Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Waiting on Joy!

It's been a few days since I've posted...mainly because the sickness that I thought was about over, turned out to be much worse than expected. Julia ended up going into respiratory distress one evening and had to be given steroids. I really do not like that medicine. But, when it comes to breathing, or not breathing, I am really not given much choice. Josiah and Joel both ended up needing breathing treatments for their coughs which just seemed to want to hang on. We still have coughs throughout the night, but I am praying we have seen the worst of it. I know other military wives that have said..."It just seems like everything goes wrong when husband's are away." My first deployment sure seemed like that. I just figured...well, maybe that was just a unique circumstance. However, this deployment is starting out like much of the same. The first night my husband was Mom spent the night with us. She parked behind me and when she got up to start her was dead. We thought we would have to get a tow truck, but I went out and sat in the car and cried out to God...please Lord, let this car start just to allow her to get a new battery. After several started.

Since he has been gone, the little ones disobedient level has skyrocketed! I understand the is just hard to handle it alone. Then, we get the worst sickness we have had in almost a year. Our oven is going bad on us. The microwave is acting up. And just the other day I go to turn on the TV...dead! Completely dead! We do not have cable, but use it mainly for educational videos, or family viewing DVDs. Then there is the problem with the phone and internet service that I am experiencing.
To add to the situation...I do not like spiders! My spider killer is in the desert. I have found the two biggest spiders I have seen in a LONG time in our house. Who is left to kill the big guys? arachnophobia queen! Then there was the wasp that got into our house that I had to kill...and the bee. Oh, and of course since I have told the children the great value of bees for their pollination purposes, they begged me not to kill it. So, here I am gingerly trying to get a bee with a paper towel...lightly enough to not kill it, but strong enough to keep it from getting loose and stinging the lady it felt was its enemy...while trying to get it outside. You will be happy to know that it is safe in the outdoors and I am without injury! Looking back on it, it was probably quite comical.

Why is all this happening now? I don't know. I told my know...if everything went smoothly this whole year, just dealing with being without you would be enough to handle. Just being chief cook, nurse, chauffeur, comforter, teacher, laundress, mediator, spiritual leader, bug killer, (Yuck, I don't like that one!), gardener, accountant, maid, organizer,etc. would be quite enough to keep one busy. But, add the sleepless nights...appliances needing to be taken to the appliance graveyard, constant gets quite taxing at times. Why is all this happening? I have no idea. But, I do know that God does not always tell me His reasons for things. In Isaiah 55:8-9 the LORD says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." And then there is the promise in Romans 8:28, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose."

No, I don't know why all these things are happening. But I know that He does. I know that He loves me. I know that somehow He will work all this for His good. And whatever He does is good. I love the line of a song that says, "When you can't see His hand, trust His heart." So true! When we are in the midst of sorrow, physical pain, sleepless nights, seemingly one trial after another, at our wits end...we rest in the fact that we have a heavenly Father who knows our pain, our sorrow, our trials...and that He went before us in all of these circumstances. He upholds us. And He will make us more than conquerors in the end. When everything else seems to be falling apart, I rest in knowing that there is a God who holds me closest during these times...whether I "feel" it or not.

Psalm 30:5, "Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Emotional Times

Have you ever had one of those days? Weeks? Months? You know, those days when you felt like everything started going downhill as soon as your feet touched the floor? I have been having some of those days lately...that's one of the reasons I haven't written on my blog in almost a week. Since my dh left for the desert, I haven't gotten much sleep. I never sleep well when he is away from me. One can take that pretty well when it is a night or two here or there, but when you are looking at a whole year, well, I am sure you get the picture. Saturday will mark three weeks, and the children have gotten sick for the first time since he left this past week. There are certain things I dread more than others. One of them is going through sickness with my children alone. They have had such health issues in the past and so much of it has been scary for me, that I still get nervous thinking about them getting sick...wondering if this will mean another ER visit. It is just heightened now that my husband is away from me. Thankfully, we did not have to face that this time...and the worst of it seems to be over. Three children have been sick...we will see if the other two catch it. My husband is such a stabilizing force for me. He is the calm, cool, collected one. I am the nervous worrier! I have gotten better over the years, but that area is still a huge struggle in my Christian walk.

It seems as though things have gotten harder these past few days, instead of easier. It is as if one goes through emotional stages during separation. The idea of how long it will be before Daddy gets home is just beginning to sink into the hearts and minds of the children. Day follows day follows day without Daddy walking through the door. We haven't even eaten at the big table...preferring to stay in the kitchen because the big table reminds us even more of the empty seat at the head. Evenings are incredibly lonely. Daddy is not there to play his special games. He always has a way of making even the seemingly mudane tasks of life seem spectacular. He always made us laugh. I miss that so very much. I could use a good laugh right now. It is heartbreaking not to hear him lead us in devotionals every night.
I am tired...spiritually, emotionally and physically. But, I know I am not the only one that has ever experienced heartache. Life brings heartache of one kind or another to all of us. Anyone who reads this is either experiencing some now, has already in the past, and will most definitely experience some more in the futrue if we live long enough! It is at times like this I ask myself...what do I do with this heartache? I find that caring for sick children around the clock, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, etc. can cause me to easily miss my time with God. Isn't it easy sometimes to neglect the most important thing because all those other things are so urgent? But, it is in neglecting the important, that I see how I fail in accomplishing the urgent. No matter how many things I check off my to-do list, they are never done as well, or in as sweet a spirit as when I make time to spend with God. So, I run to the One who gives me strength in the time of such emotional and physical turmoil.

Isaiah 40:31 says, "But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Lord, I am waiting. Thank You for Your strength, because I am weak and weary.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Frugal Friday

Don't throw away those old bread pieces! Being a family of seven, we don't often have too much leftover bread. But sometimes, we do have a few pieces here and there, especially the ends that most of my children don't like. To insure that we do not waste them, I have begun making my own bread crumbs. There are a couple of reasons this is good for us. One is obviously the frugality of not wasting food as well as not having to buy bread crumbs when a recipe calls for it. But secondly, I can assure my family that I know that our bread crumbs are made from freshly ground whole wheat bread and I can control the ingredients I put in them to season them.

All you have to do is take a few slices of at least day old bread. If you need to make crumbs and your bread is not old enough, you can put a few slices in the oven and bake them at 400 degrees to harden them up.

If you have a food processor, you can just break the bread up in chunks and put them in there. I don't have a food processor, so I am using my blender attachment for my Electrolux mixer.

Blend or process until they become crumbs. And it's that easy. You can season these if you want. I wait until I need them for a recipe and season then. I took three small pieces of bread and they yielded one and a half cups of bread crumbs.

These are then put in a ziplock bag and stored in the freezer until I need them. You can also store them in the refrigerator if you know you will be using them earlier. So easy and economical! And if there are not enough crumbs for a particular recipe...just keep adding until you have enough. Happy saving!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tea Party

Believe it or not...I actually made it to a TEA party on April 15th. It wasn't the type I had planned originally to attend. I had every intention of going downtown to our local TEA party to make my voice heard with many others on the topic of wasteful government spending. The fact that parking is a real problem downtown, coupled with nap issues for little children, told me that I would have to wait and do something else another time. But, I was invited to another type of TEA party, one that was infinitely more enjoyable. Who can resist beautiful little ladies all dressed up in their feminine best?
God has blessed us with meeting a wonderful Christian family from our church that invited us to this tea party. They also have five children just like us, with three girls and two boys. They are a godly family that is such an encouragement to us, even in the little bit of time we have spent with them. What a blessing to have Christian friends that share our values and encourage us in the Lord.

This is one of their sweet girls here.

And here is another. Isn't it nice to see young girls in modest dress, not ashamed of looking feminine? I just LOVE it!

Even little Julia had to look like a little princess.

Here are some of the ladies now, waiting to be escorted by their chivalrous brothers and friends to the tea party.

Lovely table setting.

Young men in training. Here is my youngest Joel (age four) escorting his sister Julia (3) to the table.

Pushing the chair in for her.

Josiah escorting his sister Joanna.

Our friends oldest boy pulling out the chair for Joy.

And once they finish the all important task of taking care of the ladies...they do what boys do boy things! Notice the sword, helicopter on the couch, soldiers littering the floor. And who said there wasn't a difference between boys and girls? God always knows exactly what He is doing...and it is always for the best. We celebrate the differences.

More boy action.

And here are the girls outside after the tea party playing wedding (notice the bride with the veil) with everything they need but a groom. But, who needs a groom when you are 12 and under?

And what would a old fashioned tea party be without the Virginia Reel? It was a lovely day. One with many great memories. Cherish these type of moments. Embrace new friends. God bless you today.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

One Week Down!

Well, it is official. We have made it through one week of the deployment. Sometimes during this week, I have felt like making a few faces like the one shown above from my youngest child! (smile) But God has been so very gracious to us and thanks to the prayers of saints lifting us up on a daily basis...we have one week behind us with few difficulties.
When people realize that my husband is deployed and that this is his second deployment, they will often ask me, "How do you do it? And with five children?" My answer first is simply God's grace. I could not do this without His strength. Oftentimes I tell my husband that I am not a good military wife. I don't mean that in terms of fighting against what it is my husband has felt called to do. I mean that in the sense of my heart struggling so desperately with the separations that are inevitable in the military. I did not marry my husband to be faced with multiple separations, but rather to be his help working right alongside him to raise and nurture the children the Lord has blessed us with.

Having said that though, I realize that our view of God's will for our lives is not always His will for our lives. Right now, He has called my husband to be in the military. Because of that, my calling is to be his help meet at the moment from a distance, but only in miles, not in heart or mind. He is still the head of our home, no matter how many miles away he is from us. I am grateful that he trusts me in the area of running things while he is gone, but I am always making decisions based on what I know to be how he would lead the home if he were here. If there is ever anything that comes up that would make me question how he would feel about a matter, we wait until he can give us instruction on that issue. Being separated from him does not negate his leading in our home.

One week may not seem like a lot...especially given the fact that a year has 52 of them! But, it is evident of the fact that life continues to tick by, one second, minute, hour, and day at a time. In the big picture, life is fleeting. When we are away from those we love, it can seem to drag by mercilessly. But, God still has a plan for me each and every day. And it is my responsibility to find out what that is one day at a time and to simply do it. I cannot look at the whole picture and count down from these great number of days. I, instead, take one second, one minute, one hour, one day and yes, one week at a time. I think of how I can be productive, what it is God wants me to be doing? Then, one day slips by, then another, then another, and then a week is behind us and I begin praying for next week's goals. As Charles Spurgeon once said, "Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength. "
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday...a day to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. Can you imagine the pain of separation those at the foot of the cross must have felt when they watched our Lord die so painfully? The hopelessness...the emptiness...the tears...seeing him bruised, beaten, mocked, spit upon...oh the precious Lamb of God! Then what glorious joy! When that wonderful morning broke and Christ arose! He has given us And when I am feeling sad, lonely, pain...I remember that He felt all of that first and most...and it is because of what He did that I can keep on second, one minute, one hour, one day...and yes, even one week at a time. Bless the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world! And my darling husband, wherever you are right now...know my heart is ever with you and when I worship this Sunday...I will be praying for you and thanking my God that we can celebrate His resurrection together in spirit even if not in body!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Frugal Friday

Having a large family means that there is a constant struggle to meet the demands of a healthy diet on a limited budget. Our food budget is one of the biggest ticket items we have every month. So, one way that I am trying to offset the cost is by decreasing budget items in other areas. One of those areas is paper goods. I used to use paper towels, or paper napkins for mealtime. But, the cost with a large family seemed wasteful, so I began collecting cloth napkins instead. I find them on clearance sales, in thrift stores, Goodwill, etc. They are mismatched, but for everyday use, that doesn't matter. If the napkin is not soiled much after a meal, we just fold them up and put it in the napkin basket that I keep near the dining room table. And when they are dirty, they go in a load of towels and are washed up for the next use. Another area that I am saving is with ziplock bags. I use them a lot for storing things such as leftover cheese that has been opened. Now, when I finish with them, I wash them out, shake them dry and hang them on a little rack in my laundry room until all the water is evaporated for use again. Of course, if they tear, I get another one. But, this has saved us as well. It is amazing how many ziplock bags one can go through in a short amount of time. These may not be huge savings alone, but when you begin to add up all the frugal ways to save, they do make quite a difference over time...and really, they do not require that much extra time and effort to do. How about you? What type of frugal tips do you use in your home? I would love to hear about them. Happy saving!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Blessing of the Mundane

If you have children, you have heard phrases like this, "Mommy, look at the ____! (This of course, could be any number of the little bug you've already seen a dozen times, to the flower just blooming, to the fire truck you pass on the road, or the airplane that zooms overhead when you're outside.) Sometimes as a parent, I can get caught up in all the "important" things that I am doing that it is easy to respond with a nod and never really stop and see the wonder in my children's eyes at things that seem so ordinary and "mundane" at times to me. I wonder how much of the world and its cares has kept me from the wonder of those ordinary things, that really are quite extraordinary at a second glance. They were created by a God with extraordinary creativity. Is it any wonder that He calls us to come to Him as little children? How would it delight the heart of God to see His "grown-up children" find wonder in the everyday things of life? It is easy to get discouraged by doing the same old thing day after day after day. But, how much of that is our own loss of His mission for our lives? Every diaper I change, every dish I wash, every piece of clothing I put away...all of that is an act of love when done with a heart of service unto the Lord. Wouldn't it be nice to get some of that childlike wonder back? To see God's creation for all its beauty and to have that cause us to worship the Creator even more?
G. K. Chesterton once said, "Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we." May we have the courage and the youthfulness to go and exult in the monotonous today!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring Flowers

One of the things I really like about being in the south is all the beautiful dogwoods and azaleas that bloom in the spring. The house we are renting now has some lovely, large azalea bushes in the back and the children have enjoyed picking a few (I don't want them to make them bare!) and playing with them. These pictures were taken a few days ago when it was quite warm and we were able to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine!
I heard from my dear hubby last night and he was waiting to board another plane to head to his final he should be there now since he is about 9 hours ahead of us. He told me it might be a few days before he can contact me again, but I will let you all know how he is doing when I hear something new.

We began our end of the year school testing today and will be doing so for the next few mornings. Joy and Josiah are the only ones who are required to take the tests at this time, my other children being too young. Mom has been kind enough to take the three youngest to her house in the mornings so that I can have testing time that is uninterrupted and quiet for the children. It is hard to believe that we are closing in on another year of school being over.

Josiah will be beginning his third grade reading next week. We still have his second grade math and English to complete, but it is exciting to finish one grade and go on to another. Sometimes when you just look at the day to day, it can feel like you are not really accomplishing much...and then all of a sudden, one year is completed and you are starting another...and then you see such progress that is really is quite exciting! I am thankful that I am able to have the privilege of sharing these milestones with my children.

The children are well now. Josiah and Joel got a stomach bug right after my dh left! I had three nights of little sleep, but have managed to function and keep things going. I praise God for His strength because I owe it all to Him and to the prayers of His saints lifting us up during this difficult time. Josiah and Joy have taken the separation remarkably well. They are obviously sad as they are very close to their father...they talk of him often, tell me how much they miss him, etc. But, they are not angry...just sad and they are focusing that sadness on being a help to me. Joel and Joanna, being much younger, have more issues with acting out during this time. They don't know how to express their sadness...and therefore, they tend to focus that hurt on the person that is here...which of course, means me. :) But, I know God will help us through this and I am praying they will learn to redirect that hurt to a more productive outlet. Julia is so young she doesn't understand much except that she says she is sad that Daddy is gone. And of course, that sums up the way we all feel. But, we are taking it one day at a time, waiting, and praying until God sees fit to reunite us all again. God bless you all and thank you for your prayers!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Part of My Heart Left Me

It is official...part of my heart has left and is on its way to the desert. I cannot tell you the pain I feel...the ache, the emptiness. I cannot describe accurately what those last few moments of goodbye are like. It is as though your grief seems overwhelming and you want to do all you can to just stop time, but time keeps rolling on regardless of your cries to end it. The children were all heartbroken...Joel and Josiah, having held it in for so long, wept long and loudly. Joanna literally wailed. Joy, trying so desperately hard to be strong, cried the most, but the quietest. And I held it together, though always on the verge, until the final embrace when I knew that this would be the last time I would be held by my dear husband for many, many months. He left us with a deployment verse...when Jesus said in Matthew 28: "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age." He told us that although he is not physically with us, Jesus will always be there. He will be the father to fatherless. And although the children are not fatherless in an orphan sense, pratically speaking they will be for a while. So, my blog will continue to be expressing things that are happening around our home, but will also be to update family and friends on what is happening with hubby.

This is a picture I took out of the window of the van. These are the scenes that were all around us as loved ones said goodbye to each other. Tell your husbands how much you love them tonight. Remember those that do not have their husbands and fathers. Say a prayer for them. I will reach over to an empty pillow tonight wishing how much I could feel the steady rhythm of his heart beating next to mine. I will miss the tender touches of his hands and the gentle words that always cheer me after a long, tiring day. Nights are always the hardest. We always look forward to spending our time of the day after the children go to bed...talking about nothing, or talking about everything...just enjoying each other's company. How much we take for granted.
Lord Jesus, help the days knit us together even though the miles may separate us. We rest in You, knowing You are always near us...knowing You alone know the ache of our hearts and are the great Comforter. Give us strength during this trial and help us to see Your hand in all things. May we grow in our love for You and each other always. Protect my dear husband and give him Your power as he ministers for You. And may it seem as though the days are hastened until we will be together again. Amen.