Friday, February 27, 2009

Week in Review

This tiger is a girl, Bethany says...because of her eyebrows...

Fun stuff in our lives this week:

*We saw and were able to pet a real dead tiger! My mom works in the office for a company that takes care of the burial and/or cremation of animals, especially large animals like horses.
*Impromptu dinner with a friend-no kids or husbands (although the latter would have been fun to have along!).
*Contributing to a surprise 90th birthday gift for my grandma. The family is compiling stories and pictures for her to read when she's alone or during the night when she can't sleep. It's been precious to think back on all the memories she's blessed us with.
*Unusually warm weather for several days-this kind of messes with my head, but it was nice to get out with the girls and go to the park.
*Planning Ashlyn's 12th bittersweet for mom & dad!

Audrey found her thumb! She usually has all her fingers in her mouth!

I'm a little proud of myself for pulling off an afternoon out of town with the girls. Yes, that's 5 against 1! We had to pick up Shane's new glasses and decided to add a stop at the library, a couple of thrift stores, Mardel & Hobby Lobby. We're pretty familiar with the area, but usually backtrack a few times to get around. With all the kids in tow, I managed to not scream once and we scooted easily from one stop to the next like we were natives!

Food for thought-I saw a billboard next to the adult video store in the next county over. The billboard was a strong message from the area churches taking a stand against this kind of business. At first I thought, "Way to go!" but then I thought twice. Is being confrontational the best way to be Jesus to those caught in this type of addiction?

*Sorry, I had to edit this because I wasn't quite finished with it when it posted-it was supposed to be a scheduled post for later this weekend-oops!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Exodus 23:2

As believers in America, we don’t really know what persecution is. We’re persecuted when we catch snares or rude comments from friends and family when we refuse to go to baseball practice on a Sunday afternoon. When we get teased at work for having a Bible verse bookmark keeping our place in Twilight.

However, we’re still called to be holy, which means set apart.

We’re also told in Exodus 23:2 to not follow the crowd in doing wrong.

The eighth commandment says not to steal.

Where am I going with this? Stealing computer programs, music and movies. For simplicity, I’m going to focus mostly on music since music theft is so common.

Why is this such a common practice among believers? Even church leadership gets in on it. Bible Study leaders buy one copy of the study, then duplicate the workbooks and CDs for the rest of the folks.

My theory is that this practice is not only condoned but actively pursued by Christians for several reasons:
*Selfishness. I want new music. I’m on a tight budget. I’m very tempted to ignore the law to fulfill my “need” for fresh tunes.
*After all, it doesn’t hurt anyone right? All those people in the music world are so rich, they’ll never miss my $14.99. They aren’t actually losing money since I wouldn’t ever buy it, I’m only taking it because it’s free…
*Everyone is doing it. Yep, most people are. Welcome to Sodom & Gomorrah.
*Ignorance-although I don’t think this holds much water, there’s been too much publicity with Napster and new PSA type ads clearly explaining this is illegal.

The bottom line in the law is that sharing you music CDs or iTunes (or other program) downloads by making duplicate copies is illegal.

You may make backup copies for yourself.
You may put your music on your mp3 player and computer.
You may not burn CDs for your friends.
It is illegal to loan your CDs out so others can put the songs on their mp3 player or computer.
It is illegal to borrow an iPod and put that music on your iPod.
It is against the law to burn your CDs and then sell or give the original away without deleting/destroying your copies of the music.

It is also illegal to copy text (books, Bible studies, etc.), DVDs, computer programs and so on that do not specifically give your permission to duplicate.

Yes, it’s hard to endure the you’ve-got-two-heads look when you sheepishly tell your friends you’d rather not have a burned copy of the latest Switchfoot CD, but really, if that’s the worst persecution we face, we must be blessed.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Things I Love

Okay, I came in late, but I'm here to stay. One word. Facebook.

I'm lovin' it. I feel like I'm in a big cafeteria with my favorite friends from all walks of life. I sit with the same few each day, but on the way to my seat I glance around and see how my other friends are doing. Sometimes someone comes over for a chat. All while in my PJs.

There are peeps from church I can touch base with during the week. It was on Facebook where I found out the first bits of the news a couple of weeks ago when our pastor had a heart attack. Heard the youth pastor's wife is pregnant right on Facebook.

My brother who loves me but doesn't go out of his way to talk to me much? That's okay, his wife is on Facebook.

My girly friends who're busy going here and there carting kids everywhere? Yep. I can see if they're stressed or chilled on Facebook.

No kidding-I saw a guy at the Gala who is moving to our town & is pastoring a church in our county. He wanted to talk to me about the pregnancy center in that area and said, "If you're on Facebook, find me so we can talk." It's not just for socializing, it's becoming a fluid online directory of sorts.

Seriously, though, facebook blessings have poured out for me. Shane & I were just talking about a long lost friend we'd not heard from/about since highschool (15 years ago). I happened to run into him on Facebook. He's living in Australia and is a pilot now. Who knew? (Just FYI-no one from our high school gets highly successful jobs and moves to a cool country-it just doesn't happen).

And there's Laura & her mom Joy who we went to church with waaaay back in the day. Laura is the owner of a cute-as-can-be shop specializing in dressing up your baby fashionista. I'll post the picture of Audrey in Laura's outfit she's sending us as soon as we get it!

Oh, and just for the record-every person on Facebook has the same hesitancy about friend requests-what if they don't remember/like me? Yeah, there's a slight Jr High feel to it at first, but once you get settled in, I think you'll like it too. So, go try it (Denise!).


Shane & me at the Pregnancy Resource Center's Fundraising Gala

Some of our guests-Susan, Andrea & Lilian.

Our Youth & Music Minister Jeff and his newly pregnant (!) wife Natalie-so glad we got to have them at our table!

Thursday night was the 8th annual Gala for our Pregnancy Resource Center. I helped start this center when I was 7. Okay, I was a bit older, but only a bit.

The Gala feeds this junkie like no other day of the year. I get so high that I come home with my heart singing, "I could have danced all night...". If only I looked like Audrey Hepburn...

You see, I'm a first class junkie in two big time ways.

I am a God junkie.
I am a relationship junkie.
God first, because He always goes first. Seeing God move in HUGE ways over and over and over again is real life in pregnancy center ministry. Sure, He moves in the day-to-day work of the center (all of them, all over the country, not just our local one), but at the Gala, I get so see the big picture. I know that in 2001 I bought $58 of Christmas decor on sale to use in our not-even-established center the following Christmas season. I was a little nervous about telling the Board I'd used center funds to work the sales at Wal-Mart, but it ended okay...our budget for 2009? Almost a quarter of a million dollars.
In 2008 our center had 1100 client visits. Our first year? 100. That is over a ten fold increase! God is so big! I love seeing him work. Being involved in PRC ministry is one sure ticket to the front row of God's action packed show.
My second vice-my buds. I love making connections with people-and keeping them. In my heart I'm still your friend if we've not talked much since 3rd grade. The Gala brings in a dozen or so kindred spirits who were there in the beginning, who prayed us into existence. My elbow rubbing is really heart connecting and I get juiced from it at the Gala.

PRC work has changed my life forever. It's changed my children. Hope & Ashlyn held a fundraiser for our other PRC (which is limping along financially). They spent the afternoon drawing pictures & then calling up the Grands to buy them. Hope brought her $14 donation to the center this week and was not sure what the big deal was when they wanted to take her picture. That's what I'm talking about!
Maybe it's not pro-life ministry-but I do hope that you've connected to what God wants you passionate about. What would make swing around the room on an emotional high like Eliza Doolittle? I pray you find it and it never lets you go. May you be a hopeless junkie too.
About the fundraiser-the preliminary numbers indicate we raised about $77,000 in donations that night, 90 day pledges and a year's worth of monthly commitments. More usually trickles in during the weeks following the Gala. Way to God!
My cyber friend Megan over at SortaCrunchy is participating in a groovy diaper chatter carnival hosted by Momfessions. I'm waiting for my hair-in-curlers to dry, so I thought I'd dive in...never mind that Shane needs his pants pressed for tonight's Pregnancy Center's Fundraising Gala...this is much more important!

I had never thought about cloth diapering in a positive way since swishing my little brother's poopy diapers in the toilet as a teen. No way would I use cloth diapers! Of course, no one I knew in real life or on the web was using cloth back when I had my first couple of girls.

Then a friend started the cloth diapering talk. I looked into it when I was pregnant with Jaika (number 4) but was quickly turned off by all the different types, their abbreviations, the lingo...too much!

Then another friend called and asked if I was interested in cloth diapers. I had been a little desensitized to them by this point, but wasn't ready to do all the investigating to figure out which ones to buy, nor did I have the funds for them. When I told my friend that I was indeed interested but only if they landed on my front porch, she said, "Great, I think these will look great on your porch!"

Thus started my CD-ing lifestyle. By this time, Jaika was about a year old. Some of the diapers needed some mending so I pulled out my Singer and attempted to replace elastic. I also made some crude cloth wipes. I was so proud! Hubby wasn't so sure, but like with many of my strange ideas, he's sweet enough to just play along.

When I found out I was pregnant with Audrey, I knew I needed absolutely nothing. How could we have any needs when she had 4 sisters to pass things down to her? So I asked for new cloth diapers. My friends came through in a HUGE way and blessed me with enough to use for Audrey full time.

They bought BumGenius 3.0s after I used a now discontinued brand of pocket diapers with Jaika. I love them and use them almost all the time. Jaika is also still in her pocket diapers for naps & bedtimes-she's in Dora the Explorer panties the rest of the time.

I love using cloth. I feel good not putting the chemicals used in diapers next to my baby's skin. I feel good not just throwing money away on what will just end up in the trash. Even cheap diapers are expensive, especially when the cost over the long haul is calculated.

If you're interested in cloth but not so keen on spending so much money up front for diapers, consider requesting them as your main baby gift. After all, clothes are a dime a dozen at thrift stores. What else does a baby need but diapers, clothes, a sling and a momma? (Okay, this 5th baby really needed a swing, but my good buddy Jennifer took care of that, lol.)

Oh, and I still don't swish. I use rice paper liners in the toddler diapers-they're flushable paper that line the diaper so you can just lift the poop out and flush it.

Okay, off to get ready for our big evening!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Last week in review

It's a good thing Audrey is so laid back and tolerant of her big sisters' attention!

Little late this time! Monday is still the weekend for me, kind of, since Shane's home.

We're in the contract signing stage of the land sale. It looks like we might be in a new (to us) house somewhere around this fall. At that point we'll be out of debt and will have bought a used SUV (debt free!) to haul these kiddos around in. We're very excited about it all!
On Valentine's Day, my parents and I took the girls to a Purple Martin info meeting. We're studying birds right now, so it was perfect timing. I didn't know much about these highly beneficial birds except that they only live in "manufactured housing", meaning they no longer live in their own nests. People who court these birds are serious!

Some of the houses on display at the event.

Finally, the Bethanyism of the week:
I had Audrey in my lap and Bethany and I were chatting. Bethany said, "I'm so glad we have Audrey. Even if she's stupid, we'll still love her." Hey, at least its apparent there's plenty of unconditional love around our place, lol.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hitting Reset

Hope got a groovy Barbie mp3 player for Christmas. When it was about a week old, we realized it was not turning off. We read the instructions and messed with it but finally remembered the reset button on it. One push of the button and it was back to normal.

Today I needed a reset.

Yesterday was quite a day! We dealt with two doctor appointments (everyone is fine) in two different towns. While on the way to lunch the driver and the copilot had a disagreement but it was sweetly resolved as the alternator went out on the car about ten minutes from the second appointment. We prayed the van into the parking lot! The appointment was not as wonderful as I'd expected and it was crazy trying to get us home. We did it but I was exhausted with no dinner ready (we got home a lot later than expected!). Laced through the day was a conversation with our real estate agent regarding the pending sale of our land.

This morning I hit reset.

No school work, just catching up on what we'd missed/messed yesterday. I'm ready for tomorrow with a clean(ish) house and rested spirit.

As the lightening starts outside, I'm leaving you with the encouragement that life's too short to run full speed all the time. Hit reset when you need, and don't feel guilty about it!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Weekly Review

Some things are a broken record at our house. With five kids we're always busy and we're still spending a lot of time getting caught up on school. However, there were some other big things going on this week.
1. Our pastor had a major heart attack last Sunday but is doing well and even spoke for a few minutes at today's service. Praise the Lord for being right there and allowing Monty to get great care right away.
2. Our first new Life Group meeting was Saturday night. I love getting to know people, so this is fun but a challenge when we have to deal with what to do with the 15 or so kids we have all together.
3. We've received an offer on our land and submitted a counter offer. This has us considering what we'll be looking for in a house and expecting God to work since our housing needs are a little bigger than our budget!
These pictures should fill in the rest of this week's story for you:

Lots of this going on! Audrey is a real conversationalist! If she's awake, she's smiling and loves the chance to chat! Oh, and she's up to 11 lbs at her 3 month birthday.

This picture and the memories around it still break my heart. However, Bethany thinks just because she had her tonsils out, she should get to make this face:

...and get whatever she wants. Ahem...well, it did work for about a week but she's moving out of the Princess Bethany world now. Hope was trying to get in on it by the way...she asked if they call it surgery when you have an allergy test (on the docket for her soon).

Shane went fishing and grabbed Ashlyn so he could call it family time...just kidding-he & Ashlyn enjoyed a couple of short fishing opportunites this week. The last picture is of Hope a few weeks ago. Bethany's trip is coming...

Finally, a couple out of the mouths of babes stories that I can't let get away. Today Hope had a friend over for the afternoon. They played school Little-House-on-the-Prarie style in the kitchen floor. While playing they had conversations only homeschoolers have. Their conversations revolved around what math curriculum they use, what they're studying ("minuses" and multiplying), and which Little House books they own!

Shane and I are in a Sunday School class that's going through a Josh McDowell parenting study. The material has challenged us each week and it's brought in good conversation with our kids. Today's topic was getting to know our kids well. Of course being home with them all the time helps, but Shane used an example from the video with Ashlyn for a conversation starter while they were fishing. He asked her what she'd serve Jesus if he came to dinner at our house. She said, "Nothing because man does not live on bread alone but on the Word of God." When Shane pressed for a real meal, since we wouldn't exactly eat in front of Jesus, she said, "Grapes, bread, cheese and fish." Hmm, I guess that's Biblical!

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Biggie-Forgiveness of Self

A few weeks ago I posted the redemption story I'd experienced with my good friend. Out of that post a question came up about the hardest part of forgiveness, forgiveness of self.

When we are part of the problem and have come to admit it, the next obstacle is moving past the phase of beating ourselves up and into forgiveness. It's complex, abstract, and individual. It can even be a stronghold of the devil.

I write from my primary experience with this, through watching other women as they walk the road of abortion recovery. Much of my framework for this topic flows from this point of view, but the principles here can apply to many situations. Also, this is hardly an exhaustive coverage, but more like a springboard to get you thinking and praying.

Consider these things as you work through forgiving yourself:

Are you placing yourself higher than God? Often it is easier to allow God to forgive us (if this is not the case for you, please talk to a mature believer about it) than for us to let go of our sin. If the God of the universe, maker of heaven & earth has removed our sin, who are we to hold tightly to it? We then put ourselves in the place of ignorantly acting as we know better than God.

Our sin has become our pet. It's more comfortable to become the victim of our sin, to know all its ins and outs, to be the resident expert on it. This is actually entrapment! What growth lies ahead for the person who can look to the future and not to the past! Sure, use your past as a testimony for what the Lord can do, share it to minister to other people, but don't let it be your only story-there's more life ahead, don't miss it! Don't get so comfortable with the grief that you enjoy wrapping yourself warmly in it-let it go, there's freedom in shedding the layers!

Is your sin tied to something or someone you don't want to forget? Sometimes women don't want to heal fully from their abortion because they're afraid they'll forget their baby. Forgiving and forgetting aren't the same at all, my friend. Instead of a memory thick with guilt and condemnation, the memory of the sin (or the other people/places involved) will become a beautiful, built-from-the-ashes kind of memory. If you want a tangible memory, consider journaling about it, planting a tree in the honor of the aborted child (or appropriate person) or making a donation in honor/memory of the event or person involved.

Are you punishing yourself? Many women punish themselves when they avoid steps to healing, especially after an abortion. They feel if the world won't punish them, then they'll just do it themselves. Consequences of sin, such as a broken marriage as the consequence of adultery are not punishment, but consequences. God does not punish us after he's granted us forgiveness, therefore we have no business punishing ourselves.

The devil has his hand in it. This is not an "if" this is a fact. If the devil can keep you stuck he will. He will therefore diminish your ability to find peace and to use your pain to minister to others. Remember to see him as he is-a forfeit, the king of lies, your vilest enemy. Don't play into his hand!

Your Father wants you to have life and have it abundantly-which means not walking around with your head hung down in guilt & shame. Once you walk with your head held high, you can see all the hurting people who need the hope of your story. Don't hand the "life abundant" part over to the devil!

I'll leave you with this scripture:

Isaiah 61:1-4 (New International Version)
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long ago devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

This is a hard topic to face. If you want someone to bounce things off of, to ask questions or to pray with you, feel free to email me at A wonderful study on the subject of forgiveness is Beth Moore's Breaking Free.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Grace is what I think of when I read Megan's posts on SortaCrunchy about the book she & her friend Laura are writing. They're tackling the issue of caring for your baby with the methods learned from a book (one such as Babywise) verses being led by the Holy Spirit.

I've seen moms battle it out over this issue on forums. It gets u-g-l-y. No one wins, since the main objective is to convince the other side to change their mind.

That's not what this book is about.

It's for the moms out there who need to hear that it's perfectly okay to use a different parenting technique if they are not a peace with what they're reading. Apparently many moms feel they aren't measuring up if they can't let their baby cry it out. Moms think they're failing if their baby wakes during the night at 5 months old.

Yet I do know moms who have successfully put their baby on a strict schedule. Their babies are healthy & thriving. But what if it doesn't work for everyone?

The women over at SortaCrunchy are so much more graceful with this discussion than I am. They are not slamming Babywise, but are simply giving moms permission to feel successful with another method. My heart meshes with their stories. I hope you'll jump over there and read their latest post.