Month: May 2011

  • The Cottage – One Year Anniversary!



    Today is a celebration of one year in the Cottage!

    When we bought this bungalow in January of 2010, this is how is looked.

    I was depressed for three days after going through this house!
    It had great bones, and so much character in this hundred year old house,
    but it needed SO MUCH WORK.

    After four months of working on it full-time, we moved in on May 31, 2010.

    It still needed quite a bit of work. :)
    The landscaping looked like the above picture, even though the exterior had been painted like below.

    One year later, there is still work to be done! :)
    But I took this picture this morning,
    to celebrate one year
    of being in our dear little cottage!

    After four years of being in a rental house,
    being able to own our own home once again was a dream come true!


    There is still work to be done, but it feels like home…. ♥
    We love the little Cottage at 341 South!

    ~ clarita



  • An Ocean Birthday!


    We celebrated a birthday over the weekend!

    Olivia Caroline turned TWO

    Olivia Turns Two! b&w

    I must admit, I was hoping for a rather uneventful day! Her birth date being very memorable, her first birthday including a doctor and hospital visit because of a double ear infection, and her second birthday… well, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this little monkey! I actually did pray for a peaceful, uneventful (as in catastrophic uneventful!) day. :)

    And it was lovely!

    Soon after Zoe joined our family, Ben and I decided that instead of big huge parties for every birthday, we are going to spend time together on each birthday, making it special and making memories. There are times for parties, but that will be more for certain ages, probably, than to be expected every year.

    So that’s how we do it, and we ALL look forward to birthdays around here because of how fun it is!

    [Zoe waking Olivia at 9:30 am! You would have thought they were giving me a treat for MY birthday with that kind of glorious, sleeping-in kind of morning!]

    Olivia Turns Two! 033 - Copy

    The day before, Zoe and I had made pink cupcakes – I thought that would be more fun for her than a cake [and a lot easier for me!]!

    We did this same thing together over Valentine’s Day, and Zoe absolutely LOVED it. She can actually help quite a bit [granted, we used a cake mix and bought frosting, so that's a big time saver/easy-for-a-kid-to-help right there], and takes great delight in mixing the batter, helping to spread the frosting, and especially the sprinkles, choosing each of the four kinds very carefully. This is the part where she is sure is more like 13 than 3. :)

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    And then, we were off to the ocean! That is one thing I absolutely love about where I live – being so close to the ocean. It’s a good hour’s drive, but still, so easy to do in a day. We picked Ben up at work around noon and ate our little lunch on the sand!

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    And nothing makes little girls happier than sand, buckets, and water. :)

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    I can hardly believe my baby is TWO! And on the other hand, she’s only been in our family for two years. What did we ever do without her?!

    Out of the two girls, Olivia is the most like me. She is exactly what my parents’ and their friends say I was like as a baby – unending energy (sure wish I still had that!), and always running, climbing, falling, trying again, never deterred by a fall, playing and smiling, and with a steely grit of determination!

    She is so much fun, so fiesty, and motivates Zoe to be more brave and aggressive!

    Olivia Turns Two! 119 - Copy

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    Ben and I traded out sometimes with watching the girls… He –  mainly so I could take pictures! Sadly, I set my light meter setting too high, and a lot of these are blown out. :(

    Olivia Turns Two! 154 - Copy

    These little girls have THE best daddy they could ever wish for!

    This was a day where my heart hurt from the love I felt for my precious little family…

    There was time to sit and watch them, and just notice every little minute for several hours. I think I need to stop and do that more often (the beach, yes! but I mean the noticing), because it helps me see the true them so much more. And I enjoy them so very much…

    It feels like I just have the most wonderful little family. Not perfect as in we never mess up or do anything wrong, and never have issues.

    But perfect and wonderful as in the most absolute precious children ever! Two girls are just sooo fun. There are probably many parents that think that way about *their* children, and that’s God-ordained and rightly so! My children feel like my greatest treasures, and I love them so much!

    Daddy and the birthday girl!

    Olivia Turns Two! 287

    With his 2 & 3 year olds! They are 21 months apart, but I like to say it like this so it sounds really close. :)

    Olivia Turns Two! 303


    This is a typical Olivia face – she is so dramatic with her facial expressions in calm or frightening situations! We call her our little monkey because she is such a clown!

    Olivia Turns Two! 159

    I just love little bare feet and toes!

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    My kids have an imagination to beat the band. Every little stick, car, food item, whatever, becomes REAL. I’d be embarrassed to tell you some of the stories from around this house. :}

    Olivia Turns Two! 309

    After playing for a while, I brought out the dessert of swirly pops! :) Ben says they were mostly for pictures. He was only half right. :) I was saving them for some special occasion, and this was it! Even he had to admit they looked pretty stinkin’ cute…. :)

    I felt like mama-paparazzi. :) “But she’ll only be have a second birthday ONCE in her whole life!!” I said to Ben, as though that would explain my constant clicking.

    ^^ notice Olivia’s tongue just hanging out in the first picture! It just tickled me, because there is no concept of “how does this look?!!” !

    And below!


    I am so thankful to God for the gift of Olivia Caroline.
    For the beaming smile,
    the priceless dimples,
    the energy,
    the beauty,
    the sweetness,
    the petiteness,
    the innocence,
    the purity, of her precious little life…

    This was a joy-ride for kids, this day at the beach PLUS the swirly pops. Even if they couldn’t even eat half of them!

    Olivia Turns Two! 210Olivia Turns Two! 187 - Copy

    I edited a couple in black and white. I really like the bright contrast of the color pictures, but the black and white brought out the details really well.


    Olivia Turns Two! b&w

    And other than skinned toes from a fall on the boardwalk and a cut lip in the process, Olivia went through the day unscathed! Was I ever relieved!!

    We returned home to eat leftovers :) and pink cupcakes!

    And it was a happy, happy day!

    Jesus, I ask for the blessing of heaven and earth to be upon Olivia. May Your hand of blessing guide her and protect her from all evil. May her heart be tender toward You even now, and may she come to know and love You at a young age. Keep her from the evil one, Jesus, and may she grow securely and confidently in the shadow of Your hand, trusting Your Sovereignty and wanting nothing more than to please You and bring You glory.

    May she grow not only in the knowledge of God, but in the love of God; that her heart would learn to trust You even when her head does not understand. May she be real, honest, and full of grace and love. I ask for Your strength in advance for all the trials and difficulties she will face, the misunderstandings, the heartaches.

    Thank you, Jesus, for my precious little girl!

  • Two Years Ago: Olivia’s Birth Story


    What a beautiful, quiet week it’s been, after a lovely, beautiful weekend with Christy. I’m still smiling. :)

    Goodwill [out of all the cool stores in A___, we went to Goodwill! And wow, was it fun!] – and she warned me that she convinces people to buy a lot of stuff. And yes, she was right. :)

    Starbucks Happy Hour – Peppermint Mocha Frap for her, and Mocha Coconut for me. And long, delicious conversations for us both…

    Lovely times for our children to play together, our husbands to converse while they babysat so kindly… :)

    Christy, it was a pleasure!


    Some time ago I alluded to the car birth of Olivia – I don’t even remember what the context was or why I referred to it. But several people have asked to hear the birth story. So, because this is her birthday week, and because I’m off to work on sewing projects, I copied and pasted the blog entry from two years ago, announcing her arrival!

    Hope you enjoy! :)


    INTRODUCING… our [Roadside] Wonder!






    Olivia Caroline
    which means
    ‘Messenger of Peace and Joy’
    entered the world

    May 20, 2009

    [proud, wonderful daddy with his second daughter!]


    We are so blessed with a precious baby girl!! A baby sister for Zoe’, a beautiful little daughter for Ben and me!

    I had forgotten how completely darling a newborn baby is! We are all just completely smitten with her, and are head over heels in love! She has done so well so far, eats and eats and sleeps! I just love to hold her, smell her, kiss her, hold her… A new baby is just as precious and innocent as can be.

    My heart feels like it’s going to burst with the love I feel for my little family… My wonderful husband who has been such a supportive trooper through the past few days, my darling little girl Zoe’, my precious newborn baby. Any questions I had about whether I could love another child as well as the first have disappeared! The love that  God gives a parent for their new child is just amazing!

    [a few hours after birth]

    Zoe’ has done so well in adjusting so far. I think largely due to her daddy really taking good care of her, making sure she is not overlooked in all the changes that are taking place in her little life. So far she has taken everything in stride. We had told her that mommy is going to have a baby, but weren’t sure how much she understood. But now that Baby is here, it seems like Zoe’s reaction is that, well, we had told her a baby is coming, and now she’s here!

    She comes and wants to hold her, but isn’t overbearing like I thought she might be. After holding her for a bit, she says she’s all done, and then wants to go play. My parents and brothers are now here, and Zoe’ is just thrilled to pieces to have them here! I think all the action around here is helping her adjust well too. But wow, hard to believe my little girl is now the Big Sister!

    [a lovely bouquet arranged for Olivia by Aunt Rebekah!]


    The past few days have been rather eventful, as is any new birth entering the world! This birth had a few more unexpected twists than I was expecting, and I find myself thinking it surely must all be a dream! But this is what I remember of my ‘dream’…

    Nutshell Version:
    After 48 hours of labor, baby girl is born in car en route to birthing center.

    Long Version: [and beware, it is detailed. This is for my extended family and friends, whom I can't tell the story to on the phone due to time]

    I was due on Tuesday, May 12, but the days kept passing on by, with me hoping I wouldn’t have to count much higher with each new day! With Zoe’ 11 days late, and now Baby Olivia a few minutes shy of 9 days late,  I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m just a slow cooker – it takes me a long time to hatch a baby!

    My contractions began Monday afternoon, and by 10pm were 5 minutes apart. Although getting close, they were bearable, so we decided to try to get some sleep and see what would happen. At 5am the next morning Ben and I were heading to the Birthing Center over an hour away with contractions 3-5 minutes apart and getting stronger.

    We took Zoe’ to Grandpa Yoder’s on the way out, and arrived at the Birthing Center to find I was dilated to 4cm. That was encouraging, and we were told to head out to the town for one last “date” before the baby came and to walk around to encourage the labor. I was still able to walk and talk in between contractions, although I felt rather like a spectacle when a contraction came.

    So we did! We went to Panera Bread for breakfast, and I was very relieved that it was a very slow morning in business for them! Then we went to the beach with the intention of walking for a while. By the time we got to the beach we were both so tired from not resting well during the night, so we tried to sleep in the car for about a hour. Rather uncomfortable while I was in labor, but I was so tired I managed to rest somewhat.

    We attempted to walk along the beach, but that day was crazy weather for May, and it was very cold and so so windy, so we gave that up quickly and headed to the mall to walk instead. This was the midwife’s suggestion – I would never have dreamt of going to the mall during labor! WHAT in the world would people think??? She assured me that people are often in their own world and would probably never notice, until my contractions got really hard. So we walked and walked… and walked. A lot of window shopping going on, and objects suddenly became very fascinating as I’d suddenly have a contraction and try to breathe through it!

    Mid-afternoon we headed back to the Birthing Center, labor was not getting much more intense and I was getting very tired from walking so much. We rested for a while again, and then tried walking again for several hours to speed the labor. Herbal tinctures and things would kick up the contractions for a bit, but I wouldn’t progress.

    The problem was that the baby would not settle head-down. She had never “dropped.” With each contraction her head/body would try to go diagonal, then after the contraction would go more vertex. But she would not settle in the vertex position, which made the contractions ineffective, no matter how hard they were.

    By evening I was wiped out from being in labor so many hours already, and my contractions were slowing down because of that. We were advised to either get a motel for the night [to relieve the pressure of being at a birthing center] or just go home and see what would happen.

    We ended up going home, although we were told by the nurse that when the baby does right herself, that things could happen very fast, and she was concerned about a car birth! But as slow as things were going, I never thought once more about it, even though she gave me a plastic bag to hold the placenta would we need it!!

     I was a weeping, wailing wreck on the way home! My poor, dear husband! I would collect myself, only to have another contraction hit, and then I’d start crying all over again! Completely exhausted from having contractions for almost 24 hours already, plus this day was my sister Claudia’s birthday and I was so hoping my baby would be born then! I was already a week overdue and the thought of already being in labor 24 hours and not being able to dilate past 4 cm was completely overwhelming.

    We tried to sleep through the night as much as possible. My body was so tired that the contractions slowed to about 20 minutes apart, which allowed me to rest in between them. When I was laying down, they came about 20 minutes apart. When I was up and walking around they would come about 5 minutes apart.

    The next day we had a chiropractor appointment to try to straighten the baby, hearing that sometimes chiropractors can do things like that, and we were desperate. I thought my bag of waters was leaking as well, so we went to the Birthing Center afterward to check that out. Somehow, they weren’t able to detect that it really was my water leaking, [even though I was leaking quite rapidly] and I was sent home again. Ben asked if it would be crazy for him to go back to work the following day, and the midwife thought that would be okay, since this labor could drag out for quite a bit more time.

    All this time I was having contractions anywhere from 5-20 minutes apart, and was becoming so exhausted from not being able to sleep well for several nights.

    It was Wednesday evening by this time, and we hadn’t seen Zoe’ since Tuesday morning, so we went to Ben’s parents’ house for supper and to spend some time with Zoe. We found a very happy little girl who was taken care of so well! She loves spending time at Grandpa’s house, and seemed to be having a great time! I think it was harder on me than on her to be away from her so long! I was very uncomfortable physically because of leaking so much fluid plus the contractions.

    My contractions started coming 3-5 minutes apart again, and it just annoyed me because I knew the baby still wasn’t in the right position, which made the contractions basically ineffective in progressing the labor.

    We called the midwife and told her that my bag of waters was indeed leaking, quite rapidly. She said that from that point on we had 24 hours to have the baby, or we had to go the hospital. Regulations. We could either return to the Birthing Center that night, or be there at 7am the next morning to try to get things going again. I was so tired I couldn’t bear the thought of trying to labor through the night, so we returned home. Again.

    Ben tried to call a nurse friend who has worked labor/delivery for years, and were not able to get a hold of her. He left a message.

    The next 24 hours looked overwhelming to me. Wednesday night at 10pm marked the point of being in early labor 48 hours, and I was completely exhausted.  I didn’t know how in the world I was going to be able to have this baby! And knew that if the labor did not progress and the baby did not turn, that a C-section was still a possibility. If Ben would have given me the go-ahead, I would have opted for that right away, just to get the labor over with!

    But we returned home. Ben rubbed my feet to try to help me relax as much as possible, and my contractions were still coming about 5 minutes apart.

    We got into bed around 10:30pm, and shortly after got a text from Lois, the nurse friend, who had just got the message, and said we could contact her if we still needed something. Ben went out and called her, and while he was talking I felt the baby’s head move. Definitely move, as if something seemed to click into place.

    Immediately I went into HARD, active labor, with contractions back to back. Ben heard that something was different, and came running back to see what was going on. He was still on the phone, and told Lois to come over as soon as possible. She lives about 2 miles away and was there in just minutes. She saw what was going on [me, rocking on the floor!], checked me, and I was dilated between 6-7 cm. She told us we need to head out as soon as possible, and she was going with us. She grabbed a couple of towels just in case we needed them, and we were literally running out the door as fast as we could after getting out of night clothes.

    The Birthing Center is an hour and fifteen minutes away, although this time I think Ben would have done it in one hour. He was driving as fast as possible, but trying to be as safe as he could! I was in the back seat, trying to make it through the contractions that were coming back to back with hardly a break.

     I was since looked back and just laughed and laughed, because my normally calm, collected husband was more worked up than I have ever EVER seen him! He was in the front seat shaking, praying, saying this was his nightmare coming true, and all sorts of funny things!

    About 40 minutes into the trip, I heard Ben tell Lois that he was afraid he had to stop for gas! In all the trips to and back from the Center [over an hour one-way] we had tried to stay filled up, but this was the one trip that mattered and he didn’t think we’d be able to make it the whole way there! He stopped for gas – or more accurately, screeched the car to a halt, jumped out, and pumped a gallon as fast as a human being ever pumped. Meanwhile, my labor only intensified, and I called/moaned, “This baby is coming!!” At a gas station at that.

    Lois jumped in the back seat with me, Ben jumped in the front after getting just a bit of gas, and we took off again. But the baby was indeed coming, and Lois told Ben to pull over as soon as he could find a lighted area, he needed to deliver this baby!

    The first place we came to was about 3 miles down the road, a Hampton Inn. We must have been quite a sight, and I’m so glad it was around midnight vs. the middle of the day, because this area normally got a lot of traffic!

    [picture taken the following day, and this was actually written on their sign!]

    So Ben wheeled into the parking lot, squeezed into the side of the car with Lois, and two minutes and two contractions later,  we had a baby girl! :) All the birthing equipment we had and needed was bath towels!

    Lois was an angel from the Lord that night… I have since looked at the whole timing of her contacting us and Ben being on the phone with her as just simply DIVINE. She was so calm and knew just what to do, and although the car situation was far less than ideal, she was just wonderful through it all! I feel like I just can’t sing her praises enough!

    After a few minutes of making sure the baby was okay, and she was a wonderfully healthy baby, we continued the trip to the Birthing Center. Ben and I were alternating crying out of relief and happiness and laughing at the sheer crazy wonder of it all!

     In all the shuffle of the baby coming so far, we had lost the one cell phone we had between the three of us. So we weren’t able to call anyone until we arrived at the Birthing Center, and  Ben ran in and told the midwife that, well, the baby was already here!

    [in the car, approximately 15-20 minutes after birth. Notice the car seat base just pushed to the side!]

    [still in the car, cutting the cord after we arrived at the birthing center]

    And that, my friends, is the story of our Roadside Wonder, as Ben calls this Baby! :)




    And there it is! I sure am glad it was two years ago!

     On May 20 of this year, there will only be celebration ~ no labor and delivery involved! :)



  • Unsung Heroes.

    Mother’s Day has come and gone. I’ve been trying to write a post for the past week, and it’s finally happening… after the day is over. :) That’s okay. There were other things more important than blogging.

    Reflecting this year on Mother’s Day…it’s a day of much love and warmth for many people, and also of much sadness for others. There is celebration of what is, and of good times past. Then I think of women who long to be mothers, and are not. Of children who have lost mothers to death. Of sons and daughters who did not have a loving mother. Of mothers who did not want to become mothers, and how unprepared and inadequate they feel for their role.

    When we were driving home from church we passed a small cemetery, with several people scattered around, standing before gravestones. This is a day of tears.

    This is a bittersweet day for many people.

    [a little note from Zoe, helped by a cousin, and fresh flowers picked on a walk together]

    Mother's Day 153

    This was my 4th year of being a mother (including the first year when Zoe was still en utero). The morning of Mother’s Day this year was an early one, because of us hosting for lunch, but I had a few moments of quietness before the busy started.

    These four years have flown. It seems not long ago that I held new-born Zoe in my arms, after 9 months of carrying her with anticipation and trepidation, a few seconds after her birth, after THE most painful experience I ever encountered in my life… and I fell in LOVE. Instantly.

    [Here I go down Memory Lane... Warning: I have baby fever. :) Cute baby picture overload!!]
    [Zoe at 10 days old]

    out in the meadow 6

    [Zoe at 4 months]

    IMG_1477 IMG_1473 IMG_1472 IMG_1449 IMG_1447

    [Zoe', at approximately one year]






    [eighteen months]


    [almost two]




    [age two]

    Xanga - Zoe

    Zoe & Clarita 4

    [age three]

    weekend 19

    [Zoe today]


    baby blues


    [Olivia, soon after birth]


    [two weeks old]


    [fiesty from the start :) ]



    [four months]



    [six months]


    February 2010 140

    [eleven months]

    Kitties in the Rain 011

    Kitties in the Rain 023

    [one year]

    Olivia - age 1 edited 3

    Olivia - age 1, edit 2

    July, 2010 402

    [eighteen months]

    Valentine Princesses 079

    [Olivia today]

    April, 2011 196

    Mother's Day 038

    [from long ago]


    What a privilege these four years have been. Incredibly life-altering, forever, because a mother is something I’ll always be.

    It’s not just that my external circumstances and duties have changed, that my journals get scribbled in by curious little onlookers who want to write like mommy, that my days now revolve around caring for the needs of miniature little people, and scrubbing pencil marks off doors [like today].


    But WHO I AM has been greatly impacted, bettered, softened, and sharpened. Truly, my children are changing ME and making ME grow up! I’d say in my later teens years and early twenties I thought of myself as a fairly unselfish, patient person (cough). Not perfect, but definitely with strengths in those two areas (cough). Now, four years into mothering, I think I must be one of the most impatient, selfish people around! Children show up the yet-to-be-redeemed areas of my life like a screaming fire engine!

    I’ve been thinking so much of a lovely luncheon I was invited to in Pennsylvania by sweet Janelle, hosted by Jeane’. It was so lovely to see Rachel there too! Fan Smucker, a mother of four, who has “gone before us” on this mothering journey, spoke to the 11 women present about being a wife and mother. This was pampering and inspiration that spoke to me in the very depths of my soul! I have rarely had the opportunity to be in the presence of an oldER (not to be confused with ‘old’!) woman in person who is encouraging and inspiring younger women. Online, yes, and that is a huge encouragement as well. But there is something about being in the presence of a godly older woman, and in the presence of other young mothers, who are nothing but life-giving!

    Since then I’ve been thinking about Unsung Heroes, my thinking stimulated largely by the luncheon I mentioned above. 

    The morning spent at the ladies luncheon felt like a Red Letter Day in my career as a mother. Truly, it was inspiring and encouraging beyond what I can even express! There was something that clicked, something I understood about mothering and servanthood like I never have before. I hope I keep having revealing moments like these!

    This is an excerpt from my journal the morning after:

    “My heart cannot stop glowing from the amazing time I was blessed with yesterday morning! Rarely, if ever, have I been in the presence of so many passionate, devoted wives and mothers. I cam away feeling so inspired and empowered, having so much truth spoken into my heart…”

    Twelve women, all mothers. Leaving behind almost forty children. But all women that are passionate about being mothers, that love their role as a wife and mother, that embrace their husbands and children, that view their roles as noble and honorable and worthy. That are not ashamed or embarrassed to be “just a stay-at-home-mom”, but rather thrive and flourish in that role. Beautiful women, fashionable, attractive, but with an inner glow that radiated from their faces. Women that first of all loved their Jesus.

    [a Mother's Day lunch Ben and I prepared for his family on Sunday]

    Mother's Day 141

    [the red flowers were the seats for the mothers]

    Mother's Day 137

    [decor: old records as chargers, burlap runner, pint-sized jars as glasses [because I didn't have enough normal drinking glasses], and real live magnolias!

    Mother's Day 143 Mother's Day 136

    [fresh squeezed strawberry lemonade]

    Mother's Day 148

    Mother's Day 134


    I suppose I hadn’t realized how inundated I’ve been with negative connotations about mothering. From comments at the grocery store about how busy I must be and how stressful it is to have children to all the undercurrents of feminism and careers and how woman needs to “find herself.”.. These are everywhere, and even in Christian circles mothering is often looked upon as something not as good as _______ [fill in the blank].

    Fan Smucker, the speaker (which isn’t an exact term, because it felt more like huge doses of encouragement rather than formal speaking), gave one quote that grabbed me, and has had me thinking on it ever since…

    is a noble calling,
    and noble callings always take sacrifice.
    But that’s what makes a

    [fan smucker]

    On the 12-hour trip back to the south I was driving for a few brief moments while Ben and the girls were sleeping.
    (We left at 3am, lest I portray some unrealistic picture of my two daughters angelically sleeping the entire trip! Even leaving at that hour doesn’t usually give us normal sleeping time.)

    And I was thinking about the Hero quote. Thinking about how different my idea is from God’s idea of a hero

    Mine has normally been huge, world-changers – Hudson Taylor, Mother Theresa, Moses, Daniel, David, Ruth, Esther… Amazing people, with amazing roles. And quite frankly, I would have loved a large role to fill too.

    [Ben's Mother's Day gift to me was several hours at the beach on Saturday as a family! Does he have good taste or what!?]


    [my only picture from the weekend with me and my girls. 'tis very sad. the day was lovely, but too busy for pictures!]

    Mother's Day 126

    Mother's Day 086Mother's Day 082

    Mother's Day 080

    Mother's Day 075

    But I’ve really been rethinking my former ideal of a hero. And I’m beginning to think now that a hero is not necessarily one who plays the Main Role in the world, or even one who is noticed by many people.

    Rather, I think a real Hero is one who surrenders unconditionally to the call of God in salvation and in all of life after that, and then lives faithfully and unselfishly in whatever role God has called them to play. Some people will be called to more recognizable places; others will not.

    But recognition is not what makes a Hero!

    I think of the words ‘faithfully’ and ‘unselfishly’, because for so many of us our roles are not glamorous. Our days consist of much of the same thing, day after day. But if God calls us to it, then that makes it worthy, valuable. So often ambition to be a hero is marked by selfish motives – to be someone who is looked up to and admired, and spoken of as someone who is amazing.

    I had wanted to be single for a long time so I could accomplish a lot of great things for God. Big things! Admirable things! And things that some people are called to.

    But I was not called to that. I was called to be a wife at age 22 and a mother at 24, and to live my life in poured-out service for my family, primarily though not exclusively. This is something that I’ve found much fulfillment in, but honestly, I still need to fight the voices that argue that careers make a woman more well-rounded, and what about taking time for yourself?!, and the negative connotations about being “just” a stay-at-home mom (just try it for a day and see if you’ll say “just”. I’ve had grown men tell me a full-time job was MUCH easier than taking care of a child for a day!).

    Until recently, I hadn’t realized how much negative I’ve heard about children. Could someone please stop me at the grocery store and say how wonderful it is to see two beautiful girls with their mom, instead of the “sure must keep you busy!” comments? ‘Children’ and ‘stressful’ are often used in the same sentence to describe each other. A mother who chooses to stay at home often feels like she has to apologize for not having a ”real job.”

    Sitting around the beautifully adorned brunch table at Jeane’s home that Friday morning, I felt like I was in the presence of amazing, UNSUNG heroes. Incredible women, all mothers, but more importantly, all life-givers. There is a difference.

    There were former musicians, actresses, women involved in politics, teachers.
    It was an amazing, dazzling array of talent and giftedness.

    [my "flowers" - I tell Ben I'd rather have a Starbucks drink than a bouquet, and he believes me! This makes me very happy. :) ]

    Mother's Day 051

    And the incredible thing was these women whole-heartedly and open-heartedly received their husband and children into their lives. They glowed when they spoke of their husbands and families (no mean husband jokes here!), and they adored being a mother. They did not feel inferior about being “just” a mom of 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 children – rather, they flourished in their roles. And I thought to myself how incredibly blessed their families were, to have women in their homes who were so intelligent,so gifted, and so unselfish and loving.

    I see this same spirit in the lives of several single women I know; Dani, Krissy, and Beth. This life-giving spirit. Their life focus is not in careers or money, although one in an incredibly brilliant college student, another a web designer, and the third held a good job as well. But they are living their lives as poured out for Jesus by pouring them out for children that no one else takes the time for. They live so unselfishly, so faithfully in the roles God has called them to.

    Mother's Day 029


    I think of my mother, who is a mother of six children, who has her own home business, who has a beautiful gardens and grounds, who taught school for more than 20 years in both private and home school settings. She has lived her life poured out for the lives of her husband and children. She is a team player with her husband, and a cheerleader for her children. While I was home for almost 3 weeks we were working together cleaning one day, and she sort of apologized that her walls weren’t always clean and spotless like some people’s walls are. I was flabbergasted that she even thought of such a thing, and responded that as kids we didn’t think about whether the house won Best Housekeeping awards or not, but we knew Mom’s efforts were about raising and loving a family, and we knew that and appreciated that so much. Unsung? Perhaps. But a True Hero.

    I think of the Children of Israel who were slaves in Egypt for over 400 years. I’m sure thousands of men would have wanted to be a Moses, and thousands of women would’ve wanted to be his cheering sister, and lead all the slaves to freedom. How would you like it if your life plan included being born a slave, living a slave, and dying a slave? That’s anguish. That’s not easy. But those slaves, during that period of time, were fulfilling God’s will. (these thoughts come from “The Cat & Dog Theology” seminar). H.a.r.d. stuff.

    What if fulfilling God’s will means being in an accident so an unbeliever finally surrenders? Or what if God’s will for you means losing your mother at age ten, or your daughter at age two? [disclaimer: I'm not wanting to start an argument about what God wills and what God allows; please follow through with me here.] What if it means packing up your family and moving to the other side of the world (or what feels like the other side of the world), or staying where you’ve always been when you’ve always desperately wanted to do something big? Or having ten children or no children?

    How conditional is my surrender? How UNconditional is my surrender? I think a Hero can have so many faces. What makes a Hero in one person will not the same in another person. A true Hero is fully surrendered to God, and to the glory of God, even when the purposes are not fully discloses and understood. It’s not about us; it’s about GOD.

    I don’t think a Hero is about doing some big thing, or even about doing the thing you always thought you’d have to do to succeed in life. I think a Hero is about faithfulness, whether we are called to Asia or Canada or a little town in the United States. It’s not about our marital status and how many children we do or do not have ~ it’s about being faithful and poured out for the lives of other people, no matter where God has placed us.

    It’s about a heart of surrender to the Lord, a heart that is willing to sacrifice anything – dreams, goals, ideals, plans – in order to follow what is is HE is asking of us.

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    So really, what makes a Hero is not so much what a person does (which makes me breathe a sigh of relief!), but who a person is, inside, in their heart of hearts, even when no one sees (and that makes me stagger at the weight and the freedom of that!). And the question I feel God asking my heart is, “Are you willing to be an Unsung Hero? Unsung, but nonetheless a Hero?”

    A true Hero is one who lives a life os complete abandonment to the Lord; regardless of role differences, regardless of public or private or no recognition. A Hero may be sung or unsung, but the unsung are no less of a Hero than the sung. Perhaps they are even more of a Hero, because it’s harder to be unsung.

    Today, the challenge of God to my heart is to be one who is fully surrendered, who is consumed with the glory of Jesus, and not the status of my own life… And not just be surrendered, but to embrace the life that He has called me to…


    I am honored to be one of the many.
    And yes, there are many sung and unsung heroes that I am so privileged to journey with in life! If I’d name names the list would be endless! Thank you, beautiful women.



  • A Faith Walk


    Well, it’s been a while. :)

    2.5 weeks in Pennsylvania.
    Then a day after returning home I got hit with a bad case of strep throat that had me in bed for a week, and recovering for a week after that.
    Now it’s a week later, and goodness, I’m not sure I remember how to blog anymore. :)

    So I’ll just chatter, I guess. About things I’ve been thinking the past few weeks…

    And add of bit of the flora and fauna that we had earlier this spring.


    About how we’ve been tested in the whole department of choosing gratitude, as I wrote about in my previous post. Choosing to see the blessings I’ve been given,  I must admit, in the past few weeks have been a stretch.

    We returned back to the south because there was work here for Ben again. That was a huge relief, knowing that at least for a month there would be work. I remember thinking, “Whew, it’s going to be SO nice that he can put in full weeks again, after not having steady work for about two months. We can finally catch up a bit financially.”


    That was probably the arm of flesh, depending upon itself. :) And over the next few weeks I realized again our complete dependance upon God, and also His faithfulness to us. Because a full week of work still hasn’t been in the picture since we returned 3 weeks ago. Not because work hasn’t been available, just, well, other things.

    Like me getting strep throat, and Ben taking off a day of work because I was so sick I couldn’t function. Throw my two doctor’s visits in there, an injection, two kinds of antibiotics, and I was finally feeling better.  I don’t know what we would have done without Ben’s younger sister to help care for the girls for several days over that time. Oh, and Olivia’s trip to the doctor because of terrible mouth ulcers.Then a few days later Ben got strep throat, from me passing on the highly-contagious virus. Insert doctor’s visit for him, an injection, and antibiotics… We have health insurance, but it only covers medical emergencies, and nothing of the above.


    You get the picture. Not exactly the financial strides we were hoping for! I remember praying and thinking, “God, surely there is something to be thankful for in all of this, but right now I’m so sick I can’t see it!”

    But God was faithful. And there was enough money to pay bills and put food on the table.


    [quote on mirror from Leslie Ludy]

    Then came the news of the devastating tornadoes in north Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. And there was an opportunity for some of the men from our church to go up for a day and assist with manual labor, helping local residents in any way they could. And both Ben and I felt like he should go, and he wanted to go. No, there hasn’t been steady workweek for him lately, but we have a roof standing over our heads and were not even touched by the destruction that completely wiped out whole areas. We felt like Ben going would be offering our gratitude to the Lord for the many blessings He HAS given to us, even in a time where we feel stretched ourselves. And giving in that way is so much more heartfelt when it requires personal sacrifice. So Ben went, and blessed, and gave.

    And God is faithful. There is enough of money to pay bills and put nourishing food on the table.


    And then there is the walk of faith in the future that we’re excited (and maybe a bit nervous) about. It’s called Ellerslie. We have dreamt and prayed, and doors are opening. Ellerslie was founded by Eric & Leslie Ludy as a discipleship training school in Colorado, in 10 week semesters. Lord willing, Ben and our little family plan to attend in October for one semester. It’s still 5 months off, but with a family, these kinds of things take a lot more planning than the fast decisions of a single person! :) We were accepted in January, so have been thinking of this for a few months. Ben will be a student, and I will be a supportive wife and loving mother. :)



    But all this comes at a time when it really is a walk of faith. We are beyond excited about this, and know that actually going will be well nigh to a miracle because God is leading us to go at a time when it really hasn’t been stable financially. I realize that we are in a minority of people that has been extremely blessed in the western world, but even so, not having steady work for several months doesn’t seem to be the most “safe” time to go. :) But that is where God is leading us, and we are confident of His faithfulness!

    After just the first couple months of adventure God had us on this year, the next months look exciting! :)

    [our personal flora and fauna :) ]


    [first spinach from the garden]

    fresh salad

    Sooo, that’s a little bit of what’s been happening. And I’ve been seeing God’s faithfulness in huge ways in our lives.

    Despite challenges, despite things out of our control, HE IS faithful. His faithfulness is not dependent upon everything in our little world going well. He supersedes that, and cares for us well in every season. And I am so grateful to love such a God!


    p.s. more to come later on the lovely past-trip… it was too long to combine into one post! my heart is full and overflowing from such a splendid time with dear family and friends!