Monday, December 05, 2016

a break away + the big door (vaca part 1)

I have been enjoying a bit of a break as we finished up our last week of CC for the year! (For the younger ones, anyway). Over the last few weeks of November we worked hard on our last Essentials papers and I taught/subbed lots of fitness classes right before Thanksgiving. We were busy for a bit there. :)

I've also been away from the internet so much more than usual lately, and it's been very good for my soul. Especially after the election, I felt like there was so much noise- so many voices and so many opinions- it felt good to get away from it all for a while. :)

Then we went on a long road trip from Thanksgiving Eve until last weekend and it was a wonderful break away from our regular daily grind. We headed to northwest Arkansas for Thanksgiving at my brother's house and from there we drove through Missouri, Illinios, Indiana, Ohio, and ended in Kentucky in one 12+ hour drive! The kids did so great, we didn't have to break out a movie until the last 3 hours! The baby didn't even cry much, if at all. They never cease to surprise and amaze me!

This was the big reason for the second long leg of our trip:

We went to see the Ark Encounter- a life-sized replica of Noah's ark and museum about the flood (and the Gospel!). It was incredible! We seriously debated as to whether we should go due to the high cost for our crew, but we were so happy we made the decision to after all. It was an unforgettable experience for sure!

It's so hard to get a feeling of scale from pictures, but see that tiny door below?

Here it is from the inside!

I think this door was my absolute favorite place in the entire museum. On the original ark, there was one door. Just like Jesus. He is the one door, the only way to be saved from the destruction that is to come:

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
John 10:9

Oh friend, there is nothing more important I could EVER tell you today. The one thing you need to know in this world is that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end; the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep.

1“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.4When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
John 10:1-10

He is life, and when you know Him you also have LIFE. Far greater than you could ever imagine.

Breaks away are lovely sometimes, but nothing satisfies my heart apart from Jesus, my life and my all. He is my salvation and my hope.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

life in high gear: party days

Life at our house has been in overdrive for the last few weeks! We had SO much going on in the last couple of weeks that it seemed like every single minute was planned out. :)

We hosted a big birthday party on Saturday, and you know we always like to use big events as a way to get stuff done. :) And by we, you know I mean Rob does all the hard work and I plan and clean up. :D He won't let me paint or do manly things, and I do believe I like it that way. ;)

"We" made a chalkboard wall:

Built a couple of smaller decks:

Finished and painted the living room trim (except for the mantle):

And we almost completely finished the kitchen too! And really, that is only a portion of what he got done over the last month. The man is incredible. I don't know how he does it. And in the middle of all that, he was given the opportunity to preach a weekend ago, and he did such an amazing job:

I don't know why God blessed me with such a great guy, but I'm overwhelmed with thanksgiving. :) I love him so.

In the meantime, while he was working hard, I did piddling little things like buying flowers:

And keeping the littles happy:

Hanging maps:

Together, the kids and I cleaned out the fridge (and nearly every closet):

And went to a couple of great birthday parties:

And then the day finally arrived for the party at our place!

And we had vanilla cupcakes and carrot cake for dessert:

And Rob finally got to relax: :)

I got to enjoy the party too. I didn't take many photos, but we had a great time. :)

Ahhhhh, it was great. :) (Truly, thanks only to an answering of the Lord, because you should have seen the house the day before! 😂)

We didn't quite get to recover on Sunday, and then Ivy-loo was sick yesterday, but we didn't do any house work either day so it felt like a break (and we got the extra hour of sleep from time change! hooo-ray) It feels so good now to be coming up on the holiday season with a few finished projects, a momentarily clean house, and a somewhat normal schedule for the next few weeks. :)

Oh, these are happy, happy days. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

fall birthdays (part 2), she's mine, and a rare sight

Our October birthday celebrations continued through the weekend to Rob's birthday on Sunday. We went to church, went to eat buffet pizza (his fave), and then went to another sporting goods store to pick up a heavy dumbbell for mid-workday lifting. Of course, he picked out a 50 lb. dumbbell that I can hardly lift. :D That one is all his!

Ivy-loo must be my daughter because I feel exactly like this when I get new weights:  :P

Then it was off to a fantastic Christian play with the whole fam:

I can't believe how big these oldest boys and girls are getting. They enjoyed all the sword-fighting and singing as much as we did. :D

Rob's parents surprised us by joining us at the play and then took us all out for dinner afterward. Rob's mom snapped one of our very few pictures of all 8 of us together (and hey, we're ALL looking!!!):

And after the flurry of birthdays it was back to real life on Monday with homeschool, a big certification test on Tuesday for me, CC on Wednesday, and major kitchen/living area renovations happening in the midst of it all..... :)

Phew. Someday we just might finish this one. :D It takes days and days to get things done when you live in the middle of it. But we're making progress, and it's good! And plus, after painting four houses, we should be professionals by this point, right? :)

Maybe someday with all this great experience we'll finally remember to get the coffee out of the coffee drawer before we tape it down, because we all know no coffee = no painting. :D

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

birthday celebrations + serious cake fails: part 1

At our house, we have three big birthdays in a single October week: mine, Elijah's, and Rob's. It's always 6+ days of cake, yummy food, and partying. :D 

This year's celebration all started when my mom came down and watched the kiddos for us a week ago Saturday, while I went shopping solo (Rob worked, good man!), and ate this gorgeous salad in complete silence: (!!!!!)

He gave me some birthday money to go shopping, and though I didn't end up finding much, I really enjoyed the alone time without everyone waiting anxiously for my return. :D It's the little things these days. You never know how much you take an easy day without deadlines for granted until you have 8 million things to do all the time. :D 

That Saturday night we went on a date and as hard as we tried to stay out late, we came back at like 8:30 or 9 p.m. :D We're old people now and I think we will happily accept the status. :D 

Then my real birthday began last week with one of my favorite parts of being a mama:

My dad watched the kids that day while Rob whisked me away for lunch and the chance to visit the sporting goods store to pick up a new water bottle! :)

It was perfect, just perfect. The entire day I was just overwhelmed at how wonderful it all was.

Of course, with school keeping us busy the rest of the week, Thursday came lightning fast. On that momentous day I became the proud mother of a teen: :D

I'm hoping I get this mother-of-a-teenage-boy thing. :D I tried to speak his love language of oddly-flavored junk food (cajun pickle chips and his favorite, jalapeno):

I think it worked. :D

Cinnamon rolls for breakfast, barbecue out for lunch...

Three pans of lasagna for dinner (we only ate one, surprise!):

And one massive chocolate cake wreck for dessert, and I think he was finally full. 😂

(psssss: you know I must love you dearly to show you that cake. 😂)

It was a lovely week of... eating merriment, and I still have so much left to share from Thursday until Monday! We partied so hard for Rob's birthday we hardly had time to stop, and I have to break it all up into two posts. :P

Obviously reaching middle age is an event worth celebrating around here. ;)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

our very first teenager


My sweet firstborn is a teenager today. I really don't know how we arrived here so quickly, but here we are, entering new and unfamiliar territory. 

It's awesome. 

What a gift from God he is. Almost 14 years ago, we were young, newly married, and felt the Lord pulling at our hearts to welcome children instead of preventing them. Right away, God blessed us with this strong yet tender-hearted boy:

I am in awe of God's plan. Through these little babies, God changed the trajectory of our selfish hearts and helped us realize that life was actually about more than us. That there were more important things to do with this life than to make big salaries and have two brand new cars and take all the luxury vacations we wanted.

God showed us over the years that there were bigger, eternal things to do, and one of them the Lord granted to us was to raise this baby disciple and teach him about Jesus and why we are on this earth.

But as it always seems to turn out, God has been using him to teach us too.

My heart bursts when he gives so generously, without any compulsion. Like my birthday card he made and the coffee he bought me with his brother just this week:

And oh how it aches with love too when I realize he's becoming a man already, caring for even the smallest of his siblings:

And then how delighted it feels when he tells witty jokes. :) 

This whole growing up thing is entirely bittersweet.

I wish time could stand still for a little while, but that's not what God gave us. Maturing into manhood is a good thing, and I am thankful for this opportunity to love him and that the Lord is revealing some of ourselves in who he is for both our joy and sanctification. :)

What a gift that I get to see my tiny baby grow up into adulthood.

Elijah, you are a precious blessing to me. I am so grateful to God for you and the man you are becoming.
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