He comes to church each Sunday, without fail. Someone drives him there. He sits in the front row, center section, every week. He stands at the start of worship. But he doesn't rise as easily as the rest of us. The person who sits on his left bends down, awkwardly, reaching an arm beneath his and around to his opposite shoulder. And the person on his right does the same. Then they brace themselves and rise, bearing his full weight. There they stand, gripping his shoulders as we sing. He can stand only with their help.

I'll call him Greg. He's in his early 40's, with dark hair, glasses, and a ready smile. And he's spent most of his life needing that kind of help. He spends his days sitting in his wheelchair.

We've attended the same church for years. I've smiled at him in passing. And I've watched him, getting wheeled into church, standing there in the front row, held up to praise. And I've struggled to decipher what he's saying when he speaks. A couple years ago I got to know him a little better. I was facilitating an event at our church and he was participating in the event. He needed a ride to church. We offered, with some reluctance, honestly--What if we can't understand him?-- to give him a ride.

My children met Greg that day. They watched carefully as daddy wheeled Greg out of his home, towards our van. And as Mark helped him out of this wheelchair to settle him into our van. As the wheelchair was folded up and put in the back. And they watched the process in reverse when we arrived to the church. And they struggled to understand him when he spoke.

The fact that it's difficult to make out what Greg is saying, most of the time, does not stop him from saying what he wants to say. When there is a time of sharing at our church, Greg is one of the first ones to wave the pastor over. And he speaks, then. His voice low and garbled and drawn out. He shares how much he loves God. He shares how faithful God is. He tells what God has been teaching him; his reflections on a recent message or passage in the Bible.

In all these years I've not once heard him complain or speak sorrowfully of his paralysis. Never. I've attended our church for 25 years. He's been there for most of that time.

Following the day when we gave Greg a ride, my children began to talk about him more. They asked questions at first, Why can't he walk? What happened to his legs? Why does it sound funny when he talks? And they watched him closely at church. A number of times, at home, I've overheard one of them say, "Let's 'play' Greg!" And Ella will push Greg (Isaac) in his wheelchair (doll stroller), or she'll put her arms around him to support him so he can stand. And they will sing. Isaac even imitates Greg's garbled speech.

One day Ella and I were driving somewhere and she asked me about miracles. I reminded her of some of the miracles in the Bible. And then I said, "Do you know what miracle mommy would like to see God do?" I told her I would love to see Greg walk one day; that I would love to see God heal his legs, his speech, his body. She pondered that for a moment and then said, "Let's ask God if He will." So we did. As we pulled the car into our parking spot, we prayed for Greg.

Ella and Isaac have prayed ever since. At each meal, they earnestly include in their prayers, "Please help Greg to walk."

Today as we were leaving church, we saw Greg, sitting there in the foyer. I knelt beside him and asked, "How are you doing today?" He smiled, and said he was good. He asked how us how we were doing, me and my shy children, hovering close to their daddy. I told him we were good. Then I told him that my children remembered him in their prayers at each meal. He spoke then, and we listened. There was a pause as we gathered what he had said. He then directed a question to my daughter: "Did you understand what I said?" I could tell that she hadn't, so I told her what I had heard. "What he said, sweetheart, is that he can tell you are praying for him, because he is doing very good and he has no troubles at all." My eyes are welling up with tears even now.

He has no troubles at all.

I asked him then,to be sure: "Is that what you said?", and he nodded and said, "Yes. That's right."

This is the passage I think of each time Greg comes to mind:

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wildnerness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.

Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way
say to those with fearful hearts,
"Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you."

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy

Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

And a highway will be there;
it will be called the Way of Holiness.
The unclean will not journey on it;
it will be for those who walk in that Way;
wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
nor will any ferocious beast get up on it;
they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
and the ransomed of the Lord will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away

When I pray for Greg, I do pray for a miracle. My children pray for one. Others, too, see him and are moved to pray. I don't know if God will restore his body here on earth. But this I do know: that there will be a day when Greg's feeble hands will be strengthened, and his knees steadied. That he will not only stand, and walk, but he will leap. And he will walk on that highway; the Way of Holiness, and enter Zion with singing, gladness and joy.

The quiet hour... update!

For those of you who haven't read all the comments from my quiet hour post, you really ought to read them. There were wonderful, practical ideas given by many!

At our house, quiet time has been....


Really. My son LOVES his quiet times. I've made it pretty simple, and this is what is working for us. Right now. (I do realize these things may change, again, in a matter of months!)

After storytime, I ask Ella and Isaac to gather some things they'd like to do on their quiet time, and then I supplement whatever they've gathered with ideas of my own. So far, we've done a combination of the following:

Lincoln logs
Lauri ABC puzzles
beads to string
hot wheels

Isaac goes into his room; and Ella is in a room adjacent to him. Then I set the timer for 90 minutes. I went for an "ideal time" the first day, and when I heard the timer beeping, right outside his door, I went to tell Isaac he could get up. He said he wanted to finish his puzzles first. Um. Okay! It's been like that everyday.

It has really helped Ella that Isaac is having quiet times now, too. I told her the first day that Isaac had never had a quiet time before so she needed to show him how it was done; and be a good model to him. That worked like a charm for my responsible girl. She's been a gem.

And I am getting some much-needed rest and quiet time with the Lord.


I've finished sewing Ella's dress.

When I got to one of the final steps- (attaching the bodice to the skirt), I asked mom to come over to help me to make sure I did it right (I'd already done it wrong once and had to rip it all out). When she was over, she asked what the seam allowance was. My response: "Seam allowance?!"

Despite the fact that I did not know what a seam allowance was, nor did I use the proper one, the dress turned out just fine and Ella has actually worn it! :)

My new "home"


So, here I am. And feeling a little out of my element away from Homeschoolblogger. And yet, I must say that this site is easier to navigate.

As I said over at Reforming Motherhood, I am in the very slow process of transferring all of my entries and comments over to this new blog. It may take another month or more to get the old entries up, but I will get them all up just as soon as I can.

Thank you for your patience as I do so. I will post an announcement as soon as they are all up in case any of you are waiting for the RSS feeds until then. (Right? Am I even using the right terminology, here? It is all truly so confusing to me.)


So I'm a little slow... getting the pictures uploaded from my camera. Have you noticed? Lots of picture-less posts lately.

Remember when my friend Michelle from Indiana came to visit me? I met Michelle through our adoption of Isaias. Prior to traveling to Guatemala to meet Isaias for the first time, I found out that she and her husband were making their first trip, too. I emailed her saying, "Hey... we're traveling at the same time!" and she emailed back and asked me to give her a call. I don't particularly even like phone conversations, much less with a complete stranger, but I thought, "what the heck..." and dialed the number she gave me. And I loved her. We emailed several times in the weeks leading up to our trip, and then we met in person in the Houston airport. We got to spend four days in Guatemala with Michelle and her husband Chad, along with another couple-- and we all had a great time! Michelle and I have been friends every since. She's the best long-distance friend EVER, considering she has made two trips all the way across the US to visit us AND spends a lot of her time emailing and IMing me.

Anyway, last month she was here and finally, here are some pictures. She brought along her son Micah, who delighted us all and who is in the picture below. Isn't he a CUTIE?!?!

Michelle actually took more pictures than I took, and the ONE picture I have of her and I together I actually stole off of her blog post. So if you wanna see more pictures, go there.

We had a great time and I am SOOOO thankful she came! What a wonderful friend she is!

The quiet hour

After lunch and story time we have “quiet time” at our house. This is a time in which, theoretically, everyone is quiet for a period of one to two hours (preferably two). My youngest (nearly two) goes down first, and then I bring our three-year old to his bed. Then my daughter (five) supposedly plays quietly in the living room while I get to go to my bedroom, crawl atop the bed with my journal, Bible and a snack. And after that, read my book or take a nap and have, ah!… quiet.


A couple of things have made me revisit this whole idea.

First, my daughter’s quiet time is very quiet, but she interrupts me frequently. When she’s in the living room she pops in every 5-10 minutes to keep me informed of what she’s doing or has done, or she wanders in to ask the dreaded, Now what should I do?” And she goes through seasons (this being a long one of them) where she requests to sit beside me while I have my quiet time. Which I could be stern about and stick by the "rules", but then… there she is, clutching her Bible story-book and her “journal” and pen, and longing to be like mommy. What can I say? So I say yes, and there she sits, quietly, but then every few minutes whispering, “Look at what I wrote, mommy.” Or, “I’m reading about Sampson today, see?.” Very cute. And yet, I am missing that peace that I get when I’m all by myself.

The other thing is that I’m wondering if my three-year old doesn’t need a nap anymore. (My wonderings are based on the fact that when I put him down, it takes him a good hour to go to sleep and then he lies awake for a couple of hours after we put him down at nighttime.) Sigh. I am not eager to part with his nap, and yet… I fear the time has come. But if he is done with napping, then we need to move into a quiet time for him, too, which makes me revisit what is and isn’t working for our quiet time. And it’s not working.

So. To all of you mamas who have quiet times at your house with pre-readers, what do you do that works for you? Do you gather materials/projects/books/puzzles beforehand so that they are occupied? Do you set a timer? Do you discipline when they interrupt? Do you ever let them join you? Tell me what is working and what doesn’t work so that I can avoid those, too!

My choice today

Yesterday as my husband came home from work, I met him-- not at the door, but outside-- with tears and this: "I'm running away from home!"

Needless to say, we've had a difficult week. Both Monday and Tuesday night this week Mark and I had to leave the kids and drive two hours away to attend some adoption classes, sit through the hour and a half class to drive another two hours home. We knew this would be a difficult month. We have a number of these classes to attend, and I figured it would take a toll on all of us. It has. I am tired, impatient, irritable, crabby, and emotional. The kids, out of their routine-- are tired, whiny, argumentative, prone to fits and tantrums, and emotional. Like I said, I'm ready to run away from home.

It is times like this that I become very grumbly and my thoughts very me-centered: "I need a break." "What about me?" "I need some sleep." "I don't want to do this right now." "I'm so tired of this." Things like that. Oh, and thoughts like: "These kids are driving me absolutely crazy!"

And all day yesterday God was urging me to choose joy. You know what? I didn't. I knew that's what I needed to do, but I am stubborn and would much rather wallow in self-pity.

Today I'm going to obey, though. I am headed now to turn on some worship songs and sing. And put a smile on my face. And regardless of whether I get a nap or a break or rest, and even IF my children continue their behavior, I am choosing joy today.

Bragging on my man

Happy Valentines Day, dear readers!

Can I just say that my *favorite* part of Valentines day is the gift my husband gives me? I already know what he'll be giving me, though I don't know all it contains.

Every year Mark gives me a CD on Valentines Day. Not just any old CD, mind you. But a CD with songs he has selected for me. He chooses songs that emote his love or feelings for me, or songs that would evoke memories of our year together. And he writes a brief paragraph about why he chose that song. So basically it ends up being a love letter to me along with a fun new CD for me to listen to.


The first item on my daily schedule is this:

Up at 5:30, pray

It's been so long since I've intentionally been up early to pray that I've considered removing it from my list. But it remains on my schedule, because ideally I'd really like to be there.

Last night I wearily climbed into bed and picked up my book and read a bit from Elisabeth Elliot's Be Still My Soul. It was like a drink of water to this tired and feeling-like-a-failure-in-my-prayer-life mommy:

I will offer Him my prayers, my sighs. I will pour out my heart to Him. Even in their distractedness, inconsistency, and deficiency, I can be confident that my prayers rise to Him like incense ("Let my prayer be counted as incense before thee, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice!" Psalm 141:2, RSV). He receives my imperfect prayers like the mother receives the crushed dandelions, as gifts made perfect in love.

What's that you say?

About a week ago Mark and I were discussing something our daughter had said and I very sternly told him, "Honey, don't you dare correct that."

I wasn't referring to a behavioral issue, I was referring to the word she had used.

It absolutely delights me to hear the things our children come up with.

When Ella was two, she ended every word with the "eee" sound. If something was broken she would bring it to me, saying, "Brotee!" She said "opee" instead of open. She called her brother Isaac "Izee" and her little buddy Aidan "Aidee".

The other cute thing was her use of the word "my" in place of I. She would say things like, "My did it!" Or "My hap you?" (I help you?)

One of my favorites was when she'd finish painting or eating and would ask, "You keen my funders, mommy?" :)

The following year she'd say "bay" in place of boy, so she'd tell me what a "good bay" Isaac was, or talk about those "bays and girls".

At this stage of her life, she says nearly everything correctly, but occasionally she'll slip in the wrong word (like when she complained of having a "canker chip" in her mouth at dinner one night. We're thinking she is confusing the words canker and poker). And I think she still refers to the exersaucer as the "applesaucer", but it is such a cute mistake that I really want her to keep saying it that way.

And then there's my Isaac. When he used to say sorry, he'd say, "Saw saw". So he'd tell his big sister, "Saw saw bonk." (Sorry for the bonk).

Instead of ice cream, he'd say "i peem", and that word began to stand in for any and all desserts or treats.

He used to sing, "Pickle, Pickle, Little Star". Ella was emphatic that he sang it correctly, and reminded him constantly that it was actually "Twinkle, Twinkle..." but he insisted it was "Pickle, Pickle..." and sang it that way for months.

He adds the "bee" sound to the beginning of a lot of his words. Vanilla is actually pronounced "Beenilla"; and his cousin Josiah, "Beesiah".

When we hopped around on Michelle's trampoline this past summer he kept calling it a "Vasaline".

Recently he said, "I had to cover my mouth so the bless-you wouldn't come out!" (So far he doesn't know it's actually called a sneeze, and I'm certainly not pointing it out to him!)

But hands down my favorite thing is this: my three-year old Isaac still says, "I want to hold you, mommy", which of course means that he wants me to hold him.

I wonder...

..what it means about me, these things:

1. I just ran to the store to get some milk. We were out. Or so I thought. Until I came home and put the two gallons in the fridge and saw that actually, there was a

Milk is the drink of choice in our home and there was only enough milk for one of my children to have a half-cup all day long. How could I have missed that gallon of milk?! It's not like it's a small item, a gallon of milk. And I spend probably a full third of my day pulling things in and out of that fridge.

2. So, I was at the store, getting the milk. As I set my gallons on the what-do-you-call-the-roller-thing-that-slides-your-groceries-towards-the-checker?, I remembered we'd recently gotten a new card from our bank. I thought, "Was that a new debit or credit card?" And then remembered it was a new credit card. Our debit card number was the same. So then, in an effort to be task-oriented and prepared, I thought to myself (oh, foolish me, why did I have to go and think this?!?):

"What is our pin number?"

And right then it was time for me to punch in the number and of course I had a complete lapse of memory and could not, for the life of me, remember my number. After embarrassingly punching in random numbers, twice, to have the checker indicate that I needed to enter my pin number yet again, a very-flustered-me got out my credit card. I mean, REALLY. I only use my debit card every other day. I KNOW that number. I also know that if I had absentmindedly approached the debit machine, I could have speedily punched in those numbers and been on my merry way.

Arghh. Should I mention now that the debit-card situation has happened to me before?

A new journey

This past weekend Mark and I attended 30+ hours of training to begin the process of adoption. Again. This time we will be adopting a child through the foster-care system in our state. We have the incredible privilege of working with a local Christian adoption agency that has a heart for the orphans. This agency sprung from a church with a vision to match Christian couples and/or families with foster children that are available to be adopted... for FREE. And here begins a new journey for our family. The next several months will entail much tedious paperwork, additional training, a homestudy, many meetings with social workers, foster licensing, much prayer and-- my least favorite, but the most growing-- waiting.

Those of you who read here know that Mark and I have a heart for adoption (for those who didn't know, see the precious little one in the photo up there, or check the sidebar to read our adoption journey), but it has taken us a long while to get to this particular place.

This past summer, I was praying earnestly that God would bless us with a baby-- through pregnancy. (Mind you, we've been praying this for a few years, and have not been able to get pregnant since we had Isaac. He's now three.) At this time, I began asking God, "Why not? Why aren't you answering this desire of our hearts?" And more grievously, "Why does your answer seem to be 'no'?" We had also begun to think about adopting again, through the foster/adopt program here in our state, but we hadn't moved forward with that yet. At the same time I was wrestling with all of these questions, God began to lay a passage of Scripture on my heart from the book of Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion---
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

I had no idea why God had laid this passage on my heart, but I began to read it often and pray over it. As I journaled about it, I wondered if the Lord was calling me to a ministry to the poor, if He had in mind for me, for us-- a ministry to the homeless? And so I prayed about that, and wondered what it was that we should be doing in that regard.

I sat down to journal one day and had a real sense of restlessness. I don't know why. I wondered, in my journal, if the restlessness was from God. Was it that He wanted us to be moving forward on the adoption process? And I asked Him to quiet my heart and tell me. And what was I supposed to do about this possible new ministry God had for me? How could I commit time and energies to a ministry to the poor when I was called to be home, here with my children?

Later that same day it struck me. Here I was, seeking Him, inquiring as to how we should be ministering to the poor: What, Lord, can I be doing? Simultaneously I was praying, "bless us with more children."

What I wanted was a pregnancy. A child to grow within me, to deliver, to nurse. And a ministry to the poor on the side.

I journaled that day, "But You, Lord? What You want may be this: To have us take in children who are poor. To preach good news to them, to bind up their broken hearts, to proclaim freedom to them and release them from their darkness. To comfort them. To be able to give them the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." And somehow, right then, I was sure that that's what I'd been missing all along.

God had seen fit to answer our prayers for a baby through the lens of His kingdom-purposes.

At the time I did not feel a joyful obedience, but a relenting to His plans for us. For the children He desired to bring us. I surrendered my own desires and told Him that we would walk obediently forward into the unknown (by us) and yet seen and known and planned (by Him).

We continued to research options and pray together. And in October we attended an introductory meeting with the local agency I mentioned above. At the meeting we felt such a confirmation from God that this was the road He wanted us on. Such peace. And the relenting changed to a joyful obedience. We are excited to see what God has for the future of our family!