Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thought-provoking....

"Mr. Carter, do you expect the world to 'pad their corners' for you, because you are blind?"
(excerpt from our current family read-aloud, "Follow My Leader.")

This quote was especially thought-provoking for me last night. I really mulled it over in my mind. As we homeschool, there are so many philosophies and paradigms and ways of thinking.
Each family is so unique, and must submit to the Holy Spirit and discern wisely what is best for their children. In our approach, we wanted to start with God, and His Story among the nations... including the ugliness of idols, sin, wickedness, and war and gore, and tell His story of redemption. Now, this is not to say that we never censor anything!! (And of course, each individual child is different in what they can handle, and age is a factor here too). In fact, we find ourselves on the very conservative end of movies that we allow, music, etc. But what I loved about this quote is that it reminded me to examine myself, and to ask myself whether I am preparing my children for "sharp corners" in this world, by talking with them, answering questions, making them aware of certain things, or am I am padding the corners, teaching them to expect the world to change for them? Because this world is full of ugliness. But it is also full of beauty. And this world is not going to change for them. But, one day, this whole world will once again bow in submission to it's Lord, and it will all be changed and made glorious. I don't want to "pad the corners", but I do want to make them aware that there are some sharp ones out there.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Decorating Grandma's Tree...

We asked our kids what some of their favorite Christmas traditions were... and of course, decorating Grandma and Grandpa's tree was high on the list!! So we got together with the cousins and had a blast. Ezra was sick that evening, so he missed out. But the older kids enjoyed themselves immensely:

Uncle Scott and Ethan finishing up the tall places.

The finished product. =)

I had a couple of adorable videos of the kids singing some Christmas songs, but unfortunately, the annoying pregnant lady leading them in song can be heard much too loudly. We will try again soon.


The Nutcracker Ballet...


Well, for our special Christmas date, Ben took both Emma and I to the Nutcracker Ballet. It was very exciting, because at age 7, Emma really is the perfect age. It was her first time going to a real ballet. And to top it off, it was a local ballet company which included a young woman from our homeschool co-op, who played the role of the Snow Queen, among other things.
It was a delightful evening, and our sweet girl seemed to feel loved and treasured all around.
Oh, how she loves that Daddy of hers....

We were able to find some suitable souvenirs, including a Clara ornament (holding her Nutcracker, of course), as well as three small Nutcracker ornaments, each in a different color for the boys.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Emmanuel....

One of the things that just amazes me about the living God, is that He knows us each so intimately, and allows us to know Him. It is astounding to think about coming to know Him, but it is, at times, even more astounding to think that I am known by Him.
"But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him." 1 Cor. 8:3

Anyhow, for the last couple of years at Christmas time, I have just been amazed, and in awe of this concept: Emmanuel, God with us.
I love the Casting Crowns song:
God is in us, God is for us, God is with us, Emmanuel...

As a momma, we all go through different seasons. There are seasons where you feel like you can barely catch your breath. Like the waves are crashing over you and you just don't have enough in you to do all that needs to be done, taken care of, disciplined, washed, and put away. The Lord was so sweet to me. I was at our homeschool co-op, feeling like I had just barely made it there. I was scheduled to be on prayer team, which is normally my favorite, but for some reason, I just wanted to sit in a chair and not get up (and eat the delicious food!). (The Lord KNOWS me so well!!) Well, for some reason, that day, none of the food was appetizing. So, no reason to stay and eat... might as well go pray!! It ended up being me with two other lovely, godly women. One of which has 8 kids!! They so sweetly encouraged me and prayed for me, and then we all in turn praised God and prayed for the other families there in the co-op. But my dear friend with 8 children (most of whom are grown now) said something, something that would not have meant the same to me unless the Lord had already been working out this awe of Emmanuel in my heart.
She said, "There were days I would come to the door, holding the baby. My husband would walk in the door and ask what we did that day. I would tell him, 'Nothing. Absolutely nothing. We didn't get anything done for school, we didn't clean. Nothing!' And he would respond...."But, who was with them?" "I was." "That's all I ask. That you are with them."

I thought about that.... It is amazing that our truest, greatest need is to have the wrath of God removed from us. And the way that God did that was to be with us. For Christ to enter in, to be near us, to be for us, to be with us. And then He bore that wrath on our behalf.
Being a mom, especially of a large family, is sometimes exhausting, overwhelming.... And homeschooling sometimes adds a responsibility that can make you lose sight of what you started in the first place. But as I relayed the story to my husband, he emphatically agreed that my job is not to produce rocket scientists, or presidents, or engineers. My job, is to be with them. My job is character training, under the leadership of Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit. My job is to be honest about my own failures and short comings, and to always point them to Christ, who bore God's wrath on my behalf too! And what the Lord develops from their personalities and their gifts.... well, that's His job.

I saw this verse in a new way this week... I have had the first part heavy on my heart the last two years, the second part was heavy on my heart this week:

"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." James 1:27

Just trying to spend my time with the kids these days being with them. Not distracted, not busy, not overwhelmed.... just with them. And whatever we get "done" is just a bonus. (I do normally find that when I am truly "with them", we seem to accomplish so much more. Hmmmm......)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Park Day!!

A day at thepark with our homeschool friends.
Our friends, Kristen and Micah.

My crazy climber.
We had five moms, and 15 kids. How fun! The other kids were playing too hard for me to get many good pictures. =)

Halloween

The Whole Gang (Daddy was taking the picture)
Obi-wan Kenobi (when he is old, hence the beard drawn by Daddy)
Luke Skywalker
Spider baby
Prairie Girl
Momma had been sick, so we either wore what we had, or did some last minute costume creation. We headed up to Ojai Valley Baptist Church for their Harvest Festival. We saw so many good friends, and had a great time.

Palm Springs

Wow, we had such a great time. I don't really know where to start, or finish, except to say that the Lord knew our family needed this time away together, and it was made even more sweet by time with friends from church and our homeschool co-op. We celebrated Noah's 4th birthday there, and had movie night at our hotel room with 17 kids!! We hope we will be able to go back every year!!
The Birthday Boy!
Ezra in the kiddie pool-only a foot deep!
Emma and her friend Savannah riding scooters!
Carmel Apple night!


Apple picking!!


Okay, so this is old news, but I just uploaded pics from my camera.
A few of us homeschooling moms made the drive up to Solvang for apple picking. You can see that when just a few of us get together, there ends up being quite a gang. I think we had almost 20 kids. =)

Thursday, November 04, 2010

And Noah!!!


Dear Noah,
You are four!! You were so excited to turn four, and since then, you have done many things, "because I am four." You like to eat beans, because evidently, four year olds like beans.
We celebrated your birthday during our vacation in Palm Springs. You still had donuts, and friends over to share them. We had a movie night in our hotel room on your birthday with 17 other kids!!
You are such a special little boy. Sometimes, it seems like you are living in your own little world, but it must be a fun one!! Your smile lights up a room. You are a goofball!! You are learning to read ("The cat ran fast.") You love doing school work like your big brother and big sister. You LOVE legos, especially Star Wars legos like brother. You run on your own timetable. The other evening, we had finished dinner and momma was starting to clean up, while you were at the table. You looked up at me and said, "Mommy, you're beautiful." And then you smiled that "million dollar smile" that made me feel like nothing else in the world can.
We pray that your heart of love will be filled with compassion, just like Jesus' was. And that your smile will touch hearts and lives for His glory. And that just maybe, the people who feel like they have no place, will spend a day in your world with you, and find the hope of Jesus and the love of a Savior. We love you Noah!!

Ezra....


Dear Ezra,
You are two now!! You know, I already had two boys before you came along, but nothing really prepared me for you. You are such an amazing boy, full of life and personality. Before you were 6 months old, my main describing word for your personality was "tenacious." I continue to maintain that position. When you see something you want, you go after it until you get it. I never baby-proofed the house for any of the kids until you came along-and then, it didn't matter because you would figure out how to get around it, or overcome it by brute force. You have the best belly laugh... I could tickle you for days, just to hear you laugh. You think you are a big kid, and want to do everything that "Emma", "Pau", and "Wo-wa" do.
You have such a special connection with Daddy. I don't know if it is because he delivered you, or not, but you sure do love your Daddy. You usually prefer to be with him. (But, you sneak me all kinds of special hugs and kisses while he's gone at work). You are learning all kinds of words everyday, but you usually like to leave the endings off of them. You love to ride your "bike", which is brother's Razor scooter. It's kind of scary to see you on that thing, but we just put on your helmet and let you go, because containing you is even more of a problem. =)
You bring so much joy and excitement to our house. We love you so much, and we pray that your tenacity will be of great service to the Lord for His Kingdom.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Patch


We met Ryan and Kelly (and the girls) at the Pumpkin Patch and Kelly took some amazing pictures. I cannot believe she got this one with all of us looking!! Hahaha. We didn't do the hay ride, or the maze, or come home with a pumpkin. Those things cost money! But, thankfully, making memories doesn't cost anything, so we opted for that.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mycenean Culture



So, we use the Veritas History Cards, and have enjoyed them quite well. I am hoping to do a post soon on homeschool books and tools that I love. But for today....
Veritas is now offering their history courses online, as self-paced classes. They offer a free 30 day trial, so we started the Greece and Rome trial. It was so helpful, and really kept me on track on days that I wasn't feeling well. But, both Ben and I were not very pleased with the brother and sister (teaching the class) and the way they interacted with each other. So, we are back to "normal" school, without the fun online course, but enjoying ourselves nonetheless. Finishing up the overview of Mycenean Culture with a beautiful picture of God's word. Today we made pottery with clay, and once they dry, we will paint them with beautiful colors.

"The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: 'Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.' Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.
Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: 'O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?' says the Lord. 'Look, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!'" Jeremiah 18:1-6

We had a wonderful discussion time, as we used water to smooth out the cracks in our clay, and as we shaped our pots, we talked about God shaping us and smoothing out the cracks and making us into a useful vessel.

In awe...



"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you..." Jeremiah 1:5

What an amazing thought... that even now, God is knitting this little one together, and this child is known by God.

First Day...


It was the first day of our homeschool co-op. The kids were so excited!! Ezra didn't want to be in a stroller, he wanted to walk like a big boy with his backpack on.
Emma's Classes:
1. Art for Kids
2. Land Animals (Apologia science)
3. Fun Games that Teach

Caleb's Classes:
1. Kids in the Kitchen
2. Land Animals
3. Just for Kicks (Tae Kwan-Do)

Noah is in the K-4 class (kindergarten), and Ezra is in the toddler class.
I am an assistant for Papercrafting, and teaching Math Fun.

On Choosing Joy...

So, a few of my homeschooling momma friends from church decided that we would try to get together once a month to encourage each other and pray together for our families. We are also going through an amazing book called "Seasons of a Mother's Heart" by Sally Clarkson.
This past month we were discussing the first chapter. It was about choosing to be thankful and learning to be content. The Lord convicted my heart again, that in the midst of a season where there are some difficult days (especially where I am laying on the couch not feeling well), that I can, by the power of the Holy Spirit, choose joy. Here is an amazing little nugget for you, then the story...

"The joy-filled life is not found by trying to diminish God-given responsibilities as a woman, wife, and mother, nor can I find joy merely by refusing to face the hard realities of life in a fallen world. There is a tension that God is asking me to acknowledge and accept-the tension between the "ideal life" and "daily realities." That is where Jesus meets me, where his Holy Spirit empowers, and where I learn how to live the Christian life with supernatural joy."

Isn't it sweet of our Lord to give us opportunities to practice?? So, I was not feeling well, my tummy was doing flip-flops, my head was pounding, and we were on the way home from grocery shopping and a last-minute library run. I had been reading to Ezra and Noah a story about ten rubber ducks, and Ezra was making a very cute, low and bellowing "quack" sound, copying me. So, on the way home, we were quacking for Ezra, and he would copy us, and it was all very cute. Unfortunately, one of the kids decided it would be more fun to get Ezra to "ROAR", which he does at the *top* of his lungs.
Everyone is roaring, my head is pounding, and the thought rolls into my mind: "choose joy."

So, for the next 15 minutes, Ezra would yell, "Mommy!! Mommy!!" And I would say, "Yes, baby." And he would yell, "Dis. (This) ROAR!!!"
And we all chose joy. And even though it is not always quite as easy or sweet, our choice was rewarded each time with the belly laugh of an almost two year old, content that he had pleased his audience. =)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pictures

I finally downloaded the pictures from my camera. There were 555. Wow. It takes forever to upload them, so I will just pick a few highlights from the summer....


The swimming hole with some friends!


The "Noah" room for Vacation Bible School. That was a lot of work, but it was a blast. My friend Kristin said to me that week when I had a bad headache, "Oh, maybe you're pregnant!!" Hahaha.


The beach with friends. Ben was surfing with a friend, and then let all the kids take turns on the surfboard.

It was a great summer. It feels like it went by so fast!! But we made some great memories and had tons of fun with friends and family. We have so much to be thankful for.

Friday, September 10, 2010

First Midwife Meeting...

We finally met with a midwife here in Ventura, seeing as how we really want a midwife assisted home birth. Things went well, and I am so anxious to begin care with the amazing women at Sunrise Birth Center. I will concurrently be seeing Dr. Cole, who is covered on my insurance as part of the "back-up" emergency plan. Not necessarily super excited about that (although not because of Dr. Cole, we like him, and he delivered two of ours). Just not anxious to begin denying all those tests, and having them all hate me. =)
But at the close of our first meeting, Karni, the midwife decided to get out the doppler and let us hear the most beautiful sound... baby's heart, beating away. I felt so much joy, and awe, amazement, and wonder, I cried. It was so beautiful.
Evidently this baby really likes Nutella, which we just discovered yesterday. Salad, but that's normal. Not super into meat right now, although sometimes at the right occasion.
You would think that it would start to get old, being baby number five. On the contrary, I am filled with more awe and wonder at the creativity of our God each time. He amazes me over and over again.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Ezra and the scooter...

He's enjoying it so much, he snuck it inside the house last night and was riding it around. Don't worry, it found its way back outside. =)

Ezra loves to talk, including, "Tank too, Mommy" and "Up, pee..." (up please.) He is a busy boy, but sweet and full of a little mischief. He can climb just about anything... making bed time difficult since we can no longer contain him! Before meals, he will fold his fingers and say, "Na,na, na, na... (thank you, thank you Jesus, we love you....) and then when I say Amen! he opens his hands and smiles big!!

video

Thursday, August 26, 2010

An Old Friend...

Have you heard the saying "books are friends"? Well, in the past few days of feeling yucky, I revisited two of my most dear friends. These two books have, aside from God's Word, had the deepest and most far-reaching impact of any other books. And I love to read.
The first is (I apologize, I don't know how to underline on here??) "Hinds' Feet on High Places", and the second is its sequel, "Mountains of Spices", both by Hannah Hurnard.
These beautiful allegorical books detail the journey of Much-Afraid, as she follows her Shepherd on a journey to the High Places, and is transformed. The second is her journey back into the Valley of Humiliation, from where she came. I don't know what it is... Yes, I have read Pilgrim's Progress, and even the children's version with the kids. But, the thing that struck me the most, even this time around all over again, is the beauty of the relationship between the Shepherd and His followers. The reminder that it is not even His promises, as wonderful as they are, that I really want at the very core of me... it is Him.

So, many tears over the past couple of days, but I will leave you with just one of my favorite quotes which are so dear to my heart:
"My Lord--if you can deceive me, you may. It can make no difference. I must love you as long as I continue to exist. I cannot live without loving you."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Announcement Post

We are expecting Baby Hester #5!!!

Okay, so remember when I had trigeminal neuralgia? I had to stop nursing Ezra and it was made clear that I should not be pregnant while on the medication. So, we were so very careful, and made sure to prevent as best as we could (without permanent decisions or the use of any hormonal forms of birth control, which is also, a whole different post.)
So anyhow, when I got off the medication, we needed to address the issue of irregular bleeding that I was having. It was making our planning a little more difficult. Ben kept reminding me to go to the doctor, but it was hard to remember!! I know, I know. Anyhow, finally got the appointment, had to wait like, two more months to be seen. Then, the appointment came and they rescheduled me! By the time I finally got in, they asked, of course, when was the last time you were bleeding? My answer? Oh, about two weeks ago. They were going to run a full blood panel, including a pregnancy test which I thought was just plain silly. Ha! But, it peaked my curiosity. So, at home I took a home pregnancy test, and lo and behold!! It was positive. So, I checked the calendar and oops! It had been a month since I was bleeding. (This is kind of a side note, but isn't it super cool that the Lord totally took care of the bleeding issue?)

Emma is fervently praying for a sister and has recruited Caleb and Noah to pray with her. When I first found out, with all my hormones going nuts, I said to Ben, "Oh no! We are going to be that crazy family with ALL those kids! We will be like the Ojai Duggars!!" My dear husband chuckled and said, "Uh, we kind of already are..."
Oh, yes. That's right. Well, then... I'm okay with that. I like our people.

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them..." Psalm 127:3-5a

Growing Pains...

I remember having growing pains as a kid. They would keep me up at night. My brother, who is now 6'5", had them really, really bad. I try to remember that, so I can be sympathetic to the kids when they have growing pains. The rice packs seem to help, and occasionally a glass of "special milk" (warm milk with a little sugar and some vanilla!). Sometimes I rub their little legs. Sometimes we pray...
But there are other "growing pains", and these are the kind we are dealing with now. With most growth, there is some pain. And when you grow rapidly, there is sometimes more pain. So, our little Hester family has been having some growing pains. *Deep breath*

We are expecting another little Hester. Around the end of March. (This is a whole different post).
But, since Momma hasn't been feeling so hot, this requires something of everyone. We are learning ways to adapt. And, this new season has revealed attitudes and gunk and muck that is in need of some work. We have had some unwelcome visitors including:
quick to irritation, quick to anger, quick to argue, and slow to be gentle and understanding. We have heard the, "Why do I have to...?" and the "I always have to..."
We have good days and bad days. But, I try to remind myself that it is all part of growing. Not only is our family growing, but we have all been given the opportunity to be stretched. To cultivate long-suffering. And unfortunately, every display of selfishness and irritation is before me like a mirror, reminding me to check my own heart to see if long-suffering can be found. We are growing... and with that comes some pain. But the Lord is faithful; His mercies are new every morning, and they cover and heal more than rice packs and "special milk" anyway. =)

And isn't it the neatest thing when you actually get to see growth? The kids love looking at the door and seeing the marks get higher and higher as they grow taller. Well, in His mercy, God has allowed us to see glimpses of growth. The most amazing one... has been my dear husband. He has lovingly served us, he has patiently and tenderly cared for me. He has grown, and the growth is amazing.

"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful who also will do it." 1 Thess. 5:23-24

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Fair...

As we were walking through the fair, I heard a Grandma say to her grandchild, "Oh, you can have whatever you want...as long as it's not healthy!" I chuckled.

What did we do at the fair?
Funnel Cake...



Corn on the Cob...






Yummy pretzel!!






Cotton Candy...



Shaved ice...




Cars...



Spinning cups (with Grandma!)


Helicopters...




The Ferris Wheel (with Grandma!!)


The Bumpy Slide...



And oh yes, can't forget the ice cream on the way home.
Now that was a fun day. Nothing healthy going on here. =)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rambling...

It's amazing, actually, how long it has been since I posted a blog entry. There are lots of reasons why-my MAC is dead, awaiting a new powercord, I haven't uploaded any pictures from my camera or my phone, and I can't post onto the blog from the phone. Well, and the four kids. But really, this last month and a half has left me with very little words in the blogging world. Life in general, with four little people under 7 is kind of crazy already. I had all the intentions of continuing our schooling throughout the summer. We go year round, since we plan for four days of school per week, and are lucky if we get two good days out of that. =) True confessions. But anyhow, there has been no school. But, there has been learning, and there has been life, and that's more important anyway.
Grief has been a really strong component to the last few weeks. My sister-in-law's sister (hopefully I haven't lost you already) was tragically killed in a car accident. Then, two weeks later, I got a call from a friend at the hospital--her 18 year old son died in a skateboarding/car accident. And this past week, a really close friend of mine miscarried. And during all this, Daisy Love (our pastor's daughter) has had to return to all the chemo, this time even stronger and more aggressive since her cancer came back so quickly.
It is so painful to watch the people you love hurting. You want so badly to help, but there is One Comforter, One Helper...all you can do is point back to Him and His Word. It is in many ways, a great privilege, to walk alongside those that you love, and encourage them to press deeper into Jesus. And yet still painful.
But there is that tiny, nagging feeling in my heart that reminds me that I really haven't suffered a day in my life. I mean, sure, I have gotten sick, or had rough times, and felt pain so deep you don't think you can breathe. But really, when I think about it, I have been hidden so safely in the cleft of the rock. I have four healthy, beautiful, amazing little people whom I have the privilege of being home with everyday. We have a house to live in. With a backyard and two bathrooms, because you know everyone has to go at the same time. We have two cars. And no car payments. I have an oven that works. And was free (My oven broke. We didn't know what to do, didn't really have the money. A church friend was remodeling and ***happened*** to be getting rid of her wall oven that fit my opening. And this was no small task.).
I am kind of just rambling tonight, probably feeling guilty for not blogging, and partly not having a clear direction anyway. Just knowing that this month, I have been more thankful. And my heart's prayer has just been that God would make me faithful, and give me the grace to walk in whatever He has for me. One day at a time.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A little late, for my Caleb Paul


Dear Caleb,
This past week, you turned six years old. I can barely believe that you, my sweet baby boy, are six years old. You have grown so much. You are getting quite tall. You love to read. You have read all of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series. I am learning not to doubt your comprehension. =) You love riding your bike, and your scooter. You love weapons of all kinds, and you love building all kinds of things with legos. You have recently become interested in Star Wars. For your birthday, we allowed you to watch Episode 4 with Momma and Daddy. It took us three nights to watch it all!!
For your birthday, you received a tennis racket. You recently started tennis lessons, and your friends Josh, Jillian, and Mia are in the class with you. You really wanted a puzzle with more than 100 pieces, so we got you a 550 piece puzzle of your own. You are an observer. You catch things that I don't always expect you to catch. You recently got to go shooting with Daddy for the first time.
I could tell, on your birthday, that you felt so special and loved and valued. You walked tall, but you were not too proud. You are doing so much better about not giving "full vent to your anger." You love to read your Bible. You always get ahead of us in our reading.
You are the one who always has a hug for mom. You remind me of your Daddy in many ways. We love you so much, Caleb Paul Hester. This has been a wonderful year of growth for you. You know how to add with regrouping, and subtract with regrouping. We have learned so much about Ancient Egypt, and we have read great books, and we have loved the Best Book. You are a treasure. We pray that you would live up to your name, Caleb, which means faithful. That you would love Jesus more and more each day, and that one day, you will be an arrow that will fly from us and do great damage against the kingdom of darkness in the name of the One who is the Light.
We love you.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

pics...

Outside the zoo, at the end of the day. =)
The whole gang... at Balboa Park
Ancient Egyptian princess
Building a block pyramid

Blogging catch-up

You would think in this age of technology, that I would be able to keep up with blogging. But I can't. Life keeps going, at the speed of light, it seems, and I am just hanging on for dear life. But, I suppose it's a good problem to have--we have been living so much of life that we don't have time to write about it!! Well, that, and it takes me about an hour to upload one photo, so I have kind of lost the drive to wait around. However, there are some things that I don't want to forget!! So, here goes:

More hard lessons:
For our schooling, we were reading a book called, "The Hundred Dresses." A quote (not in the book) that the kids had to respond to in their Story Journal, in relation to the story was:
"To remain silent, when one should protest, makes cowards of men." (This quote is attributed both to Ella Wheeler, and to Abraham Lincoln).
Anyhow, we went on a little field trip with some friends. The kids had fishing poles, and there was a little dock with a sign that said, "No fishing." As we headed toward the dock, a man reminded the kids as they came close that they were not to fish on the dock. So, some people in the group decided to go ahead and fish, but I told my kids that we needed to respect the rules and not go fishing. The kids were fine, they hung out by the shore. After a while, Emma asked if she could return the fishing pole she was borrowing to a friend who was out on the dock, and then sit and watch them fish. Now, the obvious answer here is no, but my brain wasn't working right so I said yes. Just as we got out on the dock, a worker came and reprimanded all of us for making a wrong choice, and leading our children into that same wrong choice. He was, of course, right. But, what a great conversation it made on the drive home, as we had just finished "The Hundred Dresses", and had this discussion in regards to the quote above. It was a good chance for me to confess my cowardice (not knowingly, or intentionally, but by not carefully thinking it through) in not speaking up.

San Diego:
As our study of Ancient Egypt comes to a close, Emma requested that we visit a museum that had "Ancient Egypt stuff." So, seeing as how it was time for us to scoot away, we headed to San Diego. We first went to the Museum of Man, and enjoyed their "Discover Egypt" exhibit. Our hotel was very family friendly, and had a separate bedroom where the kids slept, and Ben and I slept in the living room (where we pulled the sofa sleeper mattress onto the floor). They had their own private beach area on Mission Bay, which had no waves, and was perfect for the kids to swim around in. We also got to go to the San Diego Zoo, which was SOO much fun! We checked out the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, and saw the IMAX film about Hubble. We also went to the Natural History Museum and the Creation Museum on the way home. It was an amazing trip, one that I hope will provide some great memories for the kids. The Creation Museum was so amazing... I have some great pictures, but it would take me three days to load them onto the blog, so I may choose one or two.
P.S.-If you are studying Ancient Egypt, you MUST READ "God King". It is so good, we all enjoyed it, and it was even more amazing to go back and read the Biblical account in 2 Kings and see how the author kind of "tweaked" things a little by weaving in history.

Beach House:
What mom of four kids 7 and under ever gets to go away for two nights??? Well, my dear husband took off work so that I could join some amazing women from our homeschool co-op at a beach house. Right on the beach at Faria. We had such a great time. The Lord saw my heart, and heard my prayers... I had been aching a bit for some women who are a little further down this road of mothering and homeschooling than I am. It was so fun to get to know these women, and to really step into their lives in a deeper way. We prayed for each other, we worked out together, we ate together, and we laughed together. It was such a special time, and I can't wait to invest some more into relationships with these women. =) Thank you, Jesus!!

Exchange Conference:
So, another reason that my hubby took work off, was so that he could attend the Exchange Conference in San Diego. Mark Driscoll, and Frances Chan, among others were speaking. We had originally intended to go together, but instead Ben was going to go represent us!! However, at the last minute, he decided that he wouldn't go. They will be offering the content online soon (hopefully), and this way, we can watch it together and talk about it. He decided instead to use the time to really get alone and seek the Lord. It is amazing how little we do this, and how much we really need it. It turned out to be a really great time for him, and God really showed up in a clear way, offering some direction for him right now. So, I am just praising God, knowing that He meets us so intimately, with perfect timing, and knows just what we need. It was so neat as well, because I read this in my book I am finishing up the morning that Ben had left, and was able to text it to him:

"It is important that we get still to wait on God. And it is best that we get alone, preferably with our Bible outspread before us. Then if we will we may draw near to God and begin to hear Him speak to us in our hearts. I think for the average person the progression will be something like this: First a sound as of a Presence walking in the garden. Then a Voice, more intelligible, but still far from clear. Then the happy moment when the Spirit begins to illuminate the Scriptures, and that which had been only a sound, or at best a voice, now becomes an intelligible word, warm and intimate and clear as the word of a dear friend. Then will come life and light, and best of all, ability to see and rest in and embrace Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and All." --A. W. Tozer

Graduation:
We got together with a few other families, and did a small "graduation." Emma read Psalm 1, which she had memorized, but was "too scared" to recite it, so she read it instead. Caleb sang "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." Noah sang Psalm 119:11. Emma and two other little girls sang Jesus loves me. They got little certificates for their hard work and diligence. It was a wonderful time, such a blessing.

Some of this is on facebook, but I have to record it here, for my own records:
Reading Exodus chapter 10, Caleb asked me, "Mom, why did the LORD harden Pharaoh's heart?"
And the answer came in chapter 11: "So that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt."

Did I already post about the All-Sufficient One? I can't remember....(this happened awhile ago!!)
So, my girlfriend does chapel for the little ones, and they were going through the names of God. She was telling me how "All-Sufficient One" is kind of a tough concept to communicate to little people!! A few days later, we were reading about an Egyptian idol, and the priest had to come in every day and wash him, and put clothes on him, and set food in front of him. And, right there, (through tears!!) I am telling the kids...This is what our God does for us!!! He washes us in His Word, and He clothes us in the Righteousness of Christ, and He feeds us the Bread of Life and gives us Living Water!! He is the All-Sufficient One!!

I cannot tell you how many amazing conversations I have gotten to have with the kiddos. It is a crazy life, for sure, but I am so privileged to get to spend time with them, reading God's Word and studying His work throughout time. He is so good!!
(Sorry, the pictures aren't loading, so no pics this time, but hopefully soon!)

Oh, and I almost forgot!! Noah read his first little Sing, Spell (Level K) reader. Not many words, mostly, "Dad ran fast." But, very exciting, none-the-less. =)


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hard Lessons...

So, I want to say upfront that this will be a difficult post. I want to acknowledge openly that I don't know how to be politically correct, so I apologize in advance for any offense. And, I am open to learning. I just want to share our story and what we learned....

So, about a month or so ago, we invited some friends over. This family has a little girl with special needs. When I told the kids they were coming, they had a little bit of a hard time, because the little girl often hits them. We had a good talk about being kind and loving, setting a good example, and forgiving quickly.
Emma was coloring, and the little girl scribbled on her paper. Now, Emma is pretty serious about her artwork, so she came to me crying, because she was going to have to start all over. I held her, and told her that sometimes, it is hard for Mommy too. Sometimes, I work really, really hard, and I get the kitchen all clean. And just as I am finishing, a little person comes in and spills yogurt on the floor and gets everything dirty and I have to start all over. That is really, really hard. But I do it, because I love our family so much, and I want them to have a clean kitchen where we can eat and make food. I asked her if she thought that she could love our little friend, and be willing to start over in order to be a good friend to her. I prayed with her, for the Holy Spirit to help her to forgive, and to start a new picture.

You know, it is not always easy as a mom to watch your kid get hit. But, as I sat and listened to my friend, and heard a little bit about her life, I felt so much pain and empathy for the great deal that she has "on her plate". It is really difficult to parent a child with special needs. Parenting is hard enough. It was just really good for all of us to spend the day, trying to be compassionate towards others. To bear with others, even if it's painful. And so, Emma had to start her picture over, and all of the kids got hit a few times and screamed at. And, at the end of the day, I honestly felt like God opened up a door in my heart that had never been opened before. As we had our family devotions, we had some amazing discussion that night about compassion, about kindness, about forgiveness. And we all learned that sometimes we take for granted how easy it is to befriend those that are like us. It is more challenging to befriend those who are different than us. But many times, it is more rewarding as well.

"But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?.... But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful." Luke 6:27-36

Monday, May 10, 2010

To my seven year old...

Dear Emma,
This past week you turned seven. I can't believe it was seven years ago, that your tiny little baby body was born, and we first met you and fell in love with you. You have such a sweet heart, and a sweet spirit. Just a few minutes ago, you ran out to tell me that you were in your room singing to "the Lord Jesus Christ!"
You love to read, especially the Little House books. You love your cuddlies (stuffed animals), and you treat them just like your own little children. You LOVE to swim!! You enjoy riding your bike, and your scooter, and hiking. Recently, at our women's gathering at church, you started "helping" in the 3 year old class, and you LOVE being a helper. You always want to help, whether it's making dinner, making cards, making someone smile, or keeping an eye on Ezra. You love hearing stories about... well, anything, but especially about when you were little, or mommy or daddy or grandma were little. So, here is a story that I will remember on every birthday, and many other times as well.
It was May 5th, 2003. Your daddy and I were anxiously awaiting your arrival. We had just less than three weeks until your due date. We had set up your room with a crib, and a dresser, with beautiful purple and green bedding. We had a cradle set up right near my side of the bed, and a chair in our room so that I could nurse you at night. My tummy was so big, and most of the rest of me was pretty big too!! During my pregnancy, I had already had two dreams that you were a girl, and that your name was Emma, so after the ultrasound told us that you were a girl, we knew we would name you Emma Faith.
That day, we had a doctor's appointment to check on how things were going. The doctor had said that you were very, very low inside of me, and that I was dilated about 2 cm. He wanted an ultrasound, to check on the level of amniotic fluid, to make sure I wasn't leaking fluid, and to see that you were still okay inside mommy's tummy. So, off we went over to the office where they did our ultrasounds. I was so excited to see you!! As we were watching the computer screen, I noticed that the Ultrasound Technician seemed to be shaking my belly, and his face looked very concerned. He asked us if we lived in Ventura, and we said that we lived in Ojai. He said that he would like us to head back over to the doctor's office, but would not tell us anymore. I remember very clearly going into the restroom, for a moment to myself. I remember holding my tummy and the tears came so quickly, and my heart hurt very badly. I hadn't met you yet, but I already loved you with all my heart. I wanted so badly to hold you in my arms, and to know that you were okay. But things didn't seem well. I knew that you weren't moving very much inside of me by the way the Ultrasound Technician had been shaking my stomach, trying to get you to move. That was the first moment that I ever thought, "What if something has happened to my baby girl?"
And yet, that was a defining moment in my life. God's grace was abundant, and tangible. I felt Him say clearly to my heart, that you didn't belong to me. You were a treasured gift, entrusted to me, but you forever belong to the God who knit you together inside of me. And in that moment, I was scared, but I knew that my God is good. You belong to Him, my dear, sweet, baby girl.
We headed back to the doctor's office, where they told us that we needed to head to the hospital, because we were going to have a baby sooner than we planned. You actually came the next morning, at 10:04 am, on May 6th, 2003. And, you were tiny, and precious, and amazing.
And so, every day that I have to be your mom is a treasured gift. I am just a vessel, entrusted with your care. You belong to the God who created everything, who sustains everything, and treasures you more fully than even I can understand. I love you, dear Emma Faith Hester. Every day with you is a gift.
Mommy

Friday, April 02, 2010

Catching Up

Okay, I just might be the worst blogger ever!!! But, sometimes, you just don't have time to blog. Life is crazy, but wonderful. Let's see... in a nutshell.... we all got sick, then I threw out my back again, and after repeated visits to the chiropractor, I am back to functioning!! Thank you Jesus!! My Thursday Bible Study is finished for now, and I went to the women's retreat with my church. Experienced some pretty gnarly, yet amazing things in relation to prayer and spiritual warfare. Read a lot of books (which I will list here, and try to briefly summarize). School is going well, I had made lesson plans for the next month or so, and I am already behind. But, that's okay, we are plugging along. The kids began to learn Latin, which I know, makes people think we are crazy. But, it literally consists of them singing wonderfully silly songs, and they are enjoying themselves immeasurably. The goal of teaching them a dead language, (yes I do know it is dead...), is that since it is a root language, we want them to be able to learn any language, and we hope this may be a small help in that. But, it's really just great fun. =)

The reading list:
We finished: The Golden Goblet (historical fiction set in the time of Ancient Egypt). The whole family enjoyed it, and we had some great discussions as we came across many references to Egyptian gods, spirits, and the afterlife. (How is this different from what the Bible tells us is true?)

We are currently reading: Shadow Hawk (same time period, Ancient Egypt after the Hyksos Invasion). Very interesting...we are past the half way mark. It is a little more difficult of a read, but it picks up at about half way, and now we can't wait to hear the ending!!!

The Whipping Boy-a small reader book about a Prince (Prince Brat) who is never punished, but his punishment instead falls upon the whipping boy, a beggar boy who receives the whippings accumulated by the prince. (The kids could actually just read this on their own, in about 20 minutes, but we are taking it slow, and using it for prompting writing in their Story Journals)

I finished: Big God by Britt Merrick- sermon series on Hebrews, turned into a book. Really awesome. He gives practical ways to really live out a life a faith.

Don't Make Me Count to Three!! by Ginger Plowman-- a "mommy" book... following closely along the lines of "Shepherding a Child's Heart", but easy to read, and with many practical mommy examples.

When He is Come by A.W. Tozer-- (I borrowed this from my good friend Ruth). This is a really powerful little book about the Holy Spirit. The timing was perfect, and needless to say, this book had me from the title of the first chapter, "Don't Beg God for the Holy Spirit--Glorify Jesus Christ!!!

Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala-- I know, I'm a little late on this one. It's been out for a long time, and I am just now reading it! But, this is a really easy read, super awesome. I had to stop in the middle of reading it just to pray some more!!! A really moving account of the power of prayer, and our great need to connect with the living God through prayer.
"God will manifest himself in direct proportion to our passion for him."-pg. 153

The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller--Amazing insight into the parable of the "prodigal son" (although the author would much prefer the title, "the parable of the two lost sons.") Awesome. A must read, especially for those who have grown up in church. The gospel just screams out of this book.

Reading now:
Raising Children God's Way by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones-- He was a preacher back in the 60's-70's, and this is a collection of his sermons on Ephesians 6. So far, it's been great, I am a little more than halfway.

Scandalous by D.A. Carson--I have some other books in my reading line-up, but with it being the time of Easter, and all, I could not resist diving into this book since it is centered on the cross and resurrection of Jesus. So far, it has been really amazing.

And in other news... Ben will be coming up on a schedule change. The night shift/day shift, finally took its toll on the guy. So, he's going to day shift starting April 14th. Upon looking at the end of the month, we found that, since there's a men's retreat in April, Ben will either be working or gone to the retreat from the 14th until the end of the month. (He has to work one weekend every 7 weeks, and they started him out by working the weekend.) But, at least it will be shorter days. I won't lie, my heart was bummed when I actually saw that on the calendar, but I am praying and trusting God, because He is faithful, and He will work it all out. =)

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Praising Him...

I know, it's been crazy. We've been sick, and we traveled to Strathmore, CA for a funeral for Ben's grandma this past week, and Ben is on night shift. This is usually when I catch up on blogging. Not to mention the Perspectives reading, and all the other books I am trying to read. I finished "Big God" tonight, which is a book by Britt Merrick, one of the pastors at Reality (our Church). (More on that later!)
But, really quickly, I wanted to share the praise that is overflowing from my heart today. Three weeks ago, something crazy happened. My brother, my baby brother, went to Las Vegas and got married. Now, for those of you who don't know the background, I will give the brief version, only for the sake of sharing what God has done. Because it is good. My brother is divorced, with two young kids, ages 3 and 5. This has needless to say been a very painful thing for everyone involved, but the divorce has been final for a year, or two??? (My memory fails me tonight). Anyhow, my brother and his kids started coming to church with us... sometime in November or December?? And, shortly thereafter, a "friend" was coming with him, but I would see her there even when my brother couldn't make it. Anyhow, the point is, that the two of them went to Vegas and got married. And, there are so many details, so much left out here, but all you need to know to get where I'm at is... Today, I am in church, standing next to my brother and his wife as they worship Jesus. My brother's heart is more fully turned toward Jesus than it ever has been. And this woman next to him, his wife, is praising Jesus, and they now have three kids (she has a daughter), and they shop at Sam's Club, and they give the kids showers and put them to bed, and they love the Lord. And so a single mom gained a husband, and a single dad gained a wife... and all I can do is cry and weep, and praise the beauty of His name, because He is so good. And even now, the tears are falling, because there aren't enough words to say how good and beautiful and wonderful He is. And the most beautiful thing is that this is not just their story. This is my story, and everyone's story who calls Jesus their Savior. The Jesus Storybook Bible said it this way in our reading tonight (oh, yes, I was crying then too!!):

"'My body is like the bread. It will break,' Jesus told them. 'This cup of wine is like my blood. It will pour out.'
'But this is how God will rescue the whole world. My life will break and God's broken world will mend. My heart will tear apart--and your hearts will heal. Just as the passover lamb died, so now I will die instead of you. My blood will wash away all of your sins. And you'll be clean on the inside--in your hearts.'"

Oh Jesus, you are so good...

Haiti Video-(Team that went last week)

Josh Newton Haiti Video from HESCHLE on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ten Years!!

video
Tomorrow is our 10 year Anniversary. It's so hard to believe that ten years has gone by, and boy, has it gone quickly!! These were some of my favorite photos (I tried to limit the photos of just the kids). We have had many adventures these last ten years. I wrote along letter about it, but decided it would be just for my hubby. But, here's the short video of photos I made for him, I am not a pro at this, but just thought it would be nice to look back on some of these things. (hopefully, it will load for you, but it may take a while!!)
The song playing in the background played at our wedding.

In the last ten years, we have
laughed
cried
prayed
worshipped
sinned
forgiven
obeyed
disobeyed
repented
rejoiced
And so much more...
I can honestly say that I love my husband more than I did ten years ago.
And I love Jesus more than I did ten years ago.
And I will say that again in ten more years, if He should give them to us.
Praise You, Jesus.


Oh Father... thank you so much for these last ten years with my husband. Thank you for how how much our marriage has taught me about You, and Your faithful love, Your never-stopping, never-giving up love. Teach me Lord, to be a good helper for Ben, more and more with every year you give us. May our marriage reflect You, and Your tender love for Your bride!!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The perfect Servant-Leader

"Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, 'Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.'"
(These are the words a Master would use, not servants!!!)
"And He said to them, 'What do you want Me to do for you?'"
Mark 10:35-36

Jesus, the perfect Servant-Leader. He is so good, so kind, so gracious. I am not nearly as gracious to the little people who constantly speak to me with the words a Master would use.

Oh Lord, make this the attitude of my heart!! May the words, "What do you want me to do for you?" come quickly to my lips and my heart... to the little ones who make demands of me, and most importantly, to You, my Lord. When I sense the movement of Your Spirit, may I be quick to be Your servant, and to not think of myself as a master.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Prayers for Haiti

I don't have much time, but I also don't want to forget. So I am going to pound out this post real quick!!

Bible Study Thursday mornings that I attend with some of the ladies from Reality...
Leader=Joy
Her husband is the head of the Board for Child Hope International, an orphanage in Haiti.
Here's a link, awesome story how they started. At the top of the page is a link to read updates on the earthquake in Haiti:

Bill and Suzette=the couple who started the orphanage, due to a vision and a mission that God set within the heart of their nine year old daughter. She is now 17, here is a link to her blog, it is worth reading!!!


As we have been praying as a family for Haiti, I have been blown away at the Holy Spirit's work in the kids' hearts...
"Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants you have established strength.." Ps. 8:2
Caleb's Prayer:
"Dear God, please help the people of Haiti to stop worshiping idols."
Emma's Prayer:
"Dear God, please don't let the people of Haiti die in their sin, but help them to believe in Jesus and be saved."

We asked the kids to pray with us, because the people of Haiti are in need of food, and water and medical supplies. There are needs EVERYWHERE you look... and yet, the greatest need in Haiti is the greatest need of every man, woman, and child... to have the wrath of God removed from them through the precious blood of Jesus.

They are seeing an increase in violence, as resources become scarce, distribution is unorganized, and people become desperate and feel hopeless. We have heard MANY stories of miracles, too many even for me to share here. God is making His name known!! Pray for the faithful servants of Jesus, that they would not lose hope. Pray for protection, for provision, for God's grace and mercy. Pray that God would continue to make His people distinct, as they give all praise and glory to Him, that others too would be drawn to the One True God!!

Please join with me in praying this Psalm for those in Haiti:
Psalm 27
The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.
One things I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.
Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When You said, "Seek My face,"
My heart said to You, "Your face, Lord, I will seek."
Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation.
When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lord will take care of me.
Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a smooth path,
because of my enemies.
Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such breathe out violence.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Monday, January 11, 2010

I love this book!!

This was a reader that the kids read for school work. They each read it in about...twenty minutes, maybe less. There aren't a lot of words on each page. But man, it is amazing. I loved it. (67 pages)

This is the book synopsis from amazon.com:
Other people crowded into the house, and Kuri heard them whispering. "Look what happened to him. Surely he is being punished."

Kuri's eyes flew open in alarm.

Kuri's father has planted their yams without praying to the spirits. The Head Men insist that the yams must be planted in the right way, but Father declares, "God is mighty," and he continues to plant their garden in the name of Jesus Christ.

Kuri can't help wondering whether the Head Men are right. Are the spirits punishing him and his family? If the yams don't grow, what will they eat? Does he dare to be like Father and trust only in God? The day comes at last when Kuri must decide.

"Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any: he is mighty in strength and wisdom." Job 36:5