Sweet Addition

Oh goodness! It’s been forever since I’ve been here. I’ve been itching to write and yet, not sure what to write. And so the weeks tick by.

I think I’ll just start with the story of welcoming sweet Eloise Faith Schwab into our lives. There’s so many stories surrounding waiting for her, her arrival, and these last few weeks. But let’s start with the story everyone wants to hear! How she got here!

I was very impatiently waiting for our little girl to decide to make her entrance for about three weeks. Though my five before her came after 41 weeks, I was really hoping and anticipating for this one to come a little early. I think the Lord just laughed at me.

Cue 42 weeks. I was so sick of being pregnant, so tired and sore and frustrated. I was also completely in denial that she was ever going to come. My midwife kept saying, don’t worry, she’ll come. I knew in my heart she would but my head was at war!

Resurrection Sunday was not like any other Resurrection Sunday I’d experienced! We hadn’t planned anything in the way of celebrating because we were sure we’d be recovering from having a baby. And yet, the day arrived and still no baby. The kids had been at a friends because we kept thinking, surely today is the day. And everyday would pass with no baby. So, all the kids came home for Sunday so we could enjoy some family time together and a nice meal. Thankfully, a couple weeks prior I had bought some chocolates for the kids so we handed those out, played games and had a nice supper together.

Throughout the day, I had contractions that were strong and caused me to stop but were sporadic. I figured they would just quit again anyway so I paid them as little attention as possible. That evening I texted my midwife at about 7:30 and told her I had been having contractions every 7 to 20 minutes that were strong. She decided to come spend the night, just in case, figuring if they did ramp up it would happen quickly. This was the third night she and my good friend who was helping out got to spend the night! I hadn’t had so many sleepovers with girlfriends since high school!

I had contractions all night that were sporadic and again, I was in such denial that this baby would ever come, that I just tried to get as much sleep as possible. Some were strong enough that I would have to get out of bed and stand. I don’t manage contractions well laying down. I need to be up and over them. But in between I’d lay back down and rest or even fall asleep.

Morning came, and wouldn’t you know it, everything stopped. Andrew made us all a nice breakfast and we sat around the table chatting. It was a really nice, quiet morning. But at the same time my level of frustration was at an all time high and all I wanted was to feel contractions.

My midwife and friend were amazing through all this. They were encouraging, uplifting, and loving. We decided to try to move baby a bit and get her in a better position as her head seemed a bit tilted. So, I got to lay in an open-chest knee position (you can look it up if you really want to know) for 45 minutes while they took turns massaging my legs and back. I actually felt baby drop out of my pelvis and shift. It was pretty cool!

After that we walked a mile and a half, had lunch, and then did stair lunges. Still no contractions. By this time I was pretty tired and we lounged around the living room for a while. Andrew had multiple fires going at work and decided, well if baby isn’t coming, I have to go help out at work for a bit. So he left and I decided to take a nap.

Of course, when I laid down contractions started. But I figured they would stop again so I napped. Then I started timing them because they suddenly seemed more consistent. Soon I felt like they were more intense but I was afraid to get out of bed for fear they would stop again. I kept praying, Jesus, please let these continue. Nothing like praying for pain to continue!

I texted Amber and Jenny, who were downstairs. I asked Amber to come upstairs and Jenny to call Andrew and tell him to come home. When Amber came upstairs I said, “These contractions are pretty intense and about 5 minutes apart but I’m afraid to get up because I don’t want them to stop, but I’m not managing them well laying down.” She stood by me, rubbing my legs and back and calmly talking me through each contraction.

Jenny called Andrew and then came upstairs. They took turns next to me and getting things ready around me. I kept thinking between contractions, where is Andrew? After a bit, Amber said, “I don’t think these are going to quit. You can get up out of bed if that would help you.”

I was skeptical because, honestly, I kind of expected them to quit again! But I got up and knelt by my bed and laid my head on the bed. They brought my birthing ball in and I sat on that and bounced between contractions. Andrew finally showed up and rubbed my back and hips with every contraction which helped so much. Shortly thereafter Amber told me the water was nice and warm and I could get in the tub.

I was like, really? Won’t my contractions just quit? I was still in denial, which maybe helped me manage the contractions! I told myself, two more contractions and if they are just as intense as these, I’ll get in the tub. Well, they were, so I headed to the bathroom. I had to pee and while on the toilet I started shaking.

Suddenly it hit me! Oh my goodness! I’m in transition! That was the point I realized I was actually in true labor and this baby was actually going to come! Crazy, I know.

I got in the tub at 7:20pm and had to start pushing within minutes of getting in. Amber had me sit back against the tub and hold Andrew’s hands. He was so great, encouraging me with gentle words. He was praying the whole time. There is nothing more heartwarming than knowing your spouse is praying for you.

Her sweet head was born quickly and then I thought, ok, good, one more push and she’ll be here. Then I pushed and pushed and pushed. And she didn’t move!

After a few minutes, Amber told me to switch to my hands and knees and put one leg up. At that moment I thought I cannot push harder. I’m not sure what else to do. I didn’t know this at the time, but at that very moment Amber was thinking I can’t do this; I have to do this; I’m the one in charge. And at that very moment Jenny felt like she needed to lay her hands on Amber and I and pray so she did. When she did that Amber felt a surge of confidence and I felt a surge of power and we worked together to bring Eloise into the world. It wasn’t easy but the Lord was with us in every moment!

At 8:21pm Eloise Faith Schwab came into the world and was snuggled up on my chest. Poor thing was a little bruised but healthy.

I was sobbing and shaking but so joyful she was in my arms. We all marveled at how big she was! I kept thinking I was going to have a small baby and an easy birth. Not so much!

It’s amazing in that moment how nothing matters but that sweet new life. Is she breathing? Does she look ok? Is it actually a girl? I always shocked at a mama’s brain. We can be almost ripped to shreds and yet think nothing of it; all our attention is on this tiny, precious person and if they are ok. We could be at a 10 on the pain charts, bleeding, bruised, weak, and hurting everywhere and yet all our attention is focused on someone else.

We shouldn’t wonder why mamas get burnt out!

Shortly after she was born we headed to bed and snuggled and nursed. My placenta didn’t want to come for quite a while and I could tell my midwife was getting a bit nervous. We all prayed aloud and asked Jesus to intervene and he did! Praise Him, it came and I could finally lay back in bed and crash.

There’s so much more that’s gone on these past few weeks, but for now, enjoy Eloise’s birth story.

Oh, the Intelligence of Children

Recently, I was studying the book of Jonah with my teens. I asked them, “What character traits of God do you see displayed in this book?”

My daughter, who is the most compassionate one of all of us, always caring for others and looking out for the animals, said, I see God’s compassion toward the people of Ninevah.

Then she said something that struck me. “It made me think about how much more compassion I need to have toward those around me.”

Now, this is the kid who will cry along with a sibling just because she feels their pain or sorrow. She’s the one, who for some unknown reason, always finds the dead animals on our farm and comes sobbing to the house to be comforted. She will hug you just because she senses your sadness or frustration. She’ll always, and I truly mean always, set aside her wants and desires to accommodate her siblings or friends.

Of all the people, I wouldn’t have expected her to say she needed to have more compassion toward others.

It was a profound reminder that none of us have ever arrived. Our gifts and talents aren’t ever perfected this side of heaven and we can all always improve, even if we’re good at something.

It also reminded me how much I can learn from these young people in my home. So often, we forget how intelligent and how in tune to the Holy Spirit our kids are. Often they get it so much faster and deeper than we do! There’s a reason God said we had to become like little children to enter His kingdom. These kids get it! And if we’re willing, they can teach us so much.

Growing up I remember many times where we as kids were brushed aside and told to be quiet. At family gatherings there were lots of us cousins and, while I’m sure we were loud and rambunctious, we were always told to play in the basement or outside. Our thoughts and opinions weren’t asked of us and didn’t seem to matter.

Now, I’m not perfect at this, but my goal is to be humble enough to realize I haven’t arrived yet, just like my kids, and they have a lot to teach me about this world, how to treat others, and about who God is.

Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”

In The Waiting

We’re closing in on the birth of this next baby. You’d think by now I’d be used to the waiting, but turns out I’m an extremely impatient person! Every time, I feel this impatience grow. Part of it is just wanting to be done being pregnant, part of it is wanting to meet this new little blessing, part of it is wanting to be past labor and on the other side.

But God. He’s been teaching me so much these last few weeks about enjoying the moment and being present where we’re placed. I’m definitely not good at that as I’m a planner by heart. I love to pull out my planner and write all the things for the week. I love to look ahead and see what’s coming this summer.

No matter how much you plan and look ahead and anticipate, you can’t make a baby come faster! They come when God ordains, at least for me they do. I don’t go the traditional route and let a doctor dictate inductions. I let my body and the baby decide, as long as we’re healthy and doing fine, of course. But in the midst of choosing that route, there’s the knowledge that I could be waiting much longer than I want to be waiting!

My first six babies came via c-sections and I never had to wait to 40 weeks or longer. My twin boys were at 36 weeks, unexpectedly because I got so sick. I had HELLP syndrome, where my liver was being adversely affected by high blood pressure, and PUPPS rash, where I itched all over my torso from an awful rash. There was no other choice than to take the babies out and let my body heal. It was so hard and so traumatic for all three of us.

My next 3 pregnancies were repeat c-sections because, well, that’s what you do, right? I’m not trying to downplay babies coming into this world via c-sections. They were still amazing experiences and I really knew no different so there was no expectation that wasn’t met.

At this point in our lives, we had six children under seven years old and to say we were overwhelmed would be an understatement. We were pressured into a tubal ligation, which I regretted from the moment I got it done. In fact it was a moment where the Holy Spirit was speaking very clearly to me and I disobeyed. (Another story for another day!)

Three years and a whole lot of hard life later, and I just knew we had to reverse the ligation. Two months after we did we found out we were pregnant! I knew I wanted something different this time around. I knew I didn’t want another c-section. What was interesting is that my OB actually mentioned that to me at an appointment. She wondered if we could somehow avoid another c-section. Of course, no hospital would even consider helping me with a VBAC after four c-sections.

I kept praying over it and taking care of my body with good food and exercise. I would search the internet, looking for a midwife that would be willing to help me. One day I prayed, Lord, if this is what you want for me and this baby, lead me to the right help. I googled midwives near me one more time and a new one came up. I emailed her without much hope, because all the others had turned me down. Much to my surprise, she responded with a yes, I’d be happy to meet with you and help you. Andrew still wasn’t totally on board with the idea of a home birth so as we were driving to meet her, he was praying the Lord would show him this was the right path. Believe it or not, the answer came in the form of a kid’s coloring book. We had our kids with us and she offered them coloring. They were arguing over who got to color first and she said, “I have one more coloring book but it’s a Bible one and I’m never sure if people will want their kids to have it or not.” Andrew knew right then that she was the help the Lord was sending us.

Dottie’s birth, 2020

Heidi, David, Jacob, Lukas and Dottie have all been born with her help. We couldn’t ask for a better midwife and friend. She’s one of the family now! She’s been a true Godsend, giving me the opportunity to experience raw, beautiful birth. She’s helped me see the amazing ability of a woman’s body and encouraged me every step of the way. She’s been there to tell me, “You can do it!” when I think I can’t. She’s been there to save the life of my baby and me when things weren’t going well. She’s been there to experience the joy we feel when we add to our family.

Dottie’s birth, 2020

Back to the decision to take this route. It comes with the knowledge of waiting for baby to come. My last five births have followed a pattern of sorts. While they’ve all been different, there are definitely similarities.

For instance, my water usually breaks right around my due date. But not a big break, just a small trickle. One that isn’t enough to send me into labor. From that point on, I labor overnight every night for 8 to 14 days. And then, the contractions stop as morning nears. Super fun. They are intense enough where I can’t sleep and I can’t stay laying down. So I walk. And sway. And pray. Then I get a few hours of sleep before the kids wake up and the day begins. It’s the most exhausting thing ever. I don’t ever feel the need to train for a marathon. Those nights are my marathon.

And then, finally contractions won’t stop and baby comes. Heidi was sweet and came in the evening. The rest came in the early morning hours so I was up all night laboring.

Waiting until 41 1/2 to 42 weeks is a trial. Waiting night after night, wondering if the contractions will continue or stop is a trial. Wondering when it’s real and when it’s not is a mind game.

Of course it’s all worth it when you hold that sweet newborn in your arms. And then in the blink of an eye, that baby is a week old, a month old, a year old. And I forget all that waiting.

This time around, I’m trying really hard to just be present in the day I’ve been given and I’m trying hard not to wish these days away. I don’t know if this baby will follow the same pattern or not. All I know is I’ve been given this time to wait. And I can learn from it and enjoy it. I can choose to wish the days away and speed up the time. Or I can choose to enjoy my kids and engage with them and be present in the time I’m given right now. It’s not easy and I have to continually make the choice over and over, day after day. Sometimes even moment by moment.

What are you waiting for? What are you anticipating? And what are you missing because of allowing your mind to dwell on what’s to come?

How do you choose to be present? I’m still learning this skill and I think I flounder more than succeed at it. I’d love to hear your ideas!

The Lord tells us, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

I say each day has enough blessing to enjoy too! Find it, dwell on it, and leave tomorrow for tomorrow. As a good friend of mind often says, “That sounds like a tomorrow me problem!”

Get Unstuck

Today is my mom’s birthday. She would have been 65 today. And she has been gone 21 years now, which just seems impossible. I remember the year after she passed away, but it’s like looking through thick fog when I think back to that year. I had twin 5 month old baby boys, we had just moved back to Northfield and were living in my parent’s basement, Andrew was commuting an hour to work, my dad was drinking heavily, and life was being turned upside down. My mom, one of my best friends and one of the strongest people on the planet had succumbed to cancer.

Because we were living with my parents and my dad was less than helpful, I found myself in the role of care giver to my mom AND to two babies. I was a new mom, trying to figure it all out and doubting my abilities greatly. On top of that I had no idea how to care for a seriously sick person. I tried to be strong, hold it all together, but really everything was falling apart.

I remember one instance where I was in the basement trying to get my babies down for a nap. I suddenly heard above me my mom throwing up. I went upstairs to try to take care of her and found her lying on the couch in misery. She looked awful and I just burst into tears. I sat next to her on the floor, talking to her through my sobs, trying to be the comforter and ending up being comforted by her. She was always like that.

After she passed away, I read her journals. She had written about that day. She shared how I had come to her crying and how she tried to comfort me. She wrote how I was trying to be supermom and she wanted to encourage me but just felt so sick she didn’t have the energy to.

I needed her so much in those days. And she wasn’t able to be there for me. I wasn’t really able to be there for her either. We were just kind of struggling along beside each other, both worried about so much and just trying to hang on.

That year following her death was horrible, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for me. I was so angry at God I couldn’t talk to Him for a long time. I was depressed and grieving and who ever really knows how to grieve!

I made a choice in that year to not stay in that yuck. I found a counselor and by God’s grace she had lost her mom in a similar way. She helped me so much. She let me cry and talk and rage and cry some more. And somehow in the midst of that I started to talk to God again. And guess what, He was still as ever present as He’d ever been and His love was abundant.

I can’t say I’ll ever completely get over her death. I still say it’s unfair and she was too young. I still say she’d love all these grandkids and be the best Oma. But it’s okay too. I can also say I trust God in the midst of the unknowns.

Are you stuck? Are you living in yuck from your past? Are you unable to get past it and use it as excuses for why you are the way you are now?

I want you to hear this truth. You don’t have to stay there!

Find a counselor! Talk to God and spend time with Him. Put in the effort to work through the hard and the yuck, even if it seems too painful to bear. It’s so worth it on the other side. I don’t live in that yuck anymore. I don’t respond from that hurt anymore. I can live my life to the fullest and enjoy it all because I worked through that really really tough stuff.

You can too! Trust me. It’s not easy but it is possible.

I remember my mom taking such good care of herself. She spent time with God. And I don’t mean reading a devotional that gives you one verse of scripture and then paragraphs of someone else’s thoughts. I mean really spend time with Him – read His Word, ponder it and pray over it.

She spent time gardening and reading because she loved those things and they brought her joy. Don’t tell yourself you don’t have time because you have too many kids or other things to do. It’s so important to do the things you love too and show your family that that’s an important part of life.

She also walked an hour or more a day. Move your body! Exercise! There’s nothing that combats depression better than moving and getting into nature where God is unfiltered! She ate healthy too, although she was known to drive down the street to the nearest grocery store and buy a bag of Doritoes, lay on the couch, read, and eat the entire bag! My sister and I always knew that bag was off limits! It’s all about balance, right?!

My mom died just before her 44th birthday. Those things she did to take care of herself didn’t give her a long life. There’s no guarantee for that. But the life she did live was full, vibrant, and full of joy. And when it came time to meet Jesus, she was ready.

It might seem overwhelming to get unstuck but just start with one thing. Maybe you need to commit to finding a counselor first and let the other things come later. Pray about it and let God lead you. Just do it – get unstuck!


I used to do this. I don’t know if it’s what a counselor would call it. But it goes like this.

A friend or relative approaches you with something. Maybe you’re child acts hurtfully toward their child. And they come to tell you. In the outside you act like it’s ok, maybe even thank them for letting you know.

But in the inside. Well, you start to spiral. You let your thoughts run wild. They must not like my kid. They must think I’m a horrible mom. They just said that to push us away. They don’t want to be friends with me.

The list goes on. Suddenly a week or two later you’ve convinced yourself they are no longer your friend and you have anxiety just thinking about possibly seeing them again.

Ever been there? Maybe you do it so often you don’t even realize you do it anymore. Maybe it’s just a natural cycle in your mind you’ve even convinced yourself that thought process is truthful.

It’s not. Please, take a moment and truly and honestly assess your thoughts. Do it daily. The Lord knew we’d do this.

He spoke to us through Paul in 2 Corinthians 10 about this very thing. “Take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

It’s not easy at first, believe me. You’ve been ingrained in a bad habit for a long time and there’s going to be a battle to get out of it. I remember having this battle.

At first it seems like every few minutes you have to assess your thoughts and take them captive. What does that mean? Well, for me it meant telling myself to stop thinking that thought and then actively replacing it with truth. It meant having a lost of verses written out in my kitchen, my bathroom, and by my bed. I’d have to take the thought captive and then read a verse or two and pray over it.

Most of my verses had to do with what God said about me and about who He is.

At first it may feel line you’re losing the battle and you might even grow weary. But having verses that talk about victory and keeping the end goal in mind of having a healthier mental state helps a lot.

When you spiral like that and let yourself do it, you’ll find you’ll lost friends, not because they actually don’t want to be your friend, but because you push them away with your negative thoughts. You create in your mind a huge problem when it’s really very small and would possibly require prayer or a quick conversation with that person.

Remember too, that you are in control of your thoughts. They don’t have to control you. And don’t use those spiraling thoughts as an excuse to run away from healthy conflict and conversation. Your relationships can actually be healthier and deeper if you are willing to admit you spiral and try to battle against it. More than likely your friends will want to know this struggle and will pray over you and with you! Instead of being isolated, you can find yourself in healthier, stronger community!

It’s all easier said than done, but it’s not impossible. Nothing is, with Jesus!

Happy New Year!

January, 2023.

I wrote that this morning in my journal and, boy, did it strike me! How in the world did we get to 2023?!

Like you, I’ve seen almost every kind of New Year’s resolution on social media – weight loss, getting in shape, eating healthier, spending time more wisely, getting out of debt. The list goes on.

But what I haven’t seen a lot of is improving mental and emotional health. Maybe because it isn’t an easy topic, maybe because people don’t know what to do about it, maybe because it feels to hard to work on.

But I believe it is so so important. More important than physical health or monetary security or a cleaner house. Those things can’t even really happen unless a person’s mental and emotional health are secure. But how does a person get there? What do you even begin with?

Well, for me personally, when I dealt with deep depression, the first step was just being honest with myself. Easy to say, really difficult to do. Because you have to face your own pain and insecurity, your own short comings, and your own past. It’s painful and no one really wants to go there .

But, the other side is so much more beautiful and wonderful and life giving. It’s worth it!

It looks different for everyone and we all need different things to heal, but here’s what I found for myself.

First I had to ask some hard questions. Am I too focused on the negative? How do I focus more on the positive? What got me to this place? Do I have some things in my past I need to face and deal with? Who and what am I blaming and what do I need to take responsibility for instead? Am I seeing what others do through a wrong perspective? Am I taking things personally that aren’t actually directed at me?

You have to sit with these a while. You can’t just quickly assess and move on. Sit and ponder and wonder. And be honest with yourself.

If you can’t get through these hard questions on your own, find a good counselor. There’s really good ones out there and it’s worth the time you put in! Don’t say you don’t have time to take care of yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, I can guarantee you’re not doing a good job taking care of your family. And, more than likely, you’re passing your behaviors, wrong perspective, and bad attitude to your family.

I saw a counselor for quite a while when I was struggling and it helped so much to gain weapons for the battle. It helped to talk things out with an objective observer who could call me out on my wrong perspectives and attitudes and help me correct them. It’s not weakness to see a counselor. It shows courage and strength.

The other big resolution I think we need to see more of is spending time with God. This, above all else, will change your life. But I want to point out a very false movement I’ve seen over the last few years.

There’s this trend to encourage people to spend time in God’s Word, yet push this idea that a few minutes a day is all you need. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are days when all I have is a few minutes. But really that’s not going to change your life.

If you’re resolution is to lose weight, would five minutes on the treadmill change you? If your resolution is to be more wise with your money will skipping Caribou once a month change your pocketbook? Does your health get better because you sign up for a membership at the gym or because you spend time there?

I have seen this trend in churches and I think it’s extremely harmful. You can’t spend five minutes a day in God’s Word and the two hours a day on social media and expect a change. You can’t just read “the verse of the day” and see transformation.

Just like spending time with a counselor when it’s needed, it’s takes just that…time. And effort. And work. And diligence.

You have to make a choice either way. Will I sit stuck in the yuck? Or will I do the hard work so I see life-giving transformation?

I have much more to say on this, so tune in again. For now, start by being willing to be honest with yourself and spending time with God. Good time.

Get a beautiful Bible, journal, and colorful pens if it encourages you to spend time in God’s Word!

Christmas Time!

Merry Christmas!

I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t like winter. I just survive it. My fireplace has helped the last few years to boost me along, but this winter it’s been in need of repair. I finally have it fixed, just in time for Christmas!

I know some are struggling this season. I have a friend who’s marriage is falling apart, another who’s dad just passed away, and others who are missing family members stationed in unknown locations. I don’t take it lightly that I had all my family under one roof for Christmas Eve.

Isaiah made it home from California amidst a horrible blizzard and cold snap!

Samuel and Liv braved the drifts and slept over, which was so fun! Andrew and I woke up Christmas Eve morning and the first comments we made were how good it was to have everyone under our roof. We felt so blessed!

Lots of gifts were exchanged, lots of cookies were eaten, lots of games were played. We all had a wonderful time and I’m so thankful for this clan the Lord has given us.

Merry Christmas!

It’s Just A Tree, How Hard Can It Be?

I just have to share the utter chaos that surrounds a Christmas tree in our house.

Let’s start at the beginning. First, we must choose a tree. I’m really kicking myself for not taking pictures during this, but I think the craziness caused me to quit thinking. You’ll just have to use your imagination.

Sunday morning, two weeks later than we usually pick a tree, we bundle everyone up in all their winter gear. Tiny abominable snowmen, they all waddle to the van, eager to go. We climb in, Lukas is screaming because he’s not getting buckled fast enough, two kids are arguing over a seat in the van, Andrew and I just climb in the front and look at each other.

Off we go. On the way down the driveway Andrew hits the soft snow on the side of the driveway and digs into the ditch a bit. No worries, we made it. But from that point on the speedometer shakes back and forth. Oh well, Bertha is ancient, what can we expect.

We had a nice drive to the tree farm after that. Other than the “how much longer” repeated from the back row.

Now, to find a tree. The nice young man told us we find the size we want to the right. So we trudge off through the snow in search of the perfect tree. It was truly a beautiful morning and everyone was dressed well for the cold. The sun was shining and there was no wind. We head in one direction but Andrew isn’t happy with any of the trees so we head off in the opposite direction. Pretty soon Lukas is lagging behind. At one point I look back to see him just laying in the snow. I encourage him on and we catch up. David has found a tree he thinks will work perfectly but Andrew and the older kids are already way up ahead looking at another batch. Nope, none of those are sufficient.

“Let’s go to the other field,” Andrew suggests. The other half of the farm is on the other side of the parking lot. So off we go. As we reach the parking lot and cross over, Schwabs start to fall off the train. I look back and there’s a trail of Schwabs in the snow. Little dead Schwabs. Lukas, then 20 feet later Jacob. Another 10 feet down the row lies David. And near me is Heidi, curled in the fetal position under a tree.

Meanwhile, the older kids and Andrew are at the end of a long row. I decide I better just stand in the vicinity of the fallen Schwabs, so there I am, stuck between the moaning children and the children on a mission.

Turns out there weren’t any good trees on that side either.

Back to the other side. The teens and Andrew race ahead as I encourage the lumps on the ground to get up and come along. We make it to the parking area where Lukas kneels down in the gravel, lifts his head, and yells at the top of his lungs, “THIS IS THE WORST DAY EVER!!!”

At this point, I lost it. I started laughing so hard! I just couldn’t contain myself. It was utter chaos. Lukas laid in the snow and I stood in the parking lot and we just hung out until the rest of the family came back, thankfully, mercifully, carrying a tree.

Homeward bound.

Fast forward to Monday evening when we decide to decorate the tree. It’s not a very big tree so decisions had to be made about which ornaments could be hung. Andrew and I sit in our camping chairs while the kids make decisions and start to hang ornaments.

First, a glass owl hits the floor and shatters. Commence sobbing by said child. Next Captain America hits the floor and his arms go sailing off. Dad to the rescue with super glue.

Meanwhile, the 2 year old is taking the ornaments back off the tree and running off with them, the 4 year old is leaping the ornament piles on the floor while the older ones are shouting at him to stop, 2 kids have started a Nerf gun war (obviously in the same room), and the phone is ringing.

You can’t make this stuff up. I looked at Andrew and sighed, “maybe we should have put them all to bed and decorated ourselves.”

Let’s not forget, the tree is in the middle of a construction zone.

Later, when the tree was lit and decorated, the kids started commenting on how pretty it was and how they loved decorating it. I’m not sure what part they loved! But, hey, if the memory for them is good, it was all worth it!

I for one, look at the tree and chuckle every time, thinking back to all the chaos it took just to put up a tree.

Names of Jesus

Christmas season is upon us!

Andrew and I have asked each other numerous times over the past month, how is it the end of the year? How did it all go by so quickly? And now we have to think of Christmas?

I love Christmas and I’ve grown to love it more every year. I love the lights and decorations, although this year we haven’t decorated much yet with all the remodeling going on.

I really love picking out gifts for my kids and friends. I’m a gift giver at heart. I love to think about what a person needs or would like. I love to wrap it and hand it to them. I love to see their joy if I’ve done a good job. And it’s impossible for me to stay within budget. Sorry, hon.

The gifts have had to find strange places to live as I wrap them. We don’t even have a tree yet!

What I love most of all, though, about this season is setting our hearts and minds on Jesus. I know there are a lot of people in this world today who don’t know or love Jesus. I know there are a lot of people in this world today who have been hurt by people who claim to be Christian. I know there are a lot of people in this world who choose to live by their own truths, standards, and beliefs.

But as for me and my house…

I’m sure many look at us as strange and different. They probably don’t know what to do with us. By most people’s reactions to our family I’m sure they are stupefied.

Ah, but wasn’t Jesus strange and different. He sure ruffled a few feathers when he walked this earth. He’s still ruffling feathers. And if you don’t seem strange or odd or different from the culture, why not? Has He, the Savior, changed you? Have you allowed Him to?

This Christmas season is the perfect time to dig into that. How can I reflect on Jesus and open my heart to Him in such a way that I am changed? How can I point my kids towards the One who can heal, fill the holes in their heart, and change them for the better?

While I love the lights and gifts and anticipation on the Christmas season, I hope my kids see deeper than all those things. I pray they see The True Love, The Eternal Light, The Perfect Gift. I hope I see Him and can focus on Him more than everything else!

This year we’re studying the names of Jesus, one each day leading up to Christmas. It’s been so joy-filled everyday so far and we all look forward to learning a new name each day.

I purchased this from Lacewing Creative.

Not only is it pointing our hearts and minds towards the real reason for the season but it’s becoming a beautiful Christmas decoration for our unfinished living room too!

My kids love the mini clothes pins!

In whatever way you celebrate the season, I hope and pray you take time to reflect on Jesus and who He is, what He’s done for you, and how He can change you! We wouldn’t even have this amazing holiday without Him!

20 Minute Accomplishment

Well, we’ve been just a little busy here. School is in full swing, on top of cleaning out the garden, house remodel projects and the regular day to day life. Plus four of the kids are in a play so practices consume a lot of time.

In the midst of it all, there’s all those mini projects that come along, and, really get set aside. It’s funny how a project that would take 20 minutes ends up taking 4 months!

For instance, I had decided to have a master garden plan framed on the wall with an upcoming garden plan below it so I could plan where next year’s plants would go. I LOVE planning. Yet, the frames and plans sat for months.

Finally yesterday it was cool and rainy and I pulled out the plans and frames. And guess what?! It took 20 minutes! Honestly, it gave me the best feeling! I still walk in the office to look at it and enjoy it!

It’s going to be so handy when I’m planning what and where to plant! I’ve already jotted things down on it in color coded notes.

Here’s my encouragement to you! Grab one of those 20 minute projects laying around your house and just do it! You feel so accomplished and free once it’s done. And it’ll probably make life easier in some way!

Now on to the big projects…