Friday, July 27, 2007

I woke up feeling melancholy today. I just didn't even want to think of doing schoolwork. So I decided to catch up on some sewing instead. I turned on the "Merchant of Venice" DVD and sewed on buttons and such.

Here's an outfit I finished for Puddin' The picture didn't turn out real great, but it is made out of some fabric I hand dyed and there's a bow across the front with polka-dots. It turned out pretty cute, I think.

I sewed this LAST YEAR and never did the button/button hole. So I finally did that. Good grief. Got a procrastination story that can top that? I originally sewed it for Puddin', but now it's down to the next daughter.

So here's what the little kids did all day. What did mothers do before Legos?

And now here's what I need to hurry and catch up on before hubby gets home!

It's amazing the mess we can generate in a day. The house was fairly clean this morning. So this is my act of bravery for the day, putting up these pictures! But Mrs. D and I were talking about how we can totally manufacture an image for ourselves on the Internet and nobody will ever know the difference. So here you have it, it's real life everyday around here!
I also helped Dear Oldest Daughter set up her blog. She got tired of her brother not letting her put up anything girly, so she got one of her own. If you'd like, go by and say "Hi" so she won't be too lonely! It's called "The Cliffs of Insanity Are Very Close Now." How do you like that name? I helped think of it. It's from Princess Bride. Hee-Hee.
I'm off to doing the dishes!
Ta-Ta for Now!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I got my new photo port thingy-yeah!
Thursday is gardening day at our house. We try to get what we can done, though the weeds grow faster than we can keep up with. I just don't like to spray, so we do what we can and just aren't too fussy.

Teamwork-well, maybe more giggle than work..

Missy busy with the hoe.


S. is in charge of the roses. Her grandfather very into roses and the thing he loves most is sharing his knowlege with others. He loves that S. has taken an interest and he always has little tips for her.

But I guess O. felt that gardening optional..

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

This week one of my children (Whoshallreamainnamelessyouallprobablyknowwhichoneanyway) seems to have set his teeth towards making me and everyone else around him miserable. I don't get this kid sometimes. He can be so difficult. Not just the effort involved in seeing to his attitudes and character development but just the bewilderment I feel in making even the slightest dent in his mindset. Not only that he needs to suppress the urge of kicking apart his younger brother's Brio train set up, but that he needs to deal with the fact that he plain has a mean streak sometimes and needs to deal with his sinful little heart!!

Another child, who is not so overtly naughty, but still has a sin nature of her own has been inclined to demonstrate it by slumping her shoulders and screwing up her mouth at every little thing I ask her to do. She slumps off as though the weight of the world were on her shoulders and I am the Mean Taskmaster of the World.

How do I get her to see that it is not my or her older siblings job to put away her laundry for her and that I only ask her to get out her math for her own good? I can make her change the expression on her face, but I can't change her heart.

I do have to be faithful in dealing with these children. I can't just leave them to themselves. But I pray and pray more and more that God will please help me in this mothering thing! I so need Him to be dealing with them even when I don't know the thoughts they are harboring in those little minds of theirs!

The other day I was walking down the street with S. and we were discussing the particular difficulties we are having with these particular children. She commented that sometimes she gets scared to have children just thinking about all these things you have to deal with. I said "Well, if you have to do it on your own, you ought to be terrified!"

But she knew what I meant was that we aren't on our own. And sometimes I just have to keep on even though I am not seeing much good fruit right now. And I have to pray and pray, not relying on my own strength to teach these kids the things that are good and right, but believe that God loves them more than I do and that He hears the prayers I hold out for them. It isn't an excuse to be lazy, but strength to move on when it takes something out of me and I wonder if it could be doing one bit of good!

There are lots of other people I'm praying for as well, that I don't have the privilege of being so directly involved with. I pray and pray for them, worry over them, and watch to see if any of my prayers are having any fruit at all! Sometimes I get tired of feeling anxious over them and wonder why on earth I am so emotionally involved and think maybe I should just leave off. But then I wonder if my prayers might be doing some good and who is it that would want me to stop praying? It drives me nuts. In person I ask them about ordinary things but I want to say "How are you doing, REALLY!" Prayer is hard. It seems so pointless, to think that the words I utter at the ceiling could be doing anything. I wonder if God is answering them. I simply must trust and expect that He is.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I have found the most beautiful blog! The pictures and loving portrayal of family life are so enticing. Makes me want to go knead bread or something.

No wait. I did that. :)

It also made me want to post more pictures though, and pay more attention to the lovely things that go on here all day long. Unfortunately the "port" thingy that is used to download the pictures from the chip is malfunctioning. I guess I will have to buy another. :( So the pictures I took of gardening day will have to wait.

Often I am tempted to overlook what is beautiful and sweet in my life. I am tempted to see the mess instead of the creativity behind it, the argument instead of the opportunity for teaching, the cost instead of the benifit, the time involved and work instead of the fruit. Children are a lot of work. Meals are a lot of work. For that matter, husbands are a lot of work. Boys are work and noise! I try to be cheery, to discipline my attitudes, to put energy into sowing the seeds of good fruits. But often I come up short, grumble, get weary. I guess I'm still learning.

Often when people find out I have a blog it almost sounds like they equate it to writing tabloids. But I really do feel that I get good encouragement from blogs written by moms just like me-that we can encourage each other to keep up the good fight. I love to see pictures of your children, read what you're making for dinner, what you're reading, maybe struggling with today. It makes life at home so much less isolating. We're in it together, though many of us are far apart.

So, say a prayer for me today, and I'll say one for you!

Friday, July 20, 2007

More on finding a church and waiting..

I'm having a little trouble finishing these posts on finding the church because it all seemed to end so anticlimactically....After searching around for, oh what, 12 years? I did a google looking for another church I thought we might try. I don't remember how but I ended up reading this culture statement at RCC. "Wow," I thought, "either these guys are a lot like us or they are crazy. (It's a fine line you know. :) So I gave dh the address and sent him and the oldest two children to check things out. I wasn't taking any chances that they might actually be crazy. And besides, have you ever tried checking out churches with-then-7 children in tow. It's a good way to become the center of attention really fast. Which most of you know I avoid as best I can..

The service was at 11:00 and they still weren't home at 4:00.

Finally they came in and of course I was ready with questions-the biggest being "What on earth have you been doing all this time????"

He threw the bulletin at me (what, all 10 pages of it?) and said "Well, if you want to know what they did there's the whole service right there.

The first thing I said was "Oh!! They have responsive readings!!" (Now that seems very normal to me but at the time responsive readings were so very liturgical.) I was psyched!

They had a meal together afterwards (Which is why they were so long.) and the kids loved it and Rand was excited so the next week we all went and there we are.

It's like so many thing in life it seems. Waiting waiting and waiting for God to answer a prayer. Wondering if He will, if He hears, and if one can endure all the waiting. Just like waiting for a wedding, a baby, looking for a house, so many things to wait for! We can't make it come, can't speed it up, just wait! I hate to wait. Sometimes it seems like it would be less painful for me to decide that I don't want something after all then to wait for it. But that isn't exactly true with some things no matter how I try. I knew what I wanted was something right and good..but it seemed so long in coming. Maybe so I could appreciate more when it did.

And then suddenly you do actually get whatever it was for which you were waiting. And on one hand the time had gone by so slowly. But not really because there is always so much to do and to prepare. And there's God at your shoulder saying "If you just could have trusted me. We could have done a lot better and been a lot more joyful over these past years." And I feel sorry that I wasn't more trusting. But then when the next baby is due do I learn? I guess what really counts is what we do when we are waiting. To still be faithful and purposeful.

Then a couple years later the waiting for thing is normal life and then you're waiting for something else!

I'm glad that even though it was depressing at times we didn't give up on finding the right church for our family. I'm glad we didn't give into the temptation to think that we were just being weird and we should go along with what everyone else was doing and put our children in children's church and not worry about doctrine etc., etc., Sometimes it was a real temptation to do so! I'm glad that the waiting is over too!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

See what we got on Ebay? I'm especially thankful because I didn't want to sew it. Aren't hoops fun!
Now we just have to make the dress....

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Take the 100 Acre Personality Quiz!

Hmm..I thought I would get kanga. Oh well. Do I really talk too much?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Today is going to be such a busy day. I have to get ready for about 25 people coming over tomorrow for what is jokingly called the "forced fellowship meetings" from church. Also I have a birthday party this afternoon and I need to go and do the major grocery shopping for the week. So this will be my moment to sit a bit and then I got to get to cracking the whip! (wonder what kind of google searches that will bring up..)

So anyway. I hope these posts on our church don't come across like I'm going to go into the build up of how great our church is. That can be so discouraging to those who are still out there looking for a decent church that at least somewhat supports their family. I remember reading other people talking about their great church in like Texas or somewhere and thinking "Well, that's great for you..." Rather it is about God, (Who isn't just limited to Texas :) and how He took all these seemingly unrelated threads and tied them all together in one place.

"The Lord will perfect that which concerns me." Psalm 138:8

I actually didn't even consider that we would find a church that was liturgical, had more regular communion (let alone with real wine, let alone every week.) was family integrated during the service, home school friendly, large family friendly, hymn singing, community oriented...I would have laughed if you said I would find those things and especially not in our area. Oregon? No way.

Now I have to get the girls ready for the birthday party. I still have to menu plan for next week, clean the bathrooms, catch up on laundry, clean up my room and office (Last time we had fellowship meetings I left the upstairs a mess thinking nobody would go up there and all the kids ended upstairs on the computer.) and S. and I are going to go do the grocery shopping. Oh yeah. And dust. My an old house can sure make the dust! Ta Ta For Now.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

It has been so hot lately. My brain is like mud.
All I've gotten done today is going to the store and doing what seems like endless dishes. But Dh promises we can go out for dinner.
One piece of news! Babykins has said "Mama" for the first time. Oh! I hate how they grow up so fast!
How about some goofy kid pics?

Monday, July 9, 2007

Well, It's been a few days since I could get on the computer. DH has been busy doing paperwork on it, so I've hardly come near it. Well, if he doesn't do his paperwork, people tend not to want to pay, so I'm happy for him to do it.

Though there isn't any scarier question then "Have you seen such and such a receipt..I left it on the bookcase..." Argh. Neither of us are organizational types and we both hate bookwork. It's not good when you both have the same weakness and you don't balance each other out.

It has been hot here and getting hotter tomorrow. I start counting the days until October about now.

I don't know what it is but I have really been struggling with being tired. Not sleepy but just not wanting to do anything. Oldest daughter thinks I still have the end of that flu. I don't know. I've kind of got the blues I guess. Wish I could snap out of it because it makes everything a big effort. And have I mentioned I am teaching three little boys how to read? I think that homeschooling these boys is going to bring about a lot of sanctification in me.


Another aspect of our church odyssey was that I really hit a wall when I had 5-6-7 children. I could not keep everything going right at the same time. Up to this time I thought if "I" did everything right, if "I" home schooled, raised them biblically, followed the model of godly womanhood (And I was more sure about all that entailed then.) then my children would turn out to be the wonderful saints of God that I wanted to see them be. But I really hadn't come to acknowledge fully my own sin nature. It wasn't long in each day before I blew that whole thing. And if my children would be saved if I behaved in a perfectly godly way, then what is the converse of that? I was getting really very hopeless. Actually, I was doing worse and worse because the hope of attaining that sort of spiritual platitude was getting less and less. It was that the standard is wrong. The standard is right. My judgement of my failure of the standard was right. It does no good to try to get around the law. It always trumps you in the end. The problem was me. Is me. Always has been me.

That was when I began to have some conversations about Calvinism on a discussion board. I had never really thought about the doctrines of grace, or that theology was all that different from one church to another or anything like that. (Other than the Catholics, obviously, and the Mennonites, which I also investigated.) But these people on this board were arguing so passionately about it. I can't even remember how I was drawn into the discussion. But my goodness-frankly, it got a little heated. I felt like they were accusing me of being intellectually dishonest at one point. Well, that got my back up. I figured, "I can be wrong. I'm not afraid to admit I am wrong. I just don't see that I am at this point."

We lived in a trendy sort of Portland neighborhood at that time, near a trendy sort of bookstore. It was the type that was more likely to have books about Gandhi than Christian stuff. But it did have a really wonderful children's' section and I liked to go in there a lot. And once I "happened" to find _Chosen by God_ by RC Sproul. I didn't even realize what it was about when I bought it. But I read it. And after I did, I really had no further defense against Calvinism. I wasn't happy about it though! No, I was mad. But I figured if it was true, it was true. And there's no arguing with something if it really is true. But I pouted for about a year.

Finally once as I was mulling about it I felt God speak to me. "Your children's' salvation. Shall we leave it up to them? Or shall I decide?"

Now that was a thought to think about. That could be really scary. Yeah, I think God had better decide that. I mean, if He decides, then He has the power to bring it about. If they got to pick, who knows what could happen?

I didn't know it, but the doctrine I most fought against was the same one that held so many answers for me to finally find peace. I realized that God wasn't always ready to drop me if I blew it "one more time." That I could come to Him again and again and He wasn't going to run out of grace. That He had chosen me and that He was committed to bring about my sanctification. Instead of thinking that I could have small bits of good days with the inevitable gravity of sin to pull me back down, instead I saw that godliness would be my norm and that even if I did sin I wouldn't stay there because His irresistible grace would bring me back out. Also, I would always feel so helpless praying for others, especially if they showed no interest in God. But then I saw that the power was not in man's free will, but in the will of God. God is not free until He bumps into a person's free will and there we limit Him, but we are free until we bump into His will. He is the final say-so, not us! What a wonderful hope, because He is all good and we can trust His will.

Well, that ruled out Catholicism, then. Also the Mennonites. We did visit a Mennonite church for a hymn sing once, and I truly did enjoy it. But my husband at that point would never wear pants. Even in the dead of winter. But they are Armenian and now I knew we couldn't be Armenian.

So still...What to do, what to do.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Just as an aside...
Isn't it amazing the work and effort a child will put forth in order to avoid work and effort?
It never ceases to amaze me.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

This actually may be a 40 part series since I only get a few minutes to put up a post! And there are a few threads to tie in as well.

One thing is that in trying to find a suitable church, and not finding anything in the evangelical mainstream, we looked at a few alternatives theologically. One was the Catholics.

The thing that drew me to Catholicism was initially that they are so much more positive towards children and large families. We used to have a Catholic thriftstore near us that I would go to every so often. Once a lady was helping me and she glanced outside and noticed all my blessings sitting on the lawn outside waiting for me. And so she started to count. I think it was 7 at the time. Her eyebrows raised and she said "7 children?" "

"Yes," I answered, feeling tired and not in the mood for all the following questions that usually ensued.

"Well, you're just getting started, she said, "I had 15."

I coulda hugged her.

So I listened to some Catholic radio and learned a lot more about them and their theology. I actually learned a lot and I'm glad that I did. I was really tempted for a while to be Catholic. We did park in a Catholic church and stared at each other once. I did feel like they had some points that we Protestants are really weak in. (Besides the view of children.) One was the centrality of communion. I hadn't had communion in probably years. At our church it was tucked away in the evening service (probably so only the "commited Christians" would show up for it.) once every three months. And those little thimbles of grape juice. It felt almost like we were embarassed of the whole thing.

Another was the use of litergy. A lot of times I've heard Protestants refer to liturgy as "empty ritualism". But I noticed that even my low-key charasmatic church had a liturgy; stand, sing one praise song, a hymn included in the bulletin, another praise, greet your neighbor, sit, sing about 3-4 more praise songs, pastor takes pulpit, stand sing one more, sit for sermon. Well, that is a liturgy of sorts. Just not a very interesting one. So why not have a liturgy?

Also, I was listening to the afternoon mass on Catholic radio. I noticed that certain parts of it would float through my mind through the day. One part was when the priest would sing "For the sake of His sorrowful passion..." then the congregation would return "Have mercy on us, and on the whole world." I liked having this little meditation going on in my head. I felt it kind of helped me to remember to pray during the day.

But in the end I knew I couldn't be Catholic. I couldn't go along with papal infallibility.

What to do, what to do.

Now I have to go get the cookies out of the oven.

(Oh, and by way of disclaimer-this is the meanderings of my own mind at the time. Not a critique of anyone who likes praise songs or thimbles of grape juice. OK? :)

Monday, July 2, 2007

Carmon has, of late, been posting various thoughts on community, church relationships and those types of topics. Not as a real direct thing, but they kind of go along with where my mind has been lately and get me to thinking about our church, how we happened to find ourselves there, and the difference it has made in us over the last-is it almost 4?-years.

It seemed like for so long we wandered in the vast evangelical church wasteland. We were always the "odd couple" it seemed. We homeschooled, had lots of children, and most noticeably, didn't take said children to Sunday School or Childrens' Church. That was a biggie. These were very hard years. At one of our churches we went to we had one other family that we felt we had some things in common with and they soon left the church and decided to 'home church' because the church we were in was "just getting too worldly" (In their words). But we always felt that leaving church entirely was not an option for us.

In the end we were going to a rather large church. We had to get up at 5:30 in order to get everyone ready and be at church by 8:00. (we had to go to the earliest service because it was the only one we could all fit in a pew together and not feel guilty about taking up too much room.) By 10:30 we were home. It felt like it didn't even happen. I knew church should be something more, but what? How to do it?

I remember one rainy day walking across the parking lot of a grocery store, praying. I said "Lord, I can teach my children about you, I can teach them Your word, but I cannot teach them about Your church. And I don't know what to do."

Well that's where I'll leave it for tonight. Gotta finish dinner. Tortilla and chicken soup, baked potatoes and salad. What are ya'all having?