Blah blah blah

Hello world! I don’t know why I haven’t blogged. Been busy with just living everyday life, I guess. And I’m out of candy at my desk. Helps me to focus. Just kidding. Last night I took a deep, hot bath at 8:30pm and went to bed at 9pm. After just a couple tuck-ins of Carolyn, we got up for the day at 8:15am. I think I am still running a little slow. Brian and Anna are at church but I’m in my pajamas putting Carolyn’s cape and dressup on while my tummy grumbles for breakfast.

Ok, I just uploaded some pictures and videos from the camera to the computer and are my kids ever cute! I’ll share in just a minute. The most absorbing excitement for me these days is anticipating my parents’ visit…. just a couple weeks away now! They get to be in the states for some weeks and I’m really looking forward to being on the same side of the planet for awhile. Yes, we talk on skype and chatting, but there’s something intangible and disagreeable about the looooooong distance between us. They’ll arrive on my Dad’s 57th birthday! Think I should let them rest from jet lag a little before making the carrot cake? Maybe I won’t… then more of the cake will be for ME. ;-)

Most of the pictures and videos were taken by Anna as she wandered around getting pictures for our “Field Guide” that shows plants and animals on our property. Our septic clogged (oh no!) and they went out and took lots of pictures of the septic man who unclogged the drain pipe. Peee-yew, it was stinky.

Anna was taking pictures of birds to add pages to our [homeschool] Family Field Guide

Anna was taking pictures of birds to add pages to our [homeschool] Family Field Guide

Anna is getting close to 8 years old!

Anna is getting close to 8 years old!

Carolyn is so cute in the size 5 coat. (She is 2)

Carolyn is so cute in the size 5 coat. (She is 2)

Carolyn "digging"

Carolyn “digging”

Our poor, cute, fallen-apart mailbox, looking up the hill at the neighbors and a beautiful sky.

Our poor, cute, fallen-apart mailbox, looking up the hill at the neighbors and a beautiful sky.

Somebody confused the weather and the grass is growing, the frogs croaking and trees budding!

Somebody confused the weather and the grass is growing, the frogs croaking and trees budding!

Our loaner vacuum. SO HAPPY to have my vacuum back from the shop!

Our loaner vacuum. SO HAPPY to have my vacuum back from the shop!

Everybody knows that Carolyn is cute. Anna even takes pictures mostly of her.

Everybody knows that Carolyn is cute. Anna even takes pictures mostly of her.

Blurry adorableness.

Blurry adorableness.

Carolyn isn't interested in having her own pillow. Brian was trying to sleep in here...

Carolyn isn’t interested in having her own pillow. Brian was trying to sleep in here…

Anna found bird tracks.

Anna found bird tracks.

I think she called these deer tracks, but I'm not so sure.

I think she called these deer tracks, but I’m not so sure.

Brian has been developing a tabletop RPG that the kids can play too. I've never played any kind of tabletop rpg, so it was fun to watch.

Brian has been developing a tabletop RPG that the kids can play too. I’ve never played any kind of tabletop rpg, so it was fun to watch.

The papers show the "rooms" and they were one room away from the big boss, the Giant Slime! (They are fighting snakes here)

The papers show the “rooms” and they were one room away from the big boss, the Giant Slime! (They are fighting snakes here)

Legos rule! These are our characters. Sorry, I don't remember the names just now, but I know there's a Kung Fu Panda, a Phoenix, a Nameless Warrior and two others.

Legos rule! These are our characters. Sorry, I don’t remember the names just now, but I know there’s a Kung Fu Panda, a Phoenix, a Nameless Warrior and two others.

This is what Carolyn does when the big girls go to AWANA.

This is what Carolyn does when the big girls go to AWANA.

More morning snuggles.

More morning snuggles.

See! I took this just now - Carolyn getting into dressup while I type the blog post.

See! I took this just now – Carolyn getting into dressup while I type the blog post.

So I’m still taking medication for depression, which is good, though I wish we managed to get the perfect medication on first try. I still have occasional counselor appointments and I find them very helpful. We’re still homeschooling and it’s going well. Anna wrote a short story about Unicorn Land (“Unacon Land”) that was pretty great. I find I wish I had more second-graders to compare her to so that I’d know how we’re doing. But I try not to worry about it too much. She is learning to read, write, and do math. She is learning to be more competent in home chores and is learning lots of interpersonal skills within the family as well as with friends. I think she is learning “how” to learn…. how to research, how to take notes, how to “try” something (experiment), how to dance and she is learning to type and play computer games too. Ha.

Brian and I sat down and wrote down a family goal. You know, the thing that’s even more important than all the extra stuff we do. It tried to give substance and encouragement to the unspoken mission/purpose of our family.
Family Goal: To learn and practice agape love with grace.
Agape love is a Greek word that is used in the Bible. It describes a love that focuses on doing what is best for the other person. Everybody in our family needs to learn and practice doing that. And we added the grace bit at the end. Grace is a hard word for me to define, because it can be applied in so many ways. A gracious gift is a gift that is given freely, without being earned and without strings attached. We want to offer agape love to each other with grace. Also, we want to accept agape love with grace… grace for ourselves in particular. Sometimes it is hard to accept love that is offered, but with a little grace… well, I hope you get the idea.

Let’s see. There is a mess of Valentine cards and candy hearts that I was suckered into buying sitting on my desk. There is an email in my inbox about an older Golden Retriever that we are considering adopting. We’ve considered a great many dogs, so my hopes aren’t up too high, but I do love a furry companion who adores me. Who wouldn’t? Aw – just ate one of the candy hearts and discovered I bought the tart kind. Rats. The girls are still hoping for snow this winter. So far it’s rain and frogs. It’s been in the low 50′s every day lately. So strange. I have a tiny spot of winter toes on my right foot. Guess I should have worn socks. Oh! I need to get some meat out of the freezer, because I am cooking today. I read an old “letter” from my dad last night about the trinity or not the trinity. It was interesting. Sorry there’s not much representation of Jordan in this post. He’s getting big and liking school and continuing to grown and develop. We love him. :-)

Obviously wrapping up here. I’ll post videos below when they’re uploaded:

Cute kids playing outside being video-taped by… themselves 3:30:

The girls outside digging holes 2:07:

The more typical quality of our kid-taped videos 3:28 (I don’t recommend you watch it all… you’ll get motion sickness):

Carolyn watching her abc song/movie before bed:

Goofy kids doing what they do best 1:37:

Video of the family playing the RPG for the first time 0:39:

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Two Carolyn Videos

I think two might be the most adorable age ever.

Resident two-year-old

Resident two-year-old

Didn’t know stuttering could be adorable, did you? Here’s Carolyn in my bedroom this morning:

“Don’t take picture me!” Mom and Dad – see that giant pile of blankets in the living room on the cedar chest? It’s always there. The kids use it for book time and for making forts, but I think you’ll find them wonderful for wrapping around your shoulders soon!

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Christmas and New Year!

Christmas was really special and not stressful this year. Brian had two weeks with almost no work… the first was full and busy, the second was quiet and involved lots of computer games and sleeping in and hanging with the immediate family stuff. Good, good times.

Time to unstuff stockings!!!

Time to unstuff stockings!!!

Watching the kids look at their stocking gifts was so much fun this year. They were all so into it!

Watching the kids look at their stocking gifts was so much fun this year. They were all so into it!

Carolyn was SO, so so so SOoooo cute! She kept saying, "Oh my goodness!" and when we asked her what else was in there, she would say, "I don't know!"

Carolyn was SO, so so so SOoooo cute! She kept saying, “Oh my goodness!” and when we asked her what else was in there, she would say, “I don’t know!”

Jordan woke up just as the girls finished their stockings! He loves to slide down the stairs this way.

Jordan woke up just as the girls finished their stockings! He loves to slide down the stairs this way.

Piles of presents and lots of love.

Piles of presents and lots of love.

Where is Maggie?

Where is Maggie?

Mid gift-opening, Carolyn got sleepy and shy and snuggly and curled up in Brian's arms.

Mid gift-opening, Carolyn got sleepy and shy and snuggly and curled up in Brian’s arms.

Grammy and Anna with her new scarf from Grammy and some gifts.

Grammy and Anna with her new scarf from Grammy and some gifts.

Jordan opened his gifts in a quieter room when we were done.

Jordan opened his gifts in a quieter room when we were done.

He loves all his new singing toys!

He loves all his new singing toys!

Carolyn loves her new dolly from her Papa!

Carolyn loves her new dolly from her Papa!

Anna took many photos of all the cousins, trying to pose them.

Anna took many photos of all the cousins, trying to pose them.

Very few kids were willing to be bossed around for photos, but there are a few cute pictures!

Very few kids were willing to be bossed around for photos, but there are a few cute pictures!

Family hiking is SO FUN when you get to look at Carolyn every minute of the time. She was so stinking adorable.

Family hiking is SO FUN when you get to look at Carolyn every minute of the time. She was so stinking adorable.

It was cold, but clear and still and beautiful.

It was cold, but clear and still and beautiful.

Watching a little waterfall (I'm on the side of it) and getting to climb on stuff!

Watching a little waterfall (I’m on the side of it) and getting to climb on stuff!

Stomping down the path!

Stomping down the path!

Anna is an amazing helper. I keep having to find new ways to say "thank you" to her. Here she is helping Carolyn down the slippery downslope.

Anna is an amazing helper. I keep having to find new ways to say “thank you” to her. Here she is helping Carolyn down the slippery downslope.

Vision of a memory.

Vision of a memory.

Videos:
Carolyn opening her stocking cuteness 1 and 2

Jordan opening his stocking (he participated!!!!!!!!!!!)

Jordan with his two favorite stocking gifts:

Christmas afternoon:

Trying to get a picture of the cuteness of Carolyn running on the trail and capturing the sights and sounds of the northwest:

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Story of my Guilt

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I have been doing a lot of soul-searching lately. If you aren’t aware, I’ve been struggling with depression since crashing sometime in the summertime. I am back on some antidepressants and while they are helping me, I’ve been doing some work in analyzing and working through my belief system. What do I believe? Why? What is my “inner critic” saying and why should I listen or not listen to it? What’s the voice of grace saying? How can I be the hard-working person I want to be if I release my inner drive towards “success” and high expectations (which I ultimately fail to achieve)?

The night before last, my sister gave me a wonderful analogy. She shared how when she was in ballet, her instructor worked and worked with her to release a certain muscle she was holding tight. When she finally figured out how to relax it… it felt like she was doing… nothing. It felt strange and wrong. She did figure out how to use the other muscles to do the job the best way. When I try to “release” or relax my personal expectations and my “drive” to be the best, it feels like I’m doing nothing. I need to find the other muscles, the other drive that is healthy and doesn’t beat me down with judgement and condemnation.

Brian suggested that the other drive… is love.

He gave me the picture of a courtroom and reminded me of the name of the prosecutor, Satan. He reminded me who my defender is: Jesus. My new drive somehow stems from this courtroom scene. Somehow, my new internal motivation is love for my Redeemer. Out of these thoughts, I wrote the following story. The process of writing this story, which poured out of me without effort and yet left me breathless at the end felt like… it felt like a conversation with God.

God’s Story to Me

I am in a courtroom and I am being judged. Am I worthy? Am I a failure? There is one in the prosecutor’s seat who knows my faults, my sins, my secrets. He exposes everything that I am ashamed of and declares my corruption to the One who created me. I know what justice deserves and I do not fight it. I am ashamed. I am crushed and destroyed. I cannot remember hope.

Then One stands beside me in the place of defense. I do not stand, but look up in surprise at His face. His face pains me. It carries the weight of sorrow and grief, the marks of my anger and rebellion. It is both marred and healed, sorrowful, yet rejoicing. He is too beautiful for words and I love Him. I love Him.

He speaks first to the judge without looking at me. He denies no charge put against me, but instead takes them and their weight… and destroys them with the words, “It is finished.” He had done it. He had borne every punishment already and had every authority to grant my release. He had plans for me, He said, plans that I could not conceive. They were beautiful and wonderful and tailored just for me. Would I consent to accept His offer and follow Him? Would I leave the prosecutor behind and follow Him?

I cried with my love for Him. But I felt no worthiness in myself for His offer. The prosecutor shook his head at me and I knew, I knew that he would follow me, offering a litany of my charges to all who would listen… myself included. My shoulders sagged. And I glanced up one last time at the Defender, my blessed Jesus. Oh! His eyes. His eyes! The tender, welcoming love. The understanding and the compassion. And the open arms that I fell into.

“Hold me, Lord!,” I cried, throwing myself at His mercy, ungainly and desperately clinging to Him. I heard the muffled protest of Satan, but Jesus silenced him with a look. The judge banged his gavel and cried, “Not guilty!” Satan’s accusations went unheard and ignored by the Judge. Jesus spoke to me. He said, “beloved,” and “worthy.” He called me “beautiful,” “holy,” and “blessed.” He wrote my name down in His personal book and called me “daughter,” “sister,” and “bride.” I was His and He was mine.

But my life was not over. It was not time for the wedding. We were betrothed, but I was not prepared for our wedding. “Get ready, beautiful,” He said. “Follow this path I have laid for you. It will be easy and it will be hard. It will be plain and it will be confusing. But keep walking. I am waiting for you at the end, my darling.”

“Don’t go away!” I cried, desperate to remain in His arms. “Love me,” He said, “and do what I ask. It is for your good or I would not ask it.” “But it’s too hard!” I cried again. “I will never forsake you. Trust me.,” He whispered, touching my cheek. “We’ll be together again before you know it. Don’t give up.”

And He kissed me. Gently. Purely. His lips brought life and His Spirit settled into my soul. He caressed my face, squeezed my hand and beckoned towards the path. And with a deep breath, I set off. I could not see Him. I walked. I walked by faith.

Hebrews 11:1 KJV
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen.
Hebrews 11:1 NLT
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

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Cutie Patooties

I have a really funny story from Thanksgiving that involves Glen and Maggie. We did a white elephant gift exchange. Somebody brought a gift that was a toy that made a variety of (ahem) farting sounds when you push the button. Guess who opened that gift. Yep, it was Maggie! She was absolutely thrilled. Actually, what made her so happy was seeing how everybody laughed when she pushed it. Over and over and over. What a variety! Put-put versions. Squeal, squeaky versions. Loud belchy versions. They were very realistic. And Glen was sitting right next to her, turning redder and redder and redder. He eventually leaned over to Grandma (great-grandma to Maggie) and had to explain to her what was happening on the other end of the couch. Oh me, oh my, it was so funny! Thankfully, that toy got traded with another youngster and we didn’t have to listen to it for the long drive home.

The dog we are watching (and possibly keeping) is a 4-year-old black, short-hair dachshund chihuahua. Otherwise known as a Chiweenie. :-) Razzie was a long-haired golden version. Missy is extremely shy and fearful. Well, she was. She has settled in and is doing alright now. She especially bonded with me (Rachel) and therefore I am enjoying her quite a bit. She follows me around, sleeps in the room I’m in and tolerates the others. She no longer runs away from everybody in the household, though she still barks at Brian when he gets home. Anna and Maggie decided she needed a middle name so she wasn’t plain Missy Davis. Now she is Missy Mae Davis. A good, strong, family name. :-)

School has been going pretty good. Honestly, school itself has been going great. What has been getting accomplished for Anna are math, phonics and spelling workbooks plus 1-2 short papers each week of different sorts. She does tons of reading on her own. Unfortunately, school hasn’t been happening five days a week, but we’ll just keep plugging along at it. Maggie does a math workbook with a smattering of handwriting or reading.

I’d like to update you on my personal development, but it’s still…. in development, so it’s hard to put into words at this point. But I will say that it’s growth in a positive direction and I look forward to sharing more of my testimony as it unfolds. There are a few decisions that have to be made too, so I would appreciate prayer that we would feel our Father’s guidance in making them. Both the new medication I am using and the counselor I’m seeing are making positive differences. Thank you all for loving imperfect me.

And all the adorable pictures to follow:

Having fun looking for hats.

Having fun looking for hats.

I think they.... fit?

I think they…. fit?

Kids piling on Glen... some things never change. It was a wonderful family Thanksgiving! Sherrie and Dominic are amazing hosts!

Kids piling on Glen… some things never change. It was a wonderful family Thanksgiving! Sherrie and Dominic are amazing hosts!

This is Glen after his face stopped being so red, telling Grandma what Maggie's doing.

This is Glen after his face stopped being so red, telling Grandma what Maggie’s doing.

It was cold outside!

It was cold outside!

Jordan is a strong walker now!

Jordan is a strong walker now!

Family

Family

Missy Mae

Missy Mae

She's pretty cute

She’s pretty cute

Doing school

Doing school

School time!

School time!

Good morning!

Good morning!

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