Sunday, April 28, 2013

Do the Next Thing

I never have enough time to accomplish all that I think I need to accomplish.  Especially these days as I am growing larger and getting around is getting harder.  :)  Here is an encouraging word in poetry from dear Elizabeth Elliott.

From an old English parsonage down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the doors the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration: “Do the next thing.”

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, and guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrows, child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all results, do the next thing.

Looking for Jesus, ever serener,
Working or suffering, be thy demeanor;
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing.
Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.

-Elisabeth Elliot

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Classic Message from Elisabeth Elliot

I just listened to part one of this message from Elizabeth Elliot.  I used to hear her on the radio as a young girl, but after many years and much more life experience her wisdom just astounds me.  Many people try to make sense of suffering, but her testimony to the power of suffering in her life is impacting.  God does not waste our suffering, and one day all will be made right when He brings eternal peace to His people.  This is a message of great hope and true Titus 2 mentorship from a seasoned, godly older woman.  Enjoy and be blessed!

A Classic Message from Elisabeth Elliot

Monday, February 18, 2013

Adventures in Kansas CIty

Life has been rolling on at a very busy pace here in Kansas City.  I have been taking the children on daily outings while Matt has been working each day.  The weekend provided some nice family time.  We enjoyed visiting the World War I Museum on Saturday.  Then on Sunday we found a small family integrated church where we went and were able to be strengthened by being with fellow believers and hearing the Word preached.  
After church we decided to take a impromptu visit to the Kansas City zoo.  The weather was pleasant, and it was super great to get outdoors and breathe in fresh air and feel the sunshine.  
One day this past week the children and I drove about two hours to Jamesport, where we visited an Amish community.  It was the first time the children saw real horse and buggies, and they had fun counting them while we were there.  Lauren bought an Amish made basket, and we all enjoyed shopping in a large Amish furniture, quilt and christian bookstore.  

Today we visited the Steamboat Arabia Museum.  It was a neat experience learning about this steamboat that sunk and later was found.  It was amazing to see all the beautiful treasure that was found in that boat that had been buried under mud for well over a century.  

We also had a time this afternoon when our room was being cleaned, and we had to find somewhere to go.  We ended up in this raquetball room.  The children just ran and made lots of noise and had a grand time.  It was amazing to see just how much energy they had to run off.  :)  I sat in the corner and marveled at how energetic these five young people are!

Another day we visited this outlet center.  It was really cold, but the children enjoyed our lunch at the Dinosaur Cafe.  It was a lot like Rain Forest Cafe under the same ownership.

One day we visited Sea Life Aquarium.

On Sunday we woke up to this sight.  Weather predictions say we could see more of this before leaving here.

Here is one last picture from our trip to the steam boat today.  

We also are spending a fair share of time in the reading corner.  This is where I sit and read a devotional to the children after breakfast each morning.  This is also where I usually sit and read stories at the end of the day.  Sometimes Annagrace and I sit here and work on her reading lessons.  This picture was taken before church last Sunday.  My three youngest enjoyed looking at books, and I thought it was a cute moment to capture with a picture.

We will probably have a couple more days of outings before we start heading back home.  These days have been exhausting and yet special.  When we are home we do not go out everyday, and so it has been tiring.  I am trying to remember, however, that these are special opportunities to spend quality time learning and creating memories with the children.  The Lord opened the door for us to be here spending time with our daddy, and I am grateful He has also provided many enriching experiences for us while here.  The Lord has also sustained us in our health and given this pregnant Mama the sustaining strength to keep going even when tired.  I pray my children are also learning a lot about pulling together, working as a family team, and caring for the needs of one another.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Large Family Life in a Hotel

Life can be very interesting when the larger than average family attempts to stay in a hotel.  Especially when the stay is an extended one or hopping from one hotel to another on a long road trip.  Quite honestly there can be moments that feel over the top in complexity and complication.  Our family has had a lot of recent experience with this and is currently living this out as we are tagging along on a business trip with daddy.  

  I have found that there are all new house rules that have to be established such as where we put our coats and shoes when we enter our room, how we get on and off the elevator with the stroller and all our people and belongings, how we manage to get everyone served at breakfast, who helps who across the parking lot, who sleeps where and how many pillows each child gets, and the list goes on beyond any sane level of family strategizing.  As I said, we are on this trip while daddy works, and so I am doing most of this alone day in and day out.  We do not know how long we will be here, so we are working hard at making expectations clear and training on what is expected.  Some moments are better than others, but we are making the best of it and trying to learn and create memories in the process.  
  One thing that makes things feel more stressful is the looks people give me and the staring as I caravan my ducklings around.  Whenever things get chaotic I feel like people are all eyes, and when things are going well they are still all eyes.  Some people look at me like I'm an idiot to be going around with all of these children, and some are genuinely interested and complimentary of our family.  I pray with the children that we will shine the light of Christ as we go about our day.  It is without doubt that we will draw attention even without trying.  One real challenge when we are all living spending so much time together is fighting against selfishness and sibling rivalry.  We are talking a lot about having servant's hearts and looking for ways to serve the younger ones in our family.  I share with the children that if we are not having harmony then we are not reflecting the love of Christ as people watch us.  

  It is interesting to see the reactions people have to our family.  Many of the people we pass in this hotel are business people alone or in cooperate groups.  We see very few children here.  The other day we passed two men at breakfast, and it appeared that the one man subtly pointed us out to the other man.  When his friend saw me walking all five children, with my belly sticking out, his response was to take the Lord's name in vain.  How very sad!  My thoughts were, "Is it so odd to have a large family and embrace the blessing of children?"  "Does it make me such an outcast to try to give my all to serve the Lord in raising my children for His glory?"  "Am I really that much of a freak that people stare at me and tell me I am crazy?" (Yes, I have been told that more than once.)  All the while this culture is filled with all kinds of people with crazy beliefs and unbiblical lifestyles, and the world applauds them.  I think of the verse that says, "All those who live a Godly life in Christ Jesus shall be persecuted."  Sometimes I feel a small taste of that in how people look at me.  I literally can feel the stares as I come and go with the children.  

However, I must also mention that now and then someone will take the time to compliment our family or say what a great family we have, or how well behaved the children are, etc.  Those times really do encourage me and refresh me in contrast to how many people make me feel.  Obviously I do not choose to make decisions for my life based upon the opinions of culture or how others receive or reject me, however, a little encouragement here and there is refreshing.  So, if you see a Mama with a large herd of children, and she is trying her best to parent effectively you could really brighten her day by saying something encouraging to her.  Believe me anyone with over three children in this culture probably gets plenty of the negative, critical looks and comments.  

Well, for now we continue to live out large family life in a hotel.  :)  We are taking day trips around Kansas City and have done some neat things so far.  I have had to be adamant with my older children that the only way we can take these outings is if they are looking for ways to help with the younger ones.  They are learning and doing a good job.  It is truly a great thing to have a couple of older children now that can watch a younger sibling while I help another child in the bathroom, who can buckle a younger sibling in a car seat, etc.  I find that I am also having to train Lilly Faith to allow her older siblings to help her too.  Sometimes she would prefer Mama do everything for her, and so it is a training session all the way around.  I am having to train her that when I ask Lauren to buckle her in her carseat that she needs to let Lauren buckle her in.  Sometimes the training seems endless and brutally hard, but it is bearing fruit and it is allowing us to get around and enjoy fun together that we could not otherwise do.  We are thankful we are able to be here with daddy and not back at home separated from him.  Some of the circumstances are quite challenging, but we are learning, training, and united together as a family.  AND hopefully we are shining the light of Christ as we go.  :)  

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ordinary Days

I'm just thinking today about all the little moments that make up our busy, wonderful, and often times crazy lives.  Our days can be a jumble of sweet, hectic, frustrating and challenging moments.  Sometimes things seem manageable and sometimes things seem CRAZY.  All in all, however, I know we are very blessed to be living this life with our five precious children and another on the way!  Here are some snippets of what any ordinary day might look for the Adams family (if there is such a thing as an ordinary day ;)

Laundry is an element of our lives kind've like the energizer bunny; it just keeps going and going and going...........I do love the smell of Sweet Blossom and Wildflowers by Snuggle.  It is one of the "happies" in my life.  

Weaved in with the ordinary we sometimes have the special like New Year's Day when we brought our sweet Tali home from the pet adoption.

Then there are those challenges like taking two energetic little ladies shopping!

We cannot forget those moments which make me frown such as discovering a red pen went through the laundry and destroyed several nice clothing items and two pairs of king size sheets.  :(

Then we have the ongoing messes.........that are an everyday time consumer.

AND we have our share of broken glass in the kitchen.

How I love sweet moments like this......Abbie Joy helped me make oatmeal raisin cookies today and was so pleased with her accomplishment!  How I love seeing delight in her eyes!

I cherish seeing the handiwork of my oldest daughters as she enjoys making toys for her siblings.  Recently she made Annagrace a purple purse and Lilly Faith a pink luvy doll.

We have been enjoying many warm meals from our beloved crock pot.  Freezer slow cooker meals are really working out well for our family!  It is so awesome to just grab a ziploc bag of a frozen dinner and  dump the contents in our crock pot in the morning.  It makes dinner time so much easier!

We try to teach children to contribute to the family as we go along.  We do expect chores out of our older children and think it is a good thing for them.  Thankfully at Lilly Faith's age it is exciting to get to help out, and I hope she is learning as she makes attempts to help.   I hope she feels the fulfillment of knowing from an early age that she can contribute to the good of our whole family by helping.  

So our days are filled with these kinds of moments along with many other things.  Sometimes I am so busy and so tired that it becomes a blur.  It helps to stop and think about all the good and the not so good of daily life and remember that we are truly very blessed!  These are some of the best days of our lives, and sometimes we are too busy to realize it.  I know one day we will look back upon all of this with fond memories.  That is one reason I keep writing on this blog as a form of journaling.  I hope as I keep my online journal that others may be encouraged in seeing a not so perfect family keep striving to do better for the glory of God.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Encouraging the Good

Recently we began a new system of encouraging good behavior and godly character qualities in the children.  This idea is not original to me, but I read about it on another mom's blog.  Anyway, each of our children has their own sticker chart on one of our family bulletin boards in our dining room.  They are awarded little smiley stickers here and there when we want to point out and encourage a positive behavior, attitude, or character quality.  The purpose is to encourage them when they are caught doing good.  On the flip side we try to be consistent in disciplining sinful behaviors and lovingly leading them to the gospel message when they sin.  However, a little encouragement can also go a long ways in spurring them on to do right.  When any child gets a full row of smiley stickers "smileys" we award them one jelly bean out of our jelly bean container.  They think this is so exciting!  When a child fills up a complete chart we will probably give either a little change or a few jelly beans at one time.
  One thing that is nice is that when one child is awarded a smiley all the children take notice.  It is positive reinforcement for all the children.  We give smileys for all kinds of reasons.  Here are some recent examples:

  "Abbie Joy, Mama noticed that you took your dirty jammies to the laundry basket!  You could have left them thrown on the floor, but because you are helping to keep our house clean you get a smiley!"

"Guys, you all sat through our morning Bible reading very attentively.  I did not have to stop my reading one time during that whole chapter.  That is great!  You all are going to get a smiley!"

Today Lauren asked for another chicken nugget, and Lilly Faith leaned over and gave her one of hers.  I took that opportunity to talk about how we honor the Lord when we share and are kind.  I announced that Lilly Faith would be getting a smiley when we got home.  The funny thing is that Abbie Joy immediately felt prompted to share one of her chicken nuggets with Lauren as well.  ;)

Yesterday we had an unplanned for showing of the house and had only a little time to prepare.  Lauren jumped in and helped me clean, and so I gave her a smiley for working hard like a young lady and helping me.

There are many reasons we give smileys.  Sometimes we have given a smiley to Lilly Faith for using the potty like a big girl.  It is just a way of encouraging them when they do right.  Now they certainly do not get a smiley every time they do something good.  However, I think it is bringing some encouragement their way to keep looking for opportunities to do good!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Slow Cooker Freezer Meals

I recently found this on Pinterest.  It was a bit of a new concept to me and grabbed my interest.  Years ago I participated in a meal swap group with women from church.  We would all cook a dish times the number of ladies in the group and then get together and swap all the freezer meals.  One problem was that our family did not always like all the meals we received.  I gave up on it after awhile.  It had its pros and cons.
  However, this idea of Slow Cooker freezer meals grabbed my attention.  The main idea is that you dump all the ingredients for a main dish into a large zip loc bag and freeze it.  Then you take it out and let it start thawing in the fridge the night before you want to put it in the slow cooker.  Then the next morning you take the thawing food out of the fridge and plop it into your slow cooker.  Then the food cooks all day and dinner is ready that evening.
  In the pinterest link above this lady shares how she doubled twenty recipes to make forty meals in one day.  There is a link on her site for a shopping list as well.  So last Saturday I shopped until I dropped buying a massive amount of groceries.
  My sweet husband let me take my Bed Bath and Beyond coupon and purchase a food processor to help slice up the onions, bell peppers and other veggies needed.  That saved me a ton of time using my new power machine.
  Then I began going recipe by recipe and dumping all ingredients into labeled zip loc gallon sized bags and freezing them.  I was on a roll and pretty excited.  I did not get them all assembled the first day, but once I make another trip to the store I will continue on the other recipes.  Last night we tried our first slow cooker freezer meal of orange chicken.  Much to my delight my family LOVED it!  Next time I need to dump more into a jumbo size zip loc as my family gobbled up every last morsel and still wanted more.  I am super excited to try the other meals in my slow cooker in the near future.

  I have been a fan of slow cooker cooking for a good while as dinner preparation is a real challenge for me in the late afternoon.  However, if I am preparing everything in the crock pot in the morning it interrupts our school morning.  So, I am thinking that stocking my freezer with freezer meals makes a whole lot of sense for our family.  I am really excited about this and hoping it will help me provide more variety and tasty meals for my family.  Last night I prepared rice on the side and some baked broccoli.  The dinner was easy and a huge hit.  That makes a Mama happy!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Musings on what is most important while feeling bogged down.......

  I believe this time of year I am vulnerable to burnout and dismay.   We have just come through December, Christmas, and all the extra work that comes with that.  We have taken two road trips with five children in less than a week, AND we have been wading through the joys of the stomach bug and respiratory congestion with me being in my first trimester to boot.  On top of that, we have had at least four appointments to show our house in the last week!  This house showing business has been going on since the spring and has been a real drain.   Now the weather is cold and wet, and the children and I have cabin fever.  Add to all of that the daily load of school, endless laundry, and training of children.  I am feeling a bit fried at times.
   Looking back through pictures of the past few years I see how rapidly my children are growing and changing.  I want to make the most of these fleeting years, and yet it is everything I can do to keep up.  I have been doing some thinking and praying about what are the most important priorities, because I cannot do it all!!!   Through the years The Lord keeps challenging me to increase the amount of  Biblical discipleship in our family.   I am challenged to teach my children their distinctive roles as male and female.  I am motivated to train in godly character, although I am often discouraged to see my own wrong examples in attitudes and responses.  They are little sponges learning from my example.
  The value of hard work and contributing to the family cannot be underestimated.  This year I need to delegate more and train them to be more responsible.  I am seriously considering some sort of toy rotation to reduce the amount of mess they can make.  Toys and messes are a constant draining and defeating battle in our home.  I so wish I had started out organized as a new mother, but unfortunately this was not one of my strengths.   Through the years I have learned, out of necessity, to donate, donate donate!  Even so we still struggle with the good imaginative toys everywhere such as Legos, Playmobiles, Lincoln logs, Little Peoples, etc.  Even with throwing out trashy toys we still have huge messes that are draining the life out of me.  I am seriously thinking a weekly toy rotation is worth a try.  There are so many more important things in life than allowing toys to eat up our days and cause chaos.

 This year I feel a real need to focus on quick and cheerful obedience with the littles and on loving, harmonious relationships between the children.  Sibling rivalry and bickering can also cripple a large family and drain an exhausted mother in no time flat.  My children are not always nice to each other, and I feel we really need to focus on that in the months ahead.  Of course piano lessons and schooling resume this week, and attention to those studies must be prioritized.   Nonetheless, my heart is screaming out that above all we musy prioritize discipleship.  I could raise Einsteins who are heathens, and that is not the goal.  I often sense a lot of academic competition in the homeschool world.  It is hard not to get overwhelmed or sucked into the vortex of that pressure and competition.  Our school studies are important, but in my heart of hearts I feel the Lord continues to bring me back to the question "What is the most important thing?"  I believe each year he is growing my conviction that the most important thing is home discipleship.  This year I have put a lot of energy into ushering my oldest into young womanhood and sharing God's design for womanhood, marriage and purity with her.  This year I am sensing Him pinpoint that we need to work on sibling relationships as one area of our home discipleship.  While we do the best we can with the academics, I strongly believe our family should focus on discipleship above all else.  Whatever I can do to simplify our lifestyle will aid in this endeavor.  I am prayerful over our future curriculum choices, outside activities, and daily schedules wanting to keep focused on what is the most important.  The most important thing is that my children know and love the Lord Jesus with all of their heart, soul, and mind.  I want them to know His Word and be equipped to penetrate the darkness of this lost world with the light of His glorious truth.  That will not happen automatically, and though we have always tried I feel that each year the Lord says, "Do more to point them to Me and My Word."  By God's grace I am endeavoring to keep that at the top of our schooling and family priorities.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Steve Green (Always Live Version) is a live version of Steve Green singing the song I posted in my last post.  Meditate on these truths and be blessed.


I grew up listening to lots of Steve Green music as a child.   I was encouraged by his love for the Lord and edified through His God honoring music.  I have special memories of going to some of his concerts several decades ago now.  Today I heard a newer song, that I had never heard before, and thought I would share it here.  How awesome that the Lord has been using Steve Green for many decades now to share His Word and truth!  God is always good and can always be trusted.  These truths are comforting.