Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hope for Newtown

I'm still processing the tragedy in Newtown, CT.  I don't know that we'll ever make "sense" of what happened, but there are a few things I do know for sure.  I hurt for the moms that can't hug their babies tonight.  I'm reminded several times a day of the absence they must feel when I look at my girls and imagine if they were taken from me.  This event has rocked a nation.  But, this event is not a political platform.  Although many have tried to make it such.  I've seen numerous posts about Sandy Hook that have nothing to do with the school.  They are filled with a rhetoric of blame and pointing fingers.

Some are blaming God and actually believe that God himself killed those innocent victims as punishment for the world of sin.  If you want to find the real hate in the world, read the comments at the end of news articles.  I've seen things like "Hey Christians, where was your God that day? Where is he now?" I personally believe my God helped teachers lead their classes to safety. I believe my God was guarding the eyes of the children at the school.  I believe my God is holding the families that are left behind to grieve, tight in His grip.  I believe He is cradling 20 first graders in heaven and weeping for a world that has turned from Him.

I've heard people say that gun control is to blame for this massacre.

I've heard people say that he had an autism spectrum disorder that went untreated.

I've heard people say that God has been removed from our public schools, so homeschool is the answer.

I've heard people relate this event to abortion.

They're all wrong.

This tragedy was caused by one thing: evil.

Gun control cannot stop evil.  Only God can.
Treating disorders cannot stop evil.
Homeschooling does not stop evil.  (And I would argue that Jesus goes to public school every day in the hearts of my children and lots of others).

I cannot imagine what it would be like to send my first grader to school and have her not return. But I do know how much joy a first grader brings because I have one.  I can also imagine that no amount of hateful or blaming rhetoric would ever bring her back or bring me solace in my grief.   Only God can do that.

So maybe just this once we can step off the soapbox and get on our knees.

Maybe just this once we can be light in a dark world by showing love.

Maybe just this once we can say "I will pray" and truly mean it.

Maybe just this once we can share HOPE and not blame.

Let your words lead people to the only place of true peace and comfort and a knowledge of an incredible eternity. And then stop there.

"May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you O God" Psalm 19:14

Offer Christ without a caveat.  Because you cannot heal hurt with hate.  Only God can.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Today they will gather and celebrate his life.  They will talk about how wonderful he was and how much he will be missed.  They will use words like "legacy" and "pillar of faith." I know there will be tears, but mostly I hope that there is joy.  When CS Lewis said "We do not have a soul.  We ARE a soul; we have a body" he was right.  Our bodies are just temporary, but our souls are eternal.

I have no doubt that my grandfather is rejoicing in heaven with Jesus (and his parents and brothers and sister and ALL those that have gone before him that he had a part in their salvation).  So we should be rejoicing too. We should rejoice for the time that we were given on earth with him.  We should rejoice that we have memories we can cherish.  We should rejoice that we are part of a heritage of faith.

Someone asked me last week what my favorite memory of my grandfather would be and it was honestly hard to say just one.  I spent my entire childhood less than 30 minutes from my grandparents so we saw them frequently.  He was an integral part of my life, but mostly he was a beacon for my walk with the Lord.  He was an old school pastor that preached with a fire that most pastors don't possess anymore.  He used to say "It's not a sermon until you break a sweat!" :) He took everything to the Lord in prayer.

My grandfather was a man that lived simply.  He never had cable or a cell phone or a computer.  He loved to eat! He would re-use foil and plastic bags.  He didn't spend his money but gladly gave it to those that needed it.  When he laughed, his whole body shook and tears fogged up his glasses.  He always carried a handkerchief and when he blew his nose the neighbors dogs would bark (and small children would go running). :) He wore bifocals but used to put them on top of his head to see things close up.  He had an incredible memory and recited poetry from his childhood.  He said he didn't speak German, but he had a German accent.  He had a library of books and he read every single one.  He had a love of peppermint and believed it to be the cure for almost everything.  I may have inherited that trait.
He was never too busy for anyone.  He never had a negative thing to say.  His Bibles were always falling apart from being read so much.  He spoke directly to the Lord twice a day and didn't rush through it.  He would mention each family member by name and ask for their needs to be met.  He always had a story to tell (I may have inherited that one too).

He loved his family and loved the Lord.  He lived to tell people about the miracle of Jesus, so I rejoice that this Christmas, He gets to be in heaven.  I rejoice that I got to see him in August on our trip to the northwest and hear his voice and laugh again.  I rejoice that eternity is a really long time and we will get to spend it together.

My grandpa Tom Grams

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I have always been intrigued by words.  I remember when I was in high school I heard a comedian making fun of the English language.  He said that "laughter" pronounced "laff-ter" means that "daughter" should be pronounced "daff-ter." It really is amazing that people learn to speak English at all. :)

Recently I have seen a word surface in my devotions and in conversations so I have given it some thought.  The word is "dwelling." In a quick dictionary study it's one of those fun words that can be a noun or a verb.  It can mean a place, like a home (dwelling).  It can also mean "to spend time" on something (dwell).

What do you "spend time" thinking about? Is it thankfulness or bitterness? Is it anger or joy? Do you think about how life used to be? Or do you spend time thinking about how good life could be, if only you had ..... (fill in the blank)?

A dwelling, both physical and emotional/spiritual, can also be a place where you feel comfortable.  Where do you feel the most comfortable? Do you feel the most comfortable when you're complaining? Do you feel the most comfortable in thinking about the past or the future? Do you feel most comfortable in the presence of God?

I'm not sure if I'm just getting older, or if I'm just more sensitive to it, but I'm hearing more and more about how much tragedy there is in the world, and how hard the holidays can be.  Two weeks ago marked the one year anniversary of Brian's mom's passing.  A week later, a friend suddenly lost her two year old son.  Our community just brought home a soldier killed in battle in Afghanistan, leaving a wife and 15 month old son.  Our local Christian high school is mourning the loss of a 16 year old boy that one morning just didn't wake up.  There are wars overseas that we know only a fraction of what's going on.  It would be really easy to focus on all that's going wrong.  There are lots of folks that dwell on the negative.  While there are bad things that happen, we have to choose to dwell on our eternal hope.  This world was never meant for us to be content.  It was meant for us to long for more.  The 23rd Psalm tells us that we "walk through the valley of the shadow of death...." It does not say "though we stop and make our dwelling in the valley of the shadow of death." Isaiah 43:18 says "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past." We are supposed to be current thinkers.  Psalm 23:6 says we will "dwell in the house of the Lord forever."  Psalm 4:8 says that "I will lie down in peace for you, oh Lord, make me dwell in safety."

Clearly the Lord has a plan for where we dwell.  My plan might include a beach or lake house and looking forward to retirement.  I might plan for my current dwelling to have some renovations or nicer things, or more land and less neighbors (and barking dogs).

Today, I will choose to dwell on things above and live in the present.  I will make my physical dwelling place (my home) a place of joy and my spiritual dwelling place in the presence of the Lord.

Monday, October 22, 2012


aIn the past few years, I've been learning new ways to make life simpler (which truly means more work, but it's worth it).  I even bought a sign that says "Simplify" that sits on a shelf in my living room.  It's covered in dust most days (because I've placed it too high to reach in order to clean it often...and yes I'm aware of the irony) and often I forget it's there.  But the concept is something we strive for daily.

On the journey of simplicity, last week I  made our own laundry soap.  When I found out that it's almost all the same ingredients for dishwasher soap, I attempted that too.

So far, we are loving the laundry soap.  The dishwasher soap has a few kinks to work out so I won't share that one just yet.  But I thought others might like to try the laundry soap as well, so here is the recipe we used:

1 4 lb 12 oz box Borax (2.15 kg or 76 oz) found in the detergent isle

1 4 lb box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (1.81 kg) found in the cooking isle

1  box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda 55 oz (3 lb 7 oz) found in the detergent isle

3 bars of Fels-Naptha soap, found in the detergent isle (if you use Zote bars use 2 bars instead, Zote can be found at Home Depot)

2 small containers of Oxy Clean or store brand Oxy Clean (try to get about 3.5 lbs total (1.58 kg)) found in the detergent aisle.
(this is optional. I did not add it but if you notice your clothes getting a little dingy, you can add it).
You should be able to find all of these items at your grocery store or walmart.

Grate the bars of soap and mix all ingredients together in a large bucket.  This makes approximately 2 gallons of detergent.  

**Use 1-2 Tablespoons per load. I know that does not seem like enough but this recipe does not have fillers like the store bought detergent so you only need 1-2 Tablespoons.**

This detergent is fairly mild smelling, it is not over powering. If you love a strong scent you may have to add a fabric softener or laundry crystals to each load. You can find laundry crystals in the detergent aisle.

We got our recipe from this site:


Monday, October 1, 2012

A Different Simple

The past week has been busy, but in a good way.  It hasn't felt frantic or chaotic, and I haven't felt stretched to my limits.  For that, I am grateful.
I was able to have lunch with both big girls at their school as part of their "Lunch with Loved Ones" days during the book fair.  The lunchroom was loud and a little crazy, but it was fun to pick up fish tacos and hang out for a few minutes with each of them.  I love those moments of being able to focus on one child at a time.

Later in the week I was able to chaperone a field trip to an aquarium for Reagan's class.  The chatter of fourth grade girls is a total crack up!

I'm also co-leading a Moms in Prayer group and I'm the VP for our PTO this year.  I know....this season is supposed to be about simplifying.  But what I've realized is that simplifying looks different for everyone.  The Lord was showing me that I had been neglecting my most important ministry; the one to my children.  So, while this week has been busy, I've spent my week being with my kids.  That made my heart full.

Of course I have days where I dream of living in the country where leaves change color and snow falls, homeschooling the girls, growing all of our own food, and sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee and the love of my life in peace and quiet.  But that's not our reality.  Our simple looks different.

Our simple involves schedules and responsibilities.  Our simple is busy.  But our simple means getting back to basics when we can.  Our simple can be loud and messy.  But our simple is being together.  It's finding joy in the moment.  It's talking and listening, even if that means in the van as we drive.  Our simple is also eating good food, saving our money, and being grateful for what we have.  Our simple is far from perfect but it's our work in progress and I love it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Love is a gift

I've sat down at least a dozen times to write in the last five months and something has always stopped me.  At times, it was my own bad attitude and I didn't want a post of whining and complaining.  A few times I have opened the computer and honestly felt like I had nothing to say, so I closed it again.  But now, as I dust powdered sugar from they keyboard, there's a new peace in my heart, and a desire to just write.

I won't relive in detail, the internal struggles I have faced over the last several months, but I will share that God is so good.  I had to hit my knees in exhaustion to finally surrender.  I will say that the tides of change are coming and I am filled with hopeful anticipation about the future.  I am returning to the things that I love.  I'm spending more time with my kids, making memories, and just being with them instead of around them.  I'm going to write.  A friend once told me that if the Lord made you LOVE something, then it's a gift.  I love to write, so I need to cherish the gift He gave me.  It won't be everyday.  It may not be every week.  But it won't be 5 months inbetween.

I have a sign in my house that says "simplify." I'm going to do just that.  I have stepped down from my roles in ministry and I am going to focus on the ministry of raising my girls and keeping a happy Christ-centered home.  Afterall, with kids in the house, the days may be long, but the years are short. I think that's how the saying goes.

Someday I'll tell you about the wonderful family vacation we took in August.  But for now, here's a sweet picture of my blessings.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Our Spring Break

FIVE weeks! The countdown is on.  We only have 5 weeks until our school year is over and we get to sleep in, play outside, go fun places, and just enjoy being together.  I can't wait! 

Spring break was a small glimpse of what our summer will be like.  We were able to relax, spend time with friends, and do some crafting.  In fact, after spring break, Bailey said, "Mommy, we haven't done a craft in DAYS. I'm dyin' here!" LOL! That kid.... Normally she's so literal, so her exaggeration cracked me up.  I told her the other day that Yaya (my mom) had to get rid of her wash machine because it was on it's last leg.  She said, "What happened to the other legs?" See? Literal.  :)

Spending time as a family is my favorite thing in the world.  During spring break, we embraced our location and decided to do something we have wanted to do for a loooong time.  We went from the snow to the sand in one week.  It was wonderful!! We were afraid we had missed the snow completely this year but we got an extra dose of cold rain (which equals snow for the mountains) the weekend before our break.  Most of it had melted away by the time we got there, but we did find a few patches left, and it was perfect for sledding.  

The sledding path started out pretty bumpy but we wore it down quickly!

Bailey was so excited to sled with daddy.  We almost had a crisis because we couldn't find the "purple" hat that she got for Christmas.  Thankfully the extra red one I packed worked just fine.  

This face cracked us up.  We thought she was having a blast, but the pictures tell a different story.  
The look of terror says it all. :)

I got all 3 to stop moving for a few seconds to grab this picture.  The rock behind them is the famous Taquitz Rock.  People climb it.  Crazy people.  I'd rather take pictures of it. :)

Bailey decided that sledding with mommy was much more her pace.  She also made snowballs (in the loosest sense of the word) and threw them at her sisters.  

Skylar is our little daredevil and couldn't get enough of the downhill speed.  In fact, I caught a picture of her going down the hill....with just her elbow on the board.  Talk about flying! She also loved sledding with daddy and crashing at the end.  

Love her rosy little cheeks after working hard to get back up the hill!

She's looking more and more like a little girl...and not a toddler.  Bittersweet to say the least.  

Reagan is usually our cautious one so we were thrilled that she went down the hill as many times as she did.  She and Skylar also decided to go without the sled and just slide on her behind at the end.  Thank the Lord for stain remover. :)

After a snack, we found the purple hat in the van! She was a happy kid!!

The girls all slept great and we made some wonderful memories. Success! Four days later we were off to the beach....

It was a little chilly when we got there. 

This kid is impervious to cold.  She didn't even wait to get her bathing suit on before heading into the water.  

She was soaked up to her sweatshirt in about 12 seconds. 

Bailey showing us how big the waves are!

Bailey didn't get to make snow angels up in the mountains, so she decided to make some sand angels.

Brian took Skylar and Bailey out on the surfboard for the first time.  Bailey caught a wave pretty quickly and LOVED it! Skylar (who was the most excited) got knocked off the board pretty quickly and has decided she doesn't like surfing.  But how cool are those birds behind her? :)

We chased a lot of these guys....

Reagan was our sandcastle builder.  I love that her hair starts to curl up as soon as we hit the ocean air.

And just to prove that I was there... :)

We gathered LOTS of shells! (I think that's a rule when you go to the beach as a child).

The girls did a lot of running from the waves. Then they decided to take on the waves together.  

One of my favorite pictures ever...
I don't think I could love these girls any more!

Spring break was great...but bring on the summer!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Rainbow Brite

We've had a busy few weeks here so I'm trying to catch up! Skylar and Bailey's birthdays are close so we usually do a joint celebration.  I'm trying to get away with that as long as I can until they start requesting separate parties and wanting to invite their own friends (instead of just our family and family friends).

We do something special on their "actual" day with just our family.  This year Skylar requested a princess cake.  With sprinkles.  Lots of sprinkles.  

Bailey requested cupcakes and a movie.  

I love their simple requests.  :) 
For their party, we did a rainbow theme.  What little girl doesn't love rainbows? Remember Rainbow Brite? :) It was a fun theme and the girls LOVED all the color.  
Rainbow fruit kabobs (made by my mom)....

Rainbow bundt cake (with rainbow sprinkles)...

Rainbow partyware (and rainbow snacks of course)

And rainbow tissue pompoms

The girls had a wonderful party! 
Now on to Reagan's birthday.  Whose idea was it to have these birthdays so close?? :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Best laid plans

"We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps." Proverbs 16: 9

I need to remember that verse more often.  I had the best laid plans.  My plans.  I was going to spend time while Skylar was at school getting stuff ready for her room re-do.  Then, my parents were going to take her for a couple days so we could do the install.  Then, after she got home, she would squeal and shriek and I would write a nice long makeover post! Then we would make lots of homemade goodies for her birthday; have a party at the park with her classmates; I was going to speak at a board meeting for our school; I was going to wrap up my women's book study I was leading; and then I would leave for the weekend so I could bond and learn with my fellow church board members.

It didn't go that way.

Skylar got Croup two and a half weeks ago.  So she was home from school.  She's now had croup twice in her life.  Both in the last couple months.

Then we all 5 got hit with an intestinal bug.  More missed school.  More time spent NOT preparing items for the room.

Then we were all healthy (yay!), only to have Skylar get the full blown flu the day she was supposed to leave and hang out with my mom for a couple days.  My mom took her anyway (rockstar grandma!!), and they just watched movies.  I worked to get the last few errands in and sewing. The next day Brian cleared her room, we painted, and I tried to finish up some sewing.  Then it hit me.  The flu.  The bad, body aching, high fever, coughin up a lung, can't-stand-upright, flu.

I did my best to help Brian finish up her room, but then I was done.  For the next 5 days.  In that time it also hit Brian, and then Bailey.  Reagan has thus far avoided it (and praying she stays immune!), but she did call my mom at one point and BEG her to come over because there was no one to feed them.  Ha! Rest assured we were feeding the children.  But it was easy stuff like cereal and soup, so we were incredibly grateful that my mom answered the call and came to take care of all of us!!

Skylar loves her new room and it was a great surprise, but it certainly wasn't as I imagined it would be.  I didn't get to finish up my book study. I didn't get to speak at a board meeting for our school.  I didn't get to go away for the weekend with my fellow church board members.  We didn't have a party at the park and I didn't make any homemade goodies.  But life went on.  Other people spoke in my place.  My lovely fellow board members went without me.  My middle baby turned 6.

We're all on the road to recovery but this bug is wretched.  I had the best laid plans.  But the Lord has greater plans.  I'm speaking at church on Monday night so maybe He knew I needed to have some extra time to prepare.  Whatever it is, I need to remember that His plans are best.

In the meantime, here are some snaps from my cell phone.  I would still like to do a whole room re-do post in the future.  For now, this is my best. :)

Our sweet Skylar the morning of her birthday (yesterday).  My mom got her a beautiful princess gown.  It was instant love! 

Skylar's first day back to school after being sick.  How fun that it was her birthday! :) Her class is singing to her while she wears the "birthday hat." 

We were blessed with awesome weather for her birthday, so she played outside with the dogs.  This one is my parents dog.  :) She's the most "willing" to go along for a ride.  Notice the sparkly princess shoes.

A "before" shot of Skylar's room.  We had a beach theme beforehand.  I have other pics before it was cleared, but I'll save those for the longer post.  

And AFTER! We did two colors of pink on the walls; I made a fabric banner, tissue pom poms, a rag quilt for her bed, and a new bedskirt.  This is a shot from standing in her doorway looking in.

Another shot from inside her room. 

Most importantly, she loves it.  She had a good birthday and we're all getting healthier.  Thank the Lord for that!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


There has been some talk lately about what the next generation will be named.  It seems that there's a "letter" trend since the induction of my own generation: Generation X.  Following us was Generation Y.  So, I guess it seems fitting that some would recommend the title Generation Z for the current generation.  I don't agree.  I've given some thought to it, and I would like to submit my suggestion: The "i" generation.

There's the obvious connotation of the tech gadgets that begin with "i" like the iphone, ipod, ipad, itouch, etc. Kids are familiar with each of them; often owning one themselves (at ages FAR too young in my honest opinion).  It's also slightly morbid, but mostly befitting, that the Apple mogul died during this generation.  He is now idolized (another "i") and revered more than ever before.

There are some words with "i" that we hear frequently now: imagine, ideals, increase, identity, ideology, immersion, immediate, immunizations, IQ, Iditarod (ok, just making sure you're still paying attention).  Any one of these can be spun into a description for the future of our children.  

But it goes much farther than that.  For me, one of the strongest arguments is for the "i" to stand for "ironic." We're getting so advanced in our technology that we can see people across an ocean and speak to them in real time.  We can text and it takes mere seconds to reach someone.  We're more "in touch" than ever before.  Yet, look around.  If you go to a restaurant, people aren't talking to the ones at their own table.  They're texting, or facebooking, or emailing people at a distance.  The "i" can also be for "internet".  Are they still calling it that these days? I can't keep up.  I still say w-w-w dot when giving a web address.  Silly me.  But the older I get, the more pessimistic I get about the direction we are headed.

I've been noticing for a while that parents are giving small children technology to keep them quiet instead of teaching them to be social or occupy themselves without a movie or game.  I'm amazed at the 3 year olds that are allowed to run around with an ipad.  I certainly wouldn't hand my daughter five $100 bills and let her run around with them!  She hid my keys in the toybox once and I couldn't find them for 36 hours.  She's not to be trusted.

The "i" can also be a capital "I."  We're raising a selfish generation, because that's what we're modeling.  I've already read a handful of articles that talk about parents needing to put their phones down and pay attention to their children.  How sad that our children are not a priority! Have we forgotten that "Children are our heritage and a blessing from the Lord"? (Psalm 127:3).

How great would it be if we could flip that "i" into something positive? If this is the generation my children will be part of, I want to show them that their ancestors didn't have it all wrong.
I want them to be part of the "I can still sit and write a letter" generation; or the "I would love to have a conversation with you" generation; or the "I believe that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow" generation.  Better yet, let's call it the U generation.  I love YOU because Christ loved YOU. How can I serve YOU? What can I do to help YOU? YOU are important! YOU matter.

Imagine that.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

The wheel

I was reading my last post and had to laugh.  SO, now it's FEBRUARY?! Where did January go? I'm sure I'll get to December and be saying the same thing.  :)  I told Brian last week that I feel like I'm on a hamster wheel.  I'm in constant motion.  I can't imagine how it is for families with kids involved in sports and lots of activities.  All we have is piano for Reagan and the rest is just "stuff" that keeps us (me) busy.

I'm leading a book study for the ladies at our church on Thursday nights.  It's been neat to see other married ladies come together and work hard to bless their husbands.  We're also planning a women's retreat, a training weekend, and leadership meetings.  It's fun to work for the Lord, but it certainly is work! The rewards are the best pay there is though. :)

We're still in limbo on our school situation for next year.  I'll just leave it at that.

In the midst of of our busyness, we have a special birthday coming up.  When we moved into our house, Skylar was only 3.  She didn't get to choose what her bedroom looked like.  So a while back she asked if she could ever "re-do" her room.   As a surprise to her, she is getting a room makeover.  I'll be sure to post before and after photos.  I'm so excited for her to see all the fun (PINK!) things for her room!!

We're also getting in to the gardening season around here.  Our yard still needs a lot of work, but we've been adding fruit trees here and there, and we're getting ready to plant our veggies for spring/summer. The girls look forward each year to the planting process.  I look forward to the "fruits" of our labor.

Oh, and I finally downloaded all of our pictures.  Here's a glimpse into our last few weeks.

Field Trip to the LegoLand SeaLife Aquarium

She makes the funniest faces!

My pile of squares for Skylar's quilt

That's Skylar at the top.  She's nearly fearless.

Our tissue paper flowers for Valentine's Day.  Placed in a painted jar, courtesy of pinterest.  
I'm newly addicted.  

Making candles for our "liquids and solids" homeschool project

Our pretty little tangerine tree!

See you in March.  Just kidding.  Kind of.  Back to my wheel. :)


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