Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Merry Christmas! (Tiny Catch Up)

 I love Christmas. It is a time I can be very intentional about teaching the kids the Bible. I made this advent 17 years ago and every day we read a Bible story counting up to Christmas. The kids know the stories so well now that I have them tell the story back to me instead of me reading to them. I am so thankful that God's Truth is in their hearts!

Christmas is a time of chaos for the Brown House. It seems like it is usually accompanied by some kind of surgery for me. This year I got my tendon released in my right elbow. Not fun! But I am getting by. Can't cook, clean, write and I am barely typing this. I need to be good. Lots of activities, family and friends. Lots of snow, ice and rain. This year has been full of  heartache and triumphs. Praying that God will use all of it for His glory. I am learning to trust and not be afraid. He truly has my family in His hands and His provision is unquestionably GOOD.

Love to all. Thanks for sharing the journey with me.

(Due to my arm, I will be taking a blogging break.)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Avocado Cranberry Quinoa Salad

Quinoa seems a little bitter to me, so I found a recipe on the back of the back of quinoa and put my own spin on it.

Avocado Cranberry Quinoa Salad

1 large avocado chopped
1 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa 
1/2 cup of crumbled feta
1/3 of toasted slivered or chopped almonds
2 TBS of minced onion
1/4 dried cranberries  or 1/2 cup fresh grapes (halved)

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsps red wine vinegar
1 tsp of raw sugar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp prepared mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Mix salad ingredients, Mix dressing ingredients, then add dressing and mix. Refrigerate yields 6 servings.

You could add crumbled bacon for a little twist as well!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Catch Up Post for Fall of 2015

 We have had a very busy fall. I thought I lucked out and just had two kids in high school football, but Jessica decided to go out for Junior High Volleyball at the last minute, so my vision of an easy fall was smashed to smithereens! Homecoming week in a small town is CRAZY! Lots of fun but lots of activities. The kids dress up every day. Lily is dressed up as a "geezer" here.

 Halloween costume day, featured Lily as Elsa (along with 20 other girls!)
 We had to creative with Jacob's costume. We labeled him the "crazy San Francisco fan". Hey, it works!

 Career day, I was so proud of Lily who chose to be a "Stay at Home Mom".

 Of course, Jacob chose his career as a marine. No we did not let him take the gun to school!

 I love a school that fits in one gym. This is K-12! I think we have less than 300 students total.

 My mums lived! Well, half of them. The ones that did live got huge! I am so pleased to still have color this late in fall.

 Steve is still staying busy. Here is a car fire. He is the one in the middle. Proud of my firefighter!

 Got to go visit my sweet twin sis and her family a few weekends back. Here is Rina and her Auntie Stacie. Love getting my baby fixes in!

 Rina still fits in the dress that I got her when she was born. She is all dressed up for her baby dedication. This is my sis, Jackie with her sweet baby.

 Jackie, Michael and Rina at her dedication. I was privileged to be able to sing Serene and Pearl's song to her called "A Mother's Prayer." I love songs that make people cry.

 Here is Jess getting ready for the other team's serve. She is such a good volleyball player. The whole team has improved so much! Very exciting to watch! They won a lot of games this year.

 Here is Marcus playing in his first varsity game. His the one crouching on the line.

 Marcus is Number 2. I can't believe how big my 15 year old is getting!

Here is a parting shot of Lily showing off her six year old gap! Oh my has time flown by. How it possible that she is this old. It is so precious. I want to take time to savor all this. Relish it. Love it.

God, you have blessed me beyond belief. Is life perfect? Absolutely not! I am struggling with real problems. But God continues to put them into perspective. I have been through much, much worse. people around the world are going through much, much harder things than my measly problems.

Right now, I am preparing to have surgery on my right elbow. This is going to be quite challenging since I am right-handed. I am crazily preparing meals and freezing them, trying to get caught up on housework and training my children to step it up and help out around here more. I would appreciate your prayers for patience, kindness and gentleness to permeate my soul through the Holy Spirit within me.

Blessings to all!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Helping Your Children Understand and Adjust to Firefighter's Schedule

A great question was asked by Amanda on my last post Firefighter Wives Do's and Don'ts. This is what it said:

"Thank you for your wisdom and transparency. I am new to this whole fire wife gig. My husband has been a wildland firefighter for 7 years and recently made the switch to structure fire. He is now working 48 on 4 days off with a local city department. I am so excited for him. I have watched him work so hard for his dream job. I am still adjusting to the new schedule. We have two young children (2 and a newborn). The most difficult part is that my 2 year old isn't understanding why her Daddy isn't home every night. She recently threw a pretty big tantrum, crying for no reason. When I finally got her settled down enough to talk she said "I never see my Daddy. I want my Daddy." My poor girl is too young to grasp the schedule or the fact that her Daddy has a very important job. I know she will adjust soon, but it is difficult watching my Daddy's girl get so upset every time he's on shift. Any tips for helping young children with the schedule?"

I realized that I had never really addressed this on my blog. My children have always been "firefighter kids", so it is just part of who they are. I think it would be much more difficult if their dad had a different career with more "normal" hours and then switched to being gone for 24 hours at a time, or sometimes 48 hour shifts. 

For the sake of clarity my husband works a Modified Detroit schedule. It looks like this, 24 on, 24 off, 24 on, 24 off, 24 on and then 4 days off. He leaves at 7:00 a.m. and generally gets home the next day around 10:00. When the kids were little and I was homeschooling I used to get so mad that he would stay at the fire station in the morning just to "shoot the breeze" and not rush home to help me out. Now that my children are older and I am older AND wiser, I understand why he liked that time to decompress, catch up with his friends that were coming on shift and discuss the previous day's calls. 

When they would cry and ask why Daddy wasn't coming home I would explain to them that he will be back tomorrow and he would do something special with them. My husband was really good at taking them to the store, a park or take them for a special lunch or grab and ice cream cone. He loves his kids and misses them as much as they miss him. 

My children just get used to it. I see the disappointment sometimes when they know he will miss a game or some kind of event. But they accept and know that it is difficult to get time off or trades. I don't see resentment (usually). They know that mom stays home and dad works hard so they can have a nice house, clothes, food and transportation. 

When it is an OVERTIME situation, that is when I get resentment. They know that it is a choice. If he chooses to get overtime rather than staying home or going to their ballgame, I can get some nasty feedback. That's when I let them know that Dad is a good provider and would much rather be with his family, but he knows we have extra bills so he needs to go in as much as he can right now. Sometimes we won't see him but a few waking hours in a week when he hits the overtime hard. I try to let them know that it is temporary and he is doing what he has to do to meet the needs of the family.

Now, my six year old (our youngest), she gets very whiny sometimes. She is her daddy's girl and she does not like it when he is gone. I hug her and tell her the same things I told the older ones for years. Sometimes it take a little while for her to get over it. Helping your children understand how special their dad is helps a lot. Also, It is always nice when you can dangle the "Dad's got four days off coming up", in front of their noses!

One go-to line I have is this, "Daddy is helping someone else right now. They need him even more than we do." Another line I have is, "There were a bunch of calls at the station at once. If Daddy doesn't go in, and another call came in no one would be there to help and that would not be good."

Having a calendar on the wall that is highlighted so they can see when Dad is here and when Dad is gone helped a lot when my kids were younger.

Facetiming is a great way to connect your kiddos in the evening to their dad if he is available. It can give your kids the ability to talk to their dad about their day and say goodnight. This way they can see that he is actually at the fire station and that they aren't just mysteriously gone. Wish we would have had that option when my kids were younger. Lily and Jacob still like to do this every now and then. Steve is in the station more now that he is a Captain. It may not have worked as well before he was an officer.

It is hard to see your children hurting. One thing you MUST be careful to NOT do, is be resentful yourself. It will come out of your mouth and make your life and your children's life so much harder. I used to be guilty of this and it made matters much worse. So much depends on our own attitude toward our husband's careers. We can make or break their career. We underestimate the power of influence we have over our families. If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. If you are depressed, angry and resentful, get some help. A good solid counselor, another firefighter wife, and a good support system such as family or a church family, will go a long ways to helping you get back on the right track. By taking care of yourself, you are inevitably  taking good care of your children. 

I would love to hear in the comment section some other ideas of what to tell your children when they are upset that daddy is "gone again". Let's help each other out!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Firefighter Wive's Do's and Don'ts

I have been getting a lot of traffic on my blog for my post 18 Years of Being a Firefighter's Wife: Lessons I've Learned.  Last I checked there were almost 20,000 hits. There have been a lot of comments left on there about expectations of their firefighters. Many girlfriends have commented about their frustrations that their needs are not being met. It must be quite a shock to learn that they are going to be alone most of the time. I thought I might compile a list of Do's and Don'ts to help other firefighter wives and girlfriends of firefighters to release their expectations and put some harmony back into their relationships.

(This list in not exhaustive in anyway and is just my opinion.)

1. DO be independent. Your husband needs this more than anything. Try to do everything you can to figure out the current crisis by yourself. Remember that when you call or text he could be unavailable dealing with his own latest crisis at work. My husband likes to go to work confident that I am not going to fall apart if some things go wrong at home. I call the plumber if something breaks. I call the mechanics and figure out how to get a car to the shop. I do almost everything because I have to. If he is there great! But count on the fact that if something is going to go wrong it WILL be when he is on shift. (LOL, but crying really)

DON'T be afraid to ask your friends and family for their help. They know your situation is unusual. Other firefighting families in your department are a wonderful resource too. I have had Steve's coworkers, hitch up trailers, change out a dead battery, babysit in an emergency and lots of other things!

2. DO be quiet. Try to have a gentle and quiet spirit that he looks forward to coming home to. He wants to feel safe and secure at home.

DON'T bombard your husband the moment moment he walks through the door. We need to let them settle down. He might have been having a lot of adrenaline pumping through him to keep him going. He could be exhausted after coming down off of that. I assess my husband when he gets home. Is he quiet? Is he tired? Is he needing some space? Does he want to talk? I let him guide the conversation. Sometimes he will just sit on the couch and not say much. I just do my chores around him and don't ask him to do things until I know he is in a better space. I usually ask one question, "Were you busy?" That leaves it open for him to talk about it if he wants to. He usually never tells me about his calls. Most of them seem to be bogus or unimportant. But every now and then he will tell me about something unusual or different or if it was somebody I knew.

3. DO be supportive: I know it isn't always fun to hear complaints, but sometimes our husband need to vent. They can get upset about how a call was run. Maybe some decision management made that drives them crazy, or a co-worker that is frustrating them.

DON'T try to fix it. Just listen and don't ever talk about it with anyone else. It must be confidential or he will never trust you again. There are a lot of rules about patient confidentiality. My husband is very careful not to name names or tell me anything that isn't public information or the newspapers haven't already covered. It didn't used to be this way, but he is protecting us in the long run from getting sued.

4. DO listen: Sometimes your husband will want to talk certain calls. Sometimes they talk about very gruesome things. The ones that bother me is when they go on traumas with kids. It is all I can do to not put my hands over my ears and scream "Stop"! I always think of my own children and how easily that same trauma could happen to them. My husband is probably feeling the same way and needs to get it out. Many times he will just start hugging the kids and paying extra attention to them. This can be a sign that he has just witnessed the death of a child.

DON'T pepper him with questions, but when he does talk, make sure you stop what you are doing and give him your full attention.

5. DO be intentional. When you do get your husband away from work and away from being on-call and overtime, be extra careful to enjoy and savor it. It may not happen for awhile! My husband loves going out of town because he knows doesn't have the pressure to get overtime. It is a blessing to be able to leave and not worry about what is going on at the fire station. He can relax and enjoy his family more. So make sure you get away every now and then on a real vacation.

DON'T waste your precious time fighting about your firefighter not being there for you. Some firefighters have a choice about going in on calls,but some departments are so small that firefighters need to be on-call more frequently. Volunteer firefighters are especially in demand! Accept that part of being a firefighter is your plans will be ruined. I have a reminder on my wall which talks about the sacrifices of a firefighter's family. I cross-stitched it the first year I married Steve. Twenty years later, I can't tell you how many times this poem has come true! Try to roll with it and give as much grace as possible. It is O.K. to be disappointed. It is what you do with your disappointment that matters. Allowing bitterness to grow and manifest in your heart, is no way to live.

I Am A Firefighter's Wife

The table's set, the meal's prepared,
our guests will soon arrive.

My husband once more disappears with
a hope of keeping a child alive.

While waiting at home alone,
our plans having gone awry.

My first impulse is merely
to sit right down and cry.

But soon again I realize
the importance of my life.

When I agreed to talk on the duties
of being a fireman's wife.

While there are many drawbacks,
I'll take them in stride.

Knowing "my Daddy saved a life"
Our children can say with pride.

The gusting winds and raging flames
may be his final fate.

But with God's help I can remain
my fireman's faithful mate.

I pray this helps anyone who is thinking about becoming a firefighter's wife or is newly married to one and is struggling with the demands. It is a different life than most of the people living around you. But different is not bad, it is just different! Be encouraged. You are not alone. God is with you. Take a moment to pray and ask for His wisdom and guidance.

If you are struggling in a specific area that is not covered here, please leave a comment or email me privately. I would love to be able to help if I can.

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 sbfirefighter@ortelco.net 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.
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