25 August 2008

on the occasion of her tenth birthday~

How time flies...

To My Dearest Anna, on your tenth birthday...

Do you know how much I love you? Do you know how proud I am of you? Do you know that I love you with my whole heart?

The day you were born was one of the most joyous days of my life. How I had longed for you and waited to meet you! Did you know I wanted to be your mother my whole life? You bring me more joy than any friend, any vacation, any book, or any thing. You are the joy of my heart and the light of my life. You are a treasure straight from the heart of God. You are my Anna. I am so thankful God allowed me to be your mother. I thank Him for you every single day.

I want you to know that you are always a delight, and a blessing to Daddy and me in so many ways. Sometimes I wonder what I would do without you. You are my right arm! It gives me joy to work side by side with you, spending time talking, laughing, and discussing fun things as well as serious things. Always remember that God gave us to each other. I am always here for you, to listen, to help, to encourage, and to understand. You can talk to me about anything. God intended mothers and daughters to be best friends, and you truly are one of my very best and very favorite friends.

You are also a blessing just by being you. The way you help our family is a blessing, but your light, your laugh, your hugs, your kisses, your songs, your poems, your dances, and just who you are is even more of a blessing! You bring such joy and life and laughter to all of us. We love you, Anna Rose.

As you stand here on the brink of becoming a woman, I want you to know what an important time of life you are entering into. It is now that your beliefs, your love, your heart, your God-given gifts and talents, your character, and your love for the Father will really begin blossom and grow. It has brought me indescribable joy and peace to see your passion for God, and your desire to know Him, to love Him, to honor Him, to obey Him, and to follow Him with your whole heart. I see your heart, I see your love, and I see your desire to please not only God, but Daddy and I as well. Daddy and I are so proud of you and your decision to trust Jesus as your Savior. We are so glad you are going to be in Heaven with us!

Anna, everyone makes mistakes, everyone has hard times in life, and everyone feels overwhelmed and challenged, but always remember that God looks at your heart. Even though you may sometimes fail, what matters is your love for God. He has only love toward you. He forgives, He helps, and He keeps His promises. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. He promises to work all things for good in your life. Even the hard things. The hard things in our lives are what God uses to make us more like Jesus. They teach us the fruit of the Spirit...to be patient, to be kind, to be gentle and faithful, to have self control.

It's the hard stuff in life that makes us grow. If life was easy, we wouldn't need Jesus! I encourage you to spend some time asking the Holy Spirit to give you some verses that can be for you. Ask Him to cause you to open His Word and see the verses He wants to give you -Words that speak of God's love, His faithfulness, and His promises. The devil, your enemy, will always try and tell you lies about God and lies that make you feel bad, that make you frustrated, sad, discouraged, and afraid. It is so important to know what God really thinks about you, to know what His promises to you are. I encourage you to start a journal where you write down what the Holy Spirit tells you and Scripture He gives you. Write down what it means to you. Then you will always have a weapon against the devils lies.

I love you, Anna. With my whole heart. I look forward to being best friends for our whole lives. You are a treasure, a precious and rare jewel. You are the only one like you, and God made you exactly the way He wanted you to be. It is mine and Daddy's privilege to call you our daughter.

Be joyful, Anna. Be happy. Be encouraged. Be loved. And be blessed. Trust the Father with every part of your life. Every joy, and every frustration. Daddy and I pray the Father will show you His love for you, that He will pour out His favor and His abundant blessings on your life. Walk with Him. Stay close to Him. Love Him first, above all else. He has saved you, and He smiles on you always.

Love Always,

(this is a letter i wrote for anna before we left. i gave it to her today along with a mother and daughter willow tree figurine. i wrote what is in my heart for my precious daughter, as even at the tender age of ten, she really is on the brink of entering her womahood. she is an old soul, and has always been wise beyond her years. some of it probably seems a little odd given her age, but it was written with much prayer and thought, and truly does speak to many things she seems to deal with in her life. i pray it brings her encouragement and opens her eyes to how much she is loved. and yes, out of all my children, she is the only one who calls me mama.)

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24 August 2008

blue mountain beach 2008
days 1 & 2~

After waiting "forever," and dreading spending 8+ hours in a car with a baby who hates with unbridled passion doesn't care for the car so much, our lovely children talked us into leaving for Florida on Friday night. We weren't so much looking forward to the car ride either, so, with desperate hopes for a peaceful trip, we left around 11pm.

Parenting Tip #4:
Babies who love their beds don't appreciate being expected to

sleep in an upright position for eight hours.

Parenting Tip#5:
Ipods, books on tape, and earplugs are often good investments.
So is Benadryl.

Parenting Tip#5:
Checking the weather is helpful.
If your destination is in the middle of a tropical storm advisory, and you

are arriving at 6:30am and check in is not until 4pm, a plan is good.
And prayer. Lots of prayer.

Parenting Tip #6:
Sleep is not overrated. Sleep is quite valuable.
Children who have slept all night in a car and have been anticipating vacation for months
don't have much of an appreciation for parents who were up all night with a screaming baby.
They think naptime shouldn't apply to vacation.

Parenting Tip#7:
Naptime mostly definitely applies on vacation.
Especially if you're seven weeks pregnant.

Parenting Tip#8:
Don't forget the aluminum foil.

In all seriousness, we are having a very nice, restful, and peaceful time so far. We did leave at 11pm, and Haven, after he got past the initial "hey we're having a party" excitement and realized he was trapped, was not happy. Thankfully, the other children weren't bothered by him and were able to sleep, but Glen and I had to take turns sitting by him and neither of us got any sleep worth mentioning.

We arrived in Blue Mountain Beach (right by Destin) at 6:30 am to be greeted by seventy degree temps and lots of wind and rain, the remnants of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Fay. We had a lovely breakfast at Cracker Barrel, and spent quite a bit of time on the porch there deciding what to do. Our check in time wasn't until 4pm, and there is absolutely nothing to do indoors here. Even the mall is outside. Last year we arrived a hour or so early, and when we inquired, we couldn't check in early as the condo was still being clean. So without much hope, we decided to call, and received evidence number one of the Father's favor...the people who were in the condo before us decided to leave a day early, so we could check in right then! That essentially gave us an extra day, allowing us to unpack and Haven, Glen, and I to get some much needed sleep. Thank you, Lord :o)

After our nap, the rest of the storm had pretty much moved through (evidence #2 of the Father's favor as the storm was expected to linger for most of the week,) so we were able to do some swimming and take a quick trip to the beach before heading out for dinner and the grocery.

I forget how uncommon our family can look to people. Where we live, large families are not the norm, but there are quite a few. I guess they're pretty rare here as during dinner and at the grocery, I could see people counting us, pointing, and whispering. Like we don't notice :o)
Thankfully, no one blew drink bubbles or had french fry fights over dinner, so I think we made on okay impression :o) Another major plus was the place we ended up for dinner had a gluten free menu, and the server actually knew what we were talking about. Anna has decided that is where we are going for her birthday tomorrow night. I had a yummy jerk chicken sandwich with the best teriyaki broccoli I've ever had. I'm going to have to figure out how to make that.

In past years, we've eaten out every night, but this year we decided to only go out three times. I planned our meals and made a grocery list before leaving, so we pretty much had to do a full out grocery trip. We had two full carts, complete with spur of the moment kite purchases. (Tropical storm winds make for great kite flying :o) Four kites and kids running all over the place make for tangled kites. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.) And yes, after all the great planning I did, I neglected to get aluminum foil. Note to self: When a recipe calls for vegetables to be covered for the hour they are baking, there is a reason. So dinner tonight turned into kind of a grab what you can find sort of event, but that's okay. I tried.

This was before we tried to eat the vegetables...

Kite flying with Dad...

He just couldn't seem to understand
why the water kept knocking over his sand castles...

So far, Haven (and Mom)
are enjoying the beach much more than last year.

Well...most of the time anyway...

Fun in the sun...

No matter what I do,
I can't escape the laundry.
Thankfully, I have an abundance of laundry helpers...

For our family devotions, Glen planned out this really cool thing of teaching the kids some verses about speaking kind words, gentle answers turn away wrath, harsh words stirring up anger, etc.
Before we left, we prayed, and Glen read them the verses. Our first night here, he read the verses again, having the kids work on learning them, and talked about what they meant. He also had made a bead necklace for everyone, and every day, he is taking notice of kind words, encouraging words, helpful words (yes ma'am, yes sir, no arguing, etc.) and they can earn beads for their necklaces. How fun :o) I was very impressed. You should see them falling over themselves to out "nice" each other. Very good idea. He wins major dad points for that one. He even picked out nice muted colors for the beads, knowing my instense dislike of primary colors :o)

I haven't earned any beads yet,
seeing as how I'm so mean...

Needles to say, we're having a great time. My sister is arriving on Tuesday, so we'll have an extra pair of hands, and Glen and I can have a date night. Anna's tenth birthday is tomorrow, so we'll be having dinner out and I think she wants to go to Dippin Dots. Yum :o)

A nice evening walk...

Another benefit of not eating out so much is that tonight we were able to go for a walk during the sunset. We've never done that before as we're always out eating. The kids ran in the surf, and of course, ended up completely soaked. Laundry: take three.

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20 August 2008

thanks for asking~

Several of you have asked me how I'm feeling and how everything is going, knowing that I was concerned about a possible miscarriage.

Everything seems to be fine. You're probably going to think I'm obsessive, but my little home method of seeing if my hcg levels were increasing (they should double approximately every two days in early pregnancy, if all is well) were more pregnancy tests. The first day I had a positive test, it took close to three minutes to turn positive. For four days I took another test first thing in the morning, and timed it to see how long it would take to turn positive. Every day the time was significantly less, and by the fourth day, it only took 13 seconds to turn a very strong positive. To me that is pretty strong indicator that my levels are rising, not falling.

Not to mention I am feeling pretty blah, yucky, tired, and nursing as little as possible. My plan in that department is to give it until I'm approximately nine weeks (which is often when your milk changes and babies (uh, toddlers?) will stop on their own. If Noah doesn't stop on his own, I am planning to wean him. He is already asking less and I can just tell it's different. It's a little bittersweet for me, but as I know he's not at all dependant on me for nutrition, I feel that it's time. This new little one needs my energy and health more than Noah needs to nurse at this point.

So anyway, thanks for asking :o)

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19 August 2008

capturing the moments~

Thankfully, I finally finished up the bulk of my cooking. It took me three six-hour days in the kitchen, but I completely filled a 22 cubic foot freezer. That seems like such a huge amount of time. It did take longer to adapt some of my recipes to be gluten free, but seeing as how those meals will last probably six months, it was totally worth it. We won't discuss how much money Costco made of the Hutchison family this week, but it will make for reduced grocery bills over the next months. There are a few more things I would like to make if time permits, but the focus of this week is a major house clean and leaving for vacation Friday evening.

I spent the entire day out yesterday running errands, visiting two friends that just had babies, visiting the chiropractor (a result of last week's mishap), and going to my book club. I'll have to tell you about my unusual, wildly fabulous book club sometime. We often stay out until the wee hours of the morning, occasionally even 3am, but last night was an earlier night and I got home a little after 12 :o) I am going back to the chiropractor on Thursday and taking Anna and Haven as I figured if our accident has bothered my back this much, then maybe they could use a little adjusting as well.

Today my sister Kristen has everyone except Anna at the zoo. She's also taking them for haircuts. I don't know what I'm going to do when she goes to Ireland for her DTS next year...

I just wanted to mention again how much I am loving the Holy Experience blog. If you didn't check it out last time I mentioned it, I highly encourage you to do so. She has a way of conveying deep meaning and profound truth that often gets overlooked in the busy-ness of life. She causes me to stop and drink deeply from a well of peace and to be still and know that He Is God. She has also posted a couple of times recently of watching her son shedding layers of his boyhood and growing into his manhood. I so identify with this as I am beginning to see that in Caleb increasingly. It is sweet beyond words, and though my heart aches, it is a good ache. Visit there. Savor it. Drink it up.

Here are a few fun photos from last week...

A little hide and seek fun as Dad puts the cabinets together...

Suddenly, out of nowhere...
Superman, Superman, and Batgirl appear to save...
Well, whoever needs saving...

The moon one evening last week as Glen went for a walk...

We also went to my grandparents' house in Kentucky on Sunday. My Dad is from there and all his family is still there. We visit four or five times a year. My grandparents have a working farm, even now into their late seventies. One of the hallmarks of their farm is that my grandfather does a good majority his work with Belgian draft horses instead of modern machinery. Belgian horses are exceptionally strong and willing work horses, yet they are very gentle. They are huge! I remember as a little girl sitting on top of these huge horses, but I was never scared as my Papaw would hold me tightly, and his horses listened keenly and responded to his every word. Some of my best childhood memories were made there.

Two little boys and a Dad...

Growing into a young lady...

A boy and his fish...

Patiently waiting...

My sister Kristen and Moriah...

A Dad and his girl...

Nothing says country like homemade ice cream
out of the back of a pickup...

My Papaw...

My Nanny...


I know I've mentioned it before, but I am so, so thankful my children are growing up with the same fun memories of going to Nanny and Papaw's house that I have. I am very close to my grandparents, they pretty much raised me until I was two or three. They are such an example of strength, hard work, and faithfulness to each other and to the Lord. They have been married over sixty years, and you can just feel how in love with each other they are to this day :o) I am so thankful my children have their influence and love in their lives. My dad will take over their farm one day, so I hope my grandchildren and hopefully even great-grandchildren are able to enjoy visiting there as well.

Family...it's what life is made of.

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14 August 2008

i heard you, i heard you~

Okay, already. I heard you, I heard you. No one can read the black. I asked you all earlier, you know...

No one said anything, except Rachel, and she liked the black...

Next time let me know before your eyes fall out! You didn't have to suffer for so long :o)

Gee whiz...I ask for opinions, advice, your thoughts, etc...

No one ever says anything...

Talk, people!

Is this better?

13 August 2008

stocking the freezer~

Upon finding out the news, my brain kicked into prepare mode. I have this thing that upon finding out I'm expecting, I do major mass cooking in order to have meals stocked up in the freezer for those days where I don't want to smell, cook, or taste anything, not to mention the days I feel exhausted. I am usually able to do enough cooking to have main dishes prepared to last approximately five or six months of using two or three per week. I just have to pull it out, cook it, and prepare whatever veggies, salad, etc. I want to go with it. I will do another major cooking round two months before I'm due. OCD, I know.

I felt a little silly making a grocery list and major grocery run so soon, but I knew it was now or probably never. Seeing as how I knew my family probably would want to continue having dinner over the next few months, I decided to go ahead. Next week I will be doing a major house clean and packing for Florida. The following week we will be gone, and when we return, I need to jump back into school. By that time, I'll be about eight weeks, and probably will not be up to schooling and mass cooking.

So, yesterday afternoon, Anna, Haven, and I made a run to Target, Costco, Whole Foods, Publix, and Jason's Deli for good measure. (A girl's gotta have her broccoli cheese soup, sandwich, and pickles you know.) Throw in getting rear-ended and that about sums up our night. No joke, I have been rear-ended four times while pregnant, I think. And I've never been rear-ended while not pregnant! Weird.

So today I spent all day in the kitchen. I think I sat down for 15 minutes. Today's tally:

*One gallon of chicken soup with lentils

*Two gallons of white chicken chili

*Two pans of chicken enchiladas

*One gallon tomato basil soup (thanks, lori!)

*8lbs bbq beef brisket

*10lb bag of onions chopped and in the freezer

*20lbs chicken cooked and chopped (I will use this to make chicken casserole, bbq chicken, tacos, etc.)

*5lb hamburger meat browned with onion in the freezer

(all gluten free, thank you very much!)

Whew. I'm exhausted. Glen and Caleb spent all evening working on putting our cabinets together for the school room, while Anna and I spent most of the evening cleaning up the kitchen.

Tomorrow we're going to visit my grandmother.

Friday's plan is to make and deliver a meal to a friend that just had a baby. I also need to finish my cooking plans, and on Saturday I am making meals for three more friends that have had babies. I normally do not make this many meals for other people, I just happened to have four good friends have babies within a few weeks of each other. Sunday we are planning to go to my grandparents' house in Kentucky.

Sing with me....

"Food, glorious, food..."

The other meals that I'm planning on making for us are:

*at least one more pan of chicken enchiladas

*5 more lbs browned hamburger w/ onion (spaghetti is a staple around here and having the meat already browned makes it like a ten minute meal)

*3 meatloaves (w/ shredded zucchini...shhh...they don't know) mixed in gallon bags in the freezer

*4 chicken & broccoli casseroles

*4 pans of sesame chicken

*20lbs marinated chicken breasts (I'll put a family sized portion in a ziploc w/ various marinades....thaw & grill...yum!)

*i have lots of frozen broccoli and stir fry veggies as well

I may do some more after I go through my recipes. I have a lot of gluten free recipes saved that I'm wanting to try. Kind of hard to commit to making them in bulk. Mostly everything I've tried so far has been good, though. I also just discovered this blog of a woman who is using her crock pot every day this year....and it's all gluten free! Yes :o)

When I found out I was expecting Haven, I went to Super Suppers, but now with the celiac issue in our house, that's pretty much out. We didn't care that much for most of the stuff anyway, and it's much easier to just make what we like in bulk. It sounds excessive and obsessive, but it comes in sooo handy when you're not feeling well. (I actually do this even when I'm not pregnant as it's really nice to spend a couple of long cooking days and not have to worry too much about dinner for the next five or six months. I still do make fresh dinners, but it's great to just pull something out of the freezer as well.) I don't usually have a problem with being nauseous, but I am usually completely wiped out until about sixteen weeks. (That's what clued me in that I might actually be pregnant. Normally, I do not like naps. Four days in a row of really, really wanting one mid morning was a big sign. That, and being freezing cold. I freeze when I'm pregnant, regardless of the time of year. I sleep in pants, a tank top, a sweater, with a heating pad and quilt. I think my body diverts all its energy to growing a baby. I can never seem to get warm. :o) Anyway, being tired along with starting a new school year, and well, I can use all the help I can get in any department. I'm so glad I got our new job schedule worked out already.

On a side note, I'm abandoning my Atkins diet. I am glad I did it, and by no means am I going back to my previous way of eating. Cereal, drinks other than lemon water, junk food all tastes pretty gross now (yes, I tried all of it - ha ha). It feels so good to have some self control in the food department. I've never been a super unhealthy eater, but I liked chips and the occasional Dr. Pepper as much as the next girl :o) I've been enjoying lots more fruit and veggies the past two days, though, and I am really looking forward to making a yummy green smoothie in the morning!

Happy Wednesday...

Good Night :o)

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11 August 2008

longing fulfilled and the flipside of quiverfull~

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I tend to find myself in the quiverfull camp. Leaving it up to the Lord to give us the children He wants us to have, in His timing. That's the flipside. The His timing part. It's easy to say you're trusting the Lord in your family size when you want another baby. It's easy to say you're trusting the Lord when you're not getting pregnant and you really don't want to be right now. It's a whole new ballgame to say you're trusting the Lord and His plans look different from what "I" want.

That's where I've found myself the past three weeks. Without giving too much information, let's just say that I knew that there was going to be a very strong likelihood that I could fall pregnant this last month. Several opportunities, if you know what I mean ;o) Once I hit that two week mark in my cycle, I was a woman with an obsession. I recently learned that pregnancy tests from the Dollar Tree are one of the most sensitive tests you can buy, so at only $1 each, I could find out pretty early. As that twenty-eight day mark grew closer and closer, I began to suspect that I was not pregnant. I was fine with that. Disappointed some, but fine.

I began talking to the Lord about it a little bit. One of the things I felt like He was wanting me to see, was that the concept of truly trusting Him, whatever that might look like, encompassed trusting His timing for another baby as well as the fact that He controls my womb, not me. You see, I've been one of those women (thankfully!) that people joke gets pregnant when my husband looks at me. Our first five children were all 20 months apart, and then Noah and Haven are 22 months apart. My life tends to be very mathematical and symmetrical (kind of feeds my ocd tendancies as well,) so I was kind of thinking I would probably have babies 22 months apart again. I think the Father was wanting me to see that yes, symmetry in my life is one of the ways He works in me and speaks to me, but He controls that, not me. In short, I couldn't make myself get pregnant, and I needed to be okay with it if He had other plans. Glen's desire to possibly wait longer play into my feelings in this as well. Of course, he was okay with the strong possibility of getting pregnant, but as you all know, he would be okay to have a bigger space.

So, day twenty-eight arrives. Nothing. My cycles are still a little funny since Haven, but a negative pregnancy test nonetheless. I'm thinking by this point if I'm pregnant, it should show up. Day thirty. Wake up to find that yes, I am starting. Totally okay with that. The fact that when we do eventually get pregnant it will be our largest space yet between children crosses my mind, but the idea of a break is okay. I'm about to start school back up, and let's face it, early pregnancy isn't usually the picture of energy :o)

Fast forward six days. Period over. I'm thinking I sure am feeling sensitive when Noah nurses and I've wanted a nap three days in a row. Weird. I did just have a surprise motel slumber party with Anna and two of her cousins (read: up really late, lots of giggling, swimming, planning, pulling off the surprise, etc.), so I'm entitled to be sleepy. Plus I was sick last week. But I should be over all that by now.

So I'm thinking I've heard of women that have a period while pregnant. It's never happened to me, but there's a first time for everything. I have three Dollar Tree tests left over, so I decided might as well. Of course, my mind is weighing all the possibilities at this point. I'm having reminders of my last post when I surrendered to being okay with God's plan for my life, even if that looked different from my desires, and how after that, He fulfilled the desire of my heart. Maybe He brought me through a place like that, only to surprise me :o)

Three tests later. Six pink lines.

Yep. That's right. The 2009 Baby Hutchison model is set to debut in April :o)

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(I do want to add on that I do have some concern over whether or not my period could have actually been a miscarriage and I still just have enough pregnancy hormone to cause a positive test. That could be the case. Either way, I am trusting the Father and feeling overwhelming thankful that He has blessed us with a new little life. He is the Father, the Creator, and the Author of Life. He is my Father, and I am trusting in Him...)

06 August 2008

blessings from myr~
praying Scripture over your children~

Some of you may know my mother in law, Charlotte. All the grandchildren call her Myr. (What do you want to be called when you're a grandmother? I want to either be called Myr, Nana, or Amma, with an "ah" sound.) If you know her, you are blessed. She is completely, without a doubt, one of the most amazing woman I have ever met. She and John don't have a computer, so I don't even have to say that :o)

I am going to write a post based on these five hand written pages of Scripture Blessing that she gave to Glen and me many years ago. I found it this week as we were cleaning off our book shelves, and thought I should type it out here in case it ever gets lost. It is quite long, so I am going to backdate it, and add it to my {Encouragement}: Treasuring Your Children links.

When I say Charlotte is an amazing woman, I mean it. She married her first husband, Bob, and they had four children, whom many of you know. Between all of us, there are soon to be eighteen grandchildren. The Lord has heard and been faithful to her prayers, as all of her children and their families are following the Father, without exception. Bob died of melanoma when Glen was seven, and when Glen was twelve, she married again, to John. They tried to have children of their own, but were not able. They soon became foster parents to Jeremy and Christopher, who have severe retardation and autism. They have had them for approximately eighteen years now, and devoted their lives to taking care of them. She also has kept all of her grandchildren once a week, pretty much since they were born. The older ones don't go every week anymore, but almost all of the younger ones do. I cannot tell you what a tremendous blessing this has been to me! She has the most giving, sweetest spirit, and I am so grateful the Lord has blessed me with such a wonderful family. In so many ways she has been a mother to me, as my mother and I don't really have a mother/daughter relationship.

Now you all know why Glen is so wonderful! Mothers, let us pray for our children! Let us speak life and blessing and the Word over them! The rewards are immeasurable!

I'm not sure how much time she spent on it writing out all these prayers and blessings, but it is such a treasure to us. Not only did she write this out, but she spends a fair amount of time in prayer for all of her family every morning. She reads the Word, she journals, she prays, and she writes blessings. I am blessed.

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05 August 2008

the story of us~

For some time I've been meaning to write down the story of Glen and me. Even now, eleven years later, I am awed at the providence and hand of the Father bringing us together. Since today is finding me all alone and still not feeling well, here it is...

My entire life I dreamed of growing up to be a wife and mother. Like any other child I went through phases of wanting to be a teacher, a nurse, an orthopedic surgeon (that was after my back surgery!), but those were always over shadowed by what I wanted most.

When I was young, my parents thought the whole boyfriend-girlfriend thing was normal, cute, and even to be encouraged. (Evidenced by my recent confession that my first movie date and kiss came at the ripe old age of ten.) They did not teach me to guard my heart. As I grew into adolescence, my father was too busy dealing with my mother to notice what was going on with me, and at the age of fourteen, I entered into a relationship that I still carry scars and wounds from to this day. Thankfully, it was short lived, but it ushered in a period of rebellion into my life that I am supremely thankful the Father led me out of with everlasting kindness and unconditional love. This period lasted for about a year and a half, until I was fifteen and a half.

At this point, I knew I did not want to do the dating thing. I continued in it for a time (the year my parents allowed me to go to public school,) breaking hearts and having my heart broken more times than I care to remember. Finally, I got to the point where I just wanted to find the man I was going to marry and leave all the other junk behind.

Soon after this, I developed this irrational fear that I would never be married and that I would never have children. I'm sure all girls wonder if they will find their Prince Charming, but this grew to be a fear that was unnatural.

Rewind a few years. When I was newly thirteen, I went on a missions trip to Eastern Europe with my church. Prior to our leaving, the leaders got together and asked the Lord to give a verse or passage of scripture to each person. Mine was Psalm 37:4 ~ Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." A nice little standard verse, I thought. But I hung onto it, remembered it, and pondered it. Little did I know how precious a gift from the Father this was to me.

One day I was sitting on my bed, dealing with this fear. I remember it so clearly. I felt the Lord speak to me, telling me I had to trust Him. Would I follow His plan for my life, even if that meant the loss of my dream? Did I want His plan, or my plan? I remember wrestling in my mind and my heart for some time. Finally, I broke down and said, "Yes, Lord. I will follow You. I submit to Your best plan for my life." Such peace I had after that. The desire of my heart did not change, but I was no longer tormented or afraid.

At this time I was around sixteen. I had one credit of high school left (yes, my senior year I needed all of one credit. Hmm...a little better planning in that department?). I was working at White Mountain Creamery, an ice cream store in Green Hills that several friends (including Glen's brother, Ben) worked at. This was the first of many doors the Lord opened in order to bring Glen and me together. Through my working there, I began to become friends with people in our church youth group that were several years my senior, people that I had known for years, but had always been just enough older than me that they were not part of my circle. I began to spend a lot of time with them as a group, and thus, began spending a lot of time around Glen. At the time he was in school part time and working in construction.

After a few months of this, Glen and I were counselors at Kids' Camp. We became better friends, and one day soon after camp, he came by the ice cream store and asked if I'd like to go to lunch sometime. The rest they say, is history :o)

Our first actual date was to the State Fair. As soon as we purchased ride tickets, it started pouring down rain. We ended up watching a movie at my house and making sloppy joes and french fries. We went to lunch at the park a few times, and within two weeks, we knew we would be married. Both of us were ready. I will admit, my parents' first reaction was nervousness as I was newly sixteen and Glen had just turned twenty-one, but they had known him as a youth leader for awhile and since we spent the majority of our time with my family, their fears were quickly gone.

I remember talking with my Dad on our front porch one morning and saying, "You know it's serious, don't you, Dad?" He looked at me with a look of complete understanding and seriousness (which is a little out of character for my Dad, he is a complete goofball.) and said, "Yes, sweetie. I know."

We were engaged two months later. I mentioned recently how the night we decided to be an official couple, we intentionally committed our plans and desires to the Lord. We knew from that first day we were moving toward marriage.

We did some marriage counseling at church, part of which involved taking a test that was supposed to show our strengths and bring to the surface potential points of conflict. Our counselor was amazed when our tests came back. He said he had never seen anyone so well matched on paper. My Dad marvels to this day at how well suited we are in our personalities and temperament. Even our points of difference in the test (for example, I thought the cooking, cleaning, etc. should be more my responsibility, whereas Glen felt it should be shared equally.) actually contributed to the strength of our relationship and the practical working out of our life. Our counselor didn't feel the need to meet with us anymore, but the thing I remember the most clearly from the two meetings we did have, was that he reminded Glen that I was just a child. That he would have to give me grace and room to grow up. He said we would be growing up together, and just to remember that.

Seven months later we were married. My high school graduation was two weeks before our wedding. I had been seventeen for all of two months when we were married, and my parents had to sign for my marriage license. Most people thought they were crazy, and I am so thankful they saw the hand of the Father in our relationship and were able to go against convention. Many of our friends were skeptical, but supported us anyway. I still have to wonder what they said to each in confidence :o)

Psalm 37:4 continues to be one of my life verses. My boundary lines have truly fallen in pleasant places. Through that first decision to allow the Father to be the Lord of my life, to author my days, in being willing to submit to His plan, blessing upon blessing has been given me and He has fulfilled the desires of my heart. Through seeing the blessing that came from that first submission to His will, it has made it so much easier to trust Him in every other area of life and submit again and again. I do not say this out of a place of pride. I am extremely grateful the Father has gently led me and loved me with a tenderness that has won my heart.

I am also thankful for the Lord bringing Glen not only into my life, but the life of my family. I grew up next door to my grandmother, aunt, and two great aunts. They were essentially my other mothers, and we are still very much in each others' lives. In various ways, they, along with my mother, have all been hurt tremendously by men in their lives, and it is sweet to see how the Father has brought some healing and redemption to them through my husband.

So here it is...the story of us.

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04 August 2008

journal: july 2008

First, a couple of questions. I keep playing around with the color of the text. Is it easier to read in black (for me I like darker colors, they feel more calming and white feels harder on the eyes,) but it also seems that black on a brown background can be difficult to read. You can click on some of the {Encouragement} links on the left to see some entire posts in a lighter color.

What do you think? Obviously, it should look nice, but also be easy to read :o)

Also, I've posted a few times here close together, so if you're just now checking back, please make sure to read my last post. I would really like some more advice on how I should proceed.

July was an exceptionally busy month. I finally finished getting school planned out, and we began on a very loose basis. I spent the last week revamping our routine and job schedule. Now if I can just drag myself away from my computer and stay on top of implementing it and encouraging good attitudes, we'll be well on our way to starting our new school year well. It continually amazes me how much of the atmosphere, success, and prosperity of our home depends on me getting myself together.

The most fun news of the month was that Haven took 2cnd place in the Hutchison Baby Walker stats. I was convinced he was going to come in sixth, because at this point, he's a little...let's say top heavy :o) Moriah walked at 11 months, but everyone else is tied for 16 months. I thought I had a picture, but I guess it's all on video. I'll have to remember to put one up soon.

Along with the graduation into walker status, came the first big boy haircut. It was long overdue as he was beginning to look a little mullet-ish, but when he was freshly bathed, those little baby curls were so sweet. But seeing as how he was freshly bathed so rarely, most of the time they were just a fuzzy mess. I do this with every boy, you know. I wait to cut their hair, and then when I look back at pictures, I think, "WHAT was I thinking? He needed a haircut months ago!"

what? you don't like my mullet?

...but it's so cute...(a

that wasn't so bad...

The fourth of July found us at our dear friends, the Behans. We always go over and grill out and swim. Everyone pitches in to get some great fireworks, and the bonus is that they only live ten minutes from here!

7 July was Noah's 3rd birthday. That found us doing the Build A Bear thing.

The following week was VBS. You can read all about that crazy week here.

I've gotten out of the habit of keeping a daily record on my calendar of what we've done, so as I'm looking back now it's all a big blur. I just know we were really busy.

We did another swim day, where Caleb literally saved Moriah's life. She was practicing swimming sans floaties, and forgot they were off when she jumped back in. Although I was sitting right next to the pool, I had my back turned briefly and was holding Haven. I'm not sure how long she was floundering before Caleb noticed her. She had moved quite a distance across the pool, so I'm sure it was a fair amount of time. We remind them every time we swim to yell for help if they need help, and when I asked her about it, she said she was trying but couldn't get her head above water. She was very, very scared, and was coughing up water for a long while after that. It was very scary and a good reminder for me. I am so thankful the Lord preserved her life and that all was well. I have jumped into pools more times than I can remember, fully clothed many of those times, to rescue probably all of our older children. We had some friends whose two year old daughter died from drowning when Anna was two, so we've always tried to be very diligent at pools. It is a life changing experience to watch someone walk through the grief of losing a child, particularly when there is suddenness and guilt tied to it.

Needless to say, we're done with swim days for this summer. It's just too much for me to watch all of them safely in the pool without Glen.

As I mentioned earlier, I spent most of last week working on revamping the routine and jobs. Also getting the blog back together from where I accidentally erased the entire template!

I'm organizing meals for two friends that have just had babies, and making three meals. Our vacation is a couple weeks away, so now getting the house in order and all that together is creeping into my mind. I am praying for a better vacation than last year!

(Parenting Tip #4 - Count the cost carefully before deciding to take a two month old who loves his bed on a seven day trip to Florida!)

Last month Glen and I decided to totally redo our school room. It's been a variety of different rooms since we've lived here, and although it's officially been a "school room" for the last couple of years, the kids didn't usually do their school work in there as the little kids liked to play. So this month, Glen ordered some cabinets and shelves, so they are each going to have their own cubby-type space to do school. They will each have their own desk with two drawers, with a divider between each child. There will also be book shelves above. This all started because I desperately was needing book shelves. We have so many books that I've found myself getting duplicates because I couldn't keep track of them all. Ethan is a voracious reader, but not so good at putting them back where they should go, probably because the book organization has never been clearly defined. This should change all that. I probably won't require them to do their work there (what's the point of home schooling if you're just replicating standard school?), but they will have their own space for their stuff, and a private area to work if they would like. I am very excited! Right now, though, the room is a disaster as we've been painting.

Overall, July was one of those months that just flew by. As a side note, I did spend a good part of the month obsessing wondering if I might indeed be pregnant, but as of now, the likelihood of that being true is looking slimmer by the day. (Although there is hope! I didn't get a positive test with Haven until a couple of weeks after I was late. My nursing Noah threw things off, I think. In hindsight, maybe that's why he was two weeks late! I'm having an a ha moment.)

I'm okay with that. If I am not, then whenever we do have another baby, they will be further spaced apart than any of our children so far. I am peaceful about it, and trusting the Lord that He is in control. Glen is still fine with not being pregnant right now, but he's been telling me he "likes my viewpoint on things," we're just in an overwhelming season of life. I often tell people that 2-3 kids was the hardest season for me, and it was. I always say it gets easier, and it does. That doesn't mean that it's really easy. Totally, unequivocally worth it, but not like eating cake. Many of the moms of larger families that I find encouragement from tell me that where we are is another one of those really hard spots. Four or five is pretty easy, your older ones are getting older, but four is still pretty manageable logistically wise. Five was our easiest transition so far. Almost every Mom of more than six that I know says that six was really, really hard. Although our older ones are even older, something about life just exponentially multiplies when you get to six. There's just so much adjusting and so much more life (i.e. laundry, food, groceries, school, etc.) that even with their help it feels a lot like treading water. I've heard the transition to seven is a breeze :o)

On the weight loss front, I'm up to about 20 pounds lost! Whoo hoo! What a difference in attitude and energy that makes.

Also, if you would say a quick (or not so quick!) prayer for me. Once again I am fighting off pneumonia. I've lived with asthma for so long now, that I can just tell. It starts off with an allergy attack, barely noticeable the first day. The next day, my head is miserable. The following day, my head is fine, but my chest is full of pressure and I have pain in my chest and back. Thankfully, I've only been hospitalized once (last year when I was pregnant with Haven,) but it puts a lot on Glen. You know how it is when Mom is sick. Dads are great, but they just keep up with the bare minimum: kids fed, dishes in the dishwasher, clean underwear. It takes like a week to catch up! Glen is great, and actually does more than this, but his office is at home, so it's a lot for him to balance Daddy hat and boss hat. I'm seeing the bright side in that it allows me to sit at my computer all day without feeling guilty :o) Anyway, I'm in day two of the chest/back pain part, and am trusting the Father that I will be healed quickly! I can walk and talk (when I'm really sick, I literally cannot walk even a few steps without feeling as if I'm about to die, and I can only say a few words at a time without making a major effort to breathe), so the Lord is gracious!

To end, this is our current family photo. We've had a tradition for several years now, that one Sunday morning a month, Glen sets up the tripod and we take a family photo before church. It is time well spent, and in reality, only takes maybe five minutes. We always make a sign with the date, but in this photo the writing is not visible. It is lots of fun to look at them all together and see the gradual changes. I highly encourage everyone to do it!

May your August be blessed!

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02 August 2008

What should ido?

I need some advice. Here is a little story of a very odd/creepy encounter I had yesterday.

I was having lunch yesterday with my best oldest friend, Heather, you know, the kind of friend who you've never not known.
Our parents were friends before we were born. Anyway, that morning I had bribed convinced Ethan to try something new and promised him I would stop by the Dollar Tree and get him a blow up shark water toy if he would try said food. He was all over that (alas, he did not like the food,) so after lunch I stopped by the Dollar Tree on the way back to my aunt's house (she was keeping my kids.)

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should say that this Dollar Tree is not in the best part of town.
It's very close to where Glen and I lived before we moved out here, and it's not bad, it's just not that great. (Why do I feel as if I'm digging myself into a big hole of snobbery?)

So, I walk in and I'm standing in the aisle, and all of a sudden, out of the blue, there is a well dressed man standing right next to me (as in too, inappropriately close.) He says, "What'll it take for me to buy you dinner?"

Excuse me? Did I really hear that correctly? This has not happened to me in years! So I said, "Huh?" (Great grammar, I know. I was just completely caught off guard, not to mention he is very much in my space.) He repeated the question.
I started laughing, feeling quite flustered, and tried to coherently put together an answer that came out something like, "Um, I am happily married and have six children." Right after that, his phone rang, and I promptly fled to the rear of the store (still looking for the shark toy.)

A few minutes later, I'm standing in front of the dinosaur toys, in the very back corner of the building, and here he comes again. At this point, it would be obviously rude for me to run away as he's heading right toward me, so I brace myself. At this point I'm not really scared, just very uncomfortable and slightly nervous. (Remember, I'm in the back corner of the building. If he had just asked me once, no big deal, but now he's obviously following me around and he's been told I'm married with a large family.)

So he comes up, inappropriately close again, and says, "Whadja think it matters if you have six kids, I like kids." I nervously mutter something about not thinking my husband would like that very much. And to his credit, he laid off asking me out anymore. He still attempted to make conversation though, talking about tax free weekend and how he wanted to buy a GPS. Finally, I just had to walk away as politely as I could.

Very awkward. Very uncomfortable.

Now, I'm no prude, but this guy was obviously 15ish years my senior. Plus, people tend to think I'm much younger than I am, so that only added to the weirdness.

Okay. So, weird crisis (?) averted. I hurridly find the shark toy, nervously glance around to see if he's still in the store, and go out to my car.

As I'm getting into my car (I should probably add that it's pretty obvious which car is mine. It's really big, plus it has a cute little family sticker on the back that shows six children.) he is in his car parked right next to me! I hop in, drive away, making sure he doesn't follow me. He stays put, just sitting in his car.

In any other situation, this probably wouldn't have been a big deal. Very occasionally, I get hit on, but this guy's eyes were kind of red, he was very much in my space, he did not get put off by my saying I was married with all my children, he followed me to the back corner, and just basically gave me a very nervous feeling.

I call Glen and tell him the story. He gives me a nice compliment about saying how pretty I am :o) but as we talk, it occurred to him this guy may be a con artist. I don't know.

I arrive back at my aunt's, and promptly tell her the story. She says I should have asked for an escort to my car (I don't really think that was necessary as it wasn't really weird until I noticed he had pulled his car up next to mine.) She says I should have told the manager. As I'm telling her, it occurs to me that it is a little odd he was just sitting there in his car in the parking lot. It didn't look like he was getting ready to leave, he was just hanging out. He also approached me very quickly after I arrived in the store. Maybe the "con artist" thing is spot on. Maybe he just hangs out in the parking lot of this strip mall watching for women to follow into stores. Even now as I'm thinking about it, I remember that the last time a really scary thing happened to me was in the back parking lot of the Chinese restaurant that is directly next door to this strip mall and I was obviously harassed by a panhandler. (Like, he came up to me in my car, knocked on the window, practically leaned in, would not go away when I rolled the window back up and started yelling at me. Shouldn't have rolled it down in the first place, I know, bear with me, I'm learning.)

Anyway, what do you think? Should I call the store manager and just advise him of the situation so he can be on the lookout for this guy if it is a habit? Or should I just be strangely flattered that an older man maybe found me attractive?

My aunt said when he asked me what would it take for me to go dinner with him, I should have said

"Table for 9."

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"How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about arithmetic, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness." ~GK Chesterton

2012 November

2012 November