Friday, May 29

Home Improvement...

I came home late again tonight and wandered out to my garden. I went to water my flowers but realized it was more than that. I needed to see the colors. I longed to smell the blossoms. I wanted to renew my soul.

Our one year old grandson, Jonathan, had his cleft palate repaired this week. It was a brutal sight to see him after the two and a half hour surgery. His tongue looked like someone had lit it on fire and after it had burned, blew it out and left the inside raw and bloody. It was a thick, crispy mass. He couldn't close his mouth so we had to wipe the blood away as it continued to drain out and over his lips. He couldn't open his wide eyes the first day. He was given morphine and slept with arm restraints.

I walked to my garden to replace those images I had in my head. I drank in the color, inhaled the fragrance and knelt to gently remove a weed. I could finally do something here in my garden. After a day of sitting, I could dig and prune and make my garden abit better. Mostly, I could be renewed as I saw God's handiwork all around me. I could take heart that God was healing Jonathan just as sure as He was growing the seeds I had planted.

If you haven't tried gardening, improve your home this year by digging up a plot of soil. Improve your soul by meeting with God daily in your garden. It doesn't need to be a masterpiece, start small and then sit back and see God at work.
Nothing will restore your soul faster than spending some time appreciating God's creation.

Thursday, May 28

Gardening for dummies

Barb put gardening 101 as her title but I think it should be called Gardening for Dummies! As of Thursday last week I had no idea what I was doing! I had never picked out a plant or shrub before....the most I had purchased was a hanging basket of flowers as a gift.

I got a crash course in plants, shrubs, flowers, fertilizer, watering, etc, etc. It's overwhelming in the beginning, but the results are beautiful.

Thus far, taking the time to water, enjoying the smell of the soil and soaking in the beauty of the plants, has allowed me to appreciate the beauty of God's great earth. Such color. Such variety. Such creativity!

I had no idea how many different plants and shrubs and flowers there were and how unique they each are. All of this makes me wonder what the garden of Eden must have been like? It must have been the most luscious green, the most vibrant colors. I can't even begin to imagine.

I'm looking forward to watching my garden grow...taking the time to get outdoors and breathe in the fresh air, time to step away from the electronics and enjoy a bit of nature in my own yard.

Now the question is, will I be able to remember to water my garden often enough that I will keep these little plants and flowers alive and growing? We'll see!

Wednesday, May 27

Gardening 101

Stacy and I planted flowers over Memorial Day weekend! So fun. So many colors and plants to choose from.

She needed completely new landscape, so we started simple. We planted easy plants that will be forgiving if she ignores them abit. Here are a few tips I have picked up in planting gardens of my own:

1. Before shopping for flowers, consider the 'sun factor'. If your garden beds receive direct sun for a long period of time, you will want to choose hardy plants. If your beds are mainly in the shade, you will have to choose plants that thrive in that exposure. (The plants are labeled at the garden store as to what exposure they can take)

2. Choose a site for your flower bed that can be enjoyed from the house if possible or as you drive up to your home.

3. Lay out a hose or sturdy rope to outline the pattern you want for your garden.

4. Dig in with gusto and prepare the soil by removing leaves, grass and weeds. Level off the area with a rake.

5. "Less is more" when purchasing bushes and flowers. They will grow and fill out. Limit your palatte to 2 or 3 colors and consider what goes well with the backdrop of your home.

6. Repeat the plant in the garden or nearby spaces. Repetition of color and type of plant offers a more serene view of your property. Place the plants around in different areas while they are still in their pots. You just might get inspired to try a different plan.

7. Spread mulch in between plants to limit the weeds from sprouting up. Put it carefully around the base of each plant.

8. Water your masterpiece! Let the hose run slowly on the bushes for a good amount of time. Water your plants the first few days to get the roots ready to branch out and deepen.

9. Sit back and enjoy! A summer full of color and beauty!

Friday, May 22

Home Improvement: One question to consider

I read one of Barb's books a couple years back called, "The Best Question Ever" by pastor Andy Stanley.

It is a small, yet very thought-provoking book.

Andy suggests that when we need to make a decision (about ANY area of our lives) we should ask ourselves: What is the wise thing for me to do, in light of my past experience, my present circumstances, and my future hopes and dreams?

This single question, if pondered and seriously considered, can dramatically change the way we make decisions.

What I love most about this question is that it doesn't tell us what to do, it just encourages us to ask, what is the WISE thing to do?

Can you imagine the impact this question could have on our children if we enabled them and taught them to consider the wise thing to do when making decisions? Sometimes we have to set aside our feelings, or our personal preference, or what's easiest or cheapest or makes everyone else the order to do what is wise.

Each person has to answer this question for themselves. Only you can determine - based on your past, present and future - what would be the wise thing to do?

I looked up the definition of wise and here is what I found:


[wahyz] Show IPA adjective, wis⋅er, wis⋅est, verb, wised, wis⋅ing.
1.having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion.

2.characterized by or showing such power; judicious or prudent: a wise decision.

By asking ourselves what the wise thing to do is, we are essentially declaring that we want to be discerning. We want to determine what is true or right or best. We want to be....well wise!

As women 'striving to be wise' this question is one that we should refer to often when encouraging husbands, talking with friends, teaching our children and especially for ourselves. I think it has the potential to change our relationships, our families, our homes, and most of all, us!

This weekend try to use this question just once in your own decision making and encourage one other person to consider it as well.

Happy Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 21

Asking Good Questions

This exercise isn't just between husbands and wives. Do you ask yourself good questions?

What is my mission in life going to be?

Who is my Master?

Am I using my time wisely?

Does my life style reflect my beliefs?

These questions can be asked of your children as they grow. Add to this list the all-important question of 'Who will my mate be?'

Questioning myself in a positive way can change my mood. Questioning a child with good questions can help them think for themselves in a good way.

Good questions need to be thought-provoking, not idle chatter or accusations.

Learning to ask good questions can affect your relationship with God as well. There are many questions in the Bible that sets my thinking right:
"Where can I go from your Spirit?"
"Where can I flee from your presence? (Ps 139:7-8)
"Do you not know, have you not heard? The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth." (Is 40:37-38)
"Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." (Ps 121:1-2)

Aren't these questions better than asking myself:
Where is God? Doesn't God know what I am going through? Is God really interested in me?

Asking good questions of my faith, can turn my doubts and fears around. I start to focus on God's sovereignity and it forces me to answer my questions based on Truth.

Reflect on your questions and then see if making small changes in those questions won't change your thoughts and your conversations.

Wednesday, May 20

Can I Ask You a Question?

"Do I look fat in this?"

"Why doesn't your mother like me?"

"Do I talk too much?"

Do you give much thought to the questions you ask your husband? Ever thought that maybe you could become wiser in that area?

Asking Good something you may want to consider this summer.

Often we put our husbands in a corner by the questions we ask him. He may find himself in a lose/lose situation as far as how he is going to answer you!

Sometimes the questions are just a waste of time and then you wonder why your husband doesn't listen to you.

A little fore thought can make a question into a whole evening of discussion.

"Honey, what could you see yourself doing 5 years from now?"
"When our children are grown, what would you like to be doing as a couple?"
"If money wasn't an issue, where would you like to spend your time?"

If you think this is a one-time exercise, it isn't. As your marriage moves into a new season, new questions will help you adjust, if you have learned the power of a good question.

So what was that question you were going to ask?! Think a moment before asking.

Friday, May 15

Home Improvement...ENJOY the moments.

"There is, in every child, at every moment, a miracle unfolding."
Erik Erikson, psychologist

Enjoy your children this weekend!

Take photos and have them for you to cherish, but don't make scrapbooking another discipline that 'must' be done.

For every photo put on a page, write a word or two from you, as a mom. Forget the frills and all the clever ornaments if time is an issue and instead write what the moment means to you. Your child will find a double blessing in having his/her photos to remember but also what it meant to you.

"Your words echo down the ages" is a quote I love. Add a word to each photo and call it good.

Simplify the layout and keep reminding yourself of WHO you are preserving these photos for and WHY you are taking the time.

Then, enjoy your miracles!

Tuesday, May 12

A photo dilemma

This week's topic is pretty applicable since I realized yesterday that I forgot to take pictures on Mother's Day! first Mother's Day and no photo of Samuel and I or Samuel, Ryan and I. How did I forget???? It's doubtful I will experience another Mother's Day with a baby in my arms and one in my belly :)

Barb and I had a good discussion on Mother's Day about scrapbooking...and picture taking...and recording all those memories and photos.

I am surrounded by women who stress out because they are 'behind' in their chronological scrapbooking and will never be caught up. I am also surrounded by women who take hundreds of photos and leave them all on their computer...never printing a one.

Where do I fit into this mix? Do I even want to scrapbook? Do I enjoy it? Do I do it for myself or for my spouse/children? Do I feel guilty about what I do or don't do?

These are the kinds of questions I need to ask myself as I take a look at the thousands of photos I have of Samuel. What kind of expectation am I placing on myself? Is it time to start new habits now that I have a child and another on the way? What is realistic for me in this season of life?

I don't have all the answers. I haven't determined all of that yet. But I do know this...I have less time these days and more photos. And yet, I still have a desire to record these precious 'firsts' for my son. Maybe it will be so I can look back someday and remember...rather than Samuel looking back.

I am looking at this part of my life with new eyes...thanks for pondering with us this week!

Monday, May 11

Think About It!

Who are you really scrapbooking for?

Stacy mentioned yesterday that she has over 3,000 photos of Samuel already...he's only 7 months old.

I was drawn back to my days of scrapbooking my young children and remember the feelings I had to get my photos into my kids' scrapbook. There was always a nagging thought that I had to sit down and get 'caught up'. Back then, I only had to deal with 'hard-copy' photos and that was always limited by what I could afford to develop.

What would I do today if I had digital photos to manage and all the options of journaling?

While I find it so worthwhile to leave a legacy for your children, I sometimes wonder if moms today don't scrapbook to make their life LOOK good instead of just getting out there and making a life that IS good.

Controversial, maybe, but also something to think about.

I have scrapbooks for all my kids. I documented when they ate their first bite of solid food. I have pictures of when they began walking. I saved their report cards and most of the notes they ever sent me. They can look back at these books and find out when they had chicken pox and who they went to prom with.

I think I did a pretty good job of capturing the moments, but what I am finding out now is, I think those moments were meant for me, not my kids. My grown kids rarely, if ever, peruse their books, but I do. Maybe in years to come, the scrapbooks will become more valuable to them, but I doubt it. They are very glad I made them. They are glad that their life was important and exciting to me. But now they are on to making a life for themselves and their families, and that is how it should be.

My gentle advice to Stacy yesterday is what I write today: Think of why you are capturing your child's life in photos and enjoy it all. But remember to enjoy the moments as much as the memory. Make as many moments indelible in your heart and those moments won't need to be cataloged and journaled. You will remember.

Scrapbook, yes

Stress over it, no. Your child won't wait around for you to get your books in order. Just help them to get their life in order, and maybe that will be enough.

Friday, May 8

Home Improvement...Pray for our Children

"Whether you have biological children or not, we are all spiritual mamas to somebody, and we can be praying—single women, childless women, women with a quiver full of children, women who’ve never had any children—God has put us in the position of being true women for children through prayer." (Janet Parshall, talk-show host and speaker)

What a perfect Home Improvement challenge for this weekend. We are all 'spiritual mamas to someone' so on this Mother's Day weekend let's commit to pray for our children.

List the children that God has brought into your life...nieces, nephews, grandkids, sons, daughters, perhaps neighbors or kids of friends. Pray for these children by name every day for the rest of the month of May. Sounds simple, why aren't we doing it on a daily basis all year long?

Time to improve our homes, 'spiritual mamas', and Happy Mother's Day to all!

Thursday, May 7

The year I skipped Mother’s Day

Our church asked me to write an article for our Sunday program for Mother's Day. I thought I would share it here...

The year I skipped Mother’s Day
by Stacy May

One year ago today I could not face the reality that another Mother’s Day was upon us. My dreams of motherhood were unfulfilled, and I did everything possible to avoid facing the day that so many families celebrated. My husband and I enjoyed a lazy and relaxing Sunday morning. We didn’t go to church and we didn’t see our families.

Proverbs 13:12 says, “A hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Last year my heart was desperately sick. For nearly three years my husband and I had walked the road of infertility and miscarriages.

We lost our first little one at 10 weeks in July 2006. For the next two years we struggled to conceive again. We pleaded with God. We begged God. We petitioned God. But His answer was no. His answer was, “Wait on me.”

Waiting is hard. It’s full of questions, doubts, and fears.

And for me, the pain of waiting was magnified one year ago today when everywhere I looked I was reminded that others were celebrating a gift that God had not yet given to me. Mother’s Day 2008 represented the tender reality that my womb was still empty. I was 32. It had been 22 months since our miscarriage and my heart was bitter, broken and hardened.

Last summer led me on a journey of dealing with the resentment, anger and bitterness that had taken root in my heart. This was difficult, yet necessary, as I longed to walk in the freedom of God’s grace and forgiveness.

And finally, in August of last year, I discovered I was pregnant. Surely this was God’s blessing as a result of the healing that had taken place in my heart. At 7 weeks we heard a beautiful heartbeat. But at 9 weeks we were told, for the second time, our baby had died in my womb.

My dreams of motherhood vanished as quickly as they had come. And another bitter root threatened to grow.

But in God’s great mercy he didn’t allow that to happen. Just 24 days later God took my waiting and showed me it was not in vain.

On October 4, 2008, we got a call about a baby boy born in Waconia the day before. He was just 24 hours old. Were we interested? We had not started the adoption process, but we jumped in the car and went to the hospital to meet the birth mom. Within an hour she told us she would like us to adopt our son, whom we promptly named Samuel. We took him home two days later.

For seven months we have not stopped praising God for Samuel’s miraculous arrival into our lives. We are in awe of God’s timing and God’s plans for our family. And we continue to live in awe of the author and creator of life: in January we discovered that I was pregnant. Samuel will become a big brother this fall. Our story continues to be a beautiful reminder that despite all of our planning, God alone determines our future.

Today, Mother’s Day 2009, I could celebrate that my future will hold children just 11 months apart. I could celebrate that my battle with infertility has come to an end.

But instead, today I choose to celebrate that God restored my soul…before he restored my circumstances. I celebrate that he healed my heart. I celebrate freedom from the bondage of bitterness. I celebrate the blessing of waiting on the Lord.

Wednesday, May 6

Interesting Question...

What is one thing you did well as a mom?

I've been asking that of my friends lately. We all have grown children and often times I hear my friends talk about what they would do differently if they had to do it over again.

When I ask them what they thought they did well, I get a variety of answers:

"I read the Bible and prayed with them daily"

"I think I played with my children alot"

"I read to them"

"I loved them"

I think this is a good question for all moms to ask themselves each Mother's Day. It keeps us fresh. What are we doing well this year as a mom? Depending on your season of life, your answer will vary but that is why it is important to ask yourself, "What am I doing well as a mom?" every so often.

Be specific:

"I've gotten up in the middle of the night to feed or quiet my baby for the past 9 months...I never knew I could do that and live to tell about it!"

"I am handling sibling rivalry this year. It's hard, but I am liking the challenge."

"I am drawing my husband into this parenting thing. Last year I wanted to do everything MY way. I am seeing that being a mom means I am a team player"

You might want to write it down on the back of one of your Mother's Day cards. As long as you are hanging on to the cards, hold on to what you are doing well and then add to that next year.

After 18 years, you might just find that celebrating Mother's Day really has meaning for you!

Tuesday, May 5


We are just days out from Mother's Day...

It's so hard for me to believe that I will be celebrating Mother's Day this year! One year ago I couldn't even have imagined that I would have a 7-month old (logistically that seemed impossible!) and be 5 months pregnant this Mother's Day.


This role of motherhood still seems so new to me. Some days are good. Some days are hard. Some days I still can't believe I am a "mom." That title is still very foreign to me.

Becoming a mom (very quickly!) has been easy in some ways, and tough in others.

In the movie Marley and Me Jennifer Aniston says about being a mom, “No one tells you how hard this is going to be."

I agree with her. Even when you love it and wouldn't trade it for the world, it is still so hard.

Some days it is hard because it's so routine. Other days its just plain this morning when Samuel woke up crying at 4:15 a.m.

But motherhood is more fulfilling than I ever could have imagined! I am not sure I thought that when Samuel was just one month old. He didn't smile. He didn't laugh. He didn't know who I was. I just fed and changed him.

But each day it gets more and more fulfilling as Samuel gets bigger and our bond deepens. I realize I am fortunate to be able to stay home with Samuel and I am so so thankful for that.

This week lets contemplate together the gifts and the challenges of motherhood....

Friday, May 1

The house that cleans itself

How's that for a title?

Today I saw a friend reading a book with that title and I was so intrigued about the title that I asked her about it.

She was raving about the first few chapters. The idea is that you don't try to duplicate someone else's systems...instead you look at your home, your struggles with cleaning and organizing, and come up with a system that works for you. She said it is very practical.

Here is the online description:

The House That Cleans Itself is a true housekeeping guide for the housekeeping–impaired! It boldly takes on the reasons behind chronic messiness and why ordinary home–organization books won’t work. Using the methods of “horizontal thinking,” this book teaches readers how to set up a home so efficiently and logically that it seems to clean itself.

More than a how–to book, The House That Cleans Itself also looks at what God has to say about cleanliness and order, and how He can inspire order in every reader’s life in a fresh and unique way. For added fun, some of the tips Mindy uses come from research for her popular novels, The Trouble with Tulip, Blind Dates Can Be Murder, and Elementary, My Dear Watkins.

I personally haven't read it, but I think I will. The title alone has sold me :)

If you're interested you can order it online here.

Let us know if you read it!