Monday, January 30, 2012

Our Entry into Homeschooling

   Last week, Caleb and I began homeschooling.
So, on the days he doesn't go to his wonderful preschool,
he gets to do some school work with me.

It has been something I have wanted to do for years.
 And, we are both thoroughly enjoying it.
I love watching his mind work, 
and I am so grateful to get to watch how he develops.

I am so thankful for this opportunity.
And if you're interested, I am (at this point) using a blend of Sonlight, Timberdoodle, My Father's World, How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and random books and tools I have found at garage sales over the years.  :-) 
And, I also welcome any advice for a homeschool newbie.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Holding on to Hope

Several weeks ago, my pastor shared a copy of
a talk given by Nancy Guthrie at a Peacemakers conference.
It was called Holding on to Hope.
On Thursday, I listened to it...
then I listened to it again...
and again.

It was that good.
It is the best talk on suffering I have heard so far.
In it, she says:

We think He hasn't delivered on the promise
we thought He had made to us.
We tend to define love as a commitment to our comfort.
But God's love for you and me is not defined nor expressed most significantly
by God's willingness to make us comfortable or successful or healthy or happy.
 God's love for us is defined by His commitment to our ultimate good 
and our eternal, unending joy...
which is found only in relationship with Him.

Nancy knows what it means to suffer.
The next time you're making dinner or washing the dishes,
check out her story.  It will definitely be time well spent.

You can find the video of her talk here.
You can also find the audio here if you would like to download it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Faith and Hope in Tragedy: My Favorite Example

Eleven years ago yesterday, an event occurred that changed my life forever.

It was a Friday night.  I was in my last semester at Purdue University, and I had just finished my third week of student teaching.  After a long day at school and a commute to which I was still adjusting, I was exhausted.  A lot of friends of mine were getting together, and I decided to join spite of the strong inclination to head home for bed.

As we were hanging out, a friend came in from outside with a horrific announcement.  There had been a tragic car accident.  Three of our friends had driving home for a birthday party when the car hit ice and collided with a semi.  One of them, Matt Cahill, had been killed instantly.  The others, Matt and Jake Cushman (brothers), had been critically injured and were being transported to a hospital in a city.

Shock set in immediately.  There aren't words to express the pain that engulfed us as we cried together and sought to comfort one well as try to grasp the ramifications of what we had just learned.  Though we were all eager to make the trip immediately, the snowstorm that had caused the accident prevented us from driving across the state of Indiana to the hospital.  So, we waited until morning to set out.

I don't remember who was in my car as we were driving.  I don't remember how we received the news.  All I remember is that I had to pull over once we received word of Jake's death that morning.  The tears were falling so hard that it made driving impossible.

Two of our good friends had just died, and one was still in critical condition.

We arrived at the hospital broken and sad...heartbroken over the loss of such good friends and deeply concerned about Matt's condition.  I will never forget what happened next.  Matt and Jake's father, Tom, gathered us together in a circle to pray.  The words that came out of his mouth as he began to pray have impacted me in such a way that they have burned in my memory these eleven years: 

"Though He slay me,
yet will I hope in Him (Job 13:15)." 

How could he pray that?  How could he declare that he would continue to trust God when one son had died just hours before and the other son remained in critical condition with a traumatic brain injury?  This man's life and family had just been changed forever.  Yet, he was choosing to believe that God was still good.  And, in doing so, God was showing a group of young college students what faith looks like.

Eleven years later, the example of my friends' father challenges me still.  When the storm surrounds me and the circumstances of my life seem too painful to bear, I know that the One in whom Job hoped...the One in whom my friends' father the only One in whom I can place my hope.  He alone is my firm foundation...and He is so worthy of my trust.  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28)."

In the wake of the accident, we saw His goodness and His faithfulness.  The Lord answered our prayers as Matt slowly recovered from his brain injury. And, in the midst of our mourning, we watched as God moved in countless lives on campus as only He can.

Three months earlier in the fall of that year, these three young men had been leaders in an innovative outreach that touched every single person on the campus of Purdue University: the Do You Agree With Matt? campaign. There was not a student in our school of 40,000 people who had not at least heard of Matt Cahill.  So, when news broke on campus three months later of his death, the story he had shared so often during that campaign became campus, city, and even statewide news.  And, people who had three months earlier declared they did NOT agree with Matt began to be impacted by the hope that he had so courageously and publicly shared three months earlier...a hope in Jesus Christ.

And, that hope was no longer necessary.  Faith had become sight.

Thank You, Jesus.

To read more about the Do You Agree With Matt? campaign, read this article and this article

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How to Draw a "Battletank"

make gif

The other day Caleb asked me,
"Do you want to know how to draw a battletank?"
I did, actually.
And, I thought I'd share with case you wanted to know.  :-)
He draws them everywhere...on sidewalks, on paper, on his chalkboard doors.
 When I asked him where he learned to draw them,
he says he "teached" himself.
Cute kid.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Our Camping Adventure

Last weekend, my wonderful friend, Renee, and I went camping.
Renee is my kindred spirit when it comes to nature and adventure...
and we were both desperately needing to be outside.

So, we packed up the car, said goodbye to our families, and headed to a nearby state park.
After setting up camp, we enjoyed the beautiful sunset.
As we watched, we spotted a group of animals we had never seen before.
They are called javelina and are somewhat related to wild pigs.  So cool.

Then, we walked across the rocks to take the opportunity
to observe the night sky through a powerful telescope.
And, we saw this:
It's Jupiter and three of its moons.  It was beautiful.
I took this photo through the eyepiece of the telescope, 
and so you can't see the lines of the storm at the center of the planet.  But, our eyes could.
This particular park is in the middle of nowhere, so the stars at night are amazing.
I shot this photo of star trails there a few years ago.

Later, as we were enjoying the fire, the wind started to pick up.
And, by "pick up," I mean it started blowing so hard
that we had to scramble to find our things that had begun to blow away.
As I was putting some of those things in the tent,
I quickly felt it starting to collapse on me.
The wind had broken our tent.

We aren't meteorologists,
but we estimated the wind gusts to be around 50mph.

So, we put out the fire and settled in for the night in our minivan...
where it was warm and quiet and safe from the wind that howled all night.
We may not have been outside,
but we still had lots of fun talking and reading.
 And, I got my beauty fix.

To both of our husbands who watched the kids...
Thank you.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

His Room

After three months of waiting,
we began the process of taking our baby boy's nursery down,
and we put away most of his things.

It was incredibly difficult.
But, the same God who walked us through the unknowns last summer as we created it,
carried us as we took apart the crib, packed up the clothes, and stored the memories in a chest.
And, the same God who was writing the story when we took the crib down the first time,
will continue to show us all the goodness of His plan.
Our dreams are in His hands.

These words, this song, and the verses below are meaning a lot to me tonight:

You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
Psalm 56:8

 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD. 
Psalm 55:8

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Post-Christmas Gingerbread Destruction

We started a new tradition today:  destroying our gingerbread houses.
He was initially a little sad at the thought, but it was better than the alternative...the trash can.
It was really fun...especially for a boy.

 3 things  about our little boy:

He can't really be described as physically affectionate.
He really likes to destroy things.
He has A LOT of personality.

I am linking up with Emily today.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sick Day

This is my photo for today...Caleb sitting in front of the tv with Koala.
He is doing better now with a humidifier and some sleep.
 I really love that boy...and hanging out with him on the couch.

p.s.  Take a look at the wonderful room my super talented sister-in-law, Julia, created for her girls.
I am linking directly to the post, but make sure you look at her previous post about their first floor.
They recently bought a house from the 1800's and are making it beautiful.  :-)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Project 365

In the four years since I have had a DSLR,
I have wanted to complete a Project 365...a photo a day for a year.
Fear of failure has kept me from attempting it.
But, the daily record that we now have of our sweet baby's 67 days are precious to me.
That, plus the desire to improve in photography, have been enough motivation to do it this year.
I am not sure in what format I am going to share them online,
but I know I want to make a book...probably like this one.

 Have you...or anyone you know...ever completed this?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Five Months

This beautiful little guy would have turned five-months-old today.

As I look at this photo (one I thought I had lost),
I so want to kiss that sweet little nose...that lovable face.
As I look at others,
I can still feel the weight of his body in my arms...
and the feel of his skin as I held him.
I'm grateful for that.

They say that grief looks differently for everyone.
Right now, it looks like smudges from kisses on the glass of two picture frames.
It looks like a pile of lego guys, parachutes, candy and even a gun given to a baby brother.
And, it looks like an ever-growing list of examples of God's faithfulness to us.

p.s. Tomorrow morning starts the Hello Mornings challenge.
It isn't too late to join if you'd like to join our Facebook group.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Family Christmas

You would think by looking at these photos that they were taken about three weeks ago.
Nope.  I took them today. 

Yes.  We still have our Christmas decorations up. 
In fact, I haven't even unplugged the lights outside our living room window.
And, I still have a few more Christmas cards to send out.  :-)

Today, we finally had our Christmas together as a family.
Travel pushed things back.  We didn't want to carry gifts on an airplane.  So, we waited.
The little boy was most excited about the Nerf guns with targets and protective eye glasses
that I found last summer almost new at a garage sale for $5.

I heart garage sales.
But, I am not too excited about all the orange darts I will be finding in the future.
Now...I think it's finally time to start the annual holiday tear down.
Sorry, neighbors.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Embracing the Camera

Last weekend, I found some photos of Jude that I thought
I had lost or accidentally erased...including some favorites.
It was so very good for my heart to find them.

I am sharing this one that Brandon took for Embrace the Camera today.
If you haven't checked out Emily's blog,
she encourages moms to get out from behind the camera occasionally.
It's pretty much every Thursday.

Check it out here:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


With the husband home, I was able to get out today and do some hiking.
I really needed both the beauty and the exercise.
Somewhere mixed in with the goals I shared earlier,
is the universal New Year's resolution:
I want to exercise more.

Part of the Hello Mornings challenge each morning is to do 4 things:
Get out of bed.
Spend time with Jesus through prayer and reading/studying the Bible.
Plan your day.

I am not too unrealistic to think that I can do them all each day...
especially because the little boy's wake-up time varies.
And, schedules can be inconsistent.
But, it is so good for me to have a plan.

Tsh Oxenreider (Simple Mom) recently wrote an article with some helpful thoughts
In it, she writes of the importance of taking baby steps
as well as the importance of accountability, or making your resolution public.

I know I definitely need the accountability...
and this challenge (and blogging) has already helped with that.
I really want to reshape my mornings...
and as a result, my days.
Also, I am thinking that if I want to change my morning routine,
I am going to need to change my evening routine as well.

So, I will no longer blog every night...
so I can try to make it to bed a little earlier.
I still hope to blog consistently, but I really want to make Jesus first.
I need Him pretty desperately.

What helps you stick with your resolutions?

Monday, January 9, 2012


Brandon came home tonight from a hunting trip...
and we are quite happy about it.
We really like him around.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy Centennial, New Mexico!

Our beautiful state became a century old yesterday!

We celebrated today by attending the Centennial parade
and hanging out at the farmer's market all day.
And...we were warm in our short-sleeved shirts.  :-)

I love this state.

I am fascinated by its history, its culture and its beauty.
We have breathtaking sunsets, amazing stars, gorgeous colors,
lovely weather, wonderful people, and super fun mountains.

And, we're close to that other country I love so much.

Happy 100th Birthday, New Mexico!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Whole Hearts

I am a big fan of Matt and Sarah Hammitt...and what God is doing through them.  When Bowen was diagnosed with HLHS, they could have responded differently.  Instead, they trusted Him and let Him use their story to touch the lives of countless others...including every person in my family.

Matt visited us in the hospital on the day of Jude's surgery.  At the time, he didn't know that his wonderful wife was my friend from years ago...or that songs from his CD Every Falling Tear were on repeat in Jude's hospital room...and had been used by God to prepare us to love our son when we were so scared to lose him.  He had simply heard that there was a family in a hospital at a stop on his band's tour...a family whose child had congenital heart defects.  And, he made himself available to be used by the Lord through a visit.

The Hammitts have begun a foundation called Whole Hearts.  The foundation's mission statement is to share God’s love by providing education, support, connections, and innovation for the families of a child living with pediatric congenital heart disease—without boundaries of faith, culture, or economic standing.  We saw a glimpse of that through Matt's visit...and I am excited to see how the foundation grows.  I thank God for how He will use Matt and Sarah to bless the families of children born with congenital heart disease.  He already has done so with us...and I will forever be grateful.

1 out of every 100 children born has a congenital heart defect.  Would you please pray for the Hammitts as they follow the Lord to love in very practical ways the families of these children? It is a very real need to be met.  Would you please pray as well for sweet little Bowen?  You can read more below.

Check out this ABC story about Matt and Sarah and Whole Hearts. It is especially cute when Bowen speaks.
Check out their new Whole Hearts website.
Check out Bowen's story.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Boy's Mom

Because I am his mom...
I get to watch him stick his tongue out when concentrating.
I get to watch his mind work while trying to figure out how to put something together.
I help build the lego sets that might be a tad too complicated for a five-year-old.
I am often asked to "play" legos...which I remain very bad at...but am trying to say "yes" to.
I loved this post: 25 Rules for Moms of Boys.

I am linking up with Emily today:

Hello Mornings

I am so excited that some of you are going to join me in some of my goals.  Thanks!  :-) I am looking forward to the encouragement of simply doing it together.  I am sure we'll all benefit.

If you want to join in on the Hello Mornings challenge but didn't register in time, join our HolaMaƱanas group on Facebook.  The registration deadline allows them to have time to assign groups. So if you're not joining a group, it is never too late to join.  Even if you have registered and will potentially be signed up for a group, I think you can still change your preferences to "I am part of a pre-planned group" through the original email Kat sent out.  Feel free to invite friends if there is someone you think would like to do it with you.

The challenge doesn't start until the 16th, but I think I might start early.  As evidenced by my late posts, I am a night owl.  I love nights.  But, I tend to love my days a lot better when I try to love mornings.  :-)  So, I am looking forward to this challenge to help me move more in that direction.

If you're reading the Bible chronologically, I am reworking the pdf into bookmarks to use in my Bible.  Let me know if you'd like one when they're done.  We are four days in, and I was already pretty far behind.  I can use all the help I can get. 

This little girl was so happy to see us when we got home tonight.  She is lying on my arms as I type this.  :-)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Upside Down Mazes

Caleb really likes mazes...and he is surprisingly good at them.  His latest book of mazes is a little too simple for him, so Brandon gave him the extra challenge of holding him upside down.  So cute.  These two entertain me all the time.  Who needs movies?  :-)

Tomorrow, we finish the final leg of our annual winter travels as we make the long drive home.  I am really eager to get home.  This week has been really difficult, and I am looking forward to routine again.  I know that things are going to be difficult for a while, but at least we will be home.  I like home. 

Thank you for praying.  Please pray for Ellie as well.  We got to see her at the hospital yesterday, and it was WONDERFUL.  Please pray that her EEG would reveal what they need it to.  You can read more here.  Thanks!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I have been thinking quite a bit about resolutions lately.  I love the idea of making them, but I am pretty awful at keeping them.  Nevertheless, I am trying again this year.

In A Life of Endurance, Randy Alcorn writes about the importance of finishing well.  He makes several points that have been resonating with me over this past month:

  • Everyday we're becoming someone -- the question is, who?
  • Who you will become will be the cumulative result of the daily choices you make.
  • You will become the product of what you choose to delight in and meditate upon.
  • Following Christ isn't magic. It requires repeated actions on our part, which develop into daily habits and life disciplines.
  • The key to spirituality is the development of little habits, such as Bible reading and memorization and prayer.

Who we become will be the cumulative result of the daily choices we make.  This has been so good for me to think about as I consider setting goals for the new year.  I know who I want to become.  I want to be someone who someday knows Jesus much better than I do today.  I want to grow in my love for Him and for others.  And, I can only do that by making deliberate decisions to seek Him.  And, I can only do that with His help.

So, I have set some goals:

  • I want to read the Bible in a chronological order.  I have tried it in the past, but I have never finished it.  So, this year, I am joining up with Joni Eareckson Tada.  
  • I want to memorize a small book of the Bible.  I am thinking Philippians, but I am not sure yet.  Ann Voskamp has a Colossians plan that I might try out.  
  • I want to make waking up early a habit.  Intentionally waking up instead of letting Caleb be my alarm clock has been so helpful in the past, and this e-book has helped me considerably.  I want to participate in the Hello Mornings challenge again.  I was unable to finish last time due to pregnancy-induced insomnia.  Registration ends tomorrow (1.3.12).

As I look at that list and think about my record with New Year's Eve resolutions, I can easily get discouraged.  But, it's not about perfection.  It's about pursuing Him...the Perfect One who gave His life for all my imperfections.

Let me know if you're interested in joining me on any of these.  :-)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Glory to God

Tonight was the last night of DCC.
It was the only session that Brandon and I attended together,
and the Lord met us there.
I was unable to be at our campus time afterwards because the little boy needed to sleep.
But,  I am beginning to hear amazing stories of the work of God in the lives of our students.
Thank You, Lord.

p.s.  Our friends' daughter, Ellie had a really long seizure today.
They are currently in the hospital with her and are hoping to do an EEG
to determine the cause of the seizures.  Please pray for them.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


One year ago today, I never could have imagined what 2011 would bring.  The news of a long awaited pregnancy was still fresh in our minds, and we were busy sharing our excitement with friends and family.  My thoughts were filled with nursery colors, and I was already testing out baby names.

One year later, books on grief and suffering have replaced the baby name books.  Instead of doctor visits, we are expecting many counseling appointments.  And, instead of excitedly telling friends about our news, we are attempting to put into words the answer to the question, "How are you doing?" 

Yet, throughout all that 2011 brought us, the Lord has been faithful.  He has been with us every step of the way, and we know Him better now than we did in 2010.  This past year...with all its pain, suffering and joy...has been a gift.

I don't know what 2012 will bring.  But, I know the One who does. 

And, I want to know Him better this time next year.  So, I am making a few plans for the new year.  I hope to share more soon, but until then...I hope you have a wonderful first day of 2012!  Happy New Year!