Friday, December 26, 2014

Things that take work....

"Hobbit Stew" served atop mashed po-Tay-toes
Lembas Bread (you know....the bread of the elves)

I gotta tell you....this took a lot of work. But isn't it *interesting* how most things of value do take work?
Making memories....that's what I hope it was all about. When my kids look back at some of these stories that have shaped them, and our family....maybe they will remember with a smile their crazy, pregnant mother buzzing about in the kitchen just to put the finishing touches on the Lembas bread. They have been talking about Hobbit Feast Day ever since I told them about it. And I planned so much food that it wouldn't fit in one day, and will have to carry over to tomorrow.

It is a lot of work. But it is worth it. I don't think any of us Hesters will ever think of The Lord of the Rings in quite the same way again. ;-)

And, here is this evening's movie clip:
Samwise Gamgee:....there were plenty of opportunities for those folk to turn back, but they didn't....because they were holding onto something.
Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?
Samwise: They believed that there was good in this world, and that it's worth fighting for!

For the True King! And for the Kingdom!
"May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10 NLT)

"Hobbit Feast Day"

Shire French toast
Shire berries
Bilbo's roast beast (aka Ham)
The Golden Ring

Caleb started it all by deciding to re-read The Lord of the Rings. Then Noah decided to read (and finish!) The Hobbit.  I thought we were sort of out of that phase, having read the Hobbit as a read aloud last year. But, as I was meal planning for the week and the holidays, I couldn't resist planning for a Hobbit Feast Day, seeing as how the interest has been renewed. 
So. Here is our first meal on Hobbit Day, here in the Hester house. Only Emma and Caleb have seen the first two Lord of the Rings movies, but in honor of our feast day, we played the following clip for our breakfast meal.

Frodo and Gandalf are talking...
Frodo: It's a pity Bilbo didn't kill him (Gollum) when he had the chance.
Gandalf: Pity! Yes, it was pity that kept Bilbo from killing him. There are those who deserve death, but receive life, and those who deserve life but receive death. Can you give it???

And then:
Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me.  I wish none of this had ever happened.
Gandalf: Yes, as does all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide.  All we can decide is how to use the time that we've been given.

Well. Off to work on Hobbit Stew!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Word Up!!!

Okay, so the makers of Visual Latin, a high school Latin curriculum, have outdone themselves with this fun approach to learning Latin and Greek roots.
My big two love Visual Latin, and Caleb has almost finished his first "year", along with reading Lingua Latina.

Anyhow. Noah had finished his current Latin work, and was so excited to move on to something new. I really didn't feel that Visual Latin was the right "next step" for him, despite all the fun his brother and sister were having with it.

Enter: Word Up! The Vocabulary Show!!! A fun little video introduces 10 new words with the Latin root and 10 new words with the Greek root.  This is such a fun way to bridge the gap, and increase Noah's vocabulary, without being too rigorous academically. After the video, there are FREE online activities including flashcards, games, and tests.

Right now, it's only $10!! And with the online content, each group of words can easily last a week (or two!!).

The first root was the word for water: Aqua in Latin and Hydra in Greek.
They learn all about aqueduct, aqueous, aqualung, aquatint....hydrate, hydrant....well. You get the point.

Today, Judah (age 3) informed me:
"Mom, Ezra and I are going to jump on the trampoline. But if it starts raining aqua....then we will come inside."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Can barely contain my excitement...

If you know me, you know that I research things. I have a joke with my husband where I tell him, "I know things." Usually, this is because he is surprised that I know something that seems fairly random for a...ahem...middle-aged mother of (soon-to-be) seven.

I have known for some time that I wanted to use this curriculum. I just wasn't sure when or how.
Summit ministries offers some fantastic resources, both by way of curriculum, and conferences, as well as a "semester" for high school graduates before going on to college. Their focus and heart is worldview.

As I prayed over Emma and Caleb for this year, the one thing I was most burdened for them was: worldview.  But there was still the issues of finances, timing, and how to fit this in with all the other stuff!!!!

Needless to say, the day has come. Today is their first day of the Lightbearers curriculum. It is intense. (They say an hour a day for 180 days). I don't know how accurate that is, because I'm just starting out.  But I am so excited to see how God will use this tool to grow our thinking and evaluating of what is around us.  I love thinking deeply about my God....and I am excited to see what the next 180 days will hold for us.😉

PS-they have to do a pre-test today, where they answer yes or no to questions like, "If I obey God, things will pretty much go well for me."
Yikes. I'm so glad they get to start thinking about this stuff now!!

Friday, November 07, 2014

Just the beginning...

This kid came in early this morning and asked to snuggle. (This isn't his usual). Then, he quietly announced, "I finished the Bible today."  Caleb started in Genesis and read all the way through.  He says it has taken him two years and two months-which means he started just after turning eight. He is ten now. 

I am amazed. Daddy smiled and asked him, "So, was it good?" ;-p
I asked what his favorite book was and he said "Revelation."  Wow. 
I don't really have the words to convey all that I'm thinking and feeling. I'm so proud of this young man! And because of his example, his brothers (Noah, age 8, and Ezra, age 6) have started reading in Genesis.
One of the most amazing things about God's Word is that it is alive. It changes us. We can read it over and over and it never stops flowing the lifeblood of our God into us, and washing the blood of Christ over us. It never stops changing us, but is always useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

So. As I told my sweet boy this morning, this is only the beginning..... :-)

"It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it."
Isaiah 55:11

Tuesday, November 04, 2014


Most is crazy. You find yourself just wanting to take a breath for a moment. Life, these days, is just....FULL. For everyone. The hustle and bustle. The classes and the appointments and the activities that we all think are so necessary.
It's easy to miss the *holiness* of each moment.  Every once in a while, God gives us this beautiful sense that stops us in our very tracks and reminds us to "take off our sandals", because the ground we are on is holy. Something is happening that we can't always taste or see or measure. 
Little tiny fingers are learning to fold in reference. Little tiny mouths are learning to say "Amen"....and there is an awareness that their childlike declaration of "let it be so" carries heavenly weight. The voices of children are lifting up simple prayers that are more profound than you thought possible.  Sweet boys give up play time to push little sisters on swings.
Things are happening.
I don't want to miss it. So today, I won't hustle and bustle. Today, I will choose to take off my sandals and bask in the holiness of the moment. Today, I am asking God to help me look not to the things that are seen (which include messes and squabbles), but on the things that are unseen.  BECAUSE..."the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." (2 Cor. 4:18)

Oh Lord! Give me eyes to see what is eternal today. My soul craves what is unseen...that holy ground where the mountains are moved by the smallest seeds of faith. There are so many things I get wrong. But today, I'm digging my toes into this holy ground. I'm slowing down. I'm seeing....with my heart. And I'm thankful.....

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Noah Benjamin, age 8

My dear Noah Benjamin,
     You are eight years old!!!! There really aren't enough words to say what you bring to our family. You experience just about every emotion to an exponential degree. Because of this, you are one of the most snugly and cuddly boys I know. You are a dreamer, for sure! You are so very loving and thoughtful. 
     Your joy is so full and so abundant that you love including others in it (this is one of the ways I love seeing you reflect the heart of our God).  When we did your "last hoorah" of candy before you got your braces on, you very happily shared your candy with all your siblings. Down to the very last piece.  
When you got your new scooter for your birthday, within minutes, you allowed Judah to take it for a spin because you wanted him to share in the fun too.
     These last couple of weeks with braces....all I can say, is that I have been so amazed at the depth of character and integrity that has been growing in you. You have borne each sacrifice with such honor, and such grace. It's not easy being faced with a long list of: you can't eat.....  But you, son, have been SO faithful to not eat the items you have been asked not to, even if you were given an "out." You have remained faithful and true, even when it meant forgoing both snack and treats at church. All this to say: we are so proud of you, and of the character God is building in you. It seems that these moments that have gathered up into days, which have gathered up into weeks, and months, and now eight years!!!! Well, they have begun to produce a harvest. It is amazing to see the fruit that God is producing in you. Is it encouraging and inspiring.
     And so Noah.  This year, we pray that you would continue in the steadfast love of our Savior. We pray that you would know what is the height and depth and width and length of God's love for you in Christ. We pray that you would continue to be captivated by the joy that Jesus came to give you-it is full, and complete, and it is meant to spill over on to all those around you. We pray that the light of Christ would shine ever brighter in you, and from that amazing smile of yours.  And we pray that you would continue to DREAM BIG for God's glory and His Kingdom. We love you Noah Benjamin.
For the King! And His Kingdom!!!
With love,
Mommy and Daddy

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ezra the Great!

Six years old!!!! Sporting his new tool pouch.

Oh Ezra Lucas Knight Hester,
     I wish I had the words to say how much you bring to our family. And to me personally. I have learned more about the love and grace of God than ever. You are sometimes, a little challenging to parent. But it is not because you are a bad is because you are extraordinary. Once you set your mind on something, you simply must do it. (Many times, regardless of the consequences). And although this presents some challenges for a mom of a (now) six year old, it would be sad if I did not recognize how amazing this quality is in the heart of a young man.
     You are such a hard worker. I can give you tasks beyond your years because you will work SO hard. You have amazing initiative. At this stage in life, that works against me sometimes. But later, and even now at times, it is unbelievable how you can recognize when something needs to be done and go about doing it all on your own.
     You love big. Your spicy little sister loves you so much and frequently calls out for you when you aren't close by.  You pull Evelyn up into your lap and read books to her.
     You are super smart. At just now six years old, you are working at about a third grade level across the board. It is such a balance because you have LOTS of energy in that body of yours, and I have to remind myself to keep both your body and your mind stimulated and a little challenged in order to *help* you stay out of trouble.
     Some of your favorite time with Mommy or Daddy is when we read your special book, His Mighty Warrior.  This has been an invaluable resource as a devotional, and as an encouragement for your sweet heart as a warrior, and servant of the Most High King.
     This year, we pray that you would grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We pray that you would be surprised with joy at how wonderful it is to serve so great a King. We pray that your heart of love and service will grow.  And I pray personally, that I will love and serve you as your mom in such deep ways that you will always know how much you are loved by the Father.
     We are so thankful for all that you bring to our family, Ezra!!! 
For the King! And the Kingdom!
With great love,

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Big change...

Noah did such a great job! His braces are on and we just need to get used to a new way of eating and brushing and such.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Last hoorah!

Well, tomorrow is a big day for Noah Benjamin. He's getting braces!!!
We absolutely love Emma's orthodontist office. They are fantastic! One of the reasons we love them so much is that they have been really honest with us. We were told by another orthodontist that Emma needed to go ahead and get braces on about 2 years ago.  Fortunately, her current orthodontist has said it's totally ok to wait.
I showed him a picture of Noah at her last appointment and he said to go ahead and bring him in.
Imagine my shock when they said he needs braces!!! He needed to have a tooth pulled (which happened last week), and then he will be ready to get his braces on. His situation just happened to be different than Emma's, and was in need of some attention a little sooner. (So, I guess now it is our family's orthodontist office).

Anyhow! The point is, that when we became aware of all the foods that Noah probably wouldn't be able to have while his braces are on....
And since it all came up sort of suddenly...
And since he is still a young guy....
We decided to have a "last hoorah!"
We took him to the candy store and let him choose many of the things he won't be able to have this next year or so.
He was such a kind brother to share his candy with all his siblings. And after all that candy he said on the way home, "I'm hungry!!! But for something HEALTHY!!!"
We were delighted to honor that request too. ;-)

Noah Benjamin, we are so proud of you and your courage moving forward. We want to take good care of you during this new adventure!!!
Mommy and Daddy

Big Boy!!!

This sweet boy finished Sing, Spell Kindergarten!!!!!
Now-this doesn't mean he has finished kindergarten. But, it does mean he is well on his way to reading. 
We are so proud of you, Judah Sean! You have worked hard at learning your letters and their sounds! You have also loved cutting and pasting, playing with play-doh, and building with duplos.
If someone were to ask you if you know how to read, you will tell them no. And there were days I doubted it myself. ;-)
But lo, and are getting better at remembering the words you know and sounding out the ones you don't.
I'm so thankful that I get to be your mommy and that I get to hear you beginning to read.
We love you Judah Sean!!!!!

Monday, October 06, 2014


This man is a very loved man. :-) 
Ben Hester, we honor you in the Lord. You work SO hard to care for us. Not just everyday at work...but everyday at home. With six kids and a pregnant wife, you just never know what you will come home too. ;-p
But you are faithful, and steadfast to jump in.
I appreciate your selfless service to our family so much.  But one of the things I appreciate the most about you (and there are MANY!).... Is that our kids know what it is to fall asleep almost every night to the sound of their Daddy, reading God's Word and wonderful stories. They have had the incredible privilege of hearing tales told through the voice of their father....some even with accents. ;-)
When I look back, I see how all those nights, all those readings of Scripture, all those stories, have been anchors for our souls and for our family. We have been inspired together to serve the One True King....led faithfully by you.
I do not know what plans God has yet in store for our family....but, I'm so thankful that you are our leader.
And while the world sees the craziness of all these little people....I see the fullness of a life overflowing with the love of a child....times six plus this new little one to come. And let's face it: our life is crazy. Sometimes, overwhelming. But there is one thing that is most definitely evident: you are so loved. Thank you for loving us. We are so glad you were born.
Happy birthday my love.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Celebration Dinner!!

In order to celebrate Caleb finishing Algebra, we wanted to take him to the dinner of his choosing. And what did he want?? Crab and lobster. 
Not our usual fare, to say the least....but I figured that we were celebrating an amazing accomplishment!
We had so much fun out with this little man, and boy! He sure had fun busting into crab legs. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Caleb's post....

I remember so well, when I picked you up from your class at church-I think you were about 16 months old or so.  The woman who had been with you commented saying, "He has amazing language skills!"
And I, being the inexperienced momma I was (and not wanting to forget about Emma), said, "Oh yes! His sister is speaking very well also!"
But that day....she was telling me something. I had NO clue....
I remember when you were 2 years old, and you were able to sound out words like "cat" and "dog" and "mom". You and Emma were learning right alongside each other, and quite frankly, I just didn't think much of it at the time.
When you were four, I remember you taking The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with you for "quiet time."  There were just a few pictures from the motion picture in that particular edition, so I remember thinking you must just be looking at the pictures. It occurred to me, that the pictures might be a little scary, so I went in to check on you. You declared, "Mom! I'm on chapter 4!"  I didn't really think that could be true, so I quizzed you and then had you read a page to me. I mean, I knew you could read-I sat with you everyday and listened to you read...

At five, you finished The Last Battle, and closed out Lewis' Narnia series.

Obviously, I knew by this time that there was something "different" about you. I always knew that God had a special plan for you-as He does for each of your brothers and sisters....

Probably by age 6, I finally told your pediatrician: "I'm sure every parent thinks their child is a genius....but I think mine really is."  After some assessment, he told me you are a "Gifted Learner." Which basically meant you were working at 2 grade levels or more above average across the board-rather than just one subject. You are gifted in math, language, have amazing discipline.
So, at 10 years old, you are up at 6am every morning reading your Bible. You started in Genesis and you are almost all the way through the Bible. You are so very diligent with your schoolwork....and you were so close to finishing your math course, that today you determined to finish.
And you did.
So. Today, at 10 years old, you have completed Algebra. Overall, you maintained a 91% in the course. You have worked so hard, and we are SO proud of you.
(And trust me! This is not the most crazy and complicated of your problems in this course!!!)

But after acknowledging this amazing accomplishment....I want to affirm two things.
First, we have a saying in our family. Each one of you is exactly what he or she MUST be in order to fulfill what God has purposed for your part in His grand story. So, if you are this is because you must be...and so we want to steward that gifting well.
Secondly, I just want to remind you in case you ever forget: I do not love you because you're so smart. It has it's wonderful perks and even some challenges....but it is just how God made you.  But I love YOU. Your heart. Your insides. I love you because you are you.  There have been many times I have been tempted to think that because you are so smart, that I am depriving you of opportunities to be part of certain classes or groups, or.....yada, yada, yada.
But God has been faithful. He gave me a clear calling with all of you amazing Hester children:
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33 ESV)

And the deep conviction that ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. 
...that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:2-3 ESV)

God has been so kind to remind me that my job is to preach Christ and Him crucified.  It is my joy, my pleasure, and my privilege.

*as a side note-I could obviously do a post like this on each of my amazing children! I chose Caleb today, to honor his accomplishment in completing Algebra.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Time warp...

Me....circa 1981

And Ev:

Well.  Maybe these pics don't quite do it justice.  But let's just say there's a very strong resemblance there. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

New Looks...

Side note: I'm really sorry for the poor quality on all the "before" pics. Evidently I just couldn't figure out that I should turn on the light. ;-p
Miss Emma Faith (and no...she didn't shrink). I'm thinking I must have taken the picture at a different angle?
Caleb Paul
Noah Benjamin
Ezra Lucas Knight
Judah Sean
And well, I didn't get any fun pics of Ev today. But here's one from yesterday for your enjoyment:
Here's to a new year of learning, laughter, and loving!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Planted in Faith....

Never doubt in the DARK what God told you in the LIGHT.

V. Raymond Edman

    The last few days, I have been trying to quietly repeat this truth to myself.  Clearly, I need a bold, loud reminder, rather than a gentle, quiet one:

Don't dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.

Elisabeth Elliot

Towards the beginning of this year, Ben and I were wrestling with the question of our family size. We felt God drawing us into unity, asking us to trust Him with this area of our life yet again. We heard Him, in His glorious light, ask us to trust Him in seeing if He might have another precious, eternal soul to entrust to our family.  In beautiful faith, God planted in our hearts the vision of enlarging our family.

Well. Fast forward awhile, and I'm on the couch, more sick than I have ever been during pregnancy. I watch as the chaos seems to take over, my poor husband runs almost ragged doing what I know is my job!  I watch, heart breaking, as war and chaos and screaming have seemed to break out in every corner, and I begin to let doubt creep in. I wonder if any character could possibly be growing in this mess.  I wonder if we were just wrong and irresponsible like people seem to think we are.  I can't see how this could possibly be what is good and best for our family....

But then. The roots of faith pull me back to what is true, and I remember. I remember what God taught me so faithfully the last two years,
"There's always more going on than what you can see."

I remember that my stuggle is not against a 5 year old who won't obey or a 3 year old who screams and kicks. No. My struggle is NOT against flesh and blood. There is a heavenly war raging in the realm that I can't always see. And even though I can't stand up on two feet and I can't move sometimes, and even though I never, ever wanted to be mothering from the couch!!!!!
They need me to PRAY.
No eloquent words needed. 
"Lord, have mercy on us!" is sufficient.

I may not have a clear thought in the day because the sickness brings such a fog. But I can utter the desperate cries of a momma who just needs more grace, more mercy from heaven, more Jesus....
I can still hold out God's Word before them as a beacon of light and truth.  It is not just the "standard" that we live is the bread that sustains us. It is the nourishment that keeps us living and breathing.

I may not FEEL like I have much to offer these precious ones in this season.  But, by God's grace, if I live with FAITH in what God planted, if I hold fast to what He told us in the LIGHT....then that gift is enough for today.
It may get more dark and difficult. It may get messy. It may even look like it's whithering in the heat. 
But by faith...we pray that what God brings up out of the soil, which He planted by faith, will surprise us all with its beauty.

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!!!