and tried to put herself in my shoes. she extended me real forgiveness.... and a patch.

mark said at lunch today something to the effect of, "all i want for our children is for them to be able to really love other people!"

man, he is SUCH a great dad!! and what an amazing desire!!

i hope that you can extend patches today, or like me, be blessed, and be the recipient of a patch!


first day of school pic

Monday, August 13, 2012

Living In The Storm: "Oh Shit!"

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, rather by the number of hilarious and "make you feel good" visits you take to the nursing home" ~Sara Littlejohn

I am a firm believer in the power of a well placed expletive.

Pretty sure that trickled down from my Mama.

Growing up I could count on ONE hand the number of times my mom used an expletive. It was never out of anger, frustration, or directed at another human being. It was ALWAYS very well placed and very purposeful.

We talked about one such incident in this post.

My mom never tried being anyone except herself, which in her line of business (pastor's wife) can be extremely challenging. She was not concerned with who the congregation, elders, presbytery, WIC committee, or other first wives from first family churches,  thought she should be. She was just her bold, straightforward, "don't beat around the bush", truth teller, self. I have met very few pastor's wives that embody the rich security my mom found in simply being a child of God. I think this allowed her to minister in a real, deep, authentic place.

I'll never forget the first time mom cursed in front of a small portion of my friends. I asked her what we were having for dinner and she replied, "shit on a shingle!" My friends about fell out of their chairs, and they never again looked at my mother the same (in a good way).

All of this to say, first thing this morning I loaded the kids up to go visit Mama-Mama. I just woke up and HAD to see her. Mainly, because I wanted to touch her, kiss her, and hold her hand for a bit. This was the second time I had taken the kids, and they were just thrilled to be with her after spending three long weeks of being forced NOT to see her.

Almost every resident lit up when we walked down the hallway to mom's room. Sweet faces, wearing blessings of a life time in their wrinkles, waved and smiled at my little clan. When we first approached mom's room her door was closed, after a little *knock, knock* the CNA opened the door and out wheeled mama ready for the day. As the "hi grammy, hi mama, hi grammy, hi grammy, hi grammy" were being said, mom hollered out in a very loud voice, "OH SHIT!" Not the "I am so mad you are here," or the "get out of my face" or the " I forgot something", but rather the "OH SHIT! I am so, so, so glad to see you!" Katie and I giggled out loud, the other three went about their business offering hugs and kisses having no reason to know that word is "negative".

On the heels of her exclamation she shouted in a broken way, "aren't...these... the most b-b-b-beau-TI-FUL grand....grand....grand cats you've ever seen?"

And there in that moment, we soaked up the small, but rather large pronouncement, that Grammy knew (if even for a split second) that her grand-cats had arrived, and it caused her to feel something real, deep, and authentic. So real in fact that Valerie Sue Fry Hall spoke up from the depths of her very familiar being and shouted, "OH SHIT!"

If that is not a moment to measure your life by, I might as well throw in the towel and head for glory.

I don't tell you this story to defame my mother or dishonor the amazing, spiritual legacy she leaves behind. I tell you this because these past few weeks have been far from easy and normal. We will probably measure the rest of our days around these events. More than anything I am so glad that even the "shitty" moments are bringing us unexplainable joy!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Living In The Storm: The Agony of Death

more than ever in my whole life i frequently find myself at the nailed scarred feet of my Savior, repeating through sobs of a broken heart, "what do you have for me HERE?! what are you trying to teach ME?! what are doing in my heart so that i might be more like YOU?"

as a large family, as smaller family segments, as married couples, and as individuals, we have felt much agony over our sweet Mama's situation. through not such a lovely process, i learned long ago not to beg God to remove the agony, or the pain, or the days of darkness. thankfully, He so graciously and gently taught me to ask of Him, "what do you have for right NOW, in THIS place, in THIS situation? what do you want me learn? please, please, don't let me miss it!!"

i don't want to miss what He has for me in this period of sadness and grief.  i have the testimony of His word, the testimony of my own life, and the testimony of the MANY lives lived and being lived, that my God does not let agony keep Him from refining something MUCH more beautiful than gold.

this verse made my heart swell with gladness, and while reading it over and over again, i whispered from the depths of my heart, "blessings, blessings, BLESSINGS!!!!!!" (thanks, Pastor John!)

acts 2:24

"BUT God raised Him (Jesus) up again, putting AN END TO THE AGONY OF DEATH, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power."

i am so blessed that i serve a God who has removed the agony of death thru His ultimate sacrifice on the cross, so that the ugly process of leaving this earth simply means the assurance of being forever is His presence!!

*i've heard from a few of you concerned that this post indicated that Mama Mama had die. No worries, she is still very much with us. when the time comes, i will be very straight forward in informing you :) in the meantime, i was just sharing some thoughts i was chewing on today.. *

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Will You Marry Me?

oh my, our poor neglected children have fallen off the face of this blog.

for those of you who tune into this blog for them, i apologize. everyone is clicking a long. some days are snaps and some days are a total collapse. change is not easy on ANY ONE, whether it's 1100 miles or 20, moving is just a LOOONNNNGGGG process. 

we are wrapping up our last week of summer with our favorite extra curricular activities before the school master hammer falls...  ;)

while, i don't have much time to write today i HAD to share these two videos of anderson. why he is so stinking cute? i'll never know, but OH MY GOODNESS!!

in both videos he snuck his uncle jonny's ipod and recorded these two messages.

in both videos he proposes. i figure he loves the idea of marriage and kissing because he has a stellar example to watch (bwhahahaha) OR maybe, love is in the air :) either way, i hope these make you laugh as many times as they made me laugh today.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Living In The Storm: In Sickness And In Health

nobody does a wedding like my dad. nobody. last night i had the priviledge of meeting with a very special couple who my dad is marrying at the end of the month.

mom and dad have been walking couples through pre-marital counseling and weddings for 3 decades. last night i felt very inadequate, knowing that my mom is usually the one sitting at dad's side helping everyone along.  i know she always would say just the right thing to help calm the couple down, "we WILL have fun, and you WILL get married" is among the top of her most repeated phrases.

sitting, watching my dad walk through picking out this sweet couples vows, their ring vows, their music, etc etc, just allowed my mind to wander and think about the raw emotions pulsating through my body. here is a man, my daddy nonetheless, walking through some of the darkest days of his life, and all the while he is coming along side young couples and whispering in their ears, "this is the way! love each other. forgive each other. love with a love not of your own."

if my dad married you (like he did SO many of you readers) if you've watched my dad do a wedding, if you have watched him love my Mama at any point in their almost 40 years of marriage, know this: you will rarely  find a more "real life", tangible, example of, "in sickness and in health" as you will find in their marriage.

you want to know what real love is? watch a man stroke his wife's hair over and over again, all while whispering in her ear, "i love you, i love you, i love you!"

you want to know what real love is? watch a man humbly and willingly lay down ALL of his own wants and desires, and elevate his wife's needs and wants, with NOTHING in return.

you want to know what real love is? watch a man who is the living definition of " in sickness and in health" exhort a couple to promise each other that EXACT same thing a few short weeks from now.

very few people in the audience that day will know the weight of those words as they graciously and lovingly come out of my daddy's mouth, but me, this sad excuse as a "fill in" for my mom, will hear those words and feel those words like never before.

mom has been stable for almost 6 days now. her heart and her mind have found a pretty calm and happy place. while we are VERY relieved that much of the anger and torment seem to have been stilled, we are now more aware than ever what the disease has taken from her mind.

hopefully in the next few days or so, Mama will be transferred to a rehabilitation facility for some transitional rehabilitation.

mom has been stabilized remarkably fast.
she has been laughing, smiling, and singing almost everyday!

the other day while i was there i am pretty sure she thought she was leading a bible study, and inbetween hymns mom would break out in a loud voice and lead the whole room in prayer. it was one of the SWEETEST moments. she was also asking anyone who entered the room if they needed a little something to drink and eat. again, she is definitely in her element.

prayer requests:
mom has lost an incredible amount of weight. please pray that she will "eat her face off" as my children say and get some meat on her bones. :)
prayer that when the transition between facilities takes place that it will be smooth.

before my mom ever met my dad she overheard a conversation he was having with another man. my mom has the gift of intuition, she can feel things most people NEVER even sense. anyway, after she heard that conversation she ran back to her group of friends and begged them to pray for this unnamed man she was ease dropping on :)

i am very confident that if Mama were able to ask something of  you, she would beg you to pray for her man. once again, he sometimes goes unnamed in her mind, but she would sense he needs your prayers.

pray for my dad, who at one point, almost 40 years ago made a promise that he would love "in sickness and in health."