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Thursday, August 30, 2012

And the Beat Goes On...

Earlier this week, I shared some of my anxiety and struggle with week 17 of this pregnancy, and several other things that were going on. I have had some pretty cool God stuff happen, so I thought it was more than appropriate to update you prayin' friends!

So, first, the car. I wish I could share the whole entire story because it just makes God that much cooler, but I can only share part. Add 50% more coolness to this story in your mind. Or 100%, whatever. We were T-boned in March. Due to circumstances, we have only had one car since then. This past week, we were put in a huge bind and down to ZERO cars, which is a bit inconvenient. We decided to take a rather significant loss and just settle so we could move on with our lives. So, we took the loss. We were out about $1000 on storage of the van at a local garage because it has been sitting there for so long. Disappointing, but alas. Anyway, the man who owns this garage is a GOOD man. He is a Jesus lovin' fella, and I have sent many friends to his place for work on their cars. He told us he was getting his wife a new vehicle and we could take a look at her old one if it would work for us. It's a Suburban. I was a little hesitant because of the gas, and wondering whether my little people could get in and out on their own. We tried it out, and it was perfect! He offered to sell it to us for the amount we settled for, which was a HUGE blessing because it is worth more than that... but he's a family friend, has known us a long time, and you know, just a great guy. So, we're like, "YES!" We write him a check for the amount we settled for and were feeling so grateful, when he then writes US a check, refunding us the amount we lost in the claim due to storage of the vehicle!!! WHAT!?!?!? SERIOUSLY BLOWN AWAY! You better believe I will be advertising heavy for this place if you ever need work done on your car. SUCH a huge and major blessing from God, and I really felt like it was significant that it happened in week 17 of this pregnancy, like God was giving me this special little present. That might sound so silly, but sometimes He does that sort of thing.

So, He's done something else. On Monday, I went to the Kangaroo to get a Roo cup full of Icee goodness for my kiddos. I walk in, and there is a new worker. His name is Ransom. WHAT.? It pretty much freaked me out, not in a good way. I was really stressing about this turn of events. WHO is named Ransom, other than my dead baby? No one. Is God trying to let me know this baby will die, too? I don't know... but let me now fast forward to TODAY. I was doing a homeschool evaluation for a friend, and then we were chatting about all sorts of life stuff, when I said to her (and to myself), "Well, the Lord hasn't given us a spirit of fear." AS I WAS MAKING THIS STATEMENT, RANSOM (from the Kangaroo) WALKED INTO THE RESTAURANT, RIGHT BEHIND MY FRIEND. This is not a joke. This guy I've never seen in my life, I have seen twice during week 17 of this fear-ridden pregnancy. This young man with the same name as my little one who is gone, walked into a restaurant as I was telling a friend that the Lord didn't give us a spirit of fear. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, if any of my children will live or die, but I do KNOW that I know that I know that I know that fear is most certainly NOT from God. Thank you for praying with me to slam my staff into the ground and declare to the enemy, "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" He is most certainly NOT going to pass. How cool and amazing and huge is our God, seriously!?!?

Anyway, I have been really blessed by these occurrences this week, and I hope you will be as well. God is always up to somethin'.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Battle Rages On

Wow. I have not blogged in a coon's age. (I'm really into that phrase right now.) So, I wanted to take the opportunity to give a little life update and ask for some prayer.

First, I am still working part-time doing medical transcription, also working part-time on the Etsy shop, homeschooling an OFFICIAL kindergartner, volunteering at 2nd Mile Ministries (and SUPER excited to be starting up a middle school program with them this year), and being pregnant. This has been a BUSY summer. We spent a hefty portion of it at Summer Day Camp, which was FANNNNTASTIC, other than the super sick first trimester, but that part has passed now.

We have also had lots of other happenings over the past few months. We got into a car accident in March, which we are hoping to FINALLY resolve this week, and we'll be shopping for a new vehicle. Gotta have more room for car seats!

Annnnnd, we have put an offer in on a house. We put it in before Summer Day Camp even started, but we haven't heard anything yet. It's a short sale, so waiting is part of the game, but boy are we antsy to hear something (positive) and get moving!

Most importantly though, I just hit week 17 of this pregnancy. I find myself really anxious, wondering if I'm feeling this baby move, wondering if I've done all the right things, etc. For those of you who don't know, my second baby, Ransom, died in utero at 17 weeks. I didn't struggle with fear through Aspen's pregnancy because I feel like God made her very clear to me before she was even conceived. That might all sound crazy, and there's a lot of back story, so go read it if you wanna know.

Ransom's Story, Part 1
Ransom's Story, Part 2
Ransom's Story, Part 3, and the Beginning of Aspen's Story

Anyway, I only want to find comfort in God. I don't want to start scheduling extra appointments or making myself crazy with worry about this baby. I know, most importantly, that if I were to have to walk the same path again, I would survive. I have done it once before, and God was hugely glorified. That, after all, is the whole point of this life, right?.

Regardless, it's not fun to be battling the enemy in my mind so consistently. I know this week will continue to be a battle in that regard. I just wanted to ask you to stand in the gap for me, pray for me, and support me as I throw my staff into the ground and declare, yet again, "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!"

It is so weird how a loss in one pregnancy forever changes the rest of your pregnancies. I don't see them as guarantees, or count down the minutes to the gender ultrasound (which I'm still debating as well, because that was when we found out about Ransom). I have this nagging question and fear in the back of my mind, which is clearly NOT from God, stealing some of my joy. I'm sure other moms who have been in this position feel the same way.

I suppose the good news is that in the end, I know who wins. I'm glad to be battling alongside a God who loves me, and friends and family who do as well.

Thanks for reading, and praying, and being there...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Great Park Adventure: Genovar Park

Hello, world! Sorry I've been such a lame blogger lately. Just wasn't feelin' it for awhile. Anyway, Stella's got her groove back! ;) Soooo, this week, the great park adventure took us to Genovar Park!

You know when you approach a park and see two adult legs hanging down side-by-side slides and wonder if the person is dead or alive, that it's going to be a good day at the park! No, it didn't happen to me, but it did happen to my poor punctual friend who got there on time. She also got to retreat and frantically search for her keys to make a hasty escape. Yay! ;) However, we showed up, so we outnumbered the couple of folks who seemed to live there. Then, the Green Machine showed up and we outnumbered a small school nearby. ;)  We had a fun, short visit, because the rain got the best of us.

Check out the pics!



Playground stuff!





Baseball Field!



Swings, and a basketball court!




The cool digger thing that all kids are naturally drawn to and must fight over!



Steepest Slides Ever! (These are also at Sunny Acres Park. They leave your stomach at the top, FYI.)





And these^ were our hosts! :)


Good times. :)


Here is the park's website, and its amenities are listed below.


Park Amenities

AmenityCount
Baseball Youth1
Basketball1
Benches6
Grills1
Multiuse Field1
Perimeter Site Fencing
Picnic shelters1
Picnic Tables2
Playground Equipment4
Softball Youth1
Trash Barrels10



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Five Years Old

Ephraim,

Wow, five years old seems really grown up to me. I can hardly believe you've been around for so long! I'm so proud of the young man you are becoming. This year, we had so much fun learning, exploring, and playing together! We visited lots of parks, captured a gazillion bugs, made play-doh, goop, and slime. We painted to our hearts' content, and we READ. We read a LOT!

God continues to use you to shape me into more of who He'd like me to be. I think a lot of this year's challenge was about TRUST. Do I really trust HIM to take care of you? You are a big boy now. You deserve and have earned new levels of independence. In one sense, it is a HUGE relief because you've become my right-hand man, my biggest help. On the other hand, it is hard to begin the process of letting you go... but I think that's my job as your mom. I don't like thinking about it in exactly that way, but it's the truth. God created you with a purpose and mission. He entrusted me to raise you up and send you out to accomplish it. I pray every day that I'm doing that.

You and I have gone to 2nd Mile's after school program every Monday of this school year, and it's been a special time for the two of us. No little sister bugging us on the car rides, so we can talk about life and all of the crazy things in your imagination! I hope that you've learned something about service by going to 2nd Mile, but I honestly think you've just loved being there, playing with the big kids, and getting to "win" all the games outside because you are like the little mascot of the group.

You are really creative and silly. You like telling jokes, which mostly involve the rhyming of nonsensical words, but you always get a laugh out of me!

You are a huge help with your sister. You play with her. You hug her. You console her (sometimes after you've upset her, granted), but you continue to grow into the kind of young man I am proud to call my son.

Thank God for you, my sweet, firstborn boy. You'll never, ever know how much I love you, or how much God has used you already. I look forward to seeing your story continue to unfold... but not too fast, okay?.

Happy Birthday, Big Boy!

Love,

Momma

PS - Ephraim's actual birthday was April 20th, so I'm not quite a month late in writing this. ;)

Monday, April 23, 2012

School's Out for Summer!!!

Well, I'm done lesson planning for this PreK adventure year! Last week, since it was Ephraim's birthday, I let him check out whatever books he wanted from the library (which included a number of Lego and Transformers Level 1 readers), do whatever crafts he wanted, and just play! And we are stickin' with it! We'll still be doing Bible lessons, and family devotions, lots of reading, and lots of crafting, but we are done with the formality of the "school year." Hope you've had fun with us! :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Back to School - Week 27! (SHARK WEEK!)

I soooo should have coordinated with the Discovery Channel. OH WELL! You actually can check out some Shark Week DVDs from the library, so you better believe we'll be adding those to our library checkouts this week!

HERE is the lesson plan!

I also have high hopes of getting some beach time this week, with a little shark tooth hunting. We'll see how it goes!


Happy Learning! :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Back to School - Week 26! (RESURRECTION WEEK!!!!)

HE IS RISEN!!!! This week, that is all we are focusing on! The lesson plan looks a little different than usual, but when your Savior raises from the dead, IT CHANGES EVERYTHING! :)

There are a TON of great crafts and activities this week to learn all about the resurrection with your little ones, so I hope you'll follow along!

HERE is the lesson plan.

We'll be doing all the activities from "Get a Sense of the Resurrection," as well as making our very own Easter Story Cookies and doing our Resurrection-focused egg dying and hunting activity!







Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Great Park Adventure - Forestry Tower

Yesterday, we took our park adventure down Beach Blvd., to Forestry Tower park! There were a few people who seemed to, umm, live there, so buyer beware! ;)


The park was pretty clean and shady, and there are lots of walking paths and benches. Some of the playground equipment was in disrepair, but they have great sticks on the ground to be used as weapons, so the kids were happy! ;)





This car is badly bent onto its side. There was obviously a wreck.


Are these the HIGHEST swings you've ever seen!?!?!



I saw this from the back first, and thought, "What on earth is that!?!?"


It's a caterpillar to climb! DUH.






This is inside a little playhouse.


And I don't know what this is, but there is nothing but gross-ness pooled inside it.


THE forestry tower! From the park's website - "The name derives from a former fire lookout tower that rises 100 feet above the grounds. It was called the Flagler Fire Tower (Henry Flagler’s FEC Railway line to the beach passed adjacent to the property) after being moved to the site by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938, and renamed the Southside Fire Tower in 1959. The property also contained a residence for the fire lookout (later mobile homes). But the Division of Forestry closed the operation in 1992, and through the efforts of the area’s residents and neighborhood associations, and City Councilman Howard Dale, the site was designated a local landmark in 1996. The city purchased the tract for a park the next year, and today it presents a very picturesque setting, with high elevation and many pine, oak, and cedar trees."



Here is the park's website, and its amenities are listed below.

Park Amenities

AmenityCount
Benches21
Bike racks1
Car Parking14
Drinking Fountain
Grills2
Perimeter Site Fencing
Picnic shelters1
Picnic Tables6
Playground Equipment7
Security Lighting
Trails Paved (Miles)0
Trash Barrels5




Monday, March 26, 2012

Back to School - Week 25! (FISH WEEK)

Well, we took a whopping TWO WEEKS off for Spring Break, and it was super fun! :) Now it's time to get back into the swing of things. Ephraim asked to learn about FISH this week, so we are doing a broad overview of all the different kinds of animals that live in water. If you're following along, there is a SUPER cute magnetic fishing pole craft on Friday. I am excited to do it!

HERE is the lesson plan!

Just keep swimming!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Back to School - Week 24! (PARAMEDICS WEEK)

Dear Lord, please don't let us meet any paramedics this week. It was really neat that we were T-boned on Philips Highway last week and got to meet a police officer during police week, but we can do without meeting any paramedics for any reason this week. (I am sure there are exceptions to this, so don't take offense, paramedics. You know what I'm sayin!)

This week, we are going to learn about paramedics and ambulances! This is the final group of people that we ALWAYS pray for when we see them on the roads. I think that at the end of this week, we should be sufficiently prepared to handle all emergency situations, although I would really like to avoid ever being in one! ;)

HERE is the lesson plan!

Thanks, paramedics, for keeping us safe!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Annoyed with Myself

Do you ever get annoyed with yourself? I do. I've been feeling that way a lot lately. The past several months have been a very interesting overhaul in my life. God has been really opening my eyes to some things and forcing me to make some changes.

The main thing that I find annoying about myself is the fact that I get caught up in so much frivolity. Don't get me wrong, here. Joking around and being sarcastic are likely permanent parts of my character, and I do love Facebook for blowing off steam, being silly, and having a laugh. I also love it for developing relationships with people outside of my "bubble" (meaning, nonChristians, nonHomeschoolers, nonStayatHomeMoms, nonFillintheBlank).... but I hate Facebook (and really, myself) for bickering, quarreling, frustration, annoyance, politics (ugly politics, not intelligent debate), degrees of legalism (holidays, diet, worship styles, ministry decisions), and all the rampant disunity we Christians put all over the web. I'm totally a part of  the problem. I am a crazy person, and for some reason, people vent to me. When it comes to lots of issues, this is totally great. I love being able to be a sounding board for someone else, hear them out, pray for them, do whatever I can. In other instances, especially if it happens to be an issue with which I also struggle, it is just fuel to my fire. I turn into the Avenger if I think another person has been hurt or wronged. It is SO hard for me to sit on something like that without being compelled to fight their battles and right all the wrongs of the world. It's usually not my place to do so, though, and I know there are times I just make things worse. I am totally a button pusher, and I know exactly what I'm doing.... and I am SO annoyed with myself!

On Mondays, we spend the afternoon at 2nd Mile in Brentwood, and I feel like this is a beautiful, wonderful, God-ordained, priority-check for my week. God reminds me every week, "THIS is what matters. There are real people who need to know about Me, real people who need help and love and hope. They aren't all across the world. They are in your own city. You are wasting your time fighting battles other than this one!" SO true. I just don't think it's God's heart. I think a whole lot of the stuff that I spend huge portions of my time doing, thinking about, and being frustrated about are well-meaning detours off the path of what really matters. I've eliminated some things from my life and made some kind of difficult choices to help get back on the path of what really matters. I'm trying really hard to keep the main thing the main thing, so that I don't have to be quite so annoyed with myself.

And, although I'm annoyed with myself, I'm really excited about the new season of life that God is setting before us. He has a plan for our hope and future!

Back to School - Week 23! (POLICE WEEK)

Last week, we learned about the fiery furnace, and about fire fighters and fire safety.

This week, the Bible lesson is about Daniel in the Lion's Den, and though I know we should learn about lions, I'm taking the kid's lead and learning about police. It was the natural progression from firefighters. :)

HERE is this week's lesson plan.

I also thought I'd explain a little more about how we use manipulatives. It is very, very simple. Basically, I take a group of the items and another group of the items and give him a visual math problem. So, I would say, "If I have 4 police cars and add 3 more police cars, how many do I have all together?" He'll count them and tell me the correct answer. Sometimes, I will also write out the problem so he can understand what this looks like visually, 4 + 3 = _____. Subtraction, obviously would be to do the opposite. "If I have 4 police cars and take away 3 of them, how many do I have left?" 4 - 3 = _____. It's very simple, but you'd be surprised how quickly their math skills improve using manipulatives!

Thank you, police officers, for keeping us safe... and a huge thank you to the families of the officers recently lost in the line of duty. Your sacrifices do not go unnoticed! We are praying for you.

Oh and PS - This is sort of random, but something I'm really glad I've done with Ephraim his entire life. He reminds me if I forget. ;) Whenever we see a police car, ambulance, or fire truck, we pray for them. It's a good practice in being others-minded and grateful for the service people who help to make our world a better place.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Great Park Adventure - Patton Park

Today, we took the Great Park Adventure down Hodges Boulevard, to try out Patton Park! There is a small playground and walking path in the front of the park. Further back, there is a really nice football field, and about a thousand soccer fields. This park is VERY clean, quiet, and loads of fun! Tip:  They have branches that look like claws.









Bathrooms!




Covered pavilion with picnic table







Local police station









Lunch!





Nature!








Awwwww....




Love.



If a tree falls in the woods.... this is what it looks like.


Soccer fields galore!





Here is the park's website, and its amenities are listed below.


Park Amenities

AmenityCount
Benches15
Bleachers5
Car Parking524
Concession Stand1
Drinking Fountain
Football2
Perimeter Site Fencing
Picnic shelters3
Picnic Tables6
Playground Equipment1
Restrooms9
Security Lighting
Soccer12