Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sunday hymn

Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

Text: Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847
Music: John Goss
Tune: LAUDA ANIMA, Meter: 87.87.87

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like me His praise should sing?
Praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise Him for His grace and favor
To our fathers in distress.
Praise Him still the same forever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
Glorious in His faithfulness.

Frail as summer’s flower we flourish
Blows the wind and it is gone
But while mortals rise and perish
God endures unchanging on
Praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
Praise the high eternal One

Fatherlike He tends and spares us;
Well our feeble frame He Knows.
In His hands He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
Widely as His mercy goes.

Angels help us to adore Him;
Ye behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him,
Dwellers all in time and space.
Praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
Praise with us the God of grace.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Words for Mamas

"The Home Circle may be, ought to be, the most delightful place on earth, the center of the purest affections and most desirable associations, as well as of the most attractive and exalted beauties to be found this side of paradise. There is one vision that never fades from the soul, and that is the vision of mother and of home. No man in all his weary wanderings ever goes out beyond the overshadowing arch of home. Let him stand on the surf-beaten coast of the Atlantic, or roam over the western wilds, and every dash of the wave or murmur of the breeze will whisper. . .HOME, SWEET HOME!"

from: The Golden Gems of Life ~ Gathered Jewels for the Home Circle
by Ferguson & Allen
published 1882

Christmas catch-up

I have done what many people (judging from the few new post on my bloglines) did and skipped bloggin the past few days. The day after Christmas, we went to Atlanta to visit Joe's mom and just returned yesterday. It was a fine visit and the boys did the best on the 6 hour trip trip each way of any car trip that I can remember. We only stopped twice for quick stops and that really is the key for long trips. The time with family was good too, although it is never easy to be in someone else's home with small children. I was so glad to be here last night!

We visited the new Atlanta Aquarium on Thursday along with several thousand others. It was miserable! You could not see many of the tanks because people lined the walls 10 deep. And I had heard that it was such a cool place that I was disappointed in general by the exhibits. The large tanks were neat, but all I could think about was how many germs the thousands of people that we were sardined in with must be carrying! (You know that you're a mom when....)

On another and definitely unusual note, Joe and I stayed up until 5 AM last night finishing season 5 of 24, which Joe got for Christmas! We'll be paying for it today, but if we can make it until lunch time, we'll grab naps when the boys nap. We enjoyed it and it was very out of character for us. Now if we can just remember to be nice today we'll be doing fine.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sunday hymn

Once in Royal David's city by Mrs. Cecil Alexander
Once in royal David's city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her baby
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child.
He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Savior Holy.
And through all His wondrous childhood
He would honor and obey,
Love and watch the lowly Maiden,
In whose gentle arms He lay:
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.
For He is our childhood's pattern;
Day by day, like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.
And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above,
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.
Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in heaven,
Set at God's right hand on high;
Where like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Words for Mamas

For my Saturday posts, I've decided to start posting some quotes on motherhood and homemaking to encourage all of you mamas out there.

Susan Schaeffer Macaulay in her book For the Family's Sake:

"Have we not heard, have we not seen that human life is a gift, a treasure worth tending? Is it actually more valuable to push a pen on paper or buttons on a computer than to be an expert in human life and its care? Is life more worthwhile because there is never time to pick wild blackberries and make a fruit crumble? Are *things* really more important that *people*? Will the warmth and wisdom of the expertise of caring for each other be handed on? Isn't this an amazingly interesting and complex life vocation on the one hand, and yet clear on the other? I find it so. To me it seems an enormous privilege to be what my children call "Mum." I've found each stage full of challenge and interest."

Thursday, December 21, 2006


For a news story right out of Mayberry, see this article that appeared this past Wednesday in this week's (yes, the paper only comes out once a week) Kosciusko paper. This one should definitely be included in the collections of dumb criminals stories that always seem to be circulating.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The importance of discipline

I don't know why I have a blog when most of the time the best thing to do is just quote Elisabeth Elliot. Another long one, but so good. She writes first about the need to discipline our children, but then points us towards God's loving discipline of His children.

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: All That Was Ever Ours

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:32 Deuteronomy 1:27-32 Hebrews 12:6-8

The Comfort of Discipline

Too many parents today hate their children. We saw it a couple of weeks ago, and in church at that. Lars and I attended a very small church where there was a very large number of small children. The creaking of pews, rustling of books and papers, dropping of crayons and toys and offering-plate nickels, talking, crying, and traipsing up and down the aisles for trips to the rest room all made it quite impossible to listen to the sermon. One child who was sitting with his father in front of us was passed forward over the back of the pew to his mother. Immediately he wanted daddy. Back over the pew again, headfirst into his father's lap. In a few minutes, up to mommy. So it went.

A week later we went to a much larger church with over a hundred children present. They were quiet. We were amazed, and later questioned a couple who were members there. ''We believe Christian parents should control their children," they said simply. Where did they get that idea, we wanted to know. Well, from the Bible. The Book of Proverbs speaks repeatedly of the use of the rod. One reference is in chapter 13: "A father who spares the rod hates his son, but one who loves him keeps him in order." The implication is clear: The keeping of order, where children are concerned, sometimes requires the use of the rod.

In the small church, it seemed, they hated their children. In the big one they loved them. They were taught (from the pulpit, the couple told us) to love them according to the Bible's definition of love: Keep them in order.

My dear friend Mari, the wife of a Welsh shepherd, writes often about lessons she learns from watching sheep. In a letter to me she described a very hard winter:

All the sheep were brought down from the mountain early, about one thousand breeding ewes. Two hundred are wintering in a lowland farm while the others are hand-fed here with hay and maize. The grass is covered with snow...When John wants to move sheep or cows from one pasture to another it is a hopeless job when the lambs or calves take to running their own way. They will be followed invariably by their mothers, who will go headlong after their offspring, blindly, in their care for them. What chaos! If only the parents would stay where they were, holding their ground, defending their standpoint, the little ones would eventually return to them and would willingly be led together to the right place.

Although our men are fighting hard against nature's elements these days, even that's easier than fighting unchanged, selfish human nature. I wonder: are the sheep and cows a true picture of what's happening in the world? Road men refuse to grit and salt the snow-covered roads; dustmen, gravediggers, and others are pressing for more money. It is so true that money is the source of all evils. If it isn't the capitalists it's the workers. This has been true in every generation. But now parents are leaning backwards to please their children, afraid of displeasing them. Teachers live in fear of their pupils at school, bosses are afraid of the workers, the government of trade unions. It's anarchy.

Anarchy is the complete absence of order and authority. It's what lambs and calves like. It's what people like too--for themselves. (It's another matter when the neighbors scorn order and authority.) A Houston high school principal described the new educational system as a "cross-graded, multi-ethnic, individualized, open-ended learning program with the main objective being to learn respect for the uniqueness of a person." Maybe that's what the parents in the little church were aiming for. It was open-ended, all right, and each unique little individual was doing his or her not particularly unique thing. The result was chaos, if not downright anarchy. A short lesson, emphasized in the vestibule with a narrow "board of education," i.e., a rod, might have done wonders to teach small individuals respect for the persons around them, who were there not to provide an audience for their antics but to worship.

The trouble starts, of course, not when the kids tumble out of the station wagon and charge into church. It starts at home, before they can walk, with parents who believe that love means giving them what they want and letting them do what they choose. They don't like ordinary food. They blow it out when they're babies and throw it on the floor or down the garbage grinder later on. They scream for other foods, and their screams are rewarded. If screams don't do the trick, tantrums will, especially in public. (Watch them around the gumball machine in any supermarket. The initial "No" is quickly reversed.) A child who doesn't throw tantrums can use another weapon--he can go into a sulk. His parents pity him and this teaches him to pity himself. When things don't go his way he knows that he has a right to resentment. The spiritual implications in later life of this kind of early training are disastrous: ''If God loves me he will give me what I want. If he does not give me what I want he does not love me." That isn't what the Bible teaches, of course, but it's what a child may conclude if his parents operate this way.

Training children, like corralling calves and lambs, is a great deal of trouble. It takes sacrifice. It's much easier to let them go. But you can't do that if you care about them. Only the one who cares about them will go to the trouble of bringing them under control. "The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep." The sheep don't take kindly to the crook he uses, to the dogs who herd them where they don't want to go, or to the disinfectant baths they are plunged into. It is the shepherd's sole purpose to take care of them, to see to their well-being according to his wisdom, not according to their whims.

My parents loved us enough to make us wear galoshes (those awful things with black metal clasps) when "nobody else had to wear them"; to see to it that we got five meals a day (three for the body and two for the soul, the latter including hymns, Bible reading, and prayer); to say no to things like candy or coming in when we felt like it, or skipping piano lessons and church; to give us chores to do around the house and to make it clear that if we didn't do them they wouldn't get done; to give us an allowance even during the Depression and teach us that some of it belonged to God; to stick by what they had said--line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. They drew lines. We knew where they were drawn. They didn't move them. They knew more about life than we did, and had a fairly clear picture of what was good for us. Like other kids we complained that they didn't love us or they would do so-and-so. "When you have children of your own," Mother would often say, "you can let them do that if you want to." She knew we wouldn't want to--if we loved them.

We've got it backwards--love says don't restrain, hate says restrain. God puts it the other way: "The Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. . . . If you are left without discipline . . . then you are illegitimate children and not sons" (Hebrews 12:6, 8 RSV). "When we fall under the Lord's judgment, he is disciplining us, to save us from being condemned with the rest of the world" (1 Corinthians 11:32 NEB).

It is not difficult for adults to see what's wrong with other parents and other people's children. But how blind we are in our childish reactions to the dealings of a kind Heavenly Father! The motive for discipline is love. Its purpose is salvation. The people of Israel muttered treason against him and said, the Lord hated us that he brought us out of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 1:27 NEB). Freed from slavery, they missed onions. Led by the Lord of Hosts himself with his angels and a pillar of cloud and fire, they were terrified of the Amorites. "You saw how the Lord your God carried you all the way to this place as a father carries his son. In spite of this you did not trust the Lord your God" (verse 32).

Discipline or "chastening" can be a painful thing for us poor mortals. We think only of the "rod" itself--the hard experience, the prayer that was answered with a No, the shattered hope, the misunderstanding, the blow to pride--forgetting the loving Hand that administers the lesson and the Savior who like a shepherd leads us. We forget how much we need his tender care.

As parents, let us faithfully remember that the keeping of order sometimes requires the use of the rod. As children of the Father and sheep of his pasture, let us remember humbly to accept his discipline, praying:

We are Thine, do Thou befriend us, be the Guardian of our way;
Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Thoughts for a long day

One woman will brag about her children, while another complains about hers; they could probably swap children without swapping tunes


Saw this quote yesterday and was greatly convicted that I don't want to be the complaining mom, though often I am.

"Lord, give me grace to love my children on the tough days and to treat them as co-heirs of God. Help me to speak words of kindness and to discipline with grace and gentleness."

Monday, December 18, 2006


I have pared down my blogroll as I have also pared down the blogs that I keep up with. In trying to be a better steward of my time, I have limited the blogs that I read because I wanted to really focus on the best of the best—the stuff that consistently spoke to where I am and what God is teaching me. As I have time over the next few weeks, I am going to highlight these blogs, giving a glimpse into why they are so instructive or encouraging to me and hopefully enticing you to check them out for yourself.

The first one that I will start with is Amy's Humble Musings. I believe that Amy's was the first blog that I ever kept up with. Her style is witty (always) and sarcastic (some of the time) with lots of self-deprecating humor and pithy observations on being the mother of little ones. Her theology is consistently pushing towards Christ and away from the world, with much emphasis on grace, sanctification, purposeful living, and seeking God's glory above all else. She has agrarian dreams and DV we'll be hearing soon about her family's transition to country living (I wish I could arrange it for them to move to Mississippi—she'd be a great neighbor)!

Here are some highlights from Amy...

Daily life

We had our open house for the congregation this past Friday night and tonight I have finally finished the last of the Christmas presents. Both of these things are a load off of my mind and now I can just focus on preparing my heart to celebrate the incarnation and on loving my family during this wonderful time. I also have not been sleeping well recently and am hoping that with these loose ends tied off that I will go back to more solid sleep.

The boys are just bundles of energy these days. They played outside a lot today too, but it didn't seem to help. Joseph and William rode their bikes, ran around the yard with their homemade flags, played with the bamboo stand, threw balls, hid in the bushes, and had various other little boy outside adventures. I was inside all morning doing laundry, cleaning, and dealing with a very fussy David. He barely napped this afternoon and was down to bed at 6:30 tonight after fussing all evening. I am guessing that he must not be feeling well, but he hasn't developed any noticeable symptoms.

Tomorrow, we will go with Joe to the Primetimer's (retired people from our church) Christmas dinner. It should be a neat opportunity to spend some time with some of the older members of our congregation and I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Happy news

Since the news is out the the real world, it is time that I let the blogging world know too....We are thrilled to be expecting baby Holland #4 to join us in early June! The boys are excited and of course Joe and I are too! I'm just out of my first trimester and slowly getting back to a more usual energy level. The nausea seems to be lessening too, and I am hoping it will disappear completely in the next few weeks.
I am seeing a midwife for my prenatal care and we are planning a home birth. I've had the boys all in the hospital, but it is a dream come true for me to be planning a home birth. Melinda (my midwife, and also a new nurse) seems to be great and I look forward to getting to know her better with more appointments.
This announcement should clear up a few things that might not quite have made sense around here. First, that I wrote about being so tired all of the time even though I was going to bed at 8:00. Second, for a while my posting was infrequent and topics when I did post were random. The pregnancy and excitement about it were all I could think about and I really didn't have anything else to say at the time. It was like there was this huge piece to my life that was a secret and it overshadowed everything else for a time. At any rate, we've announced it to friends here and I'm safely out of the first trimester and so the secret is out. Thankfully, the maternity clothes can finally come out too because it was getting harder and harder to disguise my blossoming figure.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Children and work

We had a delightful visit last weekend from my cousin, R. and her family. They were on a 2 week cross-country expedition that included stops at various family members homes and Disney World, thanks to homeschooling and the dad being in a very flexible job position right now! Their girls are older (2nd and 4th grade, I believe) and played so well with my boys. It was freezing here--a rare Mississippi occurrence--yet the children all ran around outside and then came in for hot chocolate with rosy red cheeks and icy fingers.

While they were here, I picked their brains about homeschooling and their journey getting to homeschooling as they had been adamant public schoolers the last time I saw them (about 3 years ago). They had a lots of good stuff to share and their girls really seem to be thriving--polite, well-spoken, energetic, and still with all of the zeal for life that one so enjoys seeing in a child.

We also talked about churches as they have switched from a PCA church to a Sovereign Grace ministries church (though they both grew up as dedicated Baptists, what a history, huh?) That too was an encouraging conversation as we saw their hearts for Christ and their desire to live authentically for Him.

One thing though about homeschooling that R. said that I wanted to mull over a bit. She was talking about the homeschooling and educational theory books that she had read and said that some of the more classic homeschooling manifestos don't really apply to her because they are so structured for the large family. (She joked about how some of the sample schedules in the books had the 7 year old entertaining the preschoolers for several hours a day as part of his daily routine and that just didn't help her. She also talked about how some moms with many kids must not do anything because they have the children do so many household chores.) Though I don't really consider us to be a large family, I definitely have a large family mentality and it was interesting to hear her observations about large families. I do think I probably have the boys do more than the average amount of household chores for little guys their age, but I definitely am not sitting around doing nothing! In fact, having the boys "help" me with chores at this stage in their development requires more supervision and slows down the process more than if I just did it myself. However, I want to develop children who are willing and able to work (something I so struggled with growing up and still do sometimes) and so it must start somewhere.

Elisabeth Elliot has something to say this week about children and work. It is long and I tried to cut it down, but I just couldn't bear to leave anything out.

Serious Play, Careless Work from Keep a Quiet Heart

When I was a kid we rushed home every afternoon from school, burst into the house to make sure Mother was there where we wanted her to be (she was), and then collected the kids on the block to play Kick the Can or to build playhouses out of wooden greenhouse boxes. Equipment didn't cost us a cent. Adults didn't have to supervise us or drive us anywhere or coach us. We just played. We were kids, and we knew that after-school time was playtime--until it was time to work (practice the piano, set the table, clear the table, do homework!).

Something has changed. Educators have gotten terribly serious about play and terribly casual about real physical work. Billions of dollars are lavished on developing crafts which nobody really needs and forms of recreation which people have to be taught to like. We've got "toys to grow on," computer games, play groups, playgrounds. Tiny tots who would have been happy with a few Tupperware containers and some spoons are given fancy mechanical toys that do things, and taught that if they make huge messes with finger paints they're being creative, which they didn't know they wanted to be.

I've seen Indian children playing in the river, climbing trees, sliding down mudbanks. But at the same time they were often catching fish or finding wild honey, fruit, or edible snails. They had no toys to play with but they had a marvelous time (at the age of three or four, mind you) building fires, sharpening knives, whacking away at the ever-encroaching weeds. Nobody told them what to do. Child's play naturally turned into useful work. My little three-year-old Valerie was as adept at these activities as the Indians--learned just as they had, by daily observation of adult men and women at work, then by imitation. A girl of ten could weave a perfect hammock; a boy of ten could handle a blowgun and bring home the "bacon," i.e. a bird or monkey for supper. A lot of what they did mattered, and they had much more fun than children who spend a good part of their childhood doing things that don't matter very much to them or anybody else.

Aren't children nowadays often getting far too much of the wrong kind of attention and not nearly enough of the right kind? Does it really make sense for kids of six and seven to be so frantically serious about organized sports and to be geniuses at computer games, but to have no idea how to amuse themselves without a coach, a team, a uniform, an arsenal of weapons, or an expensive and complicated piece of electronic equipment--not to mention daily transportation to and from the athletic field, park, ice rink, anywhere but the back yard? Must they be rounded up, herded, instructed, shouted at, praised, coaxed, and hovered over by adults who are paid money to pay attention to the poor little hooligans in order to keep them out of the adults' hair during "working hours"?

Is anybody paying attention to how a child works? Is it assumed that if asked to rake a lawn he'll do it halfheartedly? Will he sweep the garage in silent fury or will he rejoice in doing a thorough job of it? Will she scrub a sink till it shines and know herself to be a useful member of a household? School teachers desperately try to teach children who have never really labored with their hands to do schoolwork--not a very good place to start, it seems to me. If a child is not given to understand that he has a responsibility to help make the wheels of home run smoothly--if he is not given work which matters, in other words--why should he imagine that it matters very much whether he cooperates with teachers and fellow students? His parents have failed to give attention to a vital matter. Their attention has been elsewhere--on their own interests, jobs, amusements, physical fitness, or only on the child's health and a misguided notion of happiness which leaves out work altogether. If the "quality time" his father spends with him is limited to amusements rather than work, small wonder the child assumes nobody really likes work. His choices in how to spend his time, like his preferences in food, are taught at home--by observation of parental attitudes.

The jungle Indian children I knew learned without formal lessons of any kind. They were with their parents more or less all the time--everybody sleeping around a single fire at night, boys hunting or fishing with their fathers by day, girls planting and gathering food with their mothers. It was hard work to survive. They took responsibility to collect firewood and keep the fire burning. Very rarely did a parent even have to tell a child, let alone nag him, to do his job. It was expected and the kids met the expectations. Nobody over two had much leisure, but they had a lot of fun. I've never seen people laugh so much. It was a peaceful life, a life without anything like the severe stresses and conflicts we have created for ourselves. Wouldn't it be lovely to go back to all that?

But how are we supposed to do it? We don't live in the jungle. Children have jungle gyms instead of real trees to climb; plastic swimming pools instead of a clear flowing river; sliding boards instead of mudbanks. The work necessary to keep everybody alive and fed and clothed is done where they can't see it. So far as children can see, it usually has nothing to do with being fed and clothed but only with money. Their parents (often, alas, both of them) tear off somewhere in the morning and come home at night exhausted, having spent their day at who knows what. The newspaper, dinner and TV take up a chunk of what's left of the day. Football, the child learns by observation, is vastly more important than anything else in the father's life. It takes precedence over everything, rivets his father's attention, something he himself has never managed to do. So he, like his father, seeks escape from home and the responsibilities of home.

Is the situation irremediable? I don't think so. Surely we could eliminate some of the frustration and discontent of "civilized" family life if we took our cues from the "uncivilized" people who work almost all the time (and enjoy it) and play very little of the time (without making a complicated chore out of it). Happiness, after all, is a choice. Let your child see that you put heart and soul into the work God has given you to do. Do it for Him--that changes the whole climate of the home. Draw the child into acceptance of responsibility by starting very early. Expect the best. If you expect them to oppose you, to "goof off," to be terrible at two, rude at ten, intractable as teenagers, they won't disappoint you.

It takes longer, of course, to teach a child to do a job than it takes to do it yourself--especially if you have not given him the chance to watch you do it fifty times. It takes sustained attention--the sort of attention a child desperately needs. He can't get too much of that. He needs to be convinced that he is a necessary and very much appreciated member of the family.

What about the sacrifices? We're going to have to make some if we mean to correct our mistakes. Instead of sacrificing everything for money and sports, which most people seem ready to do without a qualm, we may have to sacrifice money and sports for our children. We will certainly have to sacrifice ourselves.

But, of course, that is what being a father or a mother means.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

This and that

We've been having record lows here recently and yesterday didn't have heat in the master suite due to a broken furnace. Thankfully, it is fixed toasty warm now, but last night was a bit chilly. I wore two layers of pj's and we added 2 thick wool blankets to our bed. It was so hard to get out from under the covers this morning to venture in to the 57 degree bathroom for a shower!

The boys have played so well today that I got a lot done. I am back to using Flylady's cleaning rotation and am on the kitchen and laundry room this week. The kitchen looks great!

I am a bit miffed that more of the things that I have ordered for Christmas have not yet arrived. I wrapped everything that was here the other night while watching Mission Impossible 3 (a pretty good movie) but I want to get the rest done. I had ordered everything for the extended family by last week, but still need to get a few more things for Joe and the boys. I also haven't made any friend presents (usually candy, cookies, or the like) for handing out to neighbors and friends. Better get moving!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Christmas tree!

I'll have to post about it too later, but for now here's hubby's post on our adventure getting our Christmas tree.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Santa Revisited

A reader, "K," had an interesting comment on my last post that I thought deserved a longer reply. She told a story about her daughter feeling left out of the Santa hoopla at school and worrying about her daughter being too different from the other kids.

As for Santa, we haven't really dealt with the "realness" question. We've just told the boys that some people think that Christmas is a time to celebrate Santa Claus, but we celebrate Jesus. Then though, they ask why some people don't celebrate Jesus and that gets into what I wrote above...mostly I say it is because they don't know about Jesus. Thankfully, they are too young for school (and I'm not sure what we're going to do for school anyway) and so we haven't run into dealing with what other people teach them/what they hear about Santa.
I thought a lot about K's comment about not wanting her kids to be the freaks in the neighborhood or school and my immediate thought was, "Oh! neither...I hadn't thought about that problem...what can I do to keep that from being the case?" However, as I thought about it more, I realized that I am trying to avoid the unavoidable. If my kids are passionate about Christ and His kingdom, they will be "freaks" in the world and sometimes even in the church.

John 15:18-19 "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Even as they are little, I should not shy away from letting them experience the rejections and hurts that will come from being different because they are trying to honor Christ. Scripture is replete with encouragements to realize that we are (as the body of Christ) different and that difference is both God-honoring and world-repelling. Is getting made fun of for not doing what everyone else does or feeling left out for the same reason really suffering for Christ? Well, not in the same way as the martyrs of yesteryear suffered, but for a child, I would argue yes! It is often in the little things that it is easiest to conform to the world because it is so subtly enticing. It is hard to go against the crowd and this is a way for a child to suffer for Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:15-16 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.

So, all that to say, K, that I really encourage you (and encourage me and anyone else reading) to not be afraid to let your kids be "Jesus freaks." :) (Who knew that I could throw in bad Newsboys lyrics so easily?) Letting your kids suffer for the sake of the Gospel....A lot easier said than done, but very meaningful, very real, very true.

Philippians 1:29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.
1 Peter 4:14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

Titus 2 afternoon

I just have to post about a website that I found as I was poking around today. It is for a family farm in Virginia that sells chickens and eggs and some pork, beef, milk and vegetables. I told Joe over dinner tonight that it looks like my ideal (idealized?) farm life. Anyway, the whole site is interesting and worth seeing if only for the pictures of the cute children industriously helping take care of the animals. I'd love it if I could buy from the Wilsons, but alas, they are in VA and I am in MS. We'd all be healthier if we ate such straight from the farm foods.

I also had a perfectly timed call today from a dear lady from church offering help for the open house that we are hosting with the senior pastor and his wife here on the 15th. She called just as we were finishing lunch and asked what we were up to for the afternoon. She came just after I had put the boys down for a nap and planned the whole party with me! From revising the menu, to offering to buy the rest of the supplies and to call some other ladies to help make food, she lent me her experience (she is an accomplished hostess who frequently hosts large groups). She even thought about traffic flow and the best way to set out the foods to ease congestion! Reflecting on it now, it was a very Titus 2 moment--she was helping me learn how to be busy at home and extend hospitality, and since this is for our church also helping me learn how to love my husband since I am supporting his ministry by doing this party too. She even brought a little cookie jar full of gingerbread men and Christmas presents for the boys and invited us to Christmas dinner at her house! It was such a kindness on her part--I really appreciated her availability and wisdom. I am so thankful for this church and the people in it. We have been welcomed and blessed in so many ways by the willingness of the people to invite us into their lives.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Christmas pageant

I am officially one of the mama's in charge of the shepherds for our church's Christmas pageant. It just so happens that the shepherds are all of the boys 2-9 in the church (two of which are my own) who didn't get a speaking role. Let's just say that these are not the calmest of the children involved in the pageant. We had our first run through tonight and it was a bit rocky.

On the way home (hoping to instill more quietness and reverence for the occasion), I talked to Joseph and Will about how the pageant was an opportunity for us to share what was important about Christmas (the birth of Christ) with people who might not know. We've been having a lot of discussions recently about why some people celebrate Santa Claus instead of Jesus and honestly it is kind of hard to explain. We've made our celebration so Christ-centric that I can't really put into words who Santa is.

I need to do a bit more on decorations for our house so that it won't all hit me at once. I got two pretty poinsettias at Wal-mart today and have made 2 good sized pine cone wreaths. I should make a few more wreaths and get a head start on some cooking for our open house too. Joe is off tomorrow morning and I am hoping that we'll finish painting the bedroom!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

To God and to the Lamb I will Sing!

We've been dealing with some sort of stomach bug for over a week now. David had it last Sunday and Joe came down with it this past Saturday. Joseph and Will were sick too on Saturday, but their bug seems to be lasting longer. Joseph is still complaining of a hurt tummy and neither boy has his appetite back. We had thought that they had all gotten food poisoning on Saturday, but since the boys are still sick I am thinking that it must be a bug. I'm fine, thankfully, and am more than able to take care of everyone else! Yesterday was actually a very easy day around here. Since the boys were all feeling puny, they napped for most of the day and when they were awake they were subdued, albeit throwing up. I was actually tickled by the thought that my day was easier with 3 sick little ones than with 3 healthy and rambunctious littles ones. But, God was gracious to me in their illness in that they were never all throwing up at the same time and did sleep a lot. I actually got a ton done while they all napped.
One of the things that I did was Christmas shopping. Thanks the the wonderful I got almost all of my shopping done yesterday without packing up everyone and all of their various and sundry equipment and supplies, driving to Jackson, wading through traffic, and strolling the mall. It was bliss for a non-shopper like me to "point and click" my way through Christmas shopping. And with the wishlists on amazon, I know that I got things that people wanted--which is such fun too.
The last thing that I have to write before I post this and get to painting is about a gospel sing that we went to on Sunday afternoon. Oprah Winfrey was born here in our humble town and has donated money to build a very nice Boys and Girls Club for the community. When she was in town a few months back for the dedication, it was quite the event, I am told, although we did not go into town to catch a glimpse of the talk show icon. As part of an effort to build support for the club from within the community, they hold monthly fundraisers that each have a different theme. Joe was asked to speak at this month's gospel sing on "Why We Sing" and did so. My two favorite groups that sang were both families. One was a father and his young adult children--two sons and a daughter--and they sang unmiked and a capella with tight harmonies. The other family was the parents and their 5 children accompanied by two teenagers from their church on the drum and the piano. While less polished in performance, I so enjoyed seeing them singing together that they were just as enjoyable.
The event was organized by Mrs. Katherine Carr Esters, who is a cousin or aunt of Oprah's and she was the glue that held the afternoon together. She greeted everyone as they entered by name and introduced us all to each other--encouraging people and interspersing "Praise the Lord's" in between telling good stories about how she knew various people. I suppose I am a bit partial to the kindness of Mrs. Katherine because as I walked in behind Joe and she greeted him, she turned to me and said, "Why I haven't met you are just beautiful!" :) Talk about a welcome!
Late in the afternoon, Mrs. Katherine remarked that she hadn't known that white people could sing gospel until that day. The connection of black and white around the centrality of praising the Lord through song was a truly unique experience for this little Mississippi town and for me personally. It was a faint foretaste of that magnificent choir in heaven where one day people from every tribe, tongue, and nation will be gathered around the throne singing praises to the Lamb. Since we will no longer be bound by these earthly bodies then, I will be able to sing with a voice like Sandi Patti's. :) Until then, I can sing with the quiet alto that I've been given and look forward to that blessed day.
Mrs. Katherine told us all that she'd be telling Oprah about our gathering and said that she'd especially be telling her about Joe (everyone marveled at his youth and had enjoyed what he said). Oprah or not, it was a notable afternoon and one that I was glad to be a part of.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My little men

So after endless hours of unsuccessfully trying to get my boys posed for a Christmas picture, I finally snapped a cute one of all three today just randomly. Granted, they weren't wearing coordinating outfits (we do live in the deep South, y'all, where standard dress for young boys is a smocked john-john, knee high socks, and white leather shoes) or even nice clothes, but they are all looking at the camera and smilling! I call that a success!!!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Weekend update

Poor David had some sort of food poisoning today, we think. We threw up every 30 minutes for 4 hours and the recovered. Very strange. He's been eating the same thing as the rest of the family and we're all fine. Hopefully, he'll be okay tonight.
We had a fun visit yesterday from our friends the B.'s from Jackson. They stayed most of the day and we had such a good time just hanging out. M. is due in 2 months with their third baby--a girl after 2 boys! What fun!

Monday, November 13, 2006


We had a good weekend. On Friday night, we enjoyed a chili dinner with our Sunday school class at the H's house. It was a warm evening and fellowship was sweet as the children ran around outside and the adults talked--men around the campfire and women inside around the babies. One of the women there, M. mentioned that she has found my blog and reads it from time to time. (Hi M.!) I don't know why (after all I am posting on the www, after all), but I have this perception that my blog is my own little bit of cyberspace and I am somehow always surprised to find that someone is reading it. It is a place for me to think and process and it gives me a forum--after all, I'm am nothing if not highly opinionated. Yet, I welcome any readers but am still surprised by them.
We painted all day Saturday and the office is coming along nicely. I have started to put the red topcoat on today and I think it is going to look good. There is so much to do on this house that it can be steps though, right?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sleepy mama

My blogging has greatly diminished recently due to 3 factors:
1. Joe and I are finally progressing on painting. We've been priming the office and patching holes from tearing down the wallpaper. Thus, some blogging time has been spent with a paintbrush in hand.
2. 24--That's right. We've starting season 3 and are hooked. We've been watching whenever we are not painting.
3. Bedtime. I have been going to bed between 8 and 9:00 each night and that barely leaves me time to get the house straight after the boys are in bed before I zonk out.

Tonight, we went over to the S.'s house and "helped" them work on it (I say "helped" because we did not get much done). M and M bought a 1930's house that needed a LOT of work and had it gutted. The builders are moving along and are supposed to have it finished in 2 weeks. We went over to help them tile their 2 bathrooms and laundry room as I had volunteered our skills. It was a crazy time with 5 kids running around in an unfinished house, but it was good. We love spending time with the people in our congregation and getting more into peoples' lives. There were no earth shattering conversations, but it was a good time of shared food and shared work. We'll go again later this week!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

360 reunion

It has been a few days, hasn't it? This past weekend I had the glorious fun of being fancy free and by myself for 2 days! My dear husband stayed at home with the boys while I flew to Charlottesville for a reunion weekend with some of the girls that I lived with in college. It was non-stop talking the whole weekend—laughing, a bit of crying (from me...what can I say? I'm a crier!), and many stories. Husbands, children, marriage, sex, birth control, the Biblical roles for women, houses, dating, being single, wanting kids, miscarriages, pregnancy, labor, the church, politics, death, tragedy, illness....the talking just did not end. And they were good conversations too. Sprinkled with grace and seasoned with the abiding peace of God's goodness and mercy to us his daughters. Each of us were in different circumstances, but each could testify to Christ's work in our lives.

It was such a blessing to see these women who are so dear to me walking with the Lord. I knew them as college students and much has changed for each of us in the ensuing 6 years. But, God's faithfulness has been new to each of us and I was greatly encouraged to see them walking with the Lord.

It was also just plain fun. I haven't left the children overnight except for one night when Joseph was a baby. We saw a lot of the old spots that we remembered from college and we ate at a tapas restaurant for supper—a first for me. Of the 12 girls that lived in the house, only 5 of us made it for this weekend, but you can see a picture of us here. SO FUN!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My little man!!

We have crossed a milestone tonight and not a very good one. Tonight marks the first time that we have taken one of the children to the ER because of an accident. We did, of course, all go to the ER after the wreck, but this is the first visit for a childhood accident.

William fell tonight while running around outside the church with the other children after the missions conference dinner. He split open his lip and his right front tooth was knocked up into his gum. Nothing can be done for the tooth. Either it will be fine or it will fall out, leaving my adorable 2 year old toothless for 3-5 years until the permanent tooth comes in at a normal time. The main problem is the lip, as the split was wide and deep. I am concerned that the scar will show—he is such a handsome little man! Can one be vain for another person?

Joe and I have talked about serving on the mission field before and see ourselves as missionaries in some ways in the way that we look at God's calling on our lives and in this place. However, when we were actually thinking about moving to Peru, one of our reasons to not go was because of how we handle nights like tonight. Tonight cemented the fact that our gracious Lord has much work to do on me before I would be ready for a calling to overseas missions.

It was a “rubber meets the road” night. And I failed the test. As we dealt with the accident, I was short with Joseph, rude to Joe, and generally all criticisms and accusations when I should have displayed acceptance and peace. As much as I can write about wanting to submit to God's curriculum for me, I muddle through the lessons and sometimes refuse them all together, preferring to do my own thing.

I guess though that this realization is a lesson too. One more chance for me to see my sin and one more chance for Christ's grace to work in me, his strength to be made perfect in my weakness.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

It has rained here for most of the day again today. No threatening thunderstorms, just constant and sometimes very heavy rain. A few nights ago we had a bit of a scare (or rather I did--Joe is much calmer about such things) with a tornado. There were warnings for our county and they said the tornado was heading towards Vaiden, which I knew was near here because I have seen the signs. However, I didn't know exactly where Vaiden was and so I was frantically looking at maps trying to figure out if we were in danger. We were not; Vaiden is about 20 miles from here. For future reference I did print out a map of our county that includes all of the little towns near here so that next time we'll know where the tornado is! (And my dear hubby also ordered a weather alarm radio that will beep if there is an alert issued for our area—which is quite handy if one wants to sleep on a stormy night but is afraid of being sucked up by an unexpected tornado while sleeping.)

My bloglines account is down. Firefox is having some sort of trouble with Java and so my feed tree is empty. I have missed keeping up with everyone.

Lastly, we have finally gotten back to working on the office. We have ordered season 3 of 24 and have set goals of how much of the office we have to finish before we can watch each episode so that by the time we are finished with the season the office will be finished too. It is an ingenious strategy because it harnesses our insatiable appetite for Jack Bauer's perilous escapades with the drudgery of stripping wallpaper, spackling, priming, and repainting. We've decided on red, which is great because our house is overrun by a cheery pale yellow right now, and we could use some deeper colors.

Okay, that is enough for tonight. Off to talk to hubby.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds

based on Song of Solomon 1:3 “Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth.”

1. How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer's ear!
It soothes his sorrow, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

2. It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
'Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

3. Dear Name, the rock on which I build,
My shield and hiding place,
My never failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!

4. By Thee, my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.

5. Jesus, my Shepherd, Brother, Friend,
My Prophet, Priest, and King,
My Lord, my life, my way, my end,
Accept the praise I bring.

6. Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I'll praise Thee as I ought.

7. 'Til then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of Thy name
Refresh my soul in death.

--John Newton

Friday, October 13, 2006

God's curriculum

Many days the devotional that I get from Elisabeth Elliot is the only morsel of Scriptural truth that I am able to meditate on in a day. But, oh, they are such gems! Today's was long and on contentment. It contained my favorite Amy Carmichael quote too.

If you are not already subscribed to these daily devotionals, I heartily recommend that you do so. Here is a portion:

Everything about which we are tempted to complain may be the very instrument whereby the Potter intends to shape His clay into the image of His Son--a headache, an insult, a long line at the check-out, someone's rudeness or failure to say thank you, misunderstanding, disappointment, interruption. As Amy Carmichael said, "See in it a chance to die," meaning a chance to leave self behind and say YES to the will of God, to be "conformable unto His death." Not a morbid martyr-complex but a peaceful and happy contentment in the assurance that goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives. Wouldn't our children learn godliness if they saw the example of contentment instead of complaint? acceptance instead of rebellion? peace instead of frustration?

Everything? Everything about which I am tempted to complain may be the very instrument whereby my Lord intends to shape me more into the image of Christ. That certainly puts a new light on the petty frustrations of life with little ones. It means that when Will was helping me make a cake this morning and knocked a cup full of baked pumpkins seeds on the floor, breaking the cup and scattering seeds across the kitchen that it was an opportunity for God to sanctify me. The frustration (and let's be honest here, anger) that immediately surfaced was my sin staring me blatantly in the face. Oh, I need grace! I need Christ's sacrifice on my behalf!

An excerpt from another EE devotional earlier this week provides this fitting closing:

Mercifully, God does not leave us to choose our own curriculum. His wisdom is perfect, His knowledge embraces not only all worlds but the individual hearts and minds of each of His loved children. With intimate understanding of our deepest needs and individual capacities, He chooses our curriculum. We need only ask, "Give us this day our daily bread, our daily lessons, our homework." An angry retort from someone may be just the occasion we need in which to learn not only longsuffering and forgiveness, but meekness and gentleness; fruits not born in us but borne only by the Spirit. As Amy Carmichael wrote, "A cup brimful of sweetness cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, no matter how suddenly jarred" (From her book IF published by Christian Literature Crusade).

God's curriculum for all who sincerely want to know Him and do His will will always include lessons we wish we could skip. But the more we apply ourselves, the more honestly we can say what the psalmist said: "I, thy servant, will study thy statutes. / Thy instruction is my continual delight; / I turn to it for counsel. / I will run the course set out in thy commandments, / for they gladden my heart" (Psalm 119:23, 24, 32, NEB).

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

An overflowing closet and an abundant blessing

I have been keeping my eyes open for several months now for fall clothes for Joseph. In fact, I scooped up several pairs of long pants and long sleeved shirts for $.25 or $.50 an item at yard sales this summer when it was so hot outside that it almost seemed impossible that one could ever want to wear long winter clothes. We also went shopping from 9-5 last Thursday in Jackson and got church clothes and shoes at the mall. Finally, I picked up a few things at the thrift store this past Saturday when they had a $5 a bag sale. (BTW, I had 2 pairs of pants, 2 shirts, 2 pairs of almost new boots, a small food processor, an electric waffle iron, 2 candlestick holders, a set of notecards, 4 ties, and 16 cloth napkins into my bag—that's less than .$25 an item!)

Inspired by the Tightwad Gazette, I have really been trying to be more frugal and to be more open-minded about yard sales and the thrift store. It has been a lesson for me. Six months ago, I would've turned my nose up at both, but I have been humbly trying new territory....And it is fun! I love the bargains I can get. (Although I must admit that I am still embarrassed to say so in public—except for here, but that isn't the same. We were having dinner with a new couple from church on Saturday night and the wife raved that she just loves to find “bargains.” Joe, thinking of my newly-found yard saling prowess chimed in, “Oh, Hallie does too.” She went on to explain how she finds “cheap” antiques that are a steal, and I blushed and waited to see if my dear hubby would mention my fabulous finds at the thrift store. He didn't, and I let out a little sigh of relief—pride intact.) All of this to say that I am learning not only to try to be content with less, but also to try to be more creative.

The amazing thing is that God has just blessed above and beyond what I could have expected in this area. At church on Sunday, I was lamenting that Joseph's brand new Sunday khakis had shrunk so much after the first wash that they were already too small. My friend remarked that she had some hand-me-downs from her son that she thought might fit Joseph. She dropped them buy yesterday afternoon, and I sorted them last night after the boys were in bed. There were enough clothes not only for Joseph to have a full wardrobe for this fall and winter, but for next spring and summer too! And they are cute things, name brands some of which are expensive and I would never even buy! Even down to socks and a warm winter coat—all barely worn! Even a pair of overalls, which Joseph has been asking for, but I just wasn't going to buy brand new. Isn't God good? I have just been amazed all day as I have washed and folded it all. I called my friend this morning to thank her and need to write her a note too. Joseph has more clothes than he can wear!!!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Dinnertime discipleship

Tonight we had dinner with 2 couples from our church and had such a good time. The boys were pretty well-behaved and it was just a pleasant evening. It was so nice to be in the home of people that we care about and to whom we have been called. We truly believe that God has given us these people in this church and community to love. As we considered a call to overseas missions before ending up here, this place seems even more evidently our current mission field than it might otherwise seem. God clearly placed us here in this place and it is so good to remember that. I don't want to get caught up in living life that I forget what God has called us to. As we make friends and get to know people, I want to keep in mind my duty to love as Christ loved me and the mission He gave our family to minister in His name.

And so even in the middle of comfortable conversation and easy fellowship around the table, may I be mindful that I am to be living out the Gospel in my interactions. What does this mean? Most obviously, it means that my conversation should be seasoned with grace and not gossip, sarcasm, or complaining. That I must seek to love what God loves and hate what God hates in the way that I speak. Am I speaking about my children to others in a way that shows that I consider them a blessing or a curse? Am I treating the reputations of others with care and love in the way that I speak of those not present?

It also means that it should be the goal of my heart not to just share easy conversation, but to use time with fellow believers to truly encourage them in the faith. This is a hard one. I can carry on a conversation, but my words will wither and pass away. It is only the word of the Lord that will stand forever. May I be mindful of opportunities to take conversations deeper and to encourage a real struggle with the faith and a transparent trust in my Lord.

I am praying that as I have opportunities in growing relationships that God will grant me the ability to speak the truth in love and to spur others on towards love and good deeds. I know I need people like that in my life and that is who I want to become.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Full-time shopping

Today the Holland family made a trip to the big city to buy some fall clothes for Joseph. Since we are huge "hand-me-downers," the younger boys have most of what they need, but Joseph was in desparate need of some church clothes. We have switched from the john-johns and white shoes to the khakis and button up for him--he is so grown up! Every time I wash him or dress him, I am just amazed at how big he is! How did I ever have a son with feet this big?

I also got some fun brown heels (to complement Joseph's buy one get one 1/2 off deal). I cannot remember when I last bought fun new shoes. I get new running shoes (that I wear every day) at least yearly, but I haven't bought other shoes in longer than I can even remember. We also got some great t-shirts and shorts on huge discount for Joseph for next summer--that is unless he continues to grow like a weed and I underestimated it!

I also got some flax seeds at the natural foods co-op and am looking forward to adding them to our diet. I with that I was better about natural eating, but I guess each step in a positive direction is better than nothing.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


It is October 3rd and all three of my children have spent a delightful afternoon in the kiddie pool in the yard. It was 92 degrees and so I figured that it must be okay although all of my Virginia-raised sensibilities bristled at the notion of bathing suits in October. I have already put away the sunscreen for the year and so I was a bit worried that they'll sunburn! Even baby David enjoyed crawling around and splashing enthusiastically in the 10 inch deep water. He gasped at the coldness every time his brothers splashed.

I also experimented in the kitchen tonight. After I brought David inside and William and Joseph were still playing outside in the pool, I needed to find something to do in the kitchen that would allow me to watch them through the window. I decided to try to make fresh pasta as I has seen a recipe a few days earlier. It was good, but I don't think quite good enough to justify rolling it out and painstainkingly cutting each individual noodle. I mixed some fresh basil into half of the dough and that was delicous. If I try it again, I need to figure out how to roll the dough into thinner sheets before cutting because all of the noodles were too thick. Still, at least I tried!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Back in the saddle again

The past few days have been uneventful in household Holland. We've been getting back into the swing of things after a great visit with my parents and just living life. Joe preached a great sermon on Sunday night on our identity as Christians and the seriousness of sin from 1 Peter 2:9-12. Yesterday, we had a candlelight spaghetti supper with really yummy sauce and homemade breadsticks and topped it all off with Sonic slushies for dessert.
The 2 younger boys are down for naps (although William is still singing) and Joseph is resting in the play room. I have a few minutes for "me." I have been thinking a bit recently about how things are going with me and one thought I've had is about how I am doing in managing our home.
Before we moved here, I feel like I had a better handle on my household. I don't know if it is because this is a bigger house, but I always feel like I am unorganized and behind on housework. I want to take a few minutes this afternoon to work on my household notebook to see if I can get reorganized. I might even have to revert to the Flylady!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Away again

My parents were here for a visit the past few days leaving no extra time to blog. Time was filled visiting and enjoying the rare treat of having them here. It was truly a glorious visit--good conversations, mostly well-behaved children, just enough stuff to do, and even a Mississippi fall evening by the bonfire roasting marshmallows and star gazing. I treasured each moment with them here, realizing that it will probably be 8 months before I see them again! The boys will be so big then! It was special to have the boys spend time with Mama and Daddy--especially Daddy, since he hasn't really gotten to know them as much yet since we don't get to see him as often. The real test though will be to see if David will let them hold him when they stop back through on their way home.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Grumpy mama

I am so tired, but I don't feel like I really did anything today. The boys were not terrible, but they weren't very obedient either. And I was in a bad mood and short with them all day. I'm just plain grumpy.

It is raining here today and we've been mostly stuck inside. Except for when I let the boys out to ride their bikes during one break in the showers and they came inside a half an hour later sopping wet and sprinkled with mud. They had been riding their bicycles through puddles and the mud kept on splashing up on them. Good clean fun.

I did get a little bit of sewing done today, which was good. I mended a few pairs of pants for the boys and hemmed some new cloths to clean with. I also got the laundry done and vacuumed the house with my old push vacuum cleaner. I have gotten so used to using the whole house vacuum that it was kind of a shock to push around my heavy old one since the whole house unit is broken. I also tried a recipe for making caramel corn. I guess it was a success because I made 8 cups of caramel popcorn this morning and it is already gone.

Joe will be home in a few minutes and I think I'm going to go and get ready for bed. It is 7:50.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A must read

Usually my Sunday posts are sparse, but tonight I am mentioning a rare gem. Holly from Choosing Home has started a personal blog (Seeking Faithfulness) that is among the best out there. To start her blog, she transferred some of her posts from Choosing Home. There are several that I would rank in my top 10 favorite posts on motherhood. She really speaks to where I am and with such grace and gospel-centeredness. I am thankful to be able to read her wisdom.
Today I wanted to share a snippet from part 1 of a post called "Losing Myself," in which Holly writes about God calling her to die to self in motherhood. The whole thing is so good--go read it! and part 2 here.

“IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU! All that you need to know about yourself, you will find in Me.” Shocking words to someone who thought that she was the important one in this entire family equation. Totally jaw-dropping words to someone who couldn’t wait to bring these children to maturity so that she could get on with life.

God continued….”What if I DO just want you to be a mother? Would you trust me that this would be enough for your life? Could you find contentment in that vocation, in serving your husband and children?”

“What if I have greater plans for your child, or your grandchild – and your main purpose was to give them life, then to pour YOUR life into shaping them into the person that I have planned for them to be?”

“Oh but Lord, that means,….sacrifice. Don’t I already do enough? Who will I become?”

“Dear Child, you will become just exactly who I intended for you to be. Don’t you remember reading my words, ‘He who loses his life for MY sake will find it?’?”

The conversations went on for some time. God prodding, humbling me and me gradually warming to His will.

The dethroning of ME literally transformed my mothering and the priority I placed upon it.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

eBay and good times

My posting here has been sparse the past few days as I have spent the majority of my online time at the 360 blog or on eBay. I've been trying to organize the reunion for next month and have been tracking people down from hoosonline to see if they'll come. Yesterday, Elizabeth White Parsons posted her update on the blog and it just blew me away. It was so good to hear what God has taught her through lots of things but marriage in particular. I am so into the mama phase of life that the difficulties of early marriage have faded with time. She wrote about the dying to self and losing independence that is needed to fully work towards oneness--so good, but painful in the process.
As for eBay, I managed to sell an old bridesmaid's dress, a Boppy, and a set of first season 24 DVDs. I've also listed a used Medela pump which hopefully will sell in the next week. Anyway, it is better than having a yard sale and easier too. Plus, I just can't bear either the waste of throwing good things away or the clutter of keeping things that I don't use.
I've been in a rotten mood all day and my dear husband has taken the boys out so that I can have a few minutes of quiet and make dinner. He is so great about loving me when I am unlovable. I truthfully don't deserve such a steady, caring husband. God blessed me greatly in Joe.
Welll, the dough for the tortillas in done resting now and so I'd better go and make the enchiladas.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

17th century poetry

To My Dear and Loving Husband

If ever two were one then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife were happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor aught but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay,
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let's so perservere
That when we live no more, we may live ever.

--Anne Bradstreet

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Today was getting back to normal a bit more. Joe worked almost a normal day and came home exhausted. The boys and I did normal things here. We were brought dinner by a very kind lady from church, who then listened with interest to the boys telling about collecting cicada shells in the pine trees behind the house. She even worn one that William gave to her on her shirt on her way home!
We still don't know what was wrong with Joe and the drs. said we probably will never know. They sent away the test for West Nile virus and that will be back in another week or so. It was most likely a recurrence of viral meningitis. Not fun! We are so thankful that God healed Joe so quickly and that he is feeling stronger now.
Whenever God so specifically provides the best answer to my prayers I always wonder what my response would have been had He not been so gracious to me. Would I still be able to count my security in Him when He does not heal my husband?
I remember just over a year ago lying flat on my back in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. I was seven months pregnant and William was in the ambulance with me, but screaming frantically because of the trauma of what we had just been through and because he couldn't see me because of how we were strapped in. I put my hand on my tummy and prayed for the little life inside of me, my baby, who I had not yet met. I prayed that the Lord would give me strength to trust in His goodness even as I lost my baby. I was sure that I would loose him--the wreck was so bad. And I didn't know yet if Joseph was okay either....Head trama, fractures, surgery were words I heard, but they did not yet know the severity of his injuries.
I can remember the peace of that ride. It was the peace that passes understanding that is calm in the midst of pain and fear. It was the trust in a God that is good, even when life is not. That day, I glimpsed for a moment that my anchor was secure in Him. The storms raged and He held firm. He held me safely.
And in the hours and days to follow, He gave us above and beyond what we could have hoped for. A continuing pregnancy and a healthy baby boy. A healed three year old.
I know that He is faithful. But I know that I am not. The memory of that ambulance ride and the peace that He granted help, but I often wonder if I could remain as calm in the midst of longer or stronger storms...death, lingering illness, or pain. I worry that I will not be found faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2). But, I am thankful that I have a God who is faithful (1 Thes. 5:12) and whose faithfulness covers over my lack of faith. Even when I may doubt, He will still be God and still be good.

Revelation 19:11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Pray for us, please. We got home last night after Joe being in the hospital with a severe headache, chills, fever, and body aches. The doctor's don't know what it is, but let us come home with some good pain medicine. He had a rough night, but I am so thankful to be at home where I can let him rest (hospitals are so UNrestful) and where we can be together as a family. I'll update you as we know more.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

4 year old, 2 year old, and infant

Lots of fun around here the past couple of days as this mystery virus has slowly worked its way through the whole family. I got it Saturday with the worst being Sunday night while Joe was preaching and I was home alone with the three guys and a 103 degree fever. Joe has felt bad yesterday and today, fortunately without the fever. David is still sporting the remnants of the spots that both he and William got. We have been quite the germ factory around here!

On a better note, Joseph turned 4 today and it has been a rousing day of Holland family fun. We opened presents upon waking this morning and worked outside until about 10:00. Then, it was off to Wal-mart to spend the birthday money on skates and a new puzzle. Cake for dessert at supper (of course), roasted marshmallows by the bonfire in the backyard, and now a night under the stars in a new sleeping bag—what a day! Joseph and Will are currently “sleeping” in a tent in the pine stand. Joe will join them later after the sugar has worn off and they've drifted off to sleep. I'll be cozy inside! :)

This picture is from their first foray into the tent this afternoon at 4:00. They were ready to go!

Weekend update

We had a good weekend here. Rented a tiller on Saturday morning and tilled under the area where the garden will be. We're thinking about planting some fall things, but also just wanted to start to get the grass killed for next year. It has really plagued our small plot this year and so I would like to not have to deal with it as much next year. Still no tomatoes yet (the vines are filled, but none are red), but we got our second cucumber today. It tasted so good--freshness and the fact that we grew it combined! We had also planted only one eggplant, but it is producing well. I think I'll get 4-6 fruits from that one plant. Squash is still coming, but we're eating it as fast as it comes so I haven't frozen any. Same with the figs still at this point. Our sunflowers are growing like gangbusters and are now taller than Joseph. We also have the first 3 pumpkins that are the size of a dime. I planted some of the seeds from the gourds too and those have sprouted, but not grown much yet. I feel like a regular farmer, though I’m still far from it.

From what I can tell, it seems like there is good soil in the garden. Dark brown and rich, and fairly loose with no clay. I'll have more than I'm able to take care of, I'm sure. I'm still working through the canna beds, pulling dead stalks, raking, and weeding. I've done the ones by the garden, under the martin house, and by the bird bath. The next bed to tackle will be the one by the shed and it is the worst so far. I am going to take a “before” picture this time and will post it sometime this week. David was sucking on our USB cord and ever since then the computer has not recognized the camera when I plug it in. Joe has always said that baby spit is a pretty strong corrosive.

Must read

I don't know how to preface this article except to say that you must read it. It is encouraging and convicting and so true. Read it!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Fevers, Spots, Vomitting, and Crying

The other two boys were hit with the virus today which meant that it was a rough day at Homestead Holland. Joseph and David both spiked high fevers and David got the telltale spots that Will had a few days ago. If the virus follows the same course, both boys should be in tip top shape tomorrow--although tonight is going to be a long night.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Psalm 8:2

Out of the mouth of babes and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.

Friday night

I haven't posted in a while, but mostly just because I haven't had much to say. We had the Palmertrees (our head pastor and his family) over for dinner tonight and had a good time.
This past Tuesday night, I spoke to the women in the church at a "Meet the Pastors' Wives" night that was a lot of fun. I got to meet some new ladies and enjoyed the chance to get to talk without worrying that my little guys were getting into trouble. I spoke too, but could barely say what I had prepapred because I got so teary. I was really speaking from my heart and couldn't get much out without misting up. I really enjoyed what Judy and Camille said though and am so grateful to be serving alongside both of them.
This is one of about 100 pictures of our family from a whole night of posing trying to get an acceptable picture for our Christmas card...None were right!!!

Extreme parenting

SpunkyHomeSchool referenced a good piece from her archives about parenting that said this:

True Christianity doesn't define the extreme by how close to the line we can get while still being a Christian. The extreme is how far from the line we can run and how close we can get to our Savior.

This is going to require extreme parenting. A parent who is willing to deny their pleasures in life for a greater pleasure to come. A parent who is willing to refuse a job or a promotion because of the time away from the family. A parent who is willing to sit next to a child on the computer and work together rather then let them build a virtual family. A parent who is willing to talk with a child and not just at them. A parent who is willing to walk daily with their child and guide them to HIS truth. A parent who is willing to tell their child daily what the real choice is but give them the liberty to make their choice. These and many more require an extreme commitment. A parent willing to die to themselves so that their children will walk with the God.

"God demonstrates his own love for us in this that while we were yet sinners HE died for us." Romans 5:8

I want to become an extreme parent.

Wow. This takes my recent thoughts about dying to my own desires and motherhood and applies it in a totally different way. Earlier in the article, she gives this tactic for working through rules with teenagers:

You hand a child the Bible and say, here is God's Word. Let's figure out what God's word says about this. Give them the liberty to study the scripture and learn truth for themselves. We need to give them the joy of discovering that God's Word does speak to us. That's the way I became convinced of truth. I remember the light bulb going off so many times as I read a passage of scripture and how it applied to my life today. Don't deny your children the same pleasure by "giving them what the Bible says." We must let God speak to our children. Our children want to make us the quarrel. They think they can battle, wear us down, and win. God's Word is able to take down the strongholds and defenses that the child and the word is tempted to build. Let them wrestle with God about this issue. The parent becomes a faciliatator in their search for understanding and truth rather than the enemy. I have found that it is a lot more pleasant walking with my children in truth than constantly pushing them in truth.

It sounds so practical. I’ll have to keep that in my back pocket. The whole article is worth

Sunday, August 27, 2006

"A friend of mine once said his greatest desire is to create something beautiful and lasting. That stuck with me. I want to create a beautiful and lasting marriage with a man, and with that man I want to bear and rear children, which are the most exquisite and eternal creations we humans can take part in fashioning. Architects design buildings that will someday fall down, programmers construct computer software that will eventually be obsolete—but fathers and mothers create and cultivate souls that will never die. How wonderful to experience just an inkling of what God feels as our Father."

excerpt from "The Largest Career of All" by Bethany Patchin in Touchstone Magazine.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

By William Ross Wallace, 1819-1881

"Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace,
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Infancy's the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mother's first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow--
Grow on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Woman, how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With the worship in the sky--
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Preparing for Motherhood

This is part-two of my thoughts on motherhood that was sparked by a conversation over at the 360 blog.

Educated at a prestigious university? Check. Prepared to be a wife and mom? Um, not quite. Brains do not equal thriving motherhood. Biblically, it is God’s will for most of us to marry and have kiddos, but for so long I focused on just “me and the Lord” that I didn’t prepare myself as well as I could have. There are things that I wish I had known or worked on before I became a mom. This post is an attempt to pass on a little encouragement to those of you that are not yet in the mom years. It is not the Gospel, so faithful Christians can disagree with what I am about to write--it is just a recommendation. It also is not my final opinion on the matter, but just the scratchings of one stint at the computer during one of my boys’ naptimes.

For my first “Preparing for Motherhood” post, I wanted to share a few thoughts about money.

Get out of debt or stay out of debt.

Many moms say that finances are the reason that they have to work. One of my really good friends from high school got her law degree after her time at UVa and worked as a lawyer for a time before delivering her first baby over two months premature. She took some maternity leave just afterwards, but had to leave her preemie in the NICU to go back to work in order to save some maternity leave for when he was released from the hospital. She was up to her eyeballs in student loan debt and would’ve loved to stay home but felt trapped.

The same problem comes with any debt (car loans, credit cards, home equity loans, even mortgages that are too big). Debt can trap a young couple and money problems are the #1 cause of divorce in America today. Similarly, as a single, you are uniquely positioned to economize and save, providing a solid foundation for whatever God may have planned for you. In several recent articles in Boundless, they’ve talked about single women and money (see articles here, here, and here) and really made me think, In either case—married or single--if you can’t afford it (i.e. pay for it with cash today), don’t buy it! As Will Rogers said, "Too many people spend money they have not earned, to buy things they do not want, to impress people they don't even like."

Live on one income now.

If married, budget so that you are already living on just your husband’s income. If you learn now the discipline of living on one income, it won’t be a shock to do so later. As a bonus, by saving the money that you make now, you’ll have an extra big cushion for when you are at home.

Start investing while you are young.

If you are single, use this season in your life to learn to live on less than you make and pile money into savings.

If you invest just $100 a month (which is just eating out or cable money for many people) from age 20-60 in a good growth stock mutual fund earning 12% you will have $1,185,782. Wow! Compounding interest and leaving the money invested over a long time worked in your favor to set you up comfortably for retirement and free you to use your wealth to God’s glory. The government certainly isn’t going to do it for you (who knows if Social Security will even be around when we retire).

Count the cost.

For those of you that are married and thinking that you can’t give up your income, consider the actual net income generated by your job. There are many excellent articles on this out there. It sometimes boils down to the fact that the wife’s income is really just to pay for daycare (so sad) and the higher tax bracket.

Realize that it is all God’s anyway.

The One who clothes the lilies of the field will even more so provide for his people (Matthew 6:28). Chinese Christians actually pray for American Christianss that we may be able to withstand the temptation and trial of prosperity without abandoning our Lord. Start now to tithe to your local church and give consistently to other Kingdom work above and beyond your regular tithe. Luis Cataldo used to say that some of us would be called to serve the Lord in full time ministry. Others would be called to make a good income and live on only half of it to give the rest away for ministry.

Well, William just woke up and so that is all for now.