Thursday, November 16, 2006

Changes to My Blogging and My Husband's Job

As much as I love to post new things for my family, friends, and children to read, I am realizing that I simply just don't have the time. My children are so little still, and they deserve the better part of me.

But, I don't want to stop keeping track of our daily happenings around here as I believe it is an important tool to teach my children to walk in their faith. So, I will be starting a new way of doing this.

Jim Bob has taken on the privilege of being the new Editor-in-Chief of Homeschooling Today® Magazine effective immediately. This is going to cut into my blogging time since I will be helping him with edits and other responsibilities associated with running the magazine. He would also like for me to write periodically for the magazine, so this will be more the outlet for my ponderings than this blog. In fact, my first article is due out in the upcoming issue!

I would still love to hear from those of you who so sweetly follow my blog, so I will post new things periodically at the Homeschooling Today website along with writing for the Homeschool Helper email. You can still comment here if you wish to contact me, however, be advised that I won't be checking it quite as frequently as in the past.

We are excited about the changes the Lord has brought into our lives and we are thrilled to share them with you. God is so good to us... better than we can ask or imagine. Please praise Him with us for this new season in our lives!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Ahhh, But It Is Good To Be Home

"How many many friendships life's path has let me see; I've kept a scrap of each to make the whole of me." —Anon.
We have arrived home after an almost two-week journey throughout the Midwest to do some business and see friends. This trip was very last-minute, so much so that I didn't have time to think about what to post while we were gone. But, now that we are back and I've had some time to think it over, I will begin posting some pictures of our trip.

We were able to see our friends, the Carpenters again. Our time with them is always so sweet. We also saw the Servens again. Why is our time with them always so short? And finally, we spent a number of days with James and Stacy McDonald and their beautiful family.

"Some people come into our lives, make footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same." —Anon.
It is truly amazing what time away from home with godly friends can do for a tired soul! We are so refreshed, relaxed and revived! We came home with a new outlook toward all of life's daily struggles, and we know fully the refreshment of being with the Saints. Thank you to all of our dear friends who made our family so comfortable and welcome in your lovely homes.

"The beauty of the house is order, the blessing of the house is contentment; the glory of the house is hospitality." —Anon.
One thread we have noticed that all of these dear friends have in common is their love of hospitality. It is rare indeed to enter a house and find that you have instead entered a HOME. We ate sumptuous meals, laughed long and loud, engaged in deep, satiating conversation, and experienced the satisfaction of worship with sweet friends. It is a rare find, that truest of all measures of God's love, to feel His hand stretched out to you through the tender care and mercy of His people. We have been blessed through these friends, these precious brothers and sisters in the Lord.

I have come home with a sharper vision of what it means to make a house a home. The Lord has challenged me, through some of His own, to be even more the heart and keeper of my home. To Him be the glory and praise for this time of rest and refreshment!

"But every house where Love abides
       and friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home sweet home;
       for there the heart can rest."
           —Henry Van Dyke

Friday, October 20, 2006

Too Much Going On...

To my dear blogging friends who so graciously read my posts and even check in frequently when I haven't gotten around to posting anything for a couple of weeks,

Thank you for your continuing interest in my random postings, thoughts, dreams, and adventures. I will be posting more heartfelt musings and ponderings of our great Lord and King before long, but for now I must be content only with a brief check-in from time to time. Many things are going on here in the Howard home, too many for me to write about at present, but as soon as I can, I will fill you in. Suffice it to say that we are in a time of refining around here. We are praising the Lord for His graciousness to us in this time and for making us more like Himself in the process. Where refining is happening, there is gold to be had in the end, and we have no doubt that He is hard at work to reveal greater treasures in us that are of Himself than we could ever have asked or imagined. He is so very faithful.

So, in the meantime, I will be posting pictures of some of the cute things my children have done, or of the incredible beauty of autumn in our area, curriculum for this year, or of things we've done (like an upcoming picture of my first venture into making sourdough bread from scratch and an art project for the living room that we are all going to work on!)

Thanks for hanging in there with me!


Friday, October 06, 2006

Sweet Friends...

I received, in the mail today, a package from a dear friend in Tennessee. What a sweet surprise to end a rather stressful week! Since she knows that I am an avid collector of all things Cherry, there were all manner of things Cherry in that package, from cherry bon bons, chocolate cherry truffles, cherry embroidered tea towels, to (o.k., so this part has nothing to do with cherries... but who cares!) a Starbucks gift card so that I can go have a nice hot cup of cafe au lait and some time to myself! How thoughtful a gift!

I praise God for my dear friends, and for His faithfulness to bring them into my life and allow me to grow through their example to me and (hopefully) mine to them. We are to encourage, edify, and charge each other with the high stance of looking heavenward to our Heavenly Father for His provision, grace, and love. This is the love of Christ.... to love as He first loved us. My friend could not have known the week I have had... all manner of stress and strain. But God provided her gift to me at the perfect time—His time—to show me that He is answering my prayers and is faithful. "His mercy endures forever," as the psalmist states, and sometimes that mercy is through our friends—without them being aware of it.

Never take for granted that God gave you your friends. Thank Him today for them. He has provided one of His best gifts to you through them. Take the time to tell them so!

My dear friend in Tennessee, (you know who you are ;) ) thank you for your love, encouragement, and for the joy the Lord brought into my life today through you! You are a dear sister, and your kindness is a Christ-like, loving, and generous blessing to me!

PS: I posted this because I figured I'd never get the "Thank You" in the mail to you! ;D

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Baby Steps

We have had quite a busy summer here in the Howard family. Jim Bob has been very busy with work, the children with exploring the beauty of creation all around us, and my youngest has been consumed with learning to walk! I cannot believe that she is already there. You know that feeling when your baby starts to walk; something inside of you wants to scream, "Oh, you are so precious with your little toddle of a walk, but would you please slow down! Mommy's not ready for you to grow up yet!"

Have you ever noticed the excitement, joy, and elation mixed with fear in a beginning walker's face? This time is such a ride of emotions for both the toddler and me every time. Such is the pattern of life.

When we walk, sometimes we fall, but every time we make it without falling, there is such a sense of completion, satisfaction and pure joy; the joy of the Lord. Can you even begin to imagine how it is for our Lord every time He sees us walking the straight and narrow to Him? Like a little babe, we look to Him for encouragement that we can do it. We have excitement, we have joy , we have fear in the walking, yet He is always there; leading us, encouraging us in every step of the way... and He dances over us with joy when we cross the finish line.

We are walking some exciting steps here in the Howard family of late. We are growing and learning new things daily. We are relying on the Lord. We feel His joy. We praise Him for His unfailing care. Our God is great! Praise Him!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Secretary Desk and Tea

I have wanted (needed actually) a secretary desk for a very long time. I've looked in consignment, I've looked in garage sales, I've looked in retail outlets, antique stores, etc.
But I have never found one that was exactly to my liking; nor were any of them at a price I could justify paying.

Ingenuity and resourcefulness to the rescue! I've been reading a lot lately at Homeliving Helper about resourcefulness and creativity. "Why spend so much when I can just reuse or recycle what I already have?" Maybe it's the Scot in me, but "me blood boils" at the thought of the lack of thriftiness in our postmodern society's ways.

Last weekend when we were rearranging our children's bedrooms—trying desperately to get the girls into one room so we can have ours back—we realized that a bookshelf that was sitting in our girls' bedroom just wouldn't fit in there anymore. So, we thought about where we could move it in the house (homeschoolers can always use more bookshelves in just about every room, can't we?) when we suddenly had an idea. Why not just put it behind the old Singer sewing machine I've been using as a desk in our living room? So, we did. It looked a little strange as the wood on the two pieces were of different stains, and the styles of the furniture were from different eras (as in... about 80 years apart).

Creativity to the rescue...

"Doilies anyone?!!" I went into my linen closet to retrieve the lace doilies
A surprise from my hubby nestled next to Pride and Prejudice.
and place mats and napkins I've collected over the years. Then, I went down to the basement to iron them all. I brought them up at last and placed a few select ones on the bookshelf and desk, carefully hiding the cords and other worn parts of both pieces. Next, I took out books that I love, and some of the things I will need to have readily-accessible for school this year, as well as the tea cup that my sweet husband just bought for me as a start to my new tea cup collection (inspired by Deborah Brown's collection—hanging on the antler chandelier!). I placed the tea cup there to remind myself to take some time out for tea everyday to refresh, rejuvenate and start our family's evening off right.

Here is the lovely result of my efforts:

Teacups and lace; MPR Classical streaming through the speakers... AHHHhhhhh!

A lacy wall-hanging drapes over the side of the bookshelf to remind me of my role to "Bless this Home."
I believe I will enjoy this spot to write, study, plan, and prepare for years to come, Lord willing.

I wonder sometimes, how many times have I spent money instead of just simply recycling and being creative with what I have?

Anyone else have a similar experience that you would like to share? I'd love to hear of your creative and resourceful—as well as frugal—exploits!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"The" Wedding!

My family and I were so blessed this past weekend to be allowed the privilege and honor to attend the wedding of Peter Bradrick and Kelly Brown (now Mrs. Peter Bradrick!).

What a wedding! This is one that I will remember for a very long time. I truly think this was the best wedding I have ever attended. This is saying a lot considering that I was a wedding consultant in my earlier years.

What made this wedding so great was that EVERYTHING was biblical, and not only that, but it was truly meant by the bride, the groom, and their families.

After Kelly came down the aisle and was presented to Peter by her father, Scott Brown, they went to kneel facing each other. Peter was saying some wonderful things to Kelly that no one but Kelly could hear... it was obviously a precious moment between the two of them. Then, the groomsmen and the bridesmaids sang a hymn while the bride and groom's parents prayed over them.... so, so special. It was very hard not to cry - for just about everyone there.

To hear Scott say, "This is my daughter..... she has never caused me grief.... I present her to you now..." Was such a testimony to what the Lord can do in a family to raise up godly seed!

Many people would balk, I think, to know that Kelly was prayed over to be blessed, like Rebekah, to be "the mother of hundreds of thousands," but if those who might balk could have seen her face as I could when that was prayed over her, they would only know that this is the fervent desire of her heart. May God truly bless them, and, yes, may they "contend with their enemies in the gates!"

Doug's blog, and Scott's blog both have tremendous pictures that I think just about everyone has seen, but just in case you haven't seen them yet, go look! Also, we have one picture of our own that turned out OK. This picture, although not of the kind of quality that Doug and Scott have on their blogs, shows the intimacy of Christ in this couple's relationship. Although these two had never kissed before their wedding (as Doug said, their first kiss was just that, "a genuine first kiss" because they had kept themselves completely for their future spouse) one can easily see the closeness they feel as a result of Christ being the defining factor in their relationship. Look closely at their body language in this picture. They are comfortable with one another. They know they are within the Lord's will in their relationship. They have honored Him, their parents and one another by keeping themselves pure before marriage. And now, so soon after their vows were taken, they are bonded in the unity of the love of Christ. It is a beautiful thing indeed! Peter and Kelly sought Christ first and His righteousness BEFORE their own physical pleasure, and it is obvious to anyone who attended the wedding that Christ will add that also unto them. Please feel free to gape and wonder! I know that Peter and Kelly will be pleased to know that their union has brought such joy, inspiration, the gospel message, and refreshment to so many souls!

And the two shall become one...

Peter and Kelly, God bless your union, God bless your offspring, God bless you two as you begin your life as a new family! Jim Bob and I will be here to support you every step of the way however we can. It will be an honor to support you! Thank you so much for inviting us to your wedding! I am still reeling from everything I saw and heard. I have been praying for you for a long time, and I will continue to do so. May you be richly blessed in your life together!

May your parents also be richly blessed for the investment they put into your lives! Thank you also to the Browns who blessed us with food and fellowship and lodging the day after the wedding when our car broke down when trying to drive home. Your hospitality will never be forgotten. You were a refreshment to our souls also. Thank you for setting such a godly example for us in raising your children unto the Lord. It can be done with the Lord's strength! God bless you, Browns and Bradricks!

Friday, August 18, 2006

In The Arms of Grace

This morning I re-read Psalm 46. This psalm is one of my favorites. I've read it so many times, but this morning certain parts of it struck me afresh. I needed the reminder that He is always with me.

Verse 5: "God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her."

Verse 7: "The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge."

Verse 8: "Come, behold the works of the Lord."

Verse 10: "Be still, and know that I am God..."

Verse 11: "The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge."

When I started my quiet time this morning, I was thinking of berating myself for all of the ways that I've fallen short lately, and then looking up scriptures to speak to those character flaws. But my Lord had a different plan—a better plan. He, being a wise and loving Father, instead took me on His knee, spoke words of comfort, kindness, and grace to me. He soothed the raging seas within me. He calmed my storm. I am at peace once again in His loving care.

Lately, my oldest daughter has wanted to be held a lot. I've given her that love. I've given her that "cuddle time," knowing that she's happier and much more content afterward. Now I know how she feels. Sometimes we all need to be held, loved, and put at peace. Sometimes we all need to simply "Be still and know..." Know not only that He is God, but that He loves us, He feels our pain, and "weeps with those who weep." He knows our need for comfort and grace—and He gives it abundantly.

Lord, help me to come to You for that comfort more often. In the busy-ness of life and caring for so many others, I can forget that I must be filled by and with Your love first, before I have any to give, because You are my Source for all. Thank You.

Monday, August 14, 2006


As I have been enduring a loss in my life, I have seen the incredible goodness of the Lord at the same time. Many of you have either emailed me or commented and I want to thank you for your encouragement and prayers. It means much to me that you are so thoughtful as to pray for me even when some of you have never met me. You are evidence of Jesus' continuing grace in my life.

I have endeavored to fill my time and my thinking with things that are "noble, just, pure, lovely, good, and praiseworthy" as Philipians 4:8 says to do. I have been thinking about what I will be studying with my children for the upcoming year, and planning out their lessons and reading. I have also been busy with reorganizing the house to make things run more smoothly, not only for school, but to make our entire family more comfortable and so that it is easier to find things when we need them. And, finally, I've been piddling around a lot in my garden. I think I'll plant a few more perennials to add beauty and loveliness to my home. I think I will also script out some of my favorite passages of scripture to keep me constantly aware of the Lord's presence and good work in my life.

I wonder, what else do you all do to keep your focus on the things of the Lord and on His goodness in your life during times of trial? I mean, I read scripture and I pray a lot... that is first and foremost, without that nothing else will help. But I want to know what others do in addition to that. I'm looking forward to hearing your feedback.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Pruner Who Was and Is and Is To Come

Lord God, I am hurting over the loss I am currently going through. Why is it that whenever I get such an enormous blessing in my life that it seems to be taken away?

Maybe it's not that way in reality. Maybe it only feels that way at the moment because of the intensity of the trial. I have to believe that You are at work for my good and the good of all of those involved. You most certainly are sovereign and full of grace and mercy. You always have been, You are, and You always will be.

You were there in my past when things were seemingly too hard to bear. You promise to always be there in the future, to never leave me nor forsake me. I must believe in You in the here and now while this one painful trial is to be endured. Your grace IS. It is sufficient, it was sufficient, it always will be sufficient for me.

As Psalm 78 reminds me to tell the next generation of Your marvelous deeds in days past ("We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done."), I must also remember at this time that You are still here. I must make the list stick firmly in my head of the wonderful things You have done for me in the past so that I will not grow faint in the now. I will. I will go and make that list, and as a sacrifice of praise, I will thank you for those things and for how You are at work now even if I cannot see what You are doing by pruning me in this painful manner.

I do thank You that You have proved Your love to me in the past by pruning me and allowing my roots in you to grow deeper through the pain. I have always, always grown stronger and more firmly trusting of You and Your goodness to me with every cut of Your shears in days gone by. I will remember those times, and your faithfulness to me through it. I am trusting You now to do the same in this present circumstance.

I praise You for You are good. You are faithful. I will not waiver in my belief, by Your grace. And by Your grace, You will see me through. You ARE seeing me through. You have always seen me through. For You are He Who was, and is, and is to come (Revelation 4:8).

Thank You, Jesus.

Friday, August 04, 2006

My List of Five...

I was recently tagged to do a list of five, so here goes:

Five things always in my purse:
Pencils/crayons for my children to doodle with

Five things I love to eat:
A good steak

Five things I love to hear:
"Wow! Your children are so well behaved!" (doesn't happen as often as I'd like ;) )
Birds chirping
The sound of snow falling
Classical Music playing in my home (especially DeBussey, Mozart, Bach, Handel, or Salas)
My children laughing

Five ages I've really enjoyed being:

Five women who have influenced me greatly (How I wish this one could be longer!):
My Mom (of course!)
Shirley Gipson
Noël Adams
Rachele Powell
Devon Carpenter
This one I'll have to leave open because no matter which way I try to list this last one, there are too many others I want to mention who have mentored me either knowingly or unknowingly... Thank you to you all!!!)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Two Blogging Amys

My family and I were given such a wonderful blessing over the weekend. We were blessed to meet the Scott family while they were visiting friends here in Virginia.

Amy Scott and I have talked through email over the last few months. For those of you who have seen her blog (and chances are that's most of you as her readership is far, far greater than mine!), you know that she is one great writer and a very funny gal. But there is more to her than that; she is just a regular girl, striving to please the Lord with her service as a wife and mother. It just so happens that she has been gifted with the ability to write well and speak to us in a very real, very genuine way.

We met the Scotts at a mutual friend's house for dessert on Sunday evening, and then shared a lunch together before they left town on Monday. We had a good discussion time of getting to know each other better and then (too soon!) it was time to part.

I will say this: It's always strange meeting someone whose writings have spoken to you. I was actually very nervous to meet Amy. I'm not sure why except for the fact that I respect her. Meeting her threw all that nervousness away. She is very down-to-earth, and very willing to talk of things of substance, not just gloss over things in the usual way of small talk which inevitably drives me mad. No, I think (hope) that we will be friends from here on. She and her lovely family are quality people. True genuineness of character is a gem to find. For those of you who have never met Amy Scott, she is one of those gems.

Bad News

What do you do with bad news? There's the worldly reaction of throwing one's hands up in the air, wanting to give up, throw in the proverbial towel, get depressed, and possibly have some sort of knee-jerk reaction to the news.

But that's not an option for any professing Believer. We are to hope as never before. We are to trust in Christ alone for the outcome. We are to listen to wise counsel. We are to lean on the strong right arm of God Almighty. We are to look to our local Body of Believers for support and care. This, this is the right response.

Pray for me. I've received bad news today. I will not blog about the specific news, but I do covet prayers in handling this news in a godly manner. It would be easy, comfortable, and my usual M.O., to turn inward and say nothing to those closest to me of how hurt I am, but I must not do this. I must rely on Christ and His Body to see me through.

Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Peas and Carrots

Now that our latest visitors are gone, we're turning our attention back to our much-neglected garden... before our next visitors arrive.

I wanted you all to see the picture I took of a carrot from our garden.

These long-awaited (and blogged about) beauties were sweet, just as the snow promised.

The children were very excited to pick these with us. They LOVED pulling on the tops and seeing the carrots pop up out of the ground. We had quite a few of them, too...

And since the peas were ready for picking, too, we decided to put the peas and carrots together one night and saute them up for a side dish:

Lest you think that I grew giant peas, please understand that a very valuable lesson was learned in our home about soil conditions in far southwest Virginia. Apparently, carrots just don't do well in our soil, and they never get much bigger than this! Ahhh! But a lesson lived is a lesson learned! We'll be buying our carrots next year!

The peas were very good (and of normal size!) so, we probably will endeavor to grow those again.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Inspiring Visitors

Over the last two weeks, we've had a couple of visitors to the Treehouse. Isn't it great to enjoy fellowship with the saints?

The Serven Adios™ (again)

Our first visitors were the Serven Clan (again), or at least five of the eleven Servens, who were on their way to the History of the World Mega Conference here in Virginia. We had a lovely evening and early morning with them before they left making tracks to Hampton. We enjoyed sharing food and more time building a friendship with this lovely family. Check out their blog:

The Serven Clan
While the Servens were here, we discussed a very important issue—the Howards need a bigger table! ;) Cheryl and I also had some time to discuss heart issues regarding parenting. Our time was too short, however. We hope to make a trip to visit the Servens in their home some day soon. Hopefully Cheryl and I will have ample time then to pick up where we left off. I feel I could learn volumes from this godly wife and mother. (Cheryl, you ARE an inspiration!)

Then, last weekend, we had the privilege of opening our home to the Waller family. The Wallers are the subjects of the film A Journey Home. We had the joy of meeting the Wallers last month at the Carpenters' home. We were thrilled when Tommy Waller asked if they could park their bus, yes, I said BUS, in our driveway for the night. We were more than ready to have them come to stay with us since we enjoyed their fellowship so much last month.

The Wallers' Blue Bird Conversion Bus
(They're practicing the Serven Adios™!)

The Waller family lives in Israel part-time, helping the settlers in the West Bank tend their gardens and, in the process, sharing the love of Christ with them. While they were here, the current fighting in Israel broke out affecting many they know. Please pray for all those affected in this current crisis. To know more aptly how to pray, please visit their website:

Ha Yovel - The Jubilee
Tommy Waller and a few of his children talk to a friend in Israel affected by the war

Here are some pictures of our time with the Wallers and their beautiful family of eleven children (now you know why they need a bus! ;0) )

Several of our friends came out to meet the Wallers

Tommy Waller explains their work in Israel
while the older boys get ready to play for us

My children's eyes light up when the time comes for
Davidic dancing with Daddy and the Wallers

They've converted all the seats to aisle-facing and the seat backs fold up to make bunkbeds.

The Wallers and Howards gather in front of the Treehouse

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Total Control

Over the years, if I have learned anything it has been to allow the Lord total control. He has all the control anyway, but so often I try to take it back, put myself on the throne and make all the decisions for myself. Isn't this what Eve did? Didn't she decide that she would rather be in control than surrender?

Surrender. Do you know what that word means? Webster's 1828 dictionary defines it as: "The act of yielding or resigning one's person or the possession of something, into the power of another." All the rights we think we have, all of the wants, desires, dreams, and goals we have... surrendered into the power of Another.

Sound scary? Of course it does. Know anyone trustworthy enough to be that safe-haven to which one could give all of this? There is no mere mortal to whom I could entirely give myself with reckless abandon. There is only One Who is worthy of this distinction, and that is Christ.

When I became a Christian, I didn't really realize what the Lord would ask of me. Marriage, children, ministry, friends. Give, give, give.

What I also didn't realize is that I would not be alone to find the strength with which to continue after I had given what I thought was my all. No, Christ reigns supreme in me and, as such, fills me with His life in order for me to continue to give, give, give. No, no "pity parties" allowed here. I have all I need to go on daily... I have Christ. I will never thirst for I have been given Living Water to sustain me (John 4:13-15). To surrender to this kind of captivity is to be taken hold of by the kindest Captor ever known to man, the One who surrendered His all... for me.

"For the Lord will judge His people and have compassion on His servants, when He sees that their power is gone..." (Deut. 32:36)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Family Traditions, Part Two

A couple of posts back, I mentioned that I would start a series on family traditions. This will be the second in that series that I will intersperse among other posts.

In this post, I would like to tell about another family tradition we have, and that is of reading aloud stories of Church history during the last part of our family worship. This all started last summer, but has become something that we really enjoy.

Last summer, a few weeks after my second daughter was born, my father and his wife came to visit. During their visit, we continued with our family worship as usual. One night, we were reading from Trial and Triumph: Stories from Church History. My Dad asked if he could look through the book. Suddenly he exclaimed, "Gustavus Adolphus!... My great grandfather's name was Gustavus Adolphus! I never knew that he was named after someone!" After this revelation, my father began to read the story of Gustavus Adolphus aloud to us and in the process, taught my children all about an important church hero and tied family ties that I know my children (especially the oldest) will not soon forget.

We decided then and there that this was a tradition that was worth pursuing. Especially when the grandparents are around, Jim Bob will give them their choice of hymns and/or stories from which to pick during our family worship. We enjoy it all the more when the grandparents are the ones to tell a story, or pick a hymn. I love to see the multi-generational faithfulness of the Lord being passed down to my children from their extended family!

Friday, June 30, 2006

Service As A Privilege

While spending some time with the Lord one morning last week, I read my ususal round of devotions to go along with the Word, and in the process found this from Elizabeth Eliot:

"The job has been given to me to do.
Therefore it is a gift.
Therefore it is a privilege.
Therefore it is an offering I may make to God.
Therefore it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him.
Therefore it is the route to sanctity.

Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God's way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness. The discipline of this job is, in fact, the chisel God has chosen to shape me with--into the image of Christ."

My entire life long this passage, Romans 8:28-29, has followed me in every situation. My mother had this verse hanging on my bathroom wall:

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."

The "route to sanctity," as Elizabeth Eliot puts it, is exactly why He allows those challenges that we must accept in our lives. Those challenges come in so many forms, whether it be marriage, childrearing, financial pressures, illness of self or another loved one, etc..

The key to joy isn't how few of those things from which we can escape, rather it is in seeing the challenge rightly. It lies in seeing it clearly through Christ's eyes. When we realize that He is treating us as real sons and daughters when he chastens us is key to understanding that His love knows no bounds and certainly only wants the best for His own. The key to joy is realizing that all that He allows in our lives is mercy and grace. The very air I am allowed to breathe is grace overflowing.

So, if we are chosen to endure hardship, or simply given a job that is very demanding (Hello, any of you mothers out there agree with me on this one?), we need to look at it as stated above:

"The job has been given to me to do.
Therefore it is a gift.
Therefore it is a privilege.
Therefore it is an offering I may make to God.
Therefore it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him.
Therefore it is the route to sanctity."

Even this HARD thing I have to do? Even this pain I must endure for His name's sake? Even when I feel so overwhelmed?

Yes, Yes, and still again I say, Yes! It is a privilege to serve Him in this way... no matter what it is. As painful as that may seem, it is God's honest truth... His best for us. And therein lies hope. Hope that He is indeed changing us into the image of His Son. What higher privilege could I ask? I must make this offering to Him wholeheartedly in order to know Him more, to love Him and Him only. This and this alone is my purpose... not some contrived, man made hope of sharing God's glory. That would be vanity, pride. No, my purpose is to bring Him glory, to reflect Him. And when I do that, I will truly be entering into His presence and able to understand what it means to enjoy Him. No best-seller can help me find a purpose higher than this.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Family Traditions

What I have written below came from another comment I made at LFL today on the topic of teaching children to cook. But after I wrote it, I thought I would start a series on traditions within our families. So, here is the first in a series of traditions posts:

I started a tradition here in our family where we are starting each child with their own cookbook they can take with them when they are grown. I work from a four-week menu plan. I started by asking each of the oldest ones what their favorite meals are. Then I made a list with them of the meals they would like to learn to make. This is a big deal to them because it means they are getting big enough to do some more things on their own. It's almost like a rite of passage!

We carefully write down each of the steps in making the recipe and then they go through the "four-step learning process" we use for training on everything: First, watch Mom/Dad do it. Next, help Mom/Dad do it. Then, do it with Mom/Dad's help. And finally, do it on their own (with a parent close by to answer questions). (Each step can be repeated, as often as needed, until Mom/Dad feels the child has achieved mastery of that level.)

Oh! The other thing I do is to make sure to write down some notes on the page where we wrote the recipe about the time we first made it together, whether it was a special occasion, how it turned out, etc. I also try to include a personal note of encouragement about how proud I am of them and the growth I see in them at that point in their lives. I love to see their smiles when they read these notes!

My hope is that by the time they are grown, they will have a cookbook (yes, even the boys) that they can use in their own families and to bless others.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Addendum to the Family Meal Table

I posted a comment on Kim's blog today about working with children in the kitchen. Jim Bob and I both having recently talked about the Family Meal Table, I thought it would be appropriate to point my readers there to see what I wrote. It concerns boys in the kitchen... a hot topic for many. How much do we let boys help? How much is feminizing them?

I would like to hear what you think about this issue. I don't presume to know all the answers on this one. My oldest two are boys and I personally LOVE their help in the kitchen. Let me know how you feel about this.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Modest Dress Forum Is Working

Hello everyone! The technical difficulties we were having with the exchange are no longer a problem, so feel free to mosey on over to the exchange and take a look. And by all means, if you have knowledge of a good deal at a store, or have some things to give away to bless another, please register and post it!

Also, if you have feedback for me on the forum, please let me know about it. I want to serve you the best way I possibly can.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Modest Dress Info Exchange: Outage

Technical Support Update

As of 9:27PM EDT, June 21, the forum seems to be back up. Let's pray it stays that way! ;)

Billy Joe Jim Bob (Amy Joe's technical support arm)

Technical Support Notice

Of course, the day after I create this forum and Amy starts telling folks about it, they decide to work on the server. Here's a note from, the host of the Modest Dress Information Exchange forum:

Our technicians will be working on this server throughout the day. It will probably be on and off. Once the issues are resolved it will run as steady as the other servers.

Sorry for the inconvenience,
...and like Limez, I'm sorry for the inconvenience. It should be back up soon and working smoothly after that.

Billy Joe Jim Bob (Amy Joe's technical support arm)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Modest Dress Info Exchange

Devon Carpenter had a great idea: An information exchange for modest dress sightings.

She brought up the idea to me last weekend while we were visiting their home. Here's the basic idea:

If you are an aficionado of modest, beautiful, feminine clothing, then you know how hard it is to find items that match that description. I find, now that I have a daughter that is getting into the 4T-6T range in clothing, that it is even harder to find clothes that are appropriate for a Christian maiden who desires to dress in a way becoming to her beliefs. Couple this with the problem that so many of the dresses/skirts out there that would fit this description are outrageously expensive, and for those of us with many littles at home it is hard to get out there and go shopping (and trying on outfits) while juggling the two to five toddlers/babies many of us have, and it is hard to find the time to search all over the web for these gems, we need help to get these items with as little effort and cost as possible.

So, what this exchange will do is allow a forum where anyone who finds a good deal at any store on modest skirts, tops, dresses, maternity clothing, and little girls clothing, or even patterns to post it matter your location, so that those who are near that location, or near the chain store that is having a sale, can go and buy it at a reasonable price.

But, I will go even further than that...I think we can show true Christian charity toward one another by offering skirts to one another. If you have a skirt/dress,etc. that you no longer need/ no longer fit into, but that could still be put to good use by others, list it here and hopefully it can find a new home and make it a little easier for those of us who desire to honor our husband's desire that we dress in a way that is becoming to godly womanhood/maidenhood.

I will put a link to this exchange on my right sidebar, so that anytime you are visiting my blog, you can click over to see if there are any good deals in your area or an exchange that can be made with another person online.

I will be a clearing house for this information only... not a broker or merchant... so I am not responsible for items shipped, or any agreements between you and another reader of my blog.

I hope that this will help those of you out there who are endeavoring to live a godly, feminine, and modest lifestyle to the glory of God and the bulding of His Kingdom!

Here's the link to the exchange forum: Amy Joe's Modest Dress Exchange
(I'm trying out this free hosting environment for the forum. I don't have any experience with them, so I'm hoping they'll be responsive and do the job for us. Since it's free, they do have ads at the top of the page. Please let me know if any are risque or otherwise offensive.)

Best regards and blessings to you all,

p.s. Thanks, Devon, for the really great idea!!!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Refreshment and Rest

What a wonderful weekend we had! As I mentioned in my last post, we were going to see the Carpenters soon. What I didn't mention was that it was this past weekend. Anyway, we are back and I have a quick synopsis of it all.

Have you ever been in a home where the aroma of Christ dwelt so strongly that it was undeniable? Where you learned something new about the character of Christ at every turn? That's the kind of weekend we had. The Carpenters are such people. There was never a dull moment during this visit, whether it be sitting together at the family meal table enjoying scrumptious food and talking of the days events and what each meant to us, or meeting new friends, or being shown around the sweet and pristine little town of Franklin, Tennessee.

(Speaking of the family meal table, which I mentioned in a previous post, Ken's company, Franklin Springs Family Media, has just released a new video, called The Family Meal Table, which we have found extremely helpful in furthering our efforts in this area. I HIGHLY recommended it!)

The Carpenters have that graciousness of spirit that only comes from being wholly given to the Lord. To give you an example of the kind of hospitality we were shown, we arrived at their home around (o.k., Carpenters, at EXACTLY) 4:30 on Friday afternoon. We were shown all around their beautiful home and told that we would be staying in the front two bedrooms. These bedrooms are where their children sleep. So, where would the children sleep? You got it, all of them (they have eight children) would sleep in Mom and Dad's room for the following three nights. I know that Mom and Dad didn't get quite enough sleep, yet they were so fun to be around the entire time.

Self-sacrifice and joy in hospitality, extending a Christ-like hand in friendship and desiring to build a new friendship... these are the things that have been impressed upon me from our time with the Carpenters.

With our new "old" friends, the Carpenters

My favorite part of the weekend? Saturday morning we all drove into Franklin. Franklin was great, but the best part was that Ken wanted Devon and I to drive into town together in their car while he and Jim Bob drove in the van with the children (all twelve of them) so that Devon and I could have the chance to get better acquainted. What a wonderful time we had, Devon! I've made a new friend! A kindred spirit! What a great time we had just talking, talking, talking! We have so much in common. Isn't it wonderful when God blesses us with a new genuine friendship?!!

I am thankful for all that the Carpenters did to give us such a blessing this past weekend. Vacations like that just don't come along all that often. What a beautiful family. What a blessing of new friendship!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Short One For Now, But More Later...

I was reading on Amy's Humble Musings (I love her blog!) and I couldn't help commenting on what she wrote today. I mentioned that I should just point people there for my post today because I wrote a longer than average comment... but it is about the things that have been on my heart recently anyway. Go take a look at my comment there.

I will have more later about our weekend vacation with the Carpenters. We had an absolutely lovely time with them! Check in tomorrow for more...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

New Stuff...

We just got this picture of dd#1. We think it encapsulates the exhileration of youth in the summertime. Wouldn't you agree?

A joyful maiden

Also, we are planning a trip to see our new friends, the Carpenters, from Franklin Springs Family Media, soon. We finally got pics to share of when they were here after the conference. The Carpenters have a great ministry of producing high quality family films that are educational and edifying. In a world where quality Christian film-making has really been scant, Franklin Springs Family Media has broken through that barrier and shown that God can do amazing things in ordinary families. This is where Ken's films shine. In fact, they shine so well, that we have passed on his films, A Journey Home (Winner of the Jubilee Award at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival last fall), and The Peasall Sisters: Family Harmony, to many of our friends here in Virginia... all to rave reviews! Go check out their website at

Hi, Carpenters! We can't wait to see you again!

The Carpenters visit the Treehouse

Another Christian agrarian blogger has contacted me! Her site is Homestead Herbs. This sweet sister has me listed in her side bar as a "Christian Mentor." I am flabbergasted! I would be more inclined to think of her as a mentor. She is doing some really amazing things with her life and I want all of you to know about her too. Go take a look at her site!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Goings-On at the Treehouse

Since the conference, I've been playing catch-up on child training, laundry, child training, gardening, child training, laundry, child training, and just the usual day-to-dayness of life. Personally, I'd like to thank Kim Brenneman from Large Family Logistics, again, for all of her hard work on her site. If it weren't for her schedules and routines and the encouragement I glean from her site to keep my home running smoothly and involve my children in all of the home-keeping I do, I doubt that our schedule would be back on track yet. So, thanks, Kim!

We've had a bunch of things going on since the conference. I guess the first thing has been that our ds#2 is now 6 years old! On his birthday, we surprised him with a present that he's been wanting for a very long time... a puppy! Yes, I said a puppy. Not any ordinary puppy either, she's a Jack Russell Terrier (Or Jack Russell TERROR!). We went to meet the couple we were getting the pup from on the morning of his birthday. They had two pups left, so when we got there, I called him by name and said, "Get out of the car, honey, and go pick out your puppy!" His whole face lit up like a firecracker! His little eyes sparkled, and he said, "I get a puppy? Really?" and then he went straight to the one he wanted. She went straight to him also. It was love at first sight. Very sweet.

So, he started to hug on his puppy and looked so happy I thought he might start crying. Then the time came to say goodbye and I found myself unable to leave without his puppy's sister. She was next to the runt in size, with precious little crinkles above her eyebrows, making her look very maternal and concerned. And pitiful. I was completely taken in and looked up at Jim Bob and said, "Can we take her too? They'll do better together. Please?" He was taken in a bit much his own self, and we left there the proud owners of two very cute puppies.

On the way to the pet store afterwards, we let ds#2 pick a name for his new puppy. He chose "Chocolate." No surprise... the boy has a sweet tooth that you just wouldn't believe! So, I named the other one Caramel. It suits them too. Chocolate has brown spots with some dark brown to black outlining, and Caramel has light brown spots. They are very sweet indeed. Here is a picture of us with our new pups:

Ds#2 got to pick which one he wanted. Then I picked the other one!

So, we've been getting used to being a family of 8 all of a sudden! What fun! Now, if I can just stop ds#2 from being a little too rough on his puppy. I think he forgets that she's not a toy. But she's pretty resilient and I think they will be the best of friends for years to come... at least I hope! We've had him memorizing Proverbs where it says that "A righteous man regards the life of his animal," in hopes that he will understand that he is a steward of this puppy's life and she depends upon him for everything, and he must be kind to her.

Meet Chocolate... and her Resolute Protector

This is Caramel

It's amazing how many of the things we have been teaching our children about puppies come back to teach us, as their parents, how to train our children. We must regard the life of our children, treating them as co-heirs in Christ, with the law of kindness constantly on our tongues. We must be consistent in providing for their needs as well as for their discipline and instruction. As usual, God is after us as the parents whenever we try to teach something to our children. It's always, always, always about sanctification—making us more like Jesus.

We also have been finishing up with the planting of our garden. I really do intend to post some more pictures soon of our progress, as long as the pups don't completely trample the garden to bits!

We have not had as much success this year with our salad garden as we would have liked, but the season is still rather early and we are going to sow some more seeds for a new patch of lettuces this week, so hopefully we will have a better harvest in the next batch. Carrots are supposed to be ripe now, but we haven't had much success there either. The good news is that the problem is probably not us as I have heard 'round about that not many have had success with growing carrots here. "Too many rocks in the soil." Maybe next year we will try planting them in a raised bed cold frame with mostly sandy loam and see how they do.

One of the things I love so much about heading in a more agrarian direction is that we learn SO much! If at first you don't succeed, ask questions, read more, find some experts, do the research, and try, try again!

The good news is that our potatoes are starting to come up, as are our corn plants and our peas are almost ripe! We are looking forward to the harvests from these crops!

Very extremely young early tender sweet baby peas

We have also been in the process of planning to get involved in the local farmer's market and 4-H club. Both of these we can do as a family and we can encourage our boys' entrepeneurial skills by pursuing these. Most of all, however, we are looking forward to more family closeness as a result of working together as a family to learn, grow, and pour a little back into our family economy. The boys' eyes twinkled with excitement when we discussed doing these things at the dinner table. They are learning so much and they have good attitudes about it all so far. Most of all, it warms my heart to know they want to work with us and be a family. So many children their ages don't want anything to do with their parents. I pray God grants us the grace to train them in this way so that they may be blessed!

So, what will we sell at market? Baked goods: breads, cinnamon rolls, cookies, bread slicing boards that Jim Bob and the boys have built, and pinafores, pantaloons, dresses, and skirts that I have made (and will be teaching the girls to make as soon as they are old enough to sew). That's what we'll start with. After that, once we get our farming techniques better nailed down, we hope to sell some of our produce at market also. That's the plan. We'll see how it goes.

I think I've typed all I can for this evening. Hope you all have enjoyed the update!

P.S. As soon as I can, I will also be selling dresses, skirts, pinafores, and pantaloons from a link to this site. We could also sell bread slicing boards if there is enough interest. I will make an update as soon as I am ready to begin taking orders!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Monkey Milk and Leaky Logs...

So, dd#1 was helping me make my Buttermilk-Oatmeal Bread (something we hope to sell at market soon!) the other day and I was doing my best to help her help know how that goes! Of course everything took a little longer than it would have had I done it on my own, but that's a part of training. Besides, had I not involved her, I wouldn't have this to blog about, now would I?

Passing down a multigenerational love of cooking to my daughter

I asked her to repeat all the names of the ingredients after me, which she happily did. I said, "This is oatmeal. Can you say 'oatmeal?'"

"Yes... oatmeal."

Then I said, "This is flour. Say 'flour.'"

She said, "F-wower."

"Very good, Sweetie. Now say 'Buttermilk.'"

She thought about it for a minute and then said, "Monkey milk!"

I, repressing laughter, continued by saying, "Hmmm, let's try that again. Can you say 'butt-er-milk?'" She tried again and it came out, "Puppy milk."

"O.K.," I said, "Say it again, but this time say, B-B-B-Bu-u-u-t-t-t-errr-milk."

She said, "O.K., Mommy... Bupper-milk... (after a little pause) Mommy?"

"Yes, Honey."

"Go pway leakilawgs, me?"

"What, Honey?"

"Mommy, go pway leakalods, me?"

Kneeling down to get on her level, I said, "Honey, I'm sorry, I don't understand what it is you want. Will you say it again, please?"

"Yeah, go... pwAYYYY... LEAKilogs, ME!"

From the other room, Jim Bob chimes in, "I think she wants to go play with the Lincoln Logs!" About to double over from laughter I said, "Oh!... sure Honey, you can go play with the Lincoln Logs."

(As an aside, leaky logs is NOT what what we'll be using when Jim Bob builds our log home.)

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

New Friends

Yesterday, we were pleased to find out that our new friends, the Servens, whom I mentioned in a previous post (and Jim Bob mentioned, too), posted a very sweet blog about... well... us.

Their post is entitled, "New Friends" and it is all about our time with them when they were here for the conference a few weeks ago. What a sweet aroma to Christ and His bride the Servens are!

Here are a few pictures that we took that same day:

The Serven Clan visits the Treehouse

A Serven Adios™
Notice the hands waving below tinted push-out windows

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Dress

Have you ever had the joy of making a dress for your daughter? I have and here are the pictures of my sweet dd#1 in her dress. (I got this pattern from Sense and Sensibility Patterns some months ago and actually finished the dress about the middle of last month. It's a Regency Era gown.)

The proud owner of the dress with her proud Mommy!

I prayed for this child. I prayed hard. I wanted a daughter so badly. Don't get me wrong, I love my boys dearly and I am very grateful for them. It's just that a daughter fills a place in a woman's heart that is so empty until that first daughter arrives. My Lord found it pleasing to Him to grant me that special blessing of a daughter and now I have the joy of passing on my love, training in the womanly arts, and faith on to her.

But God didn't stop there. He was so gracious as to bless me with a second daughter last year. I am thrilled to see my little ladies loving each other and forging a friendship with one another that will last them both a lifetime. It is precious to see them loving on each other. They are so different, which tells me that they will really enjoy each other's company when they are older. Opposites do attract after all.

I never got a sister by the normal means. I was very sad about that when I was younger, but God, of course, has worked it all out to my good. He was just waiting to give me the special gift of my friend, Rachele, whom I consider the sister I always wanted. We are total opposites and we really enjoy each other's company. I am grateful that the Lord brought her into my life when He did. She is a special treasure to me.

Full-length view of Regency Gown back

Detail of back with Princess seams (and yes, I hand-sewed the buttonholes!).

I want to teach my daughters to love and respect one another, to hold each other up, to really be there for each other. I want them to lean on each other and encourage one another in godliness.

This is just another of the myriad reasons I have the pleasure of staying home with my children. I get the privilege and opportunity to train them in righteousness, to teach them to be a blessing and a joy to their father and their Father. I get the opportunity to train them to be angels of mercy to their brothers, and share gentleness and kindness to those weaker, smaller, and younger than themselves...and to do it as an offering to the Lord with joy.

I am blessed. I just had to share it. I am thankful to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for His marvelous ways, and His grace in giving me the fulfillment of my dreams to have a daughter...and not only that, but for giving me double my dream... my two sweet daughters. And now, I get to make special clothing for them and pass on the skills in sewing passed on to me by my mother. What a joy!

Mommy and Daughter doing our "Cheek Hug"

Sunday, May 28, 2006

What's Your Type? And My 1000th Visitor!

So, I DO have some new blogs coming this way soon. I'm just waiting to get some pics developed first before I post them. In the meantime, I took another quiz and thought it interesting that it came up with this result considering that we are headed in a more agrarian direction:

What Type of Homeschooler Are You?

Swiss Family Robinson

If you can grow it, pick it, preserve it, or butcher it, you own it. Otherwise, you do without. You'd prefer to live off-grid from the power company, since you're nearly self-sufficient already. You enjoy unit studies for the way they utilize all facets of life and truly incorporate life and education as a whole, not as separate entities.

Take this quiz!

Quiz by:

So, I'd be interested to hear what type of homeschoolers visit my blog...whether you take the quiz or not. And just in case you are wondering...we do own the book and the movie and my boys, especially, love them. And yes, the unit study thing has been tried before around here. It's good and, yes, the info sticks, but I end up exhausted and too grumpy to teach what I am REALLY supposed to be teaching...God's Word (Deut. 6:4-9). Once we got that part straight, I felt better, had less guilt, and started homeschooling in the right priority..."Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you..." It's amazing how things just began to fall into place after that! you think the good Book says the above for a reason? Just my two cents.

Also, thank you to someone in Nashville, Tennessee, who last week became my 1000th visitor! Thanks for breaking the four digit barrier for me! I don't have any prize to give you, but I will make an effort to keep on blogging about the good life as we have found it here in our tiny corner of God's world! Thanks everyone for all of your visits! I look forward to learning more about you as time goes on.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Who Are You?

I took this quiz and discovered who I am! I never thought it would be her! Who are you?

Which Jane Austen heroine are you?

You are Emma Woodhouse from Emma!

You are clever and quick: where you err once, you are right a hundred times! Aware of your situation in life, you are eager to help others who are less influential than you. Although with great charm and well-meant intentions, you tend to manipulate people. Possessing a social and energetic disposition, you enjoy hosting and attending evening parties and indulge in dancing.

Your view on love: ~The course of true love never did run smooth!~

Take this quiz!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Still Reeling From The Conference

We met and had the opportunity to spend time with so many wonderful brothers and sisters in the Lord this weekend! Our time with them ended finally this afternoon after we had hosted our last guest from the conference.

To start, I would like to thank all of the sweet people who came up to me and told me how wonderful they felt the conference was for their family. Many people told me what a great job my Jim Bob did putting together the conference. I agree. It really was a time I know that our entire family will remember for years to come. We made some permanent changes in the way we do things as a result of the conference, and there are many other things that we are going to begin working on as a family due to what we learned from these men and from the families He put us in contact with this weekend. Praise God for His faithfulness never to leave us lying in the same state of sin, but He instead constantly challenges us and urges us onward, upward to be more like His Son!

I want to also thank Margaret Doskey, my "friendly internet stalker," for making a point to come up and introduce herself to me. What a doll you are, Margaret! I so enjoy reading your blog, and now I can actually say that I've not only met you in person, but that I have made a new friend! I was so touched just watching you and your daughter sitting together during the conference. I could see that the two of you have a special relationship by the interaction between you. What an encouragement! Jim Bob and I were blessed by your and Conrad's offer of hospitality! We really do plan to take you up on it sometime soon. What a joy to know that we have godly friends just on the other side of the state! You two were a highlight of our weekend! (How come we never did get a picture of us together? ;( )

We also were blessed with the opportunity to spend the Lord's Day afternoon with the Serven Clan who did a Psalm Sing before the conference began on Day Two. Thank you for blessing our home and lives with your gracious family spirit! Thank you also for keeping one eye closed to the state my home was in after the last week of getting all of the details together for the conference. You all blessed us in a very big way by singing the Genevan Song (from A Journey Home) with ds#1. I know that blessed his little socks off to get to sing tenor with you! I think we all have such fond memories of our time together. We will post the pictures as soon as we get them back.

To the Carpenters and your beautiful family: thank you for following up and asking us to meet up with you today. We enjoyed getting to know you better, sharing a meal, and hearing of your future projects at Franklin Springs Family Media. We spent some time this evening watching Ken's video documentary, The Peasall Sisters: Family Harmony. Now, if the Howards could just figure out how to carry a tune like that! We might not scare off everyone who hears us singing! We look forward to spending more time with you in the near future. I will post pictures soon of our time with your sweet family.

It is getting very late here and I think I better go to bed so that I can be of some assistance to my husband tomorrow in the post-mortem wake of the conference! What a joy to be in this place and to know that the Lord fore-ordained that we should meet all of these brothers and sisters. We have been graced by His presence this weekend and are so thankful for all He has done for us and for all of the answered prayer regarding the conference. He is so good to us. We praise Him for His faithulness!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Dinner After The Conference... An Historic Event

Last night, after the conference had ended, Jim Bob and I went to the Sprouls' home to have dinner with R.C. Sr., R.C. Jr., Howard Phillips, and his son, Doug Phillips. What a memorable evening! I think as long as I live I will remember dining with these wonderful examples of Christ's love within families.

So, there we were, sitting across the table from the Senior Mr. Phillips, with Doug and his lovely wife, Beall, sitting to my left, and the topic came up of the family table... you know, that thing that has become obsolete in our day. Well, I can tell you that it has not become obsolete in the Phillips' family... and it shows. Their children are content, peaceful, and joyful. More importantly, you can tell they truly enjoy being around their parents. In fact, when my oldest son asked one of them what his favorite thing to do is, this Phillips boy said that his favorite thing to do is be with his dad. Does that tell you how important honor and living out Christ's love is within this family?

The family table was also important in the Sproul home, where my husband's boss grew up. The family affection, tenderness, and camaraderie is evident in their family to any observer. There is a loving-kindness evident in their mutual respect for one another. R.C. Jr. and his wife, Denise, have children who also regularly exhibit the fruit of the Spirit toward eachother and toward those who visit their home...this I have witnessed first hand many times.

What I am getting at here is the lost art of a patriarch-led family-dining experience every evening in our homes. This is a tool that binds children to their fathers, and families together in mutual love, honor, and respect. Children are taught to listen when their father speaks, to revere his stories, opinions, and to accept his instruction in the most loving ways. I actually saw this lived out in front of my eyes last night at dinner. Doug Phillips still sits and listens to his father's stories with wide-eyed attention (as did we all!). The stories were wonderful, and we also listened with great roaring laughter as R.C. Sr. and Howard Phillips exchanged stories about their common love of baseball. I had the sense that I was sitting in the midst of a truly significant event... I'm sure now that I was.

This morning over breakfast, Jim Bob was sitting quietly looking out the window when I suddenly opened my mouth and said that I was still thinking about the family dinner table as we discussed it with Doug and Howard. Jim Bob confessed that he was thinking about the same thing. We agreed that we are going to change the way we do meals, especially dinner, at our home. Daddy will be in the lead during conversation. This will mean educating the children on a much deeper level than we have ever done before. It will also mean a turning of our hearts toward our children and our children turning their hearts toward us.

More on this in a later post... I'm tired from the conference right now and I want to make sure that I do justice to this incredible weekend!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Conference... Day Two

So, I went to the conference again this morning and was again humbled at how much work I have to do. Yes, I most definitely am a glutton for punishment! I didn't get to listen to the entire morning's sessions as I was needing to get up frequently to help one of my children (I have three that are 5 and under). But I will be listening to the recordings of the talks given at this conference again once they are ready because I know this is an area in which I need much growth.

The main thing I have taken away from this conference so far is that I must love and honor my children differently than I do. They deserve respect as co-heirs in Christ with me. I must also teach them the same thing towards us as their parents and toward each other as siblings. We have far to go in this area in the Howard Family, but it is very encouraging to know that there are so many others who are in the same boat. There are so many others that are striving for the same thing, that's why we have almost 700 people at the conference this year.

If you were not blessed with the ability to go, I would recommend buying the CD set once it's ready. It's going to be one of those sets I will listen to over and over again until the Word of God works its way into my heart and soul where it will not return void.

Yes, I have a lot of work to do in this area of honor, but, there is repentance, forgiveness, peace and hope to be had on the side of honor... live it, breathe it, walk it and you will be redeemed and blessed.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Conference... Day One

Well, it's been a lot of work, but as usual, the results were worth the effort. Tonight the children and I went to the Generations Conference put on by the Highlands Study Center, where my hubby works. The speakers this year are Howard Phillips, Doug Phillips, R.C. Sproul Sr., and R.C. Sproul Jr. Tonight, the speakers I (mostly) heard where Doug and R.C. Jr. Just one question remains after this evening: Could God have been more gracious to place us in this place? I don't think so. We are surrounded by those who truly live out their faith, but we also get to attend these conferences in which the most historic events happen!

Have you ever heard these fathers and sons speak of their love and mutual respect for one another? It will blow you away! I left there this evening with the feeling that godliness was all around me and just "oozing," as I told a friend, from these men! You cannot help but be affected by it and desire to walk a closer walk with our Lord and Savior. I left there this evening wanting to turn my heart ever closer to my children, and toward my own parents in HONOR.

Doug Phillips' talk this evening was quite convicting. When we disobey God by dishonoring those He has placed in our lives through slander, malice, gossip, or by simply not considering them in a place of honor, we are inviting God's judgment on our lives. Those He has placed in our lives deserve the utmost in honor that we can give... even when it's difficult. O.K., so I've got some work to do... don't we all?

I can't wait until tomorrow's talks... I think I'm just a glutton for punishment! ;)

P.S. Tomorrow morning, we get to do a Psalm Sing in four part harmony with the Servens of the Genevan Foundation! I got to meet Elizabeth Serven tonight. What a joy to finally meet her!

Time For The Conference... I May Not Be Around Much

Hello all! Well, most of you know who my sweet husband works for, and you probably also know that what has been dubbed "the most historic conference of the year" is happening this weekend. I may not be around much until after Sunday because Jim Bob is so busy with the conference that our children and I are busy also.

If you don't know about this conference, go to this website to find out more:

Highlands Study Center

See ya' after the weekend!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

My Best Friend

Dear Rachele,

Thank you for being my dearest friend, indeed, my "Bosom Friend"(I think Anne of Green Gables would be proud of us!). You showed up at the right time yesterday to give me the hug I really needed. You and your precious children moved to Virginia to be with us, and I am so glad! I praise God for you and all of the ways you draw me out and urge me heavenward. For what is a friend if they don't urge you on to be more like the One you are called to imitate?

I have seen you die to self regularly, even though all you may see are your faults and short comings. We all do have our many short comings and no true friend would leave us in the stench that is our own sin, but there are also times of encouraging eachother and giving eachother a hand in the walk with Christ. That is what you do for me regularly, and I am a better woman for it.

I love you, my sister,

Friday, April 28, 2006

Hello To Y'all In Texas!!!

So, I know this is my second post today, but, I couldn't help myself after looking at my site meter. I noticed all the traffic I had today from the Central Texas area. This is probably due to the fact that my friend Kim who is also a blogger (I found this out last night!) posted something on my blog and I on hers. So, I've decided to say a hearty "HOWDY!" to all of my dearly missed friends back in Central Texas!

You guys don't have the slightest inkling just how much your camaraderie over the years is missed by the Howards. Every Friday (today included), I think of all of you hanging out at the park. We have so many, many fond memories of you all and hope to get to see you all sometime this year. Right now we are hoping (and planning) for a Christmas trip back to the Lone Star State. I'll tell ya', you can take the girl out of Texas, but you most definitely CANNOT take Texas out of the girl! Do you all know that I've actually been called a "YANKEE" here? I talk way too fast for the locals so they just assume that I'm "from up north" (You've got to say this REALLY SLOOOOOOOOW to get the real effect!). How 'bout that? I spend my entire life (save for a few months in college) in what I thought was the South, and come to find out that I'm a Yankee after all! I had to move to the North and East to live in the South! Go figure!

Well, have a rip-roarin' nice hotter than h-e-double-hockey-sticks summer there in Texas! I miss you all, but I don't miss the heat!

I love you all!

He Must Increase, I Must Decrease

I have been struggling lately with dying to self. It is something I dearly wish my children to learn; therefore, I must live it out in front of them. Of course, this means that I am going to be sanctified in this area first before they will learn it. That's the way it always works. This is the true work of parenthood; this dying to self. For what is parenthood but a continual renewal of those vows to which we are called heavenward in Christ Jesus? We are blessed indeed because we are given the opportunity to have all of our worldliness sloughed off and be freed to walk in newness of life closer to the image of Christ. Hallelujah!

Oh this is a rough process though. But it does help to know that I am not in it alone. I found this blog entry by Holly at Choosing Home last night, and thought you would benefit from it as much as I did. When I read it, I knew that the Lord was bringing full-circle what He has been teaching me lately, and also being so kind as to let me see that there are others in this struggle with me, indeed that I am not the only Mommy out there who doesn't have it all together. (Sometimes it feels that way, doesn't it?).

May all of our children learn to know Christ better through the dying to self that is required of us. I truly do have no greater joy than to know that my children walk in the truth!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Giving Honor...

We had a wonderful visit with Jim Bob's mother and sister this past weekend! We spent much time traipsing about Abingdon, VA, where we live, showing them all of the historical landmarks, shopping, and simply oohing and aahing at the amazing countryside here in the Spring. The children also enjoyed getting to spend hours of free-time with their grandmother and aunt. They are all energized and their love-tanks are all filled up!

We never did get around to planting the rest of the things in our garden with them, however, because the only times we had available to do this it was raining :( .

We will get to the rest of our planting some time in the next week...we had more important things to tend to, like relationship-building with family.

Their visit made me think about the next upcoming holiday - Mother's Day. What AM I going to do for those in my life whom I desire to honor this year? Our mothers are not perfect, but they are the ones who sacrificed themselves for us through pregnancy, childbirth, and childrearing. One can never fathom the depths to which they sacrificed until the experience of motherhood is firmly planted within. They truly are a picture of Christ to us; of His laying down His life. Cards are always appropriate, but even more, what can I do to show that I am passing on their legacy of love, faithfulness, and Christ-like sacrifice?

The jury is still out on this one...but I would like to hear what you are doing to honor the mothers in your life this year. I need some new and different ideas!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Log Home Class and My Husband, the Lumberjack!

Well, he did it! He went to the class and is glad that he did! This class was very beneficial. He came home with a knowledge of building with logs that he would never have had if not for this class. The folks who run it are fourth and fifth generation log home builders and know the best techniques for doing this quickly, efficiently, and with freedom from debt. We will be using these techniques to build our own home within the next three to four years.

If you want to know more, go to this link:There are a number of pictures on the site of homes that students from the class completed. I was blown away the first time I looked. We have been talking about building a log home for at least twelve years now. These homes were picture perfect-exactly what we wanted, so we did more research to find out if this association was/is legitimate. We found person after person (many Christian folks also) who had good things to say about the class. Jim Bob feels it was worth the money to attend.

My husband's blog also has a post with his experience of the class journaled there:I know a number of you are looking for more socio-economic freedom and the ability to really spend more time with your families, we are as well. This looks like it is going to help us accomplish that goal...maybe it will help you also.

God bless!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Garden Update

Well, we DO have carrots! Not only do we have carrots, but we also have all of our lettuces, our spinach, and peas coming up! We are all so excited! I will be posting more pictures of the garden soon. We are having challenges keeping the garden watered evenly because we live on such a sloped acre, but we think it will work anyway as long as the stuff at the top gets enough water and the stuff at the bottom drains well (And as long as our neighbor, Mr. Peter Rabbit, decides to stay out of the garden! I feel a little Mr. McGregor-like today ;)).

Over the weekend, Jim Bob and the boys tilled up the rest of the ground for our squash, zucchini, beans, corn, potatoes, pumpkins, etc.. This week, we are planting the rest of these items except for the pumpkins and the potatoes. Those we will plant with Jim Bob's mother and sister when they come to visit us this coming weekend.

We are also tending the garden in our own home. This garden is of the eternal type. Our children are maturing slowly, but surely, and we are learning as parents everyday how precious each part of their lives is. We must tend each child like the most tender shoot in our vegetable garden lest they whither and fade. Their hearts, desires, dreams and goals are so early in their development. They need constant watering. As dd#1 says, "Water me, please," when asking for a drink. Very cute indeed, but she really does need to be watered, showered with God's love and our own each and everyday of her life.

A very good friend and I were talking a few weeks ago about the fact that we must behave toward our children the same way that we do the guests in our homes (if not better!)—with the utmost in respect, kindness, and dignity. It is easy to assume that because they are little that they do not understand this. Oh, but they do! They see the difference (and the hypocrisy) if we do not behave toward them as the blessings that they are.

Another insight that gardening has provided: When pulling up weeds in the vegetable garden, we need to be very careful not to uproot the tender vegetable shoots that are so early on in their development. This is harder the closer to the shoot and the bigger of a weed that it is. The same is true of our children's hearts. As we disciple them in joy, knowing that some day God's promise that we will indeed reap a harvest if we do not give up (Gal.6:9) will come true, we must help them see the weeds that are in their lives. Weeds around our hearts can run the gamut from selfishness to pride to discontent to dishonesty and anywhere in between. Many times, these sins can be so intricately entwined with our hearts that they are difficult to unravel and uproot. This is where we as the parents must rely on the Holy Spirit to do the work instead of trying to pull up that weed by brute force because we are so tired of it. To keep trying without lots of prayer, and the strength and wisdom of the Lord, would only result in harming the tender hearts He has entrusted to our care and protection.

I like things done quickly and efficiently. But this job of parenting is anything but quick and efficient. We are truly in it for the long haul. But what joy awaits us on the other side of this journey! Praise the Lord for His faithfulness that when we train up our children in the way they should go, when they are old they will not depart from it! (Proverbs 16:22).

Lord, grant us the wisdom, the faithfulness, the kindness, the perseverance needed to complete this task.

To All The Bloggers Who Have Gone Before...

Sing this to the tune of Willie Nelson's, "To All The Girls I've Loved Before..."
(Sorry. It doesn't rhyme perfectly ... and the meter's messed up, but it's my tribute to you and to National Poetry Month nonetheless.)

To all the bloggers who have gone before
Who've traveled in and out my door (o.k., my computer)
I thank you all the same
For helping me keep sane
To all the bloggers who have gone before...

To all the bloggers who have gone before
Who lift me up when my soul is poor
You teach me to obey
To never turn away
From Christ and all He's done before...

To all the bloggers who have gone before
You write the truth
and then write more...
You gladly chug along
Your children in happy throng
teaching me to sing your song....

To all the bloggers who have gone before
I honor you for your reports (o.k., so it doesn't rhyme perfectly)
Of the goings on
In your lively homes
Of messes on the floors
Can't find socks in the kids' drawers
And the schedules thrown out the doors...

To all the bloggers who have gone before
You humble me with constant source
Of husbands that you love
Of talking with God above
And living like a dove
On produce that you've grown (like I doesn't rhyme very well...give me a break...I'm a busy mom like you!)

To Kim at LFL I give much thanks
Because of you my office ranks
as one very organized place
O how I love Office Days!
And all of your efficient ways!

To Carmon over at Buried Treasure Books
I thank you for the way your blog always looks
so interesting to read
you keep me up to speed
On all the knowledge that I really need!

To Amy and her Humble Musings
You inspired me when I was hurting
a post that pushed me on
to remember with God I am one
and the farming vision that my husband spun...

To Amy Ringger's site regarding nature journaling
You inspired me to help my children see
God's full working (journaling is a hard word for which to find a rhyme!)
You've reminded me
Just how much that I don't see
When I am too busy (to draw with my kids)...

You all get the point I think
but there are so many more
so many more who have walked in my door (computer!)
who have given me
the push forward that I need
to glorify Christ in word and deed.

And so I thank you all
My order is so tall
to fill the shoes that have gone before.
I know I can never take your place
I hope someday we meet face to face
Because we all are in the same place...

We raise children to God's glory
encouraging each other to faithful be
My sisters we are strong
We know we are not wrong
Living lives that sing His song!

I encourage you to continue your dream
of living in God's pleasant stream
His love is living truth
Your lives are living proof
Follow Him, you'll be fool-proof!

Well, that's all I can do today. This just came to me this morning when I was thanking the Lord for the many godly women online from whom I have the opportunity to learn on an ongoing basis. I have had a very rough last couple of days and I just want to thank you all (there are so many that I didn't get around to mentioning. See my links for a more complete list.) You ladies are a constant source of encouragement to me....a gift from Him. You have helped me to see things in the correct perspective and to continue pursuing God's plan for my life in the face of intense persecution. Thank you. Thank you for your faithfulness!