Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Today

Sunday after everyone left and we had returned from Church I headed out for a little breather to the Christian Bookstore to browse around a little by myself :) I decided to purchase a new devotional for the New Year so I picked out Oswald Chamber's My Utmost For His Highest. It is one that I had looked at before but never bought. I have read it the last few days and have already been blessed by these words written so many years ago but even so they seem like they were written just for me.

Today's was entitled we finish 2008 and embark on the adventures of 2009 I want to share what Chambers has to say and hopefully it will strike you as it struck me.

"You shall not go out with haste...for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard" Isaiah 52:12
"Security from Yesterday. "God requires an account of what is past" (Ecclesiastes 3:15). At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise when we remember our yesterdays. Our present enjoyment of God's grace tends to be lessened by the memory of yesterday's sins and blunders. But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual growth for our future. God reminds us of the past to protect us from a very shallow security in the present."
"Security for Tomorrow. "...the Lord will go before you..." This is a gracious revelation-that God will send His forces out where we have failed to do so. He will keep watch so that we will not be tripped up again by the same failures, as would undoubtedly happen if He were not our "rear guard." And God's hand reaches back to the past, settling all the claims against our conscience."
"Security for Today. "You shall not go out with haste..." As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in haste of impetuous, forgetful delight, nor with the quickness of impulsive thoughtlessness. But let us go out with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ. Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him."
I love that He is my rear guard as well as the one that goes before me. I know as I look back on 2008 I have made my share of mistakes and blunders but I also know that I'm forgiven...I take heart in this as 2009 begins! Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Well the 24th has finally arrived and I have managed to get everything prepared for our Christmas celebration. The last few weeks and days have been filled with times spent with good friends, lots of laughter and really not a whole lot of stress. I was feeling it a bit earlier today as I rushed out to buy one last minute gift but over all this has been a very peaceful preparation time for Christmas. As we prepare to celebrate the Lord's birth I am filled thankgiving for all that this year has meant to our family. It has been a year filled with memory making and as we gather together tonight and tomorrow I'm feeling peace about what we have accomplished in the recent weeks and all this year. I pray that as you celebrate with your families that you will remember the meaning of the season and feel the peace that surpasses all understanding that our Lord offers. Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Purposeful Preparation

As we are preparing for Christmas I am trying to keep in perspective the reason for this season and not get too stressed in the process. Staying focused on finishing my Bible study and spending time in prayer has helped a great deal. I just finished another wonderful Beth Moore study with my Bible study girls and it was truly awesome. It was all about the Psalms of Ascent which I had never even heard of before but they are the grouping of Psalms from Psalm 120-134. They were written as songs that the Israelites would sing as they made their yearly pilgrimages to the feasts in Jerusalem. Within this group is a Psalm that I have always held dear but it became even more dear to me after studying it more and it is one that I will cling to throughout this season to help me stay grounded in what is truly important during these busy days.
Psalm 127
Unless the Lord builds a house its builders labor over it in vain; unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain. In vain you get up early and stay up late, eating food
earned by hard work; certainly He gives sleep to the one He loves. Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, children, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in
one's youth. Happy is the man who has filled his quiver with them. Such men will never be put to shame when they speak with their enemies at the city gate.

I love that God wants me to get sleep!! That was such a revelation to me when studying this Psalm. Many times I get so caught up in all the things to do, especially at this time of year that I forget to rest and I forget that God wants me to rest. The other part of this psalm that I truly love is the part about my children being a Heritage from the Lord. I need to remind myself of that from time to time as well. When I get frustrated with behaviors or caught up in the busyness of getting school accomplished it is easy for me to forget what a blessing they truly are to my life. And my quiver is truly full with arrows for serving Jesus. I need to also remember to always build my house on the firm foundation of Christ so that I am not laboring in vain.

In the last session Beth talks about laying down things that we think are necessary but are not necessarily what God wants us to be doing. This is something that over the last year I have actually worked very hard to do. I know that I still could use some work on this but I'm pleased to say that He has taught me to pray much more fervently before I take something new on, and to make sure that it is really His will and not my own. My prayer for all of you that read this blog is that you would take the time to evaluate the "things" in your life that take up your time and be prayerful about whether or not they are truly what God wants for you. In the coming weeks as we prepare for Christmas I want to be purposeful about the things we choose to do and remember as the days pass why we celebrate this holiday we call Christmas, I hope I can pass some of that on to my quiver in the process!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lessons from Computer Land

Over the past week I have learned just how much I have come to rely on the technology that is my computer! I entered the realm of technology slowly and with some trepidation. I don't know if I was resisting change or just being stubborn but apparently I may on to have been on to something, perhaps. Anyway...this week we found out that our computer had over 140 viruses on it, yippee. I have known for the past few months that something was not quite right on my computer but I had no idea that it was this bad. Anyway the folks at the local computer store assured Robert that they could rectify this problem quickly and efficiently, isn't that what they always say?? That was Saturday, by Monday my computer was back on my desk ready to roll right??? Alas no, when we pulled up the email I discovered that everything in my contacts on outlook (that is every address, phone number and email that I have saved) and all of my old saved emails were you guessed it, GONE! This made my heart very sad and being the understanding husband that he is made Robert very testy. Back to the computer store he marched where they once again assured him that they would quickly and efficiently be able to restore this problem and I would get my stuff back. That was forward to Friday, apparently it took longer than they thought. I call Robert to find out if he will be home soon and he sounds kinda funny. I ask what's going on?? He says I'm picking up the computer, I'll call you right back. I sense, all is not well at the big box electronic store. He never did call me back I think he was prolonging the inevitable friction that he knew was going to ensue. See apparently they are not nearly as crafty and efficient at the store, and even after reinfecting my computer and trying to restore all of my data alas that was not possible! All is lost...thank you so much cleaver hackers and virus engineers you got me good!!

I am still sad and not looking forward to collecting and restoring my address book but I'm coming around to the fact that there is a reason for everything and perhaps God is trying to teach me a lesson. Maybe I have gotten a little too comfy around my technology and have spent a bit too much time in the vortex which is the internet. Perhaps I am to teach you all a lesson about making back up copies of contact files and printing out emails that have fun recipes instead of assuming they will always be there. Or maybe He is just longing for me to remember that all things on this earth are temporary and if I'm going to put my trust in something it should be Him. Whatever the reason I'm sure it is for my own good right??

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Big D Turns Eight

Today is Daniel's or as we affectionately call him Big D's eighth birthday. He is my littlest guy but he has a big heart. Always willing to help and always smiling...Daniel lights up any room he enters. It is hard to believe that it has been three years since Daniel entered our lives with quite a bang. We have had our challenges since he joined our family for sure, but Daniel is also probably my most consistently happy child. Even when he is sick, Big D is going 100 mph from the time he gets up to the time he goes to bed. He is inquisitive and jovial and tells me so often how much he likes me!! We like him too, and can't imagine life without him. He teaches me everyday what it means to persevere and have patience and I can't believe how much he has grown and changed over the last three years. With his big boy teeth in the front he looks so very grown up. Happy Birthday Big Guy!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Five Chickens

After we finished in DC we headed back to the farm for a few more days with our sweet friends. Melissa took these adorable pictures of our kiddos with one of the Bard Rock Chickens. This is the prettier of the two kinds of chickens that they have. Brent brought her up from the egg mobile for her photo session. That night we were having our yummy mexican dinner outside and she decided that she really wanted to join us. She proceeded to jump up on the table several times and wreak a little havoc on our dinner plans. Ana to the rescue...she pulled her off of the table and we went on eating!! Fun memories!

Chicken James
Chicken Peter
Chicken Emma
Chicken Daniel
And last but certainly not least...Chicken Ana
The next day it was time for us to head for home. We were very sad to leave and can't wait for our friends to come back to Arizona next month. However we will treasure so many memories from this grand adventure. Hopefully we can return to this part of the country some day for a visit or perhaps longer. Until then we will continue to wait on the in brown but beautiful Arizona!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Few More Washington Photos

Thought I would post a few more of our favorite photos from the monuments.

The Washington Monument and reflecting pool view from the Lincoln Memorial
The Vietnam Memorial
Vietnam Memorial Statue
Mr. Lincoln
Our trooper kiddos before our long trek back to the subway. They did an outstanding job with all the walking that we did. Boy were we happy to get to the metro station though...wheew!

Washington Adventure: Part Two

After leaving the Library of Congress we headed next door to the Supreme Court Building. What an amazing site it was. How many country changing decisions have been made in this building. Quite awe inspiring. From there we headed to the Museum of American Indians which was at the top of our children's list of must see places. We had a wonderful lunch at their food court which has an amazing assortment of Native American cuisine. It is divided into regions...some of our samples included salmon, native american tacos, indian fry bread and of course for our more picky eaters...chicken and fries!! After lunch we toured around the exhibits which detail the lives of American Indians today as well as a lot of their history. There was a neat bead work exhibit as well as pottery and indian dolls. Next we headed for the Air and Space Museum which is right next door thankfully. Robert was thrilled about seeing all of the different treasures that this museum had to offer as were the boys. I have to admit though that the girls and I were pooped! We decided to let the boys explore and we went to McDonald's for a shake and some fries and some nice chairs. After some rest we rejoined our boys and Emma went with them to some of the other exhibits including the Wright Brother's area which was a favorite with all of them. Ana and I ended up camping out on the floor to people watch and Ana took a much needed cat nap. This rounded out our first day of touring. The one down side to the day was when we got back to the van we realized it had been broken into while we were gone. Thankfully my sweet husband was very smart and took pretty much everything out of any value and they only ended up taking four of the kids DVDs. One of them being Bible Man so we are hopeful that perhaps they will watch it and repent!! We filed a police report and headed for the camp ground...exhausted.

The Supreme Court
My weary kiddos at Air and front of the Spirit of St. Louis
After our adventure with the van we decided to take the Metro for our second day of touring. We were off and running to the first bus of the day which took us to the Metro station and on to downtown. Our first stop of the day was the National Archives which we were all excited about seeing. Since we have been studying early American history and specifically the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution this was thrilling for all of us. We spent some time looking over all the documents and snapping a lot of photos and then moved onto the gift shop! We found lots of treasures including copies of all the important documents and a copy of Poor Richard's Almanack for me written by Benjamin Franklin. Another person we had studied extensively last year.
Outside the National Archives
Next we headed to the Naval Museum. Peter especially enjoyed this spot looking at all the Naval uniforms and getting more info about a tour of duty of a naval officer in a very interesting film. We hit the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch and then went to see the house where Lincoln died. Ford's Theater across the street is closed for renovation but we did see the outside of it. Next we walked to the White House and then over to the monuments. We were able to see the Washington, WWII, Vietnam and our personal favorite...Lincoln. We have been reading a photo biography about him since we returned from our trip and it is great to have the visual of the places that he lived and worked fresh in our minds.
After the monuments we trudged back to the subway, very weary but happy to have seen so much of this amazing city. Hopefully we will be able to go back again someday and see some of the things we missed, but we feel like for our first trip we saw the main highlights...memories we will have for a life time!

A nice view of the White House from over by the Washington Monument.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Washington Adventure Day One

Our adventure in DC began at the US Capitol. We had gotten to the Smithsonian before it opened so we decided to take a walk down to the Capitol. We ended up walking down there and then around the other side to the Library of Congress, which I must admit was my favorite junky that I am. Emma and I were sad to find out though that you can't actually see and touch the books except for through a glass window overlooking the rotunda. We were quite sad about this but it was fun just to be there. They also had a wonderful display set up of part of Thomas Jefferson's personal library. It had some interactive computers next to it, where you could pick a book and actually read excerpts from it on the computer screen. There was also a neat display with some of the original drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. James, Peter, and Emma were thrilled to know that even the authors of these fantastic documents wrote rough drafts with scribble marks all over them. Pretty amazing stuff!

My handsome family in front of the Capitol
A very nice lady was kind enough to snap this one for us. The sun was still in the way in the east so it was a little challenging to be able to actually get us and the building in the photo without tremendous glare.
This was taken near the reflecting pool by the Capitol. That was something that I had forgotten was there. I knew there was one between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial but I didn't remember this one. Very pretty area.
The Capitol Squirrels...we had fun with the kids pointing out different squirrels. There were the Capitol Squirrels, the White House Squirrels, the Lincoln Memorial get the idea. What can I say we don't see a lot of squirrels in Arizona...and we are kind of dorks!! :)
The Library of Congress

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Surprising Wonder

Luray Caverns, Virginia was a pleasant surprise along our journey up to Washington DC. A beautiful walk through this enormous cavern reveals some of God's handiwork in an amazing way. The children were amazed at all the stalactites and stalagmites throughout the cavern and the interesting formations that they create. Our favorite highlights were hearing the stalactite organ play and spending a moment with the lights out down in the cavern. I don't think I have ever been in a place that dark.

Me and my honey!!
Adventure Buddies
Sweet Friends

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sweet Girls and Sweet Fellowship

One of the things that is wonderful about being on the farm is the freedoms that you can allow your children. Melissa and I turned our sweet girls loose one of the days we were there asking them if they wanted to go on a solo adventure to pick wild flowers in the Ranger. Abigail has been learning how to drive it and was anxious to show her friend what she had learned. With wide eyes they said a most definite "Yes!" and before we knew it they were off. We both gulped and agreed that this was a small taste of what it will be like to send them off in a car together someday...yikes!! All was well and they had a wonderful time and brought back some gorgeous Queen Anne's Lace which they arranged in a beautiful bouquet for us! I know just yesterday they were four and in dance class how the time does fly.

Off on their grand adventure
Sweet Emma
Sweet Abigail

The Heart of Our Journey

Our original reason for making this incredible journey was to visit our dear friends Brent and Melissa's farm in Virginia. They have been farming on the most amazing God created piece of land this summer and fall and we were privileged to get a glimpse of their life during our trip. They have been raising broiler chickens, some happy cows and laying hens and are having a marvelous time doing it. How amazing to see their three children, who are dear friends of our kiddos, Abigail, Samuel and Ethan working this farm right along side their parents. What a gift Brent and Melissa have given them to be involved in this lifestyle. So much slower paced and the bonus of being in some of the prettiest country I have ever been in. This Arizona girl was smitten with all the green rolling hills and beautiful flowers growing everywhere.

Robert was able to help Brent with morning chores (way too early for me to even think about helping). Then we all took our turns gathering, washing, weighing and cartoning eggs. All of the children loved pitching in. But our Sweet Ana was definitely the most eager to get down and dirty with the chickens. I was amazed at her fearlessness, pulling chickens off their nests and scooping up as many eggs as her basket would hold. I think we have a future farmer in our family!!

Here is the amazing view from near one of the egg mobiles truly breathtaking. How fun to wiz to the top of the hill in the Ranger and see this amazing view. Melissa was even brave enough to let me drive the Ranger one time, I almost made her regret it by going just a tad too fast down a hill!
Here is our sweet farm girl doing her thing in the egg mobile. It was her favorite time of the day.
Sweet friends Peter and Samuel. They had missed each other so much. Samuel was wonderful about showing the boys all the ins and outs of farm life. What a blessing to be able to turn the kids loose and let them ride bikes and just explore without fear. Something definitely not possible in the city.
Here are Mr. Brent's happy cows. One of the most amazing sites to behold. Each day around 3:00 Brent goes to move the cows to a new area of grass. They are surrounded by electric fence, and feast on a diet of yummy grass. Each day when Brent goes to move them they frolic and can't wait to follow him to the new pasture. It is quite a site to see 500 cows following a man as if he were the pied piper. Robert got to call them, one of the days that we were there and he loved every minute of it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Blessing my Husband's Heart

Our next day of travel took us through the beautiful state of Tennessee where we landed in Pigeon Forge for the night. It was a very long day of travel and we were all exhausted when we finally reached our destination. The one conciliation for all of us was that Pigeon Forge just happens to have a Johnny Carino's Restaurant. For those of you that know us well you know how much this means to us. For those who don't it is just about our favorite restaurant for so many reasons...Italian Nachos, Chicken Pasta, Chocolate cake...and the list goes on. We used to have one of these wonderful places in Prescott Valley, but alas it went out of business, so any time we visit a place that has one it is definitely on our list of stops. The next day we slept in a bit and then headed for Virginia and our wonderful friend's farm. On the way we just so happened to pass through the town of Bristol, Tennessee home to one of NASCAR's famous tracks. If you know Robert you know that NASCAR is one of his favorite things in life. And since we gave up television a few years ago he has only been able to get updates online and catch an occasional race when we are at a hotel. So when we saw the signs for the race track his face lit up. We ended up stopping there for lunch in the trailer and taking a look around the track. It is actually a very small track, and shaped very much like a paper clip according to my beloved! It blessed him to see it, perhaps someday we can even attend the actual!!

Had to get a shot from out the window...Robert says it turned out great.
Robert sneaked a quick peak inside to get this photo.
Compared to the Phoenix track which we visited earlier this year, this is tiny!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sweet Fellowship in Little Rock

We made it through the winds and the rain of Ike and safely landed in Little Rock at the house of our sweet friends the Buchers. We had met them when we first started the process with Family Life at the Ministry Preview that we attended. They are very dear to us and we were thrilled that they were willing to host us for our short stay in Little Rock. Their four children graciously allowed us to sleep in their beds for two nights as well as making fast friends with our five. We attended church with them on Sunday morning and then Sunday afternoon they had a get together for all of the people that we had met through Family Life. Complete with wonderful food, lots of laughter, and even some singing, it was a very special day for all of us. A bit bittersweet as we realized once again that we will not be a part of this community. Fun none the less to see what the Lord has been doing in all of their lives and to finally get to meet all of their sweet children. All of our kiddos made fast friends that they hope to keep in touch with. Fun fellowship for all and difficult to say goodbye to as well. There will always be a piece of us in Little Rock and we hope to visit there again very soon.

Sweet new friends

Lance, Hope, Anna, Seth, Ethan and Joshua made our time in LR so special

Sweet Girls...Anna, Ana and Emma really hit it off...kindred spirits!

The Wonderful Cross

Our second day of travel took us through the panhandle of Texas and past the Largest Cross in the World. Because of Hurricane Ike, Amarillo was blanketed with fog the morning we were leaving there. We decided to hit the road early and stop for breakfast at this huge cross which was also surrounded in a blanket of fog. We were the only ones there, so after a light breakfast in the trailer we walked around and explored the amazing exhibits surrounding this gigantic cross. Around the outside of the cross are bronze statues depicting the stations of the cross. There is a station for Calvary with the three crosses and next to it is a tomb with a giant angel statue inside. The children loved looking around and reading all the plaques at each station. It was a wonderful way to start our long day of travel.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Home again in Arizona

We have returned safely from our journey east to Virginia. What a trip it was for all of us. A truly wonderful experience with some interesting adventures along the way. It was difficult to leave the beautiful green of the Virginia farm where our dear friends are dwelling this summer. It was a balm to my spirit to dwell there if only for a few days. I have so much to share and many pictures to post, but my computer is not feeling well and I think may have a virus so not sure how that is going to work. I will work today to try and get my old computer up and running and see if I can get some of the photos posted over there. In the mean time I have piles of laundry to sort through and children to get back on track. We are all overwhelmingly tired and a bit sick. Miss Emma got a cold along about the time we were in DC and then by the time we were headed home I had contracted it. The Lord was merciful and it has not been horrible for any of us, but we do need to take it easy I think for a couple more days. Hard to re-enter your life when you have been gone for such a period of time. But alas we must try. Robert is headed back to work and I will have the task of getting us back to school. What a blessing our time was to all of us, treasured memories we will have for a lifetime!! Stay tuned for more about our journey...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Our Big Adventure

We have been having an amazing time on our journey across the country. We have not had email or web access for most of the trip so I have not had a chance to blog...but I am going to tell all about our adventure when we get home. Right now we are still in Virginia and having a blast on the farm!! What a blessing this has been for our whole family. I'm looking forward to sharing all about it when we get home at the end of the week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Three Weeks into School Already

Well we started back to school on the 4th of August and now suddenly it is already our third week!! So far we have stayed on track with our new schedule and amazingly enough I think that they are ALL learning. We have made some significant changes in curriculum this year and I'm loving it. We are still using Sonlight as our core for history, Bible and reading but we have changed to Abeka for most of our language arts and science. As well as adding Institute for Excellence in Writing which is fabulous! The children are doing so well with all of it, and it is such a relief since I spent so much time stressing over my choices as I mentioned in another blog entry. The Lord truly helped me through Robert to discern what were the best choices and He is rewarding us with a smooth transition. James, Peter and Emma are doing key word outlines and writing summaries from them all on their own...praise the Lord. My non writers are begging me to do writing which I never thought would happen. We have also done science every day we have done school...which for those of you that know me well know is a feat in and of itself. They are loving it and doing so well with learning about insects and some things about plants which we did cover last year. We are also doing devotions each morning to start our day and everyone is memorizing scripture together as well.

Daniel and Ana are on the right track as well and are coming along with their Abeka curriculum and Math U See. They still work slower than the others but I'm seeing some real progress and I'm hopeful that we will be able to cruise through the kindergarten curriculum and perhaps squeeze in some 1st grade work before the end of the year. We'll see! True praises all the way around.

Through some evaluations we have discovered some of the learning difficulties that we are dealing with with Peter and Ana and it has helped me to change my way of doing things and my attitude toward their learning. Sometimes you just need someone to lay things out for you and it puts things into better focus. We are getting them some extra services lined up for speech and occupational therapy which I think will also help. Daniel is still receiving OT services and making some real progress with it. It is daunting at times to think of all the individual needs, but I'm so thankful that the Lord is giving me the chance to help them through home schooling. I truly believe now more than ever that we have made the correct choice to keep them all home. They would flounder greatly if they had to survive in a large classroom setting. I don't have much free time during the day, but we are getting what we need to accomplished and I'm feeling content with our choices. Each day is not a breeze don't get me wrong, there have been a couple of doozies let me tell ya. But the Lord is giving me the strength and the patience most of time :).

We are looking forward to a grand adventure coming up next month. We will be travelling back to Virginia to see our dear friends and to visit Washington DC. We are all thrilled to be getting to do this. It is something that has been in the works since the beginning of the year so we are all anxious to finally get going. Until then we will try to complete some of our house projects. Robert is done laying the foundation for his garage...yippee! And we are taking some time now to replace some windows on the house and prepare it for paint. Which we will hopefully have someone doing while we are on our trip. So with God's help, when we return we will have a freshly painted house to welcome us. What a true blessing that would be.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Summer Blessings

Since I have still had such a hard time keeping up on this blog I will condense this post of what has been going on the last month and a half with some blessings from our days that I'm thankful for.

1. The giggles and smiles from summer swim lessons where my children are learning to not be afraid of the water and are truly becoming swimmers.

2. Fun summer movies with friends from church. Yummy lunches afterwards too!!

3. Finishing a wonderful Bible Study (finally...we made it girls!) and sharing fellowship with sisters in Christ who always hold me accountable.

4. An amazing visit from certain sweet friends from Virginia...sharing laughter and tears and the joys and trials of motherhood together.

5. Birthday celebrations for Miss A and me and God's blessing us with another year. Fun dinners and desserts to celebrate were an added bonus.

6. A wonderful camping trip with family to celebrate our nation's birthday. Exploring and just playing with the kiddos around the camp ground.

7. Learning to knit with sweet Miss E and fun fellowship with friends while doing so.

8. Celebrating my mother's retirement after 20+ years with the University of Arizona. Hearing the relief in her voice and the anticipation of new adventures for her on the horizon.

9. Celebrating 13 wonderful years of marriage to my soul mate.

10. Sweet fellowship with old friends and new friends at the homeschool conference. Feeling encouraged to start a brand new school year knowing that I'm doing what is best for my children's education!

As you can see it has been a busy month at the Upton house and we have much to be thankful for. One additional blessing is that Robert has been diligently working on the new garage and in what little time he has had, has managed to complete the slab and get a good start on the brick. He is such a blessing in himself and has been very patient with all our travels this summer and interruptions of his project. I pray that as your summers wind down you will take the time to remember your summer blessings!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Such a Fun Week and Weekend

This was a fun week and weekend for our whole family. This was VBS week which is always highly anticipated by the kiddos and myself. They attend VBS at Robert Road Baptist church which is not our home church but has one of the best (we think THE best) VBS in our area. The woman that runs it is amazing and she spends literally the whole year preparing for this special week. The staff is also a mixture of young and old congregation members and they are such faithful servants of the Lord it is so amazing to watch all of it unfold. It is also a special week for me since it is my one week a year that all the children are gone from me for three and a half hours each day!! Being a homeschool mom I'm passionate about spending time and energy with and on my children but for this short week I get a much needed break and a small recharge. I was able to shop a little on my own and watch a movie I'd been trying to watch as well as talking to my sweet friend who is in Virginia for the next six months. It was a blessing for all of us. The best part of the week though was Friday night when the children perform a musical of all the songs that they had learned all week. This always brings tears to my eyes to see how much they have learned and grown from one year to the next. Robert and I were especially blessed to see Miss Ana and Mr Daniel perform this year. Two years ago when they attended their first VBS it was a rough week. We had behavior issues galore and barely made it through the week. This year nothing could have been further from the truth. They were in the Kindergarten class and had an absolute blast and never once had any behavior problems. Then at the musical they were the most fun to watch, singing at the top of their lungs and worshipping the Lord with all their little hearts, hand motions included!! What a blessing to our hearts to see what the Lord has done in our family in the last two years. It is so wonderful when the Lord gives you those glimpses every once in a while when you need some perspective.

They yesterday we headed to Phoenix to celebrate James' 12th birthday. We had gotten Diamondback tickets a few weeks ago and surprised him with this trip for his birthday. With five I get a little weary of parties so we try to mix things up and do some trips for birthdays when we can. We started the day by having lunch with Granny and Brad at a fun mexican restaurant and then headed to the hotel to check in before going to the game. The hotel has a wonderful pool with a lazy river that you can tube around and just relax as well as a water slide and another pool with a waterfall. The Diamondbacks didn't have their best showing so we came back and swam instead. Which was a perfect time to do so without the 110 degree temps. We swam again this morning after breakfast and then had a fun lunch at the Cheesecake Factory for Father's Day before heading back up the hill. It was a fun trip for all of us and James I think has felt sufficiently celebrated!!

Fun family fellowship is sure a wonderful way to spend our summer days. Thank you Jesus for knitting us together.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

So How Does a Month Pass Sooooo Quickly???

Here I was trying to make my posts around every week and here we are at the beginning of another month!! What a busy month it has been. Early in the month the kids had their first two choir performances. The first one was at the mall and the second one at Embry Riddle which was a true recital. Peter, Emma, Daniel and Ana are participating in choir and are loving every minute of it. Daniel particularly is doing a fabulous job and it is so awesome to see him doing something that he truly enjoys and that he is good at. They sang three of their songs at the mall performance and then at the recital they did five different numbers. It was so much fun to watch them all.

James and Peter have also started an art class through the same academy and are loving that as well. They both have an amazing gift in the area of art, and I have no skill whatsoever in this area so it is a tremendous blessing that this program exists. They have only been to one session but they are so excited and the program will go throughout the summer so that will be wonderful as well.

We had our first travel adventure two weeks ago. Robert was working down in Phoenix for the week on a project that he has been working on for a while that needed some more of his attention. So the kids and I tagged along and went down to stay at the hotel with him and do some swimming while he worked. They enjoyed it more than words can describe and I was able to still hang out with my honey a bit. We also got the chance to meet another adoptive family while we were down there. They just recently adopted two children from Russia and live over where we were staying so we were able to have dinner with them and share some of our experiences and give them some insight about our experiences. What a blessing that was, sweet fellowship that will hopefully grow from here. Our children played so well together and ours enjoyed meeting more children from Russia. Their children are a delight and we look forward to seeing them again.

We thought we would be getting back in the routine the last week of the month but last Sunday night we received a call from Robert's mom saying that his dad had fallen off a ladder while building his garage and broken both of his arms. He was okay but going to have to have surgery up in Colorado the next day. So we packed our bags and headed for Colorado! I was pretty impressed with my ability to get seven of us packed and ready in about three hours but I guess you can do most anything with the Lord's help. He was truly in the whole experience. Robert's dad could have been much worse off but he had the surgery and was out of the hospital in around 48 hours. He will be laid up for a long time but the Lord saved him from much more serious injury and his bones all went back into place when the doctor went in to do the surgery and he didn't even have to put in any pins on the inside or plates of any kind and the arm was broken in 15 pieces. We serve a mighty God. We helped to get things squared away up at their place and they will be coming back to Arizona for his recovery. Robert did a ton of work on the garage and finished up the second floor and arranged for roofers to come and do the roof in the next couple of days. We cut down trees and did a lot of clean up on the property and it should be all set for them to come home mid week. The kiddos had a blast playing around on the property and they did an awesome job helping out and staying out of trouble. They were even very good in the van on the drive and didn't complain at all. I was extremely proud of them!!

We got back today and aside from having about sixteen loads of laundry to do I think all is well. We will hopefully get back into the routine tomorrow. We have a bit of school to finish. Daniel and Ana will continue through the summer but the others will be pretty much done after this week. Which I might add they are very happy about. So here we are starting another month and I'll try once again to post more often. But you never know...time does fly by.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Giving Over My Ashes

I realize more and more every day that parenting five children cannot be done without relying fully on the Lord. I have found lately that I have been trying to do this job in my own strength and it never goes well when I do that! From potty training issues and agressive behavior with siblings to choosing the proper curriculum for homeschooling I feel as though I have been failing miserably lately when it comes to looking to the Lord for guidance. I went to the Ladies Spring Fellowship at my church today and heard some of my fellow sisters in Christ speak about how the Lord will take all of my ashes and turn them into something beautiful. But as one of the speakers stated He can't do it if I don't give Him my ashes!!! This hit home because I really feel like lately I haven't been doing this. I have been stressed out about many things (mostly just day to day parenting things) and rather than looking to the Lord I have instead been worrying and fretting and truly making myself a little crazy (not to mention making my husband and children crazy).

Why is it that as women we tend to take on so much of a burden of the daily things that we encounter?? I find myself going through times when I have such sweet fellowship with the Lord and then just that quick it is gone and I find myself heaping things upon myself that I should be giving over to Him. Having decided to bring my children home again for schooling was something that I didn't take on lightly and spent a great deal of time in prayer about. But recently I have become unhappy with some of our curriculum and I know that I need to make some changes. I have spent many hours on the computer researching some new material, particularly for Mr. D and Miss A who are my two with the most special needs and who have been struggling with some of the material we are doing. I have felt over the past week or so such a strong burden of this on my heart. I have had a couple of discussions with Robert and also with friends but have not once turned it over to the Lord. It hit me today how wrong this is and that I need to stop and do this and release this burden to Him. He was the one that wanted me to bring them home in the first place why would He not help me with all the decisions surrounding it??

I commit now to take this to the Lord in prayer and wait for an answer from Him. I know that I may soon try to take over again, but for this moment I recognize my need to lay this at the cross as well as all issues involving my children. After an incident tonight with our three oldest I asked Robert if he thought we would survive this parenting adventure. He said that he was certain that we would but that the choices that the children will make will ultimately be theirs and all we can to is impart as much to them as we can while we can and leave it up to the Lord to work out the details. Wise words and ones that I think I need to take to heart myself. My Heavenly Father does the same thing for me, He tries to impart His wisdom to me but whether I choose to listen is truly my choice. I pray that you all as my sisters in Christ remember to turn your burdens over to Him and allow Him to take your ashes and trade them for His beauty and glory. Let's pray for one another that we listen to His voice and choose His yoke and not our own self imposed yoke, His is so much lighter!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Long Awaited Update

Well as you can tell I haven't been very diligent in getting my blog updates done. What I thought would be a weekly post has turned into a monthly post. Thank you those of you who keep checking this and I'm sorry that I haven't been a very good blogger. There have been lots of things going on though so let me see if I can summarize.

I was going to post at the end of last month about our trip to Flagstaff at Easter. I actually started the post and never finished. We decided to start a new tradition this year and head to Flagstaff for a weekend at a cabin in the woods to celebrate the Resurrection. It was a wonderful time just to relax and kick back together as a family which we really needed. There was still a bit of snow and the kids had a wonderful time sledding and mom didn't have to partake but just watch which was a good thing.

The next big event were the April birthdays. Both Robert and Miss E have birthdays in April. I got Robert tickets to the NASCAR race in Phoenix the Saturday after his birthday. We had a blast seeing all the cars and enjoying the race. It was a nice date night for us, thanks to our friends who graciously kept all the kiddos. Next was Miss E's 9th birthday. I can hardly believe that she is 9 years old seems like just yesterday she was born, wow has a lot happened since then. She wanted an all girl birthday so we took she and two of her friends to Red Robin for a girls lunch. My mom and grandmother came up from Tucson to join us and it was a fun frilly girls day. She got lots of American Girl stuff which thrilled her to no end and it was a fun celebration.

The other major event happening on an ongoing basis is the construction of our new garage. We have been planning this for years and it is finally happening. I can honestly say we have quite the example of the Bible's direction of building a firm foundation going on in our side yard. I never knew all the work that building up a foundation for a building took, but alas now I do. We have had removal of bad rock and material, two loads of good dirt, a third load of AB material (which until now I knew nothing about and thought those were just the first two letters of the alphabet) and this weekend we are compacting all the material to prepare for the next step of digging the footers. The kids have been thrilled to help in all of this activity and help drive the Bobcat a few weeks ago and then the tractor that arrived yesterday. It is finally beginning to become a reality and hopefully before the end of May we will have a slab.

Here inside the house we are in the process of finishing up our school year. Mr. J, Mr. P and Miss E are finishing up 3rd and 4th grades and Big D and Miss A are still plugging away at Kindergarten. We will hopefully have somewhat of a break over the summer but I'll probably continue some daily work with Mr. P and Big D and Miss A over the summer so that we don't loose ground. They are my ones with some extra needs and I'm working on trying to get them all the different things that they need to get caught up. Which as I'm finding out is more than a full time job.

I think that about covers it for now. As you can see our time between blogs has not been boring. I also wanted to take the time to recommend a film to you that we went to see last night. It is called Expelled and is a documentary about the scientific community's attack on the Intelligent Design theory. Ben Stein is the narrator and director of the film and it is an amazing look into the scientific establishment and how many scientists have lost their careers because they dared to bring up the ID possibility. It was an eye opener for Robert and me to what is going on in the world and how we as Christians are viewed as fanatical freaks whose beliefs are no more than idiotic fantasy to many in the education establishment. I would recommend that you take the time to see this film and support it.

Well I will sign off for now and will do my best to post more often. Please leave me a comment and let me know you are still with me!!!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Cost of My Salvation

Sometimes I forget in all my daily routine of what the true cost of my salvation really was for Christ. The devotional magazine that I use "Closer Walk" is taking me through the book of Romans this month. I am enjoying it particularly because each days reading is shorter than is typical and I'm able to really focus on just a few verses and what Christ is saying to me through them. The main verse for the lesson today was Romans 3:25.
Christ Jesus whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed
The word propitiation puzzles me, but my study bible describes it this way: Crucial to the significance of Christ's sacrifice, this word carries the idea of appeasemement or satisfacation in this case Christ's violent death satisfied the offended holiness and wrath of God against those for whom Christ died. For some reason this hit me hard this morning. I know that I take Christ's sacrifice for granted and it grieves my heart. I was moved by the quote in my devotion by Martin Luther. He says:
"Because Christ has become a King and Priest for you and has bestowed this great blessing on you, you dare not imagine that it cost little or comes to you because of your merit. Sin and death were overcome for you in Him and through Him. Grace and life were given you , but meant bitter work for Him. It cost Him much. He earned it at the greatest expense with His own blood, body, and life. For to put down God's wrath, judgement, hell, death, and everything evil, and to gain everything good, could not be done without satisfying divine justice. This is why Paul is in the habit of touching also on Christ's suffering and blood whenever he preaches God's grace in Christ, in order to note that all our blessings are given to us through Christ, but not without His unspeakable merit and cost."
How many times have I been prideful about something that I have done or said and not given Christ the credit. More times than I would care to admit. We talk as believers about the free gift of salvation and how all we need to do is accept it and we are saved. Do we tend to forget the price that it cost our Lord in the process? I know that I'm guilty of this so often and I focus more on what can God do for me now instead of focusing on what He has already done at the Cross.
Help me O Lord to remember your sacrifice and not to take for granted the precious gift that you gave ME at the cross. I pray that you would help me to teach this to my children that they might not take for granted your sacrifice and make it a point to be purposeful in their thanksgiving for your sacrifice. Amen.
The last thing that my devotion told me was to meditate on Psalm 22. I would encourage you to do the same and leave me a comment and let me know what the Lord speaks to you through this beautiful passage of Scripture.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Silver Streak

The Lord is good and He provides even for our most human needs and wants! We have a new van...this time not boring white but silver. Such a small detail but He even took care of that. Our whole experience getting it was just such a blessing. We have a wonderful gentleman that has helped us get two of our other vehicles that was able to get this van for us. It is a year newer than our old van and even has some upgrades that we had put on including a DVD player for those long van trips with our five blessings. The insurance company has already paid us and so even that has gone so smoothly. We are thanking God for this new blessing and have dubbed it the Silver Streak. A little more catchy than The Big White Bus. All the praise goes to the Lord.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Our California Adventure and the Lord's Deliverance

January 30th marked the beginning of our first real family vacation since all our children came home from Russia. We were off to Disneyland and a fun filled adventure with all our kiddos and some good friends. Our first stop in Redlands to have lunch with another friend ended with our youngest daughter Miss A getting her finger caught in the van door. Perhaps this was the Lord's way of warning us of things yet to come? She was okay though and after getting her calmed down we pressed onward. We made it through LA traffic and to our hotel which was delightful and after getting some dinner socked in for the night to get some rest before our big adventure the next day.

Thursday we headed for the Magic Kingdom and all that awaited us there. What a treat to see our children's faces as they entered this magical world. I think they were all a bit overwhelmed and didn't know what to do first. We started with a few autographs and then headed for rides. Our daughter Miss E was a bit apprehensive about this whole thing and wasn't too sure she even wanted to brave anything faster than the rockets in Tomorrowland. As the day progressed though she warmed up and started being a little braver. We did all the major attractions and even met Jack Sparrow on the Pirate Island. Big J our oldest son was particularly pleased with this. We all left exhausted and very cold and ready to crash at closing time.

Our original plan was to head to California Adventure the next day. This was our first detour...both Miss A and Miss E ended up with fevers in the night (three trips on Splash Mountain probably didn't help) and clearly we were not doing more rides any time soon. We ended up at the beach for while that day and had a fairly quiet day. This was the first time that Big J, Mr. P, Little D and Miss A had ever been to the ocean so it was fun again to see their faces and watch them collect shells. We have some precious photos to commemorate the event.

Saturday the kiddos were feeling well enough to head back to the parks. California Adventure was first on the list and the big rollercoaster which Big J and Mr. P and Mr. Upton had been eyeing since we arrived. We finished the day back over at Disney and had a date with the princesses. This was definitely the highlight for Miss E and Miss A. They got to see all their favorites and we had many photo ops. Mr. R and I even got to go back for a date on Saturday night which was a real treat...thank you friends for watching our brood!

By Sunday we were more than ready to head for home. It was also nasty weather when we left there that afternoon. Poring down rain coming back across I-10. We were cruising along when we came upon an accident. I was thanking God for keeping us safe, especially since Miss E was with our friends and we had one of their sons with us, and praying for those involved. After we cleared the accident and were getting up to speed a car whizzed past us came up on our friends and cut over in front of us. He then lost control and began to spin towards the guard rail. R did his very best to slow down and get away from him but it was not to be. He came back across two lanes and we crashed into the back quarter panel of his car and we then came back across to the right and ended up in the ditch. I think we were all in shock, I know for sure I was, but praise the Lord we were all okay. All of the children were safe and not harmed in any way. The airbag hit my face so that was hurting but aside from that and being extremely cold I was fine. R was amazing. He immediately took control and when the highway patrol and rescue squad arrived he was on top of everything.

We serve an amazing God and He was with us in that van and sent amazing people to take care of us. Everyone was so kind and compassionate and took such wonderful care of us. The rest of the day was filled with getting a rental van and making it as far as Palm Desert to rest for the night. We made it home safely on Monday and everyone checked out perfectly with all their doctors. God is good. We don't have a new van yet but our friends are graciously letting us borrow their van until all the details get worked out and we can get in a new one. We have a wonderful gentleman at the Ford dealership who we have worked with before who is working on finding us what we are looking for. Our van was totalled and left in CA so we don't have to worry about getting it back, another praise. God has seen us through all the details, the insurance people have been very kind and things are moving along very well.

Who would have known that our family vacation would end up this way. I must say though that I'm praising Him for this experience, I have seen His fingerprints all over every piece of it. Although I spent most of last week in a fog just trying to get my head around it, now I can honestly say what a blessing to be able to SEE Him so clearly. I praise Him for all of it the good the bad and the ugly.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Welcome to the World of Blogging

Who would have thought that I would ever finally get a blog started. My sweet friend Christina has been encouraging me to start a blog for months and I finally got around to it today. I have recently started reading different blogs having to do with Christian Womanhood and have come across some facinating and heartfelt sites. I don't know that I will ever have anything very thought provoking to share but for the few people who will probably read this perhaps I can share a bit of my heart and how God is helping me through this journey as I wait for His return.

I am a mother of five blessings which I guess means that I probably have a few stories to tell. Four of my five blessings are from Russia and they have enriched as well as challenged me in more ways than I can express. My dear husband and I were on a path towards being missionaries with FamilyLife last year and what God taught us through that experience is that we are indeed already missionaries to these five children. He has given us a unique family and what He reminded us is that we can be just as useful to Him by being the very best mom and dad we can be and hopefully bring many generations into the Kingdom for His glory. We are spending this new year focusing on them and how we can best disciple them. Perhaps someday He will call us to another mission field but for now we are content to reside in Arizona and raise them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

So I guess that will be it for my first blog entry...what do you think Christina?