God’s Celery

That title may have originated from VeggieTales, not my subconscious, though these are very closely linked. I’ve seen all the shows (old ones, not new ones) so much it is easy to speak veggie.

I’m on a sort of diet, inspired by the book Why We Get Fat. I’m eating a lot more vegetables, and today was really looking forward to a celery snack. When I went to the fridge for some celery to put in tonight’s meatloaf (yes, in that, too), I saw that my bunch of celery was gone, and a bunch of that had been purchased by someone else was unopened but obviously old, yellow and rubbery. And it might have even been purchased that way, in haste. I fumed to Aliyah that I should take it back to the store, but I didn’t have all day to start dinner. I took a stalk and diced it up, grumbling why people had to eat MY celery.

If you’ve read any devotionals ever, you know where this is going. No, it wasn’t my celery, it was God’s celery. I have no claim to anything on this planet, not even my next breath. So thoughts like this began to calm me down.

Later I had the chance to run to Walmart to get, wait for it…celery. And milk and half and half and clif bars and nuts. God is so generous with me that I can afford these things. But you know what I was thinking as I packed the car? “I should tell (the person who bought that bad celery) to take it back and exchange it so they can get some more celery.” Immediately I thought, wait. I just bought celery. What would Jesus do? He would go home, throw away the bad celery, and tell the family to help themselves to the celery He just bought. There would be plenty more where that came from when we needed more.

Remember, God made you special and He loves you very much.

Be Mine

And a lovely Valentine’s Day it is, too. Temperatures have to be in the fifties outside, and the sun is so welcome. I cannot complain about this mild winter, although a rough one was much more expected after the multiple mild ones we have had in recent years. One of these days in September, that Indian will show up at the feed and seed, warning us about what is to come. You just wait.

Yesterday Luke was home sick from school. During our time of study, we again broached the subject of “why isn’t this going more smoothly?” since Carol is here and helps out, and since I am well past the postpartum excuses for lack of progress. Luke has especially been concerned with our lack of writing, and the kids’ consequent lack of writing skills. He admonished me that I should be going through the different writing styles with them and helping them get familiar and capable in writing. Aliyah is planning on taking the ACT soon, and will need some confidence writing-wise, as that is one area of the test that is looked at more closely. I complained how it would be difficult to take more time, looking up these things on the phone, and was about to go into (again) how inadequate of a teacher of writing I would be, anyway, except Luke cut me off with, “Well, that’s your job. I don’t necessarily like everything about my job, but I go and do it each day.” If I wasn’t immediately mortified, I might have laughed at the irony of him sitting in his pjs, home from work, saying this. But it was a timely rebuke.

I had just been reading over some notes from a Bible study lecture that said when we are troubled, like Christ, we should say, “Father, glorify Your name.” Now, I am not certain of all I could do to respond correctly, but I did know it would include picking up the phone and looking up some good writing websites, and planning future times of putting together good instruction for the kids. This would glorify God and not myself.

Today went okay; we brainstormed a thesis statement for an essay. I think the kids had a pretty good handle on how to do it, to where we should be ready to write the essay soon. There is a whisper of fear here, though, as I feel like I’ll come to a place I don’t know how to move forward. Consulting Luke will be my first stop, as he is sure to be able to help.



At Mommy and Me today the ladies were talking about how meaningful it is to be able to stay home with their children. One mom put it, “You’ll never get that time back!” I look at Kenan, and Elijah, and now Julia, and though I of all people should realize how short this time is, I still find myself chafing, wanting the days to pass more quickly. My attitude stinks when it comes to the daily challenges that each little brings.

This week may not be the best one for introspection, what with my hormones still out of whack and VBS taking away all their playmates every evening. So we have had a Toy Story marathon! And tonight we go to a graduation party, one reason being I don’t want to be stuck home with them another night. The week has gone well, though. Last night I actually got Julia to bed for the night before the kids came home, so Kenan and Elijah and I could enjoy some outside time, watching for the van. We talked about what color the van was, and the house, and the shed..Elijah would run to Grandma’s car and call, “Mama, Mama” until I answered. He’d point to it and say something like ‘Grandma’s car’ then run back to me and do it all over again. Then we sat on the steps and the boys checked my hair for ticks. Pure country, let me tell you.

The girls got their first paychecks today, and it got me thinking about all of the ways we are blessed. I may not notice in the thick of it, but I know love can’t do anything but pay off in the end. Keep doing it, my friends.


He was a boy who was a little too old to be buckled into the cart with seats at Target. I recognized right away that he must have some disabilities. But I also noticed his smile right away. This was a happy, beautiful child.

Dear mama, thank you for giving him life. Not just allowing him birth (although that is becoming less common and destroying life that might be imperfect more so). Thank you for giving him the best life. Do you know how I know?

His bib.

It is bright white, not a stain on it. He must soil them with drool and food, but you take care of even this small detail. Thank you for caring.

We walk out to the parking lot together, you carrying your child and me carrying my purchases. It is raining, so you pull his hood up and over his head. By his wide grin and upturned face, though, I don’t think he minded the raindrops one bit. Another lady is headed in the same direction and we share a smile at your son’s joy.

As I watch you buckle him up while I pull away, I pray for you, Dear Jesus, gird her with strength for this day, and the days ahead. I am guessing even the difficulties of his care can reach a monotony. If she does not know You, I pray that You would reveal Yourself to her; may she see You in that precious boy’s smile.

I know I do.

She Lives

I know, I left all three of you hanging the other day with my dog vs. van story. Even as I type this, she sits at Sam’s knees while he rubs her ears. She is in doggy heaven. More than she deserves, to be sure. But isn’t that the story of all of us? One thought that keeps emerging for me is how the antics of this hapless dog, and the grace offered her, mimics my own experience with our Great Savior.

So the night of the discovery, Bella was allowed to sleep inside, but even she could sense that things were not the same. She only lay curled up on the floor, not straining at the leash, not barking. Just hiding out.

For the next few days I worked at finding someone who could help me list her on Craigslist (pets are buried in lawn & garden, very confusing), and keeping Bella from the underside of our van. Luke worked at the wires, seeing if he could possibly fix them himself. Everywhere we went, I would have to explain why we all weren’t there or why we weren’t in the van, and I think each time I would tell the story of Bella’s attack with more relish. I was upset; maybe I never got as angry as Luke, but I sure ran my mouth like I was.

A week later, the part came in that was the final piece to (hopefully) rewiring the van. It was a cute little sensor that looked like Darth Maul at the plug, but of course absolutely essential to our van running again. Luke spent an hour or so under the van, putting things together, and…nothing. He came back inside, looked something up on the phone, and thought to himself for a few minutes. Then he went back out, switched some wires, and Voila! The van started, and showed to be switching gears! So for about $15 he was able to fix it this time, himself! Himself and God, he was heard later to acknowledge, as at that last part when things still weren’t working, he knows God showed him what to change. My Hero and my hero.

Slightly more amazing than this cheap fix is the complete 180 Luke has made in recent days regarding Bella. He went from wanting to shoot her, to wrestling with the dog last night before bed. This has to be a God thing as well. Maybe Luke realizes that everything, no matter how it happens, is an act of God, or allowed by Him. It aggravated us so much that this would be at the paws of a dog, when we were perfectly fine with it being caused by hitting a deer, and we certainly wouldn’t have howled as much if it had been an accident. But because it was a dog, well. That’s different. It shouldn’t make a difference in our responses however. We should be able to take each day’s troubles with equal measures of grace, since that is exactly the way our Heavenly Father deals with us. And I guess Bella will be around for a while longer, showing us this in the flesh, or fur.

I’m still up for listing her as a free dog to a good home. Preferrably miles from your actual home, vehicles, and possessions, if possible. There’s grace and then there’s dogs.

Read the first post about this here.

Bella Gratia

What a wild two weeks it has been since ‘the incident’. I, for one, marvel that some of us are still here.

A couple of months ago, we load up the van one morning to go to the library, turn the ignition key, and…nothing. Luke looked at the damaged wires underneath, got enough of them spliced together to start it and travel in second gear, and slowly drove down the hill to the mechanic, with me following close behind in his truck. I had hit a deer the week before, and we wondered if that might have jogged things loose. Lots of money later, we have a working van.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. We load up the van, I turn the key…nothing. Sam finds some torn wires in the gravel under the van that have saliva on them. Hmmm. I decided to email Luke at work about it instead of waiting until he came home to tell him; maybe that was a bad thing to do, but I don’t like carrying around bad news all day. He was not happy, and was already making it quite clear across the internet how endangered the life of our dog, Bella, was. We knew she did get under the van, and we knew there were mice/ voles that were up under there, too, but we didn’t put it all together until she attacked our van a SECOND time, likely going after a rodent. Aargh!

The first evening was tense. I wasn’t sure if Luke was going to shoot her, strangle her, or stomp on her. At one point he ordered me to take her to the pound, so I went for her leash. Upon further thought, we knew we didn’t have enough time to make it up there and back, as we both had places to be that evening, and we would probably be charged a fee for dropping her off, a salty rub in an open wound right now.

As I went through my evening, the more I thought and prayed about Bella, the more I thought maybe Luke should shoot her. What would it mean to offer her to someone else? “Here, this dog has cost us hundreds of dollars in car repairs in the last few months, why don’t you take her?” What would that be saying about our respect for other people and their property? Maybe she was worth more dead than alive. Alive was getting really expensive.

To be continued



I think I have used that title before. In fact, that would have to be one of the most common titles one could choose when they are looking for ways to introduce their life experiences, right? That, and Oh. This past week I had that kind of moment, where I first said, ouch, then I said, oh.

Going through a Revelation study has me turned upside down sometimes. There is the volume of verses I don’t understand, and there is the reality of Jesus’ return. And, there is the reality of God Himself, in total control at all times, even when the world is falling apart. This past year I have been trying to obey Him when I think He is telling me to do something, or not do something. Francis Chan helped me nail it down when he said, loosely quoted, to just do it if I think it is divinely inspired. If it turns out not to be, at least we are guilty of doing, and not guilty of disobedience. So I do.

This time it was a prompt to write to family members who I am pretty sure are unsaved. It took a day or two to get up the nerve and think of what I could write to each one that wouldn’t seem carbon copied to all of them, but I finally emailed the two in one place and one in another. For some reason I didn’t feel like emailing the other two in the latter place, but later thought better of that and just finished theirs this evening. But anyway, so far I have gotten one response.

What an email! I am certain this relative was just sharing what was new with their job/ life/ whatever since we had seen each other years ago, but reading it was like a blow to the gut. Here is a person who really strugggles, with chronic pain that makes it hard to work, taking college courses as can be afforded to get promoted to a less physically demanding position, with an aging parent to care for, and disappointment in those they see call themselves ‘Christian’ around them. I was convicted that I rarely even think of this relative, other than to pray for their salvation, or reach out to them at Christmastime. Am I any better than the ‘Christians’ they know?

A statement they made was the turning of the knife. They are fluent in other languages so they were giving me advice on learning Spanish. “You have the Bible memorized. Why not get a Spanish Bible to read?” Whew. I know this person was not being exactly sarcastic, this is just the basic impression they have of people like me. Is that what I want people to think of me? What do I want people to think of me? Maybe this is one reason we should want others to only see Jesus in us. Only He knows what they need, only He can get the job done right, without me in the way.

Some real soul searching has begun since I received this reply. I pray that God continues His good work in me to make me like Jesus, so that my next Christmas email to my lost relatives encourages them more to seek Him.

Todo Sobre Mi

One of my goals for 2016 is to become conversationally fluent in Spanish. A website I found gave some really good advice, one tip being to learn phrases and statements that are specific to me. That way, I not only am motivated to talk more in Spanish, but while I am getting better at conversation, I at least have a collection of things memorized that I say all the time in English.

Here are the statements I am learning, in no particular order:

Soy seguidora de JESUS, y disfruto estudiar mi Biblia.

Soy esposa y madre.

Tengo doce hijos.

Enseno a nuestros ninos en casa.

Estoy embarazada de nuestro duodicimo hijo.

Queremos mi suegra a vivir con nosotros antes del invierno.

Soy de un pueblo que esta a una hora al norte de Columbus, Ohio.

Me gusta dibujar, pintar, y leer.

Es divertido para mi cocinar y comer una buena comida.

Me encanta viajar, pero tambien disfruto de quedarme en casa.

Estudie matematicas en la universidad.

Soy ama de casa.

Me gusta escribir en el blog, y estoy en Facebook.

Wasn’t that fun? This was a great little exercise to come up with ways to tell people what my life is like, and also to reveal to me words I didn’t know. ‘Disfruto’ is one word I don’t think I have heard before. It means ‘I enjoy’. Good thing I have plenty of things I can tell others I enjoy.


Be careful asking God to reveal things about yourself that you need to change. This summer has been one revelation after another, for me.

Sarah and Abbie have been gone for a week, traveling with their grandma to see Luke’s brother and his family. There was a rumor that Abbie was getting homesick, and when we here at home heard about it, we wondered why that would be. Sure, we are a remarkable and missable bunch, but look at all she was getting to do there, that she doesn’t usually have the opportunity to do. A day later we could see that those fears were a little exaggerated; she was having a great time and told Daddy all about her roller coaster ride.

Yesterday I read a blog post that got me thinking. The lady was saying that every day her son was gone at camp she hurt inside knowing he was an hour away. As I pondered this today, the thought came to me- do I miss Sarah and Abbie like that? Yes, we can’t help noticing they are gone, with less places to set at the table and more seats available in the van, but am I in pain over the void they have left? No, I would have to say, I don’t miss them like that. When Luke leaves, I miss him like that, but I don’t feel that when my children go away.

On the one hand, this is a good thing. The child who is away is most likely coming back, and while they are gone they will have a wonderful time. On the other hand, maybe this reveals a part of me that resists getting close to people, even my own children. I could excuse myself by pointing out how many children I have and how many daylight hours there are…but I think this is a time for introspection. Do I intentionally try to spend one on one time with each of my children, getting to know them as people? If not, this should change. Steps to this end will be small while we are still in a season where the littles exist and are so demanding of my time and attention. But I must start somewhere.

Another good thing to remember is how overjoyed I feel when the child returns. I might not have been devoting much brain time to them during their absence, but my heart immediately knows when they are home again.

Summer Begins

I have about an hour to kill- something that doesn’t happen very often. This summer so far has been no exception to busy-ness, as we are running, running, running to each activity at a rapid pace. But rain and an empty house can bring on some free time.

Luke got to go away and camp last night. He said he needed some time alone to think, to focus, to pray. I hope he returns with a renewed enthusiasm in dealing with the many different issues we have had lately. The most pressing issue is getting his mom moved over to live with us. In order for this to happen, we’ve planned on Luke finishing the basement, with two bedrooms and a bath, for the older six children to move downstairs. So far, Luke has purchased the wood and started measuring. It is interesting when he gets absorbed in a project; I think I may have heard him mumbling about ‘drop ceilings’ in his sleep! I am humbled to have him begin this project. Even though I have not been vocal in my harping, I haven’t completely been silent on where I think we should go next on our house project and plans. Our whole marriage has been one of me learning to back off and not try to change my spouse, and I expect the rest of our marriage will be spent in that same manner. I may never get it right.

Something else I’m getting wrong hit me like a brick the other day- I worry too much about Luke. I already knew I had trouble with anxiety. There’s the seemingly noble kind, like worrying about your kids and wanting them to be safe and make right decisions. Then there’s the irrational kind about my kids that I think I am getting a handle on. I mean, I only have crazy thoughts about their grisly, horrible deaths every so often, and when the thoughts come, I know to combat them with God’s word and prayer. But there are also the fears about Luke that have always been there, under the surface, controlling my actions in such subtle ways that I didn’t see them for what they were.

For at least the first half of our marriage, I think I did a lot of things out of a fear that he would leave me. We have not been without our struggles to get along and make this life together work, and the ups and downs really wore me out. I was so thankful during the down times, especially, to know God was saying to me, “Trust Me.” I didn’t do things that were hasty or impulsive during those tough times because I would think to myself, even though I may not be able to trust Luke, I can trust God. But I didn’t let the truth get further into my heart to make me reach out to Luke in love. If I could fully trust God, I could fully offer myself and my love to Luke without fear of his rejection.

Later on in our life, my worries have morphed into ones where I fear that he will leave God. I try (with the miniscule ability I have) to keep the waters of life as still as possible, to try to protect him from (what I think is) too much pressure. I fear that if he is hit with something he can’t handle, that he’ll snap and turn his back on God. The other night I was getting all bent out of shape about his growing 80’s and 90’s rock collection. I told him I feel like I’m not allowed to listen to music like that, that when I do, it makes me sad. Luke asked me simply, “Why?” and I couldn’t think of a good reason. I like certain movies that have a cuss word in them or some other detractor, yet I still watch them and collect them. If I really believed what I was saying about his choices of music, I should feel the same way about these movies. Then it hit me- I am afraid that if he listens to rock music, it will turn his heart away from God.

Now, this may be true, and we all can think of examples of the world creeping in and people losing it. But the real issue here and now wasn’t my husband’s choices, but my own heart. That same night I had another amazing and hilarious thought- I don’t think Luke has spent a single second worrying about my relationship with God! So who’s the one with the problem? It was such a freeing experience, to realize that my job as his wife is not to keep him with me, or even keep him with God, but to simply love him and trust God, as He so plainly asked me to do years ago. It will be difficult to change my thinking after years of habitual worrying, but I have a Friend in the heavens praying for me, and Who has promised to transform me by the renewing of my mind by changing the way I think. Thank You, LORD, my Redeemer, for not leaving me the way I am.

Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
Let those who love Your salvation say continually,
“The LORD be magnified!”
Since I am afflicted and needy,
Let the LORD be mindful of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God.

Psalm 40:16-17, emphasis mine