Celebrating eighteen

This weekend marks eighteen years of marriage to my man.  Eighteen! 

Years ago, when we were dating, I asked God if Mark was *the one*.  I was fearful.  I wanted to be SURE.  I had been just a little girl when my dad walked out on my mom, then divorced her.   I was too young to understand it all, and yet that act of abandonment left a mark on me.

I said yes to Mark because I trusted him.  I loved him, deeply.  And he was my best friend.  But above all?  I trusted him.

Even so, I approached marriage with fear and insecurity~ certain, somehow that I wouldn't be enough, that I wouldn't be able to "keep" him.  My greatest fear was that he would leave me for someone else.  My heart was fragile.

And in God's great lovingkindness, because He knew the state of my heart, He knew just the kind of husband I needed, He gave me Mark: steady, faithful, loving, tender, kind.

he's my favorite
Mark has tenderly, patiently, persistently, graciously loved me in my worst moments.  He has faithfully pursued this heart of mine.  In our early years of marriage when I wanted to run away from a fight, he followed me.  When I have thrown harsh, sarcastic, hurtful words his way, he has responded slowly, and with kind words, and in love.  He always sees the best of me, not the worst.  When I am at my ugliest-- cruel and hurtful, he chooses to see the Stacy beneath the ugly, and speaks love to her.

He wooed me while we were dating with cards, notes, flowers and dates.  He has wooed me in our marriage with his patient, steady love and presence.  He has served me selflessly and tirelessly- doing dishes, getting up with the kids during all hours of the night, working so hard every day to provide for our family so that I get to stay at home.  He listens to my endless stories and ventings.  He prays for me.  He is my greatest comfort besides Jesus.  He tells me I am beautiful every single day- (and I have learned that he actually means it!)  He tells me he's still "smitten" (his word) with me after all these years.  He comes up behind me when I'm washing dishes and whispers love into my ear. He still makes me a cd every year for Valentines Day- full of songs that declare his love.  He still buys me flowers and he still writes me cards.

He loves me well.  This marriage we have?  It is a beautiful treasure. 

And Mark's love for me is such a picture to me of Jesus' love for me.  I am so thankful.  So blessed.

Happy Anniversary to you, my beloved.  (When you happen upon this post in a week or two... ;))
I love you.

End of the Year Thoughts & A Garden Walk

This week stretches ahead of us with literally NOTHING on our calendar: just a whole string of days at home with no school, no evening engagements, no commitments whatsoever.  [insert deep sigh of relief right here]

It's been a busy year.

The past few weeks people have been asking me and the kids, "Are you done with school yet?" (Yes, we were done early last week.)  I kept thinking about it in terms of the *kids* being done with studies and school, and it being their summer break and how happy I am for them....

It took all of last week before I realized how much easier MY life is without the addition of schooling.  All of a sudden I have no school-related questions coming at me from all five kids every day (Where is the pencil sharpener?  Mommy, will you help me with this math problem?  Where's the history book?  Mommy, can I narrate to you?  Mommy, can you look at this?  Mommy, I need some more of these pages printed.  Can you read this and see if I misspelled anything?)  All those types of questions?  Done.  No stack of things to correct in the evenings, no lesson plans to come up with (just yet), no looking at the week ahead to see what we need to accomplish, no writing everything up on the dry erase board each day, no hands-on sitting through a dictation lesson or a kindergarten lesson or a math lesson.  I am sort of stunned at how much is suddenly off my plate.  I seriously feel like a full-time job has just ended. 

For many mothers the end of the school year means they're suddenly ON: the kids are home, you have to keep them occupied for the hours a day they were previously in school.  For a homeschooling mother?  The end of the school year means rest.  Blissful, much needed REST. 

So happy summer break to ME!  And my kids!  :)  And you and yours if you're summering with us.

Care to take a walk with me through our garden this morning?
these are our May-Day flowers from Mark- he always gets all of his girls a flower, and I plant them all together.
You've seen this photo, but I wanted it here for comparison.  This is our garden, right after planting- May 19
and here it is nearly a month later- June 15
beans!- with my grandpa's old bean poles.  those poles make me so happy.
our happy rhubarb- already this year we've made rhubarb muffins and rhubarb coffee cake.  so delicious!
sun sugar tomatoes: these were my *favorite* addition to our garden last year, and I can hardly wait to taste them again!
romaine: probably what we harvest *the most* from our garden: for yummy summer salads
Ella's carrots
cucumbers- and in the back there, some more- amongst the weeds ;)
still some strawberries!
and all sorts of raspberries right now!

so... raspberries for breakfast this morning! :)
pretty hydrangeas- already blooming!
this is my favorite color of hydrangea
my cute Ella- up early and outside reading Rilla of Ingleside
cheery window box
front porch petunias
hanging basket
corn in the back garden.  knee-high by the fourth of July?  NO PROBLEM.
blueberries!- with more raspberries behind
one of our old girls, checking out what I was doing
red geranium on the patio table
the pot of clothespins I use pretty much daily
basket of eggs- waiting to be washed- on our very messy back porch
Eventually they all joined me outside:

Happy day to you from all of us!     

Happenings | Monday, June 8

Here's our garden right after planting- towards the end of May:


I don't have a recent photo, but things are happily growing!  This morning I watered, made a mental note that the radishes need to be thinned, and I hoed the rows and some of the walkways.  Then it got hot and so I decided to be all done.  :)  It's one of my favorite things to keep tabs on how our garden grows, and early mornings you'll find me (and often Ella) out there, just checking in on things.  :) 

This year we planted sunflowers, radishes, tomatoes (in the black pots), cucumbers, beans (far poles), dill, carrots, spinach, romaine and butter lettuce.  And corn in the back garden.  We planted less this year: less beans, no peas, no squash/pumpkins, no pickling cucumbers.

I also planted some sweet peas (flowers) today.  I think I'm super late on planting those, but hopefully I'll still get to enjoy the blooms.  :)

Audra's little bed on our front porch this morning.
The kids and their make-shift slip and slide.  :)
We're officially done with school, and the kids are all enjoying themselves immensely, feeling so free with only chores and piano practice on their agenda.  I am going to draw up some sort of a summer schedule for them, but I think I'll wait till July to do that and let them just revel for a couple of weeks.  Ella tucked herself into bed with me this morning with her book (she's reading the Anne of Green Gables series (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) ---Rilla of Ingleside as of this morning), and we read side by side until we had to get up (9:30ish?)  It was so delightful. 

Hope you're all having a great day!