David’s Baptism

David wanted to be baptized so we asked Gary if we could do it before Ethan and Grace went back to college, although sadly Jacob had to miss it because he is at college for football camp.  We asked if he could baptize David at our house in the pond and he readily agreed.

Saturday our family spent the day in preparation by having a major house and yard clean up.  It was extra-motivating to know we were having our church family to our home and I happily washed all the windows on the main level of the house, inside and out.  Rich and the kids did a ton of weeding outside.  I scrubbed and polished the kitchen sink, used granite cleaner and polish for the counters, vacuumed, organized, etc.  When I was done, the house felt light and fresh.

Sunday morning at church Rich gave the opening prayer, Grace and I sang a duet with Katie playing the piano for us.  We sang “Redeemed How I love to Proclaim it.”  And then David went up on the platform behind the pulpit and gave his testimony.  Rich and I didn’t really know what to expect, and we were thrilled that he did so well.  We had smiles on our faces and tears in our eyes.  Gary (our pastor) was a little emotional during one part and the video Brittnee took captures a loud sneezing type sound as he blew his nose.

Rich and I left with the kids as soon as the sermon was done and Gary was praying the closing prayer.  We drove home and found my sister Amanda with her family, and my brother Isaac with his wife, Cassandra, who is 9 months pregnant with a little girl baby, on the front porch waiting for us to get home.  We were so happy they could come and watch David’s baptism.  Rich went out to get the pizza we were serving for lunch and Caleb ran down the yard to jump in the pond because as we were leaving that morning, we noticed there was a tire floating in it.  Can’t have tires in the pond during such a special day.  (kids)

Very soon we had our church family arriving and parking on the lower yard and driveway.

We set up chairs and the sound equipment and settled in for David’s baptism.  Amanda sat by me and it was so special to sing together the old familiar hymns.

fullsizeoutput_5968

Katie and her husband led the singing from the dock, and Grace and Sarah joined them, too.

fullsizeoutput_596d

Gary spoke briefly about baptism and the significance of it.

fullsizeoutput_5974

And then he and David waded into the pond.  They were both wearing their t-shirts from this years Camp Impact (the Christian camp our church helps run every summer).

fullsizeoutput_5975

I love David’s smile in this photo.

fullsizeoutput_5977

Gary told us later that he used this hold because he was afraid that he would fall over into the  pond as he baptized Dave.  I’m sure every pastor has a few baptism stories to tell.  When he saw the photo he was trying to politely compliment me on my photography but then the honesty came out…..”It looks like I’m choking him, though, doesn’t it, poor David.”

He wasn’t squeezing David’s neck so he really didn’t do any harm, it just looks funny.

fullsizeoutput_5978

fullsizeoutput_5981

fullsizeoutput_5982

fullsizeoutput_5983

fullsizeoutput_5985

Gary was so good to David during this whole process and even came to our house one day two weeks ago to speak with him one-on-one.  Rich and I were not home, David was here with some of his siblings.  Gary said that Seth and Sarah sat and listened carefully to their conversation and that David “was delightful.”  I have to agree.

fullsizeoutput_598b

It was such a special day.

 

be amazed!

DSC_0571

First of all, it’s been a joy and a delight to watch kitty-kitty Walter (our new pet) get used to his new surroundings.  He is curious and “literally plays with everything”, says Dave.  You see in the photo that he is being tempted by Sherlock’s twitching tail.

Second of all, it’s 8:07 in the morning and I’m the only one awake!!  Seth NEVER sleeps past 7 and most of the time is up even earlier.  I just found him sleeping in the addition on the couch.  He spent the night in there because of the air conditioning.  So I wonder, is he still asleep because 1) he didn’t sleep well? or, 2) he COULD finally sleep peacefully out of his hot upstairs bedroom?  Whatever the reason, it’s nice to sit here and type………….

DSC_0575

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”  Psalm 16:11 (thank you, husband, for sending along the verse)

I was thinking this morning about the enjoyable fruits of the Holy Spirit, those only-from-above giftings of God to our souls.  In those oftentimes rare/unnoticed moments of deep spirituality when we find ourselves really able to love outside of ourselves in a mysterious way.  We have joy,  and it is unexplainable, gentleness toward every living creature, peace, beyond comprehension!  And, patience like our *big brother* Job.  These beautiful character qualities/fruits aren’t from us (we cannot muster them up, they cannot be faked) and are the Holy Spirit within us, given to us, and no reason for pride or boasting.

….the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22

For in him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28

Alas, sometimes it’s just simply hard to breath “down here”.  And this is the reason we pour over the Scriptures as much as possible, and remember, and think of Him, and pray, we do these things to stay connected, to stay reminded.  To stay breathing.

“But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.”  ~CS Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia

DSC_0578

Home on Earth, real Home “in the sky”……….

DSC_0582

We have had such hot days lately, it was pleasant to sit with my latest Newbury medal winner (I’m attempting to read them all) while the children swam in the pond……..

DSC_0586

….and to have Jacob walk down the hill to show me a cool caterpillar.  Thanks, Jake, for grilling us all a nice lunch yesterday!!!

At my house yesterday there were all these people:  Rich, myself, Michael, Jacob, Ethan, Caleb T, Grace, Kylee, Brittnee, David, Caleb, Jack, Seth, and Sarah.  But not all at once.  Some came for a while and then left.  Some worked all day and then came home.  🙂

DSC_0650

Yesterday afternoon on the couch, David helped me identify a bug using the internet.  It didn’t take us long, but seeing the different insects online filled me with the desire to go back outside to look for even more bugs with the magnifying lens attached to my camera.  It’s such fun to stand over the flowers and plants and search for insects with your eyes……….at first you see “nothing” but little by little you see 100’s of creatures……and much activity.

DSC_0652

fullsizeoutput_587f

This was a small moth, about the size of a fifty-cent piece.  But with my lens I can get a nice close-up.  It’s amazing to see the details.  Observe.  Study.  Be amazed.

fullsizeoutput_588f

These pretty little white flowers grew in clusters along a thin vine-like stem.

fullsizeoutput_5887

Meanwhile, Dave was looking in the pond for a big snake but had to make do with a little frog (sitting on his leg next to his thumb for size comparison).  He sat nicely for his portrait.

fullsizeoutput_5886

This plant has been tearing the skin on my legs my entire life.  It’s just a tad thinner than spaghetti and grows plenteously by our stream.  One direction of the plant doesn’t scratch you, but the other direction, oh it sticks so tightly to your legs and scratches them terribly.  I’ve never identified it’s name, there is a small white flower that grows on it, maybe I can look it up in my flower identification book today.

fullsizeoutput_5884

a cluster of silvery eggs……so beautiful!

fullsizeoutput_5883

The band on his tail makes him special.  You can see Ambush bugs to the left of it.

fullsizeoutput_5881

THIS IS THE BUG I JUST HAD TO FIGURE OUT.  AMBUSH BUG

The other day I saw one gripping a yellow jacket.  The yellow jacket was upside down and dead in its front claws.  It was a sight to see.  And these ambush bugs are all over the flowers right now (especially Joe-pie weed and goldenrod).  I beg you to read the link, you will be amazed.

In a nutshell, it sucks the bodily fluids out of its prey.

As my brother Dave says, “its horrifying”.

IMG_9401 2

“slurp”

fullsizeoutput_5891

It would take me a long time to identify all these insects but I sure would like to do it.  Each one has fascinating characteristics and wears the nicest bug-clothes.

fullsizeoutput_588e

Another ambush bug!

fullsizeoutput_588c

And this one!  I’ve never seen it before, it was so tiny I only noticed it because I was photographing another bug nearby and saw it waving around first one tissue-paper wing and then the other.

fullsizeoutput_5885

This bee posed so nicely, I felt as if it was just WAITING to be noticed.   Yes, you’re lovely.

DSC_0672 1

After I breathlessly captured this photo (I thought it would fly away before I could get close) I talked to my friend Lea Ann and then took the kids to music lessons and football practice.  I spent time walking around the cemetery next to the fields and then met my husband for a quick trip down town for strawberry sundaes, just the two of us, before practice was over.

When we got home, David made a chocolate cake from scratch …….

IMG_9467

……and we had a rain storm.  I sat on the porch to watch it for a while before bedtime…..

If you watch carefully you will see the world light up in a quick flash of lightening.

DSC_0677

And now it’s Wednesday.  Good morning!

You are loved.

we belong to the day (1 Thess. 5:8)

fullsizeoutput_50e2

Glory of the world makes life meaningless
Glory of God fulfills it.  ~CH Spurgeon

fullsizeoutput_50e3

DSC_1291

Toys, books, videos, art supplies, blankets, music, and hot chocolate are ready and waiting.  It’s another snow day in our neck of the woods today.  The children and I are sitting inside a giant snow globe; outside the windows of our warm house are millions and millions of tiny white snowflakes shaking down from the clouds of heaven.

fullsizeoutput_50df

DSC_1333

“I see that if I would be happy in God, I must give Him all.  And there is wicked reluctance to do that.  I want Him–but I want to have my own way, too.  I want to walk humbly and softly before Him and I want to go where I shall be admired.  To whom shall I yield?  To God?  Or to myself?”  Elizabeth Prentiss

“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain……”  Psalm 119:36

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”  Philippians 2:2

fullsizeoutput_50ec

“The way upward in true life and honor is to go downward in self-humiliation.  Renounce all, and you shall be rich; have nothing, and you shall have all things.  Try to be something, and you shall be nothing;  be nothing, and you shall live; that is the great lesson which Jesus would teach us, but we are slow to learn…… CH Spurgeon

“I believe that selfishness is the front-door key of despair.”  Spurgeon

fullsizeoutput_50e6

“As long as we have the itch of self-regard we shall want the pleasure of self-approval; but the happiest moments are those when we forget our precious selves and have neither–but have everything else (God, our fellow humans, animals, the garden and the sky) instead.”  CS Lewis, letters, 1954

God
our fellow humans
animals
the garden and the sky

fullsizeoutput_50e4

“…..the burdens of my heart rolled away….”

fullsizeoutput_50e7

Whenever something is bothering me, and I’m in a moral quandary, I dig out the ol’ journal and pen and start searching for quotes, verses, and other writings that have to do with my current topic of interest.  I talk things over with Joanna or Rich and that helps, too.  I love that I can keep my Bible near and read it for comfort and correction at any time of day or night.

A balm for my soul that always heals.

I come away feeling so much lighter and free.

*****

DSC_1328

(Dear Brother Dave, these are the sneakers Seth bought with the birthday gift card you sent him.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2018

“Since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”

stunning sunrise & sledding

DSC_0789

For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.  I Timothy 4:10

I didn’t want to get out of bed Sunday morning.  Seth had been awake in the night all upset with a fever and I was still tired.  But I could hear the kids in the living room and got up to make sure Seth was okay.  I glanced out the window as I always do, just to take a look at the weather, and was astounded by the most beautiful sky, coupled with dark trees and the whiteness of our first “sticking snow” of the season.

Seth was on the couch and hadn’t slept all night (he said).  When Rich got up he too wasn’t feeling well.  The family stayed home from church, we snuggled on the couch all day in soft blankets.

fullsizeoutput_4bcc

Sarah and Caleb were feeling fine and went outside over and over again, they came inside just get get warmed up enough to go back out.

fullsizeoutput_4bce

I was saving these new saucer sleds for the first sledding day.

fullsizeoutput_4bcd

DSC_0807

fullsizeoutput_4bd0

chickadee on the feeder

fullsizeoutput_4bd4

Our house sits on a hill so the children do not have far to go for good sledding.  They just have to watch out for the pond and pine trees.

They very much enjoyed working on several different tracts, some with ramps and some with twisty turns.

fullsizeoutput_4bd5

fullsizeoutput_4bd2

In the afternoon the snow started falling off the branches, sparkling with the sun.

I spent most of the day with Seth snuggled nearby, so it was good to go on the porch now and then to breath in some fresh air and watch the children sled.

fullsizeoutput_4bd1

falling snow

fullsizeoutput_4bcf

It was a most cozy day.

DSC_0838

I even made homemade pizza.

This morning, Seth was better.  He went to school.  I went to school, too.  Sarah had a chorus program at 9.   I sat next to another lady who had come to watch her granddaughter and was disappointed that the program was only 15 minutes long.  She had come from a few towns over.  All that effort for 15 minutes.  It’s worth it, though, right?  I then went to the grocery store, came home, put everything away, got laundry going, tidied up the kitchen.  I’ll be leaving soon to pick up David for a doctor’s appointment.

He rules the earth with truth and grace,
and makes the nations prove
the glories of his righteousness
and wonders of His love.

These words are running through my heart this morning, from the hymn “Joy to the World”.   I am so thankful for Jesus.  How astounding that He rules with truth and grace….especially when you see all through history the ways humanity has ruled.  How beautiful and rare are the good, kind, and loving rulers who reflect His ways.  

For Jesus Himself rules with perfect love. . .wonderous love and glorious righteousness.  

doxology

23468284_10155340177626843_1708102959_o

It’s Saturday afternoon.  Joanna and I go back to her house and find her son Eti in the kitchen busy with dinner preparations.  Beebs the baby is playing with the trains I gave him.  Jeff is working on the computer and the girls are playing.  Her husband Steve has taken good care of everyone all day long while we were at church.

There is just enough light left outdoors for some photos.  We want to take pictures of the girls in their matching clothes.

IMG_8994

The children are happy all around us and us two mamas are laughing….we try and try for just the right picture.  And then we hand our cameras to them and let them try.

IMG_9025

I think about 20 years ago when I first met Joanna at Bible college.  I marvel at the longevity of our friendship and all the things that have happened since then; marriages, births, adoption, moves, and all the other events of living both big and small.

The biggest blessing of all to me is the soul and depths of two women sharing with each other what they are learning deep down in their hearts.  Truthfully enjoying motherhood, deeply loving our husbands, joy-aches, sorrow-aches, emergency prayers, understanding, wisdom read, copied, scribbled on slips of paper, sent through the mail, saved, savored, felt, journaled.

23432804_10155340177296843_45976633_o

23433212_10155340178716843_1834539535_o

We add the moments of this very afternoon to our collection of friendship memories with the knowledge that life is short, and full of holy experiences.  Our hungry eyes search for them all, each one worth praising God for; the innocence of childhood, the smells of good food in the kitchen, a loving man, adoring happy daughters, steadfast sons, a friendly dog, crunchy leaves underfoot, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness.

******

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above all ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

madame butterfly

Oh what peace we often forfeit,
Oh what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

“I trust You.  Give me wisdom.  Give me love to spill over.  My life is Yours.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

DSC_1125

A simply DRENCHED bumble bee, waiting out the rain on a bee balm blossom.

DSC_1133

I don’t know…..but again, drenched.

DSC_1140

close up of a zinnia.. .. .gorgeous color pink.

DSC_1148

My nature studies have gone from birds to bees and other insects.  It’s such a pleasure to walk around the outskirts of our lawn, where the mowed grass meets the wilder grasses and flowers and look for insects.  There are always interesting things to see.

I still like to watch for birds, too.  In fact, I keep seeing a yellow warbler (wearing a black mask) peeping at me from the bushes, it must be distracting me from seeing a nest because it’s a typically shy bird.  I’ll try to photograph it today.

DSC_1154 2

breathtaking greens and yellow

DSC_1160 1

I showed Sarah the photos and when she realized what she was seeing, she said “Delete it!”

DSC_1162 1

DSC_1164 1

This is my favorite photo of the bunch.  The wings!  Did you ever guess there would be wings like this on a tiny bug?  (it’s on a yarrow flower, a common wildflower in our area)

DSC_1165 1

It’s not a very clear photo because just as I was taking it I felt a cold thing go across my bare big toe………

DSC_1167

It was a big juicy worm.

DSC_1169

This gorgeous bug, if it senses an enemy near. . . . .

DSC_1179 1

….drops down and plays dead.  It literally plays dead!  It had me fooled for a moment.

DSC_1185

DSC_1187 2

DSC_1198 2

Yesterday I was on the porch and saw a Monarch fly by.  I walked around to follow it and discovered it busily laying eggs on the milkweed that I let grow in the garden.  See how it presses it’s tail to the leaf?

DSC_1214 1

It leaves an egg behind, a teeny white egg.  When it hatches, the caterpillar will be all set because it simply LOVES milkweed leaves.

By gently turning the leaves over on the plants I have found at least 5 eggs.  We plan on collecting them after they hatch and watching them grow.  It’s one of our favorite summertime nature studies.

DSC_1215

****

A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Proverbs 31:30

 

 

blessed

DSC_0659

“Let me tell you why you are here.  You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth…….
You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in this world.
God is not a secret to be kept.”

*****

We went to see Beauty and the Beast.  We ate lots of candy and popcorn and sat in a long row on my sister’s birthday.  Spectacular.  My favorite part was at the end when all the castle inhabitants under the curse were brought back to life – the way it was supposed to be, through true love. I thought of how we are also born under a curse, but then, in time, Jesus makes us new again.  “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are past, behold all things are made new.”  Oh how He loves us.

*****

We took the children to their elementary school to watch a movie.  We watched it among a restless sea of children, hardly able to hear, and then took home an extra one (friend of Caleb) to spend the night.  After the movie we joined the crowd walking in the dark to their cars, carrying their blankets and pillows, and agreed it had been a nice event for the kids.  A good small town treat.  We appreciated the calm of the night sky.

*****

The children fished for the first time this year.  Rich called me out to the porch to admire the cuteness.

*****

Church yesterday.  Reminded me once again of the only thing that truly matters.  Everything else (and there’s so much “everything else”)  is icing on the cake.

*****

I made lots and lots of cookies.

*****

There was an epic nerf fight.

*****

I got happy mail!

*****

 

Matthew 5

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.  With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”

those “Jesus, take the wheel!” moments.  When you finally let go.

DSC_0621

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you.  Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”

(dreams?  expectations?  a person?  a home?  a job? health?  youth? )

DSC_0630

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are–no more, no less.  That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”

Contentment to me means peace inside.

Contentment to simply be.

DSC_0635

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God.  He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”

soul food–delicious and satisfying

DSC_0637

“You’re blessed when you care.  At the moment of being ‘care-full’, you find yourselves cared for.”

DSC_0638

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world–your mind and heart–put right.  Then you can see God in the outside world.”

ah, yes

DSC_0641 1

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight.  That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.”

This is the number one job of a parent of more than one child.  LOL

DSC_0645 1

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution.  The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.”

*****

DSC_0647

Sarah was the official bread runner to the house for bait.  She stepped back when the fish appeared but Caleb’s friend Collin was able to get her to touch it….I could hear her from across the pond, “It’s slimy!” she laughed.

DSC_0656

Lots of commentary about the poor fish who ate the hook all the way down and it’s poor eye and getting it free, and putting it back.

DSC_0658 1

Seth was the most frustrated.  He spent a great deal of time trying to get the bread to stay on his hook.  He never did catch one.  But it was good for him.

DSC_0660