Showing posts sorted by relevance for query The Daily Bible. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query The Daily Bible. Sort by date Show all posts

3 good Christmas stories

So this picture was taken earlier in the month...it's a little more brown and icy now. :)

Story One: 
Back in September our church hosted the Minnesota Teen Challenge Choir. We have the Rochester campus come to our church and in the choir was the granddaughter of one of our members. Also singing up front was the young mom who sits in front of us every Sunday morning. I knew she had been in rehab, but I didn't realize she was at Teen Challenge. She's a great girl. She comes with her mom every Sunday and now her two kids come with their grandma as she gets help to overcome her addictions.

This past Sunday she must have had a pass to leave the campus and came to church. We were sitting on the opposite side of our usual seats and so I didn't see her until I saw the commotion as we sang. She had been spotted by a good friend and the two were hugging and it looked so joyful. Then one of my favorite older men in the congregation got out of his seat and went to shake her hand and they talked for a while. And over and over I watched her be overwhelmingly welcomed into our fold with so much joy and gladness that she was back. It made me happy to be a part of the church- there was so much love surrounding her.

Story Two:
We got to church for the Christmas Eve service just as it was beginning. I was walking behind my clan with a toddling Alden who tripped and fell and by the time he picked himself up again, Rory had chosen our seats. He chose a row closer to the front in the middle of lots of people, next to our good friends with little kids. And immediately I felt like this was a bad idea. Christmas Eve is a quiet service and if I had been leading the pack I would have chosen the back row, with an easy exit for when we got to noisy. Instead I climbed over Rory to sit with all 6 of us in 4 chairs.

I was so annoyed. I didn't even look to see who was behind us as I climbed into my spot. I just felt embarrassed for what was to come. So I tried to be still and keep everyone quiet and fumed a bit at how stuck I was in this row.

But the kids were fine. And Alden kept smiling at the people behind us, and I just hoped they weren't regretful that their Christmas Eve came with a side show. Eventually I loosened up and I turned to see who Alden was beaming at. And guess who it was? Tony. Tony, Alden's very best friend at church. Tony is an old man who lives alone and comes to church an hour early so that he can feed Alden donut holes, one after another and scratch Alden's back. They love each other and I quickly realized Alden was likely making Tony's whole Christmas as he smiled and excitedly handed him ripped up scraps of paper.

And then I looked next to Tony and it was Gayla and her husband. Gayla teaches Hattie and Elsie's Sunday School class and adores my daughters. And when I made eye contact with her she lit up and wished me a Merry Christmas and her husband smiled and I felt so much grace.

It turns out we were surrounded by people who love us fully. I looked around and on every side were friends who love our family. And I felt that love go right into my heart as my body physically went from nervous and annoyed to relief and belonging.

Story Three:
This one involves you. A few years ago my mom got a Chronological Daily Bible and read the Bible in a year. The next year her brother Wayne bought this Bible for himself and for each of his siblings and they read it together. Last April I found this particular Bible at the used book fair in our town and picked it up. It took until September for me to start reading it and when I did I was so glad. This Bible is fantastic. The books for the prophets are woven through the stories found in Kings and Chronicles. The Psalms pop up from time to time, fitting the text. The book of Acts has been broken up with Paul's letters to the churches peppered throughout. The best part is that there are helpful paragraphs between readings that say, "Now remember while this is happening in Babylon, this is happening back in..." And it is so helpful! The story is alive and I am so grateful for the way the Word is made new through this Bible.

So I emailed my pastors and asked if I could invite our congregation to read this Bible with me in 2019. By 2020 we would have read the Bible together. And then I emailed a bunch of local friends to see if they wanted to join in. And at this time there are over 50 of us committed to reading God's Word together in 2019. Even the Hispanic small group bought 8 Spanish versions so they can join along!

So here's the thing. January first is right around the corner, and with Prime, you could have this Bible in your mailbox long before then. Or maybe it comes a few days late and you just pick up on the day it arrives because there is grace for this reading plan and because you likely know the creation story pretty well by now...

But I want to invite you to join in. It is 4-5 pages a day. It usually takes me 15-20 minutes. And I am telling you, I love this version.

It is called The Daily Bible in Chronological Order.  If you are feeling like your own faith life has been dry, or if you need a word from the Lord, then I highly recommend joining in. Because God is not quiet in his Bible! He has many words for you! They are right there.

And the thing about doing this as a group is that we are on the hook to read it! I need the accountability so much that I am leading this effort- think of the pressure on me to read it now! And you too! In a good way! I want to do this. Think about all that God wants to show us through his Word, if we would just open the book up. We will pray for discipline, obedience and steadfastness to keep our faces in the book- together. Literally on the same page.

So go order your Daily Bible. It's $20. I don't think you can regret this one!

Merry Christmas everybody.

Bible Reading Plan


Quite possibly the most important on my 2013 Goals List is a Daily Quiet Time. It seems nearly impossible with two little kids, but feels all the more important because of those same two kids. I have my Bible open now on a shelf in Elsie's room. Always open. And I have a plan too.

I'm going to try to read as much of the Bible this year as I can. I attempted this a few years back and stalled out in Jeremiah. I've been in many Bible studies since then, and always read bits and pieces. But I want to make this big goal again and try my hardest to see it happen.

I found a few reading plans that look awesome. One breaks up the Bible into 365 days of reading Genesis to Revelation. The other is a 52 week plan with two or three chapters a day from all over the Bible (pictured above) mixing up the Old and New Testament a bit. You can click here to see what I am talking about.  I'm so excited about this plan. So excited to jump around God's word each day, reading from a different book each day, listening for what our Creator has to say to me.

If you're interested in reading your Bible more...if you wonder what God would say to you if He had your ear for a moment, if you wish you knew the whole story and all that was intended for you before the fall, every rich blessing that has sacrificially been given to you, then join in. Print out the plan you like and start reading.

an invitation


The first time I heard this song (from a mix cd given to me) I could see these pictures right along with the music.  All of these pictures were taken at Mount Carmel Family Bible Camp, my favorite place on earth. The song made me breathe deeper and I thought, "that's exactly how I feel at Mount Carmel...like I'm breathing deeper."

Mount Carmel is located in Alexandria Minnesota and has been teaching the Bible to all ages for seventy five years. Both sets of my grandparents took their children there when they were little. My parents met through this camp and I have many of my happiest memories at this place.

The camp was founded by the Lutheran Bible Institute, with a focused mission on teaching the scriptures. Today I would consider this place to be a kingdom camp. All denominations are represented. Jesus is the common ground.

Well, I want to share this goodness. And I could not be more excited about this next part.

Troy and Sara Groves are coming this summer to lead a mini week. From a Tuesday night to a Friday afternoon we will gather and learn from two of my favorite theologians. The mini week that Troy and Sara are leading will have three morning sessions: 1) Marriage, 2) Faith and art, and 3) Parenting and technology (Actually, not totally positive on #3...I think it's something like that.)

I AM SO EXCITED! And they're excited too. And I just want to be sure the whole world knows this is happening. Because I would love for you to consider bringing your family.

To summarize, here are the bullets:

  • Mount Carmel Family Bible Camp, Alexandria, MN
  • July 16-19
  • Speakers Troy and Sara Groves
  • Call Deb at Mount Carmel to register: 320-846-2744

Maybe you have another family you like hanging out with that would like to join you. Maybe you have family who live out of town and this could serve as a little mini reunion. Maybe your folks would love to spend some time with their grandkids, and this way you can all enjoy each other while having lots of space too. Maybe you want to come alone or with your spouse. You figure that out. I just want you to come!

The dates are Tuesday evening, July 16th- Friday, July 19th

The website hasn't been updated in a long time, so if you're interested, I'm going to send you right to Deb, the lovely camp registrar who is wonderful and can answer all your questions. Her email is deb@mountcarmelministries.com and the camp phone number is 320-846-2744. Ask for Deb. You'll love her.

And I'd be happy to answer your questions too! Leave a comment or drop me a line: beccagroves (at) gmail (dot) com

I've got more to say, but as it turns out, I have more videos to share this week... I'll tell more (daily schedule, lodging options, the thing I love best about Mount Carmel) as the week continues.

And at the risk of sounding like an urgent infomercial, I would encourage you to call soon. My biggest fear (and greatest hope) is that this week fills up fast! So don't delay! Call Deb today!

***
Two last things:
If you'd like to go for a full week of camp, this is also an option. The Saturday-Tuesday before Troy and Sara's week, Peder Eide will be teaching and leading worship. We had him out at the camp I worked at in Nebraska and loved him. Super upbeat, spirited worship leader.

And if this week doesn't work for you, you can click here to see the whole schedule (I'll write more about this later this week...there are some AMAZING presenters this summer)

And finally, if you happen to know who sings the song on this video, would you kindly tell me? I got it as a gift, tossed the liner cover and can't figure it out for the life of me. I would like to give due credit for a gorgeous song.

making myself low

I opened the door to the garage to bring the trash out and nearly stepped on this heap of nursing kittens! Look at that Mama. She looks so over it! I love this picture so much because the past few days I have felt like Bowa, our mama cat. Pouring it all out, giving it all away, being sucked dry. (I wrote this post last weekend...but I still want to post it.)

If you have kids I know you know this feeling. And I think it's especially intense right this moment before the start of a school year. There is a panic that creeps into me every end-of-August, "am I restored? did I get the rest I needed this summer? am I ready for the demands that are ahead?" And the answer is a sinking and definite, "no."

My kids are in full gear these days. Alden is monkey-ing around, pulling down table cloths, sticking everything in his mouth for quality control, pulling cords, screaming with excitement and demands to go outside. Hattie is into it all as well. Her greatest life struggle is trying to find two shoes so she can go outside. Much of my life is spent looking for any pair of Hattie's shoes. Elsie is my clingy companion and at the moment the most demanding. She needs me non-stop. She wakes up with a plan for us, and if I fall short in any way she falls into a heap on the floor, disappointment made visible, mom-guilt flooding the room. And I am trying to stay strong and set boundaries and expectations, but she must just be going through a stage or something. She wants to be right by me all the time, in my lap, all limbs wrapped in some way around my body like a grape vine. It's really something. Well, it's really exhausting is what it is. And Ivar has his own needs, though they are less obvious because he is growing into something so independent of me. Mostly he tells me jokes non-stop, or lego plot-lines or reasons why he has too many chores.

Anyway, this weekend my personal space began crying out. It's also the weekend I have completely weened Alden so hormones are also a huge factor. Add in the beginning of the school year, farm chores, preserving the garden and running the home and I was ready to run for the hills.

And the world would say, "absolutely! You deserve a break! Get out of that house for an overnight and recharge!" And given the right heart, I think a break would be wise too.

But have you ever had a morning off or the house to yourself and not known what to do with yourself? I hear this from friends all the time. What we think we want finally comes, and we are lost. And then that time away is over and nothing has changed. It's after enough of these experiences without a change of heart that I have learned better. Because it is really a heart problem. It's my heart and it is my own selfishness that is trying to overtake my selflessness.

God showed me this with crystal clear clarity this morning at church. Our pastor, Danny, stood up after a few songs and talked about humility and how pride is the very first thing to creep into any cracks in our foundation. But we serve a righteous and holy God who calls for humble vessels, willing to be filled by him alone. Danny said that kneeling is simply a way to remind our bodies who it was who created our souls.  He suggested that if anyone felt the nudge, they should get to their knees in a posture of humility and submission.

I didn't get on my knees.

Because at that moment Elsie was spread across my lap like a wet noodle, whisper-yelling at me to "scratch my back. harder. lighter. give me a head massage..." She sat on me looking forward, then turned around to face me, all the while twisting up my dress. My thought was that with Hattie and Alden in the nursery, I could use the hour to fill this girl up, give her all the love and touch that she needs and enjoy just her. Instead I just felt smothered.

Like a farm cat nursing six kittens.

But I laughed as Danny suggested we get in a humbled posture. And I realized that Danny's words were for me. I wasn't on my knees, but my posture was the same. My daily-non-stop-every-moment life of service for my family is utterly stripping me of my own desires. And this daily pouring myself out can only be maintained if I turn to the one who pours himself out for me.

So this is where I am left this afternoon. As I typed this, Elsie came and asked for cheese four times, hoping for a different answer from me. We have a season of growth ahead of us. Boundaries will be set and kept and there are some demanding weeds I am ready to pull while they are still little and she can understand why they must go.

And I have weeds of my own that need to be pulled too. I have been working myself into a self-righteous tizzy and it's going to lead to nothing good. I have heart work to be done, a few conversations that need to happen with God as we make a plan ahead, Him teaching me how to lay down my life for my friends, Him showing me that the only real happiness to be found is in fellowship with Him daily. There is a lot of room for new growth and I have a lot to learn. Good thing it's the start of a new school year!

And I just had this realization. Elsie is glomming onto me and needing every bit of me. I am weary. So I need to glom onto Jesus because I need every bit of him. And I need to teach Elsie to do the same. That well never runs dry. I think Elsie and I have some sweet moments ahead, reading our Bible's and talking about what it means to be God's girls. Doesn't that feel like a great next step?

grandma b's motherly wisdom: a repost

Thanks so much for the kind comments, emails and phone calls. My parents and I spent the day with Grandma and the family and it was peaceful, calm and rich in conversation.

I first published this post during Mothers Day week 2010. I sent out a list of questions to the mom's in my family and they graciously answered each question. I thought I'd share it today again, because it explains so much of who grandma b is and what she lives for: her savior and the next generation.

My grandma Bredberg has seven kids and lots of grandkids, even more great grandkids and just started her season of great great grandparenting. She is a woman of faith, deeply in love with her savior and has created a family that is still united, enjoys one another's company and share a love for Jesus.

When my grandpa died, everyone was gathered in her apartment. She and Grandpa had moved out of the farm house the year earlier, him not wanting her to have to sort through that whole house without him. My cousin Daron asked that day, Grandma, you're 79, what what are you going to do now with Grandpa gone? And without pause Grandma replied, "I sent all seven of my kids to the Lutheran Bible Institute, but I was married at 18 and never got to go. So I suppose I would like to go to LBI.

LBI is the Lutheran Bible Institute out near Seattle, Washington. And eight months later, Grandma found herself living in the dormitories, eating in the caf, taking classes and affectionately nicknamed, "college grandma" by the student body.

She talks about how in her first class, the professor announced that all papers must be type written, times new roman, 12 point font. She wrote all of that down and drove herself to Best Buy later that afternoon to buy herself her first computer. She found a "nice young man" who helped buy Grandma the nicest computer any of us had seen. It was a black flat screen monitor, long before those were mainstream.

She started that week, sending out daily mass emails to her friends and family. She'd begin, "dear email family" and proceed to tell us 1) what she ate for breakfast 2) a Bible verse or passage for the day and 3) any thoughts or notes she had on that verse or passage. Those first emails were the best. I remember one said, "today I had a lovely lunch with richard and kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkaren. now how did all of those k's appear? And how would I get rid of them?" And all the cousins took our grandma under our wing and replied, "dear grandma, in the upper right hand part of your keyboard there is a button that says back space. hover your mouse over the k's and then hit this button until the k's are deleted."

This was 13 years ago, and Grandma still sends out a daily email almost every single day. If she misses a day or two, she always explains why...computer problems, visits to family, traveling to mesa or back to sherburn. Grandma sets the bar so high for living a life passionate for God and for her family. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, Grandma b.

Isn't it wonderful--and no matter how many times you are blessed to experience it, motherhood is just as wonderful and exciting. I believe each baby is a gift of God, wholly His. And this child has a definite plan in God's eyes. I'm not very good at answering questions because I'm not very good with words--they often don't say what I mean but I will try. Love you, Grandma B

What resources or who in your life was the most helpful in giving sound parenting advice? I was fortunate to have two little brothers born when I was in High School, one in my freshman year and one in my Junior year. So I learned a lot about caring for a baby--My Mother was a good example to follow and then, too. she was so near. she was a wonderful source of wisdom. Mostly her method of raising us was 'LOVE'; and that wasn't hard to follow. When you love your children with all your heart, they will overlook many mistakes one makes.

Was there a specific part of mothering that challenged you and your confidence in being a mother? As to challenges--I can't think of any, am sure there were some, but God gives us a way of forgetting the unhappy and remembering the many blessings He give us. Of course, I always thought I had the best kids, and I did.

When Becca asked me if I had many challenges raising my seven, I didn't remember that I thought they caused challenges--but, there must have been mornings when having all seven get out to that school bus in time was a challenge. There was one year when Jan was a senior and Paul a first grader. (which means all seven kids were in school) I called them 'my thundering herd' when they all arrived back home at four, on that same bus. What a lot of 'telling' of all the happenings of the day! Then it was time for snacks and to change their clothes to do their chores, supper had to be at 5:30, which left time to milk the cows for Daddy and the hired man.

What is your favorite part of being a Mama? All the love and care they still give me.

If you were to go back and start your season of mothering all over again what would you tell yourself? I wish I had spent more time with each one. Maybe not doing so much volunteering, I really don't know. I'm thankful for all the help of my Savior, He saved me many a time, giving me patience, strength and more love. Anything else you want to share with a first time mom? Just love 'em, give them to the Lord, He is the best baby-sitter.Our verse for today: and a most important part of raising a child--discipline!!Solomon 23:13a "Do not withhold discipline from a child." And start, with love and patience to do it when they are very young. They learn so fast. Love you all, Grandma B.

mama wisdom day 7: grandma b

My grandma Bredberg has seven kids and lots of grandkids, even more great grandkids and just started her season of great great grandparenting. She is a woman of faith, deeply in love with her savior and has created a family that is still united, enjoys one another's company and share a love for Jesus.

When my grandpa died, everyone was gathered in her apartment. She and Grandpa had moved out of the farm house the year earlier, him not wanting her to have to sort through that whole house without him. My cousin Daron asked that day, Grandma, you're 79, what what are you going to do now with Grandpa gone? And without pause Grandma replied, "I sent all seven of my kids to the Lutheran Bible Institute, but I was married at 18 and never got to go. So I suppose I would like to go to LBI.

LBI is the Lutheran Bible Institute out near Seattle, Washington. And eight months later, Grandma found herself living in the dormitories, eating in the caf, taking classes and affectionately nicknamed, "college grandma" by the student body.

She talks about how in her first class, the professor announced that all papers must be type written, times new roman, 12 point font. She wrote all of that down and drove herself to Best Buy later that afternoon to buy herself her first computer. She found a "nice young man" who helped buy Grandma the nicest computer any of us had seen. It was a black flat screen monitor, long before those were mainstream.

She started that week, sending out daily mass emails to her friends and family. She'd begin, "dear email family" and proceed to tell us 1) what she ate for breakfast 2) a Bible verse or passage for the day and 3) any thoughts or notes she had on that verse or passage.

Those first emails were the best. I remember one said, "today I had a lovely lunch with richard and kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkaren. now how did all of those k's appear? And how would I get rid of them?" And all the cousins took our grandma under our wing and replied, "dear grandma, in the upper right hand part of your keyboard there is a button that says back space. hover your mouse over the k's and then hit this button until the k's are deleted."

This was 13 years ago, and Grandma still sends out a daily email almost every single day. If she misses a day or two, she always explains why...computer problems, visits to family, traveling to mesa or back to sherburn.

Grandma sets the bar so high for living a life passionate for God and for her family. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, Grandma b.

Isn't it wonderful--and no mattter how many times you are blessed to experience it, it is just as wonderful and exciting. I believe each baby is a gift of God, wholly His. And this child has a definite plan in God's eyes. I'm not very good at answering questions because I'm not very good with words--they often don't say what I mean but I will try. Love you, Grandma B

What resources or who in your life was the most helpful in giving sound parenting advice?
I was fortunate to have two little brothers born when I was in High School, one in my freshman year and one in my Junior year. So I learned a lot about caring for a baby--My Mother was a good example to follow and then, too. she was so near. she was a wonderful source of wisdom. Mostly her method of raising us was 'LOVE'; and that wasn't hard to follow. When you love your children with all your heart, they will overlook many mistakes one makes.

Was there a specific part of mothering that challenged you and your confidence in being a mother?
As to challenges--I can't think of any, am sure there were some, but God gives us a way of forgetting the unhappy and remembering the many blessings He give us. Of course, I always thought I had the best kids, and I did.

When Becca asked me if I had many challenges raising my seven, I didn't remember that I thought they caused challenges--but, there must have been mornings when having all seven get out to that school bus in time was a challenge. There was one year when Jan was a senior and Paul a first grader. (which means all seven kids were in school) I called them 'my thundering herd' when they all arrived back home at four, on that same bus. What a lot of 'telling' of all the happenings of the day! Then it was time for snacks and to change their clothes to do their chores, supper had to be at 5:30, which left time to milk the cows for Daddy and the hired man.

What is your favorite part of being a Mama?
All the love and care they still give me.

If you were to go back and start your season of mothering all over again what would you tell yourself?
I wish I had spent more time with each one. Maybe not doing so much volunteering, I really don't know. I'm thankful for all the help of my Savior, He saved me many a time, giving me patience, strength and more love.

Anything else you want to share with a first time mom?
Just love 'em, give them to the Lord, He is the best baby-sitter.Our verse for today: and a most important part of raising a child--discipline!!Solomon 23:13a "Do not withhold discipline from a child." And start, with love and patience to do it when they are very young. They learn so fast. Love you all, Grandma B.

one week with Alden

I had someone ask me about Alden's birth story and it dawned on me that I haven't told anyone really how it all played out. Instead, I have been telling everyone about Alden's Second Day of Life story.

Alden was born after lunch on a Thursday. And we left the hospital after supper on Friday. It was just the three of us back at the farm that night and on Saturday morning our kids were coming to meet Alden for the very first time. We had a family friend offer to come and take pictures of the joyful reunion and so everyone was scheduled to arrive at 10 am. We couldn't wait to see our big three. And they couldn't wait to meet the new baby.
Rory and I were having a very peaceful moment with Alden in the nursery before everyone arrived. We were listening to Andrew Peterson's The Sower's Song, a song that holds lots of special meaning for our family. Rory was sitting in the glider rocker holding Alden and we were thanking God for this little life that had been given to our family. A huge raptor was soaring out the window, dipping down and back up in figure eights, huge and mighty.

After a while Rory asked me to look out the window to see what was attracting the bird. I looked out past the garden, and there in front of the barn was one of our sheep, all four limbs pointed straight in the air.

"Ah, Rory. This is terrible. There is a dead animal in our field."

Rory jumped up, handed me the baby and gasped. It was such a shock. We haven't had to deal with death on our farm yet, in any major way. I said to him, "the kids come in 10 minutes. they can't see that." And then our friend Jenna pulled up our lane with her awesome camera, ready to capture the joy of this epic sibling introduction. I watched her unload her car from the nursery window, while watching Rory struggle to move the huge sheep by the front hoofs. He had gloves on and finally figured out how to drag the heavy animal back behind the pole barn. Moments later he was back washing up, welcoming Jenna and then the kids arrived with Grandma and Grandpa.
At one point during the photo shoot Rory excused himself to go make a quick phone call. The vet thought it sounded like Worms had taken the sheep, and said the other mammals should all be put on a special medicated feed immediately. And that their office closed at noon, and was 30 minutes away.

Rory joined back in the pictures and we got some really fun family shots by the oak tree. And then he asked Jenna if she needed any more shots with him, otherwise he had to run a quick errand.
He took off to get the medicated feed and then spent the afternoon digging a deep hole with the tractor. My next mental picture is when I stood in the nursery window to see what he was up to and watched him heave the sheep into the hole. There was one leg that stood straight up and Rory tried to push it down but it kept popping back up into the air. The hilarity of this moment was not lost on me. I whispered to Alden, "Happy 48-hours. Welcome to the farm."
Thankfully my parents stayed for the day and kept the big three fed and occupied. Rory came in the house later in the afternoon and I asked if he was able to slow down and stay in with us. "Oh no. I have 40 chicks I need to move out to the a-frame coop. They need to be separated from the 10 chicks that will be layers. I won't be able to tell them apart much longer." So he got to work moving chicks and preparing their food and water. At dinner he told of all the sweet peas that had to be picked or they would be lost. I told him of a sweet pea pickle recipe I had seen on a favorite blog and he said, "great. we can do that tonight."

And I mentioned casually for the eleventh time that day, 'hey, remember how I was pushing out a baby just 48 hours ago?'

We got the kids to bed, Rory made pickles, worked on the sheep fence a bit and eventually we fell into bed. Sunday he woke up and got right to work on the sheep fence, a project that seems to have daily needs. Sunday night we held Barn Worship up in the barn, our family's favorite part of the week, and 30 friends from our church showed up! It was wonderful, and in light of the fullness of our life since returning home, it felt totally right.

Monday morning came and Rory's dad went to scope out a used minivan we had found over the weekend. The minivan checked out and around 10:00 Rory took off to go and trade in our jeep for the minivan. He got home at 3, just in time to lock in the baby car seat for Alden's first doctor appointment. We got home, ate dinner and loaded all four kids into their car seats for a family country drive.

Tuesday was the 4th of July and we had six visitors before noon all bringing gifts and meeting Alden. And then we took off for Mimi and Papa's for a day of play at the lake. Wednesday my sister and her girls and my folks came to help get our house ready for friends to stay here while we go to Bible Camp next week. And today is Alden's one week birthday and I haven't done a thing all morning.

With the other kids I have this memory of a really quiet, hibernating week of slowly getting to know each other. But Alden's introduction has been in full motion since he arrived. And thankfully I am feeling great. My own recovery has been the best of the four kids. I have my limits and I have my moments, but overall I have been feeling strong and able. And steady. I am sort of amazed at my own growth with baby #4. I know what to fret over and what not to fret over. I have a confidence from 3 babies before this one. Plus Alden is a sweet and peaceful boy. Obviously that helps immensely too.

Alden, you are a real farm boy. You have been born into an agrarian lifestyle and you arrived during peak season. Come October, we will all settle in for the winter and there will be slow and quiet days then. But for now, you are entering into the thick of it. And it's a fun season to enter into. Thank you for being so flexible.

Love, your also flexible Mama.

home school and home making

Last week I started organizing all of my home school materials. I cleared out a few shelves in the laundry room and lined up all of the books I have purchased or found at garage sales, or was given as home school hand-me-downs. And I started to get really excited. Something about seeing it all lined up and beginning to think through our "routine" sparked a vision I had yet to see.

I have been so consumed with what others might think of our decision to home school that I had sort of forgotten one key factor: I am going to LOVE this. I was made for this! I went to college for this! I played school my entire childhood. I taught Sunday school for a decade and was a Bible camp program director. My mind is organized in lesson plans!  My brain thinks in educational objectives! 

So the next day I went to the ABC Toy Zone with a little list of things I'd like to include in our home schooling. And I about died of excitement. I wandered the aisles with my list and the nice lady helping me find everything and felt dizzy with math manipulatives happiness.

The fun part about this year is that it is Kindergarten. And our actual formal lesson time will likely last only about an hour each day. That will include math and reading. There are some incredible curriculums to choose from that were created for home school families, and the approach that resonates the most with me are the teaching ideas of Charlotte Mason. I plan to write a post on her but her thoughts on education sort of boil down to: read to your kids books that connect their hearts to people and places and time periods (ie: not text books, but good stories) and get your kids outside in God's creation as much as possible. Explore poetry, music and fine arts. Create good habits in the home, put the emphasis on quality the first time around, and focus on building self-motivated, disciplined, life-long learners. 

I may have just botched that explanation, but from what I've read so far, that's what has inspired me the most. The truth is, Rory and I are excited for Life School. All that our kids see us do each day is learn new things. They'll hear us talk about maybe getting goats, listen to us ask God about getting goats, and then watch us research all we can about caring for goats. Finally they will find themselves in their car seats as we go to pick up our new goats and test all the things we learned on paper until we learn what works for us. We learn by doing, by building, by trying, by failing, by trying again, by dreaming things up and then accomplishing those dreams. That's likely our greatest goal for our kids in Life School: This first year we want our kids to learn to love learning. 

So Kindergarten will include 45 minutes of math and reading, Bible lessons at bedtime and then each week or two we will have a different unit study. And that may look like any sort of combination of library books, art projects, map study, field trips or dramatic play. Can you imagine how fun this is going to be?!!

***

Another funny thing began to happen as I began gathering up my teaching supplies. I started thinking through my entire "typical" day as a home educator. And as a mother of a baby. And as a home maker. And as the lunch lady. And dinner cook. And laundress. And dish girl. And maid. And involved community member. 

And I started to get a little panicked. 

Soon I was googling, "organizing your home" and "time management for a new home school mom" and "menu planning." One of my biggest goals for this first year of home school is simply to get a rhythm and routine and structure to our days. I have told Rory many times that I will be my biggest challenge to overcome as I learn the self discipline it will take to keep all these plates spinning. The years of having all little kids are truly a haze of keeping everyone alive and fed and relatively clean. I feel like this next season might be the one where I surface a bit. Maybe not all the time because little kids come with so many unexpected daily demands, but maybe there will be some gained order over my days. Maybe. At least I'm feeling a teeny bit hopeful...

So with all this excited (home school) and nervous (home making) energy I ended up on Fly Lady's website. Over the years I have had many friends recommend her site though nothing seemed to gel. But something is different this time. I feel open to any suggestion, and if keeping my kitchen sink shining is the key to my tidy house, I'll try it! (that's her first lesson...)

Then my sister came over and I showed her my home school cupboards and told her of my plan to take the next two weeks to go room by room in my house and purge, organize and systematize the daylights out of every drawer, cupboard and, well, anything. I asked her if she wanted to join me and she lit up like a light bulb. As she left and I told her, "we are starting with the bathrooms! when you get home take a picture of your bathroom and send it to me. Then purge every drawer and cabinet, deep clean that baby so every inch shines and send me an after picture!" 

You have never seen two women more enthused to clean their bathrooms. And though that spirit waned in the process, I do have one sparkling and organized bathroom to show for it. The next morning we talked and decided we were on to the fridge! This meant the outside had to be organized and washed down (even the dusty top) and inside every surface was to be cleaned. I even cleaned my oven as a bonus. It's actually all very addictive. Over the weekend I hit the garage and it was so clean you could eat off the floor. (Which was immediately proven by the chipmunk breakfast the cats were eating as I took the trash out the next morning. No kidding.)

And today I painted my laundry room! We have lived here for four years and somehow last night was the night I felt inspired to buy the paint and tape up the walls. Today I gave it two coats and I cannot believe it took me four years just to do it! And now that I know I can paint a room in a day, no wall is safe.

Tomorrow I am heading to Annika's to tackle her Paper Organization. We're going to create some sort of "office space" for her...maybe in her basement, maybe in a little nook, maybe just on a few book shelves. We both have homes that are short on spare rooms so we're going to get clever. And I know something awesome will come of it. 

All this to say, Jump On In! We are on a roll. September is right around the corner and life is going to pick up real fast. So pick a room a day. Or pick a problem area. Or go read some Fly Lady and join me as I wear my tennis shoes each day (her second lesson) and shine my sink. It feels good and is contagious. Send me a picture of your before and after. This is going to be fun!

a word of encouragement for mothers

Recently my mom was telling me of a family friend who just had her second baby and is walking through a rough season of postpartum depression. She shared a few other details and I have been thinking about this young mom ever since. And here's what I want to say to her. I've written many of these things before, but here they are in one swoop.

I once read a blog post that talked about how each family has "a number." The number is the child that was born that threw you off of your feet and knocked the wind out of you real good. For many, their number is One. It is that first baby that takes them off their game and leaves them feeling humbled and fried and surprised that this who parenting thing is so hard. Every couple is going to have a different number though. I have a friend who recently said her number was Four. She felt like she was great at mothering until she had her Forth. And then she felt the humbling.

For us, our number is Two. I've shared this many times before, but number Two came and knocked us off our game. We had just moved, we were trying to find a church home, I was looking for friends, our marriage was about to get a good dose of life-changing counseling, our baby had a scream she used when upset and I wasn't sure I was good at mothering. I was supposed to be good at it, but I suddenly felt inept and lacking. Rory and I would have middle of the night fights "let her cry it out" "no! I can't do it!" "Just go to sleep" (And we took turns on both sides of that argument!) I was always falling short and the mom-boss inside of my head was a jerk. She was cruel and mean and if that voice had been an actual woman, I would have slapped her and walked off the job.

And here's the thing: I was supposed to be the best mom ever. And for those of us who love kids and always wanted to be a mother, I think motherhood is especially humbling. I started babysitting when I was in 5th grade, with my Red Cross First Aid card in hand. I babysat full summer weeks all through middle school for my next door neighbors. I taught Sunday school, spent my summers as a camp counselor, go my degree in elementary education, babysat throughout college, watched kids on a tour bus my first year out of college. I babysat while at the seminary and was basically the best aunt in the whole world. I had experience with every age, but mostly babies and toddlers. This was going to be my finest hour!

So then it really, really was a blow when I didn't feel like I was pulling off the one thing I was definitely supposed to excel at. I've always been an achiever, but I was so lost at figuring out what I was trying to achieve.

And I was fighting it every step of the way. I resented meal prep. I hated that breakfast, lunch and dinner were my daily responsibilities. Laundry was never ending and I never felt caught up. My kitchen floor was always an embarrassment with mud and grass and brown banana smear, raisins and cheerios. My bathrooms were in desperate need of a good scrubbing and I rarely got out of my black yoga pants/tshirt/hoodie ensemble. Most of all I was mad about my lot. This was supposed to be the dream, and yet I felt terrible at every part.

I now have two thoughts on this: 1) The world does not give any validation to these monotonous, tedious, self-sacrificing jobs. There are very few words of encouragement spoken in this season. The work is unseen and from the outside, you "just have a baby, so what do you do all day anyway?" It can feel very lonesome and mostly just hard. 2) Dying to yourself hurts because it includes dying. Our world does not celebrate self-sacrifice. It does not recognize a love that lays down her life (her personal ambitions) for a friend (her baby). When we are called to wash the feet of our neighbor, and those feet happen to be a wiggly baby who bathes you while you're trying to bathe it, you are rising to a very high calling. But it's so hard. It's so constant. It's so monotonous. But it's so good.

I can say that now, because I have had two babies since number Two and I am a completely different woman. The difference is that I died to my self. I really did. I used to fight so much of this. I used to resent so much. I used to be so frustrated. But the Lord used refining fire to burn away a lot of my pride, selfish ambitions and personal desires. And that burning burned. I felt it.

Now I can hear you. You're freaking out that I set aside my personal ambitions and decided to stay home with my kids. You're afraid I'm drinking some kool-aid that has me barefoot in the kitchen making breakfast, lunch and dinner for six humans every day.

But what I want you to hear is that I had a choice if I was going to go about this work of motherhood and homemaking with a bitter and frustrated heart or if I was going to choose to do this refining work with a cheerful heart, with gratitude that I am able to stay home with my kids, with thanksgiving that my husband works so I can fill the fridge with food and then the table with meals. I had to decide if I was going to resent laying down my life for the sake of these beautiful babies God had entrusted to my care.

And though that all sounds nice and poetic written out, the truth is, it is a daily decision, a daily choice. The choice between defeated/bitter/exhausted and joyful/thankful/peaceful is a choice I make every day.

The truth is, I think it is helpful to know that there usually is one baby that takes you off your game and that there are lots of factors that can make that season particularly challenging. It may be the needs of the baby. Or it may be the state of your marriage. It may be a loneliness for friends in the same life stage. It may be a discontentment that God is working out in you. It may be a time when He is trying to grow and shape and mold you into something stronger and mightier than you ever were before. It may be that this trying season is all for his good purposes to shape your character to be more like His.

And it may be actual hormones. Oh the hormones! I didn't believe in hormones until number Two! I remember telling Rory, "Listen! I don't even like me!" My emotions were all over the place. It wasn't until I had Hattie that I believed hormones were all they were cracked up to be. Because with Hattie I had overloads of the happy hormone. I was perma-joyful. And then I was able to look back at my season of Two and see that I just had a different hormonal cocktail. All this to say, hormones are real.

I'm getting chatty now, so I'll tell you a few things I have learned that might be helpful for you:

1) First and foremost, I started speaking kindly to myself. I fired jerk-boss in my head and replaced her with kind-boss. She's gentle and encouraging. She sees the laundry that never gets folded and says to herself, "well, something had to give." The truth is, the words of encouragement are so few and far between that we ourselves must speak them to ourselves. Our husbands can say kind things, but sometimes it's hard to hear those thing in the midst of the stressful things. We have to say them. And then hear them.

2) This is totally a practical one: Vitamin B Complex is so important. If you're a new mom and not taking Vitamin B Complex, you have to start taking this. Over and over and over again, I hear moms say it changed their literal life. It changed mine. I also take iron, cod-liver oil capsules, a prenatal and D in the winter. We cannot run this race on fumes.

3) Diet really matters right now. It doesn't feel fair because you walk up and down the stairs and pick stuff up all day and it really should count, but I have found if I am bonkers emotionally when consuming sugar and grains. They make me irritable and snappy. I just finished a Whole30, and felt totally in control of my emotions. It was a wild experience to see how greatly I am affected by what I eat! Since getting back on sugar and carbs, I have absolutely noticed how impatient and short I can get.

4) Friends are so, so important. I found one of my best friends through a MOPS group. I met other best friends through a women's Bible study. To find a friend who has kids the same age as your own is really, really important. It seems silly, like it should work no matter how old their kids, but there is something about having someone in the exact life-stage that really feeds a mom's weary soul. You feel seen and understood without having to explain it all.

5) The Five Senses totally matter when you're home all day! Play worship and praise music. I remember a mom saying this just after I had Ivar. She said, "I have no idea what I'd do if I didn't have praise playing in my house all day long." I remember her saying it because it seemed so over-the-top to me. But now I'm with her. I don't play it all day, but when I can see that all of our spirits are sagging, I put on Bethel Worship or Hillsong or Andrew Peterson or instrumental worship and it changes the atmosphere in our home. Candles and Flowers are important for good scents. I take notice of it all. What am I wearing, what am I looking at (can we clean for 10 minutes so I don't have to stare at this living room all day?) What I'm eating. It all matters.

6) It's all just a season. You can't hardly believe that it in the moment. You think, "well, this is how it's going to be for. the. rest. of. my. life." But then something changes and you realize that hardship has ended. Another will come, but seasons change and it is so good to remember this. One day your baby will be able to put on their own crocs. And keep them on. And crawl into the car on their own. And buckle their own buckle. But you can hardly believe that in the moment.

7) You have to let some things go. We arrive late to things. I try so hard and HATE being late, but sometimes all forces of the universe are against me and I could fight it and be a bear to all around me, or I could take a deep breath and let it go. Rory walks into my kitchen with his boots on eleven times a day. I just let it go. It seems each day there is an area calling out for Grace! Maybe it's the laundry, the dishes, suppertime, a tidy home, a dirty bathroom. Some tasks just have to take a number and get in line. And it's my job to just let it go.

8) It's really, truly hard to mother during the age of social media. There is always another woman out there who looks like she's pulling it all off picture-perfect with no drama, effort or tears. Social media can be a distraction to our worthy call, a time-suck of great proportions eating up our down time, leaving us feeling the opposite of refueled. I have found that I am most irritable when I'm scrolling and just want to get to the end of my feed. If my kids need me during that time, my fuse is so short. I can see it clearly, and it's why I take great chunks of time away from those platforms. I haven't been on IG or Facebook now for five months. I'm not trying to prove anything. I'm just more present and way more content with my little kids when I step away from those addictive outlets. And it forces me to call a friend to spend time together in the flesh.

Alright. I'll stop now because this is getting too long and you need to go to bed too. But I wanted to write this out for whatever mom is really, really struggling right now. Mostly so you know you're not alone. Motherhood is hard, especially for those of us who were going to be awesome at motherhood. Refining Fire does burn. Dying to yourself involves actually dying which goes against every fiber of your sweet living soul. But we have a choice each day to spend it resentful or grateful. And then to let God mold and shape your character into something more like His.

And that is the bottom line. It is only God who can change your heart and your attitude. He did a deal on mine! He is the one who entrusted these babies to our care and he wants them loved well. What a sweet gig: to raise children and care for their every need, to practice servant leadership right in our own homes, serving our families with joy and gladness. Thank you God for this good work before us.

Now go take your Vitamin B complex.

Farm Camp this summer at our farm!!

I have been having a whole lot of fun lately. I am planning a week long day-camp at our farm this summer for 8 high school girls. It's basically my dream summer camp...exactly what I would love to do (and not do.) So there will be no spinning-our-foreheads-around-a-baseball-bat relays. But there will be lots of creative projects- embroidery hoops, mixed media collages, and daily baking or preserving. Every night each camper will go home with something edible to share with their family.

Mostly, I'm so excited to get the ears of these girls and to pour some dreams and hopes into their hearts. The decisions that a girl makes from ages 15-25 will have implications and consequences for the rest of their lives. These years are so, so important for keeping an eye on the big picture, and not just the immediate and instant. So we will talk about all sorts of topics from finding life-giving, supportive friends, wisdom in dating, the gift of marriage and the joy of one day having their own family. What fun to get to dream big dreams together! And what a gift to have time to seek the Lord and spend time listening to his voice in these matters.

And then there is the farm! We'll be working in the garden (not a lot, but enough to learn about weeding and good soil and growth) and with the animals (we'll milk the goat and make goat milk soap, spend time with the sheep, feed the pigs and we are hoping to have eggs hatching the week the girls are here in our new egg incubator). Everything we learn about on the farm will be connected to scriptures that highlight God's ways. This winter we have carved out two afternoons a week when I am writing the curriculum I will be teaching (or the girls will be reading) and I cannot wait! It's so rich! As always, I feel like I am the first student, soaking up these lessons as I learn and am so excited to pass these truths along.

I am envisioning a varied group of girls. Some might be from the city, with no experience on a farm at all. And maybe even no actual interest! But I want these girls to feel the welcome of a family farm and to experience a week here, sort of like when I visited my Grandma's farm growing up. I was definitely a city mouse, but am so grateful I had so many family farms (aunts and uncles) to visit throughout my childhood. Some girls might be from around this area and just interested in a summer camp that is closer to home or that lets them sleep in their own bed each night! (That would have been me growing up.)

And others might feel like they would love to live on a farm one day, but don't live on one now. I have two good friends from church who came to our farm last summer to help me, a junior and senior in high school. Both of them lived in town and one told me, "I just have this feeling I am going to be a missionary one day in a country where I will need to grow my own food and I want to start learning." (Talk about life vision and goals!!!) And the other told me, "I just want to learn how to garden and preserve my food and see how you do it all as a mom." Their visits were an absolute highlight of my summer and got me dreaming of this day camp that I am calling Farm Camp. I see the need, and I understand the gift of living this lifestyle for a short time to help cast a big and full vision for the campers that come. (Obviously they won't all move to a farm! But maybe they'll take an interest in gardening. Or making their own pickles from grocery store cucumbers.)

Can you tell I'm excited? It's really fun to tap into my former life as a Bible Camp program director and to see how God is creatively merging my life as a mother and farmer with camp ministry.

So one afternoon Rory and I made this spiffy little promo video. We had the kids upstairs playing in the bedroom, kept quiet by a sleeve of club crackers, and quickly recorded this baby in one shot. I didn't rehearse what I would say and in the end I think it does a fine job communicating the heart of this camp. As one who has never been able to take a selfie, this was a very awkward experience for me, but whatever. Hopefully it will help spread the word!


If you know of anyone who may be interested, send them my way! A full rundown of our topics from day to day can be found at this link on The Grovestead website. I am so excited for the week we will have together. It is going to be full of worthwhile experiences, conversations and teachings. Plus, it's just so great to think about summer, isn't it?!!

my 2015 one-little-word

It's my favorite way to start a new year. To pick one little word to focus on all year long. Last year I chose the word Anticipation, recognizing my role in making fun events to anticipate on the calendar. It was another long winter and I was able to see how my choices and plans and creativity led to fun events, outings and things to look forward to.
The funny thing is that I wasn't mindful of my word hardly at all this year. I even had to look it up to see what it was. But looking back over the past year we did a lot that created a lot of Anticipation. We held lots of big events at The Grovestead: a tree tapping party, honeyfest, a wiener roast, a corn feed, a few work days and countless picnics. We went on two vacations this summer, one to Mount Carmel and one to the North Shore. We had lots of exciting deliveries to anticipate: honey bees, apple trees, a wood stove, blueberry bushes, a tractor, baby chicks, two little kittens (though they were not anticipated! A total surprise!)

But all in all, Anticipation was a great word for the year. We lived it. There were few dull moments. And 2014 was filled with people, projects and productivity.

My one-little-word for 2015 was very slow in coming, but I landed on a good one. And I think this word has the power to change me from the inside out.
For Christmas, my mom gave me the book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. For years I have had people rave about this book and how much it has changed them, to the point of annoyance. For real. I had become sort of skeptical just based on the crazy following this book had. But this summer, while in the Mount Carmel bookstore with my mom, I picked it up, told her about all the people who have told me to read it, and she asked if I wanted it for Christmas. So six months later, I opened it up.

And every day since I have been opening to the next page for a short little note written based on scripture, in the voice of Jesus, telling me all the truths and realities written in his word that are for me. It is like taking a deep inhale of oxygen.

I have become one of the crazy fans of this book. And if I had money unending, I'd send you a copy right to your doorstep.

The subtitle of the book is "Enjoying Peace in His Presence."

And I suppose that phrase could be my one-little-word. Because that is my goal.

I think I've written about all of these things before, but I'm going to say them all again, because they're my struggles that don't seem to go away. I always wonder if I'm doing enough. I have friends I went to the seminary with who are mothers and pastors and somehow make that work. And I'm in awe, and on hard days envious of their outlet to preach and teach. But in all honesty, I don't feel called to that vocation right now. I have friends who have great jobs and sometimes I envy the thought of a workplace and a lunch break.

This is a super sensitive subject because all moms make their own decisions based on thousands of variables unique to their own situation. But I'm just here to say from where I stand, it is also hard to be a stay-at-home mom, wondering if I should be doing more. Especially because every book written on motherhood is by a mom with a platform. Someone who somehow had enough time to write a book. And go on a speaking circuit. And speak at seminars. There are countless blogs and instagram feeds devoted to goal setting, living your life fully, executing huge projects. And it becomes hard to believe that just staying at home with my kids, putting one foot in front of the other, is enough.

I get itchy in my skin wondering, "should I open an etsy shop? should I start a podcast? will I fall behind if I don't build a brand, a following, an audience?" And I only wonder those things because those options are visibly lived out on the blogs I read and feeds I follow.

So those words: Enjoying Peace in His Presence feel like a wave of freedom. It feels like a little side door exit to leave the crazy mind-games of 'Am I doing enough?' And says instead, 'You are enough.'

This year, my one little word has less to do with doing, and much more to do with being. Being present. Feeling God's presence. Enjoying his Peace when I'm feeling insecure and wondering if I'm living my life fully enough. Recognizing His Presence in every part of my life. To feel filled up by God daily.

I expect that with these intentions 2015 will be a year of personal revival. It has to be, because the Bible promises that when you're drawing near to God he'll draw near to you. And I want him near to me. Filling me with the Peace of his Presence. If you want to join me, click here to get your copy of Jesus Calling. It's $10 and so, so good.

swedish sweaters

Ivar is named after his great grandpa. Grandpa Ivar, who we called Papa, could most often be seen wearing his Swedish sweaters. Even to a Pirate Birthday party as seen below:

I asked Rory's mom if she had anything special for little Ivar to wear for his Dedication, and the next morning she showed up with a Swedish sweater outfit from Hannah Anderson. This was the perfect outfit. It makes me sad that we'll never get a picture of the two Ivar's in their sweaters together. They would have liked each other so much.

When Ivar was still in my belly, I wrote our baby-to-be a long letter explaining the two names we had chosen and why we had chosen them. Here is part of that letter that explains why we chose our name for a baby boy:

Little baby,
It is early in the morning before the sun has come up, and I am wide awake wondering who you will be. We have two names picked out for you, and I’d be very surprised if we changed our minds. We have a strong girls name and a strong boys name and each one holds a lot of meaning for us. I want to tell you why.


If you are a boy, your name will be Ivar. This name is the name of your great grandpa on your dad’s side. Your great grandpa Ivar was a fantastic man of character, born to be a preacher. His speech had a particular cadence with his words chosen thoughtfully. He was a character in every imaginable way. His life stories seem epic now, hopping trains to get back and forth from Bible school, taking a ship over with his parents from Sweden as a boy, building churches in Ohio and Michigan.

We all called him Papa, and I have to tell you he welcomed me into the Groves family with arms wide open. That always meant so much to me. I knew he liked me from the start and I liked him right back. When your dad and I were first dating he was living in a senior home with a lot of Lutherans and Lutheran pastors. He paraded your dad around the dining hall table by table, introducing him and saying, “This is my grandson Rory. He is dating a Lutheran!” And he said it with enthusiasm, building a bridge to his friends at his home.

Little baby, your tiny little feet have some enormous footsteps to follow. The truth is, you could have been named after any of your great grandfathers or grandpas. You come from the strongest of men, filled with integrity and character. Each one has a life story that is filled with caring for others, determination, hard work and a belief in God that is so strong that it influences every single part of their daily life.

Your great grandpa Phil (grandma Margaret’s dad) was the hardest working man I have ever met. I remember being at his farm and getting so excited for Wheel of Fortune, because it was the only time the man sat still, so then the rest of us could rest, too. Great grandpa Phil could work nonstop doing physical things all day long. He was a successful farmer, raised seven kids and was active at his church his whole life.

Your great grandpa John (grandpa Paul’s dad) was a loyal worker to his company. He worked for the Burroughs Corporation, and I think that company had him move over a dozen times. He taught Sunday school most places where they moved and when he retired he kept using his skills and gifts to help raise money for the Lutheran Bible Institute.

Your great grandpa Madison (grandpa Madison’s dad) was an entrepreneur and a builder and he used his gifts to construct a home for orphaned children in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Your dad wishes so badly he could have known him more (he died when your dad was still very young) because it seems that your dad was given the same independence and self-confidence that his grandpa Madison had, born to create his own ventures.

And you, baby-to-be, could not be any more blessed than you are with your two Grandpa’s. Grandpa Paul and Grandpa Madison are both salt of the earth, and their deepest care is for other people. The church is the cornerstone of their lives, faithfully living out Jesus’ call to love one another and to share the good news. They love their families more than anything and are so excited for your arrival. In fact, your Grandpa Paul has already purchased his Grandparent’s Pass to the zoo, and you still have eight more weeks before you are due to arrive!

In all of your great grandfathers and grandpas there is a great sense of purpose for what they do and did with their time. What they believed in was the driving force behind their actions and ambitions.

Hear me on this. Whether you are born a girl or a boy, you will be given a family name, because we come from two families that have been blessed beyond measure. Your dad and I do not care what profession you choose. You could be a storyteller, a farmer, a preacher, a salesman, a fundraiser, an entrepreneur, an author, a contractor, or any other profession that fits your gifts. But we do care that you know your Maker. And whatever you do with your life, you live your life with as much passion and conviction and belief as the heritage of men and women who have gone before you. We care that you live your life boldly, make mistakes and move on, and that you are not afraid to live out the role God has custom created for you.

We love you more than I could have ever imagined love. Your dad talks to you every day and we are filled with wonder and awe thinking of how fearfully and wonderfully you are made.

We are so excited to be your mom and dad.

well hello!

It's been a long, long time. I'll try to fill you in on life lately...

Lately I've been:

Watching Tudor Farm and Wartime Farm with Rory. Both of these are BBC series where they reenact a certain slice of history and show how they did everything back in that day. Rory and I eat this stuff up. Where many are excited about the technology of the future, we are always slack jawed at the innovative ways things were done in the past. (both are on youtube linked above and the music audio on tudor farm is horrible...just a heads up...)

Enjoying all of the quotes that come out of Hattie's mouth.  A few nights ago we had friends over for dinner so that day I cleaned my kitchen so that it was basically empty when I was done. Every bit of paper and clutter was put in it's place and so the next day I was cleaning it again, hoping it might stay that way. Hattie came in and said, "More people comin' over?" I said, "no, I just want to keep it nice and tidy when it looks so good." And Hattie nodded her head, "Oh good! Nice and Tidy comin' over!"

Reading My Bible! I am enjoying this version so, so much! I had no daily habit for Bible reading the past few years. I was quite sporadic with long lulls in between. And even though I still don't read it every single day, I do catch up about every other day or every third day and I LOVE being accountable to keeping it up. Plus, this version that I linked to is really great. Good summaries, keeps it moving, adds insight along the way. Join in if you want! There is no "too late" to starting this good habit!

Eating the salad above. As often as possible. My sister-in-law Sara brought this to a Christmas gathering and I honestly think I ate half the bowl. It's just olives (I use kalamata) tomatoes (not in season, but they taste so summery in this salad) cucumbers, feta cheese and a dressing. Sara used Newman's Own Feta Greek dressing. I use Aldi's Greek dressing and both are SO GOOD. This salad tastes so not-wintertime to me. It's why I love it. It feels like I'm taking a stand against the frozen earth. Make this. You will be happy you did.

Playing board games! On Saturday we took the kids to a meet up where a big reception hall was set up with tables and tables of prototype board games to play with their creator. We didn't bring our own games and instead played everyone else's and it was SO GREAT. One was a card game that had us building sandwiches with our cards. Another was a Christmas Caroling game where you had to knock on the table, sing a carol and then take your turn in game play. It was all so fun! So creative! So inventive! And we left with our heads spinning with fun ideas for more board games.

Hibernating. When it gets this cold I just don't like to go outside. Rory is a stud and does all the animal chores a couple times a day, checking on their water and making sure everyone is okay when it's below zero. And I just tell him how great I think he is and quickly close the door when he walks outside.

Cleaning the kids room. It had hit a new level of sty. There were just too many toys accessible and today I cleaned it like it was my job. It sort of is, as their mother. They helped as well and I loaded up two big boxes full of toys to put into the attic and one big bag of toys to give away (don't tell the kids...) Their room looks great now and I will have more peace in my heart with less stuff strewn all over by my well-intentioned, though destructive, one year old.

That's all for now. I felt like I had to bop my head in here before you all thought I've quit forever. Not sure why the lull...you know me. I'll be back.

day dreaming about our day-to-day


My mom took these pictures a few days before Easter as I was trying to figure out what Elsie was going to wear. The upper left is a dress I wore when I was little. The lower left is a dress Mara wore on Easter when she was little. The lower right is when the fashion show ended.

***

My Uncle Mark was here this weekend. He sits on a board for a private school in St. Louis and always brings interesting insights on education and children. When he was here we shared a great conversation about the uses and abuses of technology and he asked pointedly, "do your kids see you read every day? do they see you with a book in your face for extended periods of time?"

And the answer is no. Reading feels like a luxury at this point in my life. Or at least that's what I tell myself, but I know that isn't actually true. If I had a book in front of my face as often as I have my phone to my face, I'd have read through the local library by now. 

It got me thinking. When can I have this built-in reading time during my day? Which led me to think about how tired I've been lately. How I seem to be fighting low energy daily. Which  made me think about my late bedtime and how it's just not sustainable. 

So I spent some time today day-dreaming. Dreaming about my day-to-day. Writing out a little mock schedule with an ideal bedtime, and the things it would take to lead me to get into bed at that time. I wrote out what an ideal morning would look like: up at 7, shower, contacts and coffee by 8. Bible reading during breakfast. Everybody ready for the day by 8:30 or 9. I decided I sleep best after a hot bath. So a hot bath is scheduled each night at 10 sharp. Bedtime at 10:30. 

The schedule feels doable, and feels healthy. I have a list of things I want to fit in to my days, if possible: reading time, time for art, time for blogging, play dates, individual play time, day adventures. I made a list of things that don't fit into my day: facebook and other distractions. I'll save most computer stuff for after the kids are in bed. I took instagram off of my phone.

The schedule will serve as a rough guideline. I know some days I'll pull it off, and other days I won't. But it was so empowering and luxurious to sit down and think carefully about my days and how we spend our time. I even made a list of adjectives describing how I want our days to feel and what I could do to ensure each day feels that way.

It was a great practice and I highly recommend doing it for yourself. But now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go get in the tub. And read a book. It's on the schedule.

february reflections/ postpartum and naming my fears


I actually have felt myself growing this month. I feel wide open, aware of my weaknesses and am able to look right at them. Aware of my fears. Able to name them. It's not often I have this sort of clarity, so I am counting this as a blessing, though it is a vulnerable place to land.

I chose this picture to put with this post because I want my kids to forever see me growing and becoming the woman God made me to be. I want them to see me treat myself kindly, listen for God's leading and not afraid to be vulnerable and tender.

February Reflections:
A Humbling: Without going into all of the details I have been humbled this month like I have never been humbled before. In a task that I felt fully confident and empowered to lead, I think I may have missed the mark. And this has left me with my head bowed, my heart softened and my ego deflated.

God's Will: I have a dear friend who has lost three babies. I heard a story of three sisters in a fatal accident that knocked the wind out of me. I have a friend who just had her ultrasound and was told the very thing a mom and a dad hope never to hear. It has left me in a place where I wonder why some live to 98 and others will never take a breath out of the womb. But I've been reading my Bible and finding comfort. And that feels good. And better than good, it feels loving. I always feel so loved when God continues to teach me. Through Job and Isaiah, Matthew and Paul I am learning much.

Postpartum: I looked up symptoms and signs of Postpartum Depression. I found one very helpful site that listed six surprising symptoms. Anger and Irritability was number one. Trouble falling asleep and going back to sleep was number two. I've had these symptoms in spades and I took some comfort just knowing there really are intense hormones at play in my body. I also think this has been a long winter and that moving to a new home has played into my daily outlook, but I also think postpartum is real and I've been affected.*

Hard on myself: I think this is a result of the above, but I have been terrible to myself. I come home from gatherings and replay every stupid thing I said. I beat myself up for having talked too much. I replay conversations and feel guilty for having missed obvious topics that deserved a quality follow up question. It's ridiculous. I can write about this today because I had a nice day of good conversations. But I have spent far too many evenings laying in bed wishing I had acted differently, reacted differently, said something or not said something. It's exhausting. And it is time to start accepting myself, foot in mouth and all.

And so this is where I begin the month of March. I have a few goals for this new month:
1. Be nicer to myself
2. Keep reading my Bible
3. Pray and Meditate
4. Get outside for walks, take my multivitamin, buy more daffodils and tulips, drink lots of fresh squeezed citrus juice and play more music

March should be good. It's my birthday month, afterall!