Mama Stuff

Stacy at Your Sacred Calling has a great post up today about Kiddos in the Kitchen. Before you read on here, I’d love it if you’d go take a look, and be sure to read the article she links to at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee.

Done? Good stuff, wasn’t it?

The whole “Did he know what He was doing when He gave them me?” question resonates with me (and probably most moms) deeply. I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up for my failures instead of accepting His forgiveness and moving on in HIS strength. But He keeps working on me, and it’s wonderful to know that His grace covers my mistakes, failures, impatience, etc.

On the kiddos in the kitchen business…
I have long admired and desired the parenting “model” that brings your children alongside you as you work through the day. It made sense and it sounds so lovely (two links there). But man oh man, it seems so hard to do! (Listens for the Amens) So I continue to desire to live with my children alongside me, and keep looking for ways to make that workable for me.

Here’s how my efforts have often gone in the past. I have something to do, think it would be something with which the Blessings could help. I gather them around, thinking what a fun and bonding experience this will be. 30 minutes later, the project is complete, I feel like I should be half bald from pulling my hair out, and I go to take a nap wondering, “Why do I even try?” A couple months later, I might get the courage to try again.

That probably doesn’t sound at all familiar, does it?

Well, first of all, I’ve been working lately on my heart attitude toward my Blessings. You know I don’t call them that just because I think it’s cute, don’t you? The world around me needs to know that my children are viewed as Blessings. And me? I need the reminder! Yet it is so easy to fall into viewing them as burdens instead of blessings, and I’m continually needing to ask the Lord to give me HIS heart toward my children.

Another very practical thing I’ve realized is that it just doesn’t work to bring all seven of my Blessings alongside me at the same time! The goal of bringing them alongside as I work dovetails beautifully with my (also often unrealized) goal of spending time with them one-on-one. So lately, I’ve been working on remembering to call them to me one or two at a time to help with something.

This has been a great help when it comes to special projects as well. We made gift jars for Christmas presents this year (something I plan to post about separately), and I had them help in teams of two. Each team helped me put togetehr a batch of 6 gift jars. Stephen “helped” on more than one team. Similarly, when we made edible Christmas trees, it was just two or three at a time at the counter.

So while this is a cute pictures of the Blessings and their trees,

I realized while reading the aforementioned blogs that they’re not a realistic view of how those trees happened, and I don’t want to add to anyone’s Mama complex by presenting a false view!
They happened like this:

and this:

one, two, or (at most) three Blessings at a time. Then when they were all done, time for a fun picture, then the eating!

So what I’m trying to say through all my sputtering is this: Take heart, fellow Mamas! Keep stepping along with baby steps, seeking the next thing you are to do, treasure your Blessings, and know that God’s grace covers you and them when you fail. And don’t forget that one of the greatest gifts you can give your cbildren is for them to see you honoring, respecting, and loving your man!

Christmas Day Fun

Here are some collages of our Christmas day fun. A few things I wish I had pictures of… our times together reading the story of Christmas and singing, the lovely Winterberry teapot that Dad and Mom Smith bought me, and evidence that our dear friend Georgia had Christmas dinner with us. It was a lovely day!

Happy Christmas Week to you!

Here it is, the week of Christmas. We are done with schoolwork until 2010 and I am looking forward to enjoying a couple weeks of fun and play.

I haven’t written much about our Advent/Christmas related activities this year, mostly because I’ve been busy living them. But now that we’re on vacation, and I mostly have fun things on my to-do list (like Make more Jar Gifts, Play with Ribbon and the Trimmings from the bottom of the tree, sew for the Blessings, etc), I feel like I have time to post a bit.

This season has presented many opportunities for me to learn contentment with the not-perfect. And I’m thankful for that, which is another God thing.

A few example of my opportunities:
I’ve felt several steps behind for the last few weeks, greatly because I came out of my first trimester fog in mid-to-late November and had lots of catching up to do before I felt like I could focus on Advent/Christmas. What a wonderful reason for needing to skip some things!
We didn’t manage to do the Jesse Tree this year, which I miss, but it just wasn’t doable, and I’m ok with that.
Our Christmas decorating started late, but the house looks lovely and the Blessings helped, which is a treat for them and for me.
We had some unexpected emergency repairs that needed to be made to the van (to the tune of +$700), which put a cramp in what we thought we were doing for the Blessings for Christmas. But we try to not focus on the gifts anyway, and this has actually made that easier, as well as giving me the chance to get creative with the fabric we have on hand!

We were late to start our Advent Wreath, but have loved our times of sitting around the table reading Scripture and singing hymns and carols by candlelight. The Advent Wreath has become one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season. The hush of our hearts in worship, the sound of our voices singing beloved songs together, the flicker of the candles… oh how I love it!

I’ll close this somewhat random post with an article that Jonathan and I wrote on behalf of our chapel that will be published in the mid-week Missourian:

As we anticipate Christmas, our thoughts turn to shepherds, stars, angels, Mary, Joseph, and especially to that baby born in a stable in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago. The image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation (Col. 1.15), born in human flesh, he was fully God and fully man. We sense the wonder of Emmanuel, God with us, and our hearts are filled with thankfulness and joy.

Yet, in the midst of our Christmas celebrations, how often we forget why He came. The goal of the incarnation was not simply to have the Son born as a baby, to give us thoughts of sweetness and light. No, the goal of the incarnation, established before the world was formed by the very words of God, was for the Son to be slain to pay the penalty for the sins of the creation that would turn against the Creator. “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5.21) We know that victory also lay in the path of that baby born in Bethlehem – Jesus would rise from the dead on the third day to show that the price had been paid, that sin and death had been conquered. But first, the anguish of the cross for our eternal life.

So as we celebrate the birth of our Savior this Christmas, may we keep in mind that, as wonderful as it is to contemplate, it was not His birth that brought us the hope of salvation. He was born to die, so that we might live forever. May you come to know Him in a fuller way this Christmas.

Finished Siding!

Once upon a time (last fall), the Lord worked things out for us to rent our current home from some friends. It was a two bedroom home, however, and it was agreed that we would do the labor while they paid for materials to convert the two-car garage into living space.
Here it is before we started working on it:

The once-garage is now our bedroom/office/room-to-hide-the-tv, and we love it.

Here are some along the way shots of the outside of the house…
In June. See the raw wood?

Also in June, but after I painted the wood white so that it would blend better:

And the beautiful finished product, with the siding done today by the siding experts:

Me like!

A giveaway!

MoneySavingMom is having a terrific giveaway! In her words:

ShopAtHome, an online cashback site that I’ve mentioned dozens of times, is generously buying a $100 gift card for five different readers here. But get this: if you win, you’ll get to choose what store you want your gift card to be to. You can choose from any of the stores listed here. How fun is that?

Go check out MSM’s post

The Story

I wanted to share the verses I’m going to be reading to the kids today at our Good News Club Christmas party. It’s all so amazing and overwhelming to me that it’s hard to read without tears. That my Creator came so humbly, for the express purpose of dying on the cross 30-some years later – to pay the eternal price for my sin. Behold! What Love!

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
(Luke 2:1-20)

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
(Col 1:15-17)

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Phil. 2:5-11)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2Co 5:21)

Blog Reading Tools

This morning, the Nester posed the question How Do You Read Blogs? I found it interesting that by the time I got around to commenting (#30-something), no one had mentioned my favorite blog-reading tool. So I did my best to explain it in my comment. Then I realized I should also share this niftiness with you!

I love Google Reader and have used it for a long while now. It saves me much time by letting me know when one of the blogs that I read has a new post, so I don’t have to go clicking through bookmarks to check blogs that may or may not have updates. Plus, if one of my bloggy friends disappears for a few months, I automatically know when they come back!

My one frustration with it was that if I wanted to see the actual blog, or if someone didn’t have their whole post go to the feed, I would have to open the link in a new tab.

But google has added a new wonderful feature that solves this frustration! Shawna told me about it and I’ll try to explain … the NEXT button!

The “Next” button is a link that you can drag to your favorites bar. When you click it, whatever tab you are in will automatically go to the page of the next post in your reader. It’s the handiness of google reader without having to miss out on the beauty of the actual blogs – nifty!

Here’s how you can get it: Go to your Google Reader and hit the Settings link. There will be several tabs across the top… go to Goodies. Under “Put Reader in a Bookmark,” there is a link that you can simply drag to your favorites bar to add the Next button.

One other note: those of you who have been with me for a while know that screen “real estate” is valuable to this claustrophic woman. I hadn’t had a favorites bar at the top of my browser since I found out I could make it go away! But I put it back to give the Next button a trial run, and yes, this tool is handy enough that I’m willing to give up that precious piece of screen real estate to have it.

Give the Next button a try and let me know if you like it!


This afternoon I had a wonderful visit with my lovely midwife. As I went to update my Facebook status, I was struck by just how rewarding & fantastic it is to be planning a home birth in Missouri with a legal midwife, instead of planning to leave my kiddos & travel 8 hours away in order to work with one legally??

THANK YOU so very much to all of you who spent countless hours making this possible. Tears of joy overwhelm me…