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!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

O Brother Where Art Thou?

Oh tormented soul
so full of anger and grief!
Cans't thou smell the foul
foul odor of thy brief
speech, so full of hate,
slander in the breach
of friendship lost,
two souls forlorn,
a brother and sister
with no peace, torn
asunder by thine mind made up
and rent with judgement
and malice to sup
with all alone;
thy face to hide
instead of dealing squarely by
listening with reserve to another's
fate, thou dids't decide to hate
and unreservedly to rate
mine life with disdain,
thou dids't not constrain,
assuming with no good intent
and horrid story to invent.
In thine mind,
I lay to rot—
heart in pain—
wishing in vain
for those days of yore
that have gone before.
Thou, thou were the boy
whose life brought such joy
to a sister who did watch and defend
thine interest as the best of friend
to those who thought ill of thee;
my friend who dids't bring such glee.
Mine heart longs, and wishes to see
without any slander or ill thoughts toward me...
O brother, where art thou?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Why You Do What You Do...

A recent contact with a friend from college (days when I was not following the Lord and had a different course planned for my know, career woman and all that that implies. Feminist all the way, etc....) has me thinking about how to "defend" my choice of "career" as a full-time wife, homeschooling mother, and homemaker. But is "defending" what I really need to do? If you are in the same place as I, you probably have come under attack at some point or another for following what you know to be the Lord's plan for your life. Why do we feel this need to defend ourselves in that to which we have been called? Why not just live it out in the confidence that we are doing the right thing; that we are obeying the Lord God Almighty? It is only He to Whom we must answer. Why do we feel this need to defend ourselves to man?

Is this not the simple "fear of man" as Paul put it? We have nothing to fear except God Himself, but because we can't see Him, we tend to fear what we can see...those around us whose opinions we desire to be within the good graces of...even to impress them with our prowess in all matters domestic. Again, this is the "fear of man," not surrender and obedience to Christ.

He gave all for those who did not approve of Him. He gave His entire life for our salvation. Yes, because He loves us...but more importantly, because it was His Father's plan...a plan He submitted to willingly because He loves the Father and wills to obey Him.

I have need of praying daily, and my prayers now need to be of the type that asks daily for the Lord to strengthen my will to obey His will for His sake only.

Do any of you struggle with this same temptation? Isn't it amazing how deep our sin nature runs? What do you pray for in the midst of this struggle? I especially want to hear from those of you who have large families. How do you overcome the fear, the constant struggle against what those in and of the world think of you? Deep down, how do you conquer this? I mean really deep down?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It's Off To Log Home Class We Go!

As I write this, my dear husband is flying to Seattle to take a class in Log Home Building! This is the beginning of making a long time dream come true! See this link if you would like to know more:

We are hoping to live out this dream and allow our children (especially our boys) the opportunity to help build the Log Home. It will be a few years before we are ready to build, and they (being the teachers of this class) recommend you take the class two years before you are ready to begin building. At that point, Ro will be 11 and Tom will be almost 8...they should be lots of help.

I personally am excited about this because it furthers Jim Bob's vision of raising our sons. What a joy to have a husband who has a passion for his children!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

If You Give a Child a Lego...

I recently was reminded of the "hunormous" differences between my sons and my daughters—differences designed by God...

What boys do with Legos...

What girls do with Legos (Lego People)...

Dd#1 had been in her brothers' room playing with the Legos and then suddenly disappeared. After going on a search for her, this is what we found! These (just in case you can't tell from the picture) are the little people from her brothers' Lego stash. They are in the bassinet...meticulously placed there by her chubby little 2-year-old hands! Isn't God amazing? At 2 years old, she's already a little mama!

Go enjoy the differences between your children. They were placed there by God Himself for His divine purposes...don't let the feminists tell you any differently!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Fresh-Baked Bread, Clean Laundry, and Spring in the Air

I had a wonderful day today just staying home and taking care of my sweet little brood. We had our usual Laundry Day today (see LFL website), so all of our clothes are now clean! At least until my boys get outside tomorrow! Ds#1 helped with switching out the loads and folding between schoolwork. After dinner, the entire family (minus the little sleepy ones) had a "Putting Away Party." I love the smell of fresh clean laundry!

Another of my favorite aromas is the smell of homemade, fresh-baked bread. Today, my three oldest and I baked enough bread to get us through the next week or so for sandwiches, a pizza crust for one of our dinners, and a bunch of dinner rolls (my husband and sons can go through these QUICKLY!). See the recipe I use for Quick and Delicious (No-Knead) Whole Wheat Bread at my Recipes Blog.

Another happening around the Treehouse (a.k.a. the Howard Homestead) is that our carrots are coming up (we think)! We knew it should happen sometime in the next week or so, and sure enough, there they were this morning... or at least we hope that's what they are! The jury is still out on this one... more in a later post.

I love Springtime! I hardly know a soul that doesn't. So, in honor of Spring arriving, AND the fact that this month is National Poetry Month (see Carmon's blog), here is a poem for you to start your month off right, one of my favorite poems. Weather-permitting, go outside, spread a blanket on the ground, take some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (on that homemade bread!), read this poem to your children and enjoy God's creation!

A Prayer in Spring
by Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid-air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
To which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven..." —Ecclesiates 3:1