Friday, March 21

Stories of God's Preservation

My great grandmother Ada had left town with her husband (then town was Flushing, NY which is now part of NYC) in their buggy on errands. In this era, sheep were still grazing in central park. Halfway to their destination, my great grandmother felt the Holy Spirit impress upon her heart that they needed to turn around immediately and head for home, which they did.  Upon reaching home they found one of their children choking and blue.  My great grandfather plucked him upside down and shook until whatever was stuck in his wind pipe came flying out.

This is one of our family stories passed down of God's miraculous working and preserving of lives.  Do other families have these stories?  I think they must and I love to hear them.

When I was a small girl, I was held under the water in the pool of a family friend.  This had happened often, but this particular time, the relief of being let up did not come and a warm peace and resignation came to my body and mind as I was done struggling.  I knew this would be the end and it was okay because Jesus was there.  At that moment an adult came on to the scene and I was let free.

Earlier in life, our family was at a Bible conference that was held lakeside and, being unable to swim, I stayed in the shallow, gated off, kiddie area of the lake.  As I played and walked the inside perimeter, the lake bottom gave out underneath me and as much as I turned and walked and turned again, I could not get my head out of the water.  A man we did not know saw me and pulled me by my bathing suit up out of the water and into fresh air saying with a smile, "Hey, there, little girl, what do you think you're doing?"

I don't even think my kids know all of these stories but tonight, as I was driving home and passed a place where Sean and I saw the hand of God preserve us, I felt God speak to me that these stories need to be told because He clearly gets the credit.

The fever that I had was so high that I remember hallucinating about boulders coming down hill after me and the earth rising up in waves to swallow me.  I think I was seven and my parents put me in a cool bath that felt like ice water while they phoned a friend to come pick us up in the middle of the night and take me to the hospital. We didn't have a working car at that time. I think I had been to another hospital already and misdiagnosed as having the flu and had been sent home while this "flu" lingered and lingered.  I think it ended up that I had a UTI that went up into my kidneys but I'd have to ask my mom if she recalls.  After all this, I remember my parents taking me to the grocery store and telling me to pick out anything I wanted to eat as I'd been so sick for quite a while.  I chose canned peaches and it was such a treat.  My children have heard this story because they've grown up pretty much eating whatever good food they like and I want them to hear what it is like to have a can of peaches be a delicacy.

My husband's grandmother recently told me the story of Sean's birth.  Sean is a miracle baby to begin with as his mom was very young and counseled to abort the pregnancy. Grandma and I sat in her tiny house at the kitchen table and she told me that when he was born, the cord was tight around his neck, strangling him and he was blue and unmoving, unbreathing.  They tried to resuscitate him but could not. They gave him a shot of epinephrine into his heart and watched as nothing changed.  Someone in the room suggested a second shot and it was given and that is when my husband began to revive and breath.  He had no brain damage, no cerebral palsy or any of the other complications that would have naturally occurred from such an event.  I looked at him and said, "Why didn't you ever tell me this?"   It is such an awesome story of God at work! There are other times in his young life that God preserved him while people would have harmed him and he did foolish things that could have harmed himself.  I am incredibly, incredibly thankful.

We were returning from our honeymoon in Quebec City, when Sean felt led to pray for our protection.  It was dark, we were an hour or so from home on back country roads with no lights and I was driving around a snowy bend in the highway.  No sooner had he said "Amen" then a deer stood unmoving directly in the pathway of our small car.  The car slid straight to the side, then slid back into the right lane, while I cried for Jesus.  I remember Sean looking at me and saying, "Um, Hannah, cars don't move like that" and I telling him that I knew and that it wasn't me.

Baby Annaliese happy in the back seat, I was pregnant with Andrew and in the front with Sean in an old Saab while we drove home from church, around a rather icy turn in the road.  Sean went slowly but we started sliding and the car turned when we were in the middle of the bridge over the thruway, headed straight for the guardrail with the busy interstate traffic below us.  I remember thinking that no one would ever meet the son I was carrying and being sad for that as our car spun and the front bumper crashed against the guardrail of the bridge.  Instead of smashing, we literally bounced backwards, into the correct lane, and turned, headed back in the right direction.  There was a mark on the guardrail of the bridge that I stared long and hard at each time we passed it, but not a mark on our car.  This is the place I passed again tonight on the way home with our kids.

I'm so weary of hearing that God is mean and cruel and doesn't intervene when I've seen his hand preserve my life so many times and have heard the stories in my family and in other families.  I believe that God saved my ancestor so that my dad could be born and has preserved my life so that my children could come into this world.  In addition to my salvation, I owe Him a great debt of love.  He is truly, my heavenly Father who watches over me.  Someday an accident may come where He calls me home and that is okay because I trust Him and His will. 

I don't know about you, but I get into fits where I worry about small life details and that makes them huge in my eyes.  I might be worried about a child who is struggling or something that we're facing as a family. I need to remind myself that, "Hannah, this is the God who preserves you, the God who loves you and saves you".  Every change and stress in life pales in comparison to that.  He really is no respecter of persons and hasn't saved me because He loves me any more or because I've done anything great (I haven't and all my good tries are like filthy rags).  If you have a story, would you share it in the comment section, or leave a link to it?  I'd love that.  Let's encourage each other in the Lord.

Tuesday, March 18

Scheduling

The last month or so, loosely scheduling the kid days has been a lifesaver from having bleary-eyed, stuck indoors because it's dark and gray and frigid outside kids driving me insane.  Let's be honest.  Six months of winter is getting old.

That said, I'm not a scheduled sort of person and it takes me a good hour every night to whip one up for everyone while watching a show with Sean.  The kids, however, LOVE this.  They are nearly giddy at knowing what to do next so I suppose it is something they've needed for this season.

Here's a look at our schedule for tomorrow.  If, perhaps, the sun comes out and warm breezes blow, I'm happy to toss it to the wind in favor of a walk or jump-roping outside.

Annaliese:                                                                 Andrew:

9       teeth, hair, laundry
9:30 copywork while Mama reads
10    Read Springtime in Britain, put away dishes
10:30 Human Body reading and report
11 read http://alturl.com/gfdxy, on blank country map identify countries involved, write a paragraph about story and what measures you think should be taken, present this after dinner
11:30  dish out yogurt for lunch, carrots and hummus
12      lunch
12:30 Outside play, load wood
1   
1:30 Chase reads to you
2  Miracle of the White Stallions
2:30
3   http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/other/quickfix/arabic.shtml fruit ambrosia
3:30 empty dishwasher
4 Read and play games w Addie and Chase
4:30
After dinner: load dishwasher
9 teeth, hair, laundry
9:30 copywork while Mama reads
10 make a spelling list with Mama
10 :30 http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/chinese/quickfix/basics.shtml:
11 math
11:30
12 lunch, load dishwasher
12:30 Outside play, load wood
1
1:30 Sugar Creek Gang reading
2    Miracle of the White Stallions
2:30 load wood outside
3   playmobils w Chase, fruit ambrosia
3:30  3d hand drawing
4   carving
4:30 help set up dinner
After dinner: load dishwasher

 

Aiden                                                                                        Eleanora

9 teeth, hair, laundry
9:30 copywork while Mama reads
10     math
10:30  read to me
11   LEGOS
11:30  3d hand drawing
12          lunch
12:30 Outside play
1 
1:30 card game with Ella
2  Miracle of the White Stallions
2:30
3  put out plates and forks for dinner, fruit ambrosia
3:30 http://science.howstuffworks.com/robot.htm
4 mix dry ingredients for applesauce muffins for breakfast, set out plates for dinner
4:30 Play with Benjamin
After dinner:  wash down table and countertops
9 teeth, hair, laundry
9:30 Make scented water for wood stove
10 copywork while Mama reads, math
10:30 supervise Addie with water
11   water color paints
11:30  3d hand drawing
12 Lunch
12:30 Outside play
1
1:30 card game with Aiden
2       Miracle of the White Stallions
2:30 sweep/shovel off porches
3  fruit ambrosia, read to Mama
3:30  Put out cups and water for dinner
4 Stories with Annaliese
4:30  help with dinner
After dinner: Sweep kitchen and dining room

 

Chase                                                                     Addie Nan

9 teeth, hair, laundry
9:30 copywork while Mama reads
10          play with Addie
10:30 wipe down sinks and toilets
11  water color paints
11:30 puzzles
12        lunch
12:30   Outside play
1         
1:30  read to Annaliese
2    Miracle of the White Stallions
2:30 wash the table for dinner
3 playmobils with Andrew
3:30
4  Stories with Annaliese
4:30 math game
After dinner: empty dishwasher
9 teeth, hair, laundry
9:30 copywork while Mama reads
10 play with Chase
10:30 wash kitchen stairs
11 water color paints
11:30  puzzles
12 lunch
12:30 outside play
1 Cedarmont sing a long
1:30 rest
2  Miracle of the White Stallions
2:30
3   fruit ambrosia, coloring
3:30 
4  stories with Annaliese
4:30 math game with Chase
After dinner: empty dishwasher


For those as un-computer-savy as I, all I did was make a table with two sections in Word and add in my own times.  I find half hour increments work well for us.  I didn't make myself a schedule because pretty much it would say is wipe, feed, teach, clean and repeat, eh?
 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, March 14

Lent and Surrender

Here is Lent.

Having never been a part of a group of believers that celebrates Lent, this year I picked up a book of readings for Lent and have been working my way through it.  It sits with my Bible, journal and sketchbook, ready for a few moments of thought whenever the day offers.  Different religious traditions, I've learned in my readings, celebrate Lent differently and emphasize different aspects of Lent.
A birthday rainbow from Sean. #fabercastelle #watercolour

While I don't fall into the category that believes self-denial makes me holier or better prepared to come before God, I do fall into the category that sees much of my life as contrary to Christian living and find Lent a perfect time of reflection, prayer and repentance.

As a note of attack, we've all often heard that some Christians are hypocritical and give the faith a bad name.

Let me jump up and wave my arms in the air as a sample of a Christian hypocrite. We're all hypocritical.  It is part of being human.

Cute fellow.

 I know the right thing to do.  I have lofty goals and expectations for myself and continually fail to live them out day to day.  I sure fit well into the category of hypocrite, a person who believes and says one thing but does another.  This reveals my great need for Christ.

Christianity, my friends, is not about performance.  God doesn't hand out goodness and blessings if I pray enough or am kind enough to my family.  It is contrary to how we're wired to think, but it is true.  The moment a preacher/book/blogger tells you that what you pray or how you talk or how you give has power over your life, is the moment they ceased to preach the gospel. 

On facebook, the discussion of feminism recently came up on my page.  I do not consider myself a feminist, which will come as no surprise to many of you, though I've had a (short) career in the professional world, am of the female persuasion and heartily dislike to see anyone treated unfairly because of race or sex.

Stirring up pecan double chocolate brownies for a little at-home, spy thriller on Netflix date night tonight.

My argument was that feminism, even if you peel away the hateful comments of the most noted leaders, discard the suspect racial start to the movement, and forget for a moment about those it hurts -  feminism goes against my Christian faith. 

And this is why: Being a Christ follower means I'm called to lay down my life.  As it applies to me, personally, trying to advance myself I find is contrary to the Christian call to die to self, and is a continual struggle. This dying to self applies to marriage, mothering, feminism, American entitlement, blogging, etc. and is something I struggle with daily.

The beauty of repentance and surrender is that all of life falls into the rhythm of surrendering and being given more in return.

In marriage, when we surrender our wants and wills, our marriages are strengthened.  When all of a sudden this momentary marriage isn't about my happiness or getting ahead in life, my focus shifts from me to - how can I glorify God in this short life? 

I've had the best luck with #overstock for rugs. This new one should be very forgiving with lots if kids.

As women, when we surrender our ideals of beauty and comfort, we're sometimes greeted with the gift of new life.  When I summon up all the back aches and waddles and count hours of labor pains and see the changes brought in my physical body that I've had with our seven, I know surrender brought me gifts more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.

In my spiritual walk, surrendering anger and hurt to God has always brought me great peace in its place.  When Sean and I began spending time together seventeen years ago, I had very little to do with my father.  At Sean's insistence (I did it because I liked him and thought he was cute) we'd call my dad to go hiking with us when we went out.  God healed many wounds and I enjoy a good friendship with my Dad today.  When our family went through a time of being lied about and purposefully made to look bad, the hurt was very deep.  That hurt, subsequent surrender and peace never came with the reconciliation that it did with my dad, but I still hold out hope for it someday.

Snow melting, sunshine, and friends to play.

So here we are in Lent and I consider surrender and dying-to-self and all the ways I fail to live up to being a perfect Christian, trophy wife, or model mother and I find it is all okay. My best efforts, I'm told, are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  This doesn't mean we fail to strive to worship with our lives.  When I have right standing with God because of what Christ has done (Romans 3:20-31) and not what I've attempted, when I have His love that compels me to forgive, when I don't need to mother in my own strength or love and forgive of my own means, everything turns out more than alright.

Monday, March 3

Confession:

Nearly every night when I head to bed, there are dishes in the sink.
They greet me there each morning, and, miraculously, the world doesn't come to an end because they lie unwashed.
018

Some nights, I pull things from the fridge and freezer and cupboards in a panic because the day was full and getting dinner prep done before noon just didn't happen. 
This is life.  It is not a death sentence.

022

I've put down the broom and let the floor stay crunchy because a certain five year old needed cheering up.
  026a I may not impress Martha or the Proverbs 31 woman, but I think I've done the right thing.

When I could be up doing those dishes, instead I indulge in something sweet with my husband and sit to watch a show with him and keep him company after our long day. 021

There is nearly always laundry, clean or dirty, waiting to be cycled through our washer and dryer or folded and put away.  You'll find it still there when friends are over and we're having tea.  I used to panic and rush to hide my neglected housekeeping but then I thought, "Darn it, I've got seven children and a husband who are happy and nourished."
 Real friends don't care about laundry piles.

020
One of the best times of tea with a friend was spent when she volunteered her laundry folding skills.  Love her so.

There are always bits of paint or glitter or leftover porridge stuck somewhere on the dining room table because we live here, do life here, and are in the middle of teaching toddlers and preschoolers to help wipe down the table. 
Perfection is not realistic in this stage of life, or any, I'm surmising.
019

I think anything that convinces you to focus on doing, instead of being, is horribly misguided though perhaps well intentioned.  It's taken me a long time to remain stress free over imperfect homemaking and rushed, crazy dinner hour but I think I can now boast in my weakness.  Menu plans are wonderful, as are housecleaning schedules, (I use both for sanity's sake) but they aren't the savior of my days. Christ is. 






Thursday, February 20

When mornings are rough you start with the favorite subject first. #art #homeschooling What great thing has God called you to?

The thing you are most passionate about might be God's revealing of  your gifting and that thing which brings you most quickly to your need for Christ might be His leading you to your calling.  Somehow, they usually interconnect; a marriage of passion and dependence.

I know there is something in your life that makes you weak-kneed. There is in everyone's story.  Helpless, hands thrown in the air, head bowed and shoulders shaking?  Yes, I'm there too some days.  I am so dependent on Him.
If the great things God calls us to do were easy, we would have no need for Him.  The great things I once thought I would do for God are not the same things He's called me to in this season. They seem so easy in comparison to the reality of today but I know, that whether we're working parents, stay at home moms, missionaries or pastors, we are all dependent on Jesus and each of us are in full-time ministry if we're following the path He sets before us.

Listening: Come to Me by Aaron Shust
                 Carry You by Amy Grant
                 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman
                 I Will Worship - The Hallelujah Project

Reading: James 3
               Stay at Home Moms with Missionary Hearts
               Why the Battle for Joy is Really Worth It

Monday, February 17

Weekly Menu

Home in the cold north, time for re-filling the fridge and thinking about feeding the family:

breakfasts:
cereal w bananas
Florida grapefruit, homemade granola bars
scones, grapefruit
sweet potato hash, eggs
overnight oat groats

lunches:
couscous
tortellini salad
Fiesta Lime Rice
cheese quesadillas, nachos and salsa
polenta and marinara

dinners:
scalloped potatoes and ham
venison steaks, roasted cauliflower with chili, lime, cilantro
penne with vodka cream sauce
white herb chicken pizza
creamed turkey and biscuits
venison chili and cornbread

groceries:
tortellini
pepperoni
fresh mozz.
spicy cheese
cherry tomatoes
oats
green onion
hard cheese
fresh basil and oregano
cream
cilantro
lime
cauliflower
eggs

Friday, February 14

Week in Photos

Working on valentines for my kiddos. #Valentinesday means a big breakfast PARTY! Drooling. #vintagetruck People behind us on the beach took this photo of our family and then offered to text it to us. #siestakey #sunset upload 785 Sean challenged me to think of things to look forward to in heading back to NY. This is all I could come up with and #4 is pushing it.

1. Some valentines for my littles.
2. Sean and I had an afternoon date to a classic car museum, which was a whole lot of fun.
3. Our family at Siesta Key at sunset.
4. Heated pools are bliss.
5. I am going to miss these beachy sunsets. 
6. Sean challenged me to make a list of things to look forward back in cold NY.  This was all I could come up with.  Pray for me.