Saturday, September 26, 2015

New Projects

 I have been adding to my rock work. This retaining wall has been a huge project. I did two 100x4 ft walls this summer. The kids helped and their friends and I even roped my mom and my good friend, Kathi in to help with a couple of loads. So excited to have it finished!

 Here is a different view. I am in the process of starting plant flowers in my beds.

Here is a picture of my oldest, Josh hanging clothes up on my newly hung clothesline. So thankful for my dear brother, Jerry and his wife, Sonya, who helped me with this.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Fresh Nectarine/Tomato Salsa

This is my all time favorite fresh salsa recipe. My friend, Dorene, gave it to me. WARNING: It is highly addictive! You bring it to a party and it is gone!

Fresh Nectarine/Tomato Salsa

4 medium chopped tomatoes
2 medium/large chopped nectarines
1/2 small onion
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 TB finely chopped basil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix well. The longer it it sits the more delicious it becomes!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Regaining Your Joy in the Dailiness of Raising Teens

(I posted this picture, because I wish that my children would always stay this size and look adoringly at me! )

I've not posted for awhile because my emotions have been too raw and I know when they are raw I am vulnerable. A lot has happened in the past two months. Things too private to post on here. But we are getting through it. Parenting teenagers is the hardest job ever. I used to think marriage was the hardest thing on the planet. Parenting wins, HANDS DOWN.

I pray constantly for wisdom. I am on my knees like never before. It has been a grueling battle. My heart aches as they get older and they make choices that are not what we have taught them. Because I have made bad choices, I want to spare my children the pain and consequences that I had to suffer. But alas, I will not be able to protect them anymore. But fight for them I will!

To be honest, in the midst of the battle I lost my joy. I lost the purpose of serving my family. Not a good place. That translates into a sad, bitter, lost, surviving-each-day-mama. I became cranky and irritable. I was in this bad place for probably five weeks and it scared me. What was weird to me is I was in the Word and prayer and I still somehow lost my joy.

When God revealed to me what the problem was, I was deeply disturbed. I am the woman who wrote devotions on this subject. My whole heart and soul was devoted to being a terrific, godly, purposeful mother. How did I get this far down the wrong path? I had let the trials of life and of this MARATHON race pull me down. I lost my focus on Jesus. The only One who can save my children from themselves. I CANNOT do it! I focused on the bad and not the good. I "grew weary in doing good" because I didn't see any fruit in it at the moment. I grew resentful instead. I felt like I had to push and prod my children to help me around the house and by golly they didn't have servants' hearts! Come to find out, neither did I.

I also learned that in my attempt to transfer the disciplining to my husband, I had unknowingly made him the bad guy. I stopped saying "I have decided this" and started saying "your father decided this" and "your father decided that". NOT good. What I needed to say was "WE decided this". Things are going much better since I made this change. Steve and I are both feeling more supported and are working as a team instead of unknowingly against one another. It is hard when you are a firefighter's wife, because you do have to make decisions when they are at work. But many decisions CAN wait till Dad gets home. That means I need to teach my children to wait. I am getting myself in a lot less trouble now. Tee hee!

This is my prayer to the Lord:

God, you can be trusted. Please speak to me. Show me you are real and that you love me. I want to know peace while living in JOYFUL expectation of what you are going to do in this flawed, imperfect family. Give me peace so that I can do this thing well. Renew my hope. Take away this weariness that threatens to keep me in a fog of discontentment. Help me to lift my eyes UP to you and see the blessings that are all around me:

-My children's love.

-The funny things they say.

-Their sweet hugs and kisses.

-The gifts they give me (lots of chocolate lately).

-A husband that loves and takes care of me and  has been faithful to me for over 20 years.

-A wonderful, stable job that he loves working as an Engineer/Paramedic and Captain over his shift. He was born to be a captain. His job fulfills him and doesn't drain him.

-God's Word and access to all kinds of in-depth Bible studies.

-Wonderful older women who have been through the teen years and have lived to tell about it!

-My beautiful home and a flower garden that is starting to grow that gives me so much pleasure to cultivate.

-Many projects to look forward to completing.

-Family and friends that support us through thick and thin.

Indeed, I am blessed! Thank you, Lord that You are good, compassionate and You see our struggles. You care about them even as You let us work through them. You are never far and You will not forsake us. I pray that as my children grow they would have hearts for You. Even if they stray, they will always be drawn back. Remind them of Yourself and what You have done for this family. I can lay the foundation, but You, Lord,  ARE the foundation. Stir the hearts of my children and let them seek Your face-always.

May You fill me up with Yourself so that I can experience the joy of serving this family once again. Give me a fresh start. Thank You for Your redeeming love that turns even our mistakes into something that can bring glory to You! In Jesus's Name, Amen.

Raising a large family is not easy. We chose a different path-a riskier path, when we decided to have six children. It upped the odds of "struggle" tremendously. I need to cease being surprised by things and try to roll with them more. Keep loving and moving towards my children even when my heart is breaking. Every day I am taken for granted, questioned, and I have to deal with disrespect. Everyday I discipline and am trying to think of the most effective method that would speak to that particular child. Some days I am their enemy. The peace-loving side of me longs to be their friend, but we aren't there yet. I remind myself that being friends is the end goal.  I am constantly saying, "I am your parent, not your friend."  I am not fighting against them as much as I am fighting against the world.

If you are struggling as I am, I pray that somehow spilling my guts on here will make a difference. I want you to know that you are NOT alone. Nor am I! Please feel free to email me at if you would like to share your struggle privately. If you would like to take a risk and share it for the rest of us to hear, please leave a comment. God can use our struggles and turn them into victories with a little vulnerability and a lot of love and compassion. God bless you, dear mothers!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

"I am Good In the Things That Matter"

Weird title for a post, huh?

A wise woman told me once that she hated lying to people when they would ask how she was. So instead of the ordinary, polite, society-driven "fine", she started saying "I am good in the things that matter."

I am not fine. I am struggling. I am overwhelmed. But I am so thankful that "I am good in the things that matter". What matters to me? My salvation. My children knowing who God is. My family being together. My husband loving his work and doing great at his new promotion. Our health. God providing for our financial needs. Raising six children is kind of expensive! But God continually provides in amazing and always unexpected ways.

I never in my life thought raising teens would be so hard. I remember my dad saying, "when their little they have little problems, when they are big they have big problems." Oh, Dad, why did you have to by so right? Every day we are faced with at least one issue that pops up. I can see why parents give up. This is not easy! But as I told my daughter the other day when she complained that her life is not normal because of how we parent, I told her, "Get used to it, this is what being parented is, and I will continue to parent you until you are no longer my responsibility."

God is using these teens to forge Steve and I together in our parenting. I am a firefighter's wife. I could never count on him to come home and take care of discplining, because I never knew when he would be home. I am now making my children wait so that they father (who is way less emotional than me) can make the discplining decisions. It has been a huge load off of me and he is doing a fantastic job! I don't feel angry all the time and I am able to enjoy my children more.

I am going to give you a secret confession. I was beat up by the enemy big time this week. I had been praying that a wonderful, Christian family would move in next door. I went to go give my new neighbors a pie and I recognized them! They were from the homeschool co-op that I used to go to when I homeschooled. I hadn't seen them in three and a half years. I couldn't believe it and just started praising God. But as soon as I got home, I started to get really anxious and worried. "What if they hear me yell at my children?" "What if they think I am a bad mom because I don't homeschool anymore?" "What if they won't let their kids play with my kids because mine might be a bad influence on theirs?" "What will they think of my son having a girlfriend, since we aren't doing the courtship thing?" Questions, questions, questions...Old insecurities came crashing down on me. Insecurities I thought I had long since dealt with. Why now, why are they threatening to choke me?

In the morning as I was sick to my stomach praying to God to help me. The word "compare" came to my mind. I looked up all the verses in my Bible that had to do with comparing. I found that comparing is rooted in jealousy. I was shocked when I discovered that I was insanely jealous over the new neighbor's seemingly perfect behaved kids and their life style. They were living my dream. Did you notice I wrote "my dream". Obviously what I wanted and what God wanted were two totally different things. I did not get the amiable children that say "yes" to mommy and go on their cheerful, merry way. God gave me six stubborn, strong-willed children to parent. Therefore, my family looks and acts quite differently than a typical homeschool family.

I confessed my sin to the Lord and my sweet sister prayed the oppression off of me. I will not be defeated by something so small and petty, for in reality there are no perfect families. For years I compared our family to the Duggars. Hey, they got it together right? My heart broke as I watched America tear them apart because of a mistake that was made years ago. What America thought was perfect, wasn't. What I thought of their family was not accurate and unfair to them. We put them on a pedestal and then had to watch the unpleasantness of them toppling to the ground.

Our children are imperfect, free-willed, sinful creatures. They are children and they are going to mess up. I want to be a parent that moves toward them when they mess up and show them grace and mercy instead of anger and disappointment. I want to be a reflection of how how God loves me.

As I was working through this with my Heavenly Father, a friend gently suggested that I might be just looking at was wrong with my family and challenged me to write out what was going right. It was a breath-taking beautiful excercise as I wrote down 10-12 things for each of my children. Over 60 wonderful, godly things that I am seeing in my children's life.

 I am truly "good in the things that matter."...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Celebrating 20 years of Marriage today!

 As I celebrate today, I look at a picture our engagement picture. We were so young, so full of hope and dreams. We didn't know it would be so hard. We didn't know that we would truly have to die to our own selves. We just didn't know. The fights. Oh the fights... The joys, oh the joys! Our six crazy, wonderful, hard children have forged us together. Two very stubborn, independent souls needed each other desperately. By relying on God and not ourselves, we have made it 20 years. In all our differences, God has used them to complement one another. We have ceased trying to change each other and have found the beauty and peacefulness of acceptance. I wish it hadn't taken so long.

Thank you, my husband for working so hard for us. Thank you for giving me the ability to stay home with our children. Thank you for supporting me while I homeschooled for seven years. Thank you for loving me even when I am moody, difficult, and over-committed sometimes. Thank you for letting me put God first, then you. And now God so graciously teaching me to put you before the children.

Thank you for finding a balance between work and family. Not every firefighter wife can say that.

Thank you for loving God, and serving Him.

I love you, my friend, my love, my husband. I pray for many more years to come.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Spring-2015: God is Good!

 Spring has sprung around here. I was so pleased with the bulb planting efforts this last year. My daffodils and tulips all came in and were beautiful. Can't wait till next year when they fill out a bit more.

 Here is a picture of the front beds. The tulips haven't bloomed yet though.

 Josh is in the thick of driving school. It is spendy but it will be worth it. He does pretty good. :)

 My twin, Jackie and I now have the most similar hair since we were kids. I think this is the first time in our 40 years that my hair is actually longer than hers!

 Miss Lily had a birthday! I found this Elsa costume online and she is in love with it!

 We celebrated her birthday at her Aunt Jackie's. It was fun having Hailey has her lady-in-waiting holding her train up the whole time. She was truly a princess that day!

 We have taken a lot of time to go play at the ranch this spring. We like to take advantage of playing in the creek before it dries up in the heat of the summer months.

 On Easter weekend, I threw a shower for my sister. It was fun doing the whole "baby" thing again.

 That same night as the shower, our family had a birthday party for Jackie, my SIL, Sonya, and I. Yes, we all have the same birthday! Crazy!

 Part of spring at the ranch is branding season. My two older boys, Josh and Marcus were invaluable as they helped "mug" cows and hold them down so they could be given their shots, markings and of course brands.

 Papa, really enjoys having his big, strapping grandsons to help them.

 I have been continuing to decorate my home with some added touches. I just replaced the 20 year old blinds with some pretty curtains.

 I also, painted my office and hung a picture. I love how the colors turned out. Very warm and inviting! The only thing left to paint is my bedroom!

Andrew also had a birthday! He turned 10 this year! We took his friends out to the ranch and played in the creek then had cake and ice cream!

What fun we have been having! God is so faithful and good and is restoring to us the years the locusts have eaten. He moved us out of our comfort zone and moved us into a spacious place. A place of new memories. New experiences. New life in Him. It is sooo good.

He truly is a faithful God that knows what He is doing. To see how He has lined things up for our family in the past three years is absolutely amazing.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Exposing the Lie of Multi-tasking

"There is no rest in trying to do everything at once. No beginning and no end."-Kathi Lipp
I am so sick of multi-tasking! Can I just say that? I have realized that I got into the bad habit of multi-tasking when I was homeschooling my kids. I cooked and taught. I changed diapers and taught. I cleaned house and taught. I did my Bible study and taught! I even disciplined another child and taught at the same time. Ugh!!! No more!

I have asked God to help me recognize when I am doing two or three things at once. I want to take stress out of my life and do things well. I can only do this when I focus on one task at a time.

I read this passage from a book called "The Cure For the 'Perfect' Life" by Kathy Lipp and Cheri Gregory.

It says, "Multitasking is the great lie of the 21st century. While research has shown that men tend to think about one thing at a time, women usually are thinking about several things at once. But that doesn't mean we are good at doing several things at once. 

Part of the reason we feel on edge is that we've set up unreasonable expectations about the amount of work we should be able to get done. Without taking other factors into consideration:


I should be able to get this report written while my two-year-old naps in the other room.
I should be able to cook dinner in the 15 minutes we are home between school and rugby practice.

I should be able to clean out my daughter's room and then paint it today.

Anytime your thought or conversation starts with 'I should be able to ...' check to see if you're setting up an unreasonable expectation for yourself. When we expect to get too much done in a day, we start cutting out the luxuries, (a nap, time with our husband, playing the dog, exercise, reading) to catch up on the things we 'should have been able to get done.'"

Those are some wise words! Now, when I am feeling overwhelmed by all the kids coming at me at once for something, I take one kid aside and make the others wait. They need to know they are being heard. They need to know what they are saying is being valued. Kids can get lost when you have a large family. I am very aware of this danger and have to be extra diligent to make sure they know they are not lost in the shuffle.

Anyone else struggling with multi-tasking? I would love to hear some of your strategies!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Family Photos at the Fire Station

Our pastor is also our photographer. He has an uncanny ability to capture the personalities of each of my children. Thank you so much Pastor Tim! These are family treasures!

I put a bunch on the side bar of my blog. It was so nice to be able to update the kid's photos.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Power of An Apology

I blew it the other day. BLEW it! It was bad. I reverted into that mother that I have tried so hard to change. I was ashamed, and felt guilty. I hate yelling at my kids. And here I was back to where I didn't want to be.

So what did I do? I apologized almost immediately. Before, it would have taken me awhile. But this time I didn't just apologize to the child I yelled at, I apologized to all my other children for losing control and acting like a two-year old. They heard the whole thing. How could they not?

There is such power in an apology. Kids are so forgiving. They need to see that we are human. They need to see how to restore relationships when they get broken. Even though my child wasn't ready to forgive me yet, I knew that she couldn't lay there and demonize me. She knew I had to swallow my pride to get those two simple words out, "I'm sorry". The next day, on her own, she apologized to me. It wasn't forced or coerced. Ahh, SWEET RESTORATION!

In the book Love Dare for Parents, "Time reveals our humanity. Our children start feeling the aftershocks of our sinfulness and inconsistency...They wholeheartedly speak, but we're only half-listening. Sometimes we forget or we are lazy. Self-centered or angry. Ungrateful. Sinful."

"That's when love reminds us that there are no perfect parents-just the prideful, self-righteous ones who live in denial, and humble, honest ones who take responsibility for their mistakes. Love soberly invites us to look our children in the eye and tell the truth about our brokenness. To embrace the benefits of repentance, owning up to what we've done and adjusting our course."

"All parents need to be aware that a list of their crimes is probably being compiled over time in the hearts of their children. Wrongs they perceive that you have done. Hurtful words. Broken promises. Angry outbursts. Times when you have not practiced what you preached."

A simple way of correcting this is to go to each child and ask them, "Is there anything that I have done wrong that I haven't apologized for?" Listen and don't be defensive. You might be surprised at what is in your child's heart. Reduce that list NOW, not when they are 30 and still remember all the "bad things" their parents did to them.

It takes humility, but God has called us to walk in a humble way. A loving way.

I am going to take the way of love. I need forgiveness as much as my kids do. And more than anything right now as they are in the thick of growing up, I want a solid, godly, respectful relationship with each of my children.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


( A nice layer of thick bark chip "covering" my bulbs and newly planted flowers)

I am shocked when I look back and realize I haven't blogged in over a month. It seems like the older I get, the less I have to say. That is probably a good thing.

The Lord is teaching me so much. Life has been difficult the past two weeks. Lots of strange things have happened and I just kind of feel "off". It seems like there is new drama every day and I am growing weary of it.

I was praying and praying yesterday and yet felt no peace, no joy, only worry as I was obsessively thinking about some of my problems. I cried out to God and said, "Lord, I need a word from you." I had no idea how it was going to come but I felt like it was going to be given to me that day. I was desperate!

As I was laying on a massage table, my sweet, Christian massage therapist, who happens to be one of the wisest people I know, started talking to me about this cool documentary she loved. It was called "Back to Eden". It was about gardening and tying it to Scripture. She said it was fascinating how we "cover" our earth with mulch, bark, and cover crops and the reasons behind it. Tears instantly started running down my cheeks. I told her, "That's it! That's my word!" She was a bit confused and I started explaining to her how helpless I had been feeling about some of the hard things my children had been facing at school. I knew God had instructed me to pray for them more intentionally, but when God gave me that word "Cover", I knew that's how I was to pray for them.

Of course, the next morning during my devotions, I decided to do a word search on the word "covering". Fascinating stuff!

Covering: A thing used to cover something, typically to protect or conceal

Cover, Covering Fire: Fire that makes it difficult for the enemy to fire on your own individuals or formations.

Cover: To provide for

Cover: To take an action to protect against future problems.

Cover: To protect or defend

Cover: To maintain a check on, especially by patrolling

Cover: Clothe, as if for protection from the elements

This is how and why I am to "cover" my children in prayer. I sensed a new and renewed purpose when I started to pray for my children this morning. Not just my children, but the other children at school, the teachers, the administrations. I started envisioning the hallways and the classrooms and prayed God's covering over them as well.

His covering is perfect and powerful. I can trust in Jesus's blood to cover my children and the areas that influence them.

"Thank you, Lord for these marching orders. They have given me hope and encouragement. For nothing is impossible with You!"

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year/ New Beginnings

As I was driving back with my six children from vacation at my Mom and Sister's houses, I almost burst out crying. I felt overwhelmed with thankfulness on this day. The very, FIRST day of the new year of 2015. I have been so busy getting through all of our Christmas and New Year's family traditions that I hadn't slowed down long enough to process all that God has done for us.

 (I ran across these verses a days back and couldn't help but think how true God's Word is!)

 Lily at her Christmas program! She was so sick all week, but the doctor cleared her to participate just in time. She couldn't wait to sing us her songs and show us her moves.

 Josh and Marcus pretending they are cool shepherds as they are getting ready for the Christmas tractor parade.

Shows how much Marcus has grown in one year!

Josh getting warmed up for a game. He is the one in the middle.

As basketball starts in full swing, we are going into it with a good attitude. We probably have around 45 more games to go between four kids. I love watching them play though. Each year they improve so much and it is really exciting to see them grow not just as athletes, but as friends and teammates.
 Lily in her new Christmas dress.

 During Christmas Vern and Ethel (Steve's folks) were able to come and join us. It is always good to have them over!

Jacob is really into reading. Here he is reading with Nana Diana, the Christmas story out of Luke before we opened our presents.

Lily got a pretend straightner. She decided to use it on Santa's beard. Too cute!

As we begin the new year, Steve will be getting promoted from Lieutenant to Captain in just a few days. So proud and excited for him! He has been waiting for this promotion for a very long time. The extra pay will help pay for things like Jessica's braces, and fun stuff like that. I know he will do such a good job. I enjoy listening to all of his dreams and plans of how he would like to make his shift run smoothly. He has been the head of his shift for several months, but it will be so nice that is is official.

Andrew pretending he was a baby again on my lap. and Jessica pretending Cuddles the Cat is her baby. She is practicing for when her Aunt has hers in May. Sometimes we just like to be silly!

We are getting really involved in our church and it has been so wonderful getting to know more of the church members on a more intimate level. I just became a deaconess and am soooo excited to be able to be plugged in and serving. Steve is teaming with another member to help with the grounds maintenance.  We are looking at ways our children can help too. Can't wait to see what God is going to do with our little church this year!

(Jackie and I's kids lined up to get some Chinese food in Mom's kitchen. Oldest to youngest. They are like little stair steps. Jackie's are easy to spot because they have red hair!)

 Josh is still going out with his girlfriend, Evie, whom we love dearly. She seems to love our children as well and has a quick smile and a great sense of humor. She treats Josh so good and he is turning out to be quite a romantic young man. They are pretty cute to watch!
(Here is Josh ice skating. The only thing he was lamenting about was that Evie wasn't there to skate with)
(The girl cousins waiting to see the ultrasound)

Back to my sister, Jackie. My mom, Jessica, Lily, Hailey (my niece), and I were able to go see Jackie's ultrasound for her baby. Oh, it was such a gift! To see a little baby bouncing all over in her womb. I know she is a little shell-shocked to find out that she was pregnant after trying for seven years, but this Auntie is beyond excited!!!! What a fun girl's outing!

Mom took the kids ice skating yesterday. They were having so much fun even though it was 19 degrees out!. Josh and Jess seem to be naturals.  Lily had a hard time with her training skates. 

Yikes, this is a really random post! At least I got it up. Happy New Year everyone!

Over and out!

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