Monday, July 14, 2014

Big accomplishment!

Look who read his first little Sing, Spell book!!!! Judah Sean, you are learning so much! :-)

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Birthday boy....

Happy birthday, Caleb Paul!!!  You are such a gift to our family. There are so many amazing and wonderful things I could say about you. But today, instead of thinking about all you do (which is a lot!), or even the truly remarkable character growing in you, I just want to say that I love you. I love being around you.  Our family just needed a Caleb Paul Hester. 
We were laughing tonight because I think you were my easiest pregnancy, and my easiest labor/delivery. 
I love how close you and Emma are. You two make a good team.  You are so wise beyond your years. Sometimes your prayers just floor me.  All your brothers look up to you so much. Which is also a gift!!!
I'm just sort of rambling, but it all means, "I love you." "I'm thankful for you."
Today, Emma was telling some friends of ours that you are the nicest person on the planet.  You frequently hear how amazing, smart, hard-working, etc, you are. 
So this year, my prayer for you is that you would know without a doubt, that God doesn't love you because you're intelligent, or because you don't show your frustration easily, or because you are so helpful and hard-working.  This year, my prayer is that you would know the love God has for you in Christ when you don't get it right.  When you do get frustrated.  I want you to know that you are loved because you belong to our family. Oh! Your hard work is a great gift and I believe it is all part of God's plans and purposes for you.  But it is not what makes you valuable.  You are priceless because you were bought at a great price.  Your love and value is made secure in Christ.  He loved you first...and that is why you can love at all.
So. My dear boy. I love you more than my words can express.  May your love for God's Word grow deeper and stronger, may His love and light become more satisfying than any other thing, and may you rest fully in the good news that you have been rescued.  May Jesus Christ forever be your King and Captain....
For the King! For the Kingdom!
P.S. I hope to post some pics of your special camping trip with dad soon. We are having technological difficulties. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Breakfast of champions...

The kids are sitting at the table playing a game where they analyze the nutritional content of their cereal. They get points for having the least amount of calories and sugar, and the most vitamins.
This is just plain awesome.
FYI. I did not teach them this game. But I have had to explain the occasional nutritional element or vitamin/mineral and what it does for the body. :)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

This year's Mommy Awards!

(My phone memory is full, so this the only recent-ish pic I have of all the kids)

One of the hard things about homeschooling is that we don't always do promotions and graduations. Many times, because you reach a finish line in March, or September, and then you keep going....
We have really tried to honor and acknowledge each accomplishment-each finish line that you reach. 

Emma Faith, you didn't have a graduation, where your friends and family sat through boring speeches waiting for you to receive your certificate.  And there were so many accomplishments worth acknowledging: finish sixth grade math, "finishing" your English for the year, beginning to learn violin, loving astronomy, knitting and crocheting....
But the things I most want to honor you for this year are things you don't often get certificates for. This year, you grew in faith, as you saw God answer a long-awaited prayer for a sister. This year, you grew in your ability to teach little ones, especially Judah. This year, you grew in perseverance, and you found your dramatic talent as you recited Patrick Henry's famous speech. This year, you grew in love and service toward our whole family, and especially to me. I cannot tell you what a gift it is to have a girl bring you breakfast in bed, with tea, and two chocolates....just because.
For these things, and many more unsung here, I honor you in the Lord. I am so proud of you Emma. And wow! You are now entering the "J-High" at church. This is a big deal!!! 

And Caleb Paul. I don't brag on you much, but tonight I will.  Actually, many times I hide or downplay some of the things you can do. Please forgive me for that. As we say in our home, you are the way that you are because it is exactly what God needed you to be in order to fulfill His Kingdom purposes for you.  So, I honor you now for completing sixth grade English. I honor you, for being more than half way through Algebra. But more than that...I honor the deep, flowing  lifeblood of service that pervades your being. It could only come from God. You put up with the most and complain the least. God created you to be incredibly intelligent, not to mention athletic....but on top of that, He saw fit to place you in this big family and gifted you with a servant's heart. You work so hard in our home-whether it is cleaning up messes you didn't make, putting things away that you didn't get out, or just by being willing to do whatever needs to be done (especially when it involves creeping and crawling things!)
You are brave and courageous far beyond your years. 

Noah Benjamin. You too, have persevered and grown! You completed your Working With Wisdom book and you have faithfully continued in your lessons. You surprised all of us with your amazing grammar knowledge by the end of the year! (You can catch those prepositional phrases pretty quickly!) You have really begun to enjoy reading, and I often have to *encourage* you to stop reading in order to finish up the other things asked of you.   But wow! This year, we discovered what an amazing and nurturing heart you have. You are such a big helper for Evelyn. I can trust you to feed her, and you even leave very little mess! We are so proud of you Noah!

Ezra, wow! You blew us away by both your math and reading skills. You're working somewhere around 2nd grade level or so in math, and somewhere around 3rd grade level in English. Your brain must go really fast, and boy, your body does too! I can barely keep up with you.  I'm so thankful to have this time at home with you--I'm afraid you would spend most of your time at school in trouble. ;-). But instead, I am honored to see how quickly your mind works and I am learning how to challenge you without frustrating you. You really are learning how to be, and growing into, a Mighty Warrior. That has been my favorite time with you this year, reading our special book together.

And Judah Sean! You also surprised me by zipping through your first Sing, Spell book ("All Aboard.") We also had lots of fun as we learned character and letters through My Father's World. The turtle reminds us "I don't quit! I persevere!"  You are learning to be a helper and to listen and obey mommy's voice. We are so proud of you Judah Sean!!

Last, but certainly not least, Evelyn Hope. You did a remarkable job bringing joy to all of us this year. You also learned to walk, and are working on talking too. 

To all six of you amazing and darling little people (and Ambree, our 3/4 ;-p). 
You are the coolest people.  I am so extremely grateful, thankful, and humbled to be called your mom. You teach me constantly and challenge me steadily. I  love being around you. This "homeschool" road has been such a privilege and an honor because I have gotten to learn SO many things alongside you. So. Congratulations to all my little learners this year. You have worked hard and I have great joy in seeing you grow and walk in the truth.

Our verse to guide our schooling this year:

I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:2-4, 6, 7 NLT)

Friday, June 06, 2014

A celebration in heaven....

"How exciting!!!"
"How are you feeling? Do you need anything?"
These are the responses you often receive when you announce your first, or maybe even your second, pregnancy.

After that, they progress into much darker things like:
"Are they ALL yours?" 
"Better you than me!"
"You guys need to get TV!"
"You know what causes that, right?"
[TOTAL side note here....I know this sounds like it would be a funny thing to say. But to the receiver, you're really saying, "Are you SO dumb that you haven't figured out how to quit having children? Because only people THAT dumb would keep having them."
We don't happen to share that sentiment.]
Among looks of shock or even disgust, the (great) grand multipara (mother of many!) listens as before her ears, a celebration goes unheard on earth, and the temptation towards discouragement sets in.

So much so, that for baby number seven, you think....
Maybe we shouldn't tell our family just yet.
Maybe we shouldn't tell work....
Or even worse.
Maybe we shouldn't tell people at church.

I told Ben that it's so hard. When a person, or family recognizes God's call in their life to go to the mission field, they stand before the church and receive prayer. They are sent out and anointed for the task. They send out support letters and get people to pray for them and receive updates. And when they become discouraged, or sick, weary, or overwhelmed.... They can share that and receive prayer and encouragement!!!
But we, having received God's call on our life....we are sort of "on our own." And let's be honest-our "call" is much more vague.  Ben and I cannot yet say "We are going to have as many children as God gives us, and never prevent pregnancy in any way." I don't know if we can't say that because we dont have the faith, or because we are just in the thick of it, prayerfully asking God about one child at a time.
And when it becomes difficult, or we are weary, sick, or (heaven forbid!) overwhelmed!!! We are treated with little sympathy because after all, "we did this to ourselves." We were "irresponsible". 

This is so sad! For anyone who has children, they know that it is HARD work. I would be the first to say that. God's calling on my life has been harder than I ever imagined. But it has also been deeper, richer, and more fulfilling than I ever imagined. It is not a human thought to take that kind of hard work, and multiply it many times over. No, friends, it is a supernatural thought. It is a supernatural work, to give your life for these precious ones, whether there are two or twelve.  It is not irresponsibility that has brought us to this place, rather it is the on-my-knees submission to the calling that Ben and I have received from God, have been empowered by Him for, and with fear and trembling....we accept it with joy. (Most of the time!)

Because.... Here's the "real" part. I am human.  I am not divine, even though my calling is. I get it wrong. I feel like I will throw up if I even move or breathe sometimes when I am pregnant, and then I walk into a bathroom with poop smeared all over a toddler's back and shirt because he was wiping himself.
I get  tired. Bone tired. Fall on my bed, can't even change into pajamas tired. 
I get weary. I lose sight of discipleship and hearts and things get so blurry that all I can see is that little people are fighting and making messes.  
I waiver. In the midst of kids going crazy because mom is sick on the couch, I doubt everything. I wonder how in the world we could possibly add more? And I forget about the sovereignty of the very God who entrusted us with this precious, eternal person.

Anyway. You get the point. All this to say: we are missionaries. We didn't send out support letters, and we didn't ask for financial support. We didn't get on a plane and travel far to a village.
We are the village. But we do need your support. We need your kind and encouraging words. We need you to pray for us and send us out, because sometimes our village gets sick. Sometimes there is a spirit of dissension or, even worse at times, a spirit of sleeplessness. Sometimes we need to be reminded that this great calling is a heavenly one....that God has called us to make disciples in this village. 

And as my dear husband affirmed: we are to have faith in the calling we have received. We are to bear with grace, the comments and attitudes of those who do not support this calling.  And we are to be ever living for an Audience of One. Because even when the earthly celebration goes unheard....all heaven is rejoicing with us as we eagerly await baby number seven.

And personally, I want to thank and affirm those women, who have chosen to join me in seeing this as a heavenly calling. Those women who have prayed with me and cried with me and rejoiced with me. I don't care if you are a mom with one child or many. When we choose to support one another in our God-given callings rather than despise or reject another's calling, then we become that much closer to the beautiful picture God gives of being built up together into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

And just to lay the myth to rest, just because this is our family's calling, does not mean that I think it is yours as well. If you share a glass of water, or tea, or coffee with me, it does not mean that you will have a large family too. :-)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Catch the moment....

I haven't had much time to update....and, it's a whole story about how my phone can't take any pictures and I can't download them to my computer because iPhoto quit working....

All that to say: Judah told me this morning, "Mom, I have a red buggy-bite on mines leg."

I thought it was the most adorable thing, and I wanted to catch the moment.

Here's to buggy bites and Dr. Seuss, which we will now go read....;-)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Scooter Lessons....

As we were out on a walk, I was watching Judah and thought....sometimes life is like that. Just scooting along with your superman cape blowing in the wind. One foot in front of the other, one push at a time.
I thought about how interesting it is, that you gain the most speed....when you're going downhill. But for the most part, it's just like like this picture. Slow and steady. One step at a time.
Lots of little tiny choices that gather up into bigger choices that gather up into major life decisions that ultimately plot your course. 
Oh Jesus. May you be the course of my life and every small step that brings me closer there.

One year....

Uh....obviously, Evelyn's birthday was a month ago. I started this post, but evidently never published it.....enjoy!

My baby girl. Tomorrow you will be a year old. I can barely believe how quickly the time has passed. You are spicy! We all cherish and treasure you. We are so thankful for you, Evelyn Hope. Happy birthday!!! 

Mother's Day....

Dear Mom,
     Our lives have been very different. Sometime after I became a mom....well, I think that is when you and I really began to appreciate the differences in each other. I remember the first time that I, as a stay-at-home mom, had to get my kids somewhere and pack them a lunch. It almost crushed me. I remember thinking, "How in the WORLD did my mom get four kids to school with lunches???"
   Our lives may have gone in different directions, but truly, I have learned all the really important things from you:
1. Jesus is worth singing about....rain or shine.  Even in the hardest times.  I'll never forget, grandma's funeral, being in that small room with you....and even though you had just lost the most important person on earth....we sang in that room about His eye being on the sparrow. We didn't have to sing or play that day, but we did because Jesus is worthy, and because I'm sure it gave grandma joy.
2.  A mother makes sacrifices. Most of them are unseen and unsung for all of life. I remember the late night hum of the typewriter, as you plunked away at your second job. Have I ever said, "Thank you?"  Thank you for continuing to work when the day should have been done. Thank you for countless hours of tireless work, with very little of the deserved thanksgiving. Thank you for clothes and paper and everything I needed. Thank you for making me write Bible verses in elementary school when I didn't do the right thing. I still use that trick.��
  I never had any clue how difficult it would be to be a mom. That right there, is proof that you did it so well. You didn't spend time complaining about how hard it was. You just did it, most of the time without any recognition.  I didn't know how hard it was, because you never told me. You were content to do all that work, and never complain.
3.  Difficult circumstances do not thwart God's plans or keep us from His purposes.  You have faced some really, really heavy and difficult things in your life. I know we joke about you, being the spoiled only child. And maybe you were. But that was only for the first 17 years. The next years were hard, and painful, and not at all what you expected. You never let the pain keep you from the God who had great plans for you. You never let the "what if's" keep you from now, what is.
   And because of that, I'm here! :-) I know it didn't go how you thought it would go.  But I just want you to know, that you have been part of changing the world, by the way you love me and my six children. From Emma, all the way through the boys and down to Evelyn, they all know that grandma loves them.
They are better because they are loved. Thank you for loving them.
There are so many more things that you have taught me. But it's late and in the middle of the night, and perhaps, even more important than all that I learned from you.... Tonight, I want to thank you for how you've loved me. This is maybe the most important thing I learned from you anyway.  Mom. You have loved me extravagantly. It is because of how you have sacrificed and loved me, that I have known and been sure of the love the Father has for me.  And every place where your love has not been perfect, has been covered over by the Savior that I desperately needed, the One that you made sure I knew of.
     And in the end, this is what I hope my kids get from me.....extravagant love that points them to an exceptional Savior.  I pray that I would work so hard, and with such joy (not complaining!), that my kids never have a clue how hard it is. 
     Thank you, mom, for loving me. Thank you for working so hard. Thank you for being my mom.
Happy Mother's Day. 
I love you,
Lisa (your favorite daughter)