Monday, December 17, 2012

A Recap of Aaron's 8th birthday

I surprised Aaron, by making him a baseball themed cake. He was only expecting a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.
We invited a couple of his friends over for a "make your own pizza" dinner and birthday cake.

He got a book from one of his favorite book series.

A Webkinz caterpillar.

Money from Mamaw and Papaw.

Money (and an awesome frog book) from Nanny and Pupup.

Aaron has been saving his money since this past summer ... so he mostly got gifts of money. He's not quite to his goal yet. (He wants to buy an ipod touch) He'll get there eventually.

He chose pasta, sauce, and meatballs for his birthday dinner and Daddy took him to the Olive Garden for his special father/son birthday lunch.
I can't believe he's 8!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happy 8th Birthday, Aaron!!!

Happy Birthday, Aaron!

It's so hard to believe that you are 8 years old! We are so proud of you, Aaron! I am so thankful for your sweet spirit and loving heart. I love how much you care about others and think about how you can help others. You make me smile each and every day! You have a special God-given gift in encouraging others with your words. I am constantly encouraged by your kind words toward me.

I love you, sweet boy!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

I got my first deer

We hit a deer the other was not fun. Thankfully, no one was hurt (unless you count the deer). It could have been much worse. I was going 55 mph when I hit it.
The minivan is being fixed...and I might even be able to drive again at night...although right now it's a little too fresh.
Martin saw it and was in the process of warning me when it happened. Aaron had the hardest time with it. He is so tender hearted and was devastated that we hurt the deer. Jonathan was not at all upset...he's a tough boy. Rosalie didn't see anything...and was fine until we got home and she saw the damage to the car. She started crying at that point.
I'm so thankful for God's protection over us. It could have been do much worse!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Martin's Testimony

As promised, I am going to share Martin's Testimony. These are his words straight from his mouth. I only did the typing.

It started 3 years ago when I told my Mama and my Daddy that I wanted to be like Jesus. Everyday since then, I've been struggling with whether God existed or not. I wanted to believe it for myself and not because Mama and Daddy told me to believe it. I told Mama that if God would show me a miracle I would believe. 
On Wednesday, November 14, 2012, we were listening to the song Power of the Cross, in the car on the way to the church building. While we were listening to the song, I heard a voice in my head saying, "Believe it now, Believe it now!!!"I told Mama about it and she stopped the car and we prayed together. During those 3 years, I had no peace because I was struggling. Now that I have become a Christian, I finally have peace.

Mama told me later that day - that the day before I became a Christian, she had spent time praying over the song, Power of the Cross. She prayed that God would use it to move me and speak to me, so that I would become a believer. That's when I realized that God had given me my miracle.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Intellect vs. Heart Part Three

I mentioned that Martin said that he just knew that he could believe that God existed if God would give him a shout. I told him that in my experience, God has always spoken to me through His Word and through gentle whispers. He still insisted that he needed a shout. I am so thankful that we serve a God who is not limited to my experience. It wasn't but a couple days later that God gave me a shout.
The worship pastor at our church called me one Saturday night to ask me if I would sing lead on a song the next day in church to fill in for someone who was sick. I said that I'd be happy to do that. So, I put the children to bed and went to my room to practice the song. I sang through the song one time and then began to have a quiet time of prayer. I prayed that when I helped lead in worship the next day that it would be all about Him and not about me. I prayed that God would increase and that I would decrease. I finished my time of prayer and then began to practice the song for the next day. 2 minutes later, I was completely unable to sing a single note. My singing voice was gone. Strangely enough, I could still talk ... I just couldn't sing. Of course, my first thought was ... THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEANT!! Clearly, though, God was trying to teach me something, so I calmly drank an entire glass of water and went to bed. At that point, I just needed to trust that God would restore my voice by the time that I needed it. (especially considering that I was already the back-up!)
The next morning my voice was still all out of sorts, but by the time I needed to sing in the first service my voice was fully restored. 
Was that God's way of sending Martin a shout? I shared the whole story with Martin and while he thought it was absolutely amazing ... his reply was, "That is pretty amazing, but I really want the shout to happen to me ... and that happened to you!"
Okay. I will not be discouraged!! God is faithful and will see us both through this process. I was humbled to see God's mighty hand working in my own life in the area of trusting Him. I knew that He was busy working on Martin's heart!
A few days later, I got all the music for the Thanksgiving service at our church and was listening to it and learning the songs that I didn't already know. The one new song in the set that I didn't know was called The Power of the Cross by Shelley Johnson. The song deals with the contrast of being in Christ and being without Christ. ("Once in darkness, now in light. Once bound, now free, once a sinner now a saint... That's the Power of the cross ... see the chains fall")
I read through the words one time and immediately started praying over the song. I prayed that God would use that song to move Martin ... that He would reveal Martin's great need for the Power of the Cross!
The very next day as we were driving down the road, I played the song for the children for the first time. We got about half way through the song when Martin said, "Mama, Mama I have voices in my head saying, BELIEVE NOW, BELIEVE NOW!!!"
I said, "Are you serious, Martin, because if you are serious, I will pull over right now!!"
He said, "Yes, I am serious!!"
So, I pulled over, put on my hazard lights, got Martin out of the van and we kneeled down on our knees in the Lowes Foods Parking Lot and he prayed that God would save him.
I am humbled. I am grateful. I am amazed at the AWESOME God that we serve. 
God wasn't only SHOUTING into Martin's life. He was SHOUTING into my life. Tomorrow, I will share Martin's testimony. He wrote it last week and the words are all his and from his perspective. His words are precious! 
All glory to God for his hand in our lives. He cares about the details of our lives. He doesn't always work in ways that are predictable. He can do far more than we can imagine. Martin has struggled for a long time, but now he is at perfect peace. He told me a couple days later that he finally has peace. 
God won Martin over for His kingdom and now I am praying that Martin will be an instrument in His hands.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Intellect vs. Heart Part Two

So, what now?

It started with subtle comments here and there from Martin. He would say things like, "Is there such a thing as someone who doesn't  believe in anything at all?" or "I just don't understand how God has no beginning." Philosophical questions challenging all that we have ever taught him started surfacing every single day. At first, I wondered if it was just an emotional reaction from him. Perhaps he was just trying to hurt me because he knows how deeply I desire to follow God and walk in His ways. There were times that I definitely think his mood was driving the rash and hurtful things he said. It didn't take long for me to realize, though, that he really was digging for deeper philosophical answers to the hard questions that I am not so sure that I've even taken the time to consider. 
I am not the deep philosophical thinker that my husband is. I accepted the truth of the gospel the very first time I heard it. I followed with a child-like faith and that child-like faith has remained intact until this very day. 
Martin has approached this entire issue with a desire to explore those deep philosophical questions and come up with some concrete answers that will satisfy the intellectual needs that he has. 
He has been frustrated to the point of tears over it. We had been having pretty deep conversations about it almost on a daily basis. There was a crazy battle going on inside of him. It was a battle between his intellectual desire for answers and his heart. He would tell me that there is a key to all of it and he just needed to find the key. He has also said that he just wished that God would send him a SHOUTING sign that He is really there. (I've had the opportunity to share with Martin many examples in my own life of God making himself known to me ... and that it never happened in a shouting way ... in my experience it almost always came as more of a whisper)
Rich and I are still stood by our guiding principle to not coerce him. He is a very intelligent boy. Every time he wanted to talk about it, we talked. I prayed for him constantly. Martin had a deep desire to see something concrete that would prove to him that there is a loving God out there somewhere, so my prayers for him were that God would reveal himself to Martin.
So, what did I do with a 10 year old child, who had been home schooled his entire life, that I have poured myself into, taught scriptures every day of his life, prayed for him every day since he was conceived ... when he started to question everything I'd ever taught him?

I REJOICED! I WEEPED! I PRAYED! And I GAVE THANKS that I had a child on my hands who thought so deeply and independently about such important issues. I RESTED in knowing that God had His hand on Martin. I ANTICIPATED the day when Martin would have worked out his salvation and have complete confidence that he is saved ... and he wouldn't have to rely on my memory of him being saved. 

I'd much rather he work these things out in a satisfactory way right now as a 10 year old in my home than as a 20 year old living away from me. As hard as this road was to walk at times, I hope that all of my children ask these hard questions, work them out in a way that brings them to a greater knowledge of who God is,  a deeper faith, and a stronger desire to follow and be obedient to a loving God.

To be continued...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Intellect vs. Heart Part One

I have not had much time for blogging lately. The older my children get the more time I seem to spend in the car taking them to and from band or to and from baseball practice. So, my time at home is spent schooling, cleaning, or cooking. (and with the gluten free needs in our home, I spend even more time in the kitchen than before ... and that's hard for anyone to believe!)

I have been dealing with an issue over the last few months, though, that I want to address. The topic is salvation. The person is Martin. About 3 years ago, Martin spent an entire day wrestling over salvation and God giving him a new heart. He spent the day asking questions and mulling over Jesus and His perfection and even started crying at one point telling me that he wished that he could be like Jesus ... because Jesus never sinned. He seemed to be so keenly aware of the sin in his life that he knew he wasn't able to obtain perfection and needed to be saved. So, that night before he went to bed, he prayed a beautiful prayer and asked God for a new heart. I wrote down every detail of that entire day, so that I could remember the beautiful innocence of it and the prayer that came out of his mouth when he asked for a new heart.
2 things:
1. Rich and I have made it our policy to flood our children with the truth of God's Word. 
2.We have a strict NO COERCING policy when it comes to salvation. So, we teach, but don't push or ask them if they want to be saved. We want them to come to us, and seek out salvation on their own. We have the same philosophy about Baptism. We want it to be their idea ... not something that we suggest.

That is exactly what happened that day. Martin kept seeking me out with many questions all throughout the day. I answered thoroughly and would move on to whatever else I was doing. He kept coming back and asking more. It seemed real and genuine and everything we had hoped it would be. 

I'll admit it. I am a skeptic when it comes to young children and salvation.  I was a young child of only 7 years old when I was saved, and I was saved after hearing the gospel for the very first time. I never doubted my own salvation. I knew that it was very real for a couple of reasons. I never forgot the moment that I made the decision, and from the moment that I was saved I became a new person. I immediately knew that my life was forever changed by God's mercy and grace. I knew that I should be reading my Bible and praying every day. And I did. I didn't have to be reminded or told to do those things. I wanted to do those things. At the time I was saved, we didn't go to church regularly and we were getting ready to move to Iceland. We didn't go to church while we lived in Iceland, but even without a church, I knew that I needed to have a relationship with a loving God. So, even though my own experience was as a young child, when it came to my own children I still remained skeptical. (my experience is that I can get my child to agree to just about anything I say to them ... which is another reason we have a no coercion policy!)
Back to Martin ... after Martin asked for a new heart ... nothing really changed. I didn't see real fruit in his life. I began to doubt whether or not his life had really changed. I doubted whether or not he really understood what salvation was all about. 
Fast forward to today ... 
Martin is now 10 years old and has no recollection of that day that he asked for a new heart.  I even let him read my detailed account of that day ... even the words he prayed ... and he has no memory of it whatsoever!
It is as if it never happened.
As a fairly intellectual 10 year old boy with no memory of what I thought was his salvation experience, he was struggling each and every day with deep philosophical questions on the existence of God. For the past 3 months we have been having exhausting philosophical conversations that sometimes felt as though they were leading nowhere. 
So, what do you when you have a child who is clearly seeking, exploring, and even disputing some of the truth that you have been speaking into his life?
To be continued...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jonathan's 6th Birthday!

Oh yes I did! I made another tank cake!  A cake like this one is quite memorable and Jonathan announced a few weeks ago that he wanted his cake to be an army tank. Since I'd tackled it before, I figured I could tackle it again. 

Front View
Other side view

Jonathan opened up his gift from Nanny and Pupup first thing after he woke up on the morning of his birthday!

It was PERECT for Jonathan! It doesn't get much better than army stuff for this boy!

A little later he was off for his annual birthday lunch with Daddy. He chose the mexican restaurant ... this is a boy who loves tacos!

Then it was home for a house full of friends to celebrate his birthday. We chowed down on tank cake and ice cream and then opened gifts!

I loved that as he opened his gifts he had friends surrounding him and even up on the chair with him!

It was a special day from start to finish for Jonathan and I cannot believe my youngest son is 6 years old!

(And for those of you who are wondering ... I didn't make him a special birthday dinner on his actual birthday ... the day was just too full of other things to pull that off. So, a couple days later I made his favorite (for now) meal ... pasta, sauce, and meatballs)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hillridge Farms Fun Day!

It is that time of year again!!! One of my favorite things about the Fall is going to Hillridge Farms! Last year my Mom was unable to go with us because of her accident ... but this year she was able to go and spend the day there with us! It was a fantastic day! We started with the jumping pillow!

Who wouldn't love to jump on a gigantic pillow?

We had a great time riding on the train!

Everyone had to pick out the "perfect" pumpkin!

I think the corn house is quite possible the most favorite thing for all 4 of my children! Once the crowds died down after lunch they spent almost an hour playing in there!

We LOVE the gigantic slide!

I love this picture of my Mom and Rosalie!

I'm so thankful we were able to go once again this year ... and especially thankful that my Mom was able to join us this year!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Oh My how she has grown!

I was just recently looking back at old photos and was struck by how much my "baby" has grown! I am thrilled with each new stage and so thankful for my little girl ... but when I look back at pictures like the one above I cannot help but be reminiscent of days gone by! Rosalie sure is full of joyful energy!

She doesn't hesitate to pose for the camera!

And while she can throw a temper tantrum like the best of them ... she really is as sweet as this pictures looks! Her big (almost) black eyes melt me every time I look into them!

She is also every bit as sassy as this picture indicates!  I love how she can dig in the dirt and run as fast or faster than any boy her age ... but is as girly as you can imagine when she is playing doll babies with her sweet friend, Hannah. She never stops talking or singing. She sings as much as she talks, and I will admit we have to ask her often to stop talking so that someone else can get a word in edgewise. Martin often suggests duct tape for her mouth. (no worries ... it's just a running joke!)
Rosalie has recently started writing her name ... on her own without help! We are amazed at how finely tuned her motor skills are at this age. (it's very different from what we experienced with the boys) She spells her name R O S A L E .
She forgets the "I" almost every single time ... but she's starting to catch herself.
She is a JOY! I am so thankful for my precious girl!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Political Boy

I didn't realize until just recently that when Martin sits with us each morning while we watch the news he actually watches and listens. He has been incredibly interested in this political election season ... and especially in who will be our next president.
A few days ago, he decided to make some posters for his candidate of choice...and then pass them out around the neighborhood. I am not surprised that a child of my husband's is already thinking about politics and government. Martin has also insisted that we record all the debates ... and he has watched them in their entirety the next day. I often wonder how much of the rhetoric he understands and I am amazed that he cares so much about it. I do hope that as he grows up he will continue to care, be thankful that we live in the USA, and be a passionate voter in the election process.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Aaron's Season comes to a close

Aaron had a great experience playing fall baseball! His last game was this past weekend. I am so  thankful for our next door neighbors who helped in teaching Aaron some important skills necessary for playing the game. My wonderful neighbor spent some time watching Aaron try to swing and hit and discovered some things that Aaron needed to fix. Aaron listened carefully, made the necessary changes ... and was able to start hitting the ball! So, in his last two games he got 5 hits that got him to 1st base all 5 times ... and was able to get home 4 of those times! I am so thankful that my neighbor could help - we aren't exactly knowledgeable about the whole baseball thing ... so having neighbors who are ... really helps!! He played outfield often and he also ... to play the position of catcher quite a bit and he really loved it!

Here is a shot of his entire team and his coaches. I look forward to signing Aaron up for some Spring Baseball! He is already excited about the next season. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Lighting is poor ... quality is not the best ... but oh how I love these two pictures.  I was in the kitchen washing dishes and the rest of my family was snuggling in together on the couch. I had to stop what I was doing to capture the moment. Daddy had been gone all day long and the children just wanted to be with him. Nothing else mattered. 

I am so thankful for these 5 amazing people. What a joy it is to be in this family. I hope they grow up knowing that I love being the wife and Mommy of this family more than anything in the world. My heart is full.
My days are busy, full, and loud. I have moments that I want to run for the cover of silence. I don't want to paint an unrealistic picture of my life. I just want to pause and have a heart of thankfulness. I want to be thankful in all of my moments.  I want to live my faith in front of my children.
What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gluten-Free Granola Bars

Incredible! I started with the granola bar recipe that I have been using for several years now and changed it in several ways to make it gluten free.
I eliminated the oats and doubled the gluten-free Rice Krispie cereal. So, instead of 1 1/2 Cup Oats, and 1 1/2 Cup Rice Krispies ... I use 3 Cups Rice Krispies.
I also added flax seed, xanthan gum, and an extra egg. I use Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour instead of wheat flour.
They turned out GREAT! I actually think they are better than my other Gluten-FULL recipe.

Here is the recipe:
You will need 2 bowls.
In the first bowl combine:
1 Cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 stick of butter
1/2 Cup natural peanut butter (gluten free)

In the 2nd bowl combine:
3 Cups Gluten-Free Rice Krispies
1 1/3 Cup All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
1 teaspoon salt

1 scant teaspoon of xanthan gum
1/2 Cup ground almonds (not flour)
1/4 Cup plus 1/8 Cup of ground flax seed

1/2 teaspoon of soda

Mix wet ingredients well, then add dry ingredients and mix well.
Once mixed together add:
1 Cup of Unsweetened Coconut
1 Cup of chocolate chips

Press into a well greased 11X13 baking pan. (make sure you press the mixture down well!)

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes.

Cut into bars while still warm.

I store mine in the refrigerator. I find that they stay together better when they are cold. Rich also prefers them cold.


Monday, September 24, 2012


Martin is taking band - learning the trumpet  - 2 days each week. (an hour each time)

I'm teaching Kindergarten, 3rd grade and 5th grade. (The picture above is a history project that Martin was working on last week) I get up at 6 AM every morning and start school with Martin and then we break for breakfast and I school the other 2 boys while Martin is working on his independent work.  School makes every day busy! I've been having a tough time figuring out how to get all the routine house work done with all the time I spend schooling ... and now the other time we spend going to band and baseball. Blogging just hasn't been happening lately! 
Eye appointments for the 2 middle boys. It's that time of year to check the eyes and pick out new glasses. My boys LOVE going to see Dr. Bailey!  They also love that they get to pick out new glasses!

Lots of baseball going on ... practices and games. Aaron LOVES baseball! He's having such a great time learning the game. I am so glad we signed him up! He got a home run on his 2nd game. Oh, yes... that boy was very happy!
I almost forgot to mention AWANA! We have AWANA every Wednesday. Rich was concerned (rightly so) that I would be so overwhelmed by the schedule that I would be a basket case ... and there fore not so much fun to live with this fall. I have accepted the challenge to not get overwhelmed ... and enjoy this busy-ness and do my best to stay on top of everything. So far so good. Rich is also very busy this fall.
Even though we are busy, we are still gathering together each night to eat a family meal together, and having great conversations. The questions I have been getting from Martin and Aaron are pretty amazing. We are having deep spiritual conversations and they are asking questions that I would have never known to ask at their age. I hope and pray that this line of open communication that I have with my children will remain as they get older. It's pretty fantastic!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My budding artist!

Rosalie handed me this sweet picture the other day. The figure on the right is Daddy and Mommy is on the left. I was incredibly impressed with the detail! 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Aaron's First Baseball Game

Aaron had an AMAZING first baseball game! Here doesn't have nearly as much experience as most of the boys on the field ... so he's figuring things out as he goes along. He's having such a great time with it and is loving every minute of it!

Aaron got to bat 3 times during this game. He hit the ball every single time! I was so excited for him! The first two times he made it to first, and the third time he got out. I was just thrilled he hit the ball every time. (many of you may know that I don't know very much about baseball ... or about any other sport for that matter. In fact, I have always had the urge to take a book with me to sporting events, so that I would have something to do. I have to tell you, though, that sporting events become CRAZY exciting when you have a child out on the field!) 

One of the times that Aaron hit and made it to 1st base ... he was able to run to 2nd and then to 3rd by other base hitters. Unfortunately, he never got to run home before the team hit the 3 strikes out mark. (please excuse me if I am not using proper baseball terminology ... I'm still learning, afterall!)

I may not love baseball ... but I sure do LOVE how much my Aaron loves it!

I am so excited that Aaron has the opportunity to play baseball this fall.  He has already improved in his skill and ability a lot since he started, and I am looking forward to seeing him improve even more as the season progresses!