Monday, August 22, 2011


- I can’t remember if I ever mentioned Paul’s job change. He quit one of his part-time jobs. (He kept UPS, of course.) He spent the summer driving the next day air packages for UPS. These hours worked great for us! He would leave at 4am and come home around noon. But, the vacation season is over and Paul will not likely be driving on weekdays any longer. He will continue to drive on Saturday mornings (so far as we can tell).

- We have been attending a different church since the last time I mentioned our church home. As far as I can tell, this will be a permanent change. We are now attending a small non-denominational church in our area. We LOVE the inter-personal dynamics of the church. They seem like one big family. The pastor, an elderly man we affectionately call “Pastor Joe,” is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. We just LOVE Pastor Joe.

-The church asked Paul to take over teaching the adult Sunday School class, and Paul is delighted. And, he will be preaching the first week of September when Pastor Joe is out of town. I will be playing the piano that week too. I am eager for a chance to use my musical gifts again!

- We have not started the new full-time school year yet… we just have too many irons in the fire right now to start a new schedule. We are still doing a few hours of work a day: reading (often aloud), writing letters, gardening, and anything else that interests our children.
Yesterday we were given a whole set of encyclopedias! I am very excited to begin playing with those!!!

- Last week we began a massive project of downsizing our stored clothing collection. I sorted all the girls’ clothes and we gave away all sizes from 0 to 4T. I am not saying that we will not have more kids… we just felt selfish to hold on to such beautiful, functional, warm clothes when we do not need them right now. We were blessed to be able to donate the clothes to a local ministry that sells clothes to “the working poor” at garage sale prices. What a privilege to bless others!!!
I may sort through the boy clothing bins and down-size the excess. But, we will be keeping the boy clothes for the boys who are presently growing into them (rapidly!), and the new baby to join us in December.

- I am feeling well! The second trimester has been good to me! I plan to get back on a healthier food regimen, incorporating more whole foods. Rebecca is a great help to me in this cooking endeavor.

In short, we are all healthy and happy. That’s enough of an update for today. As you can see, my life is just as exciting as it always was ; )

Friday, August 12, 2011

I Join in the Song

I Know to Whom She is Singing

As she perches in the tree outside my window, her song is immaculate. The wren is never off-key. She never starts on the wrong pitch. I humor myself thinking that she knows I am listening and she is singing just for me. Her home is in the clothesline pole. She cheers me while I hang out my laundry to dry. The task used to rank among the menial and mundane. But, with Mrs. Wren to serenade me, I rejoice to hear the washer finish its spin cycle. Fortunately for me, I do not have to attempt to generate extra laundry as an excuse to go outside for a few minutes alone. There is always a laundry pile of generous proportions awaiting me.

I hear Mrs. Wren singing and something inside me wants to sing too! I know to whom she is singing! She is rejoicing in her creator. She is glad to be alive. Yes, perhaps the only tasks that await her are the very same she completed just yesterday – feed her babes, gather yet more nesting supplies, fly to and fro gathering feed for her growing family – but she seems to awake with eagerness to perform these tasks. She even sings as she is moving along. The mother in my takes notice… does she not see that the task would be completed faster if she did not stop to sing her song three times on that branch, before heading to another branch to do it again, before returning to her home? But, she sees things a different way. She knows that she has this whole day ahead of her made just for her to sing and work, sing and work, sing and work. She does not stop to consider whether or not singing takes time away from her chores… she simply answers the call in her to rejoice in the Lord always.

The Lord has used the sweet song of the wren to stir my heart. He wants to hear me praise. He gave me this day to sing and work, sing and work, sing and work. He wants me to take time to sing and praise in the midst of the chores I am attending too. This is what I am created for.

The wren’s song brings The Creator glory.
My song brings The Creator glory.
The wren’s song brings a smile to The Father’s face.
My song brings a smile to The Father’s face.

I choose to join in the song, because I Know to Whom She is Singing!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Big Ultrasound

Today began week 20 of this pregnancy. Baby looks great! And... it is another... BOY!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

More pics

Our little girls' only photo shoot, while the boys all napped. Click to enlarge.

 Above:Lydia, Below: Rebecca


Friday, August 5, 2011

Farm Pics -July 2011

Click any pic to enlarge. These were taken during the HOT hay baling days of July.

Mommy entertains Josiah.

Rebecca stacked all 150 bales!!!
Rebecca and Lydia with the new puppies.

Paul and his dad unload the hay into a customer's barn.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Homeschool humor

Another good thing about homeschooling:
Parent-teacher conferences can be done with great ease! Just don't let anyone catch you talking to yourself in the mirror ; )

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Blessed Assurance

(Edited for tone and content 5-7-2013)

One of our family’s favorite hymns is Blessed Assurance, by Fanny Crosby.

Verse one-
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Chorus –
This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.

Verse two –
Perfect submission, perfect delight! Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Verse three –
Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above, filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

The thing that strikes me as odd now, as I look back, is that we often sang these verses heartily… all the while living another doctrine.

Where does the assurance of my salvation come from? Where did I go wrong before?

In the past, Paul and I were deceived into thinking that we could not really be sure of our salvation unless we were living a holy life. (I have written on this before… check the label “legalism,” so that I do not have to explain it again here.) We were verbally preaching/teaching salvation is by grace alone through Jesus alone. But, we were living a lifestyle that betrayed that verbal belief with what was truly in our hearts.

I got into this awful position where I felt like I had to be perfect in order to be sure of my salvation. That is, afterall, the logical conclusion for a person who is trying to please God by living just the right way – dotting every i, crossing every t. My assurance was almost entirely external…
- Am I dressing modestly?
- Should I be wearing a head covering?
- Are we listening to the right music?
- Are we schooling my children the right way?
- Are we disciplining my children the right way?
- Am I having a daily “quiet time”?
- Are we having daily family worship?
- Are we doing “church” just the right way?
- Are we eating all the right foods, and abstaining from the wrong ones?
- Am I following all the rules that I read in various books, blogs, and magazines?

Have you been there, friend? Are you there now? When you think about God looking at you – either now or on the final day of judgment – do you see Him measuring your salvation mainly by your deeds? For me, I KNEW that Jesus was the person who provided salvation to a person. BUT, I also thought, “A true believer will show they are a Christian by living the right way.” That is true, in part… but I took it to the point of making my outward actions my assurance for salvation, rather than my belief in Jesus’ blood and righteousness covering my sins.

Now, I am still struggling to undo this mindset that thinks I can earn holiness. I am constantly reminding myself (and Paul reminds me as well) that my righteousness, my forgiveness, is in Jesus alone!!! And, while we should expect a change in the lifestyle of a true believer – this is NOT the assurance of salvation.

Remember John 6:28-29? Jesus said:
Therefore they said to Him, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent." (NASB)

The true work we need to continually apply ourselves to is believing in Jesus Christ. Believing in His sacrificial death on the cross. Believing in His sinless life. Believing in His ability to save us from our own sins.

What Paul and I are coming to see is that our former “grace plus works” philosophy was a slap in the face of our Father and our Savior. It was as though we were saying “Jesus death on the cross was very important. But, I cannot truly believe I am saved unless I am also following all the right rules.”

Um… I think we must have forgotten what the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians chapter two.
 "We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.
Gal 2:15-16 (NASB – emphasis mine)

Our assurance of our salvation will NEVER be our external acts, our keeping of the law (be it the Torah or other man-made rules that we get caught up in, like those I mentioned earlier in this post). Our assurance will always be in Christ alone and His ability to save us from our sins.

It is not too late to repent! You can apologize to God for believing in your own works more than His mighty work on the cross. He WILL forgive you! He still loves you!
There is still time to start over. We serve the God who makes all things new… daily!

Garden Update

First of all, I need to explain how we came to be the workers of a huge garden… that is, huge to us. At our new-to-us-last-October rental home there is not a pre-made garden space. The landlord’s son plowed up a small area of land last fall, but it came back as grass this Spring. Meanwhile, the landlord’s son had also plowed their yearly garden plot and covered it with manure.

But, in December my landlady was diagnosed with cancer. She asked if we would like to plant on her garden since she was too tired/sick. She said something about wanting to have tomatoes. She presented it in such a way that made it sound like we would be helping her if we did plant on her plot. So, we agreed… thinking that it would be a shared garden. We do the work. She provides the land. She lets us use her water to irrigate. And, we thought she would help eat the proceeds. So – in late May/early June we (mainly me and the children) planted a 25’ by 80’ garden. If you are laughing thinking that is such a small spot… then keep your comments to yourself. Because, for us, this is a HUGE garden. (Especially since this is only our second year gardening!)

I drew up a lovely design. I wish I could figure out a way to scan in my plan… but alas, my Android phone does not like to put documents into a post. Anyway, I designed the grid with a lot of excitement. We did indeed plant everything according to the plan. And, some of the items did indeed grow correctly.

- About 2/3 of the garden is squash products or melons that take up a LOT of room.
- We planted our melons from seed right into the ground… so they will not harvest for a long time yet (if at all). Right now they are cute little baby lumps on a vine. (Six mounds of watermelon, six mounds of cantaloupe)
- And, we planted the pumpkin seeds straight into the garden. These will be harvested in the fall…if the Squash bugs don’t get them first. We have six mounds of pie pumpkins (for me to can/freeze) and six mounds of large pumpkins (to sell, I hope).
- The zucchinis and cucumbers were bought at a local garden center. I bought 4-packs of each, because it was cheaper than buying one plant. And, I planned to share with the whole neighborhood or sell the extra. But, as it turns out the Squash Bugs have taken a huge toll on my poor plants. We will do some pickling (of the cukes), and we have some zukes for grating and turning into lovely breads and goodies. But, we will not likely have any extra zukes to store. Next year we will be prepared for a squash bug attack!
- I planted a few large packages of green bean seeds, some of these have already been harvested. The rest on the plants need more water and time. A few of my lovely bean plants have been devastated by an unknown invader (who eats all the leaves, buds, fruit, etc… leaving only the stem)
- We also sowed Broccoli right into the garden… oops, you learn as you go. It is growing, but there will not likely be any produce.

- The other 1/3 of the garden is tomatoes and pepper plants.
- I planted about 15 tomato plants all together. We tried two different varieties of large heirloom tomatoes and also “Sweet 100” cherry tomatoes. (We had the Sweet 100s last year and LOVED them!) Our plants are producing well and I hope/plan to can a lot. (The plan is to have pasta sauces and salsa) Last year was too wet and all my ‘maters died. I did not can anything last year.
- Our peppers are all doing well: jalapeno, green bell, and sweet banana. (About 15 plants in all) Some critter keeps eating the bell peppers that are closest to the ground, but we are still getting a great harvest. I plan to freeze the peppers to preserve them.

In between most of our plants we have “companion plants” to repel (or distract?) bugs. The garden is really lovely… if I do say so myself. I am happy with it!

I will try to post pictures later.

How does your garden grow?