beholding him loved him

Posted by Jennifer under Faith, Parenting (No Comments)

Image Isaac is missing. We were at the park. He had better things to do than lay under a tree for a group selfie!

These days I am very much reveling in my children, in motherhood, in these glorious summer days. Earlier this week, while on a nature walk, the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, we were identifying wildflowers and it suddenly hit me – I want to slow down time. Maybe even stop it? My children are 4, 6 and 8 and these days seem blissful. {Ok, well last week the older two were arguing a lot and the four year old can often be a pickle}, but overall, life is so good right now.

One of the best things that we do, the thing that most contributes to smooth days? Afternoon rest time. The four year old naps and the other two read or look at books quietly in their rooms for 1.5 hours.

Image2

Yesterday afternoon was quiet, the candle make the house smell lovely, the instrumental music floated through the air and I read:

Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him…~ Mark 10:21

and I stopped there.

There was love before a word was said.

I can imagine the love first in His eyes

                                      before ever came the gentleness in

                                                                                                                       His voice.

    Compassion      Pity   

                               deep, unending, unconditional Love first!

Master, all these have I observed from my youth…~Mark 10:20

There was no name-calling. Verse 21 does not begin with God yelling, “liar!”, though it could have.

It doesn’t begin with dredging up the past. Jesus did not point out all the times that the {forgetful? ignorant?} man did fall and fail. He did not try to make him see, admit and own up to past mistakes. He didn’t argue with the man. He tried gently to make the man examine his heart and in His great wisdom, He put his finger right on the problem.

I’m not a bible scholar, I’m not even that smart. But I am a mama who fails often, loves her children and wants to emulate and learn from the Ultimate Parent.

When I read that tiny portion of scripture the other day, it reminded me that with my children (or anyone!), whatever the issue,

               I need to pause and behold them with love before I even open my mouth

                                        {Oh, that can be hard!}

                I need to use care on their hearts

               With discernment, I need focus on the issue at hand, guiding, not arguing

Because Love came first!

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I Broke My Wrist

Posted by Jennifer under Just Life (No Comments)

I broke my wrist/arm. Not even a good story, unless you consider clumsiness a good story. Thankfully I was at my parents when it happened because the next day my oldest son was vomiting. And the day after that was my youngest.

It’s amazing how challenging life is when you take using two hands for granted and then find yourself with only one…not even your dominant hand either.

I’m two weeks in with 4+ weeks to go. I’m sporting a pink cast and trying to sport a smile. I’m finding myself exhausted through the day. I don’t know if that is normal for breaks, to experience fatigue, or if it comes of the extra challenge of doing everything. Chloe and John have been so helpful. In fact, I almost would say essential since I can’t carry things up or downstairs nor can I buckle Isaac’s car seat one-handed.

My husband has been an incredible help and blessing. He faithfully tries to drown me washes my hair every couple of days, cooks, and gives me treats!

I’ve had a number of things I had planned to bake for this month – a friend’s lunch, a friend had a baby and I wanted to make a meal, a bridal shower, a new neighbor – and it’s hard because despite what Weight Watcher’s tells me, Food is Love; it’s a way to serve. But life doesn’t always go just how we want. I bought the new mama frozen pizza, store-made brownies and a fruit tray and gave it with love. Because that’s where I’m at.

It’s terrible to not use my arm. Annoying and terrible.

But it makes me thankful for my children’s helpfulness, thankful for this time to slow down, thankful for pajamas and thankful that I {Lord-willing} will have full use of my arm again.

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Tiny Tidbits 04.2015

Posted by Jennifer under Just Life (No Comments)

TJ Bears

About the Pics

Chloe received TJ Bear for her first Christmas from her Granny and Grandpa. Every day before noon-nap or before bedtime in the evening, she had a TJ Bear story. Here is our last picture with TJ Bear. They’re growing up and Bear stories have been replaced by CD players with Patch the Pirate and Psalty the Singing Songbook. A little bitter-sweet; a catchword I use a lot in this thing called motherhood.

Look at my big boy, my little Isaac. He’s loving the swing and look at him using the rails on the slide ladder to WALK up the stairs to slide down. I’m so amazed by this little boy. He’s also loving the sandbox, and pulling Kleenexes out of boxes…all in a days work I guess, as he collapses in exhaustion.

And there is my John, riding his new-to-us big boy bike that we picked up from our friend this past weekend.

Funny Little Things

John came upstairs the other morning and said to me, “Mama, I’m so excited. I know what today is!”
”What is today, John?” I ask, uncertainly.
”It’s April Fools Day!” says John.
”Sweetie, it isn’t April Fools Day. That’s at the beginning of April.”
”Ha, ha, mama. I know you are just trying to fool me into thinking it isn’t April Fools.”
{Um, not quite, it isn’t at all April Fools but whatever!}

John, singing away…”Jesus bids us shine with a big, blue light…” {um, try clear and pure lol}

Chloe and John are playing with a ball and it rolls over near the heating vent. “Chloe, it didn’t even fall down the sewer!”

Sneaking into our house late one night after hockey. I told the children to be quiet and not wake up daddy.  John assures me, “Don’t worry mama, I’ll be as quiet as a mouse. Mouses are very quiet…except when they sneeze.”

Chloe had just finished brushing her teeth and was telling me about how one of her teeth was loose and suddenly she shouts, “YES! Now I’ll have money for your Mother’s Day gift!" It’s not quite as funny written down but in the moment it was very cute!

I used to have so many funny moments, and hear so many funny words and sayings but as they get older, I hear less and less. I guess it makes even the littlest of moments all the more precious.

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Everyday Life in April 2015

Posted by Jennifer under Just Life (No Comments)

April Random

April has been lovely. Only two weeks in but can’t resist sharing some randomness.

Once a month I used to bake cupcakes for a company’s celebration, nothing fancy here, just plain old cupcakes with a butter cream icing. As that job wound down, I was approached with another one. A lunch for 6-8 once a month. Here’s a snapshot of the baking because it looked yummy. Again, nothing fancy – just good. Those are magic bars, banana bread and orange pound cake you see there. Again, all baked in my favorite mini loaf pans.

Isaac has taken to dumping out his toys and crawling around with the basket on his head, laughing all the way…ha ha ha…

Mommy and Chloe thought our shoes were pretty the other day as we headed out for church, so I thought I’d share with you too.

Our pastor’s wife did craft for Junior church the other week, a mosaic cross. I looks lovely on the window when the sun shines through it. The picture doesn’t do it justice!

We had a fun mail day earlier this week. Not receiving but sending. It is more blessed to give than receive; I’m not sure the children would agree with that entirely though. While they love to send letters, they really like to get mail too. We had a handful of colorful envelopes for the mail lady!

And someone was eating my deodorant again. Just thought I’d throw that in there to keep things real around here.

Deep in the Woods

With the warmer weather back, the children are outside constantly again. I’m not sure if it’s Beatrix Potter related, or has anything to do with Uncle Wiggily (whom the children love) but they’ve been enjoying making houses and homes for the little plastic garden animals this week. The moment they have completed their jobs and schoolwork {and sometimes before!} they are begging to go out and work on their little ‘animal world’.

First Outdoor Lunch

Today was yet another amazing day. It started out with John discovering that all the worms that he had put under a bowl {with a rock on top} had died. He had hoped they’d be his ‘fishin worms’. But he moved on quickly.
We walked down to the pond and then along the river. The children flew their Styrofoam airplanes and pretended they were missionary bush pilots; landing here and there to deliver supplies and bibles. They floated acorn caps down the river, pretending they were sending bibles to the people down river. Then they would run down and try catch them. Though they did get very muddy, no one fell in. This seemed miraculous to me. {Again keeping it real, they don’t always play ‘missionaries’. Sometimes they play something that resembles ‘lets try to kill each other’ or ‘what can we do to drive mama crazy’}

We came home and, much to the children’s delight, we had our first outdoor lunch of the season, complete with homemade lemonade. Homemade lemonade is so easy and delicious. Unfortunately, my husband tells me that lemons are awfully expensive right now but I’m sure the lemons from the fridge cost less last week 😉

The last little random photo to share is Big Ben – a 3D foam puzzle from Little Passports. I LOVE how God works out the little details in life in such an amazing way, a way that could easily be overlooked. We started reading Reasonable Service – The Olive Brittain Story this week. It is the story of an amazing lady at our church who was called to be a missionary in India. I think she went 1954-1991? Anyway, we’ve read a number of missionary stories in our family; as homeschoolers it’s a great way to learn about how God uses people, how He provides, how He still works miracles and of course it’s perfect for geography and learning about world cultures as well. I just love that we can read about a missionary we KNOW. So we start reading about her journey starting from Simcoe to Hamilton and then to NYC. She took a ship from there to Liverpool and then a train to London where she met up with another missionary lady who would go with her to India. They spent two weeks in London before continuing on. We started looking on the map at where these places were and then what should come in the mail that day? Our monthly Little Passports package and it was on England, with a 3D puzzle of Big Ben to put together. It seems like a little thing but I truly believe that God’s hand is in the littlest things {like matching our Little Passports country to what we were reading about!} as well as in the big things {like my van!}

Sometimes life is such a whirlwind of appointments, therapies, lessons…this week my husband’s car was in the shop and so he had my van every day. It was a welcome reprieve from the busyness that often overtakes us. I’ve been enjoying our time at home with nowhere to go and nothing to do but live, laugh and learn.

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Spring is Springing 2015

Posted by Jennifer under Faith, Just Life (No Comments)

Spring is Springing

Oh, winter has it’s season but I am feeling it’s about time for it to end. Then comes the funny part where there is too much snow for Isaac’s wheelchair and not enough for the sleigh.

Last week the snow melted enough around our pond to go for a real walk again, oh, so exciting!!!

There is something that fresh air does to the body and to the mind. I think God designed it that way, don’t you? It improves your mood, boosts your energy, offers fresh perspective.

Praise God that spring is springing! This mama needs it!

“The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.” ~ Bernard Williams

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Exceeding Abundantly: 4 Reasons to Keep a Prayer Journal

Posted by Jennifer under Faith, Just Life (2 Comments)

Prayer Journal

A couple weeks ago the children and I did a two hour drive north of Toronto in our old van, and drove back again in our new one. Isn’t she beautiful?

A Prayer Journal

  1. keeps me focused during my prayer time
  2. helps me not to forget the things I want to pray for
  3. helps me think about  my husband and children’s (and others!) needs more as I write down specific things in their lives to pray about
  4. is a tangible way to see God’s faithfulness and provision in my life

About My Journal

  • it’s a notebook from the dollar store, nothing fancy
  • I use two sets of colors; blue/black for recording prayer requests and pink/red for answers
  • Each month I start a new list {I usually use 1-2 pages double sided per month}
  • I keep it simple but I try to write down specifics because it makes it easier for me to be aware of God’s hand in the every day
  • I write down as much as possible that way when God answers it, I get to write the answer down beside the request. Sometimes I just put a pink check mark and other times it requires a sentence or two of how He has answered.
  • I don’t pray through my whole list every day {though I wish I did}, but usually make it through the list several times a month.
  • I usually leave one or two lines between each item so I have space to write the answers and the date God answered.
  • I also add in verses that I come across during bible reading that pertain to prayer. I usually write them at the top of pages but they are scattered about.

I thought I had started praying about my van in the fall but apparently it was in July 2014 that I started praying earnestly about wisdom in knowing how long to drive our current van, the finances to replace it when it was time and the wisdom to know which van would be the right choice for us. Knowing I had been praying about it for 9 months, and even more earnestly the week we were deciding on this van, helps make for a peaceful, trusting heart when handing over the bulk of the savings account.

Back story on the old van – We bought our 2004 Montana in 2007, when we just had baby Chloe. It was a good van and it was an incredible answer to prayer back then. I had a limited budget and knew that we needed a van within that budget and the mileage and year I would like. It felt like I received a million “you won’t find a van in that price range with XXX km and only 3 years old”. But you know what? God provided it, despite the impossibility of it. I know nothing about vehicles, which I suppose makes me fall to my knees all the more before the big purchase. You know something else amazing about that purchase? The van had captain seats in the second row, something that mattered to me very little back then. But God, in His amazing way, provided for a need before we even knew we’d have that need. Fast forward a couple years and we find ourselves with a special little boy who needs {for now!} a wheelchair. We just removed a captain seat and his chair fits in perfectly. He met a need four years before we knew we would need it!

Fast forward again to March 2015. I continue to drive our Montana but the list of things wrong has grown longer than my arm. The cruise has gone, the rear wiper no longer works, the head lights are the equivalent of holding a flashlight out the window to see, the power locks don’t work, the driver window has issues coming back up, I can’t see all the digits on my clock, the shocks are going, the trunk doesn’t stay up when it’s hot, cold or a medium temperature {it often conks me on the head}. She has 340,000km on her, but she’s paid for and as long as it is safe, we’ll drive her. And then…the windshield cracks and the brakes start doing something funny.

Scott gives me the green light and the budget. And I start van shopping!

We wanted 2012 or 2013 with less than 50,000km on it. I wanted tinted windows since we often have the kids changing in the van while camping or at the beach. Also, there are times when places don’t have a change table that  accommodates Isaac. At 50 pounds and over a meter long, not all change tables can handle him so I change him in the van. Tinted windows offer a bit of privacy. Anyway, we also required the captain seats for the second row so I can put the wheelchair in. And I really, really wanted stow and go.

I got $150 trade in for my old van {poor van!} and went $500 over budget but I remind myself, it wasn’t God who set that budget. I love our new van and believe that this is the one God had for us. It’s beautiful and has everything we need. I love, love, love the cruise control {I tend to speed if I’m not careful.} I also love being able to see for miles with these lovely bright head lights. I’m also enjoying playing with the feature that shows how economical your fuel consumption is (L/100km). I try to drive and get it as low as I can.

As I flipped through my prayer journal to find the place to record this answer to prayer, I was so encouraged. I write my prayer requests in blue or black and then answers in red or pink so they stand out. I keep things pretty short and sweet. Looking through the book, I see how faithful God has been. He faithfully answers when I ask, opens when I knock and provides exceeding abundantly.

Just for fun – John had his heart set on a red van. Apparently he thought I said we were buying a red van. I told him black vans went faster than red ones anyway. He didn’t believe me but did tell me, “Don’t worry mama, Chloe and me can paint it for you.”.

Um, no! Stay away from my van!!! {but thank you for the offer}

So that’s my new van and also a peek into my prayer journal. Do you use a prayer journal at all?

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Our Display Book

Posted by Jennifer under Homeschooling, Teaching Tots (1 Comment)

2015-01-17 18.59.35

Our family is learning Proverbs 4:23. My friend Jen writes at Jen’s New Song and has decided to make scripture memorization a focus for her family this year and will be sharing her KJV printables on her blog as she makes them for her family.  That’s a bonus for me.

We have a display book on our table that has all of the things that we want to go through as a family. It contains pages with our school song, character qualities we’re reviewing, the books of the bible that we recite a few times a week {NT only right now} and the verse we would like to work on. I love this because I print out the things that are important and slide them into the clear pockets. It’s easy to flip through; it’s visible and accessible so that I don’t forget!

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

                                                                                     ~ Proverbs 4:23

That little verse is full of action, of commitment…and of vital importance. As a mother, I need to keep my heart diligently but I also have a responsibility to keep my children’s hearts while they are little too.

Keep

  1. To retain possession of.

    kept the change; must keep your composure.

  2. To have as a supply.

    keep spare parts in case of emergency.

  3. To provide (a family, for example) with maintenance and support.

Diligence

  1. careful and persistent work or effort.

    synonyms:
    conscientiousness, assiduousness, assiduity, hard work, application, concentration, effort, care, industriousness, rigor, meticulousness, thoroughness;

{thanks Google}

This week I am turning over in my mind how I can be more purposeful, more diligent, in keeping hearts.  How about you?

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Cook With Campbell’s

Posted by Jennifer under Recipe Box, Reviews/Giveaways (No Comments)

 #CookwithCampbells

I had the chance to test out some recipes using the Cook with Campbell’s website last month. Make a recipe, eat the recipe and provide feedback. The campaign didn’t require a blog post however, I thought I’d share some of what I made just for fun.

To start with, I had never used the cook with Campbell’s website before so all the recipes, and cooking with soup, were completely new territory to me.

Cook with Campbells

All the recipes were actually pretty quick, which is pretty great for busy nights. Most of the recipes have pretty simple, staple ingredients. The only issue that I really had was that we did not like the mushroom soup in any of the recipes. I would swap that out for either cream of chicken or cream of celery and most of these meals we would make again on those nights when we’re in a hurry!

Have you ever cooked with Campbell’s?

  • #CookWithCampbells
  • #Ad
  • #MomCentral
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A Bed for a Boy {Crib to Toddler Bed Transition}

Posted by Jennifer under Just Life (No Comments)

Toddler Bed

Our big boy is 3 1/2 years old, about 45 pounds and 104+cm tall. Since he is now pulling himself to stand, he could not safely stay in his crib.

Half way through dismantling his crib he started to get quite concerned. I asked daddy to take over so that I could hold Isaac and reassure him.

I showed him his toddler bed and told him it was his new bed. I asked him where his bed was and he looked from one bed to the other and then pointed to his crib. Made me laugh.

  • Patience
  • Love
  • Understanding

Isaac needs all of those to help him adjust. A little trick up my sleeve? Making sure that he’s tired each night and really ready to go to bed – so he’s getting to stay up a little later these days.

He seemed to like the bed well enough enough during the day but that night when I put him in it to sleep, he cried and cried and cried and then he would come to find me. We went to bed and he would come out and come to my side of the bed. Finally I just packed up my pillow and laid down on the floor beside his little bed. It took a little bit for his breathing to calm down but he reached his hand down and put it on my shoulder and fell asleep.

The next day at nap time, same thing. But I sat down in the rocking chair in his room with a book and read to myself and he was asleep in 5 minutes.

I guess he just needed some reassurance. His little crib provided lots of security and this little bed doesn’t give that…yet. We’ve been keeping him up a little later than usual to make sure he’s definitely ready to go to bed when we put him down.

But each day is a little easier; he’s getting the hang of it and when he needs it, mama will be there for the security that he needs.

I know that the time is truly short. It seems like just the other day that my mom made the little red fire truck quilt for John’s little bed. John used it on his bed, long after he moved out of his toddler bed. In fact, he used it right up until we set up Isaac’s toddler bed on January 1st. Then, as I was hoping he would, he raced to his room and got it and gave it to Isaac. Then he turned to me and told me he was too big for it now anyway and that he feet always stuck out when he tried to use it.

Firetruck Toddler Bed

Boys, fire trucks, toddler beds, cute quilts – these are the years!

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Posted by Jennifer under Just Life (No Comments)

Christmas Eve 2014{Christmas Eve Prep}

Somehow I seem to miss posting on Christmas or through the holidays and find myself playing a little catch up. I suppose I could write and schedule a post in advance but I like to write and share in the same day.

Some pre-Christmas highlights:

Our Jesse Tree.  This year we switched up our book; the book we used the first year I didn’t like, the second book {The Advent Jesse Tree} was pretty good and we used it for several years and this year we did Unwrapping The Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas and I had mixed feelings. I loved the illustrations and I did like many of the ideas presented in the devotional. One idea that struck home for me was her statement of how messy and imperfect Christ’s family tree was. It struck home for me because we have never had a year where all the Jesse Tree ornaments made it onto the tree because we’ve never had a December where we have done the devotions every day. I like to do our Jesse tree devotions in the evening so that we can do them with daddy as a family; but we miss several nights. Previous years I was bothered by that. This year I just embraced it and moved on. His family tree was messy and imperfect and so is our Jesse tree. Christmas came anyway. The purpose of our Jesse tree is to trace our finger through the old testament with anticipation, knowing that He is coming – that He came. Him, focusing on Him. So maybe the tree didn’t turn out perfect, it never does, but as a family we focused more on Him than everything else this Christmas and that’s what it’s about.

We went to Bell Homestead with friends for a homeschooling outing; exploring Christmas in the 1800’s. We learned how to play Dreidel, baked some great shortbread cookies, did some crafts and had a wonderful tour.

We baked a number of goodies in preparation for our Christmas Eve celebration, our Christmas Day dinner with family and our New Years Eve party. We also made a number of paper Christmas ornaments using the Usborne Book of Christmas Decorations that we got on sale. Definitely fun!

And of course we went to The Nutcracker and painted wooden ornaments.

Christmas Eve

We had friends over for a simple meal – chicken sandwiches – with lots of extras like salads, veggies, shrimp and more. And of course all the baked goodies we made. We played Ticket to Ride and introduced some first-timers to the game too. We did singing, and I played {badly} along with some of the carols. Only 3 months of lessons so it went pretty good considering. The only thing was I can’t sing and focus on what I’m supposed to be playing so I quit to enjoy singing along. Speaking of which, one of the highlights was the typo in the song books: 2 tunic doves rather than turtle doves. Try singing that without laughing. Try singing that without laughing while sharing a songbook with my friend Sarah! Impossible!!

Christmas Day 2014 {Christmas Morning}

Christmas Day

No presents until after 6am; Chloe and John arrived in our room at 6:03am. Chloe was watch-watching since 4am+. We woke up Isaac who was dopey but excited. He was crawling all over the place, unsure of what was happening but knowing something great was going to take place. We had a leisurely gift-unwrapping and then a quick breakfast and out the door to church. Christmas Dinner was shared with my sister’s family. We had turkey of course, with carrot cake this year for Jesus’ birthday cake. We don’t get together often so that was enjoyable for the kids; they love their cousins. But being up so early, we were all happy to crash into our beds that evening.

Christmas Days 2014{Christmas Day}

New Year’s Eve

We had a great time on New Years Eve too. We kept it simple, too, with homemade pizza. I made the kids pizza in the oven and DH did the adults on the barbeque. He has a big green egg; it gets crazy hot and takes about 4 minutes to cook a pizza. We ate and played more Ticket to Ride, this time trying out teams in Asia which was really quite fun.

This year for our count-up we had party poppers from the dollar store. They are spring-loaded little capsules that shoot out a handful of confetti. I tried one before hand to make sure it wouldn’t make an overwhelming mess.  It seemed like an acceptable level of mess so we used them. DH thought it was a little anti-climactic and that they were too small but the kids seemed to enjoy them. This year was our latest night ever, wrapping up at almost 10pm!

New Years Eve Decor New Year’s Eve 2014

New Years Day

We kept it simple (again! delicious and simple!) and quiet; a day at home with a delicious dinner planned. Prime rib, loaded baked potatoes, broiled asparagus and chocolate dipped pineapple for dessert made for some delicious dinner. Yum!

A friend had given me a lovely platter the night before – one that matched my mother’s china set – so I immediately put it to use. Beautiful and useful; the perfect combination!

New Years Day2015New Years Day 2015

My husband had some time off over the holidays so we were able to spend a lot of family time together.

So there you have it. Goodbye 2014 and welcome 2015! Did you do anything to celebrate?

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