He fills the longing soul with good things. Ps. 107:9

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Carpe Diem

From the artwork in my dining room:


"Work like you don't need the money
Love as if you've never been hurt
Dance as if no one is watching"
It's been such a long time since I've written. If you're looking for a place to get your fresh daily blog, mine is definately not the place. But in this season of my life I'm happy with my ketchup blogging. I write when I can.

There have been so many things lately I've wanted to write about, but couldn't decide which were the most important. My camera and my computer are once again at war. And frankly, it looks like Christmas has exploded in every room of our house. Simply keeping up has been a top priority (although not very successful!). We're still not done partying, and I'm still not done chasing my tail around here. But I'm having one of those "have to write" moments.

I cuddled up on the couch for some precious Sunday afternoon reading. But I went to the computer to look up something related to the book I was reading. I stumbled upon the writings of Carrie Oliver (deceased wife of the co-author of my book), who demonstrated her faith in an awe-inspiring way during her battle with cancer.

Reading through her journey - her faith, her pain, her fear, her inspiration - has stirred me deeply and reminded me of the Rock I have in my Abba. Two months before she died she walked through the grief of losing a child. She experienced the levels of life's grief and pain that I fear and dread.

But she clearly lived by my high school motto: "Carpe Diem." She seized every day. She viewed a trip through the halls of a hospital to another chemo treatment as a chance to share her faith with the hospital staff. She viewed an afternoon of coffee and shopping with friends as a gift from God. Oh, was she ever right.

A couple of days ago we spent some time once again in the Emergency Room with Kayla's asthma. Although these visits are not even remotely in the same category as the illnesses others deal with, they remind me of what a thin line our breath on earth is. Watching Kayla curled up in the wheelchair on her way to xray, watching her tiny little form holding on to the xray machines. Holding her hand while they put in IV's as she sobs. How could we take a single solitary breath for granted?

Even before my reading this woman's journal of faith, this has been one of those days when I have cherished the moments. I have laughed at my babies and squeezed them and kissed them and wondered at how amazing they are. (Even now, as I write, Kayla is sitting at the kitchen table happily eating leftovers and talking my head off - asking questions about life's great mysteries from quintuplets to why we call dinner dinner.)

But I am so completely aware that God's goodness....His faithfulness...My faith...is not based on the fact that He's been so "good" to me by keeping my babies alive and giving us health. My faith runs so much deeper than that - It is based on the merit of His Goodness and Holiness alone. I sincerely pray that He will not test me on that statement.

(You should see my crazy Kayla now - standing on the kitchen chair in nothing but her elephant panties demonstrating the loud and amazing call of an imaginary bird she created - an "Aparigon." And she has corrected me on my spelling of said bird.)

Anyway...I've been letting the overwhelmed feeling of life creep in lately. I've enjoyed having my husband on break from PhD work and having a break from our normal relentless school and home schedule. And as the end of the holidays approaches, I feel the noose tightening around me again - making my stomach nervous and my mood negative. But how could I not realize that stopping to watch this elephant panties-clad kid demonstrate the egg-laying call of an imaginary bird is one of the purest joys I could experience? I know that figuring out a way not to be overwhelmed and get it all done is incredibly important. But it's so much more important that I remember to be present in the moments. To remember to live each day with joy - by choice. Not to ignore the pressures, but to drink in the beauty. It's all around me - sometimes buried under the "stuff" explosion that often happens in our cozy little bungalow.

(Did you know that an Aparigan is a hairy bird - it has hair on its head? We have the picture to prove it.)

It's one of the reasons that I love so much to walk. My walks clear out the stuff. I see the pine trees heavy with the snow and the fog light on the air and I remember to drink in the beauty. I feel the pain of my many ankle injuries and I remember not to take walking for granted. I feel the freezing air and am so grateful for a warm cozy house full of imaginary birds and crying babies. (These birds can also see and hear in the dark....Really, they can!)

I'm full of unshed tears of gratefulness.

I'm thankful for 5-year olds who can get their baby brothers out of bed after naps.

I'm thankful for naps!

I'm thankful for my cute little house.
For our gorgeous Christmas tree, surround by the gifting of about 14 Christmas parties.
For my handsome, incredible, diaper-changing husband
For good jobs and good friends and good food
For the joy of the years I have with my little children
For the frustration of a child with illness, which gives me compassion and understanding and a hunger to learn.....

For the heritage of a close family
For the sound of my mother laughing with her upraorious siblings
For the experience of learning under my father's direction

For books and music and walks
For grace and mercy, which I do not deserve
For forgiveness and comfort
For the rest of being anchored to an unmovable Rock
For the fear that keeps reminding me not to take the days for granted....

(I would like to happily announce the arrival of two baby Aparigans in our home - I just witnessed their hatching in a nest in our living room.)

As usual, when the Spirit has a message for my heart, it has been sent through many sources....spoken in different ways....come at me from many directions. I have been reminded through my child's illness, the passion of William Wilberforce, the journal of a dying mother....

I believed it when I was 17 in the excitement and dreams of youth. And I believe it now - as a 30-year old, overweight, goofy, dreaming, sometimes frazzled mother and teacher and wife.

I must seize each day. Stop for the moments. Be a constant student of how to work less and get more done. Never ignore beauty. Resist the urge to let life bury me. Don't hide the fact that I cry a lot and laugh really loud. Hug my babies. Kiss my husband. Respect my authorities. Respect everyone. Learn more about my students. Listen to more music. Talk more to my Abba.

Carpe Diem, friends. Seize your day.


Now if you'll please excuse me, there is one very hungry Aparigan and a very thirsty baby boy who need my attention...
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Family Advent - Week 2

The first part of our family time was spent playing in our "winter wonderland." David came home early from studying to help us build showmen.
Caiden was hilarious - he moped around with his "blankie." He was mad because the snow was cold on his hands, but too stubborn to keep his gloves on. He'll learn.



Caiden Troy


Karissa Joy
Kayla Rose



We also made an attempt at a Christmas card picture. We're no longer perfectionistic about our cards. As long as they look fun and no one is standing on their head, it's a go. This is the card I'm considering. I know the girls aren't looking at the camera, so we may try to grab a snapshot again sometime later. Who knows.


We had so much fun playing in the snow - then we went inside to thaw our toes and warm up with some freezer pizzas, chocolate chip muffins (I'm infatuated with my new Jumbo muffin pan)- and of course - cocoa and cream.
Today's advent theme was JOY! It was Karissa's turn to light the candle - which we thought was appropriate because her middle name is Joy. Her name actually means "Gift of Joy."


Then, after some play time (and back to work for Daddy) we read Ordinary Baby, Extraordinary Gift and the kids went down for naps in preparation for our big night - the school Christmas play! Kayla is a talking lamb, and has a cute dialogue with a mouse. I'm pretty excited about seeing everyone's hard work.

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snow, sore bottoms and crazy kids

Yesterday as we set out in our white minivan, sliding around on the ice with the beautiful white stuff all around us, Karissa was amazed. (Remember, she's 3 and we've lived in Alabama and Mississippi for the past 4 years. This is her first Yankee Christmas.)

She said...
"Did it snow in our land?"
yes
"Does Alyssa live in our land?"
yes
"Did it snow at Alyssa's house?"
yes
"There's snow everywhere!"
when we got to school to pick up Kayla - 3 minutes from our house
"Mommy! It snowed at Kayla's school TOO!"

She just now walked up to me and said, "It changed into white outside." It did? "Yes! Like snow....come SEE it!" (It's the second day of snow and she still can't get over it.)

*****
I'm cracking up at Karissa about everything this morning. She just got in trouble for disobeying me, and I gave her one of those spankings that you realize really should have hurt worse than it did. But she was convinced otherwise.

"OWWWWW! *sobbing* That Hourt! Mommy, You made my bottom SORE!"
(she said incredulously)

I literally hid my face and laughed. You'd think she'd get the idea by now that spankings are supposed to hurt.

*****

What is it with my kids? I stop for just a moment to blog, and they go bonkers. Caiden just walked up to Karissa and bashed her on the head with his new prized Black and Decker hack saw. As soon as he did it, the reaction on his face was hilarious. I don't know if he was appalled at himself for doing such a vicious thing, or if he could tell from his mamma's face that he was in deep doo-doo. But his eyes got big his face said. "Uh-oh" and he promptly handed me the offending weapon as a peace offering.

It didn't work (another sore bottom), but it was adorable.

He's the singing-est 18 month old baby boy I've ever had. His latest song is "I'm in the Lord's Army." He sings it all the time. And I"m almost sure I've been hearing him singing Zaccheus. I'm trying so hard to get him to sing Away in a Manger so he can be so cute and sweet at Christmas. But NO! He has to sing Zaccheus and Lord's Army.... He won't ever show off for me, anyway. He only sings when he's tootin around the house or when no one is around. Right now he's composing his own song, based on Kayla's phonics blend book. How exciting.
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Week in Cincinnati ~ Wolf Christmas

We had such a wonderful time in Cincinnati this past week. Deanna and Mark are in from Ireland (they pastor there), and Garen and Crystal were in from Pennsylvania (he's been in charge of a huge construction project there.) So we were ALL together again! We went to rehearsals and went shopping and made fun of each other and cooked together and laughed and cried....Oh yeah, and ate European chocolate!

One of the highlights was the night all of the siblings sat around the fire late at night talking, drinking coffee and giving our baby sis advice on guys.

And we had our Wolf Christmas. This is De and Mark's "Holiday" (British for vacation), and part of the fam is going to their world right after Christmas. So we had an early Christmas. Grandma came home from Scarlet Oaks. Dad read the Christmas Story and we prayed. The kids got spoiled rotten, as usual (actually - we all did!). Our family is blessed beyond what I can say. We have added the most absolutely wonderful siblings through marriage - it makes the whole mess richer and crazier! Mom and Dad just smile and listen to our incessant jabbering.

We do not take these moments for granted.

The dinner table - a sacred place for our family. Long after the meal is done, you'll find us still there, solving the world's problems and laughing at one another.

Reading the Christmas Story....

Hangin' out with Uncle Garen

Breakfast at Garen and Crystal's...their famous Waffles and Omelets!!

Caiden's very own new big boy bike.....his face says it all.

My first trip to the Cincinnati Freedom Center - the GBS Choir sang there on Saturday, and it was broadcasted live at Fountain Square.

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