Month: September 2012

  • [The Ocean and a Birthday Girl]


    The walls were closing in around me yesterday morning. 
    My mind and heart were full, of things that weren’t really things to talk about to anyone but God.
    I was [very wrongly] becoming short-tempered and snappy at my children.
    Monday morning was one such morning.

    I needed a change of scenery. I needed to get my mind off myself and the things that were overwhelmingly mountainous.
    I needed to get outside of my four walls, go to the ocean and gaze at the Bigness of God.

    We may live in a very small town that doesn’t have perks, but being near the coast has many perks.
    Including being able to pack up last minute and taking spontaneous trips to the ocean.
    Monday was one such day.

    It was THE perfect beach day.
    Up north they may be wearing snazzy boots and wrapping cold fingers around Pumpkin Spice lattes.
    But I was at the ocean, digging my toes in the sand and enjoying 85 degree sunshine.
    There was wave-jumping with the girls, holding a blinking Hudson in the bright sun,
    talking to the senior citizens that strolled the beach and stopped with chat.
    I guess a mom by herself with three kids looks like she needs someone to talk to. :)

    And my very deepest core was refreshed in the BIGNESS of my God.

    Looking at the ocean, gazing as far as I could see, I was amazed all over again that He created it with simply a WORD.

    Holding sand in my hand, the grains trickling down as in an hourglass,  and the sand innumerable in such a small handful,
    and yet He knows the number of ALL the grains of sand on all the seashores of the world!

    The answer rang true in the depths of my heart as I sat there.

    As my children delighted in His creation, laughing and shouting and running in their pink tutus.

    As I pondered the wildness of the ocean ~ of how men try to tame many things on earth, but the ocean is untouchable.
    It’s God’s territory. The deepest part 7 miles deep? My mind can’t even fathom that.
    How the moon causes the tides, how there is nothing to change the rising and falling,
    how He created it all to function so perfectly… so wildly.



    And my heart of hearts said, “You ARE Big enough, God. You are BIG enough.”

    Not that my “things” are suddenly gone. They don’t – poof – disappear into thin air (unfortunately).
    They are as real and as difficult as ever.
    But I know in my heart of hearts that God is Bigger.

    And yet in that Bigness, far beyond what I can even comprehend, He cares. Cares. About ME. 
    One person in billions. He’s Gentle.

    This morning I was looking for the verses about Him thinking of me, and was moved nearly to tears.

    “How precious also are your thoughts toward me, O God.
    How vast is the sum of them!
    If I could count them, they would be more in number than the sand!
    When I awake, could I count to the end, I would still be with You!

    [Psalm 139:17-18]

    Whatever is big today, in my life, in yours, know that He IS Bigger!


    Since these pictures were taken on Zoe’s birthday [two months ago :) ]
    and I never did a post on her, I’ll add that little bit in as well.

    Turning FIVE was a big deal this summer!
    Birthdays are so anticipated at that age, the countdown is on for weeks!
    Months, actually. :)
    While mommy is saying, “Oh, just stay little! Please just stay little!”

    If at all possible, we like to DO something together as a family on birthdays,
    rather than making a big deal with gifts.
    There are a few gifts, because it wouldn’t seem complete without them,
    but making memories together is the big deal.

    Zoe chose to spend the day at the ocean together, 
    and as her birthday fell on a Saturday, it worked out splendidly.

    On the birthday morning she went out for breakfast with Daddy.
    It’s tradition – you get a date with Daddy on a birthday.

    Then we had a little party at home, just the 5 of us.
    She loves princess things, and picked out a cake.
    The picture made me gasp in fear when I saw it, because how on earth could an amateur make it?
    But I attempted it, and I may never attempt another one in my life. :)

    The leaning-tower-of-pisa castle cake



    The day got later and later, and at 2:30 after the date and party we STILL hadn’t even left for the ocean.
    I knew it would mean a super short time by the ocean, 
    and so we spontaneously made it an overnighter.
    You know, make it a family weekend instead of just a day. :)
    It was the best decision, and a wonderful time.

    Zoe’ Grace, meaning “Empowering Strength and Life of God,”
    truly does bring so much life into our family.

    She is the most thoughtful one of the two girls, constantly thinking and pondering.
    She has a ready giggle too, and has the wildest imagination.
    When the two girls get to playing, we have our very own radio drama.
    It is so entertaining, but she gets a sheepish grin if she realizes we were listening in.

    She’s quite the fashionista, loving to chose her own outfits.
    And let me tell ya, they are one-of-a-kind. Brights and patterns being in high demand.
    We finally reached a happy medium:
    at home, she can wear whatever she wants;
    when we go away, she wears whatever *I* want. :)

    She’s a super cleaner-upper, and the rooms can go from tornado-just-came-through
    to looking as though I was the one that picked everything up.

    She is so merciful, nearly reaching tears thinking of someone who is hurt.
    We talk about natural disasters in other countries,
    of orphans, of children who were abandoned by family.
    Her eyes will widen and deepen with sorrow until I could almost fall in them.

    Once after we were talking about orphans, she stated,
    “God picked me to go to them. When I’m bigger, I’m going to go take care of them.”
    She also has plans of a husband and large family (8 children) assisting her.
    Or sometimes “my husband will watch our kids while I help the poor children.”
    In all seriousness, she is planning to be a missionary.

    Once, after Ben talking to them about Heaven the night before,
    she came to me near tears, saying she wants to go to Heaven.
    “Sweetie, if you love and obey Jesus, you will!” I assured her.
    I quickly discovered she did not mean just sometime in the future.
    She wanted to go soon; NOW in fact.
    She followed me around the house, begging me to let her go!
    And I would say, “Sweetie! God knows when it’s time! Don’t worry!”
    Finally she said, “Mommy! But I want to go NOW! I want to go when I’m little so I can sit on Jesus’ lap!
    Can you please pray and ask Jesus if I can go now?” almost crying.

    I stared at her and burst into tears myself.
    Don’t you hear of these kinds of things just before a tragedy??
    What if this is a premonition??
    I stopped everything, leaned down and hugged her tight.
    “No, Sweetie. I can’t pray that. But even if you’re big, you can still sit on Jesus’ lap,” I assured her.
    We talked some more, about God knowing the best time, and how we have to trust Him.
    Me more than her, I’m sure!!

    Zoe is very conscious of hearing the voice of God, and will sometimes tell me of the struggle.
    Satan was telling me to be mean to Olivia, but I said, “No! I will not listen to you! I listen to GOD!”

    She is PRECIOUS.
    Yes, she has times of disobedience, of willfulness, of the wickedness of Adam in her.
    But even as a little child, her heart is so turned toward the things of God.

    I am overwhelmed with joy at the privilege of parenting her.
    And sometimes I’m incredibly sobered at the responsibility of pointing her soul toward God.
    I can’t make any decisions for her, but I can point her toward Jesus.

    She will also call me out. One day I was extremely exasperated with Olivia
    and spoke very harshly to her, to put it mildly.
    Zoe spoke up, actually crying, even though it was not to her that I talked,
    “I don’t like it when you talk like that to my sister! You weren’t talking nicely!”

    And God uses my own children teach me and refine me.

    A few quotes:
    ~ In the car one day,
    “Can you turn the air conditioner down, please? It’s blowing FURIOUSLY in my face.”

    ~ She lives in the south, this is true. When devastated about something or other,
    “That just broke my heart!”

    When she and I were going around the yard killing fire ants,
    Here look!! There’s a whole FLEET of them!”
    saying later that’s what Curious George says.

    ~”I’m not always going to be a mopper,” as she grabbed a mop and started cleaning, 
    in all kinds of dressed-up, regal finery. 
    I’m going to marry a prince! And tonight is the ball game!”
    A Redneck Cinderella, for sure.

    ~”Did you know that when I have children, you and daddy are going to be their GRANDPA AND GRANDMA!?”
    Please, child. You’re just FOUR. Don’t call me Grandma yet.

    ~ One day when we were saying what we’re thankful for:
    I’m thankful that satan is ‘ccomplished. ”Complished’ means that Jesus is stronger than satan.
    …and I’m thankful for my Bible, because I read it and it tells me about God,
    cuz I don’t love satan, only Jesus. The Bible says, “You are my Shield, and You are my Rod,
    and You are my Road…” God is doing a work in my heart… I’m thankful for the Ten Commandments
    so I can obey God…”

    Saying goodbye to her little pink bunny blanket that she had since one month old, and slept with every night.
    I expected a very emotional, tearful goodbye, but it was very jovial:
    Goodbye! Nice sleeping with you for a long time!”

    Last autumn, at the first glimpse of changing leaves on the trees,
    It looks like they have red skirts on, and they twirl!!”



    Zoe Grace, it’s a delight to be your mommy!

    ~ clarita



  • The Shaping.

       “Our natural reason looks at marriage and turns up its nose and says, “Alas! Must I rock the baby? wash its diapers? make its bed? smell its stench? stay at nights with it? take care of it when it cries? heal its rashes and sores? and on top of that care for my spouse, provide labor at my trade? take care of this and take care of that? do this and do that? and endure this and endure that? Whey should I make such a prisoner of myself?”
       What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful and despised duties in the spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says, “O God, I confess I am not worthy to rock that little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of a child and its mother. How is it that I without any merit have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving Thy creature and Thy most precious will? Oh, how gladly will I do so. Though the duty should be even more insignificant and despised, neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor will distress me for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in Thy sight.”

    [Martin Luther]

    Hudson - 3 months 151 bw 

    “There is no nobler career than that of motherhood at its best.
    There are no possibilities greater, and in no other sphere does failure bring more serious penalties.
    With what diligence then should she prepare herself for such a task.
    If the mechanic who is to work with “things” must study at technical school,
    if the doctor into whose skilled hands will be entrusted human lives must go through medical school…
    how much more should the mother who is fashioning the souls of the men and women of tomorrow,
    learn at the highest of all schools and from the Master-Sculptor Himself, God.
    To attempt this task, unprepared and untrained is tragic, and its results affect generations to come.
    On the other hand there is no higher height to which humanity can attain than that of a converted, heaven-inspired, praying mother.”

    [unknown author]

    Hudson - 3 months 141 


    Having three kids…
     I’ve really been conscious of how much kids have to be taught.
    They come into the world as a blank slate, and have to be taught everything!

    how to respond cheerfully,
    how to be kind.
    How to hold a fork,
    how to cut with a knife,
    place the napkin in your lap.
    Remember to include your younger sister,
    sisters should be great friends.
    phone etiquette,
    even polite voice inflection!
    “Yes ma’am”
    “No sir”
    and “I don’t care for that” instead of “eewww! that look gross!”
    How to hang your clothes up neatly.
    Place the spoons with the spoons and forks with the forks.
    How to put the pillows back on the sofa as they were.
    How to hold a pencil.
    Please don’t throw your clothes on the floor.
    Pick up the toys after your bath.
    God is One God, but He is a Trinity.
    We can’t be good enough on our own; that’s why we need Jesus.
    God is in Heaven, He holds the world in His hand, and yet He wants to live within us.
    Please apologize to your father for being disrespectful.
    Oh, and did you know your knees are ticklish?…….

    It it really an endless list!
    But it’s actually been rather exciting to me.
    Rather than becoming frustrated by things,
    I want to take the opportunity to teach.
    There is an exciting world out there to learn about!
    And in character training, not to become exasperated so easily, but show them the better way of doing things.

    Goodness, how being a mother is refining!
    Patience? Gentleness?
    It takes on a whole new meaning when, instead of one, there are four of you! :)

    I’ve recently read The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot, and it is one of the best books I’ve read on intentional parenting.
    The teaching/training encouragement I’ve felt is due to that book, and the quotes are all from there.

    It’s much easier for the parents to pick things up themselves than to call the child,
    show him what he has left lying about, tell him where to put it, and see that he puts it there – and remind him the next time.
    “Much easier” only at the moment, I mean…
    It is a sort of ‘severe mercy’, for the parents are sparing themselves endless pains when they take the trouble to teach,
    and, far more importantly, are sparing the children the frustration and confusion of disorder for the rest of their lives…”
    [e. elliot]

    Hudson, pictures at 3 months [though he is now 4.5]

    Stats at 4 months:
    -15 pounds
    -26 inches (so therefore grew 6 inches since birth)
    - is the biggest eater we’ve had, since 1 month he’s drinking 4-7 ounces of milk at a time, every three hours
    - loves guacomole, rice & beans, salmon, mashed potatoes… let’s just say he completely skipped the baby food stage and went straight for the real deal.
    He cracks us up – the girls were never even interested in food until at least 6 months.s
    - rolls over from tummy to back and is extremely frightened by that ability
    - goes into fits of laughter when his sisters talk to him
    - recognizes his bottle and a spoon coming toward him, and is almost beside himself with excitement

    - still goes by “HUT-son” with emphasis on the “HUT” according to his two sisters, from birth to now.
    They sounds like they’re either a) from Holmes County, Ohio, or b) African-American. Neither is a bad thing, I guess. :)

    I can’t believe that he was still inside of me 4.5 months ago. That we didn’t know him, we wondered what gender he was.
    Now he really is a part of our family, and we absolutely adore him!
    I never knew a boy could be so much fun. SO MUCH FUN.

    Hudson - 3 months 118Hudson - 3 months 112  
    Hudson - 3 months 055 

    Hudson - 3 months 082Hudson - 3 months 071  

    My husband’s take on his outfit: “We’re rednecks, and you make him look like he’s an Englishman!”
    My take on the outfit: “I don’t mind bringing some class.”

    Hudson - 3 months 117

      Hudson - 3 months 108Hudson - 3 months 104
    Hudson - 3 months 020Hudson - 3 months 033 

    Zoe and Olivia.
    Summer of Twenty-Twelve.
    Turned 3 and 5.

    3 & 5 pictures 075-13 & 5 pictures 070 

    Olivia Caroline.

    Dimple Girl. 
    Recently discovered she loves to color.
    Has a mischievous sparkle in her eyes at almost all times.
    Is a snuggle bunny.
    Is also like the energizer bunny.
    Has a personality that is full of drama.

    DREADS naptime so badly all morning she has a hard time focusing on the present joy at hand.
    “Is it time for my nap yet?” she’ll ask multiple times before noon.
    Naptime is only okay when I  lay down beside her and we pretend: one day we’re cats, the next we’re birds, the next we’re bunnies.
    “Now Baby Bunny, we have to be quiet in our little nest so the foxes don’t hear us!”
    And then mostimes the joy of pretending overshadows the dullness of naptime.

    [and please don't laugh at my amateur attempts at sunflare. ;)
    I thought of all the amazing photographers I'm friends with who would have made this perfect lighting even more perfect,
    and groaned within myself... ]

    3 & 5 pictures 062 3 & 5 pictures 058
    3 & 5 pictures 044 3 & 5 pictures 045


    Zoe Grace.

    Deep thinker.
    Is Mama #2 to baby boy.
    Began Kindergarten this year, and most days loves it.
    Loves to draw, to write, to do anything involving paint or drawing.
    Has began to like putting outfits together.
    Has a very sensitive heart to the things of God.
    Is very happy to graduate from Naptime to Quiet Time within the past year.
    Is extremely ticklish and LOVES to be tickled.
    Daddy’s Girl.
    Very athletic, and can run as fast as the boys. 

    3 & 5 pictures 119 

    3 & 5 pictures 147 3 & 5 pictures 159 

    The Sisterhood that is my Daughters.

    Some days the best of enemies.
    Most days the best of friends.
    I’m so glad they have each other.

    3 & 5 pictures 090 

    3 & 5 pictures 125 

    3 & 5 pictures 131 

    3 & 5 pictures 164 

    3 & 5 pictures 178 3 & 5 pictures 183

    3 & 5 pictures 190 3 & 5 pictures 222


    hat: H & M
    outfit: gift from friend, Ralph Lauren
    basket: junk store
    old quilt: Goodwill
    baby: straight from Heaven

    Zoe and Olivia
    boots: Goodwill and re-use-it shop, one given from my sister Claudia
    dresses: gifted from my sister Ervina
    gumball machine: husband bought at an auction in February
    headbands: My Faire Lady (facebook)
    little girls: straight from God’s heart to ours


     ~ enJOY this day!



  • Indian Squaw vs. Hipster Mama

    Disclaimer: this may or may not be the true account of a husband and wife who love each other more than life, and yet sometimes still find themselves trying to learn the language that each other speaks.

    It was a rainy, blustery day. We’re getting the effects of Hurricane Isaac, and boy, is it ever dumping.
    Because of that, it was a day that me and the kiddos all stayed at home. We slept in (all the rain that we’ve been having calls for that), got dressed, Zoe did school work, I did house work and laundry, we took naps, and enjoyed one another’s company in a relaxed sort of way.

    Later in the afternoon though, I decided to put a bit more time into my appearance.  Husband was coming home soon, and I wanted him to be glad to be coming home to ME. J

    My hair was a bit out of control – to be in control it has to be washed with only conditioner that very day – and to top it off it was high humidity because of the inches of rain we’ve been getting which results in frizz! But let’s do a deep side part, and hmm, a side braid worked well. Yes, let’s see, and add a headband with flowers. Yes, that’s it. Change skirt, brush teeth, ready for Husband. Very simple and fresh.

    I was busy preparing dinner when he walked in the door. I greeted him the customary smile and hug (kissing waits until after he brushes teeth too ). I didn’t expect a comment on the hair or outfit – neither was really out of the ordinary, and he’s not a man given to many compliments.

    “Oh wow, an Indian!” he pointed out, after the hug. “Your hair looks like an Indian.”

    “An Indian?!” I sputtered. “Um, that’s not exactly the look I was going for.” (Thinking to myself, um, more like hipster mama, if I reaaaaally stretched my imagination, and if Mennos can be hipster. But a squaw!! Either I was not pulling the look off that I was hoping for, or else he was oblivious to the cool look I was portraying.)

    Guess that whole hipster idea is out for me, I thought to myself.

    [a recap the next morning, same hair and outfit, with "feathers" on the last picture.
    thanks to zoe's photography]

    It dropped at that for the rest of the evening. I’m not one to take things very personally, unless it’s meant to be taken personally, and he most definitely didn’t mean it that way. He just says things how they are, and that’s that. No use getting offended about it. We spent a happy evening as a family, eating brownies and ice cream,  Ben playing “I Spy” with the kids. We just had a NUTS busy schedule lately, and it was absolutely wonderful to all be at home for an evening for no agenda except each other. I forgot all about the Indian comment.

    Later, as we were getting ready for bed, Husband said, “Hey, I liked your hair like that tonight.”

    I gave him my “Yeah RIGHT” look and rolled my eyes, thinking he was kidding me.

    “No, I’m serious. I thought it was cute.” he insisted.

    I raised my eyebrows at him. “WELL. This is the 21st century, and telling someone she looks like a squaw isn’t exactly a compliment,” I informed him.

    “So you really thought I didn’t like it?” he asked.

    “Of course! I thought you thought it looked dumb.” I answered.

    He then wondered aloud what else he’s been telling me that isn’t exactly a compliment to me, and said he might have to take a course in communication.

    “Not communication,” I replied. “Just compliments.” I got the giggles. He laughed again.

    ( I love that we’re honest about stuff, even little stuff. When we first got married things like this would’ve bugged me for days, but I wouldn’t have had the guts to just be honest and laugh about it besides. It would have put me in knots for days wishing I could just learn how to say what I thought, and then become a much bigger deal than it really was. Being married longer has wonderful improvements. J )

    “Okay,” said Husband. “Give me some pointers.”

    Oh wow, really?  I should have been making a mental list for this Monumental Occasion.

    “Compliments 101,” I began. “No. Indian. Comments.”

    “Okay,” he chuckled. “Got that one.”

    “And 102, please find other words than ‘cute’ and ‘pretty’. When you use those words it sounds like I’m definitely NOT beautiful or gorgeous or anything of that sort, but you have to find a way to say soooomething nice so you say, ‘pretty’ or ‘cute.’ I don’t like it.”

    “Oh noooo,” groaned Husband. “Those are the two words I use the most!”

    “Exactly,” said I. “That’s why they’re out.”

    And we had another fit of laughter.

    Today he sends me a text…………….
    “…You’re still the love of my life. And you’re beautiful, not pretty.” :)

    Hmmmm, that’s more like it, Husband. J

    Signed, the Indian Squaw