Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What do we know?

There is a song, What do I know of Holy? by Addison Road. I have not always loved the song, but my heart does resonate with the truth that the more I know about God, the more I know Him, the more I realize that there is much much more that I don't know. The songwriter suggests that at one point she thought she had God figured God out, and I confess that I have never presumed to say that. The plain truth is that I am far from understanding the vastness of who my Creator and Savior is. I love the line in the song that says "Where have I even stood, but the shore along Your ocean?" The thought that I have barely dipped my toes into the depths of His Holiness and Love and Sovereignty leaves me a bit breathless.

As we begin a new year, I wonder if you, like me, have contemplated New Year's resolutions that involve more vegetables and water and less bread and hot chocolate? Have you considered moving more, TVing less, and simply adopting more healthy habits? I think those are all good ideas. However, I am beginning to wonder.

What if I were to resolve to pursue holiness instead of skinniness, purity rather than perfection, godliness and not good habits, intimacy and not organization? I venture a guess that the Fruit of the Spirit, which includes love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control would be more noticeable in my life and these other things that are constant themes in my New Year's Resolutions would become non-issues.

So, join me, won't you, as I ask God and trust God for the changes He wants to make in me, rather than the changes I think I would like to see.

What do I know of Holy? I only know the One Who calls me to be holy as He is Holy. I know that Christ's holiness, along with His perfect righteousness clothes me because I am His.

What do I know of Holy?
by Addison Road

I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven
But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small
I never feared You at all No
If You touched my face would I know You?
Looked into my eyes could I behold You?

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Find More lyrics at www.sweetslyrics.com
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame?
And a God who gave life "its" name?
What do I know of Holy?
Of the One who the angels praise?
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love?

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of Holy?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Hope all is well with you and yours as we head into the new year. Those of you who have kiddos at home this week, enjoy it! :0)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What's in a name?

Not that we are fickle, or that we thrive on confusion, but we have changed the poor pooch's name again. This time it is a done deal. For various reasons both sensible and silly, we have named the new girl Molly. Number 4 likes to call her Molly Flower. I think he likes her much better than the vegetable Cauli-flower ;0)

Hope your Thanksgiving was a treat and I hope you know we are thankful for you!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What's for Dinner?

Thought I would share some of our menu for Thanksgiving. I only make things I love, and these are truly yummy!
Enjoy! I will add pictures as I can.

Marcy's Roll's

Dissolve 1 pkg yeast with
2 T warm water and set aside
Mix 2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
Beat until smooth.
Add yeast mixture and beat well.
Add 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks melted butter
Combine well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, split dough in half and roll each into a circle. Cut dough into wedges and roll each piece into crescent shape. Let rise under a towel on a cookie sheet 1 hour. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.
(Actually, someone else is bringing rolls this year, but I will make these this weekend to have with leftovers because we love them!)

Special Creamed Corn
Melt in large saucepan and stir until smooth and bubbly:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
generous pinch pepper
Slowly add:
16 oz whipping cream
16 oz. Half & Half
Stir until smooth.
Add 40 oz frozen corn
12 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
Bring to boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Simmer about 15 minute, stirring frequently.
(This is not like any creamed corn you have ever had)

Cranberry Sauce

Combine in a medium saucepot and bring to boil over medium heat:
1 pound fresh cranberries, washed and dried
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
Reduce heat to simmer and add
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Stir to blend and simmer 5-7 minutes. Add
juice and zest from one orange.
Cool before serving.
(I don't like cranberry sauce and I wanted to eat this like it was dessert! Yummy!)
Recipe courtesy Alex Guarnaschelli - Food Network

Balsamic Root Vegetables
Combine in a large slow-cooker:
(this is a doubled recipe - my slow-cooker is 8.5 quart and we will have 29 people!)
2 lbs parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
4 large red onions, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups sweetened dried cranberries
Layer over top:
3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
Whisk together and pour over vegetables: (do not stir)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
6 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Cover and cook on high 4-5 hours or until vegetables are tender.
Toss with 2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley just before serving.
(This is new to the menu this year. I've never made it, but doesn't it look great?! I love that it is for the slow cooker, since my over and stove top will be occupied!)
Recipe courtesy Southern Living.

Smoky Bacon-Biscuit Dressing

Stir together:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
Stir until no lumps remain. Drop 1/4 cup batter onto an ungreased baking sheet, spacing the biscuits about 1 inch apart. Bake at 425 until the tops are pale golden and bottoms are golden brown 15-18. Makes 1 dozen biscuits.

Cut biscuits into cubes and toast on baking sheet in lower third of oven at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until lightly golden. Increase oven to 375.

Cook 1 pound bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
Drain on paper towels.
Using 3 Tbsp bacon grease, cook:
2 yellow onions, diced
Add and cook until tender:
5 celery stalks, diced
8 oz button mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced
1/4 cup choped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbs chopped fresh sage
2 Tbs chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Stir biscuits with bacon and vegetable mixture in large owl and add 5 cups chicken stock, stirring to combine.
Bake, covered, at 375 for 30 minutes, remove foil and bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Serves 10
(Another one that seems complicated but it well worth it. These biscuits are so good you will want to eat them all plain before you even get to make the stuffing!)
Recipe courtesy Williams Sonoma Kitchen.

Brined Herb Roasted Turkey
Dissolve 1 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar
in 2 gallons cold water
Add 2 oranges, quartered
2 lemons, quartered
6 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary
Rinse turkey inside and out with cold water. Soak in brine, covered and refrigerated, for 4 - 24 hours (mine will be on the porch!)
Remove turkey from brinse and rinse well under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels, inside and out. Rub breast side with orange segments and all side with butter. Also rub with following mixture:
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cumin
Place breast side up in heavy roasting pan, stuffing some butter under skin. Stuff turkey with
1 large ionion, cut into 1/8ths
1 stalk celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large carrot, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
1/2 bunch sage
3-4 sprigs parsley

Roast according to weight and instructions on turkey, basting with chicken or turkey stock or broth.
(This looks complicated, but it isn't and it is worth every little bit of effort)
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, Food Netowrk.

New Family Member

No, we aren't expecting a baby! Our newest member is the four legged kind. As many of you know, we said goodbye to our dear dog, Sadie, in September, after she had been a sweet part of our lives for more than fifteen years. There was a void around our house after she was gone, and we miss her still!

Having no intention to get another dog any time soon, we recently found ourselves smitten (I admit, for me it was love at first sight) with the face of a big puppy we saw online. Louise (note name change below) was rescued, along with her eleven puppies!!! She was in a foster home, and this young mama (she is about a year old) was the last dog to be adopted from the rescue. As a friend said, how do you not love a dog that watched all her babies get adopted and was left behind?!

So, we have had her about a week and we are thoroughly enjoying her. We are reminded that there are many life lessons for children to learn from having an animal in the house. What rich teaching moments we can have as we take turns walking her and filling her food and water dishes, play with her, and watch out for one who doesn't really have a voice of her own.

Molly is our new special addition. What fun for us and what sweet timing God has as He places conversations and contacts in our days just when we don't know we need them!

She is a Great Dane and, though she could very well be on her way to around 100 pounds, she is still very much a puppy! That is a Granny Smith Apple she has been playing with for about a half an hour!

Monday, October 11, 2010

For now...

So, as most of you know, we went to Togo in August. It seems like so long ago, and it certainly feels like it was worlds away, but we have so much to share that I realize I need to just start somewhere! Fraulein Maria says that the beginning is a very good place to start, but I find my mind working in scattered snippits this evening and I want to post something, so please hang in here with me!

Togo is an impoverished West African nation. The people live on so very little, and their fetishisms and tribal religions, their Islam and empty ritual leave them with little hope for the future. However, we find the people to be friendly and sometimes very open to the gospel of Jesus. What a privilege to go and share our family with them for a couple of short weeks.

While we understand that we really don't understand what it is truly like to live in Togo, either for the Togolese people or for the faithful missionaries who serve them so lovingly, we love it there and we love the opportunity to shepherd our children in serving our Almighty God. Tonight I will share some photos and later I will share my heart. For now, will you join us in praying for God's name to become famous in this tiny nation and for the missionaries there, that they would continue to serve Him well.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

First things first

“The distance is nothing; it is only the first step that is difficult.”
Madame Marie du Deffand

By now, the first day of school seems almost a distant memory, and our trip to Africa, about which so many of you have kindly asked, practically a dream. I promise to visit the colorful streets and beautiful people of Togo with you in another post, but today I wish to share some observations on the special start to another school year.

Even to our older boys, who have had many a first day of school, September 7 was one full of anticipation and trepidation. Our daughter, too, put on her smart new pink plaid dress with fingers trembling a bit with excitement and nervousness. A week later, when number four started his first day of preschool, his hold on my hand was tighter than usual and his goodbye hug just a little bit longer. I wonder, did they have any idea of the butterflies dancing in my own stomach as I sent them all on their way? Do they realize, as someone has said, that they all represent my heart, skipping away from me clad in brand new tennis shoes and mary janes? Do they know that I held my breath and willed away my own tears as their lovely new teachers took them by the hand, at least figuratively, and led them through the door to new discoveries and endless possibilities?

There is no accomplishment without first an endeavor. There is no value without first a cost. There can be no harvest without first planting. So, I gave my children the necessary nudges, and the required hugs (right in front of people, yes, and even the oldest) and I invited them to partake of the rich blessing of a new year of school. I prayed so much that first day. I still pray daily for a hedge of protection around them - around their bodies and their minds and their hearts. Oh, Lord, please fill them only with those things that You deem important! Father, grow them, stretch them, shape them this year. Teach them to place You first and to manage the rest in a way that pleases You.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise from the ends of the earth,
you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,
you islands, and all who live in them.
Isaiah 42:10

This picture was taken by my twelve year old son in my mother's garden. What a joy to see him delight in God's special handiwork! Join my son and take time today to get close to something God made and marvel at His glorious creativity, delight in His kind offering to share Himself with us, another part of His creation!

Happy summer day to you!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sunshine in a Glass

We made lemonade today. I am not talking about mixing up some Country Time, though I know that can be yummy, too. I am talking about the sweet tart liquid sunshine that comes from a home-squeezed lemonade syrup. The process is simple. I confess, though, that it makes me feel like I should be carrying jars of the pleasing stuff in a picnic basket across the field to my husband who is sweating behind a horse and plow. Sarah, Plain and Tall anyone? The truth is, like many other long-lost practices, squeezing our own citrus when there are so many choices on our grocers shelves just doesn't suit our modern lifestyles anymore. The other truth, and those who know me best will agree, is that I crave that earlier simplicity and I often struggle to find the right balance between Sarah Witting's life and mine. Don't get me wrong, I have done three loads of laundry today in a manner Sarah would find wildly easy and I am thrilled for it! However, I just love to spend as many days as possible in the quiet simplicity and peace that working and serving in and about my home with my family around affords me. Titus 2 encourages women to be busy at home. I love that. I long for that. When I get to do that, I find I am blessed beyond measure.

Sip summer with us, won't you? Bask in the simple joy of a glass of sunshine on a porch with your kids all around. Talk with them. Marvel with them at the wonderful glimpse of God we get by quietly drinking in, literally and figuratively, His lovely creation.

Juice 16 - 20 lemons, straining out seeds, to equal 3 cups of lemon juice.

I find that if you roll the lemons firmly on the counter first, they juice much better. This is a good job for small people ;0)

Then make a simple syrup by dissolving four cups of sugar in one cup of boiling water.

Finally, add the lemon juice to the cooled syrup and store in jars. This recipe makes about three pints of syrup. We made one quart for our refrigerator and one pint to give away. To serve, mix about 1/3 cup syrup in a glass with ice and water. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

June Bug

You've heard of the "travel bug" which bites people with his venom of adventure, leaving the bitten with side-effects of a taste for exotic food, longing for sandy toes or snowy eyelashes, a penchant for living out of a suitcase and viewing glorious vistas out of hotel windows or tent-flaps. Perhaps you've been bitten by the "baby bug" which causes its victims to swoon for the scent of talcum powder, the softness of receiving blankets, and the gentle gurgle of a tiny, bubbly smile.

Around our parts these days, we've been stung by a gentler beast, one who lazily waited out the long, sometimes hot sometimes chilly, months of a Michigan spring. She laid in wait through chilly April evenings and misty May mornings. This bug slowly nibbled our ears until all we could hear was the distant call of water birds and jet-boats. She tugged our toes until they would not be satisfied in socks and shoes and craved water, sand, or bright foam flip-flops instead. Once bitten, we were giddy with gooseflesh when faced with the anticipation of taking a plunge off a wood plank dock into refreshing cool-warm water, creating more little pleasure bumps on our limbs! We now salivate like Pavlovs dog when we smell a campfire and we race to the basket holding the treasured chocolate, grahams, and spongy soft marshmallows. Our cravings are satisfied only with long days of sun and water and sand and iced tea or lemonade. We have been bitten by a powerful creature and there seems to be only one remedy: true, uninhibited frolic. So, rather than seeking an antidote (even though one tried to sneak into the house in the form of a - gasp - Back to School catalog, which we promptly tossed! The nerve!!!), we revel in our infection. We rejoice in our affliction. We've been bitten by the June Bug and we are loving every minute of it!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Monkeys and muffins and bears, oh my!

Today is my delightful day at home. Each day throughout the week, there are things that draw me away - Bible study, school volunteering, errands, etc., but Thursdays I protect like a mama bear over her cubs, which is, in fact, what I am! Every other day of the week, I try to stay home as much as possible, but this one is special because the first trip I make is to pick up the kids after school, and there is something wonderful about waking up to a day in the den that makes this mama bear joyful with anticipation.

After checking my email this morning, I wandered over to a blog with which I have recently become acquainted (thanks to a dear friend) and I found a recipe (among many that look delicious!) that grabbed my attention. I will post it here, although it barely makes my twelve items or less requirement. I had slowly rotting (okay, they were just very very soft and turning brown) bananas on my counter so I decided to try Monkey Muffins today. Because I have twelve feet in my house, there are lots of mouths to feed so I can't seem to help myself from quadrupling a recipe, which is what I did here (praying that Mrs. H was trustworthy and her recipe was yummy!). Once I got going, I discovered two things. A) The muffins were great! (yeah!) and B) I had dozens and dozens in my kitchen! (oh my!)

I started to pray - not because I was overwhelmed by a bounty of baked good, but because God was prompting me to use them to bless some people today and I wanted to pray for them all as I prepared their yummies. You can see from my photos the resulting tower of treats. What joy to be able to bring a smile to some families today. Our teachers and pastors and friends will sample the sweetness, but I am the one who is blessed by their faithful service and I am so happy that today, in the quietness of my home, with my two youngest happily playing on the floor, I was able to prepare for them all a small token of the love that our family feels for all of them.

Have you considered that in our rush to fill up our days we might be missing the simple pleasure and the daily blessing of looking outside our hectic selves and ministering to others? Are your days so full of appointments and dates, schedules and plans, that you are missing out on that to which we have been called - loving OTHERS? Jesus said that others will know we are His by our love for one another. Is there room in your date book for "one-another" opportunities? Are you training your children to be always looking for ways to love on people, as Jesus Himself did? Will you join me in pursuing a simpler life that pulls out its day-planner and says, "Today is Yours, Lord, and I have carefully penciled in peace so that You may fill my hours with whatever you choose?" Will you help keep me accountable to this commitment?

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:15-16

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In a Jam

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Strawberries were on sale. The weekend was not the best for adding the job of "jamming" but I couldn't resist the price. The other truth at play here is that making jam is one the little things that delights me about being a homemaker. It ranks right up there with baking homemade bread and mopping my floors with lavender scented cleaner! :0)

I know what you are thinking. Jam is not that pricey and readily available at the grocery store. Homemade jam is high in sugar (four cups per batch - yikes!) Who has time for hulling, chopping, canning fruit?! Well, I say you are missing out if you have never tried it. The cooked version is wonderful and keeps on your pantry shelf as long as you would need (of course, at our house, it goes fast, no matter how much I make!) The hot sweet scent of ripe berries fills your kitchen, enticing neighbors and mailmen alike.

This time around, I made freezer jam. When time is short, there is nothing simpler and the sticky sugary goodness is worth the twenty minutes it takes to wash, hull and chop berries, add sugar, boil pectin, and stir it all together into a pink heavenly concoction that will cause your peanut butter jar to swoon!

The kids' eyes get bigger when they step into the kitchen (better yet - let them help!) and see all those scarlet jars full of yumminess. Summer feels closer when one eats a piece of bread with jam running down its sides. Little cheeks beg for kisses when strawberry seeds slide into their dimples and fingers find tongues to get every last morsel.

Enjoy the treats of spring. Delight in the simple pleasures. Slip your cell phone into your apron pocket and pull out the wooden spoons and potato mashers and preserve a little love in those jars! Our days slip by too quickly not to stop and smell the strawberries!

God has given us each day as a precious gift. How blessed we are. Are you, like me, often racing through days in a fog of schedules and demands, forgetting that the things that keep us busy are often the things that distract us from those we love most. Is it worth it to stop, breathe, enjoy the bounty that God richly gives us? Can we use those sweet moments at the sink, at the counter, to talk to our great Provider and thank Him for a moment of peace? Is there a spiritual lesson in strawberry jam? Absolutely. What a sweet simple picture it is of the abundant ways our Father blesses us. Stop with me and taste and see that He is good!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sweet Leftovers

OK - so I know you are all falling off your chairs now because I am posting two days in a row, but don't be shocked. I am loving our week at home and enjoy sharing it here with you. Today, I wanted to share my great idea (I am quite certain I am not the first to do this, but it is the first time I have done it quite to this extent!)

In spite of the fact that my children did not get baskets full of candy from us on Easter morning, there still seemed to be lots in the house (thanks to loving grandmas!) So...today I had my older boys help me sort the loot. Fruity candy went into the candy jar to go in lunch boxes one piece at a time. All chocolate got unwrapped and tossed into a bowl. Then we chopped and cut it up (even the four inch crispy bunny!) and used the chocolaty pile instead of chocolate chips in our favorite cookie recipe. The results were sweet. Sweet! I also remembered that I had a partial half-gallon of vanilla ice cream (Edy's Slow Churned) in the freezer, so I made four ice cream sandwiches. Those will go with a meal tonight to friends from church who just had a baby. Fun!

It makes me giddy to take something of which I'd rather not have in my house and turn it into
a) a fun project and
b) a tasty treat

Enjoy your day. May it be as sweet as ours!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Caramel Monkey Bread

3 tubes biscuits, each biscuit cut into fourths
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Heat cream, brown sugar, and cinnamon in saucepan over medium heat. Place biscuit pieces in greased bundt pan. Pour heated cream mixture over biscuits. Bake at 400 degrees about 20 to 25 minutes. Immediately invert on a plate to serve.

Yummy, Sticky Goodness

We are thoroughly enjoying our spring vacation here. Ten of our twelve feet get to stay cozy in our warm beds a little longer in the mornings this week (sorry, Dad) and we are delighting in eating breakfast in our pjs and rolling through our days sans schedule. Today we started with a mound of sweet biscuity perfection and I thought I'd share. The original recipe was found in an old issue of Simple and Delicious, but I couldn't find it today so I made this one up. Was it as good as the original? I think here a picture is worth a thousand words (words best left unspoken while our mouths are full!) Mmmmmm!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It's No Secret

I love comfort. If you know me at all, you know that I love to have my toes in the sand or tucked under me in the cozy corner chair. You know that I like to have a book in my right hand and a tea in my left (iced and sweet in the summer, hot and creamy the other nine months). I read books over and over if I love them because I delight in returning to the fictional places that please me. I enjoy studying my Bible with lovely piano or cello music quietly playing or in the simple stillness of my screened in porch on a crisp morning or hazy afternoon. Movies that transport me and food that excites me...these are the things I enjoy. My husband who loves me and likes me and my children who trust me and teach me...these are the people I enjoy. I have friends who understand me and I know I am blessed. All these things and people and experiences add layer upon layer to my comfort. They are good things. They are blessings. I am thankful for each one on many levels. However, I know for certain that I love them too much. I love comfort. The Bible says to live is Christ and to die is gain. Die to self. Take up your cross and follow me. The first shall become last and the last first. In this world you will have trouble. Scripture is riddled with reminders that we will not always have comfort in this world, not if we belong to God. We are reminded to sacrifice our own comfort and set before us instead the purposes God has for us, which may call us out of our comfort zones and into the faith-requiring unknown. Praise the Lord that the steps of faith are into a future that are not unknown to the all-knowing Righteous One in heaven who holds my hand!

Still...I confess that I know that I love comfort more that I should and it often keeps me from stepping out in ways that I should and moving not out of guilt or obligation but out of obedience.

Pray with me as I ask Him to show me how to strike a balance between, on one side, the peace that fills my heart and leads me into a series of wonderfully quiet days (yes - even with our busy lives we enjoy a good measure of restful quiet and simple pleasures) as well as the joy that leads to utter contentment and simple satisfaction, and on the other side, the sadly selfish pursuit of only those things that please me. I want to be content only in the things to which He has called me and I want the discernment to know when to step off the porch and into the uncomfortable places that require my total reliance on God.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Isn't it fun?

Isn't it fun when there is so much snow outside that large snowmen can be built without depleting the snow supply on the ground, leaving plenty for a full afternoon of sledding?

Isn't it fun when your mom lets you have a pajama day, even if you plan to play outside, and she helps you stuff your pjs into your snow pants?

Isn't it fun to come in and discover that you had completely forgotten you were in your jammies?

Isn't it fun when your children have such a good time together that they are reluctant to come inside, even for just-delivered fresh, hot pizza? (half pepperoni, half Hawaiian)

Isn't it fun to see hot chocolate mustaches on four faces at the kitchen counter?

Isn't it fun to squeeze four kids and their sleeping bags into one bedroom so they can continue their day together?

Isn't it fun to kiss soft cheeks, brush back blonde curls, tuck in small feet, and know that these four special people are yours?

Isn't it fun to anticipate the return of a traveling husband and know he missed you as much as you missed him?

Isn't it fun to watch one more "bonnet movie" stretched out on the couch with a cup of tea?

Isn't it fun to have this super day called Saturday tucked in at the end of each week?

...trust in... the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17

Monday, February 1, 2010

Prayer Privilege

With four kids in the house, the necessity to take turns doing things is ever-present. While there are plenty of things we can do together as a family, such as setting and clearing the table, cleaning rooms, unloading groceries, taking trips to the library, and going to the park, there are others that are simply best taken in turn. Taking the dog out at 7:00 AM, toting the laundry to the laundry room, emptying the dishwasher, cleaning toilets, getting the mail - these are things that are best served with some kind of rotation. Oh - and feeding the fish must be on that list as well. Everyone wants to feed the fish, but that could be disastrous! ;0) The point is, in a busy family, there are many hands to make light of the work, but also many jobs to do. Ours is a family who works together, but we also love to play together. We enjoy our movie nights (Anne of Green Gables with pizza anyone?) and our Saturday afternoon piles of books and puzzles and games (with warm cookies and milk. Mmmmm). We love our church family and nobody complains about piling in the SUV on Sunday mornings. Our collective hearts desire the comforts of home or the fun of a trip somewhere when we'll all be together. One of the places we gather is around our table and we love that, too.

Back to taking turns, I have to admit that the kids are not pushing each other out of the figurative line to take the dog out or empty the trash. They are willing, but it is sometimes a grudging willingness. They are, after all, works in progress just like the rest of us! Sometimes the argument is about who has to do it, sometimes about who gets to, depending on the task.One thing I don't really mind them "fighting" over - and I use the term loosely and kindly - is mealtime prayer. When the time comes to hold hands and bow heads, they ALL want to be the one to pray. What a treat to see our children truly desire to go before the Lord in thanksgiving for His provision and petition for our needs and hopes. When the older boys pray, they do it with deliberate words that reveal things about the kind of day they've had, and they tend to be concise. When our daughter prays, she tends to be a bit long-winded, as though she is afraid of missing things or people. She prays this way at night before bed as well. She prays for people in Africa she's never seen and she prays for kids in her class and her brothers around our table. Sometimes she remembers to pray for the food! Our youngest prays as most three year-olds do, with one eye open, wandering the table, then settling on mom or dad, who help him through the words. He is quiet for these brief moments, so we have to strain to hear him. He is sweet in his thanksgiving for his family and hearing his little boy voice say the powerful name of Jesus is priceless. He usually needs to be reminded to say "Amen."

When the adults at the table pray, we are mindful of our daily bread, understanding in a way the children cannot, that our every need is truly met by the Father. We are thankful for His abundant provision and humbled by our blessings. We pray simply for things and people about whom our hearts pour forth much more than our few words express. We are also very aware that we model for our children the grateful hearts that pause before a loving God to thank Him for His ever-presence in our lives and in our home.

"I will spread out my hands to the Lord in prayer." Exodus 9:29