Sunday, January 4, 2015

celebrate intentionally

Please see my new site!  Click below...

Celebrate Intentionally

Friday, November 28, 2014

last post

Hi friends!  I want to spread the word one final time that I have changed the blog web address to:

Please come visit me over there and update all of your settings, links, follow buttons, etc. There are two days left to enter a give-away posted on the new site. Thanks for being a part of this journey!

and Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

visit the new web address!

After years at this web address, something has been prompting me to move to a new site. There are many small reasons, but the big one is that for privacy reasons I felt it was important to take our last name out of the web address.

Please visit my new site at:

Check it out soon because I am hosting my very first give-away of this item:

You need to visit the new site to enter the give-away, where you can also read about why I am giving this item away. While you are at it, please update any saved settings you have like bookmarks or links. Also be sure to update your "Follow" status of the new blog or follow via email using the feeds on the sidebar. It is also on bloglovin.

Sincere thanks for being a part of this fun journey with me!

Ashley and her little zoo animals (who never got their Halloween picture posted!)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


As a child I remember wondering what was so special about the Family Circus cartoon. Now I am all grown up and I get it. They are not so much funny as they are true, thus laughable.

This one tickled me a familiar place where I sighed when I read it and thought: Yes. That is how I feel. 

Once, I had hobbies. I just can't remember what they are at the moment. Laundry and dishes hardly count. It took me all summer long to hang some picture frames in my hallway. No exaggeration. Some weeks I literally hammered in one single nail.

Hobbies are the activities I would choose to do during all of my free time, as an outlet for creativity. I dream of having an afternoon alone when I will, undoubtedly, complete the mile long list of crafty fun and sewing ideas and house projects that float around in my brain while sorting toys and sweeping.

The truth is that I spend too much of my thought life thinking about the activities I am not doing, or am not able to do. My days are spent doing a number of things. They are full of the activities that have been entrusted to me by God. The vast majority of them actually do utilize my creativity. Telling bedtime stories. Reading books. Coming up with breakfast and dinner and the many meals in between. Reorganizing our home over and over again. Tickling and telling jokes. Convincing little people it will be fun if we get out the vacuum cleaner. Incorporating everyone's ideas. Teaching children valuable life lessons over broken toys.

These are not the activities I envision bringing my soul satisfaction. But they are the activities entrusted to me by God, first and foremost above my desire to hang pictures on the wall, or re-paint the bathroom, or add another post to this blog. Because they are from God, they can satisfy me as hobbies of a different nature never will.

It is good for me to remember that my future may hold the luxury of time to pursue hobbies, but even if it doesn't, I am glad I have a family to take care of. A life without them might be full of hobbies but empty of all the other things that bring me joy.

Praise the Lord, O my soul,... who satisfies your desires with good things 
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. 
Psalm 103:5

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

let me tell you about apples

About a year ago we purchased the apple orchard next door. It was in rough shape, weeds growing where trees once were, old and tall varieties that pickers don't want to climb for the harvest. We were one of few obvious buyers as the dilapidated property bordered ours.

These ancient trees were gnarled and beautiful and they drew us in. An apple legacy to leave to our children one day. I have learned a lot about apples this year.

We have just completed our first harvest. Our trees laden with fruit. Sweet, crisp, juicy, delicious.

Growing them has ruined me for store-bought apples. There is something unnatural about all of the perfection in the grocery store, waxed shiny outside, unremarkable inside. Pick an apple from our trees and you will most likely pick a worm too. Or a bird peck or a blemish or an apple deemed imperfect. They are dull in luster without the added wax. But I have heard that the birds and worms know how to find the sweetest ones.

As a culture, we have said that fruit must be perfect looking for it to be purchased. Is it possible that in our focus on perfection we have missed out on something better?

Apples aren't the only victims of our visual culture. It happens with people too. I think the people with bumps and bruises on the outside are often sweeter on the inside. It is our wormholes that distinguish us. I could say that you can't judge a book by its cover, but that is actually not my point. You see, I do think the cover matters. It is just what we are looking for in the cover that needs to be adjusted. Perhaps if the value was placed on the actual blemish then people would expose their wounds. After all, it is these life experiences that can grow a person to be gentle, humble, compassionate, and ultimately sweeter with time.

My buying habits have changed of late. I like a piece of fruit that has character, a distinguishing mark, a rough spot, a chip in its covering that lets the delicious odor seep through. This is how I know the fruit has seen the sunlight and felt the rain and withstood the bugs and how I know it hasn't been genetically manufactured in a warehouse. I don't mind a bruise here and there if it means a good story and a certain readiness.

Choosing fruit or choosing friends, what exactly do we value?

A few odd facts:

... The worms in an apple go straight for the core. If you cut out the hole, and don't eat the core, the rest of the apple is perfect!  And often more delicious than the apples without worms.

... An apple a day keeps the constipation at bay, if you really wanted to know.  It is actually my personal theory that this is the origin of the belief that apples kept the doctor away. In the absence of modern medicine, the ancients were obsessed with staying regular as a indication of overall health.

... Apples make great natural toothbrushes. Feeling scummy? Skip the Wrigley's and eat an apple. 

... There are a lot more varieties than just "Red" and "Green". On our property we have Pippin, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Fuji, Yellow Delicious, and Gala apples and have recently planted some experimental varieties with pink flesh like Pink Ladies.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

birthday week: karsten

My baby is ONE!

He has begun the final process of exiting babyhood, entering into boyhood. While I am looking forward to increased sleep at nights and having both arms free to carry things other than my children, I am sad to see the chubby cozy baby stage passing by with such permanence. These days will soon be but a memory. And just like those old people keep telling me in the grocery store, they have gone by so fast. Sigh.

Alas, on to birthday wishes and the last of the September craziness...

Dearest Baby Karsten,

No one loves me like my babies do. Which may be one of the reasons I am so sad to see you grow. You have already stopped looking at me with hungry eyes, and find it more fun to chase your sisters than snuggle me on the couch.

Your personality is emerging, though yet to be developed. You are growing into an active little boy, and quite the "explorer". You won't rest until you investigate all things new in your surroundings. While this makes it difficult for me to have a conversation with anyone, or complete any task outside of shadowing you, I wouldn't have it any other way. All of this curiosity is part of using the brain and the intelligence God gave you - and I sure hope that brain keeps you from sticking your fingers in an outlet.

Along with learning to crawl, you began to teach us about materialism. You quickly established yourself as the reason that our laptop computer is acting strangely and the reason our DVD player is broken and the reason my Bible is missing some pages in the front. You are the reason my trash cans are currently being kept on top of the furniture and the reason our living room is a giant playpen surrounded by baby gates. Oddly, this is not the way I pictured motherhood, but it is turning out to be just fine, because none of these material things matter.

In typical male fashion, you love all things food. This is possibly one reason you have loved me so very much, as I have been the bearer of all meals this entire year. When in doubt, eating seems to solve all of your problems. We hope to make you more selective this coming year, keeping the acorns and cat poop out of your mouth while encouraging such delicacies as broccoli and brussel sprouts.

As the fifth member of our family, you have brought a balance to our dynamics. Now there is nothing that can be divided equally, so we have stopped trying. This offers a certain health to our family unit as we have quit being "fair" and embrace the sharing and servitude that God intended for us all along. Thank you for being one more piece in that puzzle.

We pray every day that you will grow into a man who follows after God with your whole heart. A man who is a humble leader, and wise decision maker. In a world that is experiencing a crisis of men who fail to behave as men, there is no greater gift I could ask for you.

With all my love on your first birthday,

Your cake might not have been as cute as the girls' this year, but it was the best tasting... which you would have known if you had eaten the cake instead of the candle.

All you wanted for your birthday was a ride on something noisy.

Nothing could have been better than a ride on Papa's tractor and a ride on an excavator!

Monday, September 22, 2014

birthday week: sommer

One of the things that makes turning three special is that Sommer can finally hold up all three fingers to show us how old she is. The problem is that she keeps telling us she is five, so we still have something to work on.

Dearest Sommy-som, Sommy-num, Sommer sunshine, Som-Som,

I really do want to put you in a bottle and freeze you in time. Your squishy squeezy babyish body can not hold all the personality in and it is always exploding all over the place, much to everyone's delight. You are charming and funny and kind and imaginative and silly and snuggly and creative and smart and very very talkative, when you are not low on blood sugar of course.

I love your voice right now. Your vocabulary is impressive despite the lack of Ss and Rs and Ls and you manage to say quite a bit without these extraneous letters. You pretend to read everything, and you surely have every word in your favorite books memorized. You are an excellent story teller and I am never quite sure if it is the story that has fascinated me or the listening to you and the inflection of your voice.

I love your spunk. I never worry that another child will bully you because you understand well the art of defending yourself. We will tame this over time to become more gentle and fully appropriate, but you clearly understand your personal boundaries. You say what you think, so we never have to wonder. This means we get to hear lots of spontaneous "I love you"s. This also means we never doubt when or why you are upset.

I love hearing you sing. You sing everything and everywhere. Some of your favorites are "Raindrops on Roses" and "Jesus Loves Me". You do a pretty good job with "Part of That World" from The Little Mermaid too. You have a song for all occasions. You sing while you play pretend and your animals often sing to each other. You even tell made up "story-songs". You carry a beautiful tune. But most importantly, there is a song in your heart. May it always remain.

At three years old you already have a clear sense of conscience, forgiveness, and God's ever-present love. You are even quick to remind me when I am hurting: "But, Momma, God loves you."  What could possibly comfort me more?

I love you deeply. May three years old be a wondrous, magical year full of good things and growth in all the right ways.

Love, Momma