Wednesday, August 14, 2013

17 Things About Jonathan on his 17th Birthday

1. He was born 3 lb 7 oz and was a little over 6 weeks early

2. Such a happy child (which we prayed for)

3. He never needed a lot of toys. He always made his own from paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, paper, tissues, straws..Always so creative. Still is. 

4. He was saved at 7 years old and we knew it. He has a peace about him and a confidence in his eternal home in Heaven. He has hardly ever given us any 'trouble' and when corrected, he was/is immediately repentant. Tender hearted, he is.

5. We believe he has the gift of 'helps'. He is always asking how he can help. If you're sick, he's the one you want taking care of you. Countless times, he has been by his grandpa's bedside when he was sick waiting and watching so he can be a help. Jonathan says all the time, "I just want to be a blessing."

6. His best friend in the whole wide world is his grandpa. They watch old Westerns, Andy Griffith, Matlock, and many of the 'old' shows. 

7. He likes old books, old music, old hymns (Fanny Crosby is his favorite hymn writer), old movies, and old tv shows. 

8. He has always loved books/reading. We can't keep books in his hands fast enough. Mysteries, the Classics, Anne of Green Gable, Little House on the Prairie..even my Beverly Lewis books bases on Amish life. Not sure if he has just one favorite. And he still likes to be read to.

9. Math has always been a tough subject for him. We both cry when we do Algebra. 

10. He is learning to play the piano quite nicely. He will be better than me someday. He will sit for hours on his keyboard in his room and just play..just because. 

11. He wakes up in the middle of a conversation. It could be from 2 days ago that somehow he didn't feel was finished. Always a chatty one in the morning. 

12. He's a homebody. While he likes to fellowship and be around others his own age, he is content to 'hang out' at home with his grandpa and his parents. 

13. He has an amazing singing voice..always has.

14. He's taking his sweet time growing up. He is one to 'take joy in the journey'. I have to be careful with not saying 'Hurry up' all the time to him. He's one to stop and smell the roses, look at everything (and comment on it!), and 'enjoy the ride'.

15. He is obsessed with the Titanic. He's read books, studied, watched documentaries (No, he's not interested in the modern movie. He's never seen it. He wants to see the 1953 version. ) 

16. His favorite food is breakfast pizza -which I am making for his birthday this morning. 

17. The meanings of his name: 'Jehovah has given', "Jehovah's Gift", or "Given of God".

Monday, July 22, 2013

I Choose to Relish the Grace Moments

The smell of coffee reaches my senses this morning as I struggle to open my eyes. Dad is awake and sitting in the living room quietly waiting for everyone to stir. I simply cannot open my eyes! We were out until midnight with some new friends. We haven't been out like that in a very long time, and it was nice to 'connect' again with a family. My brain is processing how
wonderful it was to laugh and talk til late hours about anything and everything. But part of me is struggling. I like my mornings pretty structured. I like to get up, get breakfast ready. I like for Jonathan to start practicing his piano right after breakfast, and after that, start his home school studies. It's after 9: a.m. and I'm still in my pajamas and breakfast is still a question mark. Normally, unheard of! We are all struggling to wake up and get moving. 

Time with friends is few and far between anymore with busy lives and distance between us. I have a choice to make. I could choose to be annoyed that my little structured world is not happening today.  But, today I'm choosing to enjoy the slow morning and not rush. I choose to embrace how it felt admiring my new friend's garden and talking about strawberries and okra. I choose to enjoy the memory of conversation over coffee, cake, and watermelon. We don't always get moments like these -time to just talk and not have to be anywhere at any particular time. Time is a gift. I choose to relish the 'grace moments'. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Spenders of Grace

Lavish in Love, 
Extravagant in Truths, 
Big Spenders of Grace…”

It has been awhile since I've posted. In March, I had a big set back health-wise. Kidney stones attacked me and I was 'down' for 3 weeks. The.most.painful.thing I have ever been through...twice. It entailed a trip the the ER and it was just plain miserable. The first time was 3 years ago. After all that mess, it left me just physically weak for months. It took a lot out of me. I feel that I am 'coming out of the woods' and that I'm starting to feel normal again (no comment, please). I've had posts come in and out of my thoughts and just did not have the energy to think them all through to post. Today is just a quick one. I started to type out a long post and still can't keep my thoughts on track. I'm knee deep in Algebra ('Motion' Problems...ugh!), the Iliad (for Jonathan's Ancient History class), other home school stuff, church stuff, and home school group stuff.

 I came across this and it's something that has made me store it in the back of my brain to process later. (Because really, I'm over processed right now with some things.
And to stuff one more piece 
of information in my head is just too much. Can we say 'Information Overload Fatigue Syndrome'?) Forgive my ramblings,  but I wanted to get this 'out' while I was thinking on it. 

The phrase, "big spenders of grace" caught my attention. In a world where we make ourselves so busy that we have no time for others, we lose the ability to show grace to others. We are exhausted, testy, tried, and tired. On the other hand, there are those always spending grace on others, but they are not taking care of themselves. Saying 'no' to projects or things that require too much of their time that they don't have in the first place is hard to do. So my quick thoughts are,  "Are we 'free' enough to have the time and the 'heart space' to spend grace on others? Or have we been too overloaded to not spend grace on ourselves?" Not just as mothers, but as human beings in all types of roles that we fill in our home, our church, and in our community. 

Grace -to confer dignity or honor on

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Filled With Springs

How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place
(the Scottish Psalter, 1650)

How lovely is thy dwelling place,

O Lord of hosts, to me!
My thirsty soul desires and longs
within thy courts to be;
my very heart and flesh cry out,
O living God for thee.

Beside thine altars, gracious Lord,
the swallows find a nest;
how happy they who dwell with thee
and praise thee without rest,
and happy they whose hearts are set
upon the pilgrim's quest.

They who go through the desert vale
will find it filled with springs,
and they shall climb from height to height
till Zion's temple rings
with praise to thee, in glory throned,
Lord God, great King of kings.

"When we choose to walk through the valley with Him, He will be our living water. He will not only sustain us, but give us the grace to move from height to height."
 (-taken from
Light from Heaven, by Jan Karon) 

None of us really want to walk in the 'valley' in the first place, and yet, it is a part of life. We are human. We fail. We get lost in life. We lose loved ones. We lose our home, our possessions.  We can even lose our faith that there is a God in Heaven who loves us. And it is by faith, and faith alone, that we allow ourselves to be guided by the unseen hand of God to show us the springs in our desert.


 noun, often attributive
a : a source of supply; especially : a source of water issuing from the ground
b : an ultimate source especially of action or motion


 noun \ˈde-zərt\

b : an area of water apparently devoid of life

He will be our source of supply in an area devoid of life.  Even an ultimate source. Wow. Ever feel devoid of life?? Yes. I cannot think of a single friend or family member who was exempt from being in a place so devoid of life.  Isaiah 43:19 says, 
"Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert."

..."Shall ye not know it?" It is something to pause and give great thought and soul searching into. When the thought 'struck' me to write a post about this because I was deeply touched by the above hymn, I couldn't wait to write it all out. Sort it out in my head. And reflect upon it in my heart. It is one of those moments when I hear, 'Be still and know that I am God' (Psalm 46:10). In the verse in Isaiah mentioned we are asked if we KNOW that He will do a new thing...give new purpose, a new outlook, that He will even make a way in the wilderness..out of the darkness of trials that surround us and He will make rivers in the desert...a supply to quench our thirst when we feel devoid of life. His supply/source could be in the form of many things; a Bible verse that grabs your attention, a thought from a book, a poem, a hymn, a kind word from a friend... 

The hymn says, 'They who go through the desert vale (or valley) will find it filled with springs, and they shall climb from height to height till Zion's temple rings.." - It's a fact. We will go through valleys. It's a fact. We will find the dark times filled with springs (Do we notice?). It's a fact. The supply we receive from the Living Water will give us strength to make the uphill climb called life...til the end. Filled with springs...shall I not know it?

My thirsty soul desires and longs

within thy courts to be;
my very heart and flesh cry out,
O living God for thee...

They who go through the desert vale
will find it filled with springs,
and they shall climb from height to height
till Zion's temple rings...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Is This Your Seat?

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. Psalm 1:1

Such a touchy subject this could be, but it's been on my mind for a few weeks. Sometimes, we  as Christians can overlook some things in our lives. We can say, "I don't walk with the ungodly and I certainly don't let my children associate with any of them". Or we can say that no way do we stand on the same 'path' as those sinners. The part I want to focus on is the 'nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.'

Scenario after church on Sunday: 

Mom is talking to a family outside in the parking lot smiling, laughing, seemingly having a good time 'fellowshipping'. The family piles into the car headed for home or out to eat and Mom says, "I can't stand that woman. Can you believe she lets her kids act that way? The least she could do is make sure they take a bath before they come to church.  And some makeup wouldn't hurt her any.  And her husband? Such a jerk. I can't believe the pastor lets him be a deacon." Dad says he can't believe the pastor preached that message again and wishes that the pastor would just move on already. 

We need to be mindful of our actions and our words. We can destroy our children's heart for God by criticizing. When we disrespect others, do we really have hope for our kids to have any? ((sigh)) Yes, I've been disrespectful, disapproving, and scornful. (gasp!) I'm guilty - God has been working on my heart about this for awhile now. I don't want ridicule to run in my household. This doesn't only extend to our church can extend to people in our own home - wives having scorn for their husbands and vice versa, children scorning the authority of their parents and grandparents. It can extend to our children's Sunday School teacher, school teacher, or coach.  Once we sit in that seat, it can get pretty comfortable. When we sit down with someone, we can tend to stay awhile. God forbid that we as wives, mothers, Christians ...ever find ourselves seated permanently in this seat. We shouldn't be sitting there at all, yet we all know it happens. Be honest with yourself.  Most times the ridicule isn't meant to be so ugly or hateful..just an offhand remark - not a big deal, right? Wrong. 

"A family full of scorn is a family headed for ruin, for scorn is the soul in decay. It is finding fault and deriding the failures of others while believing oneself to be somewhat better." -Debi Pearl

My blog title is called A Record of Graces. I want my life to show the record of God working in my life; His grace covering me, changing me...In this post I ask that He would change the seat of scorn that I have from time to time placed my mind and heart. 

"Teach not thy lips such scorn, for it was made for kissing, lady, not for such contempt." -William Shakespeare

The seat of the scornful: Is this your seat?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mamma, What Are You Reading?

“Where you tend a rose my lad, a thistle cannot grow.” 

I was looking around for a good "reading quote" to go along with my thought process here for this soon to be long blog post.  I found many! Some of my favorites: 

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” 

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” 

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” 

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” 
― Dr. Seuss

“Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.” 

An article I read some time ago really struck me but good. It was entitled, "Stop Cleaning the Kitchen and Read a Book" by Susan Wise Bauer. You mean...stop straightening, wiping down, sweeping up..sit down a book. My OCD self wanted to do all that stuff first, then read a book. I have always loved reading, but as an adult, I find 'more important' things to cleaning my kitchen.  My favorite book as a child at the little library in Prospect, CT was The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett. Favorite line from the book: “Might I," quavered Mary, "might I have a bit of earth?” If you've read the book you know that surely, some magic was about to happen.

 My family was in CT a few years ago. The old stone library building on the corner was all boarded up and a new one had been built in town. I was disappointed not to be able to show my son the exact spot in the basement where that book was held. If you took a right at the bottom of the stairs, and went straight all the way to the back wall, that's where it was. I don't know how many times I checked that book out...back when you signed your name on the card in the front of the book. I did find the exact book in the new library, so that was neat.   Hands down, my all time favorite book. Who wouldn't want to escape to a secret garden and have a robin tweet the garden's secrets?

“The robin flew from his swinging spray of ivy on to the top of the wall and he opened his beak and sang a loud, lovely trill, merely to show off. Nothing in the world is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows off - and they are nearly always doing it.” 

“To speak robin to a robin is like speaking French to a Frenchman” 

 Ohhh...and to posses the key to the secret door?? Bliss!  Yes, I have the movie. And yes, the sound track too. Good stuff. My friend Carolyn gave me the book around 14 years ago. Why I never possessed the book before then, I can't tell you. I have no idea why. This book was one of my all time favorite gifts anyone has ever given me. Now my son loves the story (and the movie. and the soundtrack to the movie.). He's 16 years old and still loves that book..that somehow ended up in his library. Wait. How did that happen? 

I loved to escape into a book. To travel, to dream, to pretend, to love, to hate, to learn....ahhh, the joys of a good book. Ever since my son Jonathan was a baby, I've read to him. Often. I still read to him even though he's bigger than me. He will close his eyes, fold his hands in front of him on his stomach, and with a grin sit back and listen. When I met my friend Carolyn, I think Jonathan was 2 yrs old. She loved books as well and loved to buy my little boy books. She would read to him during choir practice (I was the piano player and thus, involved in the choir). Every week, she showed up with a new book to read to him, and for him to keep. He still has them and cherishes them. She still buys him books. When we moved into our new house last year and set up his library, Jonathan and I were talking about the books as we put them up on his newly built bookshelves. He remembered who gave him the book, how many times he's read it, and what he loved most about it. Turns out, most of the books he owns, Carolyn was the one who gave them to him! And most of them, he's read at least twice.  What a friend! And what friends these books have been to him. 

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” 

So what does all that have to do with mammas and reading and not cleaning the kitchen? Well, my thought process this week has been focusing on what to do about 9th grade. We are looking into 'Classical Education" and it's a bit different than what I'm used to. We home school and love it. We've home schooled Jonathan since Kindergarten..all but 3rd grade. I taught school that year at the request of our pastor and Jonathan was in a classroom setting. His teacher was excellent and is still one of my favorite persons to this day. The drama, however, of 3rd graders was way more than either Jonathan or I was prepared for. Good grief. Jonathan BEGGED to go back to home schooling...and frankly, so did I. Great school, great teachers, but not for us. As we prepare for 9th grade and all that entails, I somewhat start to panic. Am I prepared to teach high school courses? I have a college education, but really, that was so long ago, I'm not sure how that will help me. So, how will I be able to keep up with my guy as courses get more difficult? Educate myself, that's how. Jonathan loves the classics. He actually likes to read Charles Dickens and wants to study Latin. What? I remember struggling through Charles Dickens in high school, yet Jonathan loves the way Dickens writes. Ok, then. What shall I do?? Well, start reading for one. I want to be able to 'keep up with him' as he learns. How will he be able to sort out what he believes and why if I cannot have a logical discussion with him? How can I teach him the great things..the things he thrives on reading about, if I know nothing of his interests? I'm molding a future adult here and he needs someone to talk to about his adult ideas, thoughts, and dreams. "Reading is very difficult. Many of us become frustrated in our first attempts to read the classics. We resolve to read; we open the first “great book" and dive in. After twenty pages, we stop. That internal voice says, “You have no idea what this book means. You'll probably never understand it." And we put the book down, frustrated." states Bauer. "Often, this is the point at which the battle for selfeducation is lost. We decide: Ah, I just don't have enough education to understand this. And we give up." 

Here is the part in the article that about rendered me unconscious. Figuratively speaking, mind you. Mammas, read this:

In many ways, it's more rewarding to get up in the morning and clean the kitchen than to get up and read. After all, if your husband or your mother walks in, you can say, “I am a useful human being. I am a useful member of society. Look at my kitchen." But if your house is filthy, the baby is screaming, and you have a book in your hand, you won't feel at all rewarded.

We tend to grasp those visible results and say to ourselves, “Clean house, clean baby. That proves I'm doing my job and I'm a good mother." But that baby will eventually grow up. He'll be 17, studying modern history, and he'll come to you one day and say, “Mom, why did Hitler hate the Jewish people so much? I don't understand what lay behind that horrible, horrible hatred. What do you think?" The truth is that if you have spent the last 14 years every morning getting up and doing what is immediately visible and immediately rewarding, you may not be able to answer that question. But if you have spent some of that time reading, thinking, and preparing yourself by educating your own mind, you will be able to have that conversation with your child.

The problem? That conversation with your teenager is a long ways away. But remember that the ability to put off immediate satisfaction (clean kitchen) for the sake of future gain (meaningful conversation with growing child) demonstrates self-discipline
and maturity. The project of self-education requires you to take a very long view. It requires you to sometimes ignore immediate rewards in favor of a much greater reward down the road.

If you can't have that conversation with your child, then who is going to have it? You are going to have to outsource it to somebody else. Is that really what you want to do? As you try to carve out a small amount of time to educate yourself, think about your priorities—both now, and for the future.

And don't read simply for the sake of your children, either. It is true that we have a great responsibility toward our children, but it's also true that as parents we are made in the image of God, and we have a responsibility to develop our own minds. 

I had to really think about that one. I still like my kitchen clean. I like the living room and bedroom floors vacuumed, the bathroom tidied up, and the house looking 'put together'. But, I've been reading more. We have a saying in our house...'Book in hand'...and it is said with raised eyebrows. If I have a really good book I'm reading and Jonathan has a question that I know he can ask his dad or wait til later, that's what I say...'Book in hand!"..meaning...'Can you come back later?" If I see he is reading a book and I have a chore for him to do, I tell him that at the end of that chapter, I need him to do something. I know how it is to be stopped in the middle of a good's just not right! (kidding..well, depends on the book...)

 I need to keep up. Jonathan is asking harder, more detailed, and definitely thought out questions the older he gets. The more classic books he reads, the deeper the thoughts. The more he reads, the more he thinks. The more he thinks, the more questions he asks. It doesn't have to be the Classics, I say. Start somewhere, though. Recently, I went in search of some books for him based on this article published in Memoria Press, The Dangerous Article for Boys. While I didn't find a lot of the books on this list, I did bring home 4 books I thought he might like, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (He jumped for joy for this one..), The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The last 3 we are able to keep because the library is updating their books. The Hobbit has to be returned, so that one was read first. The next one on his list to read? The Scarlet Pimpernel..simply because it was written by a Baroness. I suppose that's a good enough reason to choose that one first, so here we go. We're going back to the year 1792 headed for the 'center of deadly political intrigue'. It's time to dust the cobwebs from my brain and read along with him about the Reign of Terror in France and 'Madame la Guillotine'. He was thrilled that he knew what that meant. I hope it's not too gory. 

 So it may not be the Classics your child is interest in. What about mysteries? History? Science? Prairie life?  Your child is growing fast and so are his/her interests. Mamma, what are you reading? 

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Enough Light

As we were getting ready to leave my aunt's house, we gathered in a circle and my dad began to pray. He prayed for comfort, for healing, for answers, for enough light to get through the day. We had just spent Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle a few weeks before. We sat at the same table, laughed, told stories, and ate more mashed potatoes than we should have.   We were all stunned to receive the news that this same uncle had died suddenly and we needed to come back for the funeral. We were just there. How fast our lives can change. Strange, isn't it? One day your loved one is there. And the next...they're not. It is hard to wrap your brain around that. "What in the world just happened?", we ask.  My aunt lost a husband, his children lost their father, my dad lost a brother-in-law and dear friend, and I lost a favorite uncle. He was many things to many people: Husband, father, grandfather, uncle, pastor, counselor, and friend. My dad prayed for 'enough light' to make it through this difficult time. That phrase struck me as something I needed to ponder on for awhile. How many dark times have I had in the last few years and all I really needed was just enough light to make it through the day? Not a lot of light to blind me..but just...enough. Just enough of Jesus...enough of Himself to remind me that I am not alone. Just enough of Jesus to hold on to in the night and know that He will be there in the morning as well.  It makes me think of a few dear-to-my- heart- friends who needed these words prayed over them.  I pray these words now for the one family whose son took his life accidentally...and the family whose son took his life on purpose. This prayer is for the mother whose daughter lost her way in a world of drugs and is finding her way back to life and living...for a friend of ours whose wife died of cancer last year; and another friend who buried their newborn.  What do you say to make it better? What can you do to help ease the pain? I know that when we buried our baby boy nearly 10 years ago, I dreaded the question, "How are you?". I don't even ask that question now. I am well aware of how painful it is to answer. There are other ways, I have found, to let them know you care.  When you feel lost, you don't really want to tell people how black your day is, or how alone you feel, or how bitter life is tasting right now. Sometimes an honest answer in times like this are ugly and can be a bit shocking to those who only mean to wish you well, and those who are relieved when you answer, 'Fine'..when you both know that is not the truth.  How do you pray when there are no words to say how deeply sorry you are that this happened? How do you encourage one who really is not in the mood to be encouraged right now? What do you say to relieve a bit of pain and sorrow and hand out a ray of hope? So many questions, the answers... a mystery, so for now I pray for just.enough.light

  May all of you dear to me who are struggling find enough light to get out of bed when you want to pull the covers over your head and hide; enough light to keep your vision clear and to not despair; enough light to remember what it feels like to laugh;  and enough light to be able to find your smile again when the darkness has subsided.