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Sunday, November 6, 2011

This is Lemons

This is Lemons.

She is a cockatiel.  She is a crabby little bird, who we purchased to have as a buddy and "class pet" (since we homeschool) for the kids.

She turned out to be a bird who snubs kids, prefers adults, and ultimately would rather be left alone.

I will admit that I've been feeling a lot like her the last few months. I have wanted to fluff out my feathers, hide my face, and sleep undisturbed for a really long time.

This summer was very emotional for me. I was forced to re-think and accept some things that I hadn't expected to encounter.  I was led through disappointment, confusion, anger, sorrow...

I went through a grieving process, and my poor sweet husband had to endure each stage that I went through. I must admit the worst was the anger stage, when I just couldn't force myself to be happy and could barely be anything but civil to the world around me.

I finally came to an emotional stop, where I teetered on the edge of feeling like a prisoner in my own life.... exhausted, empty, robotic, and sad. My soul resembled a flat tire. I felt as though I had lost myself. Who was I?  Where was my trust in the Lord? He is where I seek my identity, and it all had seemed to vanish.

One Friday evening I finally fell apart. It had been a long day, nothing had seemed to go right. The evening had only amplified my exhaustion, added to my frustration.

I will simply say it was a Friday night which ended with me pouring my heart out, sobbing, to my confused and concerned husband.

The next day started early for me.  I was sent out the door with a good breakfast made with love, hot coffee in my travel mug, and instructions to go do something fun after my responsibilities for the day had concluded.

That day and the next were vital in refreshing my soul and filling me up just enough to set me back on my feet. My husband took the kids on adventures, allowing me to go looking for ME in the mix of this busy life I lead.

During that time I went to the gym, found myself antique shopping, and ended with a leisurely trip to the health food store. I had time to reflect, pray, and think quietly without interruption.

I returned home feeling refreshed, with a few treasures to show for it as well. I was so glad to see the sweet faces of my family, which in itself was a breath of the 'old me' reviving as well.

I have realized that to avoid this type of exhaustion I need to get out alone more often and spend time with the One who fills me. Without my Shepard, I am truly lost.

I had grown weary and flat during my intensely exhausting emotional roller-coaster, but my pulse was returning.

One of the treasures I brought home from those hours alone is a hand made necklace, crafted from new and old.

The necklace is created from salvaged beads, and closes with an antique button. The flower in front is new, and is perfectly woven in with the old, creating beauty.

This necklace has taken on meaning to me as I have mentally sorted through the past few months and tried to properly place the events, the emotions, and the weekend that began to revive me.

It reminds me of how God daily weaves my life into beauty, one day at a time, after he has salvaged my soul, like the crafter salvaged the beads,  from sin and death.

He has taken the old me: the me that messes up all the time, has a bad attitude too often, finds selfishness taking the drivers seat of my life..... the me that can't keep a neat house, hates to put the laundry away, and doesn't delight in cooking meals, who forgets to thank Him for every good thing in my life, and forgets to look at how He is working in my life through the hard times.... the me that forgets that the universe wasn't created and centered around my own little life.... the me that puts too much trust in my own abilities and forgets that He is the vine and I am but a branch- without Him I can do nothing.

The necklace symbolizes a fresh start. The flower looks to me as if it has freshly bloomed. It appears as if the time ahead of it will lead to deeper and greater beauty, pulling beauty from the salvaged past into it, creating depth and richness that wouldn't have existed without the events that caused the need for rescue and re-use.

With God there is always new hope, the promise of eternal life once I surrender this life that is riddled with sin, misery, emptiness...  He creates so much beauty from the old, the sorrow, the events that lead me to seek Him when I have strayed away or lost sight of His plan for my life. He reminds me that He has put that beauty into each day and He will never abandon me.

Even when I can not see beauty in my day, He has it right before me through His grace, forgiveness, and endless love for me. In my emptiness, sadness, frustration, feelings of sorrow, He is even more glorified when he wraps my soul with His love and reminds me of how richly He has blessed me.

He can take a crabby hurting soul that wants to hide away, and revive it with His love, step by step.

I am so thankful to be done with this summer. I look at a verse that has hung on my kitchen cabinet all summer:

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths will I guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them."
Isaiah 42:16

It stands out to me so clearly that He guided me through the darkness of my emotions. Through His love, guidance, and the loving gentleness of my husband, my rough places are becoming smooth, and I am steady on my feet again. Tired, but steady.

I have renewed hope, and have been reminded that God is unchanging.  He knows the desires of my heart, and He loves my heart deeply. My sorrow and the loss I grieved have not gone unnoticed by Him. He heard my cries, saw every tear, and was the One that bound my heart together during the times of deepest pain.

I will go forward with renewed strength and reassurance that He has heard me.

I will wait for His perfect timing, relying on Him to fill any emptiness in my heart until the unfulfilled desires I longed for are finally fulfilled, or changed into a different direction which He intends for me.

I will rest in the Lord, and wait patiently on Him.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Introducing Snickerdoodles

We would like you to meet our soon-to-be newest addition to our family, Snickers.

He is a Miniature Labradoodle who is being added to our family as a companion for our beautiful sensory-seeking princess. She has so much love to give, and so much need to give it. Her therapists and our family decided that this would be a wonderful form of in-home therapy, and we couldn't be more excited!

Sadly we are not permitted to have him in this current residence, despite our petition to the home-owners, including a full detailed explanation. We were frustrated by this, to the point of looking into other living situations for the time we have left in this area due to the nature of the response that was given to our property manager.

But.... since God works in mysterious ways, it actually has turned out to be perfectly timed anyway, as we will be having Snickers professionally trained to be the perfect companion (which takes quite a bit of time.) He won't be ready to join us until spring at the earliest, and by then we will have relocated (or be close to it). We will welcome him (and his manners) home when we have settled into our new location, wherever that may be.

We wanted to share our joy and excitement with you as we wait for this little guy to join our family.

<3 Katie and family

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Frogs, Revolutionary War, and other important stuff....

It has been a busy month. A VERY busy month. So busy, in fact, that somewhere along the way an incident occurred that never should have.... and it went undetected for too long. I wish I had a picture of what I will describe, but you will be glad that I don't, really. I'll start at the beginning, so just bear with me.
The month began with a bang. After ending August hoping for a little peace to arrive, instead we got hurricane Irene. Schools were closed, trees were down, power was out.... all that good stuff. So, for us summer vacation lasted a week longer than planned, which really was fine.
I spent a lot of the extra time focused on spreading the word about Discovery Toys, hosting wonderful toy parties, getting details finalized to begin our homeschooling year, collecting necessary items for my older two kids to be in their uncle's wedding soon, and prepping for our Revolutionary War homeschool trip. All the while I was excitedly awaiting the arrival of my niece, who was due September 7th. Adding to this excitement was the privilege of being with my sister during her labor and delivery. So much to get ready for!
Finally the power was restored to the area and the first day of Kindergarten came on September 7th (but no baby). Then the first day of Homeschool Academy on September 8th (but no baby). Our homeschool work at home began, and after a BUSY week plus a last minute sleep-over with my sister and nephew... the baby came. She, like all of my own babies, had the good sense to wait until her Mamma and Auntie were down-right exhausted before she decided to arrive. So, September 10th at 7 p.m. we drove 30 minutes to the hospital. In honor of her daddy who is serving in Iraq currently, my niece waited until September 11th, Patriot Day, to allow us to meet her for the first time. It was LOVE at first sight when I laid eyes on that beautiful child. What a miracle life is. The next 3 days were an exhausting blur as we adjusted to being awoken every 3 minutes, but on Tuesday at 5 p.m. my sister, my niece, and I headed home. It was heart-breaking to watch my sister and niece head to my mom's house, knowing I'd not kiss my precious niece again for at least a week. But, I had to march on. There was a Revolutionary War to be explored, and I am the primary packer-of-the-bags for my tribe.
I was not able to put much gusto into the packing at first, due to my complete lack of energy.
However, by Sunday morning I had pulled it together and we were on the road at 7 a.m.. We found ourselves happily standing on the grounds of the Thomas Edison laboratory in New Jersey by 2 p.m. that day, ready to explore and learn. We spent the next 7 days touring New England via Newport, Rhode Island and Boston, Massachusetts. We were focused on trying to get a real-life feel for what it was like to be alive during the late 1700's, and what the true spirit of the American people was during such an important time in the foundation of our nation. We walked along the Freedom Trail, climbed around on the USS Constitution, visited the home of Paul Revere, listened to a history lesson while sitting in Faneuil Hall, and explored graveyards dating back to the 1600's. We walked through the rooms of the birthplaces of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, and explored Peacefield (The Old House) which belonged to John and Abigail Adams later in their lives. We tried to soak in all we could about these brave men and women who set in motion the beginnings of an incredible nation. We couldn't resist a quick stop in the Public Gardens to see the ducks, swans, and the wonderful statues honoring the classic children's book Make Way For Ducklings. We stood under a willow tree, in the rain, and read the book in front of the pond while ducks swam and quacked just a couple of feet from us. It was magical.
We returned home exhausted, rather amazed at how we fit so much into 7 days with 3 small children in tow, and so proud of how much the two older children learned and could discuss with us. Also, we gained a fairly large selection of children's books about the Revolutionary War that we are itching to dive into during our school-time! Please know that in the midst of all this learning and excitement, we also experienced real life. You know what I mean, if you have kids you've been in our shoes. We dealt with melt-downs (in a rotation, the children seemed to have set up a system of 'shifts' among themselves), a million potty-stops along the entire East Coast, terrible food, difficult driving, traffic jams that moved 3 miles in 2 hours with whining kids in the back seat of the car who had to go potty, etc. Then there were the other little irritations like hopping onto the wrong trains as we tried to get back from the city, pee-pee accidents that occurred an hour from the hotel with no clean clothes on hand to remedy the situation and public transportation as our only way back, and a fair amount of impatience on our part due to the struggles each new wonderful situation presented to us. I can make it all look so pretty if I leave out the details... but I know you'd rather hear the truth.
Oh... wait.... you were waiting to hear about the awful incident.... are you sure you still want to know? Okay. Well then..., let's back up to my arrival home after 3 days away at the hospital, before we left on our fabulous trip. Let's establish that my husband was the driver of our mini-van at that time, as he was the caretaker of our crew during my time away at the hospital.
I'm going to be very real here.
I will plainly state that it was his fault.
Despite his denials, it had to be.
As we were cleaning out the car to make it ready for our trip, my husband was inspecting the windshield. He noticed something odd-looking in the far front-corner on the drivers side.
He leaned in. He looked closer.
I was in the passenger seat, attending to the side of the vehicle that would be my domain for the coming week. I paused, noticing that something was not right in his countenance.
"What in the..... is that.... what IS that?" I heard him say. "Hand me something, like a pen, or something long..." I heard him say next. I dug around. I found a plastic knife still sealed cleanly in its plastic in the glove box. I handed it over, and waited. He dug around, he poked, he prodded, and soon he produced something that I still shiver over the thought of.
There, in the front corner of MY VAN, was a DRIED UP, nasty little tree frog that had somehow wedged itself too tightly into the corner between the dash-board and the wind-shield. It had expired, right there. What I need to know is... HOW did it stay there for so long and get dried up like that? EWWW!!!!!
I know you are wondering how I concluded that it was my husbands' fault.
I'll admit, I have no evidence. But it is easier to blame him.
I decided that while I was away at the hospital, he must have left the window cracked open over-night. The frog climbed in. Then, our van sits in the direct sunlight in our driveway, and is exceptionally hot on the dash-board at any given day-light moment. So, there you have it--- it dried up in there while I was away.
It has nothing to do with how little time I spend cleaning the van.
Or the mess the kids make in there that makes it impossible to see the floor, and seems to attract a cheerful parade of flies that tail behind us in traffic, speeding through red lights just to keep up with us. I plead innocent.
All kidding aside, it really did cause me to think about my life, and the lives of others around me. Have you ever had a moment where something insignificant really grabs your attention and calls out for you to look deeper?
I recall the many conversations I've had with the precious women that have crossed my path during all of the places the military has sent us to live. So many of them have expressed feelings of failure, feelings of inadequacy, troubled marriages, troubled children.... so many different types of pain and suffering. These women have opened up their hearts and have been real with me. I have admired them for their brave honesty, been comforted by the truth they shared with me, and I've grown stronger within myself because of the wisdom they have imparted to me through their struggles.
Each of these ladies I mention are beautiful women. Looking at them from the outside anyone would assume they had it all together. Perfect marriages, perfect kids, perfect homes, perfect lives..... it could be nearly intimidating. Yet, they were willing to break down the walls and be honest. And, it changed me.
My heart LONGS for a world where we can all just be honest. Where we can be REAL. Where we don't walk around with masks on, hoping no-one sees the Phantom that is truly behind the mask. Where we break down the walls, knowing that we risk being disliked by some, but also remembering that we deserve to be truly liked for who we REALLY are. We are people who have hurts, struggles, issues... not a single one of us goes through life without making mistakes. Why do we pretend that we escape all of the pain? What do we gain by denying the truth and making others feel less-worthy because they cannot avoid seeing their own faults, but cannot see through our facade to our reality?
I wish we could all just say the truth.
I'll start.
My life contains dead frogs. Here are a few of them.
I'm grumpy more often than I like.
I can be selfish.
I don't like to admit when I am wrong.
I can be bossy (......from what I'm told =P ).
I could go on forever, as I am truly a sinful human who is in need of forgiveness on a daily basis. I am so thankful that I know how and where to seek that beautiful grace.
And, I really want you all to know that I am not perfect. I know you aren't either. And I like you for it. 
How about you? Do you have any dead frogs that you want to share?
I truly believe that within our honesty about ourselves, within the "being REAL" with each other,  there is richness, beauty, blessing, and peace.
Thanks for spending a little time with me, friends!
Much love,

Friday, September 2, 2011

This is a MUST-SEE!!!!

I have just learned of a movie coming out in the end of September that I can't WAIT to bring our family to. I had to put the info here to share with you all, so that you can support the efforts of those in Hollywood who are trying to impact our nation's entertainment with positive messages. We can't let this pass by unnoticed!
Please use the link I've posted above. You will probably have to cut and paste it into your browser, as I am too new at this blog-thing to know how to make it a link for you. (I'm sorry! I'll get there...) It will take you to a blog, written by the author of the BEST parenting books I've ever read, and will explain everything about the movie. You will even learn how to enter a drawing for free prizes related to the movie! Free stuff is always fun, right?
Thanks for taking a few minutes to check this out everyone. You won't be sorry.
Let's support quality entertainment by showing Hollywood that it WILL SELL TICKETS!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A week to remember.....

I don't recall ever having a week so incredibly full of natural distaster threats. It began with the earthquake on Wednesday... not my favorite event as I mentioned before, and then a tornado warning on Thursday that sent us running to the closet and hanging out in the dark for a while, and now the hurricane over the weekend.
We spent the time with my parents and siblings, which was wonderful. Other than some tree limbs down and some spoiled food in my fridge we really came out of all of this with such tremendous blessing! It could have been so much worse. The worst thing I will have to deal with now is that my 5 year old just can't wait for it all to happen again.... I guess I made it too much fun...., and I can live with that.
I know that not everyone has come through this week unscathed, and for them I feel truly awful and pray for speedy recovery.
This coming week should be very full as well, with school starting, friends coming to visit, and the kick-off of a busy season ahead.
I must go get some rest so that I will be prepared, and mostly to recover from the week that has thankfully passed by.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

So many thoughts, so many interruptions....

This has been a long week, and it's only Wednesday. We've had an earthquake (which many of you know from my past is NO small thing to me....), a full week of intense potty training which is sapping my energy, and I've been prepping for homeschool to get back into full swing. I wear myself out with my vigor for new adventures, new projects, the never-ending stream of thoughts and musings over life, God, my family, and what surprises might be ahead.
I do all of this in very short segments.
I am constantly interrupted by siblings annoying each other, boo-boos that need kissing, noses that need wiping, by the joyous sense of power that a two-year old has once he has realized the mighty power the words "GO POTTY" hold over his mama, and the many times that I am beckoned with "Mommy, look, Loooookkkk!!!!". Yesterday my littlest cherub was caught chasing his older siblings with his potty seat, trying to hit them with it. It was the one minute I had run upstairs to answer the phone. Fun.
Would I trade any of the people in my life that interrupt me this continually? N.E.V.E.R.
I believe they are one of my primary missions in life. My truest riches.
But, it does make it hard to contemplate the deeper meanings of life, the love of our Holy God in it's fullest extent, and to see life beyond the moment that I am in. Or even to complete a thought or sentence.
This stage of my life has stretched me beyond the limits of what I thought possible, and I still stand at the beginning of much of it, there are many years that lie ahead. "I will lead the blind by the ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them, and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16
I am so thankful for the rich blessings that, like Easter Eggs, are hidden in the nooks and crannies of this life. Even in the rough places.... there are provisions and blessings.
By the way, I've been interrupted at least 7 times while writing this short note. And I'm being hollered for now too. And I am so thankful.
Do you see the photo I included? It is artwork created by my older two this-morning as a "Thank-you for all you do Mommy". They wouldn't let me see it until they were done. As they revealed it to me I gazed at it, amazed at what a representation of my life it truly is. Full of COLOR, full of CRAZY-ness, full of LOVE, full of so many little tiny parts that all add up to one beautiful unique creation.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hello, I am finally here!!!! It's about time!

Well, I have FINALLY jumped onto the blog bandwagon, and I am THRILLED. Many of you helped me figure out how to do this, and to you I say THANK YOU!
Our family has moved around so often that many of you, our dear friends and acquaintances that we wished we'd had more time to acquaint with, are spread around our nation and the world. SO, now we can more easily keep you updated on the happenings in our lives.
Our most current adventures consist of:

1) Our two year old decided that he would potty train himself. That is an ongoing adventure.

2) We have joined Discovery Toys, and can now share our PASSION for these toys with YOU! Check my site out . They have a LIFETIME WARRANTY, a replacement parts program, they specifically target child development, and are tested FAR above industry standards of safety.
We are so excited about this around here (if you can't tell from all the caps...) and the kids just can't stop begging to play with "Mommy's Toys" (a.k.a The sample in my kit that they didn't already own.)

3) We have found out that we will reside in our current location for 5 months longer than originally expected, which is a wonderful blessing.

For now, I must close. My tired little potty-trainee needs some hugs, as waking from a nap isn't always easy.