Welcome

Welcome! This is where it all began. I no longer post on this website and some of the content reflects former convictions and understandings. Some of these posts are hard core on issues that I am softer on these days. I deleted many posts that I feared would lead people into legalism, so if you find a missing hyperlink that may be why. Our family is no longer "quiver full," I no longer wear a headcovering, and I do not wear skirts/dresses exclusively. These days I write at Covered By His Hand.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Family Picture



Well, it's true to life...
This is the closest we will get to a "real" family picture. My mom took this while they were here. I may get a better print of this in a few weeks when my Dad sends me the disk of pics he took on his good camera.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Reading progress

I am writing this progress report mostly for friends and family who are concerned about my kids' education... especially those who are themselves teachers.

As you know we are learning to read with phonics, and not by sight. But, words become memorized as we progress. I printed off this sight words sheet about 6 weeks ago - just to keep myself on track. I wanted to make sure that Rebecca was learning the most common words. Today she read every word except for "you" and "said." She has not yet learned the sounds for /ou/ or /ai/.

So, I decided to look at the Sight Words List 2, and she knows most of these too. (Again, she knows them because she learned them phonetically. She memorized them from frequent reading). She is still unsure about /oo/ (in "look"), the many uses of the end e (as in "some" and "have"), and /ou/ (in "out") and /ow/ (in "down"). This gives me some direction on which sounds are most important to learn next.

Both Nelson and Rebecca are reading sentences in school every day. Yesterday we read some silly sentences that I made up:
That cat is black.
Ted is a man.
Ted has a frog.
Josh is my son.
My dog is fat.
My mom is Beth.
Nelson is my son.
My girl is Rebecca.

We may not know the Dolce words in order, but we have already learned /sh/, /st/, /ch/, /th/, /ck/, /ee/ and more.

And, today they read Genesis 1:1-2 (I wrote it on the board and underlined the combination sounds and split the syllables apart, to help them out. I take these ideas from Writing Road to Reading by Romalda Spaulding). After that we looked at Psalm 1:1a as it appears in the Psalter we use for family worship. I was amazed at how well the kids read Genesis! I wanted to go on, but I did not want to exhaust them. I am getting more and more excited about teaching as their reading progresses!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Withhold Not Correction

The best biblical parenting book I have come across (so far) is Withhold Not Correction, by Bruce A. Ray.

I want to give one of my readers a new copy of this book. And, I will pay the shipping (so long as you live in the US).

Here is why I love Withhold Not Correction:

1- It's principles are based on Scripture, not pop psychology!

2 - It teaches a parent how to correct a child using Scripture, so you are teaching them why you have to discipline.

3 - It has an appendix with MANY useful verses (itemized) for use when administering correction.

I cannot say enough good things about this book! While I believe that the Bible alone is sufficient for teaching us all things (including correcting children), this book is an excellent tool to stand alongside of the Scriptures.

A friend of Paul's gave us this copy today (no, it was not a Christmas gift), and since we already own it - we thought we would pass it on to one of my faithful readers.

Leave a comment about why you want to read the book, or about how much you love my blog - and I will enter your name in a drawing! And, since I had only one comment on my last giveaway, your odds are pretty good! It pays to support the new blogger with verbal feedback!

The drawing will be next Wednesday, December 31, 2008 (sometime in the evening). Good providence to you.

I Confess...

When my husband is not here for lunch, the children and I eat off of paper towels.

We always buy the select-a-size paper towels (in bulk), and we each use one small section for our lunch.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My favorite things

I thought that maybe listing some of my favorite things would improve my mood - it certainly can't hurt.

- A God who loved me first
- My husband
- My children
- snowflakes that show their shape on my black wool coat
- the sound of a leather saddle as it is being climbed into
- the sound of horse hooves on pavement
- fresh baked bread

Life on Hold

These past few weeks, I feel like I have been running my life in a holding pattern! Every time that I think something is improving... two steps back. I am referring to my thyroid health (that all-consuming health issue that is my single most severe thorn in the flesh!)

As you know, I started taking Armour natural thyroid (the minimum dose) a few weeks ago. At first, there seemed to be improvements. My cognitive ability was better, my speech improved. But, all the while - my body temperature is dropping. I am not alarmed YET. I have not broken my all-time low yet (95.9 as a wide awake, 3pm temperature). I am still in the mid 96s. So, it could be worse.

The doctor raised my dose from the entry level, one grain, to the next step - two grains a day. I take one before breakfast and one in late afternoon. Still, no positive change. In fact, Rebecca asked me today (when she saw me take some supplements), "Mommy, which one is your new medicine that makes you so tired?" That is how it feels to me too! These past 2-3 weeks have been a terrible challenge! I am always cold, wearing many layers of clothes (while my kids run around in tee shirts! We set the heater up to 66 for me). I am always tired. I cannot wake up in the morning. I try to get up and make Paul's lunch, but that usually makes the situation worse. What happens is this: I force myself to get up at 5:30 or 6 and get Paul's lunch (and oatmeal). Then, I often try to read my Bible after he leaves. I end up feeling hit by a truck before 7! And, I go back to sleep right as the kids are waking! Most mornings they play quietly while I rest/sleep! And, most mornings I do NOT even know when they get up. Their play usually incorporates itself into my dreams. Though, some days I am jump started by some statement like, "Let's play haircut." Or, "let's go feed the dog" (outside). Ugh - I am in sorry shape.

I do a lot of reading on the Stop the Thyroid Madness site. They have so much useful information! They have some testimonials that sound just like me - I am hoping that some day soon I will be a testimonial for Armour as well!

BUT, I cannot, must not, will not put my hope in medicine! My GOD shall supply all my needs! (Phil 4:19) And, my GOD will make His strength perfect in my weakness! I am putting my hope in that!, but my hope is weakening. Each day I sleep a little more. Each day I work a little less. I am NOT lazy! You cannot imagine how hard it if for me to see work go undone! And, I often do work when I am beyond exhaustion. Every night I clean up the house before Paul comes home. Every night I stay up till 11 or 12 to meet him. But, I am weak. I am so very tired.

Please pray for me, I have so many people depending on me.

Friends who are adopting

I have some friends who in the end processes of adopting a little girl from Ethiopia. I know Todd and Gretchen personally, and I wish I could support them beyond my prayers! If you want to check them out, start here - with Gretchen's most recent post!
They are still short on funds.

Friday, December 19, 2008

John Piper speaks on wealth

Listen to John Piper as he passionately renounces the prosperity gospel.



Can someone tell me how to post YouTube on blogger? (Updated - Thanks Arthur!)

Also, does anyone know how to get that font/function where you can write words and cross them out through the middle?

Winterizing

Maybe I should change the name of my blog to "The Old Missouri Farmhouse," because it seems like all I do anymore is whine about my home. Don't get me wrong - I really am VERY grateful to have a house! I have a roof that isn't leaking water on my head. I have central heat. I have indoor plumbing and hot water. These are all luxuries that I am very happy to have!

Paul asked me to post a picture of our house with the straw bales around it. He is so happy that the roaring wind has stopped (at least under the house.)

This first picture is the looking at the Southwest side of the house.
This is the East side of the house.
We also bought a heat lamp to put in the crawl space under the bathroom where the hot water pipes froze. (This is what the former tenants had to do). This has solved the problem of frozen pipes, but who knew one light bulb could cost SO much?! (I mean it costs a lot to run it! Our daily electricity usage is now up to $8!)

In other dismal news, Paul is hating his job more by the day. The demands upon his performance are great, but the pay is not equal to those demands. Since the job is not union, they only pay overtime after 40 hours. So, he can work 3/ 15 hour shifts in a week and only see 5 hours overtime. And, now the weather is worse and they still haven't issued him his coat and coveralls.

Paul and his coworkers were lectured this morning on how they shouldn't bring their home life to work with them... BUT, what do they care that their men carry their work home at night and replay in their minds over and over "how could I have done that better/quicker?". His employers put SO much pressure on him! I am so glad that I am not the man! I would surely bust under the pressure.

BUT, we do praise God that Paul HAS a job! So many people these days are without work! And, it could certainly be worse!

We are praying for: wisdom, positive attitudes, a better paying job (to get us out of debt, not because we want more junk), and a smaller house with wood heat.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Anniversary to Me!

Today is my nine year anniversary!

I am going to be brutally honest in how I see myself as I was then, and as I am now. In portraying my past sins, I do not mean to glorify the old Bethany! In fact, this is part of the mortification process - I am sore ashamed at who I used to be! I only post these things to hopefully encourage others that you can change.

1- I used to be a feminist. I did not even know it. (I still struggle with years of programming!) If the Christian life is graded by God on a curve, then I was doing better than average. I was just a woman who was used to being in charge. My idea of marriage was a 50/50 partnership: in household chores, in decision making, everything. Poor Paul! Maybe if he had known me longer, he would not have signed on to such a chore as being the Head of me! Oh, how I hated his rule over me in those days! He would say "no" to something and I would scream at him - hoping to change his mind. He would say, "we are going to my parents," and I would scream at him and make his life miserable for weeks.
I hated that he expected me to do the bulk of the chores. In fact, he did very little - and in my rebellion, I left many things undone (like dishes piled up on the counter). I hated doing the chores that he knew how to do better. He knew how to wash laundry (correctly), I did not. He knew how to cook, I did not. I hated that I was expected to do these things. Yet, at the same time, I was under conviction. I knew what I ought to be doing. And, I was struggling with pride! So, when he did offer his help - I screamed at him. (Especially when he would offer to help salvage a meal.)
I am not at all bitter any more! As I write today, I just feel pain from what I could have been! I feel pain because I wasted so much time with a good man. These very painful memories steer me in my rearing of the girls! I strive hard to shape them into a better woman than I am. Rebecca already amazes me at her servant's heart! She gets up early and makes Daddy's coffee for him (on his at home days). She is always attentive to what he may want next!

2- I used to hate thinking. It's true! I hated studying and thinking! I hated reading! God works in mysterious ways - He placed a young, selfish, spoiled girl with a man who was a deep thinker. Paul wanted to talk about the Bible, about doctrine. I hated it. I wanted to talk about something "practical!" I cannot begin to convey my agony in trying to converse with him and his friends. They were all talking about John Piper, John MacArthur, and various Puritans and Reformers - and I was yawning.
I don't know when God changed me in this! I don't know at what point I started listening to Paul and learning from him - it was not soon enough! Turns out - my husband is a genius! BUT, he does not just study to get smarter. He studies because he LOVES the Lord, and he wants to please Him! How blessed I am to have such a man!
These days, I LOVE talking with Paul about all things theological. Most days, I cannot wait for him to come home so I can tell him what I have read in the Bible, some book, or a blog! And, do you know what?, I think he enjoys bringing his thoughts to me as well. How great is our God!

3- I used to cook only from boxes. If it was not prepackaged, I could not make it! Ok, so I have not progressed as far as I would like. But, I am making huge strides in the right direction! My heart's desire is to cook entirely from scratch within the next year! If it does not happen in that time frame, that's ok - so long as I keep pressing forward! I have learned a lot of new recipes in these past few years (I did not care to improve in this area until about 3 years ago). There is still a LOT of room for improvement. As my food travelled the conveyer belt at Wal-Mart last night, I was dismayed at all my convenience foods! Some of the convenience foods I bought: deli meats and cheeses, instant oatmeal, cans of chili, muffin mix, and brownie mix. Ugh! Why am I SO LAZY? I hate my own slothfulness!
Look at this price - I spent almost $3 for instant oatmeal. There are only 10 bags in the box! I also bought an ENORMOUS conatiner of oats, for $2.36! Mark my words - I WILL learn to make oatmeal, and I will teach the girls too! This morning Rebecca and I made baked oatmeal (first time ever!). I never even knew there was such a thing till I saw a recipe on Kim C's site.
This is such an emotional confession (my telling the world that I cannot even cook oatmeal). Paul is the kindest and most patient husband I can imagine! He is so kind to me. As we are eating tacos for the second (or third) time in a month, he does not complain! But, I want to be able to bless him more! I want to reward his hard-day's work with a scrumptious mouth-watering meal! I will keep working on this!

This has been a fun post to write. I think I could go on for hours. But, I have lots of other work to do! I praise God for stretching me! I praise God that He put me with such a smart, God-fearing husband! I am very fortunate!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We have gas

ahem... I mean, we have propane.

When the gas man came (at about 4:30 pm) we had 0% in our propane tank. It could have been a lot worse! Our tank is now at 40%.

Purging

I have been very convicted of my vain lifestyle lately! I am reading the Bible more than I used to, and I am amazed at how much it says about our use of money. For example:

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Matt 19:23-26 (KJV)

Many of you are reading this thinking, "Bethany, you are hardly a rich person. You can't even buy food, propane, and blankets." BUT, I say to you that I am wealthy. If only we could change our perspective on the issue! So many of us Americans/Western Europeans read the Bible through the goggles of our excess/comfort/wealth! So often we try to make the Bible say what we want it to say. And, we want the Bible to say that "wealth is a blessing." We want the Bible to say "live comfortably." But, who is the one deciding what comfort is?

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Matt 19:16-22 (KJV)

Jesus is telling this young man that it isn't enough to keep the commandments. He was asking the man to give up what he held dear, his great possessions! I am not going to wrangle with you, Reader, over how literally to take this for yourself. But, I am going to say that these verses cause me great discomfort (as they should!). We need to ask ourselves where we are laying up our treasures!

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matt 6:19-21 (KJV)

What does this look like in my life? How am I changed because of what I am reading? Well, for starters, my heart is broken for those that have less than myself! One of my heart's desires (and Paul's) is to adopt children in need. These can be American, Ethiopian, Chinese, it does not matter to us the ethnicity. We hope that someday we will be in a position to help others financially. I don't mean just "adopt" a child by paying a certain amount per year (though that is helpful too!). I mean that I want to bring children into our home and love and nurture them in the fear of the Lord! (I plan to post more about Ethiopian adoption in another post very soon)

How else are these convictions of my own wealth affecting me? Well, little by little we are purging our home of excess. Last week I sorted through the toy box. We did not have very many toys before, by American standards, but now we have a more moderate amount. (We still have too many, by my thinking.) I plan to go through the toys again in another month and re-evaluate. I did notice that the kids play with the toys more, now that there are less of them!

This week we looked through the bookcases. We picked out 2 big bags of books that we will be giving away locally. I am surprised that Paul was willing to part with so many books! I am very proud of him. We still have more books than we will likely ever read. And, I hope to re-evaluate the bookcases soon.

Another thing that I am going to be getting out of my home is my stamping/scrapbooking stuff. Here me when I say that doing crafts is NOT in and of itself bad! But, many of us have a propensity to take a good thing and make it sinful! For years I have spent money (that I should not have) on scrapbooking stuff (that was not a necessity) that I almost never even use! I was in love with the idea of scrapping and making note cards. But, it never seemed to work out in reality. The stuff just sits in boxes waiting to be used. What's worse - many times when I did use it I would be so focused that I would ignore my kids or yell at them for touching the sacred stamps. You see, now, why I am so content to give it all away.

CDs is another thing we sorted through this week. We piled up all of the CDs we don't listen to or kept around for mere sentimental reasons. We RARELY listen to music in the home! When we do listen to it, it is to be enjoyed - not just background noise. We make enough noise on our own! So, we kept some CDs - but I would like to re-evaluate again soon!

This has been just a small start. It may sound like a lot, but I assure you that my house is still brimming with useless junk. I have not even touched the attic yet! When we moved in here, we put oodles of boxes in the attic. If I don't miss it, while it is in a box in the attic, then chances are that I do not really need it! I do plan to keep all the kids clothes for future children. I see this as being good stewardship. BUT, if the Lord takes us to a smaller home, then I am comfortable giving those clothes away. (Until that time, we will keep the clothes for our own use).

But, all of the other stuff in the attic - ugh! Why do we feel the need to keep so much stuff??? Do you realize that there is an whole industry in America built upon our greed and excess?! I am speaking of storage units. Some people may have a legitimate need for storage. But, most people keep their excess junk in storage. (Or, maybe just your garage). Maybe it is seasonal decorations, or sentimental stuff, or books you may want to read someday - but it rarely gets used. Do we really need all this excess? No.

Let's rethink our possessions. Do we need all that we have?

Staying warm

Besides all the layers of clothes, how are we staying warm? Take a look

video We are dressing like we are Eskimos this morning. This is the perfect time to study Alaska! We just did a YouTube video search on Alaska + kayak, what fun! Today I am wearing a suedecloth skirt, a cotton slip, flannel pajama pants, and knit leggings. Oh, and I have on two pairs of socks. The kids are all multi-layered too. The Baby is in footed pajamas, over a long sleeve shirt. And, he has a fleece coat on outside his pajamas. I don't think that the kids are cold at all!

Trusting His Providence

I wrote yesterday about how God is Sovereign over everything, even something we think is a big loss. Today, I am writing to remind myself that our Heavenly Father can be trusted.

We called the propane company on Monday. Yesterday the gauge on the tank said 4%, he still had not come. We called the propane man, and he assure us that he will be here sometime today with our 200 gallons. (That will take us to about 40% of our 500 gallon tank).

We turned the heater to 60. We slept in a lot of extra layers. We used every blanket in the house (again.) I should have closed off the doors to the homeschool room last night, but was too cold to think straight. Our school room is now closed off. I would love to cook up a yummy something in the oven for breakfast, but I am out of just about everything (including eggs). I think I am just going to run the oven without any food in it.

I am trusting God's Hand. I am trusting my Heavenly Father.
If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? Luke 11:11-13 (KJV)

I am not saying that God has to do anything for me. Rather I am saying that I can trust God in everything He does. These days God is letting us drink the bitter cup of poor decision making. We are suffering the consequences of years of poor financial decision making.

God is good all of the time. He is good whether I have heat or not. God is good whether I have enough food or not! I am grateful to live in a house at all! There are children all over the world who would happily change places with my kids in a heartbeat. I pray that I will keep a positive attitude during this time. I pray that I will be teaching my kids about God's kindness, even in the midst of hard times.

I can trust my Heavenly Father!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thanking God for His Providence

This summer my family spent every available moment at Paul's parent's farm baling hay. We did square bales (those are the rectangular ones used to decorate in the fall.) Square bales are a lot of hard work!

One day last summer, Paul and I spent an afternoon preparing the hay to be cut and baled. There was no rain in the forecast - none. But, after we had cut the equivalent to 150-200 bales of hay, the sky poured rain upon us. The rain lasted so long that the hay was all ruined. We cried, but in our anguish, we did not turn our backs on God. We kept thanking God for His goodness. We were determined NOT to forsake God, or think that He had forsaken us, just because we lost a good deal of money. To get the moldy hay out of the field, we went ahead and baled it up. We threw it in an old barn. My father in law keeps everything, and you never know when you will be desperate enough to need moldy hay. Who knows?

Fast forward 5 months. The temperature is 10 degrees and I live in a farm house with NO insulation. The wind moves under the house, through the crawl space, like it is in a hurry to be somewhere else. Our home is cold. I have never lived in a cold house before. I have never had to use every blanket in the house before, just to keep us from getting too cold. But, now I have experienced this. And, God is using it to mold me and to shape me. Praise God, that He keeps sending new trials to grow me!

After our pipes froze the other night, we decided that we just might have to spent some money to winterize this house. But, no - not yet, God had other plans. Remember that moldy hay? Paul and his dad loaded it up today and brought it over to our house. We surrounded the entire house with the ruined hay. Wow. Who would have guessed that God sent the bitter providence of ruined, moldy hay - not only to teach us then about patience and faith; but to practically help us now through this terribly rough season of our lives.

To this, and all the other incredible things I have to be thankful for - I say: Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Next time you have an episode of something that is liken to our ruined hay - remember, God may still turn that around!

Monday, December 15, 2008

At least...

... I have indoor plumbing. (most of the time)


At least... I still have my sense of humor. When Paul went into the crawl space to assess how many of our hot water pipes are frozen, I turned on Vivaldi's Winter (from his Four Seasons) as mood music.

At least... the pipe did not bust.

Many apologies to Grandpa Jim who spent time preparing the floor for linoleum. But, at least we now know why there was a hole cut in the bathroom floor.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Shameless Bragging

Rebecca read Pepin the Not-Big today (from Veritas Press Phonics Museum). She read it all by herself and understood it. Her reading is sounding more fluent/less broken. She is reading sentences now, not just individual words!

In school today, I wrote words on the board and had Rebecca and Nelson take turns reading the words. We did some 3-letter, 4 letter, and even a few 6-letter words (kitten, mitten, button - that last one got a lot of giggles *rolls eyes*).

What a blessing!

Mere Vanity

I am vain. I admit it, though not eagerly. I like to look nice. I like my kids to look nice. I like my home to look nice.

There is nothing wrong with wanting something to look nice until it starts to be a consuming desire!

I know that a lot of Christian writers are writing to women about what it means to be a "keeper at home." (See Proverbs 31) The problem is: I think too many of these books are actually telling us what we want to to hear, not what we need to hear! Most personal growth books I have read spend much time cultivating a wife's desire to make a pretty home for her husband! This, in and of itself, is not necessarily bad. BUT, so many of us have long since crossed over from making a comfortable/welcoming home - into being driven by something called Homemaking, that is really nothing different from materialism.

I know, I am speaking severely. Please know, Reader, that I am scolding myself too! You see, God made me with a bent towards liking pretty things. God made me to want to make my home nice/welcoming/comfortable. This is the Gift of God in making me the Woman. All of those things are pre-programmed. The problem is - due mostly to excessive media pressure - my sinful nature will frequently corrupt this Good Gift from God!

I may say that I am trying to keep a nice home from my husband and family. I may say it is fulfilling Proverbs 31, BUT in reality - I may be using Scripture to my own end! Because, you see, I like to decorate. I like the instant gratification that comes from finding the perfect colors to accent the perfect pictures.

God has grown me enormously in this area!
As you know from reading my past blogs, I used to live from project to project. I found my joy in activities, not my Savior and His Spirit at work in my life! Many of these activities were home remodeling or yard landscaping. I literally lived to paint and tend to the yard. While that sounds awful, I am certain that many of you are not far from that yourselves.

As with all things, it is hard to find the happy medium! We need to follow Scripture! We ought to strive to be all that we see in the Woman with value above rubies! We ought to keep our homes clean. We ought to keep our homes welcoming to our husband's taste. We ought to grow gardens (if we can) to provide food for our families. These are all good things! The problem is when our sinful nature comes in and tries to take over.

How do you know when sin has taken over?

1- Look at your ledger/checkbook/budget. Are you spending what is necessary for keeping a home? Or, are you spending excessively to garnish your home?

2- What do you think about/talk about most?
I need to be very careful how I explain this. Because I do NOT wish to say that thinking about home keeping is bad! As I already said, we are required by God to fulfill that role in our homes! BUT, we often stop thinking of it in terms of ministering to our families. Then, we think about things in terms of impressing others (though I, for one, never would have admitted that!)

This post may seem harsh. You may be greatly troubled. And, I want to cheer you...
Friend, make your home comfortable. Make your garden grow good things. Make your walls any color you like. But, do it with a heart of service for your Heavenly Father. Let these verses encourage you:
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:14-17 (KJV - bold mine)
Let us strive not to corrupt God's good gifts.

The After Pictures

We mopped up all the gunk we could. Paul did most of the mopping, because my back was already getting sore from the day's work.

I took a break from putting their room together to catch a few grins!

And, lastly, what we have all been waiting for -

Ta Dah! The room looks a million times better (even with the peeling wall paper!) I took this picture this morning, so Joshua is screaming something to be interpreted as "Get me out!" Take note: The beds are made and I did NOT make them!
I have arranged the room differently from what it was before. With this new set up, the kids can reach both sides of the bed to make it with greater ease.

We all slept well last night. Lydia is not coughing or sniffling. There are no snot towers dripping from her poor nose! I know we have a lot more work to do, but we have made significant progress!

I feel better about my house now - much better. This project has helped my attitude tremendously!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Woe is Carpet!

BEFORE: Removing the moldy carpet was a family affair! Everyone helped.

These pictures also show just how badly the wallpaper has peeled.

Above - Here is a closer look at what has been growing under the carpet. I don't think I will ever use carpet again!

Below - This is the halfway point of our project. All the carpet is out of the room. Now we have to scrape mold, remove tacking, and mop. I wish we could cover the walls with something, but that is a project for another day!

I can hardly wait to see the After pictures. I hope to have those up tomorrow. I am ready to have this project behind me!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Confess...

The baby spends most days in footed pajamas.

It is just so much easier than looking for his pants, shoes, and socks each time he pulls them off!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Updates

Since I have been offline for a few days, it is high time for an update.

Joshua's health: The Croup is gone! He is well.

Lydia's health/the House of sickness: This past weekend, we spent a tiny sum of money on this old house of ours. We bought some cheap 3M air filters to see if they could be fit into our furnace. Ultimately we want to use hypoallergenic filters, but we weren't sure if we could make them fit at all. We have since learned that we can special order washable or disposable filters made-to-fit.

After forcing the air filters to fit, we noticed an immediate change in Lydia! She is not coughing nearly as much, and she is far less snotty (her nose, I mean). Still, there is so much in the air - the problem is not completely solved yet.

We got to looking at the kids' floor, and have decided to remove the carpet. Our old farmhouse has one thing that is still in good condition - hardwood floors! We will be taking out the carpet/padding and leaving the floor bare. We hope that this will help the kids' environment some. BUT, we still need to fix the wallpaper problem. We have 100 years of wallpaper peeling off the walls with moldy adhesive between every layer and plaster beneath it all. The wallpaper cannot be removed, because of the way it has been laid over our old wood lathe/plaster walls. Our landlord is promising to put paneling on the walls... someday. Still, this is only a cosmetic change. The mold will still be on the walls, just covered up better.

Rebecca's reading: Paul has been working with Rebecca and she is improving drastically! He is so much more patient than I am! Yesterday, he spent an hour and a half with her trying to get through one primer (Bad Meg!, from the Veritas Press Phonics Museum.) Today we got out the next primer in the set (To the Rim of the Map, a story of the Pilgrims). She is reading it quite well. Along the way she has memorized the most common words: the, a, of, to. We learned the words phonetically, but the frequent use of them caused memorization. She is doing much better, and I am so pleased with both her and Paul! Praise God that he gave me a husband who has a passion to see the kids learn! Paul's heart is that Rebecca would soon be able to read the Bible and sing new songs from the Psalter with us! I can take little credit for Becca's strides these past few days - it is all GOD, working through my VERY patient husband!

My back: is fully functioning! I put myself on partial bedrest last week and that seems to have cured it (for now).

My thyroid: I had a blood test last week that showed that my body needs more thyroid support. This is no surprise to us... little by little I was getting worse. I know the signs: fatigue, weakness of muscles, and worst of all I couldn't think/speak clearly! When my thyroid is low, I stutter terribly, and often become so delayed by my own stuttering that I forget what it was I was trying to say in mid-sentence. Paul was urging me to fill my prescription for Armour a week ago, but he knew I wanted to see if the Maca Root and Kelp alone would be enough. But, yesterday, he used his power as my Head to say "You are going to fill it and start taking it TODAY." My only complaint is that I have a bad taste in my mouth since I took the first dose. Does anyone take Armour Thyroid? Does the bad taste go away?

I woke up this morning feeling less weak and groggy. I have not stuttered at all today. YEAH! Hopefully, each day will be one step closer to health!

On a much more personal note: You may have noticed that I was taking Tylenol 3 for my back pain last week. (I think I wrote that on Facebook, and not on this blog) This should be an indication to my readers that I am still not yet expecting another baby. While this makes me a little sad, I know God's timing is always best! I am happy to have four children! I love my babies! Still, I ask God for as many blessings as He wished to give me! We stand with open arms awaiting His gift of children!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Visit with Dear Friends

We went to church in Troy, MO at Covenant Family Church again this Sunday. One of the families there generously let us spend the night with them. We left from their house to go to IL on Monday morning (to see my parents). It was such a blessing to spend time with like-minded believers.

I hovered over the Dear Mother as she cooked, trying to glean anything I could (while shifting a shy Joshua from one hip to the other). I learn SO much when we go to other people's homes! It is so sad that churches these days (for the most part) are short on breaking of bread within each others' homes! How can we (the whole body of Christ) really be Titus 2 Christians, teaching the younger/learning from the older, if we only see each other one day a week. Plus, many of us wear a "game face" on Sunday morning! We need to be in other people's homes learning how other Christians handle various situations. I learned a lot of practical things about feeding 13 people!

I fear that many people don't want to have guests over for really superficial reasons. You may think: my house is such a mess, they won't like my dog, I don't know how to cook, my house isn't as nice as theirs... these are not good enough reasons to rob yourself from fellowship with other believers! You are doing your friends a real disservice of thought if you assume that they will judge you by your disheveled or out-of-date home! Would you want them to think the same of you? And, if it isn't about what your friends will think - then it is about your own pride!
Right now, Paul and I live in a small house that has a lot of problems (both structural and cosmetic). Still, we have already had people over for dinner and childcare. As we were leaving our guest's home the other day, I said "Our home is too small to put you up for the night, but if you come through the area I would love to feed you dinner!" She answered, "We can bring a tent." Wow!, what precious new friends!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Preparations

After a decent night of sleep, I felt up to doing a few last minute preparations for my family (because my back is going "out"). At this point, I think I used my morning wisely. I hobbled into the grocery store to get some unusual foods (Read: frozen pizzas and junk) I also bought paper plates and bowls, so that Rebecca does not have to do as many dishes. I know that she "has to learn sometime." BUT, trust me, she is already worn out! She cried herself to sleep last night, because Daddy wouldn't be here to help today.

Paul was out making Pastoral visits the last time my back went out. Rebecca was with me and watched as I went from bad to worse. They all remember how Mommy had to go away in an ambulance. (Lydia was terrified of ambulances for a month after that!)

So, if I am trying to rest - why did I go to town this morning? Well, it had to be done! The house was not ready to be without a Mom for a few days. I know that Paul has VERY little time to do anything when he comes home from work. I plan to take a Tylenol 3 now, and sleep till dinner. I started a huge crock pot of chili this morning. The idea is that the leftovers will carry us through many days!

Thank you all, dear readers, for your prayers!

As for Joshua's Croup... he is not getting better. We put a humidifier in the room, but it does not help. The kids know that we cannot make him laugh of cry. Someone was teasing him this morning and he went from cooing to barking (that is, the classic seal-like-cough of Croup) almost instantly. We have not given him any meds, but we did put some Vicks on his chest under his pajamas. When we leave the house he is WELL. The cold, brisk outdoor air has a healing effect better than anything else we have found! (Cold humidity is better than hot humidity for the Croup. If you find that a steamy bathroom isn't working, try stepping outside next time!)

Gotta get out of this chair, sitting up is the worst thing I can do. This is part of the progression. I can walk still, I can lay down. I can NOT bend at the waist or lift anything. The kids did all the work around the house and at the grocery store this morning! Rebecca made the PB sandwiches for lunch and poured all the drinks. This really isn't anything new - but to do it like this, under pressure, is more trying to her little nerves. She is a peach!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pain in the back... literally

If you have been with my blog for a few months, then you know that I have back problems. Last time it was diagnosed as "bulging disks." When my back goes "out" I require bedrest. Last time my back went out, Paul was only working 4-8am with UPS. (His ministry hours were flexible). And, my church family and actual family helped immensely with kids and chores. This time - I have no help. I know that today is probably my last day of walking erect for a while, unless God intervenes on my behalf!

Also, Joshua has Croup!

I cannot post any more at this time about my condition or Joshua's. I cannot sit here at the desk any longer. I gotta go lie down. Please pray, I need help!