"Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, His wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight;
they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits' end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven." Psalm 107:23-30

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The whole world's going crazy...

...but not in here.  Soli Deo Gloria

Your Sorrow Will Turn into Joy
[16] “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” [17] So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” [18] So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” [19] Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? [20] Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. [21] When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. [22] So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (John 16:16-22 ESV)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

It's that time of year

This week I have found myself randomly getting choked up and needing to cry. I thought it was the extra stress of watching someone else's child full time but it's strange how a Mama heart works.

This week last year I conceived our little Alleluia Abel and had just lost Amadeus two weeks prior. I remember how excited and giddy I was when I went for my post miscarriage visit with my OB and she advised that I wait one cycle before we allow conception and I chuckled and said, "um, you should have mentioned that last time, it might be too late." I knew I was pregnant. I'm four weeks away from when I lost Abel and, at the same time, our Easter Lily in the grave yard has decided to bloom...5 blooms. The memories of last summer are so strong even as I feel the constant kicks of the baby inside of me.

God has chosen for now to turn my mourning into dancing in expectation of this sweet baby we're carrying, but I don't suppose I'll ever stop crying for my babies gone so soon.

This next picture shows the two dead lilies we planted from this Easter that we're hoping, like the first one, will come back new next year. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Many Hands Make Work Light....I Hope

This week I began a full time job. No, not outside of the home. I am now caring full time for a precious baby girl while her mama returns to work. I adore this little girl, she is seriously the best behaved baby ever. She adores her sleep and goes to sleep happy as can be every time simply by being swaddled and laid in the pack n' play. She takes her bottles of her Mama's milk like a pro. And when this little girl is awake, so long as she has one of my four boys near by to watch, she is just as content as can be. She is so cute.

Having her in our home full time 5 days a week is going to be a big change. When she's hungry, everything stops so I can feed her. When she's tired, the boys have to be quiet so she can nap. Obviously they will have these changes in four months, God willing, anyhow, but this time it's for someone outside of our family and came on with rather short notice. They are handling it beautifully and adore having her here. They are all now unanimous that they want the baby in my belly to be a sister.

So, we work to view this in the eyes of Christian service and think "this makes me rich in my vocation". We have yet another opportunity to serve our neighbor and a family in Christ and be a loving home for this sweet girl for the next few years during the day.

We are also working on a major home "renovation" and making 3 big room changes. The main floor master is becoming a study/play room/baby nap room. The second floor room that was home to our four boys is now becoming my husband's and my room. And the second floor play room is now the boys' room. This is a lot of furniture to move. This is also a lot of cleaning to do. The old boys' room is requiring a ton of work as a drop down ceiling needed to be removed, fake paneling ripped out, and then we discovered some mold on one wall behind the paneling because an air return had been covered. So, dry wall had to be ripped out, the insulation removed, and fresh insulation and new dry wall placed. We have to repair the other dry wall from the paneling, paint, refinish the wood floors in that room, and move our furniture from the downstairs bedroom up the stairs and down to hallways into our bedroom. Then we will move the toys that are in the guest room and basement down to the new play room. This will give us a definite sleep area upstairs (which will keep us from needing to use the upstairs during the day and give me better oversight over little ones) and a definite living and play space downstairs. The new play room has a door that can shut so it will also make a good school room for older boys as they need quiet with more intensive studies.

And just for kicks we decided to refinish our kitchen table and deep clean the basement this week, you know, since we don't have anything going on. :)

We have four months until this sweet baby is due. In that time we need to finish these projects, make a trip to see some dear friends about 12 hours away, and complete a few other home renovations before winter sets in.

Oh!!! And I just got some supplies in the mail today to finally give sprouting grains a try! I bought ancient Einkorn wheat that I'm going to sprout, dry, and grind to make into baked goods because I discovered my allergic son can have sprouted Einkorn wheat! We bought a barrel of berries so I need to get sprouting. I also bought some glycerin so I can make my own child friendly herbal tinctures for fall and winter illnesses. I want to get those made before October so we are prepared for cold and flu season.

Finally I've started my pregnancy work out regimen. With my 4th I began working out at 22 weeks in an attempt to make labor easier. It worked. I was in such amazing shape by labor that my ability to handle the pain, stay ahead of it, and not get exhausted was greatly improved. My husband was so impressed that he's been really encouraging me to get at it again and I know he's right. But it's hard going because during my year of miscarriages I was afraid to work out much in case working out too hard was hurting my pregnancies. We found a treadmill at a garage sale and I've been doing 45 min workouts on a high speed and decent incline doing different arm workouts while walking fast.

And of course, home schooling continues and the boys are all loving their new math books while we continue to work through Bible/catechism, reading, handwriting, history, and science.

Did I mention I have about 35 tomato plants that are mass producing right now? Anyone want to come help make ketchup, salsa, and spaghetti sauce to can? :)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Darkness Deepens: And why that's OK.

In the past few months I've come under a lot of ridicule for the title of my blog. I was confronted rather harshly by a couple of loved ones and it sometimes still confounds me.

Today was a bad day. I woke up to two of my children rowdily getting out of bed (which they are not allowed to do) and thus awakening their baby brother who was in his big boy bed for his very first night. They woke him-and me- up an hour before we are accustomed to getting up. But because baby boy was awake I had to hop out of bed and get up there because he also just potty trained and I needed to get his night time diaper off so he could use the potty. Within the span of an hour I dealt with about 5 meltdowns from over-tired children, a dog that was insisting on trying to dig holes in the yard and eat his own poop, a few huge spills (two of which were the dog and included him grabbing a full cup of smoothie and tossing it up into the air where it hit the wall and splattered all over himself, the wall, and the floor and the other of which was a half drank bottle of kefir, which he enjoyed immensely). By the time my husband got up I wanted to sob and was so tired I didn't know what to do with myself.

This evening my husband left for church and I sent the children upstairs to play. I read an article that I had seen linked to and had been wanting to check out because I'm always up for a good lashing that will remind me how selfish I am so I can try to repent more, be better, and therefore attain piety.....um, what? Yea, don't deny it, you know you are too:


Thankfully I'm getting better at spotting these types of articles for what they are and turning to what Scripture actually says.

About the only thing I found truly helpful about the above link was the very last recommendation to counter one's own thoughts with God's Word. But my passages would look far different from hers. See how she beats herself down with more law? Law for law. She shares in depth a very deep and very hard personal struggle to the Law and how she was about nearly crushed from her need to find perceived perfection in the Amish faith and then how does she say she came out of it? Here was her before:

"What about me? I am tired! Furthermore, I want to raise my kids Amish; my husband won’t allow me to do this; what about my dreams? What about how I feel? They are my kids too! I have been through so much. I, I, I, and what about me, me, me” (notice the “ME” monster). That was my sin. Depression is selfish. When you are depressed, you are only thinking about yourself—about poor and unfortunate ME. I was seeking my own. "

And here is her solution to this problem:

"Once I got my focus off myself and onto what my purpose was, and onto Christ, it really made me get better. I had to start realizing that things could be worse. I had to start seeing things differently. I was really bad.....I want to be patient, to endure the hard times, and understand God’s perfect will and timing in the lives of others."

Hmmm....Do you see the problem here? I don't see any loss of the "me monster" she claims to have found to solve her problem.

My dear sisters, you cannot rid yourself of the "me monster". You simply cannot. You cannot stop hurting, you cannot stop muddling through the diapers and the laundry and the filth and the hardships...they (the hurting, the selfishness, the desire to be free from our burdens and sins) just aren't going to go away. They just aren't. The low pressure weather systems with the storms building up behind them kind of days that depress us (or at least me) are still going to come, the news is still going to show the insanity going on around the world that leads us to stare in horror and go, "What the hell?", and we are still going to yell sometimes, be as selfish as the naughtiest 2 year old sometimes, and just not have the energy to do more than throw sugar laden junk at our kids to get them to SIT DOWN AND BE QUIET sometimes. 

So what does God's Word say to us? Sisters, the secret when going through God's Word is not to apply law to law. Oh yes, those passages the author of the article shared are God's Inspired Word but did you see their context? Those passages are not written in the context of applying to the hurting, the broken, the law-sick person. Read through the entire Bible and you see that God never changes: He applies law to the unrepentant haters of God and GOSPEL to the hurting, despairing, but faith filled believers in Christ..So read these:

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 5:6-11 (emphasis mine)

"[13] Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. [14] For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. [15] For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. [16] Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. [17] So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. [18] For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. [19] For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. [20] Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. [21] So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. [22] For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, [23] but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. [24] Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? [25] Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. "(Romans 7:13-25 ESV)

"Some went down to the sea in ships,

doing business on the great waters;

24 they saw the deeds of the Lord,

his wondrous works in the deep.

25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,

which lifted up the waves of the sea.

26 They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;

their courage melted away in their evil plight;

27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men

and were at their wits' end.

28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,

and he delivered them from their distress.

29 He made the storm be still,

and the waves of the sea were hushed.

30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,

and he brought them to their desired haven." Psalm 107:23-30

Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again. And HE will lift you up in due time. And in the mean time we keep on asking our children to forgive us, we forgive as we have been forgiven, and we drag our weary souls where He promises to be: His Word and His Body and Blood, and in the remembrance of our Baptisms. There we find strength for our souls and the courage to keep moving. He IS coming indeed! If there is one thing I hope my children learn from me it is that life is like the above Psalm. We will stagger and fall and be at our wits' end...but Jesus comes, He always comes. I hope my children always know we cannot save ourselves and we can never be good enough, Mommy certainly is not, but we are LOVED, we are FORGIVEN, and Christ gives us His Very Self and does not leave us as orphans. We are His, bought with His Blood, and it's OK to be sad, it's OK to have bad days, we forgive and keep on moving in Christ's help and Christ's joy. 

Peace be with you and Christ keep you.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Growing pains

I remember as a child when I would randomly get pains in my legs. They would be achy and crampy and feel just awful. My parents would tell me they were "growing pains" and that I should eat more bananas. I wonder how many bananas they got me to consume throughout the years from growing pains. *smile* Of course I know they were honestly hoping the potassium would help, but it still makes me chuckle to think of stuffing my face with bananas in hopes the pain would go away.

I wish there was a solution as simple as bananas for every parenting conundrum. This makes this post sound like I'm struggling with a particular child but I'm not. Instead, my children are growing, changing, and becoming complicated individuals with thoughts, ideas, and views on what they have been taught and what they see in the world/individuals around them and in some ways it's thrilling, in some ways it's terrifying.

This journey of home schooling has been the craziest ride of my life. Well, other than venturing off to a city unknown over a thousand miles away from home after my dad died for college. Well, and maybe having all my babies at home with no drugs. ;) I think those three tie.

But this journey is scary, humbling, never ending (it seems), exhausting...and yet the most rewarding journey I could ask for. It is rewarding because I am starting to see that by home schooling them I am not depriving them, I am opening up the entire world to them. I am also opening up the entire world to myself. And some days, I'm not sure I like what I find. And that makes me want to fold my children into the protective and controlled and scheduled environment of school. And yet, we all know that especially today there is no such environment in those institutions. Besides, though I may not like what I find and though I may feel challenged and stretched and confused and uneducated when I open up myself and my children to the vast world around us, how will I ever show them how to be courageous and strong and capable young men if we can't even be brave enough to step out?

I am reading some new books and new ideas that challenge me and scare me. They call into question things I was taught in school and ways I understood the world and our own country and government. I am thankful that at the end of the day, regardless of what the world really is and what our country really is, Christ is before and over and in all.

And when the day is done, my husband and I hear God's Word, pray, and I am so thankful that as long as our home is full of Christ and His love, there is nothing better in all the world that we could give our children.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

It's official...

I am a northerner. I have been away from my childhood home in Florida for 12 years now and I have decided I am officially a northerner. The first clue came when we traveled to the seminary a few weeks ago so my husband could complete an intensives class and it reached 95 degrees. It was SO UNBELIEVABLY HOT that I thought I was going to die. When we drove home and I stepped out of the car to temps in the 60s I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Our summer has been soooo mild this year, I think the hottest day has been 85 or so (in which we all stayed inside because it was "too hot"), and I have been just loving it. And...for the first time in 12 years, other than one random day in early summer, I have not had this crazy urge for the beach that makes me whine to my husband for weeks on end. In fact, I am finding more and more love for the hills, the lakes, and the cool breezes.

I think our weather is gorgeous. I love the four seasons, I even love most of winter as we enjoy all the nice hot food, drinks, and indoor cuddling. I will admit I grew very very grouchy this winter as it was the worst winter this place had seen in over 30 years. But even so, I wouldn't change it. I love this place.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

In Loving Memory: Amadeus Aurelia Haven

1 0 little flock, fear not the foe
Who madly seeks your overthrow;
Dread not his rage and pow'r.
And though your courage sometimes faints,
His seeming triumph o'er God's saints
Lasts but a little hour.

2 Be of good cheer; your cause belongs
To Him who can avenge your wrongs;
Leave it to Him, our Lord.
Though hidden yet from mortal eyes,
His Gideon shall for you arise,
Uphold you and His Word.

3 As true as God's own Word is true,
Not earth nor hell's satanic crew
Against us shall prevail.
Their might? A joke, a mere facade!
God is with us and we with god--
Our vict'ry cannot fail.

4 Amen, Lord Jesus, grant our prayer;
Great Captain, now Thine arm make bare,
Fight for us once again!
So shall Thy saints and martyrs raise
A mighty chorus to Thy praise,
Forevermore. Amen.

LSB #666 "O Little Flock, Fear Not the Foe"

A year ago today I went in for a prenatal ultrasound after a couple weeks of awaiting what my doctor assured me would end in miscarriage only to have a lab come back saying that we had most likely been given a miracle and our baby would probably survive. Then, during the ultrasound it appeared I was in fact carrying twins. But, a closer look through internal ultrasound revealed that second "baby" was actually the hematoma that was attached to our deceased baby's placenta. I went from assuming baby was fine to thinking I had twins to hearing there were no twins, a large hematoma, and a deceased baby in a period of about 10 minutes. That night we induced because the hematoma was fooling my body into thinking I was still pregnant and 11 weeks along by taking blood and growing as a baby would. The miscarriage, as a result, was excruciating and just awful. 

I spent this morning weeding the garden where two of our babies are buried and all six are remembered. I planted two more Easter lily bulbs that were from two Easter lilies that adorned the altar area this Easter. I did this last spring for Anastasia and it came back this year and looks like it might bloom in a few weeks on her due date and what would be her first birth day. I am hoping all three will come back next spring. As I weeded and dug and planted I was taken back to each burial and with my kids all busy I was able to have a good cry. It started to rain so as my own tears fell on the stones other drops fell all around me. After a good hard cry I sang the above hymn and "Lord of our Life and God of our Salvation" LSB #659. Something about church militant hymns in the fight of the last year has just brought me so much comfort.