A few things...

It's not that there's not a lot going on at our house, there's just nothing worthy of an entire blog post. But I thought I'd give you a summation of a few different things going on:

1. The Vaseline remains.

2. This past week I decided to make homemade yogurt. My visions of a full delicious quart of homemade yogurt were quickly dashed when, after six hours, my yogurt had the consistency of milk. So I tried it again, using a different incubation method. Same results. Grr. I am determined! Another batch is in the works. I would really like it to turn out.

3. I've been in de-clutter mode around the house. So far I've cleaned out every single closet upstairs, and packed over 10 garbage bags full of stuff to get rid off. AH! It feels good. I wish I had taken before photos, because these are HUGE improvements. But the "before" is in my mind, and that's good enough. Here are some photos of Isaias' closet.

4. I've also been sewing a lot. I made a skirt for myself last week, and this week I made a pair of bloomers for Ella. I'm working on a pair of pantaloons for her now. And, I have the fabric and pattern waiting to begin another dress for her, and a dress for her doll, too.

4. We've moved our "baby" chicks from our house to their coop outside. I think they like it out there, and I like having them (and their smell) out of my house!

5. More importantly, some of you have asked for an adoption update. The update is that nothing is happening. Whereupon once again, God teaches Stacy that His timeline is different (and better! It is better!) than my own. I was rather hoping that our homestudy would be wrapping up by now. It has not even begun. I remind myself daily, "You will not miss out on the child(ren) God has for you, Stacy." I know that He is in even in this delay. That being said, if you think of it, would you pray with us for some movement in this regard? Thank you, dear readers.

Love to you and blessings for a wonderful weekend!

Sweet words

**Updated to add photos**

Tucking in my Isaac tonight after a long day with this boy of mine. He was a challenge all day and topped the day off by liberally applying Vaseline to his hair. Isaias joined him. I was far too exasperated to get pictures, but I assure you, it was a sight.

***Note to all mothers everywhere: HIDE THE VASELINE JAR. Vaseline does NOT come out of hair.***

I may have to shave them both bald tomorrow.

Anyway... tonight, tucking him in... I sang him his goodnight song and afterwards said, "I love you so much." He replied with, "And I love you so much." I then said, "I'm so glad you're my boy." It was quiet for just a second while he thought, and then this:

"And I'm so glad you're my girl."

Such sweet words to end this day together.

And here are the promised photos, two days after the event. The pictures don't quite do it justice.

More on the shield of faith

As I wrote yesterday, what I appreciate so much about Beth Moore is that she doesn't stop with the information. She gets practical. I am such a visual person that I don't just want to hear what someone thinks, I want to know what it looks like; what they're doing about it. Here is the practical, 5-statement shield of faith Beth Moore shared:

God is who He says He is.

God can do what He says He can do.

I am who God says I am.

I can do all things through Christ.

God's word is alive and active in me.

Her encouragement for the reader was to commit to a certain length of time to practice raising your shield of faith. To get into the habit of "putting it on." I decided to do five weeks. I wrote out these five statements and posted them in the shower and have said them every morning. I'm into my third week.

And do you know what? The first two: God is who He says He is and God can do what He says He can do-- those, I've got down. Absolutely I believe those. Without a doubt.

But as I have repeated these statements over and over again, I get a little stuck on that third one.

"I am who God says I am." I say it and then I consider who God says I am and I immediately question, "I am?"

My shield has a little crack.

I've mentioned before that when God is speaking to me about something, He doesn't just say it once. He says it over and over and over again to get through to me. He is so faithful to lead me to a verse, and then aha! coincidentally, that very same verse is expounded upon in a book I'm reading, and then again, He will solidify that truth one more time (or two) in another form (radio, a message, a friend, a blog, a song).

As I was reading Believing God I was also reading another book. A fiction book by Lisa Samson called Quaker Summer. In the book, the main character's name is Heather. Heather's husband's name is Jace. Here's the part I'd like to share with you:

Jace: I really love you, hon. You know that, right?

[Heather] I just burrow my face into his shoulder. I can't look at him when he starts making loving proclamations. If his professions are an accurate indication of his emotions, Jace adores me. So if he backs them up with candles and flowers and that sweet smile, why can't I believe him? With these sponge cake hips? This raggedy C-section scar? Come on, man! Where are your standards?

When I read that, a lump formed at the back of my throat. Not only because I so know the feeling. (Can you not even see these stretch marks, honey? And these extra 10 lbs I've been holding onto since the birth of our last child? Who was born more than three years ago? And, and, and...)

But that lump in my throat? It was there because I am like this with God, too. He professes to love me; to adore me. So why can't I believe Him?

When I shared with Mark that I believed the first two statements with certainty but I was wavering on the third, he pointed out, "If the first two are no-brainers, Stacy, you have to embrace the third one. If God is who He says He is, you are who He says you are. Period." I KNOW that. My mind knows it. But as usual, it takes some time for my heart to catch up with what my mind knows.

Basically, dear readers: I am just a pile of insecurities. During the past few weeks God has brought me again and again to His Word. Just who does God say that I am? I've begun a list in the back of my journal:

I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
I am dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11)
I am adopted. (Ephesians 1:5)
I am a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I am accepted. (Romans 15:7)
I am beautiful. (Song of Songs 4: 1, 7)
I am forgiven. Loved. Chosen. Redeemed. The list goes on and on.

I am?

Can I really accept that? Another source, another book I'm reading: The Ragamuffin Gospel. In it, Manning quotes another author, Paul Tillich, who writes: "Simply accept the fact that you are accepted."

That is precisely my problem. I have trouble accepting the fact that I am accepted.

But the things I have no trouble accepting; the things I am sure of; where there is no chink in my shield of faith, are those first two statements:

God is who He says He is.
God can do what He says He can do

And if God is who He says He is, He is LOVE, He is accepting of me, He has chosen me, and so much more.

I am so thankful for His Word. I so desperately need it to stand upon. Because I trust it. So if He says it, I believe it.

Shield of faith

I recently finished reading Beth Moore's book Believing God. Oh, it was good.

Ephesians 6 tells us to "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Did you see that part tucked in there about our "shield of faith"? Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Or, in the KJV: "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." What does that mean, exactly? What is our shield of faith?

Beth explained it so well:

Among the strategically prescribed pieces of the armor of God, why “above all” do we need to learn to use our shield of faith? Because the shield is the armor’s armor. If the ancient warrior received a direct hit on any of the other defensive covers it could still stun and bruise even if it didn’t wound. The warrior’s goal was to extinguish any oncoming dart with his shield in order to diffuse all potential damage. When the warrior’s shield was down, the other pieces of armor were vastly more vulnerable.

The same is true in our warfare. Our toughest battles will invariably concern matters of faith—times when we’re tempted to think God’s Word and His ways won’t work for us, that He has abandoned us, let us down, or failed to come through for us. If Satan can get us to drop our shield of faith, he knows we can’t remain standing for very long. Firsts have great importance in Scripture. Do you know the first recorded words that ever came from the serpent’s mouth? “Did God really say…?” (Gen. 3:1).

He used the spade of deceit to sow doubt. Satan, posing as the serpent, couldn’t keep Eve from believing in God, so he did the next best thing. He baited her, tempting Eve not to believe God or trust His motives. Her walk was crippled, her doubt was contagious, and the couple lost the land God had placed under their feet. You see, when Eve dropped her shield of faith, every other piece of spiritual armor became vulnerable. Satan knew she wouldn’t remain standing for long. When she fell, she fell hard. I know the feeling.

“Above all,” you and I need to learn to take up our shield of faith. We also desperately need to know the Word of God and wield the Sword of the Spirit so that when the enemy slyly suggests “Did God really say…?”, we can know the answer emphatically. When we respond to attacks of doubt, distortion, and deceit with the truth of God’s Word, the fiery dart is extinguished and the enemy takes another hit. I owe him a few. Do you?

I love that word picture. The shield is the armor's armor. It is there to protect us from the enemy's fiery darts.

What I appreciate so much about Beth Moore is that she doesn't just stop right there. She shares her own practice of taking up the "shield of faith". And that is where it gets good. I'll share more on that for my next post.

My new meal-planner

For Christmas my sister gave a wonderful gift to my daughter. She made a little apron, and wrapped it up with a kid's cookbook. Ella loves it, and frequently browses her cookbook asking, "Can we make this? And this?" Or, "Mommy, when's it gonna be Valentine's Day so we can make these heart cakes?" We've made a few things, but generally when I'm planning meals I'm not thinking about making sure to stock ingredients for Ella's cookbook requests.

This past month I decided to be proactive. I told Ella she could choose one day a month to plan a meal for our family using recipes from her cookbook. I suggested that she choose the 5th of each month, to go with her age. She was oh-so excited about the prospect, and happily ran to get her cookbook to plan her meal right then and there.

She looked through the pictures in her cookbook and selected a main meal, and then promptly told me what else she'd like to go with her meal.

Here's what she wanted:

chicken wraps
jello (for dessert; she chose blue)

I made out the list and then when we went shopping I had her help me find the ingredients on the list that were for her meal.

Here's our little cook:

And this is what we ate:

Mmmm. It was very good! She sat through the entire meal positively *glowing* from everyone's compliments.

Children's Book Monday

The stories of Obadiah Starbuck and his Quaker family are set in the early 1800's on Nantucket Island. You'll quickly become endeared to the lively young Obadiah, whose adventures are enjoyable for the little ones you'll be reading to as well as to the mommy reading. Obadiah's family is central to every story, and consists of Father, Mother, Moses, Asa, Rebecca, Obadiah and Rachel.

Author and illustrator Brinton Turkle has written four books about Obadiah. The illustrations are done in soft watercolors, and are filled with delightful scenes of life on Nantucket Island. As you turn the pages, you'll see girls and women wearing hats and bonnets with long full skirts or dresses. The young boys don hats, suspenders and white shirts. The outdoor scenes are of the wharf and village life, while the homey indoor scenes exude warmth as the Starbuck family gathers around for a meal, or listens to Father read the Bible by the glow of candlelight.

Our favorite Obadiah book is this one:

Rachel and Obadiah
by Brinton Turkle

In this book, Obadiah's older brother Asa sights a ship on it's way home to Nantucket. News of a ship has all of Nantucket astir, gathering at the docks to welcome the ship safely home. Asa gets a reward from the captain's wife for running to tell her the news. As Asa proudly shows off his silver coin, Obadiah decides he wants the opportunity to run to the captain's house with news of the next ship coming. Obadiah's solid plan is thwarted when his little sister Rachel decides that she, too, would like to be sent with the news. But they both can't go. Obadiah and Rachel agree to race to see who is the fastest runner. Whoever wins the race will be chosen to carry the news of the next ship. Obadiah is confident that he will win, of course. (He is the older brother, after all!)

You and your children will be on the edge of your seats to see just who will win the race between our beloved Obadiah and his little sister Rachel.

Don't miss the other three Obadiah books: Thy Friend, Obadiah, Obadiah the Bold, and The Adventures of Obadiah.

***Make sure to visit A Path Made Straight for other recommendations.

Do you see it?

That beautiful new header up there?

My thanks to Susie of Bluebird Blogs, who designed it for me. Didn't she do such a wonderful job? I love it.


This is Isaac's chick, Henriletta (that's how he pronounces "Henrietta")

I'm not sure if you can quite capture the look of alarm on little Henriletta's face, here.

You can? Oh, good. I was hoping. Isn't that hilarious?

On mornings

"I don't really like Isaac talking to me when I just wake up."

"Why not, honey?"

"Because he's like.... [she thinks for a second].... so wake-upish, and I don't really like that."

(Spoken by my groggy-in-the-mornings daughter in reference to her bright-eyed and ultra cheery early-bird brother!)

Homeschooling for next year

I've just finished collecting all of our homeschooling materials for next year. I can barely wait to start! We will be primarily using Ambleside Online (Year 1) but replacing their history sequence with Linda's history suggestions for the main texts: This Country of Ours and Hillyer's classic A Child's History of the World.

We are working off of a 36-week schedule but I'm hoping to stretch it to a year-round schedule.

Here's what we plan to do:

Art (weekly)
Correspond history reading with a timeline or century book and map.
Picture study: 1-2 artists per term from the Ambleside artist rotation list. (Suggestions: Rubens, Cassatt, Caravaggio, Larsson, Grandma Moses, Renoir.)

Bible (daily)
Memory work (at breakfast)
Psalm (at breakfast)
The Child's Scripture Catechism
Reading (with daddy)
Wisdom and the Millers (Mildred Martin)

Foreign Language (daily)
Spanish: Learn 2-6 new words daily. Use picture lessons, audio cassettes, songs with actions, and occasional games. (We have a number of Spanish vocab/picture books, and I'm hoping to utilize the library for the audio/songs unless anyone has any wonderful suggestions?)

Geography (weekly)
Paddle to the Sea, Tree in the Trail, and Seabird (Holling C. Holling)

Handicrafts (weekly)
Help with housework and gardening. Knitting, sewing.

History (daily)
Child’s History of the World (V.M. Hillyer), World History
This Country of Ours (H.E. Marshall), American History

Literature/Tales (daily)
The Aesop for Children (Milo Winter)
Tales from Shakespeare (Charles Lamb)
The Blue Fairy Book (Andrew Lang)
Just So Stories (Rudyard Kipling)
Parables from Nature (Margaret Gatty)

Math (daily)
Math U See

Music (weekly)
Hymn study, using Then Sings My Soul (Robert J. Morgan) and listening, here.

Narration (daily)
Narrations from The Aesop for Children. (One per day for a few weeks, and then slowly apply to other short passages from history or nature books.)

Natural History/Science (weekly)
Handbook of Nature Study (Anna Comstack)
James Herriot’s Treasury for Children (James Herriot)
The Burgess Bird Book for Children (Thornton Burgess)
*Keep a nature notebook

Penmanship/Copywork (daily)
10-minute lesson: Work on one letter or one word each lesson. Emphasize accurate letter formation, not quantity.

Reading/Phonics (daily)
I will likely come up with my own Phonics work, but I may consult Phonics Pathways if needed. (*I checked it out at the library after some of you recommended it and like it much better than 100 Easy Lessons).

Poetry (daily)
A Child’s Garden of Verses (Robert Louis Stevenson)
Now We Are Six/When We Were Very Young (A.A. Milne)
Oxford Book of Children’s Verse (Iona and Peter Opie)

Recitations (per 12-week term)
Longer passages from the Bible
A Psalm
One poem of child’s choice


This past week there was a comment from Elise trailing one of my posts that piqued my interest. I headed over to her blog and found that she'd so kindly given me a Thinking Blogger Award. (Thanking you again, sweet Elise! What a *delightful* surprise.) And then late last night, I read Wendy's blog entry at Showered With Grace and noticed she also tagged me with this award. (Thank you, Wendy!)

If you get tagged with a Thinking Blogger Award, you are then supposed to do the following:

1. Write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.

Here are the two versions of the award:

Have you seen either of those serious guys (above) floating around the blogworld these past several? I have. It has been so fun to meet many new (to me) bloggers by clicking on everyone's 5 links.

Now it is my job to share with you 5 of the blogs that make me think. (And it was not easy to choose just 5, let me tell you!) But this is the *best* part, for me- to get to tell you about some fine bloggers. So, without further ado:

1. Kendra of Preschoolers and Peace.
Kendra's was the first blog I ever read, and I've been reading it faithfully ever since. What I appreciate so much about Kendra is that she offers practical solutions for ways to organize and manage your home, and she is happy to share what they have done and what is working for their family. I have gleaned so much from Kendra's ideas. One of my favorite Kendra-ideas? This one. And not only does Kendra have wonderful resources to share, but she has wisdom and experience. Thank you, Kendra. I am so grateful for your ministry to busy mothers of preschoolers; for your willingness to share your life with all of us. I have learned so much from you.

2. Elise of A Path Made Straight.
Elise writes so beautifully. As I pondered how to narrow down exactly what Elise writes about, I had a difficult time. She simply, but beautifully, writes about life. About faith, motherhood, conversations with her boys, and her husband. She tells of Miss Pauline, good read-alouds for storytime, and so many things she is thankful for. Thank you, sweet Elise, for using the tremendous gift God has given you to bless the rest of us.

3. Rebeca of Carried on the Wind.
I started reading Rebeca's blog shortly after I began blogging. She, along with Kendra, are some of the bloggers I feel like I "know", because they've so faithfully shared their lives over the past year through their writing. Rebeca has a wonderful heart for Jesus, and delights in being a wife and mama. Rebeca is a kindred spirit, too: she writes birthday letters to her own beautiful children. Rebeca has written posts like this one and this one that have made me think. Thank you, Rebeca. I am so grateful to know you.

4. Ann of Holy Experience.
Sweet, thought-provoking Ann. Ann is another whose writing makes me stop and consider. Ann wrote this and we began a new tradition in our family. She wrote this and I spent months of reflection, and page after page in my journal, pondering all God has given to me. She wrote this and I continue to remember these words she wrote: “It is alright to let go. Let go. God will provide whatever we need ahead when we get there. Travel light.” God has used this dear online sister much in my life. Thank you, dear Ann.

5. Linda of Higher Up and Further In.
Linda is homeschooling her children using Charlotte Mason's principles, and I have found her to be an amazing resource as we have chosen to homeschool our own children this way. She freely shares what they have done; what concepts like narration and nature study actually look like in their home. I am so thankful, Linda, that you are sharing your own schedules and experiences and making it seem do-able for the rest of us!

If you aren't already familiar with any of the above bloggers, do go check them out. These are wonderful women who love God deeply. It shows.

Do you have a few minutes?

If you do, go watch this film clip.

Thank you, Amy... for telling me about it. And to Shannon who linked Amy there.

Conversation in the van this morning

Ella (5): What is the best house?

Me: Our house!

Ella: No...

Me: Grandma's house?

Ella: No!

Me: Um... Auntie Amy's house?

Ella: No, mommy! HEAVEN!!!


Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.
~Psalm 84:10

One year

It was one year ago today that I began blogging.

You know what? I am really thankful for this venue. More than anything, I am so appreciative for each one of you. I have gleaned so much from you. As I transferred old posts from HSB to Blogspot these past couple of months, it became really evident to me that I have grown much over the past year. God has used many of you as a resource for growth in my roles as wife, mother, and homemaker.

So thank you, for reading here and for encouraging me through what you have written on your own blogs or your comments here.

Children's Book Monday

My friend Elise at A Path Made Straight started Children's Book Mondays. I have loved reading her book recommendations, and some of the books she has reviewed have become favorites at our house.

I won't be doing this every Monday (I don't get to the library that often), but I have decided that when we have found a good book, I'll share it here. Here's my first book.

Nora's Ark
By Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
illustrated by Caldecott Medal Winner
Emily Arnold McCully

When I was born, Grandma said I was so small I looked like a little bird. That's why I was named Wren. Grandma may look small, too, but she's made of granite, and she says I'm tough, just like she is. Good thing, or we never would have survived the 1927 Flood.

And so the story begins of young Wren on her grandparents' Vermont farm during the year of 1927. When the rain begins falling in earnest, Wren's Grandma bakes bread, speculating that they might need it. Grandpa comes in from the rain and tells them to get to higher ground, and they pack up a few things and head to the house Grandpa has recently built that sits upon a hill.

Just as soon as they get settled, there's a knock on the door, and Wren and her Grandma Nora welcome the first of many seeking protection from the rising floodwaters. Many neighbors bring what little they have and often their animals, hence the title Nora's Ark.

I hope you'll check out this book on your next stop to the library, and enjoy it as much as we have.