Eight months

(as a side note, I started writing this post a few nights ago...but my computer got a nasty virus and I had to spend some time fixing that problem.  So, please excuse the tardiness of this post, and enjoy!)

Ellie, you are eight months old now!  Mommy just cannot believe how quickly you are growing up....(and how so-way-cute you continue to be...{grin} )

You have almost mastered crawling forward, but you have your backward crawling skills nailed!  Good job, sweetie.  That means that you can pretty much go anywhere your little heart desires. You have surprised Mommy many a time.

I have finally found a fruit combination that you will eat...banana and mixed berry.....mmmm.....so scrumptious.

You pulled yourself to a standing position using the coffee table a couple of days ago.  Makes you look like such a big girl.

I love seeing you in the arms of your daddy because there you still look small and cuddly.  You adore your daddy and practically fall out of my arms trying to get to him when he gets home from work. {smile} Mommy loves Daddy too, dear one.

Yesterday you shook your little head "no" at me for the first time when you were finished eating.  You also love to tilt your head to the side and smile innocently at me when you are eating...it makes you laugh out loud if I copy your look.  Funny girl.


Just look at those teeth!!

These pictures are so you, darling.  Happy, funny, sweet, {with a touch of ornery}!

This Mama is not a very eloquent writer, but she wants you to know, sweet girl, that she is so in love with you; that she is overjoyed to spend every day with you; that she just cannot, cannot, cannot get enough of you; that she thanks Jesus every day for you and the sunshine you bring to her life.

Eight whole months already...wow...


Mothering (part 5)

The final book I referenced in part 2 of this mothering series is “COME YE CHILDREN” by C. H. Spurgeon. The quoted paragraph below (I promised just one) shaped our lives.

“Youth is susceptible to evil doctrine. Whether we teach young Christians truth or not, the devil will be sure to teach them error. They will hear of it somehow, even if they are watched by the most careful guardians. The only way to keep chaff out of the child’s little measure is to fill it brimful with good wheat.”

There you have it. Filling our children’s little measure brimful with good wheat.

Steve and I took this to heart. There was no parenting technique that was 100% successful. If the only thing I could do to help my child for life was to fill her little measure brimful with good wheat, well then, that is what I aimed to do.

I realized that I couldn’t necessarily control the results but I certainly could stir in the right ingredients. What ingredients would be considered ‘good wheat’?

God’s word.

Isaiah 55:11
“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper [in the thing] for which I sent it.”

Psalm 119:8
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.”

Psalm 1:2
“But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.”

Steve and I believed God’s word was good wheat.

To us the biggest contributors of chaff were the TV, movies, music, and the books we read. We would ask ourselves before watching, listening or reading, will this time investment draw us closer to Jesus? Will it make us more like Him? Will it give us a hunger and thirst for the things of righteousness?

Steve and I believed that we faced a choice. We could feed the flesh or we could feed the Spirit. Whichever one we chose to feed, would get stronger.

From that moment of realization on, we began having family devotions every evening. We memorized scripture as a family. We read through the Bible as a family. We prayed together. We studied hymns and sang them together. We read about missionaries, prayed for them, financially supported them, and if they were in town, had them over.

Good wheat. May it always outweigh the chaff.



Mothering (part 4)

The Shaping of a Christian Family
Elisabeth Elliot

This book gave me such encouragement. It told the story of Elisabeth’s parents and their commitment to Jesus and to their family. She states several times that this book is one man’s story. How one Christian couple went about ordering their own home. Meaning it is not an instruction booklet or a prescription but it indeed is a worthy example. I was touched by the sincerity and the simplicity of Elisabeth’s parents as they sought to learn and apply godly principles from the Bible.

I’ve listed quite a few significant principles I took to heart from this book. Warning . . . it is a longer post.

“It is amazing how often children do what is expected of them when the example is consistently set by both father and mother.” Page 53

“My father’s life as we witnessed it was more eloquent than anything he ever said.” Page 55

“No one can make a child love anything, from spinach to sparrows to Scripture, but the parents’ love for things exerts a powerful thrust in that direction.” Page 60

“I remember Leland Wang of China whose motto was “No Bible, no breakfast.” Page 66

“In church the whole family sat together in one pew. My father felt strongly about this. We were a family. We were meant to stand and sit and kneel before the Lord together.” Page 69

On the subject of sitting still . . . “I believe it is wrong not to expect it, for in addition to being a fundamental lesson in a child’s submission to the will of his parents, it is also the best place to begin to train mastery of the body. To control movement in obedience to parents enables a child to control movement later in obedience to his own will.”

“’Head of the house’ did not mean that our father barked out orders, threw his weight around, and demanded submission from his wife. It simply meant that he was the one finally responsible. He took care of us. He was the provider and protector, making it possible for our mother to do her job [mothering] full time.” Page 75

Regarding an orderly home . . . “This requires regular inventory, sorting, and discarding or giving away. In our home there was a place for everything, and we understood that everything had to be put in its place. This takes endless repetition. There is no other way to train children.” Page 78

“A mother who uses a harsh tone is asking for argument and even defiance. She appears as the child’s adversary rather than his helper. Page 79

“But God never issued instructions which He is not prepared to enable us to follow. The contrast between the actual and the ideal, between the reality and the holy standard, is bridged by the grace of God.”

“A quiet life [I Thess. 4:11] meant that Daddy was home more evenings than he was out.” page 89

“Love is always gracious.” Page 108

“A father who is bringing up his children according to God’s law ‘puts the hay where the sheep can reach it’ – teaches, for example, that it is not enough to claim that you haven’t punched anybody today or run off with anybody else’s toys or cookies, haven’t teased your little brother or argued with your mother. He must teach positive acts of thoughtfulness such as doing obvious things without having to be asked—feed the baby his applesauce, pick up the garbage the dogs strewed around, help a younger child clean up his room, replace paper and pencil taken from the telephone by someone else. Love sees what ought to be done and does it.”

“No amount of talking penetrates as deeply as example.” Page 108

“The establishment of a child’s trust in God begins with his trust in the word of his parents.” Page 113

“Nothing trains and teaches so powerfully as love. Love attracts, it does not coerce. If the aim of the parents is to teach their children to love God, they mush show their love for Him by loving each other and loving the children.”

“If children learned early to respect, even to stand in awe of, their parents, they would be far less likely to get into trouble by defying other authorities God places over them.”

“Parents are given the delicate task of training an imperfect and highly impressionable child who is not their ‘property’ but is entrusted to them for a time, that they may curb the natural tendencies which are useless or destructive, and guide him instead to God.” Page 124

“My parents made rules for us to help us live a peaceful and fruitful life. The keeping of these rules was our early training in that renunciation and death to self which will never be easy for any of us so long as we live in this mortal body, yet that very renunciation is the route to freedom and fulfillment. The obedient child is the happiest child.”

“Rules and the consequences of infringing them instilled in us a healthy fear, not only of our parents but of authority in general.” Page 125

“’Quality time’ can never substitute for ordinary days spent doing ordinary things together.” page 127

“The greatest need of families is holy parents.” Page 142

“Nobody is born thoughtful. We must all learn it.” Page 166

“There is no doubt that the influences in the first eight or ten years of a child’s life pretty well determines his future course. Whoever spends most of his waking hours with him is the principal moulder of his character.” Page 174

I know this is a lot. The gems in this book were amazing to me and I hope they encourage you as well. There is one more paragraph I want to quote. First, though, I want to offer this book to anybody that would like a copy. If you put your e-mail in the comments, I will be in touch with you and would be most happy to send you a copy of this fantastic book. Here is the final quote:

 Ashley, Lauren, Kacey, and Rachel dressed for a father/daughter event

“The ordering of a peaceful home is not possible without the application of eternal principles. It is, after all, mostly little, common things that make up our lives. This is the raw material for the spiritual life. If we despise small things, regard normal household duties as burdens, routines as boring, rules too confining, we will never learn, nor can we teach our children, to live a life of holy harmony. This takes faithfulness in the troublesome details first of all, learning to do them well that we may make of them an offering to the Lord, for it is His work, after all, given to us. It is our daily bread for which we should learn to be thankful. Such faithfulness is the groundwork for all God may ever ask us to do.”

me, Rachel, Kacey, Ashley, & Lauren playing a favorite game

I promise my next post will not contain as much but will consist of one paragraph from the last book mentioned. It contains the key to which Steve and I used, or attempted to use, in all our decisions regarding our family.



A few words

Due to a terrible headache that I have had for a full week now, I just am not in the thinking or writing mood...Ellie has had a nasty cold all week as well, so we are just plain tired today. Here are some pictures of our week to make up for my lack of insight and energy. We are so thankful for all of the sunshine we have been able to soak up recently.

Talking on skype with Aunt Ashley....one of our very favorite things to do!!



Mothering (part 3)

I thought I would write a little about each of the resources (from part 2) that I used and what they taught me.

 Ashley, Lauren, Rachel, and Kacey (1990)

After Florence (Steve’s mom) died, I read the Bible. A lot! This was the beginning of my habit of reading through the Bible every year.  I can say that beginning in 1994, I have read through the Bible every year.  An invaluable-- precious above estimation -- habit.

I also began writing out scripture. For my brain type, this cemented Scripture further. When Moses predicted that Israel would want a king, he gave some guidelines in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. The part I took to heart:

“Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.

And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statues."

What could I learn by writing and reading?  I wanted to find out.

Ashley, Rachel, Lauren, and Kacey (end of 1992)

Trusting God
Even When Life Hurts
By Jerry Bridges

I started this study the summer of 1993. Jan Batten went through it with me.  She was a busy mama as well but she set aside the time to disciple me. I will be forever grateful and we are still friends to this day. I love you, Jan.

I learned several things through this study.

“God always has a purpose for the grief He brings or allows to come into our lives.  Most often we do not know what that purpose is, but it is enough to know that His infinite wisdom and perfect love have determined that the particular sorrow is best for us.  God never wastes pain.” Page 102

“Calvary is the one objective, absolute, irrefutable proof of God’s love for us.” Page 138

“. . . as Matthew Henry observed when commenting on Zephaniah 3:17, ‘The great God not only loves His saints, but he loves to love them.’” Page 142

I think I will stop there and talk about the other two books in my next post. This last picture is for you, Kacey!

my brother, Jim and me  (1964)

Happy laughing, you all!


The Graduate

Lauren (our oldest daughter) graduated last week from the University of Arizona.  Her degree has a rather long title.  Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences with a major in Physiology.  She graduated summa cum laude -- top 2 percent !  That accomplishment took some dedication and hard work.  Congratulations, Lauren.

Rachel (Lauren's friend), Mr. Koala, and Lauren

She has been visiting with us here in San Diego along with her friend, Rachel.  They left last night.  Lauren is heading to Australia via LAX and Rachel was going back to Tucson.  Why Australia, you ask?  She is gathering information regarding medical schools.  We look forward to seeing her again when we pick her up from LAX toward the end of this month.

we also visited Grandma Blackner (Lauren's great grandma)

Sorry that I cannot enlarge the smaller pictures in this post.  If I do, they pixelate.  You wouldn't like that!


Accidental find...

A week

Today it has officially been a week since my parents left.  {sad}  We miss them.  And apparently they miss us because my mom has threatened to end all posting if I don't give you all an Ellie update.

So, without further ado......

Ahh, yes, Ellie loves her cow!

We have had some absolutely wonderful days full of sun and warmth up here in "Foreverwinterland!"  Yeah!!  I have so enjoyed taking Ellie outside to play.  She loves it!!  And, big news here, she is not afraid of the "real" cows now.  She was incredibly intrigued with them when I took her out to the field to visit them all.  Not to worry, we stayed our distance and just fed them some handfuls of grass from the other side of the electric fence.

I had a lovely Mother's Day.  Thank you to those of you who sent the sweet notes.  I love hearing from you.  I didn't get many pictures of and my baby girl and I, but I do have one from that day.

I love, love, love, love, love being Ellie's Mama.  Best thing, EVER!!

Due to the increase of warmer weather in our part of the world, it seems everything is suddenly bursting with color.

From my beautiful and happy Mother's Day flowers, to...

...the beautiful trees and bushes at Mom and Dad's house in town!!  The bush in the last two pictures was just about ready to explode when they left, and now just look at it!  Loveliness. {sigh}

Ellie and I have enjoyed going into town for a walk in the avenues practically every day this week. It is so nice to be outdoors again.  For a San Diego girl who is used to being outside all year long, this has been quite the adjustment for me.  And believe me, I am still adjusting! Anyway, as I mentioned, we have been taking nice long walks in the sunshine...

Thank you so much for leaving the stroller here for us to use, Grandma!  (and for letting us use your house for napping, and use your toys for, well, playing! {smile} )

Well, I am off to make dinner for a dear husband who had to work late tonight.

Happy Friday to you!


Mothering (part 2)

How were my girls going to know about Jesus if their only example of Jesus was no longer here on earth?

What was I to do now?

It was a sobering time for me. Realizing the enormity of what God had given me and the responsibility that was mine to carry out. It never really was Steve’s mom’s responsibility. It was mine all along and I had mistakenly passed it to someone else.

Now the rubber truly “met the road”. Did I believe all the things I had said about God? Did I believe His Word? Did I believe God was faithful? What in the world had I gotten myself into?

I started reading. Not only did I start reading the Bible, (certainly the Bible was priority) but I read several other books and started a study.

The study was entitled “Trusting God’ by Jerry Bridges. I read two books, “The Shaping of a Christian Family” by Elizabeth Elliott and “Come Ye Children” by Charles Spurgeon.

It was through these four resources that God became real to me. I realized and came to a personal understanding of who God truly is. That He is on my side (even when I messed up). At this same time, we started to attend Horizon Christian Fellowship. My soul was hungry and thirsty. The teaching was verse by verse, chapter by chapter. God’s word was opened up each service and examined and explored. There was so much for me to see, so much for me to learn, so many things God wanted to show me. At this point in my life I was finally able to see and hear Him.

This was taken in the summer of 1989
It was free

This shot was taken as a Father's Day gift for Steve in 1992

This was taken about a month prior to Steve's mom passing away.
It was taken by Terri Johnson!

In my next post, I will share what spoke to me, at that particular time, in each book/study. 
No laughing at my HUGE glasses! 
PS  Which is Kacey?  Which is Ashley?  See if you can figure it out.  Comment your answer to picture number 1,2, and 3.  I'll share in my next post who is who!


Mothering (part 1)

When I became a mother in 1987, I had no clue or idea as to what I was doing. None.

How was this possible? I had a mother. Yep, we all have one of those. My mom did the very best she knew how to do. Of that I am convinced. How is it, then, that I was clueless?

I knew about God, church, and the Bible. In fact, I went to church every Sunday and most Wednesdays as well.

In 1981, when I left my home and upbringing, this is what I felt was Christianity:


How was it that I had been immersed in church and yet missed Jesus?

When I married Steve, (who, by the way, I met at church), I got my first peek at Jesus. It wasn’t through Sundays. It wasn’t through activities focused on the Lord. It wasn’t through hospitality, giving, praying for missionaries, or any other such thing.

It was meeting Steve’s mom and watching her life. Ah, it was like a breath of fresh air. She was the most gentle woman I have ever met. She never preached to me (and let me tell you, she had ample reasons). She only loved me. She accepted me. I know she prayed for me. She embodied Christ like no one else I had met or have ever met since.

What does this have to do with mothering, you ask? Well, I naively thought that if the girls had such a good example in their grandma, why did I need to get serious about the things of God. Wouldn’t her example and influence be enough?

Then came the month of August 1992. A lump was felt. It was diagnosed as cancerous. Surgery followed. So did death. November 5, 1993, Florence Franks was with her Savior.

I was more scared than ever as a mother. Steve and I had four lovely little girls by this time.

Lauren who was born in November of 1987
Ashley & Kacey who were born in March of 1989
Rachel who was born in July of 1990

The girls example of Jesus on this earth was gone. What was I to do?

Steve and I with his mom and dad after our engagement lunch

I'll post part two soon.



My Mama

"Her children rise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.  Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all."
{Proverbs 31:28,29}

I have loved calling you Mama for the last 22 years!  I am so grateful to God for who you are, and what you do.

Being a mommy now myself, I am ever so much more in awe of your abilities as a wonderful wife and mother.  You were there for us girls day in and day out...24/7...homeschooling us from start to finish, and preparing us for what God had in store for us later in life.  I look back now and wonder how you did it all.  With the grace and wisdom you share, you have become a blessing in so many people's lives.

Now that I am "all grown up", I love just being your friend too.  Seriously, I would rather spend the day with you, than go out with any of my other dear friends.  Your counsel is sound, and your prayers are priceless.  I could never repay you for all that you have done for me.

How excited I am that my little girlie gets to have you as her Grandma as well!  What happiness!!

You are incredibly treasured and loved!

I look forward to the years and memories to come.

Happy Mother's Day, dearest Mama!

p.s.  in looking for a picture for this post, I came across this picture of you holding Ellie girl a few days after we brought her home from the hospital.  It is so precious to me to see my baby girl in your arms.  I cannot believe how the time has gone.  Just look at how tiny she was!  {grin}


Concrete Feet

When Kacey heard that the concrete truck was here, she asked if Ellie could put her "stamp of approval" on the project.  Of course, we said, come on over!

You will love Ellie's facial expressions in the next few photos.  We tried the hand prints also but Ellie wanted none of that. 

 Mom, are you sure this is OK?

Here we go!

 Grandpa, this really doesn't feel right?!?!?!

Ah, what a lasting impression

Ellie, thank you for your help in making our garage pad look perfect. 



Go Steve Go!

See Steve.

See Steve work.

See Steve drive front loader.

See Steve work in the rain and snow.

See Steve make last minute repairs.

Some facts:

The tree seen in pictures 1 and 2 did not survive.  That was not the plan but it was the result.

The process took six days of dawn to dusk work (except for Sunday)

Over 45 tons of crushed rock was delivered.

Son in law was very helpful.  Thank you, Jay.

Steve and Jay worked in the pouring rain and cold. 

We are pleased with the finished product.


Encouragement for Ashley

The room you will call "yours" when you move to Montana has had some updates.  They are small but updates nonetheless.

 new knobs on the closet doors

 a small version of Cozette on the dresser

a rug 

it is soft

What do you think?  I know the rug and chair create much business.  Ellie has been using your room some.  She says thank you for sharing.  She likes how the rug absorbs the sounds. 

Hope your Monday is full of sunshine . . . inside and out!