Monday, August 20, 2012

Crafting Monday

I've been spending time "stalking" blogs that I love. Reading almost everything I find while thinking about why I love them so much. These women are no different than me. They are crazy busy, just like me. They want to be creative, just like me. They love God, just like me. I guess what is comes down to is they are JUST LIKE ME. So I thought I would do something fun with my blog and write about one of my passions for each day.  From now on Mondays are Crafting Mondays.

Today I'm going to tell you about my main passion and that is Crochet. My aunt Karen tried to teach me how to crochet when I was 7 years old and for some reasons my fingers just couldn't manage the hook and yarn. She eventually gave up, but I did enjoy watching her work her yarn. I have a few of her pieces and when she passed away she gave me all of her yarn, needles, patterns and unfinished projects.

Fast forward 13 years and I'm a married woman. A dear friend, Nancy was pregnant with her son. I wanted to give her something special and set my mind to crocheting an afghan. I turned to my mother-in-law, Joyce, to once again try and teach me how to crochet. She pulled out an old pattern that was her mother's and taught me how to chain, single and double crochet. Looking back, there were a lot of mistakes, but Nancy loved it and I was proud and hooked. :D Yes pun intended.

My passion escalated while I was in Pennsylvania when I met the women of the local Crochet Guild of America. Jane, our fearless leader, is not only an amazing teacher, but a great encourager. She does amazing work that is truly beautiful. Not only is she our leader, but she is a member of the board for the Crochet Guild of America. We met once a month for our meetings, but we got together weekly to chat, crochet, drink coffee and develop friendships. We visit amazing yarn shops, learned new techniques, and I learned how to take my crochet from handmade to a hand crafted art. I'm not at the level of the ladies there, but I'm learning and as Jane keeps reminding me, I'm trying to climb out of my pattern box.

This leads me to today. As I'm expecting baby number 5 I begin my journey to find the perfect pattern and yarn to crochet their own special afghan. I stopped by Hobby Lobby and found a beautiful baby yarn called Baby Bee and the color is called Charming. It is a lovely variegated of purple, pink, green and white. Since I have my yarn I had to begin my quest for a pattern.(I don't know if I'm having a girl or boy, so I will make two afghans but decided to start with one for a girl.) I looked over my stitch books and couldn't find a stitch that I loved. I turned my search to the Internet and found something that inspired me. For a girl afghan I found a pattern that is textured and though sounds complex is relatively simple. Picot Stitch Baby Blanket, is what I found. It is solid white, but will look just as lovely in a variegated.

I began this yesterday while taking care of my sick family. If I work on it regularly it shouldn't take me long, but I will tell you now it is delicate and is lovely to the touch. I can't wait to finish it and show it off.

Until tomorrow,
Give life to those you meet,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Princess has the ear of THE KING

I know this was suppose to come out yesterday, but I was sick with a high fever and couldn't think straight. My words were jumbled and I couldn't seem to stay on track. I hope you will forgive me and enjoy my post just the same.

As a parent, I found the greatest pleasure at sitting and listening to my children's thoughts. I want to hear all about what is on their minds. Whether it be stress of school, worry for a friend or even their greatest fears.  This really came to me one night when William had an upset stomach. He vomited all over the place, including me, and this pregnant mommy just can't handle that. I changed clothes and left the clean up to daddy, as he asked. Pip came into my room wanting to curl up with me. He began sobbing and when I asked him what was wrong his reply was, "I'm going to miss William." When I asked him what he meant, he responded with, "I know he's going to die now and I'm going to miss him." While I quickly reassured him that William wasn't going to die and that he would start to feel better soon, it dawned on me the love and trust this precious little soul has in me that he would bear his heart to me. He knew that I would listen and would reassure him.

This is just a small example of the love my KING has for me. I may have carried this child under my heart for 10 months, but I'm not the perfect creator of the universe, the one who holds the whole world in his hands. I'm just a small person-- one in a billion. BUT my KING knows me. He knows how many hairs are on my head. He counts me as valuable. If I would want to hear the deepest desires of my child's heart, why wouldn't a KING who gave His only son for me want to hear the deepest desires, pains and loves of my heart?
My KING wants me to curl up next to Him telling Him the pains, desires, dreams, wishes and cares of my heart. This has become more and more evident to me the older I am. I have a great desire to go to Him with everything on my heart. Not just for things I want, but for desires for other people. Prayer is something God not only wants but expects of us. Did you know that the Bible the word pray 312 times, if I counted correctly, prayed is mentioned 65 times, prayer is mentioned 114 times, while prayers, prayest, prayeth and praying are mentioned 53 times? Something that is mentioned that many times, must certainly be important not only to God, but to us.

You know that communication is essential to any good relationship. Marriages break down because of lack of communication. Business transactions fall apart because of lack of good communication. What is more important to us that our relationship to our KING and heavenly Father? I can't think of a single thing. Can you?

So with all of this information, we come to the conclusion that He wants to hear what we have to say. Not only does He want to hear it, but He really listens. Take for example, a friend and brother in Christ,Scott Sandusky, was wounded two days ago in an accident. Once the news was out, Scott was immediately lifted up before our KING and Father in prayer. Not just by me, but my people across the country and world. It wasn't just one quick prayer it was a constant stream a storming of Heaven, not only for him, but his wife, family and the doctors who were taking care of him. God couldn't help but notice us bowing before him begging for the health and recovery of our friend. Scott did end up losing his leg, but he is on his way to recovery and will be able to continue to live and serve his family and his God.

God knew what was going on. He saw it all. I'm positive He had a plan for what was going on and how it was going to happen. Just imagine for a moment that He stopped what he was doing to listen to each and every plea of His people. He knew our hearts' desire. He knew what we begged of Him and in His love for us as His people granted our wish. His people came together as one voice not to murmur and complain about some thing for themselves, but for a dear brother and His family. For that moment when we were at prayer before the KING, we had his ear. We placed the desires of our hearts upon Him. We gave Him our pain and burden and He lifted it off of us.

This is just one example of how we have the ear of the KING. If we can do this, if our faith can move mountains, help to save a life, help to give life not only to those we know, but to everyone we meet, imagine what else you can do if you are willing to take the time to speak to your KING. Imagine how your marriage can change, your children who drive you insane how their hearts can change, the brother or sister who has walked away, the friend who has no relationship with God. Prayer is powerful! It can change lives!

Now I have a question for you. Do you have an example of how prayer has changed your life? If so please share. Please take a few minutes in the comments to bear witness to how the KING has listened to you.

Until tomorrow,
Give life to all you meet,

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What it means to be a Princess of THE KING

I've spent a lot of time thinking about my blog. About what it is and what I want it to be, and if this is something God wants me to do. For the past several days I've had a strong desire to have a series of posts about something that is on my heart.

A friend of mine, Mindy, talked about calling herself a princess. At first I thought it was just cute and because she is in a household of four guys, but the more I thought about and let it sit on my heart the more I began to wonder if there wasn't something more to it. I came to this simple conclusion, if God is my KING and I am a child of his, doesn't that make me a Princess? Can it be as simple as that? Can I just call myself a Princess? Am I worthy of being such a person?

Like most women my age, I grew up adoring Diana, Princess of Wales. I wanted to be her. I wanted to grow up and marry my own prince and live in a castle with nothing to do all day, but sit around and be waited upon. I did find my prince, but my bubble of a princess has been burst by the many princess movies that have been made.

You can't compare a movie princess or one in real life, to one that is a Princess of THE KING, but there are some similarities. I'm going to take a couple of weeks to talk about these things. I'm sure I will learn a lot along the way and maybe you will as well. I am hoping that through this journey I will become a true Princess of THE KING, and that others who are in doubt of themselves like me will become a true Princess as well.

Since this is my introduction to this topic, I will start blogging about my first topic tomorrow.  If you have ideas, suggestions, questions, or comments, please don't hesitate to make them. Everything you share is a bit of wisdom that others need to hear to help them on their journey to become a Princess of THE KING.

Until tomorrow,
Give life to those you meet,

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pregnancy, SPD and School Planning

It has been a while and I was asked for an update. It will probably be a long post, and I should probably break it up, but I don't know when I will feel as good as I do this morning. To some this first part will seem like nothing but complaining, but I've been asked how my pregnancy is going and I strive to be honest.

For the past 8 weeks or more I've been sick. I'm sick if I eat and I'm sick if I don't. If you add to that the lack of sleep, then you have one miserable mommy. I seem to sleep for an hour and wake up completely for at least 15 minutes before I can fall asleep again. I am constantly tired and sick to my stomach.

There is also the emotional roller coaster. Stephen says I'm pretty stable, but I feel like I'm all over the place when it comes to my emotions. One minutes I'm crying and the next I'm scared and fretting over something. I've been fighting panic attacks on a daily basis. In one way this is good as it is forcing me to spend more time in prayer as I know I can't deal with this alone, in another way I feel so emotionally drained and as if I have nothing to give to my family let alone to be able to take care of myself. I've had to give it all to God and pray that He will make sure it all works out.

Jackson and Audrey seem to be handling the pressure well. They are gladly fixing breakfast and lunch for everyone as the smell of cooking meat usually causes me to run to the bathroom. I'm so thankful now for taking the time when they were younger to teach them how to cook. These meals are nothing super fancy, but they are good, sustaining and edible. There's nothing more I can ask of them than that.

Along the lines of my pregnancy I've discovered that I have what is called Sensory Processing Disorder. When most people hear this they think of the Autism Spectrum Disorder and how SPD goes along with that. Now maybe I am on the ASD, but I've learned some ways to cope with it, where my William is having troubles.

Let me take a few minutes to explain some things to you. I can not stand crowds of any kind. I refuse to walk down the center aisle at church after services until most of the people have left. It's not that I think people are unclean, it is just I don't like that many people around. I do not like some one sitting on the couch right next to me. This drove my family crazy for years. If someone sat on the cushion right next to me I would get up and sit somewhere else. I just don't like having people that close. I'm easily touched out. This usually happens at the end of the day, but it can happen first thing in the morning as it did yesterday. Stephen wanted to kiss me good bye and I had to sit perfectly still to let him do it. It made my skin crawl and I just wanted him to do it and go away. Now don't get me wrong, I love it that my husband will kiss me goodbye and I miss it when he doesn't, but yesterday was not one of those days. I'm very picky about food textures. I HATE beans. I will eat green beans, but not if they are over cooked. Any other bean I just can't stand the texture of it. I won't eat lumpy mashed potatoes or jello. I refuse to eat something that is burned over cooked or over ripe. The texture in my mouth is just repulsive. I don't like how it sits in my mouth. I can't handle loud noises or bright lights. If my kids start getting to loud I will either send them outside or I will go hide in my room. Hiding in my room will also help with bright lights as I have black out blinds. I also have to wear sun glasses outside especially when I'm driving as I lose some of my vision.

Those are just a few of the things I deal with on a daily basis. Some days are worse than others, but most days I can cope with. It seems with this pregnancy things are worse though. I don't want to be around or with anyone. I want to curl up on my couch and just be left alone. I don't mind my children running around or spending time with them, but to have guests over will send me over the edge. I've done it a few times, and Stephen says I have a deer in the headlights look the whole time. It will also emotionally drain me. I still love having people over, but it may have to wait until after the pregnancy.

I'm still in the planning stages of school for 2012-2013. Stephen and I have been doing a lot of talking and praying about some changes that need to be made. Right now we have Jackson who HATES school. This is not what I wanted for any of my children. When asked if he could get rid of any subject what would it be. He replied that he would love to get rid of the math books that have no purpose and make no sense. Now this boy is a great math student, but when thinking about his request we came to the conclusion that it isn't the work, but he sees no practical value in what he is doing. This has lead us to look for some practical math texts and other solutions. As Jackson is interested in starting his own business we are looking into business accounting and finance.

Audrey still struggles with reading. It's not that she can't read, but that she tries to phonetically pronounce everything she sees and as we all know the English Language is a mess. We have so many homonyms that it makes it hard for any American student to understand let alone an ESL student. The goal with her is to have her read to either the boys or me on a daily basis to help build her confidence.

William is doing very well with his math. He uses a number line still for addition and subtraction, but he is following along very well with everything and seems to comprehend all that is asked of him. His language skills are still lacking, but they are improving everyday. He will now use a complete sentence when requesting something and has even used a complex sentence now and then. He is able to read most CVC words silent E words. He still has trouble with two vowels together. From where he was a year ago this is great progress. He still loves to sing and has learned to sit still for over an hour of family reading time.  All of these are huge progresses for my boy who is autistic.

Philip on the other hand LOVES school. Everyday he is the first one to ask if it is time for school. He usually does most of his work on his own with very little help from me or anyone else. This is such a huge blessing from God as I have to spend a lot of time helping William and the older two with any questions they have. Sometimes I feel like I might neglect him a little, but he is very persistent to make sure he gets one on one time with me. He will remind me that he needs to read to me daily so he can fill in his chart and earn his free book at the end of the month.

What changes does this mean for our family? We have begun copy work again. I tried it before and we fell off the track. This year we are going to use something from our nightly family reading for each of the children to copy in the morning. So far it has gone well.  Kenneth Grahame, who wrote The Wind in the Willows gives me something every night. Usually it is a very, very long sentence, but the kids are learning correct grammar and sentence structure.

We are removing almost all of our workbooks this year and replacing them with notebooking. I'm tired of at the end of the year tossing out the "unwanted" work. If it is so unwanted then why did we do it in the first place? This has bothered not only me, but my older two children for years. It was more noticeable to them while we were in Pennsylvania and had to pull portfolios together. It is my prayer that not only will this show them that all they do is valuable, but will bring some life and joy back into their work for them.

Finally for organization we are going to implement Work boxing. This is something I discovered on Pinterest and started digging into. It was developed by a woman on the west coast for her homeschooling children, one of which was autistic. It not only keeps the child on task, but also gives them a sense of order, control and knowing what comes next. She promotes the children getting up from their desk to work on special projects, to play an education board game, an interactive poster, or to have a family activity. This will be perfect for my boys especially as they love to know what comes next and they all have trouble being organized. Jackson loves the idea as it will give him the ability to do something besides sit at a desk/table all day. Philip loves it because he just has to know what comes next. William doesn't care, but I think it will help him with his issues as well.  Audrey on the other hand doesn't want me to tell her in what order to do things, and seems to get her work accomplished quickly on her own so for now she is exempt.

All things considered, I think the planning is going well. I'll let you know more as we get to it and decisions are made.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Discovering a Talent

The other day I was at my friend, Becky's house and I asked her how she makes such amazing food.  She blushed and then proceeded to tell me her secret.  She LOVES food shows.  She watches Food Network, reads their magazine along with a few others.

You are probably wondering why I told you this, well here's the answer.  You see for years I never believed I had ANY talents.  I believed that God just skipped over me, when he was handing them out.  Others have tried to tell me, and I still think some of their answers are silly, but it took a while to sink into my stubborn head to realize, "Hey, yeah, I can do that."

To add to this story, I will tell you that I live in a box. No not literally, but creatively.  I do not create anything. I make or remake things, especially when it comes to food.  From the time I was a teenager I HAD to have a recipe. I couldn't come up with something on my own.  This has frustrated my mother in countless ways. (Do not ask her or my dad about my adventures making hamburgers. lol) To this day I'm still this way, especially when I'm trying something new.

Here's the thing though, whenever we are going to a party, pot luck or for a holiday, I make a brand new recipe that I have NEVER tried before. This drives people insane.  I don't know how many times people have told me they would never do something like that, but it is second nature to me.  Now I will tell you, I spend a lot of time researching these recipes. I check reviews, advice, and compare it to other recipes that are similar.  I've never made something that I don't know the taste of each and every ingredient. If these ingredients don't sound like they would mix together then I save it for a family night dinner, but otherwise I bravely use people I don't know as my guinea pigs. :D

While sitting there listening to my friend talk, I realized that I was in a food rut.  I've been making the same things over and over again. My family was tired of eating what I make and frankly I was tired of cooking what I cooked.  I was just going through the motions of feeding my family just to get them to be quiet and to go on with my selfish ways.  This was not only selfish, a poor example, but everything that goes against the nature and way God made me.

On the way home I was talking "at," this usually happens when I keep talking and don't give him a chance to answer, my husband about this and told him how I use to be that way.  I use to love trying new recipes and treating my family to a festival for their mouths.  I told him there was no reason I couldn't do this again.

It was when we arrived home that my daughter pointed out to me that it was a talent of mine to be able to do this.  I argued with her about this and then my husband joined in and argued with him about it as well.  I told them a talent was a natural gift from God, not something that I cultivate.  A talent is like his drawing ability, my daughters ability to create a crocheted item without a pattern, my son's ability to know when I don't feel good before I do.  It was after they gave up trying to convince me, me walking away to my room to cry that I began to pray about it.

While I was praying, I realized how unyielding I was being.  That I was refusing to listen to the love and advice my family was giving me.  I was ignoring God speaking to me through them.  I was so wrapped up in pitiful me to notice to grace that was being bestowed upon me.

So in order to keep myself positive about my talent, I'm going to start another blog about food.  Each day I will post about what I've tried to make for my family.  It won't always be great, but it will always be edible.  So here is to a new beginning to my new venture.

If you have any ideas what I should name my new blog please let me know.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

June's Goals

Here are my goals for the rest of June.

1. Finish organizing my bedroom.  Right now it is so disorganized I really hate going in there.

2. Finish organizing the school books in the basement.  I have re-purposed two more book shelves and need to move them down stairs.  Once they are downstairs I can finish the process of getting them done.

3. Read to my kids every day.  I know this was last month, but it is important to me.

4. Eat dinner at home everyday.  This may sound easy, but with the way I've been feeling it hasn't been.

5. Eat at the table for every meal.  This means we have to clean up after ourselves after school.

6. Read TWO books both non-fiction. I really love fiction so this will be a bit of a stretch for me and will push me to read something new.

7. Spend time everyday outside.  I HATE humid days, but I'm really lacking in Vitamin D3 and spending time outside will help.

8. Try ONE new recipe each week.  This won't be too hard, but something that will challenge me as I've fallen in a rut.

9. Plan our trip to Gatlinburg for late August. This I will enjoy as I love to plan.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Problems with Comparisons and May Report Card

It is so easy for me to start comparing myself with other people.  Especially when I'm around people that mean something to me.  I'm sitting at my in-laws house (not sleeping) in their study.  Right behind me are the family photos.  I know ours need to be updated, but once my photographer is well that will be taken care of, but I digress.  On this wall you will find Stephen's two brothers, their children, his sisters and their families.  I certainly don't compare myself to his brothers as that would be silly, but it is his sisters that I compare myself with.

Stephen's sister Elizabeth, Beth, has recently finished her degree.  She is now a certified teacher. She did this while working part time at her children's school, busy with the PTA, the kids extra activities, being a preacher's wife and I'm sure keeping a company ready house.  Beth is truly an amazing woman, one to admire.  The picture of her family is classic and she makes sure they are done every year so their mom has a new picture up.

Beth left Indiana to marry the love of her life, Travis, almost 16 years ago.  She left home and hasn't really looked back.  Since leaving home she has lived in Oregon and two different places in California.  All of this without the comfort and security of family.  (Here I complained when I was 6 hours away. I know pathetic.)  I could go on and on about why my sister-in-law is admirable, but there is another one that I need to tell you about.

Katy is the youngest and a spitfire.  She has determination and the brains to back it up.  There is NOTHING that gets in the way of what Katy sees that needs to be done.  I have always admired her courage, sense of self-worth, and direction.  Katy married the love of her life, Ross, and proceeded to move to Texas.  She picked up, left Indiana and hasn't looked back.  She loves it down there and doesn't plan on moving back.  Katy is an amazing paralegal that is doing wonderful things for her law firm and the area.  I'm very proud of all that she has accomplished.

Don't get me wrong, my sisters-in-law come home as often as they can, but they are content where they are.  That isn't the issue here.  The issue is me.  What have I done with my life?

Well I moved out to Pennsylvania and all I could think about was coming back to Indiana. If you ask me I had great excuses, but that is all they are excuses.  I have four children, Beth has 3 and Katy has only been married a few years.  That is it.  I have nothing else to say for or about myself.  This is my struggle, my problem, my pain. My sisters-in-law are amazing women who have accomplished amazing things, while I feel like I can't keep my head above water.

Here is the hard answer though.  This isn't about them, it is about me.  I'm so worried about what am I doing and comparing it to what they are doing that I'm forgetting one very important thing. I AM BEING SELF ABSORBED.  As my friend Mindy would say, I need to stop making this about me and make it about God.  I need to think about the things He is doing in MY life instead of worrying about meeting up to their lives.  I don't know all the struggles they face.  I don't know the physical, spiritual, emotional and sometimes even marital problems they face.  By comparing myself to them, I'm judging them.  I've set MY standard, played God, and judged my sisters in Christ.  Forget about being fair to me, I'm not being fair to them.  They deserve so much better than that.  They deserve all my love and admiration, not judging them by my standard.

I need to worry about living up to God's standards instead of the imaginary ones I set up for myself by comparing myself to other people.  This is an OLD habit of mine and it is going to take a lot of work and prayer to work through.  I just pray that my comparisons haven't damaged any possible relationship I could have with them.

Now for the May Report Card

1.Eat from my menu daily. I would give myself a C for this one.  It would have gone better if I would have planned a menu, or used the one I printed and put on the refrigerator.

2. Keep a company ready house.  I can give myself a B for this one.  My house hasn't been spotless, but it can be company ready in less than an hour and from where I was before this is a BIG improvement.

3. Finishing reading 2 books.  I can give myself an A+ for this one. I read THREE books.  One was fluff, one was about home school organization and the other was a book about the Proverbs 31 woman.

4. Read to the kids daily. I can give myself an A for this as well.  We even supplemented with books on tape as well.

5. Declutter my bedroom. I can give myself a B for this one.  I started it and never finished it.  It does look better, but still needs more work.

6. Clean Carpets. I get a big F for this one.  Nothing happened, but we did vacuum weekly.

7. Declutter yarn. I get an F for this one.  It looks like a war zone where my yarn is. UGH!

8. Blog weekly. I can safely give myself a B+ for this one.  I think I missed a week, but I did blog every other week and that is a BIG improvement.

 This gives me a B for the month.  This is a lot better than I expected.  I'll post later this week about my goals for June.