Wednesday, December 08, 2010

We Aren't Homeless

The other day one of my friends on Facebook said "And since we've no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow." The average reader probably thought, "That's nice - she has enough milk and toilet paper so she doesn't have to go out in this snow and can just watch the flakes fall and sing a jolly holiday tune." Not me. My first thought was, "Oh no! What happened? Why doesn't she have anyplace to go? I thought they bought a house!" As I was telling Glenn about my response when I was picking him up from school I told him of my friend's status and even sang it and he told me he thought the same thing when he first heard me say it. Yes, we have been homeless.... a few times.

I don't know that I will ever take the fact for granted that we are not homeless. At least once just about every day someone in our family says something about being thankful that we have a place to live. Yesterday Lydia went into more detail during our "thank yous" time at night. Her list of things that she was thankful for consisted of: "we don't live outside, we aren't homeless and we have friends so that when we are homeless we have places to stay and not be outside." I think that she pretty much summed it up. (The large amounts of snow we are getting may have had some kind of influence on this.)

Well, I started the first couple of lines of this blog last night and all day I have been thinking about it and even starting to piece together a Christmas letter along a similar theme in my head until I was making dinner tonight. Lately I have been listening to the podcasts from Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA while making dinner. I have really been challenged by the messages. Meditating about being thankful for not being homeless was in the back of my mind as I was listening to October 17th message this afternoon. Francis Chan was giving a video update to the church and asking for prayer as his family was leaving for Asia. He was talking about how his family is transitioning from being teaching pastor at the church to the unknown that God has called them to and how his wife suggested that they sell their home before leaving for Asia for "however long" and how they packed up have no home to come back to. He said, "When I look at it biblically I'm cool when I look in the flesh I'm scared." People think that it is radical that they have stepped out in faith, not knowing what the next step is for their family but he said that when he put his life into the book of Acts between a couple of stories in Paul's life his life was pretty normal. He asked "When you put your life story into this Book how does it appear then? Is it normal or is it weird?" Then after Francis's update was done Todd Nighswonger, the teaching pastor, went on to talk about how he'd been asking God to bring trials into his life so that he could grow more. That was all pretty convicting to me. I'm thrilled because life is easy?? OK, right... we're going through medical school, raising and homeschooling 4 kids, living on love and peanut butter but in all honesty, life is easy.

I struggle because I like it when life is easy. I would love in so many ways to live a comfortable, easy life.... but then.... I am in so many ways jealous of what the Chan family is doing. Setting out, like Abram, not knowing where they are going but knowing God has called them knowing that He is going to provide for their every need and guide them. I want to do that. I love living by faith because He who calls us is faithful!! I know that my kids have a much bigger view of God than I did at their ages because we have seen Him do some pretty amazing things in our lives. I don't grow much when life is easy but I don't know that I am quite ready to pray for God to bring trials into our lives either. Ugg.

So, we aren't homeless. We have lived all of 2010 without being homeless. (Glenn says I shouldn't say that yet because there are still a few weeks left!) Will we be homeless in the future? Probably. Am I worried? No. I know that God has a perfect plan in store for us. He is pruning us, conforming us more to His image.

Lord, I trust You in Your perfect plan to orchestrate the details of our lives in the way that would most glorify You. Thank You that You have used seasons of homelessness and seasons of other trials to make us appreciate our homes and the easy times more and most importantly to grow us more into Your image. I love you Lord!

Monday, December 06, 2010

"Playing Doctor"

So much to blog about but I just had to share this story from yesterday. Glenn has a clinical skills exam tomorrow. A friend came over on Saturday night to practice and then another one came over on Sunday evening. When Abigail saw Chris put his stuff on the table last night she looked and said with a bit of disgust, "Oh, they are going to play doctor again." It cracked us up. This evening we have all had the chance to be "patients" of our favorite second year medical student. Have fun playing doctor tomorrow Glenn. We love you and pray you'll do well.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

*giveaway over* What's in the Bible? #4 DVD Review & GIVEAWAY!!

Phil Vischer
 Note: Giveaway details are at the bottom.

I am very excited about a new DVD series for kids from Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales called “What's in the Bible?” We were given given a copy of the 4th video “Battle for the Promise Land” to review for Tyndale. Based on the cover I wasn't all that excited about watching it but I was hooked within the first minute. I loved the bantering back and forth between the puppets and how they all helped each other learn about “housewares,” er... I mean the historical books of the Old Testament. :) The focus on this DVD was on the books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth. There was some review of what had happened in the Pentateuch (that I am assuming were discussed in the first 3 videos) with fun songs to help remember the first 5 books of the Bible.

The first episode was part review and mostly about the book of Joshua. The favorite song of all 4 of my kids is “You can't stop a Train.” They loved the silly impossibilities that are summed up with “Standing in the way of what God is going to do will be really, really, really really not so good for you.” My 10 year old summed up what he learned in that episode by saying, “I learned that if people stand in God's way God will give them what they deserve if they won't repent, like Pharaoh died and the Canaanites died because they tried to stand in God's way.”

The second episode focused on the books of Judges and Ruth. I thought that they gave a good representation of the Cycle of Apostasy from the book of Judges. My 6 year old summed that up by saying, “I learned that they kept on bowing down to idols, then an army came, then they turned to God, then God sent a guy to rescue them, then they bowed down to idols again. It's hard to understand why they turned back to idols when they just got saved by God but it's true stories.” What a a great discussion starter with my 6 year old!

Here are some things I loved about the DVD:
* the focus on the fact that the Bible is true and helping kids to understand it.
* the focus on God's rescue plan of redemption that is tied throughout the Bible.
* it explains difficult concepts (redemption, holy, sanctified) in a way that makes sense to kids.
* “Tricky Bits with Phil” explained a difficult question in a way that made sense to everyone and left me with an “ah ha” moment.
* fun songs to help kids learn the books of the Bible. My kids have so many Veggie Tales songs memorized and I am excited to have them memorize the songs from these movies so that they can have the books of the Bible and where they are and what they are about memorized.

I think that these DVDs will be great to watch together as a family because they are great discussion starters and can be referred back to time and time again as different challenges come our way. They will also give us all a good overview of the Bible. I think these DVDs would be great to use for a neighborhood Bible club as well.

I asked each of the kids to write a review of what they thought of the DVD and my 4 year old said, “My favorite character is the pirate. It will be good to watch as a family. It is funner than Veggie Tales (if you ever watched them) because it is a Bible story about it and we have not got Bible stories ever as movies. The guy in the car didn't know the rest of the Bible and he was going to learn it through the story.”

I think that these DVDs will be a great way to learn more about the Bible and His-story as a family and to share with others to introduce them to Christ in a non-threatening means. My 8 year old summed up all of our feelings when she said, “I can't wait until the rest come out because I really want to own all of them.”

Go to and for more information.

Disclaimer: I received this DVD from Tyndale House Publishers, in exchange for my review. No other compensation was received.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS: I was given a coupon for a free copy of this DVD to give away on my blog. If you'd like a chance to win it please leave a comment below. A winner will be picked out of a hat on Sunday night 11/21/10 at 8pm EST.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I'm Not Perfect

I'm not perfect. Are you surprised? For some reason I always am. I am a first born child and, as I recently read in The New Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are by Kevin Leman that I borrowed from the library, that means I am prone to perfectionism. There is a problem with that since (surprise, surprise) I am not perfect. My constant realization of that fact causes me to often live a discouraged life. I am not a perfect follower of Christ, I am not a perfect wife, I am not a perfect mom, I am not a perfect housekeeper, I am not a perfect homeschool teacher. The list could go on forever but the one that I have really been struggling with lately is the last one I mentioned.

At the beginning of school I was super excited because we were starting early (which means we get to get done early!) and because we started a new curriculum (Sonlight) that looked so exciting. The first few weeks of school went well then we lost steam. I had been warned that it was pretty much impossible to check all of the boxes in Sonlight but I didn't know what boxes not to check and soon got overwhelmed at the fact that I hadn't gotten all the boxes checked. I got so frustrated that I wanted to give up. In my head it is all or nothing and since all is often really difficult, if not impossible, to be all I hide under the covers and do nothing. That is not really an option in real life and I often need help to bring myself out of that slump. I sought God and got some advice from Glenn and a couple of wise friends. The conclusion I have come to is that it is OK if we are not all on the same week. It is OK if we finish after the first week of May (public school doesn't get out around here until the end of June anyway). Also I decided that I needed to add to Caleb's workload because the curriculum that I have chosen for him is way too easy and it has given him too much free time to cause trouble and distract his sisters. I had found a book called Plants Grown Up from Doorposts at my aunt's house when I was helping her sort stuff and she let me have it. I decided to start working through it with Caleb. He's got school learning down pretty well. I want to focus more on character training with him.

We started it yesterday with each kid on a different "week" of our curriculum. It didn't go perfect but that is ok (honestly, it is!). This morning I made a list of what each kid needed to do on our whiteboard and told them that they needed to have all of their initials erased before they could be free. I think that that will be helpful. It is going to take some time to get back on track again because we kind of got out of the habit of getting serious amounts of school work done everyday when I was hiding under the covers.

I am thankful for God's grace and that His mercies that are new every morning and that He loves me and chooses to use me even though I am not perfect.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Love My Kids - Halloween Edition

I love my kids so much. This has been a fun Halloween. This is the first time that we have actually been home on Halloween and lived in an area where we actually get trick or treaters.  After our brief hail storm:
We headed out to visit some of our neighbors to trick or treat and show off the kids costumes. (This picture was taken much later in the evening after I had them re-dress.) It was we made it about a block and then came home to have hot chocolate because we were too cold.
Hannah - Belle, Caleb - ninja, Lydia - Indian Princess, Abigail - cowgirl
We came home and Glenn let us in (he had locked himself away studying with a friend) and then the kids stood by the door to give out candy. They were so excited and just loved seeing all the costumes and making people smile. I think that they had way more fun giving out candy than they had had getting candy. Here is a picture of them huddled by the front door eating popcorn and ready to pass out candy to the next group of people.  The kids kept a tally of how many people came trick or treating and when we got to 158 around 8pm we turned off the lights and came in to get ready for bed.
blurry picture from by the front door eating popcorn and waiting for trick or treaters

A little while later I went out onto the porch to look for something and saw this in our front yard:
our smashed pumpkins :(
I asked Caleb if he would help me clean it up and we went and told the girls that their pumpkins had been smashed. They were very sad and angry but we had a chance to sit and talk about it for a while wondering how Jesus would respond to people who wronged Him then we prayed for the people who had come and gotten candy from us and for the people who smashed our pumpkins and thanked God that nothing worse had happened to us.  Hannah came out and helped Caleb and I clean up the pumpkins from the front yard. They still couldn't understand why people would do something like that. I showed them how fun it was to see a pumpkin drop and smash with parts of the pumpkin and I could tell that God was working in their hearts as we talked and gathered pumpkin chunks. By the time that we took the last load of pumpkin chunks to the backyard they were coming up with a plan together for how to bless our pumpkin smashers next year. They decided that they are going to hide candy in our pumpkins next year so that people who are trying to be mean and smash our pumpkins will be blessed not only with the pleasure of watching the pumpkins splatter but with candy besides. It was so neat watching their hearts change as we walked through this trial together. I love that God is growing my kids and working in their hearts. I am so thankful that our pumpkins were smashed because I had a chance to talk to my kids about being wronged and how to respond when we are wronged. Thanks God for the blessing that my kids got to be to others by giving out candy and for working through the pumpkin smashing to a make them more like you.
Cleaning up pumpkin guts in our front yard.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Today did not go as planned

Today was Glenn's second exam of his second year of medical school. After his first exam we kidnapped him and took him to a park for a bike ride. Today we were planning to do something similar. I made the kids get as much school work done as we could first thing in the morning the we threw together a picnic lunch and were throwing things in the car to go get Glenn. As I was walking back to the house to grab my purse I cringed as I saw the door being pulled shut. The kids know that they are supposed to pull the door shut when we leave but we weren't quite ready yet. Most of the stuff for our excursion was in the car but my purse and my keys were locked inside. I asked my neighbor who used to own our house if he still had a key. He tried all the keys on his random keys key ring but none of them worked. I called my landlord and left a message but I had no way to contact Glenn because he is only allowed to bring a pencil to his test - no phone, not even a coat. He had told me that he would start walking if he got done early so I knew he would be heading towards home but he was planning on having us pick him up. After leaving a message for my landlord I thought about the fact that I don't know how often he checks his messages and I remembered that he had been no help to our upstairs neighbors when they had been locked out when his bike fell down the stairs blocking him out. He had had to have the fire department use a ladder to get him in. Another neighbor started walking around the house checking all the windows to see if we could get in that way but we have been broken into too many times, all of our windows were locked (and storm windows down for winter). No luck there. I called my upstairs neighbor but he couldn't get into our apartment because we had deadbolted the kitchen door. While talking to him on the phone and talking to a neighbor lady who was wondering if she could help me get Glenn I saw a police car driving down our street. I ran toward it waving my arms. He stopped and asked what I needed. I told him that I didn't know if he could help but I was locked out of my apartment and my landlord wasn't answering his phone and probably didn't have a key and I was wondering if he could help me get into my house. Thankfully he decided to help and we tried getting in through the back door but it was deadbolted so he decided to try the front door. My neighbor had tried to card the door but was unable to. The police officer had a little crow bar in his car and he used it and some plastic card out of my neighbor's wallet and worked on the door for some time. He told me that I probably don't have to worry too much about someone breaking in because the door was pretty well sealed. After at least 5 minutes of working on it he was finally able to get the door open so that we could go inside. I am SO grateful! Thank you Syracuse City police officer! I didn't even catch his name I wad so caught up in worrying about Glenn wondering where we were and wondering how we were ever going to get into the house. It was the first time I've ever been thankful that someone broke into my house as a first response. I don't know what God is going to teach me or why He allowed this to happen today but I am so thankful for this wonderful police officer and kind neighbors willing to lend a hand and offer a warm place to wait and I am thankful that God answered my prayer quickly to get back into our apartment.

Oh, and in case you were curious, Glenn did make it home. Right after we got into our apartment and got my keys we were about ready to get into the van to go get him when we saw him up the street and ran to him rejoicing that we had gotten let back into our apartment. Our day didn't go as planned but we did get back into our apartment, were reunited with Glenn, and did get to spend part of the afternoon with him. Thank You God for how You take care of us!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kid pic update

A picture of the kids that we took yesterday. The girls really like Caleb can you tell? Here is Lydia showing her love.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Playing in leaves

The kids and Sonja had fun playing in the leaves today and I had fun taking pictures of them. I took the photos and made them into a little stop action video. I hope you all enjoy it. (sorry I don't have any music on my computer so no background music to enjoy with it.)

Friday, October 08, 2010

So what happens when Mom is away?

Sonja is in Rochester at a woman's conference and hopefully is having a very good time and is learning lots. It all of kind of came together rapidly though as she only started thinking of going to the conference in the afternoon on Wednesday. (Long story made short, a friend had access to tickets that couldn't be used by the purchasers and wanted someone to go with her.) So I told Sonja to go. I thought I only had one class at 11:00 am that I HAD to be at on Friday so not a huge deal for Sonja to go. I could find someone to watch the kids for a little over 2 hours right? Yes, I could. Then I looked at my schedule and realized that there was another class at 8 am that I HAD to be at also. Now things were starting to look a little more difficult but... Anyways when I told one of my classmates my dilemma she volunteered her husband to watch the kids for me today. It worked out really well and I am so thankful to both Catherine (for volunteering him) and Ryan being willing to be volunteered to watch the kids. The kids had a blast with him and he said as he was leaving that next time he came he was going to bring something (don't remember what) I was just happy that he was willing to come again :-). The rest of the day has gone well also and I have gotten some studying done and the kids really haven't had that much "screen time". So this evening I really wanted to take some picture of the kids and was playing around with taking pictures and trying some different lighting techniques and wanted to post them here for family and friends to see.

The picture below is a step back shot so if you care to you can see how I took the above pictures. Those are plastic cups over the light bulbs to give the colored background.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Out on the Town

I think that the boringness of January will probably make up for how exciting this week has been.

Today we escaped from the house to let Glenn study (after listening to Adventures in Odyssey of course). Our first stop was Syracuse University's Archbold Gymnasium. SU's Rec department has a program called the Neighborhood Youth Recreation Program. It offers gymnastics, basketball and cheerleading for free 6 Saturdays in the fall. Today was registration day so we went to sign up Caleb for basketball and the girls for gymnastics. They are all pretty excited about it.

After signing up we headed over to Syracuse Stage for their Open House. We got to eat snacks, watch a three performer show - Annabelle Drudge, and take a backstage tour to see where the costumes, sets and props are all made. The play was really fun and we learned a lot on our tour. We even got a free lunch of pizza which I was not expecting!

We went home and grabbed Glenn and walked quickly over to the Westcott Community Center for their bulb giveaway. We stopped and played in the leaves and took pictures of the kids throwing leaves up and having them fall all over them. After that we went home and then decided to go to the used winter sports equipment sale at Ed Smith Elementary. Lydia and I walked while Glenn drove the other 3. Lydia and I took the scenic route and walked up a flight of stairs we had always wanted to go up but never had. In reading Red Sails to Capri we were interested in the stairs up to Anacapri, there were 748 of them. We wanted to walk up the flight of stairs to Westminster Park to count them. We think that there were 189 steps. We will have to walk them again to recount to know for sure. When we finally got to the sale we visited with neighbors and picked up a pair of cross country ski poles for the kids. After that we headed to our garden plot. It is on it's last leg. I really should have watered it before that 90 degree day we had recently, many of our plants withered with the heat and lack of water. We did pick a few cherry tomatoes though and a green zebra or two.

On the way home we went to Tops. We needed milk and there was also a deal where they were doubling $1 coupons and I wanted to see what I could get for cheap with coupons I had printed of the internet. I picked up a can of whipped topping, a bag of Pillsbury Sweet Moments Brownies, and a big thing of yogurt for under a dollar a piece with the doubled coupons. We also stopped by the clearance section. Tops just recently acquired the store from P&C and they were getting rid of a bunch of old stock. We got: 64 AAA batteries, 12 9volt batteries, 17 sticker/ activity/ coloring books, 2 hand sanitizing mists, 4 turkey timers, a package of 4 night light bulbs, 1 set of 8 corn cob holders, a waterproof disposable camera, an egg decorating kit, 4 packs of 4 refills for a Soleil razor, a squeeze frosting, 4 cans of apple pie filling, 3 cans of peaches. The picture isn't the greatest but we got a bunch of stuff for about $50. (I didn't bother to photograph the 4 gallons of milk that we also purchased with that $50.)

 Hannah was most excited about the cow webkins that was on clearance for $1.12 that she bought with her own money that she had randomly brought.

I am thankful for cheap batteries, especially since the time change is soon and we need to change the batteries on all of the smoke detectors. I am also thankful for the nice character coloring and activity books to stick in our gift box for future presents. None of it was really necessities right now but we would have bought them sometime in the future so now we have them in stock for pennies on the dollar.

It was a fun Saturday out and about. I love spending time with my family. Looking forward to church tomorrow and going to a concert of the flute ensemble that I am joining tomorrow afternoon (I am not playing at it though!).

Friday, October 01, 2010

This Week's Adventures

It has been an interesting week. I have a friend who sends out emails once a week of the adventures her family has on the other side of the world. As I read them and pray for her family I am thankful that we don't have as many adventures as her family does. This week reminded me a bit of one of her emails so I thought I would do a blog re-cap of our week.

On Monday night we went to community group for the second week. There were several new people and several of the people from last week were not there. We wanted to go to this community group because it is only about .4 mile from our house so we can walk. The two littler girls and I arrived home first but without keys so I went to get our trash can to put it by the street and when I got back to the front of the house everyone was on the porch. Somehow a burner had been left on on our stovetop (I hadn't used the stovetop for dinner) without being lit and the smell of natural gas completely filled our apartment. Glenn called National Grid to have them come out and make sure everything was OK and we had to wait a half hour for them to arrive. We did our "thank yous" and our devotions (we are one question 6 this week Q:"How many persons are in the one God?" A: "There are three persons in the one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are one God, the same in substance and equal in power and glory." - a difficult concept for all of us to comprehend.) After prayers the man still had not arrived so I decided to read "The Innkeeper" which is available as a pdf on the Desiring God website. I think that I maybe should have read it to myself before reading it to the kids. Not exactly sure what they thought, especially so late in the evening. We may break it out again around Christmas (even though it isn't a Christmas story). The National Grid guy finally came and cleared us for re-entry so we could go to bed. I am so grateful that a fire didn't start!

On Tuesday I had the chance to go and practice with the Central New York Flute Choir. I haven't played my flute in a group since the 1998-1999 school year when I played with Tapestry at TTU. I have gotten my flute out about once a year since then to goof around. My friend Kara, another homeschooling mom, found out that I played and asked me if I wanted to come and play with them. There is a wide variety of skill levels in the group and I think that it will be a fun way to get out of the house once a week and be someone other than "mom." I was afraid my mouth would hurt really bad after not having played in years but it really wasn't that bad. My fingers definitely need some practice on several of the songs though.

On Thursday we took a trip out to Waterloo. Our homeschool group had a field trip in the afternoon in Seneca Falls but we decided to make a day of it. We stopped by my grandparents' house and had a cup of hot chocolate with them first thing then we took Grandma up to the house that I grew up in. It is on the market and I had been told that there were some things that belonged to me in the attic and I also knew that pictures needed to be taken of it to post online so that there would be inside shots as well. I took some pictures to email the realtor and then went up to the attic. I knew that the cradle that my dad had made for me was up there but I didn't know what other treasures I might find. I found the high chair and swing that I had used for Caleb and Hannah and the toddler bed we had used for Caleb. I am not sure how they got to the attic there but I put them in the van to take them to Salvation Army on the way to our field trip. Other treasures that were left there for me were 3 kids microscopes, a box of kids books, a box of neat shells and a basket of interesting rocks. The kids were thrilled with their new treasures and the girls are excited to have my cradle in their room for their dolls. Another thing that we found at the house that had been left behind by a previous tenant were big cargo straps that I am assuming he had used on his truck. We had been wanting to buy some straps of some sort for a furniture idea that we have and God provided them.

Anyway, after taking pictures and clearing out the attic of my stuff we went back to eat lunch with Grandma and Grandpa and my Aunt Joy stopped by too. We had Feed Bag Soup. I hadn't had it in years and it was so delicious! I am thinking that I need to make it for my family for a Wednesday night "soup night" soon! I helped Grandma with a computer problem she was having then we ran off for our field trip. We went to the Women's Rights National Park in Seneca Falls. We got to watch a video about the history of women's rights and were introduced to the women in the bronze statues. We then wandered around upstairs for a bit before driving to Elizabeth Cady Stanton's house for a tour. It was interesting to learn about what people went through to get women the right to vote.

After our field trip we went back to hang out with Grandma and Grandpa some more before heading home. Last winter I decided to visit my grandparents once a month. They only live an hour away but that is 2 hours of driving but it is important that my kids make memories with their great grandparents. I actually made it to visit them twice in September so that was a real treat.

Today we worked on school work most of the morning then in the afternoon we went with Glenn over to school where a Upstate grad had come back to give a presentation to the Alumni during Alumni weekend on Space Medicine. He is a physician with NASA and I learned so much. Our kids were by far the youngest people in attendance but they did pretty good. It was all fascinating but I think that the thing that struck me most was at the end of his presentation when he was showing how small the earth is in regard to the other planets and then to the sun, then our sun to other stars and to the galaxy. I sat there in awe of our God who had created all of that and in wonder that He cares about and longs to have a relationship with me. Hannah was sitting next to me and she was telling me about how God is even bigger than the universe. I think that her view of God increased today as well.

I am so thankful for the neat opportunities that we had this week. God is so gracious to us. I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve Him and get to know Him more.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Funday

Yesterday I locked myself in the house (for the most part) getting some paperwork done that I have put off for far too long. There were a couple of fun events that I wanted to go to but I knew that I needed to get our checkbook balanced and papers filed and such that I had been putting off for far too long.

Last night we did go over to a neighbor's house for dinner. That was fun. They have a little girl who is about 18 months old and our girls loved playing mommy to her. It was nice to get to know our neighbors a little better too. We have never been good at that because we move too often :(

Anyway, today after church we came home and had leftovers, cleaned up a little and I took the kids and escaped to let Glenn focus on his schoolwork. There was a Jewish Music and Cultural Festival at the Jewish Community Center. Caleb really didn't want to go but I made him and it was a lot of fun. I learned a lot about Jewish customs and traditions. We got to make little sukkots out of graham crackers, pretzels, fluff and frosting. We also got to make a couple of other crafts and play some games at the kids tent. We also got to visit a mobil sukkot and see a Lulav and Etrog. One neat thing that I picked up while I was there was a magazine for Jewish children talking about the Jewish holidays that take place in the fall. I learned a lot just looking through it. Next month I am co- "in charge" of leading our book club on Rebecca, the Russian Jewish immigrant American Girl. I got some fun ideas for things to do with the kids on those days.

After leaving the JCC we hurried home, took down the laundry, made some food and headed back out for a potluck with some friends from church. It is always good to sit down and eat with people because you get to know them on a different level than just surface and we were able to meet a few new people as well. (Well, I guess we are the new people not them but they were people that we hadn't met yet.)

Tomorrow starts another week of school - week 6 already! At the end of this week we'll be 1/6 of our way through our school year. We have really been enjoying school this year. I am so thankful that we have decided to use Sonlight this year. It has been a great experience so far.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Go to the Chart

I've been really struggling over a conflict with a friend recently. The kids know that there is a problem because they have overheard Glenn and I discuss it. The other day when we were out and about I decided to try to share about and explain the reasons for conflict with the kids and tell them about how I have been struggling to be godly and seeking to glorify God in the situation and not knowing exactly what that looks like. On the way home I asked them what they thought and Caleb piped up with "You should go to 'The Brother Offended Chart.'" I don't know how many times I have told the kids to do that very thing over the last couple of months that we have had it. It's funny that I had never thought to do that myself in my situation. The next day as we were sitting down to work on math I wad struggling again and I asked Caleb if he would go through the chart with me. I didn't get very far before seeing some major sin on my part and Caleb listened as I prayed asking for forgiveness and for help in honoring God in my responses. I am so thankful for the wisdom God is growing in my 10 year old's heart. I am also so thankful for "The Brother Offended Chart" that we bought from It has been a huge blessing in our family and a help to teach our kids how to handle conflict in a godly way.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pictures Prompting Prayer

The house I grew up in is on the market. I'm hoping it sells quickly because I am tired of paying taxes on it. The house has been listed for a long time but last night was the first time I actually ever looked at the listing online. It really needs pictures so I'm hoping to be going to Waterloo soon to take some. I also noticed a few errors so I emailed the realtor about them. I then saw the link for google street view so I clicked on it so I could look at it from up the street. As I looked at the pictures on street view I realized that those pictures were taken before dad died and I just started sobbing. I miss both of my parents so much. I would love to talk to my dad about what God is doing in our lives but that is not possible. So, on nights like that, I pray to my Heavenly Father who is the Father to the fatherless and Who looks after orphans and I pray for friends who God brings to mind that have lost their dads: Kari, Missy, Jacque, Grace, Dixie, Julia, Nikki, Kim, Lisa. Praying for others helps me take my mind off of my loss in the realization that I am not the only one who has lost my dad. They may not be struggling with the overwhelmingness of loss right now but someday soon they will and I pray that God will comfort them as He comforts me.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Regional Market and a Surprise Field Trip

Yesterday we went to the Regional Market because we were out of potatoes and onions and I like to buy them in bulk from local farmers there. I also knew that it was pepper season and since our plants didn't really produce that well I wanted to stock our freezer with some of them as well. There is a store at the market called Buda's that sells overstock and out of date foodstuffs. I buy #10 cans of stuff because they usually only cost $3-4 and with 6 good eaters in our house the food goes. I had prayed the night before that God would allow there to be refried beans there because there hadn't been in the last few times I had been there and I really like refried beans because they stretch our tacos. Here is a picture of what we got:

50# of potatoes, 25# of onions, a bushel + 8qts of bell peppers, 8qts of peaches, 100 - 1oz containers of sour cream, 2 - #10 cans of spaghetti sauce, 6 - #10 cans of refried beans, 8#10oz of salsa and a bottle of soy sauce

On the way home Glenn looked down a side street and saw this:

We had actually brought our cameras with us so we turned around and came back to check it out and take a couple of pictures. After checking it out we looked across the street at the old Station 4 and there were 3 more retired fire trucks inside. We grabbed the kids and went to check them out. The volunteers there had just gotten back from an event and were letting the trucks cool down before they left so we had a tour and history of these neat old fire trucks. They gave the kids helmets to try on to pretend to be fire fighters. It was funny because I was just thinking that morning that I should arrange a field trip to a fire station since we hadn't done that in a couple of years and that I should talk to the kids about fire safety. God provided again. Here are pictures of each of the kids from my iphone. We have real pictures that I will upload someday but here is a few pictures just in case I don't :)

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Every story whispers His name.

There seems to be a common theme in my blogs today. God is at work in our family and has given us some neat tools to help us grow. Before I tell you about the next tools that I am pretty excited about I need to give you a little bit of history.

When we moved in Syracuse in June of '09 we started going to West Genessee Hills Baptist Church. We visited a couple of other churches along the way but we drifted back there largely because of the "somebody knows my name" factor. It is lonely moving to a new city and we got to know people there and people from that church were a huge blessing to us, especially during out time of homelessness last summer. After we ended up living in the University area we have felt God prodding us to go somewhere closer to home and at the end of July one Sunday we overslept. There was no way that we were going to make it to West Genny on time so we got online quick to see if we could make it to any other church that might start later. After checking and seeing that Missio and Catalyst both started at 10 we decided to check out Catalyst, a church that was on our "churches to check out" list. It met at Nottingham High School, just over a mile from our home and that Sunday it just so happened that they were talking about how their goal for Sept '10 to Aug '11 was to reach out to 13210 with the gospel. 13210 is our zip code and we know that God has us in our neighborhood for a reason. We have found out that Syracuse is #19 on the list of 30 least evangelical US metro areas with only 3.7% being evangelical. Talk about a mission field! We feel that God is asking us to partner with them to reach our neighborhood for this year for the sake of the gospel.

To make things more interesting, Catalyst is going through a season of "incubation" this year and will be having Sunday morning worship at Missio (which meets at the Palace Theater) and God has confirmed over again that He wants us there to reach out to and serve our neighborhood with them. One way that they are going to reach out to the neighborhood is through small groups. Small groups is something that we have SO missed since moving to Syracuse. They were such an important part of our lives in Rochester. I claimed, leaving Rochester, that small groups were one of the things that I was longing for in our new church. There were not small groups at West Genny so we are excited to be a part of them again this coming year.

Alright, I think that is enough history. Today was our first Sunday morning at Missio and I am so super excited to be going to Missio for the next year particularly because of the series that they are on week 5 of. They are taking a journey through the Bible over 44 weeks based on The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones. The sub-title of the book is "Every story whispers His name." The children's ministry is focusing on the same Bible passage as the adults are in the auditorium which is something I am very excited about. So often, in the past, through the many churches we have attended, we have asked the kids what the Bible story was about in their classes and there would be 4 different (or 3 or 2 depending on how many different classes they were in at the time) stories told. Getting all the details out would get us home without anytime for talk about life change. How do you address all those Bible passages with each kid individually? I am excited to be exploring the Bible and how each story in the Bible points to Jesus with them. The photo below is the tools that they have given to us, as parents, to help train our kids in God's Word. First, a copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every story whispers his name. I will blog about that more after I have explored it but I love the concept behind it, that the whole Bible is ultimately about Jesus. We were also given a memory verse written in a secret code that we have to figure out as a family and memorize. We were also given a list of 6 questions and a big red dice. The idea behind it is that everyday, during family time, we are each supposed to roll the dice and do whatever it says on the sheet for that number. The 6 for this are:
1. Recite Psalm 16:1, Romans 6:23, Genesis 1:31 or John 5:39.
2. Retell the story you learned.
3. What does this week's story teach you about God?
4. This story is important because....
5. The good, the bad, the ugly: What was your favorite part of the day? What was your least favorite part of the day? What is a situation we should ask God to help us with in the future?
6. Talk about some of the areas where you might be tempted to make a great name for yourself and find your significance.

I am sure that I will blog again in the future to talk about how it goes but I am excited about what God is going to teach us about Himself in the months to come. We aren't the only ones who need this message. Please join us in prayer as we reach out to our neighbors and classmates with this message as well.

Training Hearts Teaching Minds

Over the summer this book, Training Hearts Teaching Minds by Starr Meade, was recommended to us from a couple of different sources. We decided to do it this year as family devotions along with our thank yous before bed starting when the school year started so we have used it for 2 weeks. Every week one of the questions and answers from the shorter catechism is taught and there is a short devotional with related Bible readings  There are 6 devotions every week with related Bible readings to help us to understand the question and answer that we are memorizing. So far we have done the first two questions:
Q1. What is man's primary purpose?
A1. Man's primary purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
Q2. What authority from God directs us how to glorify and enjoy Him?
A2. The only authority for glorifying and enjoying Him is the Bible which is the Word of God and is made up of the Old and New Testaments.

It has been neat to interact with the kids, both during the devotional time as well as "when we sit in our house and walk by the way and when we lie down and when we rise up." There is so much of a focus on "fun" in our culture. It seems that the first question is always, "Did you have fun?" The kids pray "Please help us to have fun today." What is that? Is that truly our purpose? Glenn and I were talking on our trip to PA about how we wanted to change the focus of our family from "fun" to something that honors God more. It was funny because the preacher there talked about how our culture sees the world as a playground with the goal of fun - you have to have more stuff, better stuff, new stuff. If it is not fun it is not fair. God didn't put us on earth to have fun - our primary purpose is to glorify and enjoy God.

I think that God is going to help us define our vision statement and the focus of our family through His Word and this book. I am very thankful for what He has already done in our hearts and lives and look forward to what else He is going to teach us.

Note: If you want to check out this book the first 2 weeks are actually available in the preview on amazon that I linked to above.

Mom's Bible

I have my mom's Bible. Actually, I probably have more than one of my mom's Bibles floating around here in various places. The one that I am thinking of though is her Women's Devotional Bible. She got it on 8/3/92, the summer before my freshman year of high school and used it up until 5/23/01, the morning that she was sent up to Rochester General for her heart cath that went bad. For the first several years that I had it her Daily Bread devotional from that morning was tucked into the page that she read it from. She sought Him that fateful morning that changed our lives forever. He was in control. One thing that has really struck me lately is the quote that she wrote on the front page of that Bible. I am not sure where she heard it but it must have struck her profoundly because of how she wrote it. It says: "We are not facing the end of life, we are sitting on the verge of eternity, God's timetable is perfect." I don't think that I got mom's Bible until after she had passed. Grandma had given it to me at that time. I think that she was holding onto it for mom, hoping that she would come home and use it again someday. That quote struck me because my mom didn't know what the last almost 21 months of her life was going to look like but she knew what she was looking forward to. God is so gracious.

Anyway, I have used mom's Bible for various things over the years. The Bible that I normally use is NAS but sometimes when I want to see what a verse says in another version I will pick up mom's NIV and check it out. I love to see what verses she underlined and the little notes and dates that she wrote in her Bible over the close to a decade that she used it. I have been encouraged as I have seen passages circled with dates next to them with my name or notes related to various things that we experienced as a family. For example next to Proverbs 19:21 she wrote "trip '96." It says "Many are the plans in a man's heart but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." That sure is true of that trip that didn't go exactly as we had envisioned in our heads over the years :)

This year for school we are mostly using Sonlight and Sonlight has a Bible component. We have always done devos to start out day but this year we are reading through the Bible with the recommended readings from Core 1+2. I decided to put mom's Bible with our school stuff and use hers to read out of this year. I think that my mom can challenge and encourage my kids through what she wrote in her Bible even though they never got to know her. I know that she has me.
I am so thankful for God's Word and the privilege that we have to own several copies of it in our language. I am also thankful that in this way I can take my mom on our trip through the Bible this year.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


One thing that we have loved about living in Syracuse is the friendliness of our neighbors. We have lived 3 different places in the Westcott neighborhood and it has been so much fun to have kids around for our kids to play with.

At our former apartment there were several kids on our street and our house became a bit of a hangout for the little girls on the street. This summer, while we have been in our new apartment the kids have played almost daily with a 3 year old little girl whose mom is a home health aide at a house a couple of doors down.

Before we moved to our current apartment we had walked and driven down this street several times. We had often admired a house near here and always saw kids in the yard. When decided to move here people told us of the family who lived there and the story I got was that she was a pediatrician and they had lots of kids. Funny thing is we have not seen anyone at the house all summer long. We thought that maybe they go away for the summer or took a bunch of vacations. Last night Caleb saw the little boy out and wanted to go and introduce himself so a large group of us descended on the house. After having his sisters wrestle him to be introduced the boys quickly discovered that they both loved Star Wars and were fast friends. The boy is younger than Hannah but Caleb is thrilled to have a boy around closer to his age (on our last street the nearest boy that came over to play was 2.) Our girls quickly started playing Barbies with their middle girl who is between Caleb and Hannah's ages. With the kids off playing I got a chance to talk to the mom (who is not a pediatrician) and found out they were indeed away for most of the summer. The dad came out and I called Glenn so he could come over and chat for a bit as well. The dad is a doctor (OB, I think). They didn't start having kids until he was almost done with residency so he thinks we're a little nuts going through med school with 4 kids :) (oh, and their "lots of kids" only equal 3.)

Having kids to play with across the street was a motivation for the kids to get their school work done faster (since school doesn't start around here until next week). There are a lot of toys in their much bigger house though so I believe we may be having some conversations about contentment in the days to come.

Friday, August 27, 2010

School Has Begun

School started this week. Glenn started his 2nd year of medical school and, even though school doesn't start in NY until 9/9, the kids and I started school this week as well. Caleb is in 5th grade this year, Hannah in 3rd, Lydia in 1st and Abigail is in Kindergarten. It has been a good week. We decided to change up everything but math this year. After the homeschool convention we went to in June I really felt God prompting me to use Sonlight with the kids this year. I was nervous about it, partially because of the cost, partially because I didn't know whether it is going to work for us or not and partially because I wanted to do one core together with everyone and I wasn't sure how that was going to work with my range and didn't know which Core to choose. When I finally made the decision to use Sonlight Core 1+2 God gave us an unexpected blessing of a facebook friend whom I have only met once at a weekend camp lending us a lot of the books/ manuals that I needed which saved us a lot of money! I have loved the idea of Sonlight because there are so many great books that it uses. I decided to start with Core 1+2 even though it is not advanced enough for Caleb because I really wanted the kids to start with a World History overview (which 1+2 does) rather than more American focused history which is covered in 3 and 4. I really wanted to do Core 5 this year but know that Caleb would be the only one up to that level and I really wanted to try to do everyone together this year. We have all really enjoyed school this week and learned quite a bit. The schedule needs some tweaking but it is going pretty well. The read aloud for this week has been Red Sails to Capri which we are loving.

Another investment we made for our school is Rosetta Stone Spanish. The kids have absolutely loved it and have learned a lot already. It was pretty expensive but Glenn wants to use it too to learn Spanish to help him to communicate with patients and we figure it is a helpful language for us to have living here in the US.

We have kept with out math curriculum because we all love it. We use the Mathematics Enhancement Programme from The Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching. It is a curriculum that I found from's listings. The teacher's manuals and practice books are all available for free online in pdf form. I started using it because it was free and we have kept using it because we love it!

This year for science I found a homeschool science book online from There is a teacher's manual and student books in PDF form. I really liked the look of it and partly what I liked about it is that it was set up for 36 weeks (the same as Sonlight) and it was set up to do something 3 days a week. The first day you read the text together and the other 2 days you do experiments to help you understand what you read. I really liked the look of the book and the manual and there were neat ideas for science experiments so I decided to use it. I get overwhelmed at preparing for science experiments though so I hired a TA for science. Caleb is working for me for free and he thinks that it is the greatest thing on earth and I love the help!

So far the kids are loving school. Lydia and Hannah are coming along in their reading. Caleb is loving the Spanish and doing really well in it. Abigail is thoroughly enjoying being able to "do school" too. She told Glenn her favorite part of school is learning sounds. So far she has only met /f/ and she couldn't remember what /f/'s name was late on a Friday evening but she is excited to learn to read as well.

Well, I really need to head to bed but I wanted to report on week 1 of our school year. I am thankful for the opportunity to homeschool and for how God has abundantly provided for us for this school year and the grace He is bestowing. Much more to blog about but my bed is calling my name...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wacky Cake

Today is Hannah's birthday and we had a fun day. As almost always we had wacky cake with peanut butter frosting for dessert. I love that stuff. I could (but know I shouldn't) eat it everyday.

Anyway, I am often asked for the recipe so I thought I would put it here just so I always know where to look when I need it :)

Wacky Cake
in 8x8 or 9x9 pan sift (double for 9x13):
1 1/2 C flour
1C sugar
3T baking cocoa
1/2t salt
1t soda
6T oil
1t vanilla
1T vinegar
1C cold water
Stir well. Don't forget the corners.
Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

Peanut Butter Frosting (enough for 9x13)
3C powdered sugar
1/4C peanut butter
1-2T milk
1 1/2t vanilla

Saturday, August 07, 2010

I am not sure that I fit in

Today and tomorrow Glenn is involved in a conference of some sort for family physicians. I am not exactly sure what it is but he and another student are on some board for it. He was in meetings most of the day for it and then tonight there was a catered party that our whole family was invited to. We went but I struggled going. I don't feel like I am up to the level of hanging out with doctors and their spouses. I am not sure why. I have friends who are doctors and who are married to doctors but when it comes to being around doctors that I don't know I feel like I am not going to be good enough. I don't know why. Maybe because we have been students and low income workers for most of our marriage and have been far below the poverty line for so long that I feel I will never attain a higher standard. Maybe my mind hasn't wrapped around the fact that Glenn is finally in medical school and one day he will be a doctor. Maybe it is just because this world is not my home and I am not going to fit in here. Glenn told me that others will accept me but that I need to accept myself. It may be because I don't accept myself and project my unrealistic expectations of myself onto others. I don't know what it is but I pray that God will help me take my eyes off myself and to look to others to see how I can meet their needs and point them to Him. I didn't do that very well tonight but I pray that next time, Lord willing, I will use such an opportunity as a chance to shine for Him and not worry about what others think of me or worry about fitting in.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Impossible Situation or Great Opportunity?

"We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations." ~Chuck Swindoll

I have read this quote before but was reminded of it when it was a friend's facebook status this week. We are currently facing one of these situations that I don't want to go into details about yet. As we walk through this situation with God I wonder how people get through these "great opportunities" without Him. One thing that God has been teaching me through the current trial is that trials are going to come but I can not allow them to trip me up. I need to keep living life through the trial and not go into crisis/ survival mode every time. God has been teaching me that He is going to allow many trials in my life but that I can trust Him through them that His grace is sufficient and that He will provide exactly what I need exactly when I need it. He has also taught me that I need to simplify my life and create habits and routines that will help me when difficult times come. We were reminded at the MMI - 1. This world is not my home. 2. I am not my own. 3. Night is coming. I can't let impossible situations overwhelm me but I need to look at them as great opportunities for God to grow me and ultimately for Him to use them for His glory whether that be today or years down the road. He knows what is best and I want Him to make this difficult situation a great opportunity for His glory. How? I have some ideas but only He sees the big picture and knows why He is allowing it and how He is going to use it.

I trust You my Sovereign God, You know what is best. Please help me to keep living for You through this great opportunity. Use it for your glory to turn people's hearts to You in Your perfect way.

Monday, July 19, 2010


This summer has been full of dates and it has been wonderful. The first weekend in June Glenn and I went to the homeschool convention while my friend Bethany watched our kids. It was so nice to just hang out together and learn how to be more effective as parents. On the Friday night of the conference we even got to go out for dinner at Dinosaur BBQ because a friend had given us some date money for helping her out. That Sunday we went to Northridge Church and the message from the parenting series that week was on the priority of marriage in parenting. It was neat that God had already used our time over the weekend to prepare us for that message. We have never made dating a priority for various reasons but we have decided that we need to make it a priority.

The next weekend our kids spent the weekend at my brother and sister-in-law's house while we went to Harrisburg, PA for ABWE's Medical Missions Interface. It was our first weekend away since we've had kids and it was great to hear how God is working through their various ministries and to be challenged to live for Him.

Both of those conferences are worth a several blogs each from all that we learned from them but this is a date blog so I will go on.

We also were able to "get rid of" our kids for a night a couple of weekends ago on a Friday night when they all spent the night at a friend from church's house. It was so great to go out and then come home and watch a movie together without the kids peeking in on us wondering what we were watching. :)

Another kind of date happens around our place. We have each of our kids names on half of a 3x5 card that are put on a ring that is magneted to our fridge. Whenever Glenn or I have to run an errand and the other is staying with the kids we grab whoever is on top and take them with us to be able to spend one on one time with them. I noticed as we were packing that it hadn't flipped in a long time. Throughout the school year pretty much the kids went everywhere with me. Occasionally I would grocery shop after they went to bed but usually all 4 came with me everywhere. It has been fun to take the kids on "dates" more often this summer. Today Caleb went on a date with me to Ollie's, Wegmans and Home Depot. It was fun to chat with him in the car and as we shopped. Then later this afternoon Hannah got to go on a date with Glenn when he went to pick up a bike off Craigslist. Rarely are our "dates" more than a quick trip to P&C to get milk (what Lydia's and Abigail's dates the last week or so have been) but it is so great to just spend one on one time with them. I think that is one thing that I picked up at one of the sessions at the homeschool convention, it isn't about getting them things or spending money but more about spending time one on one with your kids that really matters.

It has been a great summer having dates, both with Glenn and with the kids. They are precious times that we need to schedule into our lives more regularly even when life is busier than it is this summer. How we are going to do that this year we haven't quite figured out yet but we know that it is important so we are going to make it happen.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

ABCs of our Michigan Trip

On our way home from Michigan we decided to come up with the ABCs of our trip to Michigan last week. We had a great time visiting the Lishawa's and exploring the Traverse City area of Michigan. Here is our ABCs, some of them are a bit of a stretch and if you may notice food is pretty important to my kids so many of them are foods we ate:

A - adventures, accidents (Lydia did come with us after all) and Allison (Brian's sister-in-law whom we met)

B - Brian, Barry (Brian's dad), boat rides, beaches, bonfire, Bananagrams, bike rides

C - corn on the cob, cherries (we went to an orchard owned by one of their co-workers and picked about 60 pounds of them for free - YUM!), chips, cat (Sampson - we love him!)

D - dahl, DH Day Campground

E - Eagles (the name of the speedboat and the bird that we saw one day on the lake)

F - food, fish, friends

G - Good Harbor Bay

H - houses, hot dogs and hamburgers, The Hobbit (we listened to it on CD on our car ride)

I - i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m - a must anytime you're with Kristina :)

J - Juliana and Jacob (kids our kids met at the campground), Jeff Myers (more CDs we listened to on our trip that we'd gotten at the homeschool convention), jumping in the lake

K - Kristina, kayak

L - Long Lake (lake Brian's parents' house, where we stayed for most of our visit, is on), Linda (Brian's mom), loons (there were loon families with babies on Long Lake), Lishawas, lightning storms, life jackets

M - Michigan (the state and the Lake - the Lake is so clean and beautiful!!)

N - night walks, Niagra Falls (we took the Canada route on the way there)

O - opportunities (it would be a beautiful place to do residency)

P - Peter (we got to meet him - he's so cute!!), Petosky stones, peas (fresh from the garden), packing

Q - quietness, quintessential vacation (it was the best vacation we've ever had)

R - Randolph - the moose half of us kissed at a restaurant, rocks - we found lots of cool ones, rest

S - sand, shish kabobs, Sleders (home of Randolph), Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, swimsuits, Shane (Brian's brother)

T - Towanda (the Lishawa's pontoon boat), tent, tubing

U - Us!

V - Vacation!

W - water

X - eXciting, eXtraordinary

Y - yellow sit and ski

Z - Zed (the end, I don't know)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Moving Out and Moving into #16

The last few weeks have been consumed with moving. I quit school with a kids a couple of weeks before I was planning to because I was not doing a good job homeschooling them or packing. I knew that the packing had to happen and that we could start school early in the fall and do some stuff over the summer and several of our subjects were already done so I don't feel bad about it. I knew that we were planning on taking the whole month of June off because it is Glenn's break so we didn't quit too much before I was planning to.

It seemed to me that packing goes better every time that we move and this time was no exception. I am learning some tricks to make it easier for myself. Not easy mind you but easier. For a while when I first found out that we had to move because of our landlord planning to move in I had a goal of 5 boxes a day. That was manageable until I was done packing books. They are the easy part but we do have a lot of them! After that I struggled because I didn't know what we were and were not going to need in the last 2 weeks we were in our last apartment.

One nice thing about this move was that, though it cost us a half month's rent, we had a 2 ½ week window to move in. That makes it so much less stressful that trying to move everything out and in in one day. Glenn and Phil, one of his classmates, did most of the heavy lifting on two consecutive Fridays as study breaks. That was a HUGE blessing to me (and to our marriage – we often get mad at each other when we move heavy stuff together.)

As we were packing and cleaning the last couple of weeks we have had lots of visitors from the kids on our block. We are sad to be leaving our old street because we have left 6 sad kids that were frequent visitors to our home behind. We are planning on being intentional in keeping in touch with the kids and families on our old street because we know that God put them in our lives for a reason and being only 5 blocks away it won't be easy but if we plan in that direction we will be able to continue to have a relationship with them.

We spent our first night at our new place on Friday (after a fun visit from Russ, Camy & Malachi) but went back to our old place for a couple of hours on Saturday and Sunday to finish packing the last of the “yucky stage” and clean up. It looks a lot nicer than when we moved in (with the toilet and sink in the dining room, about an inch of sawdust and construction materials all over the place). On Monday we stopped back to grab our bags to take to Salvation Army and turn our keys over to our landlord.

Our new living room is still a hallway of boxes but more unpacking is getting done every day. It has been fun to finally use our lockers that we picked up off craigslist to help us get organized. A tour of our new apartment will be posted when we get unpacked (which we are hoping to have mostly done before we go to PA next weekend – we'll see on that one.)

A Season of Anniversaries

We have come upon the season of anniversaries in my life. A couple of weeks ago was May 23. All day long I kept thinking to myself, “May 23rd, May 23rd.... why does May 23rd stick out in my mind? Is it someone's birthday? What is it?” A couple of days later I remembered. It was the 9 year anniversary of my mom's botched heart catheterization that landed her in the ICU for a couple of months and in a nursing home for the rest of her life with no real ability to move on her own or communicate. A date that changed my life forever.

As I sat doing my devotions on Sunday morning I started to cry when I noticed the date – May 30th. It was my dad's 60th birthday. He always loved that his birthday was on May 30th because he claimed that the town of Waterloo always had a parade for him on his birthday because, being the birthplace of Memorial Day, they always have their parade on the 30th. Two years ago on May 30th he was at the parade giving out God's Word in the form of Gideon New Testaments along with my grandparents and some of his other Gideon friends. Caleb and I were talking about Grandpa on Sunday and he told me that he thinks that birthdays are probably better in heaven. I don't know that we celebrate earthly birthdays in heaven but I think that today may be a special day in heaven because it is the 2 year anniversary of his Home going. I mourn today but not as one with no hope. I know that Christ's return is eminent and that one day soon I too with be with both of my parents and, most importantly, my Savior Jesus Christ in heaven because I have trusted in Him alone and His work on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.

I get “homesick” often, longing to chat with my parents, to tell them something funny or exciting or sad or confusing or whatever, just to talk about life. I am so thankful that my Heavenly Father is “a Father to the fatherless” and He is always there whenever I call. Missing my parents makes me homesick for heaven - “Even so come Lord Jesus.”

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bean Dolls

For the past week or so I have been working on getting ready for today. Since about February we have been a part of a homeschool book club for girls centered around the American Girl books and their time periods. We meet every other week at a library and do crafts and activities together about the girls and the time period. We have enjoyed it so much. Every month a couple of moms have worked together to prepare activities for our gathering. It was amazing to see the creativity of the different mom but I hadn't been one of the moms yet. I had wanted to do Kirsten because I love learning about immigrants and I'm Scandinavian too but moms volunteered before I had a chance to. This month we were studying Addy and the Civil War time and there were no volunteers. I knew nothing about Addy and I knew that we were going to be busy moving and packing but I didn't want it to go without a leader and since I hadn't done a month yet I volunteered. The mom that got the group started offered to help me out and do it with me. At the first meeting I read a book to the girls about Harriet Tubman and she had the girls make puppets and put on puppet shows. It was a lot of fun.

To start off today's class I read a choose your own adventure book (I always loved those books as a kid) called The Underground Raiload: An Interactive History Adventure to the girls. I let them vote on whether to be a escaping slave, a slave catcher, or an abolitionist. The girls voted to be the escaping slave and enjoyed the story but in the end she died on her way to freedom. I hadn't read that ending so was a little unprepared to be up there reading it to the girls and confronted with, "oh no, she dies, what do we do now??" running through my head. We talked about it a little bit and I think that everyone ended up understanding that not everyone who tried to escape made it to freedom but I, personally, was not prepared for that ending so it left me a little shook up.

I had checked out The American Girls Party Bookout from the library (great book by the way full of terrific ideas!!) it had the pattern to make a bean doll like the one Addy had gotten for Christmas from her mom made out of scrap material and filled with beans. I got excited about the idea but didn't want 4 full sized bean dolls added to the collection of dolls around our house so I decided to try a half sized one one day with the girls to see if it was even possible for a group of 13 4-8 year old girls to do it. My girls had fun with it and it seemed doable so I decided to sew the dolls and take in some beans to fill them with and some old clothes that weren't nice enough to donate for the girls to make clothes for their dolls out of. I also made some bean bags out of the legs of jeans and camo pants of Caleb's that were too short and the knees were blown out of for the boys to make. It was a lot of work today too but the girls had a lot of fun and the moms were a terrific help!! I really couldn't have done it without all of the help from the other moms! It was fun watching the girls play with their dolls afterwards. I am so glad we took the effort.

There is another reason why I am glad though. It was a lot of work to get ready for the bean doll project but I always need something to do to distract me from packing when I move, a procrastination tactic, and this was it. Usually it is a book but this time it was sewing. Sewing gave me a chance to be out on the porch watching the kids play but still feeling like I was getting something accomplished. The neighborhood girls were fascinated with me sewing and would sit and watch me. I was able to start to build relationships with them that I wouldn't have taken time to do, especially not in the last month of living in a place, if I didn't have this project to make me sit still. I am thankful for the bean dolls in that. I now have 4 other little girls who have become a part of our family. Today when my kids were outside playing and I was making dinner one by one 5 little girls wandered into my kitchen to watch me cut potatoes and help (with my Ultimate Mandolin). One of their moms came in too to meet me and introduce herself (our apartment is in upheaval - totally not in any condition for normal visitors but the girls didn't care - it isn't a clean house that attracts them but I really think it is a caring heart). The girls all want to make bean dolls and bean bags now too. I told them that if there were extra dolls I would let them make some when we got home but we used all the dolls up so I'll have to make a few more for the girls to make another day. Those bean dolls were a lot of work but the reward, not only in seeing the book club girls make them but also in getting to know these other girls made it all worth while.

I am sad that we are moving. We are only moving 5 or 6 blocks away but we live only a block from where we lived last summer and we don't see the people that live on that block hardly at all. I have loved living here but God has plans in having us move as well. It is so hard to leave people and so hard to have people leave us. So often I am tempted to block off my heart and put walls up and not let anyone in but that steals the blessing from me and others. I was challenged a couple of weeks ago to "enjoy people while they are here" by a woman who has worked in campus ministry for a couple of decades. She has seen lots of people come and go and I think that it is very good advice. You don't know how long you have with anyone so make the most of the time that you do have.

Thanks God for the bean doll project and how You used it in my life to teach me things that I needed to learn.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

An Expensive Trip to Rochester

This past weekend we went to Rochester. Here is a blog that I scratched out on scrap paper Sunday night:

“'So let Your name

be lifted higher,

be lifted higher,

be lifted higher.'

At this point I can't remember anymore of the words of this song but it is on my heard right now and going over in over in my mind.

We've had a good weekend. After Glenn's exam we made a quick-ish stop at my grandparents to sign some papers then we headed out to Farmington to see my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew to spend the night. It was fun to visit with them. I don't know how much longer they'll be in NY so I'd like to visit as often as possible. On Saturday we headed to Rochester to pick up something Glenn had found on Craigslist and to go to Imagine RIT (which deserves it's own blog but I will leave it to say it was amazing and well worth the trip!) After we closed up Imagine RIT we stopped at Aldi and picked up food for a picnic and headed to Highland Park to wander around. I love Highland Park. It is so gorgeous! We were excited that even some of the magnolias were still in bloom as well as the cherry trees and tulips and daffodils and, of course, the lilacs. Combine Imagine RIT with a walk through Highland Park to get an almost perfect (though exhausting) day, especially with starting it with breakfast with Russ, Camy and Malachi! We quickly fell asleep at Dave and Hannah's after quick baths.

We finally got to see Dave (Hannah and Hudson were out of town) in the morning when he came in from his 24 hour shift and visited with him some before church. It was great to be back at Northridge Church. We hadn't been to see the new building yet but it was the people that we wanted to see the most. David was giving his last sermon in his destinations series where the theme was: “Your direction, not your intention, determines your destination.” We were challenged to intentionally share life with people who will help and challenge us to grow spiritually, to have mentors to listen to, and to be careful to choose to focus on the right things because where you look is where you'll head. It was really a message that I needed to hear because I need to be purposeful in all of those areas.

After church we got subs from Wegmans and took them to Zach and Maryellen's house for lunch and finally got the meet Matthew who is 5 months now. It was so fun to visit with them for a while. We hurried back to meet Dave's brother Dan and his wife Sarah and their kids who are home on furlough from Paraguay. I'd met them before but Glenn had not and it was neat to talk to them briefly about their ministry training youth leaders in rural communities.

We then went to Vertical Worship and afterwards got to visit with a number of people. I didn't get to catch up with or connect with everyone I would have liked to but we did have the lights turned off on us. (It wasn't the first time that has happened after Vertical Worship.)

After we said our final good byes, filled Naglenes and went potty we started down St Paul and as we were passing RSD we heard something funny “chunk” under our car. There hadn't been anything on the street so we turned back to find out what it was and Glenn found what looked like a big section of spring on the street so we drove back to the church parking lot to see if we could determine if it was from our vehicle or not hoping that someone would still be there that would be able to give us advice. God provided both – Glenn determined that it was from the front right driver's side tire area and the small group leaders training was just getting out and God provided several men to look at it and give us advice. It was determined that we really shouldn't be driving it to Syracuse with how it was broken.

I was amazed at how God worked out the details. Within minutes we had a place to stay and more than enough volunteers to give us rides to get there. On the ride in Mr. G's car to get to Chris and Miranda's house I had a chance to talk to the kids about how important it is to have wise advisors like had been talked about in church this morning. I am so thankful for teachable moments and that God is in control. Though this was a surprise to us it wasn't to Him. I am still learning to depend on Him and trust Him and to allow others to help me. You'd think that I'd learn not to be so fiercely independent after all the times God has tried to teach me but I still haven't learned yet.”

That ends what I wrote. When we got to Chris and Miranda's house my sweet Caleb was crying over how grateful he was at God's graciousness to us. When we got back home to Syracuse we made this list of praises from our experience with a broken strut:

* we didn't get on 104

* we were so close to church when it happened

* the van was drive-able so we didn't have to stay parked on St. Paul in front of RSD and that driving it didn't damage it more

* the tire didn't pop (that was the mechanic's first question)

* small group leader training was that night and it was just getting out so people could help and advise us.

* Mr. G and Chris and Miranda gave us rides and others offered.

* Chris and Miranda's hospitality at the last moment

* Glenn was driving and I wasn't alone with the kids somewhere (with Glenn in school, more often than not I am alone in the car with the kids when )

* Glenn's 4 or 5 lectures that he missed on Monday were videoed so that he can watch them even though he had to miss them.

* We had the funds available in the bank to fix it [I was thinking about it yesterday – everything that we have is God's and we are just entrusted with it for now but it is still His. I guess that He wanted almost $1000 of His money to go to JG Autowerks. I can trust Him that He knows best what to do with His money that sits in a bank account with our names on it.]

* we were in Rochester: many friends to help us out, close to a mechanic that is trusted by many from church

* the kids wanted to add that they were thankful that they got to ride with Mr G and that they got to meet Bella (Chris and Miranda's dog).

God is so good. I am so thankful.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Packing Nostalgia

Packing often makes me nostalgic. So far I have packed 20 boxes. All of them have been books. Not all of our books are packed yet. Books are one of our biggest weaknesses. I love books. We (obviously) have a lot of them.

I am not exactly sure how many boxes we have. When I empty them I keep them in stacks of like boxes (BOOKS, KIT, BATH, MISC, etc) and shrink wrap them in stacks of 10 with plastic wrap. I still have a few more boxes that say “BOOKS” on them. I have smiled at many of my boxes as I have filled them because of the little words written in pen or pencil. I often make notes of important things that I may look for in the process of unpacking or our stuff being in storage. Some of my boxes that say “out at the end at 1090,” “out at the end at Meadowbrook,” “out at B&K's.” I smiled as I thought of our time at those places. I always wonder what we were thinking at the boxes that are numbered “Book Box 1,” “Book Box 2,” etc. I think that it must have been on our move from Houghton that we tried to be organized enough to write on 3x5 cards what was in each book box. It may have been helpful because we didn't really unpack many of our books when we lived in Waterloo but I am not sure.

Well, 20 boxes down, many more to go. I am so glad we bought a commercial packing tape dispenser several moves ago and that we had dad save his Baxter boxes when he was on dialysis.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring Break?

This week is spring break in NY. We could not take the week off because I really want to be done with school by the end of May so that when Glenn is done for the summer we can be too. I did decide to give the kids a lighter week though because I knew that we had a couple of things that we might possibly do. It has been a fun week even though we haven't been on spring break because others have been.

On Monday some friends from Waterloo had planned to go to the zoo so we went to meet them there. We didn't run into everyone that I knew that was at the zoo but we did get to visit with Christa for a bit (the one who organized it) and we spent most of the day around the zoo with Desi and her family whom we hadn't seen since we moved to Rochester. My girls were thrilled to spend time with Natalie and Andrea and got re-acquainted quickly. Caleb was thrilled to have bigger boys (it was weird for me to see Caleb looking short with the boys!) to hang out with.

On Tuesday we had a visit from Nan, Will and Drew from Rochester. It was so much fun to watch the boys play together. They played some Wii and Lego Star Wars. After lunch they got to meet the kids across the street and swing on Kaylee's rope swing then we went down to Barry Park to play. It was nice for me to just sit around and visit with Nan. They are special friends and I am so glad that they made the trip out to see us!

After they left on Tuesday night we went to see an apartment that I had noticed on a walk that morning about 6 blocks from where we are living. It is $75/month more than we pay here but it is the same amount as we paid for our little house on Meadowbrook for much more space than we had there (it is about the same size as our current apartment) so we put in our application for it on Wednesday afternoon with a check for a security deposit and paid for half of May so that he would hold it for us even though our lease here doesn't end until the end of May. The landlord would rather have someone move in May 1st as the previous tenants are already out and he said that he would give it to someone who would move in May 1st over us. I am hoping that we will be moving there but until I actually sign a lease I am not 100% planning on it. I can remember last fall too well.

Yesterday we got school work done in the morning then the kids played with the neighbor kids in the afternoon. We are going to miss them when we no longer live across the street from them anymore!

Today we got school done in the morning again and headed out to Green Lakes State Park. It was a lot colder than I thought that it was going to be but we had fun. We met up with a few other homeschool families that go to the American Girl book club that we have been a part of on Thursday afternoons twice a month. It was nice to sit and chat with the moms while the kids ran around and played on the playground. I think that this group is going to try to get a co-op thing going including the boys in the fall studying countries and cultures. I am pretty excited about it. We have enjoyed the book club so much and I am looking forward to spending more time with these moms.

Well, it hasn't been spring break for us but it has been a fun week. I think that tomorrow is just normal day but the kids don't have too much more school work to get done and the girl from across the street is going to come over at noon so we won't be bored. It has been nice to have a bit of a change of pace from our normal "boring" lives. (I have even gotten 11 boxes packed in the process.)