looking back: our family photo session

It's the second week into our vacation at the ranch and we are definitely missing daddy.
We're still hoping he can make it here in a couple weeks.

So, feeling a little homesick for Joel, I thought I'd post these family pics of us taken back in February by Amee Sorensen Photography (her blog, facebook).

I was three weeks pregnant when these pictures were taken (unknown to me at the time).  We all wore stripes-- a photographer's nightmare!  Many thanks to Amee for being such a good sport about all our crazy ideas!  She really is the most calm and patient person ever.  I promise to conceal our stripes next time!

I adore this picture of Astair and Thad (with Boston on the bottom).

Just viewing these pictures again makes me feel so incredibly blessed and happy to have the family I do.
I think it's time for some more family pics :)


we're home!

Picture taken yesterday as we drove up to the ranch house:  wildfire still raging nine miles south of our place in the Niobrara River Canyon

Thank you for your prayers!!

We're Praising God right now!  Our home is standing, miraculously untouched by the fire!!

  Sunday evening we evacuated to Valentine.

A backfire was started just a quarter mile from our place and we drove away, watching it burn and not knowing for sure if we would be returning to anything but ashes.

We packed the car with clothes and food, with little time to grab anything else.

Situations like this make you realize once again how trivial possessions are compared to the people you share them with.

The backfire that we drove across to evacuate.  Only a quarter of a mile from our house and right next to our first meadow.

We drove past a mile of ranch trucks and volunteers. 

Some faces I recognized as friends and neighbors.  All of them volunteers, working tirelessly together to save homes and ranches.  
And nearly all, like my brother, had been fighting fires for four days straight.

It was an incredible sight to see a whole community of people, unselfishly rising up to beat these flames.
We are so unbelievably thankful for for every one of them.

On our way back to the ranch, this is the pasture right next to our first meadow.

view of the Fairfiled Fire today from our place

southern view of the Niobrara River Canyon fire taken from the same location on our ranch

As of today, there are still two fires south of our place.  Please continue to pray that these will be kept under control and that our firefighters will be able to rest.

Thank you!  Prayer is powerful!!


Please Pray!!

I had prepared to post this message later tonight and I had loaded all the pictures this morning.

But now I need to post it for an altogether different reason.

Wildfires have been raging near our ranch in Nebraska for days now and it's now made it's way just miles from our place.

Please PRAY for my family and friends that are fighting for their homes right now.

We may have to evacuate and we are packing right now.

Here's a picture of the wildfire taken yesterday evening from a hill on our ranch.

My brother has been fighting fires for three days now and my dad has been on deputy duty and is now in the canyon with him.

Thank you for your prayers, it means so much to me right now!


looking back: a camp birthday at the ranch

I'm leaving this week to go visit my folks in Nebraska.  

I grew up on a ranch in the Sandhills and every summer the kids and I spend about a month out on the range.  They love it.  Miles and miles of adventure, wide open spaces, deer, horses, prairie dogs, and endless acres to explore.  

I was just looking through my photo archives of our trip last year and I came across these pictures of Thad's sixth birthday that I never did get around to posting (at least I don't remember if I did or not).  It was a camping theme and we had so much fun!  I found a lot of old camping gear around the ranch and I fell in love with an old Campfire Marshmallows tin.  It amazes me that I grew up around all this old cool stuff and I just thought it was junk back then.  My, how things change (or maybe the older we get the more we appreciate the value of age haha)

We made chocolate and peanut covered marshmallow pops, cupcakes in cones, and berry angel food cake dessert.  And my brother and hubby cut out some log sections for me to use as food displays.  I really loved the way it all came together.  The kids had a blast with stick horse races and paddle boat rides.

Legend looks so little in this picture!  And his blond hair is barely there!  He's grown so much in a year!

We can't wait to go back.  

Even if it means one mommy + four kids + one in her tummy on a jet plane for four and a half hours and then an eight hour car ride.  We barely survived last year.

It will prove to be an interesting trip, I'm sure.

I'm packing as many diversions in their backpacks as I can!  Speaking of such, I wonder what the airline's policy is on playdough?   I can already see the cringing look on the airline stewardess' face.

Look out, United Airlines, here we come!


Loving other people's children

I remember her well, my best friend's mother.
She always had a kind word for me.
I felt loved when I was around her.  Not the nuisance I most assuredly was.
No matter what trial she was going through, sickness, divorce, or single parenthood, she exuded the peace and joy of the Lord.  "Come here, Joye-Joye", she would beckon me from the bed she was confined to by illness, "and tell me how you've been".  And she made me feel like I was special to her. She was a beautiful woman, inside and out.  I feel lucky to have spent so many of my youngest childhood days at her house.

There is something rare and wonderful and so beautiful about those people who don't merely love their own, but love other people's children as well.  Who invite you not only into their homes, but into their hearts too and you never feel like an outsider or that you don't measure up to their standards.  You're just accepted as you are, dirty feet, annoying habits, and all. 

And now I'm the mother with young children and my house full of their neighborhood friends.  And just as my friend's mother planted those seeds of loving other people's children in my heart those many years ago, I'm wanting to follow her example....

    Read the rest of this post on Beautifully Rooted


why not

why not  >>--->

>>---> have a shaving cream fight?
>>---> go to a beach
>>---> make homemade waffle cones with the kids
>>---> eat on the porch swing
>>---> lick chocolate baby fingers
>>---> swim in a pool full of kids (anywhere from four to eight)
>>---> beat the heat with a watermelon treat
>>---> hug a puppy
>>---> eat lots of neapolitan ice cream

                                           >>---> feel blessed and so very thankful!


on cinnamon rolls, teaching our children, and actions that speak louder than words

Monday, monday...
was a very lazy day around here. 
We needed a break after going and going at nearly 90 miles an hour the past few days.

But among all the things I did not get accomplished so far, I did make homemade cinnamon rolls with the kiddos.  Astair and Legend were so into it that I had to hop around the kitchen just to keep one step ahead of them.

I found an easy recipe for no yeast cinnamon rolls here.  Nothing fancy, just simple and fast.

Astair loved rolling the dough, I'm surprised they weren't paper thin.  She's a natural little baker, unlike her mama.

I've been reading some great books on parenting/schooling lately.  Trying not to overload myself  with reform  (I tend to do that).  I think I'll pick one or two areas each week to work on, such as patience and  diligence in discipline and an attitude chart for my oldest.  I love the idea of studying one virtue every two weeks and focusing on that together as a family.  And although there is so much wisdom to be gained from other sources, I want to be careful that I take from them only what the Holy Spirit impresses on my heart and what the Word of God confirms.  

I'm in God's classroom right now and I'm studying how to be a better teacher to my children.

They're at an age when wordy explanations and discussions are miles over their heads and that is the way I love to communicate.  Important concepts are getting lost in translation and Jesus is drawing me aside and saying,  "Watch how I do it."  And he invites the little children into his lap to hold them and to bless them and he stops what he is doing, his very important teachings and healings, and he just sits with them.  Enjoys them.  He models love and affirmation, His very attitude tells them "You are important.  I respect you."  And His actions are what they hear louder than any sermon on the mount.  (Luke 18: 16)

My actions are teaching my kids more than any words I speak.

That is a sobering lesson to learn.  And has me running once again to Jesus' side.  It has me willing to face whatever discomfort He might put me in, so that all the dross can be burned away and my outward life will reflect the inner calm He wants to give me.

On the blackboard in my God's classroom, He's written this verse down for me to memorize:
"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has give us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."  2 Peter 1: 5-8

In increasing measure.  I never graduate from God's school of learning.  It's an eternal enrollment.  

I'm learning right alongside my children.  And along the way, His word has given me the best tools for helping shape my children's character.  God bless the dear woman who compiled most of them together all on one chart:  Wise Words for Moms by Ginger Plowman.  This is hanging on my pantry door and I refer to it constantly.  The picture below is blurry, but believe me when I say it is an excellent source of wisdom!

And the more I apply these to my own life, the more fruit I will see in my ministry at home  (even though it may take years of gardening before I get to enjoy the fruit of my labor!)

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."  Galatians 6:9


Independence Day and a camp

We love Independence Day.
Like break out all the cheesy red, white, and blue clothes in the closet kinda love.
We wave flags and break into piggy banks to buy the loudest and most annoying firecrackers available.
First thing in the morning, we played a game of good 'ole American baseball with the whole family.
Joel grilled hotdogs (and asparagus to make it healthy, ya'all) in the rain.
And there's nothing I love more than fourth of July desserts.
But my oven decided to start sending out SOS smoke signals and I had to resort to wild berry sorbet and ginger ale punch instead (because they were kinda red).

It was grand.

And the next morning the kids and I woke up early to go to a three day Classical Conversations Camp.
Which is amazing, by the way.
Classical Conversations is a community for home educators to teach their children classical education through once a week tutor-led classes and weekly home curriculum during the school year.
It's a wonderful way to be accountable and to be equipped and to learn how to glorify God together as a family and as individuals.

I'm learning how to conjugate latin sentences.
Never imagined that sentence would ever cross my lips.
God is stretching me.
And More.
Still more.
But along with the stretching, I'm also encouraged.
Encouraged that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I forget this.
Nothing has brought me to my knees, falling at Jesus' feet more than mothering four children.
I need Jesus all the time.
And homeschooling is one of those areas in which I need him the most.
I need His creativity, His wisdom, His compassion, His patience, His direction.
And He's available to me.
I can do all things through Christ.
I needed this reminder.


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