Monday, December 29, 2014

goodbye 2014!

hope you get some of this, this season!
Whew!  Adrian and I look at each other this month and agree, we are ready to put 2014 in our rear view mirror!  It has been a tremendous, a tumultuous, a trial full year for us!  Usually we can look back on a year with rose-colored glasses, but this year has troubled us in every month, on every level. 
but there's hope!
and its hard to complain when you see beauty like this!
~love notes from our Creator ~ 

When we look back at January, we remember all 7 of us suffering a respiratory illness - but in the middle of it we got to go to Taylor's beautiful wedding.  God was with us.  Jehovah Rapha ~ the God who heals (Exodus 15.26, Psalm 103.3) ~ healed us again and again ~ of the sniffles, of violent viruses, and of chronic illness.   Aaron turned 4, and is now speeding toward 5! 

In February, we celebrated Ella's 10th birthday, had the stallion gelded in the snow (Montana style!), and I smashed into a logging truck on icy roads ~ all within 4 days.  Thus began visits to the chiropractor and physical therapist to heal the damage.  Thus began the insurance company calling me to ask when I would be done with treatment - humph.  I've never been treated so badly during a claim by State Farm.  Thus began a clashing in our marriage that we had never experienced before.  But once again, God is faithful, and He works all things together for good.  I was saved from much worse injury, and the truck was replaced.

Life seemed to be settling down again and getting into a mode, when on March 7 (our unhappy 11th anniversary) we discovered 4" of water in our full, finished basement.  The fund that was to be a new barn in the summer quickly went to the restoration company, carpet layers, and a submersible pump, ensuring that we would have no moisture or mold in the future.  Soon after that, our 3 youngest children miraculously experienced chickenpox ~ I say miraculously because I had prayed that they would sometime soon, and we never knew anybody before or after that had the virus.  In fact, we tried to pass it on to 6 different families in a variety of ways, and nobody caught it from us, either!  

A few days later, Adrian blacked out while stretching, fell backward onto his head and suffered a concussion that affected his memory, vision and emotions for a time.  Our faithful God (whose love endures forever, Psalm 136) spoke to me even in that malady, changed my heart, reminded me not to be self-centered and to appreciate LIFE – even if it isn’t perfect. 

In May, we celebrated Orion’s 2nd birthday; we are so very thankful for every birthday that means God has given us the privilege of caring for these little ones a while longer!  

Also beginning in May, we expected the new foal to be due any day, and began keeping a very close watch on our pregnant mare.  We discovered a deal on craigslist and purchased a chicken coop, run and 5 Heritage Buckeye hens – already producing beautiful large eggs!  That month, we also all faced strep, a first for all of us in 20+ years.  Adrian was on the east coast when I fell ill, so the kids picked up the slack and kept themselves alive while I slept for 2 days. 

When I wasn’t sleeping, I doused myself with essential oils and emerged 3 days later.  When Adrian got home, unfortunately he was infected as well.  Unable to cope with the pain, he went to the convenient care and got some steroids + antibiotics.  Unfortunately the medicines caused him a horrible case of hives, which covered his body.  I do have photos of that, but will spare you!  One thing about illness... it sure makes you thankful to be healthyll! 

In June we celebrated Tessa’s 8th birthday and added Tika and Timmy to our menagerie ~ they are adored!  
the note that started it all!

On Tessa's birthday, the dentist told us Jaci has 4 cavities affecting 8 teeth-- a trial we've been dealing with for 6 months now.  We endured a couple weeks of flooring shopping with 5 kids, carpet layers coming and going, and no kitchen + dust from our kitchen floor being ripped up, and circle sawn pine being installed.  We love the result of it all, but “under construction” is not in my comfort zone.   We also celebrated Jaci’s 6th birthday, which officially made our kids 2-4-6-8-10 in age.

July was a much anticipated month, as Adrian’s family all gathered in Bonner.  We did day trips to bring home perch, minnows, sunfish, crawdads for our homeschool aquarium (aka kiddie pool on the deck).  We enjoyed watching the fish, and enjoyed watching the kittens wade to catch them!  

We had more severe stomach illness that month, and Tessa and Jaci were flower girls in a beautiful wedding.  On July 25 we welcomed Stormy Morning Star, and were awed by God’s creation once again: 

At the 3 on 3 basketball tournament in Polson that month, Adrian nearly lost a tooth- that got the adrenaline rushing again.  We stole away to pick a gallon of huckleberries ~ mmm, summer is not complete without ‘em!

In August and September, we hiked at Glacier National Park, and visited our neighborhood lakes.  In October we began pasturing another miniature horse, happily looking out on 4 horses each day.  Aaron also suffered a strange skin disease we’d never dealt with before.  November was filled with birthday celebrations, special company from Wisconsin, and hunting, meat cutting and packing. 

All year long, we hosted Bible Study on Friday nights, and facilitated a Parenting class the month of September.  Unfortunately signing up for ministry to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ means the devil’s crosshairs are on us, so we fought a lot of unseen battles.  We argued and cried, were distanced and perplexed; we proved that God really is holding it all together for us.  Without Him, we would be sick, divorced, and dead.  The book of Job talks a lot about the trials of human experience and why they occur (chapter 1).  Job didn’t have the book of Job to look at and see that there was an unseen battle surging.  Since we are privy to this matter, we can watch and pray and be wise.  We can stop asking, “Why?” and walk by faith.  It is when we cannot see, cannot reason, and are miserable that we best prove our faith by lifting our hands in praise to the living God (1 Tim 2.8).

In 2014, We were again blessed to host loads of company and explore our new area.  

2014 also marked the first even numbered year in 10 years that we didn't add a human baby to our family ~ instead we added a bunch of animals!  We now enjoy the antics and pecking order of 2 dogs, 2 cats, 4 horses, and 7 chickens in the back pasture.  

Ella and Tessa are enrolled in a local homeschool choir, meeting weekly with area peers.  They performed a stunning concert this month, and will begin preparing for a spring concert when they return in January!  It is exciting to watch them experience the thrill of being a part of something bigger than themselves.  

This month, we have endured another round of flu and fevers ~ I am telling you, our family has NEVER been so sick in a calendar year!  Again and again, the LORD heals all our diseases (Psalm 103.3)  Just when I was reviewing this year and writing about it ~ thinking that is *enough* to face, Adrian called home last week to tell me that he had been rear ended.  The impact sent the contents of his truck flying, caused the CD player to pop out of its place, and knocked the topper off balance.  As the other driver was uninsured, we are waiting to hear what the outcome will be.  God’s great mercy again spared Adrian from injury.  

Even Christmas this year was “half and half”.  There was so much exuberance and elation for all of us as the kids decoded their treasure hunts, found wrapped gifts, and thrilled over garage sale and thrift store finds.  There were also moments of sobbing over the frustration, the discouragement, the heaping emotion that builds when your life collides with other people and there's strife, unmet expectations, and sin.  We watched our old dawg quickly degenerate and deteriorate until she died.  Burying 14 ½ years, even if it’s a dog, is no small thing.  

We have trained and bribed and threatened and rewarded and changed diet and taken breaks {for 3 years}, and Aaron is still not toilet trained.  All this struggle under our own roof and in our own hearts ~ is not to mention the tragedy we’ve watched our friends walk through: the cancer diagnoses, the sudden deaths and Jesus void hearts ~ these we pray about daily; the decay, the insanity, the dreadful world news.  Trial, tragedy, tiring tribulation…

…but ponder this:

You would never just sit down to dine on a cup of flour. You aren't even tempted to shove a teaspoon of salt in your mouth.  You wouldn't eat a raw egg or 1/2 cup of oil.  Anyone who has tasted baking soda and vanilla extract know they are putrid on their own.  Ok, so maybe you would eat a spoonful of sugar (mmm, especially brown sugar), but not typically on its own.

...but when you stir all these ingredients together, you imagine a very sweet treat!  Once well blended, you are prompted to plunge the mixture in the fiery hot oven, because you know how it will make the house smell, and you know how happy the cake eaters will be!

That's how life is to us: we don't like the conflict, the bitterness, the pain of the fire.  They don't taste good, and they aren't comfortable.  But for those of us with faith in the living God, we stand believing that "ALL THINGS (yes, all things) are working together for the good of those who love God, the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8.28).

Those of us who base our lives on what the compassionate Father's Word says know that this life is all about HIS purpose-- not mine.  This is not our eternal home; we're just pilgrims passing through.  The story of our life becomes history, but all along it is HISstory.

So we give thanks daily, monthly and now again annually for his remarkable grace toward us.  We are brimming with gratitude that while we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5.6), once for all time (Romans 6.10).  We deserved death but instead we got a gift (Romans 6.23) because God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  (2 Cor 5.21)

We are convinced that there is no righteousness, other than the righteousness that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Our response to trials, our perseverance, our faith in an invisible God-- all these originate from HIM (Romans 7.18).

To the only wise God our Savior be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.  Amen. (Jude :25) !

Saturday, December 20, 2014

tiny update before a Christmas post

its December... time to enjoy family games and sittin' around!

Ella always captures the rainbows so beautifully!

so thankful for my girls' help in the kitchen!

mmmm, green smoothie!

sunshine and bare ground seems so far away now ~
now the ground is frozen, covered with snow,
and the hens only come out when the snow is not deep.
This picture is because I am thankful for my husband!!!
He expertly wired the chicken coop so the hens have a heat lamp
on a timer, a heated water bowl, or an on/off switch for me to control manually.
He bears the brunt of my "projects", and I am so thankful for his help!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

November musings

Here is a "different" flavor of photos....

They are photos I didn't take.

The kids daily leave my camera or iPad with a plethora of photos they have taken...

....I have weeded out hundreds.... but I do like how their photos depict "real life"

when I am prone to just take photos of the nice, the cute and the memorable ~ 

the kids capture real life.  Here is our real life, 
plus a post I wrote a few weeks ago and never published.
Adrian @ work.  A co-worker took this. 
thank you for the lovely photo, Pam!  

I can see who took this one...
camera hijacker caught again! 
a view of our cluttered desk.  Adrian complains that I leave little notes everywhere.  He's right.
not sure why we need a photo of the trash can full,
but somehow that's how it looks most of the time.
ella was proud of the way she won this Catan game...
apparently Tessa was enjoying knitting with a smoothie.
this is how my kitchen looks when you're not here!
...complete with naked kids.
yes, real life!  
I did take this photo.  The family cutting meat.
We processed 2 deer this year:
one for ourselves and one for a neighbor
winter means time to make soup!
we are thankful for little things...
like the way the tree fell and missed the 4 buildings it could have hit!
This was our Thanksgiving getaway cabin in Anaconda
home away from home!
a daughter photographer

orion took about 200 photos of this scene...
the kids get creative....
I like my husband from both sides!  :)
our drive home after Thanksgiving:
beautiful, but treacherous.
5 hours of ice, ice, ice.
I was so thankful to land safe.  
stopping to give my nerves a break from the road
we both had to drive, as we had taken 2 vehicles in case Adrian was bringing an elk back home...
he saw lots of cows and had a good shot at a spike,
 but couldn't find the bull he had a tag for.
lots of sandwich making.
good for road trips and an afternoon at Fairmont.
that's my boy!
a cowboy hat, underwear, and rubber boots on the wrong feet.
i can't think of anything cuter..
Jaci asked me to take this photo.
these "I heart you" notes are everywhere in our house!
when kids take a shot, it is not always the most flattering view, but... you get the picture! new favorite skirt!

I recently browsed through my email contacts, and found two people that are no longer alive.  Wow.  Time marches on!  

For the past few weeks, the kids have been working on memorizing the U.S. Presidents, the 50 states along with their capitals and abbreviations.  Wow, that's a lot of memorizing!  

But "poco a poco, se llega lejos"~ 
(little by little, we get far!) only took the 4 older kids 2 weeks to memorize all 44 Presidents in chronological order ~ wowee!!  I am so proud of them!   We did it with the help of a song found here.  Now Ella is going a step farther and memorizing all of their first/middle names as well as their wives' names.  That's a lot, 'cause only one president wasn't married!  Do you know who?  Do you know how many fathers/sons served as presidents?  Do you know who served two inconsecutive terms?

I didn't either, 'til we started working on it. 

....and then I think to myself...WHY are we doing this?  Some days all the information we learn seems so futile.  I mean, Jesus is coming back and we're spending our time committing "Washington-Adams-Jefferson-Madison" to memory?  How will this knowledge help my children in the future?  I wasn't admitted as a student at Oregon State University because I still remembered the capital of Rhode Island.  I was never asked during a job interview to spell Montpelier or which states were the original 13 colonies.  (Those state abbreviations did come in handy in my various office jobs, however...).  I've never had to sing the Star Spangled Banner in order to qualify for ... anything.  

So, my work often seems futile.  Meaningless some days.  Still, I marvel at their little minds. Before we work on Presidents, states, capitals, Pledge of Allegiance or anything else U.S.A. related, we memorize scripture.  The kids are taking on 3 verses at a time.  Repetition works wonders.  I do like putting God's Holy Word on their minds, and I always ask the Lord to write it on their hearts ~ something only He can do!  

A few weeks ago, I happened upon a conversation in the Hardware store.  I only heard about 2 seconds worth of it, but I heard enough.  Apparently there are a bunch of "preppers" in this valley, and they are talking about the apocalypse as if it will be today.  That's how I should live about Jesus returnin', 'cause it's soon.  But to talk about how we are going to save ourselves with our ammo and all the government corruption and stocking up on years worth of food.. I just know that's not what my Savior wants me to focus on!  When Jesus left, he said, "keep watch"... keep looking up...keep hoping...because he will come back just when you think he wouldn't.  When the world is falling apart (it is), when things look like they couldn't get worse (they could), when you have lost your hope...that is when he will step in to save us. my husband says, "plan for the best, prepare for the worst".  So I will ask the Lord how that looks.  And trading my pennies for gold is not on my to do list.  

As we finished out studying the book of John over the last few weeks, I was so drawn to read Psalm 22 and Isaiah 58 over and over ~ there are SO many Old Testament prophesies fulfilled surrounding the death of Jesus.  There are 28 alone that were fulfilled on crucifixion day.  Fantastic.  I was making marks all over my Bible, in excitement that God's Holy Bible is the only religious book that has prophesy, fulfilled.  The best commentary on the Bible IS the Bible!  Love that.  

We are now studying verse by verse through the book of Revelation.  It is the revelation of Jesus Christ (1.1).  It is the only book of the Bible that casts a blessing on its reader (1.3).  I'm so glad that the best commentary on the Bible IS the Bible!  I read a verse like Rev 1.13 and read that Jesus was among the lampstands and I wonder "Wait!  What are the lampstands?"  ...but then you keep reading and Rev 1.20 says the seven lampstands are the seven churches."  Phew!  No guessing.  Jesus is into church.  He is among His church.  Oh, they have problems (all about that in Chapters 2 and 3).  But Jesus is still there among them.  What a merciful Savior! 

Paul tells us not to be ignorant about those that have died (I Thes 4.13), and then launches into a description about the end times (I Thes 5).  It is so exciting to know that we are in the end times, and to know that we are very likely to be caught up in the clouds with our Lord Jesus.  People that know a whole lot more about Bible prophecy than me say that there is not a single prophecy that is waiting to be accomplished for the Lord to return. 

Some are looking for the tribulation.  They are hoarding guns and stocking ammunition.  They are making sure that they will be taken care of with the desolation that is to come.  This lifestyle is full of fear (and pride for those who are prepared).  Some are believers, some are not ~ they have an inkling of what the world will look like once the church is removed (Rev 4-19)

As for me and my house, we are looking for the Lord!  I Thes 5.9 says we are not appointed to wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  I am joining the disciples who looked anxiously for Jesus after he ascended (Acts 1.11).  I am joining men of faith, "fixing my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith" (Heb 12.2).  I agree with Peter who says "Don't forget that with the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise... he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish." (I Pet 3.8-9)  God cannot be confined by time.  I am excited that Jesus himself confirmed again, "Behold I come quickly!"  

Earthquakes (we felt one last night), plagues, tragedy... all designed to make humanity lift our eyes to God!  He is coming soon!  

And now, back to the silliness: Tessa took a sequence of like 15 selfies.  Here's a sampling:

some photos just won't rotate, so you'll have to rotate your head to see this one.
Sweet Orion signing a card for Operation Christmas Child!
One of Adrian's co-workers took this, printed a poster of it at the office, and emailed it to us. 

Did you make it to the end of this post?  Did you like the out of the ordinary photos?  Leave me a comment so I know who's out there!  :)