• Bring in the Post, Please



    stationery to make so unique 

    envelope address style lucy & ricky


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  • A Cottage Christmas



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  • On Turning {30}


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  • Autumn at the Cottage.




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  • To Ruth {A Tribute}


    There are times when words evade me, and there are other times when writing is healing and therapeutic.
    It’s been 18 days since a phone call that changed my life forever,
    that my dear friend Ruth Glick Leatherman woke up in Heaven.
    For her, it is joy unspeakable. For her family and those who loved her, it is an ache so deep.
    This is a tribute to her, and the beautiful legacy she left us.

    // photo courtesy of the Glick family //


    Dear Ruth,

    “O love of God! How rich and pure, how measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure, the saints and angels song!”

    This was the quote you wrote on your blog after the death of your first baby in your womb. This was the heartbeat by which you lived – to know and proclaim the love of God. This is what we remember you as, a lover of God, first of all.

    It’s been a little over two weeks since I got the phone call from your sister with a choked voice, “She didn’t wake up this morning.”

    I can’t even describe what went through me when I heard those words. Complete shock. Disbelief. “It can’t possibly be true!” Hoping against hope that I could just pick up the phone and talk to you and dismiss this nightmare I had just entered.  Instead I began mourning from somewhere so deep inside that I didn’t even know existed. But it still seems like you can’t be gone.

    How could this happen? I was just with you 2 1/2 weeks before. You ran a 10K just two weeks before. You ran a marathon last spring. I called you when Ruby was 2 or 3 weeks old and Mark answered, “She’s out running.”  When I got a hold of you the next time I gave you a hard time for running far before doctor’s okay, both teasing you and yet with great admiration. You were the picture of health and determination. I am sure that even you had no idea of the mitral valve prolapse that caused your heart to stop that morning.

    // brunch that Ruth hosted for my sisters, Liz, and me, just 2.5 weeks prior.
    never in a million years would’ve i known this was the last time together. //

    There are few people I’ve met that have been more ALIVE than you. You simply radiated life and vitality of body, and you are one of the most vivacious and fun-loving people I know. How you must have been absolutely delighted as you awoke in Heaven, and I know you are are now experiencing Life more fully than ever before. I can picture you now, head thrown back, laughing contagiously. Or speaking earnestly with wide expressive eyes as you talk with Corrie ten Boom, or scooping up little Emma, the little baby who died in your womb, and just delighting over her as you walk through Heaven. I can imagine you immersed in music, thrilling in something you deeply wanted to pursue while you were here.

    What Joy you must know. And how it makes those of us left behind long to experience what you already know.
    It makes Heaven seem all the more real; not a mystical idea of someday, but Real, right now.
    At this very moment you are more Alive than you ever were on earth.
    How homesick I am for that Real home, for that Reality that is far bigger than this earthly reality.

    There are so many people who speak of you since you’re gone, how you were so alive, so passionate for God, such a great mother, a faithful loving wife, a friend who treasured the people around her, how you took meals to people, the gifts you gave, and on and on and on. And it’s true. It’s all true. Sometimes people say things to try to make the people left behind feel better, and other times people say things because they can’t help it, because of the impact someone made. And the latter is true. No, we don’t idolize you, but we remember your life and the incredible woman of God that you were, and we can’t help but talk about that. I’m in awe of what an impact one life has made on so many. Your one life. 

    There are reminders of you everywhere. Even though we lived nearly a thousand miles apart, you are still all over my home. In my living room grows the “friendship plant” you gave me, divided from your own plant, when I moved to Georgia six year ago. I walk in my closet, and there hangs a skirt you gave me for my birthday. In my drawer are the pajamas you gave. On my kitchen window sill sits the hand cream you made last fall. In my purse is your homemade lip balm. On my desk is the Willow Tree friendship plaque you gave before we moved away, because we were forever friends, you and I.  In my cupboard is the bottle of vanilla extract, the make-it-yourself kind that you were so excited about. Hudson’s pacifiers and ribbon holders – you gave them. The tea kettle on my stove is from you and Aliza.

    And then there are the matching things we had, shamelessly bought so we’d have one like each other. A skirt and pajamas that you gave and bought the same for yourself. I saw your navy and white striped shoes with the red bow and just had to buy some like it.  We bought matching black trench coats at Gap years ago and still wear them.  You saw my diaper bag from Pottery Barn Kids and loved it and bought one for your baby, and a matching fleece blanket from Baby Gap. And all these name-brand things we bought for a song – we loved quality but we were always hunting a bargain. We had the tradition for years of going shopping together the day after Christmas, and when I pull out my Christmas decor this year it’ll all be things I bought when with you.

    I loved how we’d go to each other’s houses, and were as comfortable as family. “Do you have anything to eat?” you’d ask as you’d raid my refrigerator, and we’d both laugh. Or we’d go looking through each other’s closets and exclaim over clothing and wonder where the other bought it so that we could buy one too.

    // Mark & Ruth
    Esther, Isaac, Ruby //

    // both pictures courtesy of Hannah Martin, sister to Ruth //

    I always had a running list of things to talk about with you, and when we lived close by we’d talk non-stop when we were together. When we lived far apart we talked on the phone but our conversations were never finished – it was always “it was sooo fun to catch up, but next time we’ll talk more!” And I find myself, almost daily, thinking of things I still want to tell you.

    You were the friend that called and left the best, longest voice mails.
    Even my husband would know it was you calling because
    1) the voice mails were so long, and 2) I’d always laugh when I’d listen to them.

     I remember when we first met, I was 14 and you were 15. I thought you were so fun and popular and life-of-the-party and thought it impossible to ever be friends with someone so cool.  You and Bek still ribbed me years later about that bright pink dress with the puffed sleeves that I wore that first Sunday to visit your church, and we would just howl with laughter. You were the one with the infectious laugh, and if people didn’t know what you were laughing about they’d feel like they were missing out. That’s the kind of person you were. You were the friend that knew me better than anyone else outside of my family, and somehow, you still liked me.

    // in the beginning. goodness, how time has changed us! :) //

    My growing up years have you all over them. Some hard times, but mostly good times, and the good times made better for working through the hard.  You became like a sister to me, and you knew as much about my family as my family did. J The old Bronco you used to drive, the beautiful farm where you grew up, my parents’ house – so many precious memories are there. We laughed until we cried many times. We taught Sunday School together to a little kids’ class and you were the one with the great ideas and I was the one that said, “Oh yeah! That’s awesome!” and I’d just help.

    We talked about our futures together, and wondered who in the world we’d marry,
    and we prayed together about that.
    You went to Russia for a year and I missed you terribly.

    We met wonderful godly men and fell in love. We were passionate about God and purity and making the right decision in marriage, and were jealous over each other. We were in each other’s weddings and rejoiced in the other’s love, and stood by each other in the marriage we made until ‘death do us part.’ We talked about hard times in our marriages and felt for each other, but always always pressed each other to Jesus, and to our spouse. It was never just about us; it was about the forever covenant we made to our marriages and about helping each other stand strong in that commitment. And not just honoring the covenant, but about making our marriages the best that they could be. We weren’t satisfied with just mediocre; we wanted the fullest measure we could give them.

    // my wedding //

    // part of the small group we were in together
    me, Ruth, Bek, Aliza //

    // one of the best summers ever, involving lots of time together.
     we both lived in Pennsylvania at the same time for a year after we were married. //

    You called me one day with tears in your voice and told me you lost the baby you were carrying, and I cried with you. And then we carried three babies full term, pregnant together all three times, and loved to talk pregnancy and aches and pains and thrills of new life forming. We talked of our precious children and swapped stories and laughed at each other’s kids and asked advice and treasured the days when our children were old enough to play together. We hoped our children would become good friends too, the way we were, and we thought there was a good chance because you and I were going to be little old ladies together, loving God and life and being crazy together. 

    You were such a fun mom, and you so adored your children. And you were so intentional about being a mother. You weren’t satisfied to simply raise children – you wanted to raise children who feared the Lord, who were taught of Jesus, who learned to love the Savior that you did. You didn’t want behavior modification; you wanted their hearts to experience Christ. And so you taught them about Jesus.

    Since you’re gone I once helped tuck your precious kids in bed and I listened to them sing the songs you taught them. Esther said, “I know a song! I want to sing it by myself!” And the evening of the calling hours she sang this song, “Savior, You can move the mountains… My God is mighty to save… Forever, Author of Salvation…He rose and conquered the grave, Jesus conquered the grave…” They know, Ruth. They know you loved them. They know that Jesus loves them. They know that God is a Big God. You and Mark taught them.

    // pregnant with our oldest children, due within two weeks of each other //

    // Shelly Nissley, Ruth, and myself. We’ve been pregnant together three times. //

    You pressed me to God in beautiful ways. We could talk about anything under the sun, vent to each other when we needed to, cry about hard things in our lives, laugh about inside jokes, and every single time I’d come away I was inspired to more of Jesus. We told each other we’d pray for each other, and we did. Our talks could be fun or serious, but they would always press to Jesus whether in words or simply the spirit of your life. You were so hungry for God, always wanting more of Jesus, and that was our deepest bond. That was the foundation of who you were.

    But suddenly, you’re gone.  And what I feel is a strange combination of trust and agony.  Agony because I do not know how to do life without you here. How can life ever be sweet again? How can it hurt so badly that you’re not here? Sometimes the tears fall like rain. Sometimes it seems the tears can’t be found. But the ache is always there. It hurts so deeply because what we had was so so precious. And I’m not even your husband, your children, your sisters and brothers and mom and dad… I’m just a friend, one of many of your friends, and it hurts so much. I can’t even imagine what they must feel, how much they must miss you.

    And yet I do not doubt God’s ways, and I believe with all my heart that He makes no mistakes. I don’t understand at all, but I do trust. I believe that He IS Big Enough to care for your husband and your precious precious children even with you gone, even though it breaks my heart that you’re not in their home anymore. It is because of Him that we enjoyed such a close, precious friendship for so many years. Without Jesus those friendships and relationships don’t happen. It is to Him that you surrendered your life many years ago, and the fruit you bore was of the rarest beauty.

    It was the Jesus in you that impacted so many people, and often without you trying or even realizing how impacting it was. It was the Jesus in you that gave you such a great attitude about life and other people, and rarely can I remember you down in the dumps. It was the Jesus in you that loved so well – loved your Mark, your three beautiful children, your sisters and brothers and parents and family, your friends, the people you met. It was the Jesus in you that gave you such a soft heart toward the things of God, that instilled in your children the love of God.

    And it is to Jesus that we owe the assurance – not just the hope, but assurance –  that this is only the Beginning for you. For us, as your sister Liz said, our time remaining is only a dot in the line of eternity. Yes, we hurt, we hurt terribly. But in light of eternity we will be with you soon. And this is not the end for us, although it sure can feel that way some days. Somehow you still live on, in your husband and beautiful children, in your beautiful sisters and family, even in the friendship you formed. We are better people, I am a better person, for knowing you.

    Late in July of this year you wrote, “Pondering the thought that we are not made for this world of heart ache and pain.
    It’s one of those moments when I wonder how long must we wait for the return of our Savior?

    And I know again that you are so happy, you are in a world that knows no heart ache, no pain.
    You didn’t need to wait long, dear Ruth.

    You gave me the words of this song after I lost my grandfather and aunt within a short time, and tears rose when I found them again now:


    You’re in a better place, I’ve heard a thousand times. And at least a thousand times I’ve rejoiced for you.
    But the reason why I’m broken the reason why I cry. Is how long must I wait to be with you.
    I close my eyes and I see your face. If home’s where my heart is then I’m out of place.
    Lord won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow. I’ve never been more homesick than now.
    Help me Lord because I don’t understand your ways. The reason why I wonder if I’ll ever know.
    But even if You showed me the hurt would be the same. Because Im still here so far away from home.
    In Christ there are no goodbyes. In Christ there is no end. So I’ll hold onto Jesus with all that I have. To see you again.

    Words and Music by: Bart Millard 
    Sung by: MercyMe



    And it’s not goodbye. It’s just a see-you-later. Because this isn’t the end.
    This is only the Beginning.

    All my love,


    p.s. I hope our houses are next door in Heaven. We’ll have so much to catch up on.


    // my sister Claudia and Ruth this summer.
    they are so much alike, and being with these two at the same time was unforgettable. //

    // pregnant with our 3rd babies. you at 40 weeks, me at 20 //

    // forever friends //


    edited to add:

    Besides prayers and intercession for the precious Leatherman and Glick families,
    which are invaluable in themselves,
    this is another way you are able to help:

     Calvary Monument Bible Church, and Marks employer , Earl R Martin, Inc.
    have created a fund for the Leatherman family
    so that Mark is able spend more time with his children, which is his great concern.

    Please direct your tax deductible gifts of love to

    Calvary Monument Bible Church
    1660 Mine Road
    Paradise, PA 17562

    Please earmark ‘Leatherman Family Fund’






  • It’s the Little Things…


    I’ve had my first Pumpkin Spice/White Chocolate latte,
    and real pumpkins just started to be found around these parts.
    The cardigans and boots and scarves and leggings are still hoping for a day cool enough
    although all you northern folk sure make the layers sound alluring.

    There is something so invigorating about the air this time of year.
    Only 70* instead of in the hundreds?
    Yes, please!
     I declare as I stepped outside this morning,
    that 70* (or somewhere there about) felt actually very crisp and cool!

    Hello, Autumn.
    I am so very happy you are near.

    Weather such as this almost makes me feel giddy.
    Just as a rainy day can put me in a mellow mood.
    This time of year may very well be my favorite.
    After the blistering heat of the summer,
    being able to step out my door without breaking into a sweat.
    Excitement about exercising without feeling like 200 degrees at the end of it.

    It’s almost as perfect as it can be in this area.
    We can’t boast of much natural beauty here, not many leaves that change colors other than brown.
    No mountain peaks, although my girls consider the only overpass in town “a mountain.”
    But this is perfect weather for visiting the ocean…
    Be jealous, be very jealous. :)

    For me, it’s often really the small things that bring so much happiness.
    Not the huge events as much as precious, sweet everyday things.

    So here’s my happy list right now…

    … a few precious hours of quiet while Husband took the two girls with him.
    I am grateful indeed. I can’t even express how grateful.

    … tea parties mid-afternoon with two giggling girls.
    They loved the little tea party.
    They weren’t nearly so thrilled about the etiquette lessons I desired to teach them.
    “But, I don’t wike being a wady.” – Olivia

    paint brushes are being pulled out often.
    …re-doing little chairs.


    … re-doing little footstools



    … re-covering old chairs and pillows with happy fabric

    … fiiiiinally stripping, sanding, sanding, sanding, scraping, sanding, and painting the old doors in the house.
    yes, we’ve had them installed. yes, they’ve looked terrible for 2.5 years.
     there is a reason we’ve procrastinated. :)
    but what a good feeling to be getting them completed one by one.


    … a laundry door painted a light aqua
    [yes, the picture is intentionally on the side.
    i really didn't want to show the cat food, the overflowing shoe rack,
    or the piles on top of the freezer.
    i.e. in our limited-space cottage, it's my messy room of the house!]

    … coffee and biscotti for little girls on the front porch


    … Zoe’ practicing cursive letters on the chalkboard


    … a very rapid trip to Pennsylvania, the three kitties and I, with a friend ♥

    … a fall-ish bouquet from my husband upon my return home from said trip

    … mini-quiches, inspired by my friend Ruth, to freeze and pull out for quick breakfasts


    … pumpkin roll! probably my most favorite autumn dessert.
    wait, there’s also apple dumpling…

    … first soup


    … a fun little soap dispenser. who knew that a normal top fits in a coke bottle?
    it was a happy moment of discovery.
    and mrs. meyers. she makes me anticipate cleaning day.

    … happy stripey straws amid glass vases

    … Converse.
    Why are little shoes so cute?!


    … Daddy and his Little Man. ♥
    Who ever knew you could be in love with two men?

    … and who knew that being a mommy to these three would be the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done?
    I am so so blessed.

    Happy Monday!


    ~ clarita


  • Hi! I’m Hudson.


    Or HUTson. Or Sonshine. Or Shunshine. Or Little Man.

    Goodness, I have so many names I just can’t keep track of them all.
    Mommy says the Barkmans always use sweet names for their kids,
    and cuz she’s a Barkman I guess she does it without thinking.
    But now even Daddy does it, all the time.
    And my sisters, Lovies and Sweetie, talk to me so funny I can’t always understand them.
    Sometimes they even call me “Son.”
    I think they don’t know that’s a name just special for Mommy and Daddy.

    Mommy laughs at me all the time.
    She thinks I look like I’m surprised at the world all the time.
    Guess I kinda am.
    There’s just so much to see,
    and my little head bobs around trying to look everywhere.

    One thing I do know though, I really like my family.
    I can be in my crib, all alone, and I’ll call out for someone to come find me.
    If no one comes soon enough, I’ll start crying, because I just LIKE to be with them!
    And it sure brings people running!
    Usually Lovies and Sweetie race to see who can get to me first,
    and Mommy has to tell them to be kind to each other.
    Guess they sure do like me.

    One day I think they forgot I’m a little boy,
    and they pulled Mommy’s scarves out and dressed me all up.
    Boy, was I embarrassed.
    And then Mommy even laughed and took pictures of me!
    She said I’ll think it’s funny some day.
    Some day.

    My sisters can make me laugh so hard.
    They try to see which one can make me laugh the most,
    and I laugh and laugh until nothing is even funny anymore,
    and I can’t even crack a single smile.
    So then they try to tickle me a little bit, and boy, am I ticklish.
    I just start laughing all over again.
    And everyone in the whole family laughs when I laugh.
    I thought they knew what babies sound like,
    but I guess they like me.

    Sometimes, though, they like me so much it hurts!
    Lovies will come and hug me so tight around my neck,
    and Sweetie will squeeze me so hard on my arm,
    and Mommy quickly comes running and tells them to stop!
    Sure am glad when she does that, cuz sometimes I get worried.
    She tells them almost every day to be more gentle,
    and I hope one day soon they’ll learn how.
    But I guess that means they like me.

    I’m getting pretty good as laying on my tummy.
    But my head gets tired after a while,
    cuz everything is sooooo high and everyone looks like huge giants!
    Guess they are, compared to a little guy like me.
    So then I just roll over, which really scared me at first.
    That rolling over thing, boy, I didn’t know what happened at first.
    I cried so hard that everyone came running.
    And then instead of feeling sorry for me, they were laughing!
    That’s when I learned that rolling over is a good thing, I guess.
    Cuz now I can roll when I’m tired and spin around in circles on my back.

    I heard Daddy tell Mommy he doesn’t think I’ll crawl for a long time.
    He thinks I’m kinda like him, a little more laid back.
    He doesn’t think I’m very motivated.
    And I guess he’s right.
    It’s just so fun to watch everything going on around me.
    Plus, I kinda weight a lot and it’s hard to get around.
    But I’m still just a little kid, so he doesn’t know what all I’m gonna do.

    I finally got Mommy to let me try some food soon before I turned 4 months.
    I would sit beside everyone at the table,
    and boy, did it ever smell good!
    I’d try so hard to get out of my seat and sit with them so I could eat too!
    But they’d just laugh at me and think I wanted to talk.
    I sure didn’t want to talk – I wanted food!
    Guess they know now that I really did want to eat.
    I like to eat real food twice a day, and milk just isn’t enough for me anymore.
    And I don’t like baby food either.
    I like real food best.
    Once they tried to give me just plain rice, and ugh, it tasted awful.
    And it really hurt my feelings that they thought I should have something like that.
    I mean, I really like guacamole and salmon and yogurt that Mommy makes.
    They haven’t even tried to give me more nasty baby food stuff.
    Boy am I glad.
    Daddy and Mommy laugh at me so much.
    But I think that means they like me.

    Mommy likes to wear all kinds of hats on me,
    and Daddy really teases her.
    Guess I really don’t have much hair,
    but that’s not my fault.
    She started dressing me all up to go places too,
    with little shoes that hardly fit on my fat feet.
    But she tugs and pulls and fiiiinally they go on.
    Then she laughs and thinks I look so big.

    I’ve already gone on three big trips,
    two times to Pennsylvania and once to Ohio.
    The first two times I was so little that I didn’t mind.
    But this last time was a really fast trip,
    and I squirmed and fussed and made it a long trip for Mommy.
    But 13 hours is so long to be in a car seat, Mommy!
    After we got there it was soooo fun.
    I got to see my family that I hardly ever see,
    I think they really like me too.
    They sure do make me feel special anyway.
    Aunt Jana especially really likes babies,
    but it seemed like everyone was fighting to hold me!
    After we got home to Georgia I cried because someone couldn’t hold me all the time.

    I just love my daddy sooo much.
    When he comes into a room, I just watch and watch him
    and wave my little arms around until he sees me and picks me up.
    He always goes to Mommy first and hugs her real tight, then gets me.
    I’m so happy when I’m with him.
    Mommy sings to me a lot and tells me verses about a Kind Shepherd,
    and then she tells me that Jesus wants me to be a Man of God someday.
    I hear her praying for me when she tucks me in my crib.
    I don’t really know what all she prays about,
    or what a Man of God is yet.
    But I know that my Daddy loves Jesus a lot,
    and I want to be just like him someday.

    Well, that sure was a lot of talking for a little guy like me.
    I’m getting tired.




  • [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!