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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Balancing Your Time as a Young Family

Mrs. Idotf wrote this question in her comment on a recent post about time management:
I have a 20 month old and now a 5 week old and I am struggling with my time. I want to walk wisely and spend my time in ways that honor the Lord and that help my family. It often seems difficult when pulled in different directions to give everyone that quality time they deserve. Especially to have quality time with my husband- who seems to get neglected.

Since you are a mom- of more than two- do you have any advise?

Mrs. I, sure, I've got some thoughts about this.

First off, even if you're a laid back, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants family, once you add in a second (or third, or fourth, or....) child, you probably need more predictability than you did with no children, or with only one. This can be done in many ways. Here are some ways I have some predictability in our lives:
  • We operate on a flexible routine as a family, particularly regarding sleep and meals. We're not extra planned-out sort of people, but for us, having an expected naptime and a certain bedtime for all children makes things much easier. For example, in our home, all kids four and under take naps in the afternoon, every afternoon. Around age four is when, if their attitude allows it, they may begin staying up during naptime. Even still, they must have a quiet reading time for 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours every afternoon. It's good for everyone to have a bit of a mid-day rest and some quiet time each day.

  • The more children we've added to our family, I have implemented some helpful house routines. Mine mostly have to do with food and seasonal clothing shifts, but other moms of many often have laundry or cleaning routines. For the last year or so, we have operated on a 4-week meal schedule that never changes. That way, I don't have to re-make grocery lists, meal plans, recipe lists, or get stuck at 6pm wishing I'd thought in advance about dinner plans. But not everyone operates like this. I'd say, start with one routine-- whether you use Flylady for cleaning, or have a generic laundry plan (i.e., Mon- sheets, Wed- whites, Fri- colors) or some sort of cooking/shopping plan. As your family grows, you can add more routines if you need them, but this will take care of one pressure area and reduce stress.

  • We make time together as a couple a BIG priority. Every night, by 7:30 or 8pm, the kids are all in bed (yes, even the nursing infant who will be fed at 10:30/11:30 before sleeping through the rest of the night)... and we have time together as a couple. Time to talk. Time to chill out in the complete quiet. Time to watch a movie. Time to vent about the frustrations of the day. Time to sit next to each other and read on the couch. Time to do other, ahem, stuff together as a couple. The point is, that we make time for each other, and that is a GREAT part of each day... once the kids are down, we can chill out together for a bit before it's time to hit the sack.

  • Make some way to get some spiritual "food" throughout the day. Sign up for iTunes and download some great podcasts and free audioBible portions. Buy an entire audio Bible (you could probably get one at a used bookstore for fairly inexpensive) and get in the habit of listening to at least 15-30 minutes of Scripture each day (more, if you do it at various points throughout the day). You really will be amazed at how much of God's Word you can take in by doing this.

    And don't be afraid to meditate over the same portion of Scripture for a week or more. Keep listening to it and drinking deep from the well of wisdom and truth that God has given us in His Word. This is one EXCELLENT way I've discovered in the last year to be actively taking in the Word of God... to listen to it at various times throughout each day, soaking in the same chapters and book multiples of times over the course of a month.

I wanted to say, too, Mrs. I, that this time that you're in is (in my view) the hardest time on a mom... all of the little ones are too little to do anything for themselves. Once even one child is five or six years old, in my experience (and from what I've heard from others), it seems to make a huge HEAP of a difference in how "hard" it is. Having multiple babies and/or toddlers really is a time-consuming, difficult job, and yet it is a precious time, full of rich memories and sweet snuggles. I hope even one thing I've said can help make this a slightly easier time for you as you try to honor God and your family with these moments of your life.

I'm sure other moms have more ideas about how to balance time together as a couple with young kiddos... if so, please feel free to share your thoughts here!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Knowing God: Being Known

"There is, certainly, great cause for humility in the thought that He sees all the twisted things about me that my fellow humans do not see (and I am glad!), and that he sees more corruption in me than that which I see in myself (which, in all conscience, is enough!)." ~Knowing God, J.I. Packer, p. 42
I've been attempting lately to read more "heavy" Christian literature... the old stuff like Puritans, and the slightly newer but still not hot-off-the-presses stuff like Sproul. I'm taking on Packer's Knowing God now, which it seems like I should have done ages ago.

And it is breaking me. I can feel it just weighing down on me in a glorious way. Revealing just how selfish and wicked I truly am. How much my sinful, egocentric heart would be content to just gleefully skip through life focused on myself and the externals of the Christian woman's life and lot without actually panting after Christ.

He sees every single thing about me whether I knowingly draw near or not. The King of Kings, the Sovereign Lord of all, the Creator of the farthest stars and the fingers I'm now typing with... HE seeks ME out. I am simultaneously humbled by His intentional pursuit of me and shamefully aware of my own lack of true intent and concern for drawing near to Him. How many times do I choose my own strength? My own way? My own "wisdom"?

And how often, when I listen to or read the Word, am I listening for a "rhema" word (a word for ME), asking Him to speak specifically about me and my life, rather than listening for HIM, no matter what it is He says?

"My sheep listen to my voice." ~Jesus

Lord, let me listen. Teach me to listen. Show me how to listen, not merely for the things I want to hear-- but for anything and everything You have to say to me. Teach me to rest and revel in the knowledge that you see everything about me and yet you love me. Don't let me crowd out your all-knowing, all-seeing love with anything else in my life. Sinful though I am, show me how to respond to your pursuit of me, most holy God.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Knowing God: The Study of God

So I'm reading J.I. Packer's "Knowing God", and a friend of mine just challenged me today to start sharing more of what I'm reading... so here goes. Maybe it will be a bit heady in some places, and overly vulnerable in others, but perhaps my sharing will lure you into what, by all accounts, is an amazingly good book.

"If we pursue theological education for its own sake, it is bound to go bad on us. It will make us proud and conceited. The very greatness of the subject matter will intoxicate us, and we shall come to think of ourselves as a cut above other Christians because of our interest in it and grasp of it."
~J.I. Packer, Knowing God, p.22

God, keep me from this!

A mom of ten that I respect a great deal has a certain dislike for theology. She rightly points out that it often leads to fighting (which I, too, dislike). And she gets her "theology" (knowledge of God) from her multiple passes through the Word of God each year. She listens to the Bible on CD throughout the day, and she keeps her Bible open on her kitchen counter and reads as she's going about life.

And I try to carry out some of these same principles in our home, too, so that I'm taking in great amounts of Scripture to learn of the character of God.

One of the most helpful things I've done recently is to listen repeatedly to the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) on audio (through iTunes-- I love it! I can make my daily "list" of things to listen to and not have to fuss with it throughout the day). This same mom of ten actually recommended this as well. She said a great way to learn about God as a Father (and to have an idea of how God parented the Israelites when they were a young nation) is to listen to the Pentateuch over and over again, with that question in mind. "How did God "father" them?" And it's true. I've learned so much about God as Father (and gained even more solid footing in biblical discipline of my children) by doing this.

At the same time, though, I believe that our grasp of Scripture and our knowledge of God (not just about Him, but knowing HIM) can be enhanced and rightly shaped by reading mature, thoughtful, proven theological books, sermons, and other writings. I sincerely hope that, while spurred on by the "great books" (even, and perhaps I should say "especially" by the great theological books) of Christian faith, my theology will come from the Word of God and be learned with a humble spirit. That is my hope and prayer.

"Knowledge puffs up... the man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know." ~1 Corinthians 8:1-2

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

French Market

As most of you know I recently closed my brick and mortar shop to travel and do shows. There are many lines I carried in the shop that I am not able to sell at these venues so I will be offering them for sale here on the blog. If you are interested please email me to arrange to purchase something. I will answer any questions as well. I accept Paypal, personal checks and money orders. I will charge exact shipping and insurance is required on all items. All sales are final.

Large lotus flower candle holder>> $32 (candle not included--2 available)

Small lotus candle holder>>$17 (2 available)

Set of 3 tin pots in soft blue-green with pink roses (lg-9 1/4" tall) (med-8" tall) (sm-6 1/2" tall)
$52 for the set

Petite dress form (not old) 27 1/2" tall>>$135

Reproduction mercury glass vase (7 1/2" tall)>>$38

Set of three reproduction mercury glass candle holders (lg-8" med 5 1/2" sm 3")
$60 for set

Burlap messenger bag--4 available>>$34

Framed bird nest available in black or green wood>>$28 (2 black, 2 green available)

Resin finial from Aidan Gray 14" tall ( 2 available)>>$45 each

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It is NOT Our Culture that has Sexualized the Breasts

This (the idea that our culture has sexualized the breasts) is an oft-repeated notion that drives me crazy. You hear it a lot in the breastfeeding literature-- "oh, our society needs to get over its sexual fascination with the breasts... HELLO! They're for FEEDING BABIES". Yes. That's true. They ARE for feeding babies. And they are ALSO for delighting a husband.

Proverbs 5:18-20:
Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.
Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?

Song of Solomon 7:7-9
Your stature is like a palm tree,
and your breasts are like its clusters.
I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit. Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine,
and the scent of your breath like apples,
and your mouth like the best wine.

I'm just saying.

American men aren't the only ones who have liked em, ya know? And it's not a sin to like em. It's which ones he is delighted by that makes the difference. So, if you're married, let him delight in yours. ;-) And if you're nursing, don't fool yourself into thinking that discretion is never necessary because "there's nothing sexual" about them. There is. And it ain't new.

And if you disagree, don't take it up with me. Take it up with the Bible, thankyouverymuch.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Upstairs Closet


The entire upstairs was very dark. This back gabled ell, which extends north off of the main house, has a low gabled ceiling so we thought it would make a great walk-in closet.

After framing, insulation and electrical.

The closet door. We rounded off the top and I think it looks quite charming.


We looked into doing a closet organizer for clothes but it was really pricey. So I looked around and found a good deal on some large over-sized white dressers.

We got two, his and hers.

UPDATE: Photos added February 17, 2010

We used plastic covered wire racks that you can custom fit to your space. This ended up being the most functional and most affordable option. The only thing that doesn't fit in our closet are my dresses and Hubby's suits. Those are stored in our downstairs guest room closet.

Vanity is a matching piece to the two Empire dressers in our bedroom. The set comes from my Grandmother's house, which were originally purchased by her Grandparents.

My favorite part of our small closet is the wonderful window that offers a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside with Mt. Adams (way over in Washington state) as a backdrop.

Upstairs Office


This is the upstairs half story as it was when we bought the place. It was a seasonal space, perhaps used as a workshop or for storage. In Phase II of our remodel, we put in a large shed dormer (shed dormers are flat so allow more head room than a gabled dormer), transforming this space entirely. What you're looking at is the east side of the house.

Here is that same east end after the new dormer went in. Notice all the extra floor space to the right of the stairs. The framing you see is the beginning formation of the office. The threshold to the office is dictated by the massive support beam that had to be lifted by crane into our roof line and what will support the large dormer addition. Where the threshold of the office stands, provides the resting place for the beam above it. Ditto for the other side of the room where the bathroom was created.

The drywall, door, trim and new Marvin window start to shape the office.

After paint and new hardwood flooring throughout upstairs.


We had to disassemble the old desk (another Great Great Grandparent piece) due to its weight and size. But once reassembled, it fit quite well in the new space.

The office is mostly used by me as Hubby has an office at work. My collection of antique gold frames rests against the wall waiting for the right piece of art.

The gabled portion of the room offers enough head room for storage.

The Intentional Marriage

In life, we could just put one foot in front of the other and "make it". OR, we can live intentionally and really engage in the adventure of sanctification God has laid out for us. This is true of all areas of life, but it's definitely true for married life. Here are some ways that Doug & I have gone about intentionally living in, growing in, and fortifying our marriage:

* We talk, talk, talk. That doesn't mean that's all we do... but we talk through the things on our minds and hearts. The stresses, the good things. The difficult and wonderful things. Here's one way that we initially started doing this:
"HIGH/LOW"-- with this, you just share the "HIGH" and the "LOW" for that particular day. It's a low time commitment, but that way you're seeing the good and hard things in each other's lives. We don't do this very often now, because we're so used to talking about life together. But in the beginning of our marriage, particularly in the seasons where we were spending more time apart than together, this helped us to develop the habit of regular communication about the things that matter.
Now, our conversations usually start with, "what's on your mind?" Or, "what are you reading about?"

* We serve each other. He pours me big glasses of sweet tea. I make meals that he specifically likes. He gives me a foot rub several nights a week while we talk on the couch. I organize his books. He'll take the kids to the park so I can have some writing time. I keep the kids quiet some mornings so he can sleep in an extra hour or two. We BOTH contribute to each other's sanity in big and small ways.

* We keep the physical fires fanned and burning. If you've read here much at all, you know this is a big one for me. It's also one that I don't want to give too many specifics about in such a public forum. You can always e-mail me if you want to talk about specific questions/situations, etc. But I will say these things: He's not the only one who initiates. We make this part of our relationship a very crucial, regular, fun, growing, and passionate priority. We work hard to make this a really wonderful time to come together and re-connect. We still flirt with each other. And we don't say no.

On that last point, here are some things that help me put it into perspective:
  1. When I'm 75, will I look back with regret at consistently (or even occasionally) having told him "no" when he tried to pursue me? Or with satisfaction and thankfulness because I really did get outside of myself and love and serve my dh in this area of marital intimacy?
  2. Have I ever regretted doing it? (That old, "it's like exercise" thing-- even when you weren't wanting to, you're never sorry once you've done it.)
  3. I'm the only woman who can righteously love my husband in this way.
  4. My friend Chloe said this-- for women, it can be likened to a campfire... if you keep the coals warm, it's easier to get things blazing again than if you let the fire go out between uses. SO, don't go too long between times. Keep those coals warm and ready for a regular fire.
  5. The optimal sexual encounter lasts between 3 and 13 minutes. SURELY we can make time for 3 to 13 minutes, even on our busiest days!
* We STILL "date" each other. Ours doesn't look like actual "go out to the movies" kind of dates very often ... BUT, our kids are in bed every night by 7:30/8pm. So, we can kind of have a date night whenever we want. Sometimes we'll watch a comedy and laugh together. Or we'll sit on the couch and read together, with our legs touching and the occasional smile and wink as we turn a page. Little things like that can really re-connect you in the midst of the storm. The point is to take time to BE together and enjoy it.

Building the relationship throughout the day:
  • Before he leaves for work, tell him something you respect him for, and give him a big nice long kiss.
  • When he passes you in the kitchen while you're making dinner, flirt with each other... don't lose sight of the fact that this was the man that 3, 10, or 35 years ago, you couldn't WAIT to be around!
  • At dinner, make a point to really talk and listen to each other. Even if it's only for 5-10 minutes of the meal, intentionally connect during that time. Sure, when you have little ones, one of you is cutting pieces of chicken into smaller bites and the other one is grabbing a dish towel cause the child who always spills something at every meal has struck again... but that's life. Enjoy those moments together.
  • Get on the same page about the things that matter... money, kids, extended family relationships, time management, etc. Talk through these things and approach them as working together as a team rather than as each of you picking the other apart or trying to "fix" what's wrong with the other person. And respect his leadership in these areas as the head of the home.
  • Try to still do the things that connected you early on... holding hands, kissing for more than a short peck, leaving each other notes (if you did that), talking about baseball/music/politics (whatever it was you loved discussing together), etc.
  • BUT ALSO-- find some new things that can connect you. Perhaps he's knee-deep in learning about real estate, or the five points of Calvinism, or various approaches to website building, or some such thing. FIND POINTS of discussion and sharing about those things. And share with him the things YOU'RE thinking about and learning. Don't brush each other off and just say, "oh, he's talking about x... I'll never understand why he cares about that." Or "homeschooling is my thing..." and then zone out. Bring each other along for the journeys you're both on. Delight in the things that the other is delighting in. Learn about the things that matter to him (like football drafts, or March Madness). Talk through the things that are troubling you. Share the concerns you have about a particular child's behavior, or the relationship with the in-laws, or the direction your church is heading.

SHARE LIFE TOGETHER. Don't just live life on parallel tracks... get on the SAME track and travel it together.

Something I find helpful during stressful moments is to realize that this is God's adventure for OUR lives. THIS IS MY REAL LIFE. I won't get these moments back, I won't get a re-do. The way I'm living now can't be altered later. The way my marriage is now can't be erased and re-written. I need to walk in the way that I will want to have walked when I am old.

Thoughts? Anything you want to add?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Show & Tell: Back in Full Force

By now, you all know that I love these show & tell posts. So here we go again. Click on whatever interests you, until you have one less tab open than will crash your computer. ;-)

THIS JUST IN: Men & Women are Different
ISSUES THAT MATTER: Politics and more
HERE, THERE, & EVERYWHERE: Interesting Miscellany
  • Puritan Prayers-- this link may sound dull, but I'm telling you-- these prayers are RICH, and (though very old) might just inspire you and challenge you in completely new ways.
  • Strategies to Keep From Falling: My favorite author, Randy Alcorn, writes about sexual purity.
  • Sharpen your brain: MENSA GAMES
  • Free IQ Test-- online and fun. I love this kind of stuff.
  • WHY AMERICA IS RICH, and other musings about world evangelism.
  • Top 20 Jobs-- the growth and disappearing of jobs. Good stuff to know, whether you're a homeschool mom or a young person, or in any way rely on jobs for any reason. Hmmm....
  • HEAVEN ON EARTH: Really. (And in my head Belinda Carlisle is singing, "Ooh, baby, do you know what that's worth?")
As always, happy reading!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

When the Person that "Wears the Pants" in the Family is a Size 2T

I'll just jump right in. Though my words are straightforward and bold, I pray that they will be received with careful reflection. It is not for the purpose of criticizing, but rather for encouraging mothers in careful discipline and parenting of their children, that I have written what follows.

There is something that bothers me and seems to get lost in the whole infant feeding/sleeping debates, and in the debates about certain parenting books and their authors. That is, that those debates cloud the real issues at hand regarding child training. And it is possible that those who passionately fall on either side might miss the big picture.

Frankly, biblically speaking, it doesn't matter to me whether you feed every waking and sleeping moment of every day, or whether you feed every 3 hours on the nose. Biblically speaking, it doesn't matter to me whether your child sleeps through the night at 6 weeks or at 6 years.

What does matter, biblically speaking, is that you train your child in the way he should go. What does matter, biblically speaking, is that you teach your child to obey you (his/her parents) in everything. What does matter, biblically speaking, is that foolishness is driven out from your child's heart and is replaced with a fear of God and an understanding of what the Lord has done for us, and for this world.

What concerns me is that I see too many children raised in Christian families who are not taught and expected to obey. They are allowed to dishonor their parents with their yelling, tantrums, and emotional displays. They are allowed to intentionally and brazenly disobey their parents, without repercussions of any kind. They are encouraged in selfishness and materialism by parents who don't set limits and stand by them. They are outright rude to siblings, guests and adults, and it goes uncorrected.

We have less children than any generation before us, and more parenting advice at our fingertips, and yet we parent them worse.

Is it ANY wonder that we see so many variations on the theme of depressed, psychotic, and medicine-requiring mommies? These moms are told by various parenting experts that they are doing the right things, and to just "hang in there", and that "this stage" is a tough one (aren't they all labeled a tough stage by one "expert" or another?). But these moms are slowly slipping over the edge because of the disobedience and disrespect of their children.

You can see it in the raw moments of a women's Bible study at your church, or in the public discussions on some online message boards. When a mom has been deceived into thinking that discipline is harsh and that it is not to be employed or sought by a gentle, loving, Christian mom, she is left without biblical support for pursuing the very thing her heart desires-- the cheerful obedience of her children. She grasps for labels or special psychological terminology. She just doesn't understand why things are going so. very. badly. Indeed, she may feel guilty for simply desiring obedience and find herself wallowing in a discouraging version of motherhood that seems far more like a curse than a blessing.

Motherhood becomes a duty and a bitter pill to swallow when the person who wears the pants in the family is a toddler. It really doesn't matter how you feed your infant. That's your business. I've shared here before how we handle the feeding/sleeping issues in our home-- and how much it enables and facilitates joyful family life in our home. But if you want to do things differently, that's completely your call.

The Bible does not clearly spell out a feeding regimen for babies, either towards rigidity, or towards fluidity. Nor does it give specifics on newborn care. It really is a matter of preference.

But the Bible DOES spell out a requirement for parents: children must obey. You (as the parent) are to instruct and train them in this. It is not optional. It is not easy. It is not pleasant at the time, and will not be something they always enjoy. So whatever parenting "method" you employ for the first year of your child's life, once that child begins willfully choosing to disobey and dishonor you, the Bible makes it clear that THAT is not honoring to the Lord.

By reaching age two, the average child is acting and using their voice in ways that ought to be met with firm, loving discipline. They begin to rebel, defy, and assert their demands... and if parents aren't careful --no matter what they've done up to this point-- if they do not at this point use careful, intentional, biblical discipline to teach and train their children in obedience, things can quickly unravel. Soon, the person in control of the family atmosphere is a child.

Though our culture sees disobedience as a natural exertion of individualism, defiance as being "spirited", and rebellion as "normal", God calls it evil. Israel was told to stone a defiant and rebellious child, and yet in our society today, parents are thought cruel and heartless when they mete out just discipline to an undeniable disobedient and disrespectful child. Seasoned parents know different-- but when you surround yourself with psycho-babble raised peers, it is easy to have good judgment overruled by the pleasant-sounding but poor-resulting parenting advice so easily given by our sin-excusing culture.

Though our flesh and our culture rises up against the notion of discipline, the Word of God says these things about discipline:
And it says these things about lack of discipline:
Whatever our infant feeding method, whatever our favorite parenting "book", if we do not discipline our children with a goal of obedience and instruction in the Lord's ways, we are sinning. I want to encourage others to not feel guilty for obeying God's Word. Do not grow weary in disciplining and instructing your children. It is biblical and right to give clear, firm, loving discipline to a wayward child. Do not fall prey to the bankrupt philosophies of the world (or even "Christian" parenting methods) that tell you to only say yes, to not expect obedience, or to seek primarily to befriend your child without parenting and disciplining him.

Instruct your children. Discipline your children. Train your children. Teach your children. This is the loving thing to do. If your "parenting method" encourages you to do any different than this-- if it "softens" or waters down the Word of God-- drop the parenting method, rather than disobeying God.

The main thing I want to communicate is this: instead of listening to the "wisdom" of men, (even if they call it "Christian" advice), love the children God has given you by disciplining them according to His Word.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ready to Roll

Well, I'm back. You may have noticed that blogger had some problems this last week, rendering my blog inaccessible. Which was OK. It's funny; I had some posts pre-scheduled to start posting a couple days ago... but apparently, I needed a LITTLE more time, so blogger made me unable to do anything, blogwise. :) So we'll reengage in a day or two.

Speaking transparently, this summer has been simultaneously one of the neatest and one of the most difficult seasons of life I've ever walked through.

My children absolutely crack me up and make life deliciously fun. Just this morning, Ethan showed me a Lego "couch" he had crafted, and then he lifted it up and showed me the bottom, "where the dust goes". :) That's one of the sheer delights of having kids... their creativity and good humor lightens the load of adult life. And Silas started crawling... at four and a half months. Nuts! Watching the development of personality, creativity, humor, relationships, spiritual and even physical growth of our children has been a great joy for me.

I'll share some of the difficulties... honestly, there's been nothing earth-shattering. I just have gone through a season of struggling for longer and deeper than ever before. Perhaps some of it is the continuation of culture shock (for those of you who don't know, we live overseas). Perhaps some of it is missing my family, my parents in particular. I've had some of you write and suggest that perhaps I'm going through something postpartum, but I honestly don't think so. Perhaps some of it is the fact that I was spending time reading, researching, and thinking through deep things but not "processing" through them here, in writing. I think writing is very therapeutic and necessary for me. So, ironically, I think the blog "sabbatical" contributed to a difficult summer even though it has allowed me to do more running around with and enjoying of moments with my kiddos. Anyway, I'm sharing in a rambling sort-of way, but I just wanted you to know, transparently, that I'm coming out of a difficult season.

My sweet husband urged me to snag some tickets back home, so I'll be visiting my parents for a few weeks in September (woohoo!)... and (confession?) I've been writing for the past couple of weeks... so these things have helped. But, quite honestly, I'm still in a funk. I am clinging to the scripture that none can snatch me out of God's hands. I am listening to God's wonders of the Exodus. I am reading and listening to sermons about Job. I am so very thankful for my husband's steady, warm, understanding love... he is such a selfless, humble man, and I can't express my gratitude for him in my life. I am trying to fix my eyes on Jesus and look with faith towards heaven instead of getting wrapped up in the disappointments and struggles of earth.

Like I said, there hasn't been any "big" event that has caused this struggle... I am just in a difficult spot, personally. I have a lot on my mind, though, and so with that, let's re-enter the conversation we left off a couple of months ago... about home... about parenting... about marriage... about life. I look forward to reengaging with you all about the issues that are close to my heart.

p.s. By the way, now that we've "lived with" this new blog theme for a while (the blue background), what do you think of it? Is it a bit much? It reminds me of a palace harem I visited here, but tell me what you think-- is it hard to read/look at?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

This Lawn is Your Lawn

I'm of the mindset that every household should have a vegetable garden. This is not a new idea as Victory Gardens were encouraged as a way to save energy and keep people fed during World War I and World War II. Twenty million of these gardens existed producing 40% of the vegetable produce consumed nationally in the United States. Planting a vegetable garden was seen as a national duty.I hope

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I've Been Tagged

I've been tagged! DG from Food and Garden Dailies tagged me today. Hmm, this is my second tag so hopefully I play the game correctly :)Here are the rules: 1. Link the person who tagged you.2. Mention the rules on your blog.3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them.5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know that

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cheers For Caty

We all go about ours days wrapped up in our own little worlds and often take what we have for granted. I recently received an email from a reader who is trying to get the story of a young girl out there who recently learned that her world is about to change drastically. She's being very brave but we all need to keep her in our thoughts and prayers. Please check out her story at



Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Gardens At Sweet Pea

Well it's official~~the dog days of summer are here. We go from one extreme to the other. No rain, too much rain. I am actually quite surprised by the stamina of my gardens this year, as usually most of my plants are looking more than a bit tired by now. It isn't easy to garden in Florida. Early on I tried to achieve the cottage garden look, and I will admit that I wasted a lot of money on fussy perennials that never stood a chance even though Jackson and Perkins guaranteed they would. Those plants are but a memory now, and while I long for peonies, snapdragons and delphiniums I have learned to use what works in this brutal climate I call home. Here is a look inside the gardens at Sweet Pea...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Put Your Bread Maker to Good Use

If your bread maker has been gathering dust in a cupboard, pull it out and come with me on a bread making adventure. It was with mixed feelings that I opened my new bread machine on Christmas morning a few years ago. I'd never been that fond of bread, and in a two-person household we go through less than a loaf a week. I smiled politely. "Wow," I said. I’d heard that without preservatives, bread


Bindweed(Convolvulus arvensis)Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) is a member of the morning glory family. It is a very invasive, spreading weed that can be introduced to the garden through soil and roots. Quite frankly I think bindweed is rather pretty with its small trumpet shaped white flowers with faint pink stripes. It covers wires and chain link fencing nicely but it is still considered a

Friday, August 8, 2008


Common Garden Petunia(Petunia x hybrida)Very few gardeners are unaware of the common garden petunia (petunia x hybrida) with their beautiful showy, cascading trumpet shaped flowers. These plants are members of the family Solanaceae (nightshade plant) that originated in South America and are thought to be a hybridization between P. axillaris and P. integrifolia. There is a wide variety of

Friday, August 1, 2008

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