Thursday, January 17, 2008

Skirt sewing day

Tomorrow is sewing skirts day! I'm so excited. WE're sewing skirts to take down to Mexico when we go on our missions trip in February. I got the idea from Randi at I Have to Say. Got the instructions from Kuky Ideas ( and have been drawing patterns, writing instructions, washing fabric and pressing it all week. Finally the day is here and we're going to sew up a bunch of skirts for some kids who could use it down in Mexico. Yeah. To make it mama is coming, too. She's already got a dozen made (what a surprise!)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bible adventures

Our wonderful German house guest has arrived and been with us for a week now. We absolutely love her, she is as sweet as they come! Her English is excellent, she is observant, thoughtful and flexible. I hope she can stand us for the next 5 months!!

Now that the press of the holiday season is over I am back to teaching Sunday School and have joined a Bible Study. Both have been requiring much study from me and I must confess...I love it. We're going back over the Angela Thomas material in Sunday School, working through parts of the sermon on the mount.

On Sunday as I was teaching I had a revelation that I couldn't quite wrap my head around at the time, but now as I think and ponder and study I have noticed that the heart conditions mentioned in the beatitudes are a progression of maturity. It's really quite fascinating. Take a look. At some point we realize that we're broken (poor in spirit), life has nailed us to the wall and we're falling in pieces, we need a Saviour. When we break we end up mourning the loss of what was, whether it was a person, an idea, ideal or dream. In the midst of our mourning we become humbled and look to the Saviour. As our souls are healed we begin to hunger and thirst after righteousness, we are satisfied and we realize how much we needed a saviour. We can be merciful, because we've been shown mercy. Because we have shown mercy, God will contiue to show mercy and we become pure in heart. Our hearts are made pure, they are at peace and we can bring that peace into the midst of others - we are peacemakers. However, in the midst of giving away the peace that Christ offers we will most likely get persecuted. After much persecution we are poor in spirit and once again the cycle begins, another step up towards Christlikeness. Another interesting tidbit is that the blessings are bookended by receiving the Kingdom of Heaven - with getting everything else inbetween. I am fascinated by this and am going to continue studying it.

IN our Bible Study we are studying the Tabernacle with Beth Moore in a study called, A Woman's HEart - God's Dwelling Place. This, too, is a fascinating study, bridging the whole of scripture, showing the incredible brilliance of God and His design. One little tidbit from that study. The curse that was given after Adam and Eve sinned in the garden was that the land would produce thorns and thistles for them. What did Jesus wear on his head as he hung on the cross? A crown of thorns. He literally took the curse on his head - isn't that amazing! God is so good.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Highlights of the week

The year started out in an adventersome way with adding an extra 5 kids and my husband flying off to the States. Tomorrow we go pick up a young lady from Germany who will be living with us for the next five months. She's here to learn the language, see the country and help me with my home. Should be an adventure!!!

So bet you're curious about the single parenting of 11 children, eh? Well, honestly, it went pretty well. It really is true that the more you have the easier it gets. Since the 5 that came have known my kids all their lives and all five pairs are best buddies, things were pretty sweet. The weather was perfect so they were out sledding and playing hockey or just cruising around the yard for a good chunk of the day.

I don't think I actually saw the girls for the first two days except when they poked their noses out to eat. Polly World took over my daughter's room and they were havin' fun.

There weren't too many mishaps, broken things or fights. There definately were some, just not an excessive amount.

There are some things you should know if you decide to have 11 kids. (BTW, except for one kid, it would have been physically possible for me to have given birth to all 11 of these kids).
- buy peanut butter in VERY large jars
- with 8 boys in the house it is imparitive that you check the toilet seat each and every time you think you might want to sit on that thing
- also check the floor and the walls, never assume that a wet spot in the bathroom came from water
- if you're making sandwiches for lunch, open three bags
- buy a lot of milk - I think we drank at least 2 4-litre jugs per day
- invest in hot chocolate powder
- more than one computer would have been handy unless you're willing to let them use your laptop (I wasn't)
- more than one TV/VCR/DVD thing is also handy
- very large washing machine is a gift from God himself
- make sure you have a sledding hill and a skating rink in close proximity
- don't plan on getting anything of major importance done when they're all home

Some highlights:
- everyone playing hide-n-seek on Is' birthday
- making a farmyard cake for Is' birthday with little cows, pigs and chickens sprinkles- too fun
- listening to the whole bunch of them play 'spies' - even the big boys got into it
- there was a point when all 11 children were outside and I was inside by myself - who would have thought that could happen!!
- didn't hear any food complaints (that may have been because I couldn't hear them!)
- playing Tickey to Ride and/or The Farming Game every evening with my big boys (and they are getting pretty big)

REally, God is gracious and allowed me to enjoy this week. My honey came home to an overflowing toilet because my own two little boys decided to stuff a diaper down it. I was so thankful that it happened then and not the day before that I couldn't really be that mad.

ps - I haven't actually seen the new van yet because it had to get inspected, etc. Kelly says it is very nice.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

fresh flowers for Jan 2

In the Mood?
Copyright 2007, lani wiens
A fresh flowers original

This Christmas was going to be different, or so I thought. It was going to be full of peace and joy and family togetherness. This year I was prepared. I had the majority of my presents either purchased or ordered by the middle of November, or so I thought. Through the nagging, um encouragement of my daughter the house was decorated by the first of December. We were going to do something a little different since we threw out our old tree when we moved, we put up a “Jesse tree”. The Jesse tree advent celebration comes from the verse that states that out of the stump of Jesse a Messiah will come. So we got a dead branch out of the bush and set it up. We were going to follow the daily devotions as a family and this would point us to a great spiritual revelation of God’s love for us. We would all be filled with peace and joy this Christmas season, or so I thought.

I was so far ahead of the game that I even purchased ingredients to do baking. While I enjoy baking bread, I do NOT enjoy most other forms of baking. I find it rather pointless in my household. I can bake 32 dozen cookies and Tuesday and all that’s left by Thursday is the misshapen, broken bits at the bottom of the cookie jar.

I went on a little retreat at the beginning of December in order to do all my homemade gifts. It was a delightful weekend and I got tons done. I came home ready to face the busyness of banquets, programs and gift wrapping. I had purchased an alfalfa tonic to help with my fatigue (tasted terrible but it sure works). I had just finished teaching a wonderful Sunday school course that had me filled up and focused on the Lord. I was REALLY ready for these few weeks, or so I thought.

I even decided that this would be the year of the family picture card and newsletter sent out in hard copy rather than the electronic version I’ve been doing. Surely I would get an extra star in my crown for that. But I was so well prepared I knew it would be no problem.

Now here’s what really happened.

Apparently I’m getting a little forgetful in my old age. I managed to forget not just one but two gift lists. To keep it even, one on each side of the family. I wasn’t aware of the traditions in our small town so found out that all my boys would be involved in gift exchanges in their classrooms. I wasn’t aware that it was tradition that the kids in the Sunday school give their teachers gifts, dropped that ball, too.

Our spiritual revelation hasn’t come yet. The devotional set we chose was, unfortunately, a lot over our kids heads, it wasn’t the simple, homespun thing I thought it was. The up side of the family devotions, as chaotic and stressful as it was was that our son who has struggled with reading willingly took his turn reading scripture – most of the time.

Every time we saw a green Christmas tree or decorations, my youngest son didn’t waste time telling me that we ought to decorate our house that way. It was a constant reminder that my decorating was woefully inadequate in his estimation. I told him that when he and the other children were bigger and there were a lot less flying objects in our house, maybe our house would be decorated like that, too.

Those baking ingredients haven’t been used. The only extra baking I managed to get in besides the super easy whipped shortbread I made for the youth group was from purchased cookie dough that I managed to burn. Apparently without the investment of mixing ingredients my psyche can’t deal with the pressure of watching cookies.

I realized too late that it isn’t the big gifts that will do you in, it’s the little odds and ends; the school pictures, the Christmas cards, the little gift exchanges, the endless list of people who do things for you that you take for granted the rest of the year that you suddenly decide you want to recognize, the wrapping and all the other myriad things that need to get done. No anti-fatigue tonic can help you when you stay up late every night and run yourself ragged all day.

The Christmas cards, while a great idea, proved to be a much larger task than we thought with our desire to send a card to all our friends in our old church, giving them to the new church friends as well as long distance friends and of course all the relatives. Searching out addresses and figuring out how to save on postage by hand-delivery proved to be a monumental task. Worth it? Certainly, but I’m guessing it may not happen again soon.

Yes, this mama was not happy and you know how the saying goes, when mama ain;t happy, ain’t nobody happy. My homeschooling schedule went right out the window causing me more stress. The house became a little more than chaotic and I seemed to just be stressed and yelling at everyone. Joy and peace were not resident and it largely had to do with me. This was not what I had envisioned. I was definitely NOT in the mood for Christmas, I was ready to give up on the whole idea.

But God hadn’t given up on me, even though I was pretty sure that I wasn’t bringing Him any blessing at this point. One evening after I had run around helping one child with his wrapping, another with a sewing project, listening to the baby cry and flung myself down on the lower bunk to sing Jesus songs so my little boys would go to sleep so I could go back to my sewing machine, wrapping and cleaning. I was part way through Jesus Loves Me when the Holy Spirit began to convict me of my heart’s attitude. I flung around in my memory for a song that I could sing and mean. Jesus, Be the Centre is what came to mind...”be the fire in my heart, be the wind in my sails, be the reason that I live, Jesus” Then the Spirit led me to...”you are my strength when I am weak, you are treasure that I seek, you are my all in all. When I am down you pick me up, when I am dry you fill my cup, you are my all in all. Jesus, lamb of God, Holy is Your Name.” By this time, my heart was streaming with tears even though my eyes weren’t, I no longer cared if my boys were sleeping I was finally where I belonged, at the feet of the One who came, lying in the manger, wrapped in His arms of love. “It’s all about you Jesus, and all this is for You.”

I emerged from the Holy of Holies with a new attitude and a new heart. My three youngest babies were sleeping, one sibling was helping another. My husband and oldest son came home to a new atmosphere that was almost tangible. My husband was greatly relieved, he had become concerned with my frantic pace and snippy countenance. While the list of things to do hadn’t changed, my heart had completely transformed. Joy and peace on earth were possible again. Christmas came back in a manger, in the dark of my boys’ messy bedroom. Thank you Jesus for your faithfulness to us, even when we completely forget why we’re doing all this running around. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

the adventure begins

The adventures of the new year have officially begun! We started off with adopting 5 kids for a few days. Our dear friends just had a baby (Dec 18) and the poor little fellow is back in the hospital, he isn't thriving the way they'd like so the doctors are conducting a multitude of tests to determine what is causing the problems. In the meantime, his older brothers and sister are here with us. Our kids are delighted as these are their best friends, more like extra brothers and sister really. So here we are one mommy and 11 kids, so far it's been very good.

Where is the daddy? Winging his way to Philadelphia to get our new van. We purchased a van on e-bay so DH and his dad are heading down there to drive it home. While I don't envy the 33+ hours of driving they're going to do to get it home, I am jealous of the route he plans to take home - right through Lancaster County. I told him if he came anywhere near a quilt shop he at least had to go in and get me a little bit of cloth. He promised he would.

Happy New Year everyone!