28 July 2014

Oak Glen School House Museum

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The old school bell rang and all the kids lined up.

 

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This is the one room school house where 1st thru 8th graders attended.

 

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They used a coal burning stove to keep the school room warm.

 

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This was a typical school day. It was a LONG day with very short lessons.

 

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We heard this 100 year old phonograph play a tango.

 

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The kids also had a pen and ink lesson.

 

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The Museum Director was so pleased to know we were teaching our kids cursive!

 

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Beautiful!

 

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All the kids on the steps of the school house.

 

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Children sitting on those same steps over 60 years ago.

 

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Picnic lunch.

 

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Followed by plenty of play time at the beautiful Oak Glen park.

 

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Last week, the girls and I were able to sneak away to cooler weather and escaped to the mountains for a fun field trip. My girlfriend, Hailey organized a tour of the Oak Glen School House Museum.

What would us desert folks do without our beloved and refreshing mountain getaway?!

We love Oak Glen and the park is one of our favorites. However, this was the first time we got to experience the tour the old school house.

Built in 1927, the school served the families of this apple growing community for over 37 years. In 1965, the school failed to meet the new earthquake standards so it was closed. Today, it houses a collection of vintage desks, books, and teaching materials.

What an interesting experience to go back in time and see what “school life” might have been like over 80 years ago.

A lovely time spent with sweet friends!

25 July 2014

The Promise

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Have you ever heard God say something to you that was so real and so certain? 

About five years ago, I heard God’s voice speak to me in a way that was undeniable. It wasn’t an audible voice per se, but it was something I heard in the depths of my heart and felt deep within my soul.

One morning, as I sat in the back of church, listening to a woman share her testimony at a ladies bible study, it was then that I heard God say to me, I will give you a son.”

To be clear here, this kind of thing does not happen to me often. In fact, it’s never happened to me again (not in this way) since that day. When I came home, the promise was so REAL that I shared it with Morgan and we quietly rejoiced over this amazing news. It was difficult to contain my excitement so I even went so far as to share this news with a couple of my close girlfriends.

Fast forward a few years and still nothing had happened. We weren’t getting pregnant and life with our twins was becoming quite comfortable. We were happy.

But…

There was that promise.

I never forgot it.

There were times when I wished I could. Times when I wondered, “Maybe I heard it all wrong?”

Yet all the while, I could not shake what I knew to be true.

A couple more years passed and there were moments when I doubted. I even tried to make concessions for God. I would reason to myself that my life was full and it was good…

…with or without a son.

It’s OK, God. Really, it is. I still love you.

But how very foolish of me to think that I would ever need to make concessions for our Sovereign God. The Alpha and the Omega. The Creator of heaven and earth and everything.

God does not make promises He does not intend to keep.

He is the God of the bible and His word is the very cornerstone of our faith. He is the Living God. His covenants were not only for Abraham, Sarah, Noah, and Moses—but they are for me.

It’s been quite a journey to our son.

About 2 years ago, it led us to open our hearts and home to care for the least of these through the Safe Families program. It was through that experience that we seriously started considering adoption again. Much of this adoption process, I’ve remained quiet. Partly, because I had the daily responsibility of caring for my family while being present in the moments but also, because I needed to learn how to be still, patient, and surrendered before the Lord. He has taught me so much in the way of love and sacrifice over these last couple of years. I’m not sure I’m even the same person I once was.

In choosing a name for our son, I was reminded that at times, our faith may have wavered, but His never did. There were times when we may have doubted the promise we heard five years ago, but thankfully, God is God and He remembers His covenants with His people.

We had a list of names we were considering for our new son but after we met him and reflected on the grace of this beautiful journey, we named him…

 Zachary Benjamin 

Zachary, the Lord has remembered and Benjamin, son of my right hand; son of my old age.

God has blown us away. In His providence, He has once again, chosen us and blessed us with life, love, and a family that has been divinely knit together.

And in the process He has given us a powerful and humbling testimony of

His great FAITHFULNESS and the HOPE we have in Him!

blessed

23 July 2014

Meeting Our New Son!

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Big sisters, patiently waiting in the NICU.

 

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Normally, you have to be over 18 to enter the NICU but they were able to make an exception for the girls! Such a blessing for them to be able to see their little brother. The one they’ve prayed for, for so long!

 

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Scrubbed and ready to meet him for the first time!

 

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There he is! So little and so very precious!

 

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We are now a family of FIVE!!

I have several pictures of his sweet little face but I’m not sure I’m allowed to post them just yet so to be safe, I will wait and post those later. I can tell you this…

He is a BEAUTIFUL and HANDSOME boy with a full head of BLONDE hair!! 

I have so many thoughts whirling around in my head and several stories I’d love to share about how FAITHFUL and AMAZING God is!!!!

But those will have to wait… all in due time.

Never did we anticipate having a newborn, much less a preemie. However, we couldn’t be more OVERJOYED with a new baby in our family!!

He was born at 28 weeks and weighed only 3 lbs. 1 oz.

At the moment, he’s trying to fight off an infection and having trouble breathing on his own due to the infection. He was transported to UCSF yesterday and we absolutely believe he is in the best place possible for the care he needs right now. We only wish it were closer to home!

Please pray for the continued health and strength of our little one. We are on the roller coaster ride of life with a preemie (lots of ups and downs) and we are learning that this is just another opportunity for us to lean into the Lord and trust Him to work all things out for our good and for His glory.

Our God HEALS! He takes the broken and makes them WHOLE.

He is the God of REDEMPTION and I can’t wait to see how our little guy’s story unfolds.  

More later… 

17 July 2014

Breaking News:

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The LONG awaited call finally came! We will be meeting our SON for the first time tomorrow!

As you can imagine, we’re going through so many emotions right now but the overriding one is definitely PRAISE to our Lord and Savior! More information and details will be shared but in the meantime, we would love and covet your prayers!

Prayers for safe travel as we make the one way road trip of 7.5 hours. Most importantly, prayers for continued strength and health for our little guy.

He’s already a fighter and we can’t wait to see how God will use Him for His glory!

More when we return!    

14 July 2014

Peace. Love. Ocean

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Good morning, Del Mar!

 

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Finding sea creatures in the kelp.

 

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Blissful summer.

 

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Carefree days.

 

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Making meatballs.

 

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Finished book.

 

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An afternoon snack (a family tradition at Del Mar).

 

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Bubble Gum, of course.

 

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It’s true, Orange County beaches are closer to us but something about Del Mar keeps us coming back year after year. Maybe it’s the warmer ocean water, the super fine sand between our toes, or the family friendly atmosphere we’ve grown to love about Del Mar? Whatever it is, we continue to head south and make the extra 20 minute drive to North County San Diego every summer.

The beach never disappoints, does it? Something about the saltwater and the beauty and power of the ocean only soothes, refreshes, and gives new vigor to the soul.

Although sometimes, we wish we lived closer to the ocean, we are thankful that we’re close enough to make a long day trip. At the end of the day, when we can come home, get cleaned up, and look out our backyard to this:

 

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We feel nothing but blessed. Desert life has it’s own kind of peace, love, and spectacular beauty.

For Californians, the blue hues of time spent in the pool and the Pacific Ocean are musts in the summer but may we also remember to soak in and enjoy all the colors this season brings.

10 July 2014

18 Summers

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Lord willing, give or take, that’s about what we have with our kids. It’s July already. And that means half this summer is nearly gone. So, how’s it going? Are you having the best summer of your life? Are you busy taxiing your kids from one activity to the next? Are you feeling a little stir-crazy? In other words… Are you feeling more stressed than relaxed?

It’s no secret around here that I adore summer. And that’s quite the statement considering it’s been about 110 on average this week (and only getting hotter next month).

Why do I love summer so much? No, it’s NOT because I enjoy the scorching heat. Simply put, summer gives us more time and freedom. It naturally lends itself to more creativity, spontaneity, and opportunities for closeness as a family.

As homeschoolers who school year round and spend a lot of time at home, I realize we’re used to this type of day to day life but more and more, I seem to run into moms who are simply worn out by mid-summer (homeschoolers included). All the zeal and relief they had on the last day of school has quickly faded by now. They find themselves tired, irritated, and joyless. Once again, they’re in the cycle of counting down the days until the kids are back to school. 

Typically, there are two things that greatly contribute to this weary mom’s summer… avoiding conflict and replacing it with busyness.

We’re all sinners so when sinful people spend more time with one another, the results are always the same: there will be some conflict. With younger children, this can be magnified on a daily, sometimes moment to moment basis. Therefore, it could easily feel like most of your day is spent as a referee. However, conflict resolution is the very opportunity we have to train our children in love, grace, and respect.This can turn into opportunities to pray with our children, teach repentance, and practice forgiveness—building blocks for long lasting sibling closeness, let alone any valued relationship.

However, couple the avoidance of conflict with the band-aid of busyness and now fall is looking better and better each day for that weary and frustrated mom. When it seems like chaos in your home, all you want to do is scoot the kids off into an EXTRA long week at camp somewhere, anywhere.       Or maybe you’ve enrolled them in class after class this summer in hopes of keeping them entertained and you, from losing your mind.

Listen, of course, I’m not saying we should avoid all summer camps and classes. That’s not my point.

Rather, the real question we can ask ourselves is this…

Are we making the most of our 18 summers or are we simply surviving each summer?

I don’t know about you but 18 summers doesn’t seem like a lot to me. In fact, I only have 10 more to go with the girls and I know they will fly by. I intend to make each one count. Not necessarily with exotic trips or fascinating summer programs, but by letting my kids feel the simple and honest joy I have in just being with them.

Summer is the perfect time to spend some extra time reading together on the couch, making fun crafts, cooking up new recipes in the kitchen, playing games, doing housework together, or cranking up the music to create some new dance moves. The possibilities are endless.

I truly believe kids don’t need more action packed entertainment or lists of “Fun Things To Do This Summer.” They simply need us to be delighted in spending time with them. So rather than busying ourselves to the point where there’s no room for conflict, why not take this season to be intentional about practicing resolution while fostering a deeper relationship with one another? Like anything worthwhile, it takes practice and summer can be such a blessed time for that.  

Children need less busy days and more simpler ones. The kind of ordinary days where they’re not running off to the next fun thing. The kind of days where being bored is a gift and creativity ignites. Where kids can just be kids and you gladly meet them there, on their level. Play dates and trips are awesome experiences once in a while but something beautiful happens when the spirit is most contented with being at home with your family.

It starts with us, mom.

Summer’s not over yet…

Let’s live it well and embrace for our children those simple but fond memories that’ll last a lifetime.

08 July 2014

On Daughters and Dating: How to Intimidate Suitors

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With two daughters of our own, I greatly appreciated this post from Jen at the beginning of wisdom. Some may say it’s much too early to start thinking about marriage and potential suitors. That may be true but it doesn’t mean we don’t pray over their futures or remain idle when it comes to training our girls to make wise and godly choices today. 

I have two teen-aged daughters, so it was with some interest that I read a recent post entitled “Application to Date My Daughter”. It was pretty funny, playing on the idea of the stereotypical shotgun-toting father and the mortified daughter as they negotiate the tricky terrain of a first date. Then Christian bloggers grabbed the concept, and for the most part, these versions were funny, too. There were some common themes: slouchy-panted unemployed suitors, dads breathing out Chuck Norris-inspired threats. I didn’t lose my well-developed sense of humor until I made the tactical error of glancing at some of the comments. And then I was just flat-out sad.

Here is the comment that made me the saddest, posted by a well-meaning young Christian father:

“Bro, this is awesome. My daughter’s only 2, but I am printing this for my fridge. Thanks for your godly example.”

Oh dear.

Okay, joke’s over. Bro. Let’s talk strategy for a second. Is that all you’ve got? You need a better plan than these low-level intimidation techniques. After all, she’s your DAUGHTER, for Pete’s sake. So let’s talk frankly about what you need to do to guard her interests when it comes to dating. Instead of brandishing a shotgun or breaking out an application, you need to build a wall.

That’s right, you heard me – build a wall. Go all “Rapunzel”. Build it so high that only the strongest of suitors can scale it. But don’t wait until your baby girl is a teenager, Bro – start now. Start yesterday. There’s no time to waste.

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In Song of Solomon 8:8-9 we hear a family’s hope that their young sister will grow into a woman of strength and dignity. Can you guess what metaphor they use to describe that kind of woman? A wall. Their sister assures them in verse 10 that she is indeed a wall, complete with towers. Her statement indicates an assurance that she is not only strong, but able to defend herself against any unworthy suitors. That’s what you want, Bro – you want a wall.

Here’s the problem with shotgun jokes and applications posted on the fridge: to anyone paying attention, they announce that you fully expect your daughter to have poor judgment. Be assured that your daughter is paying attention. And don’t be shocked if she meets your expectation. You might want to worry less about terrorizing or retro-fitting prospective suitors and worry more about preparing your daughter to choose wisely. And that means building a wall.

Instead of intimidating all your daughter’s potential suitors, raise a daughter who intimidates them just fine on her own. Because, you know what’s intimidating? Strength and dignity. Deep faith. Self-assuredness. Wisdom. Kindness. Humility. Industriousness. Those are the bricks that build the wall that withstands the advances of old Slouchy-Pants, whether you ever show up with your Winchester locked and loaded or not. The unsuitable suitor finds nothing more terrifying than a woman who knows her worth to God and to her family.

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But here’s a hard reality: if you raise that daughter, she’ll likely intimidate her fair share of “nice Christian boys” as well. Because a decent number of those guys have some nutty ideas about what it means to be in charge. I’m amazed and saddened at how often I hear young single guys say of bright, gifted single women, “Wow, she’s so strong I don’t think I could lead her.” At which point, too many bright, gifted single women begin to consider ways to “tone themselves down” or “soften themselves a bit”.

Raise a strong daughter, even if – no, especially if it means potential suitors question whether they can “lead her”, whatever that means to them. You’ve just identified those suitors as ineligible, without so much as an application process. Leadership is not about the strong looking for weaker people to lead. It’s about the humble looking for those whose strengths offset their weaknesses and complement their strengths. Strong leaders surround themselves with strong people, not with weak ones. Rather than finding the strengths of others threatening, they celebrate them and leverage them. This is Management 101, but I fear young Christian men and well-intentioned Christian parents of daughters have gotten a little fuzzy on the concept.

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I often think that if we scrutinized our parenting with the same intensity we plan to turn on our daughters’ prospective suitors, we’d stop speculating about shotguns and applications and start building that wall. So, my well-meaning father of a two-year-old, please don’t hit “print” on that application just yet. Instead of cross-examining the man your daughter brings home, cross-examine the man who brought your daughter home from the hospital. She does not need the belated braggadocio of your intentions to protect her from slouchy-pants fools when she’s a teen. She needs you to hitch up your own and invest in her character - now.

So put down your shotgun. Pick up your Indian Princess guide book, or your coach’s clipboard. Take a seat at a tea party. Teach how to change a flat and start the mower. Discuss politics and economics and theology. Compliment a new outfit or an A in math. Tell her you think she is absolutely beautiful. Kneel at a pink chenille bedside and pray your guts out. Raise a daughter with a fully loaded heart and mind so that a fully loaded shotgun isn’t necessary. She shouldn’t need you to scare off weak suitors. Let her strength and dignity do the job. Resolve to settle for nothing less than the best protection for your daughter. Resolve to be the kind of man you want her to bring home. Resolve to build a wall.

“What shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for? If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver…” Song of Solomon 8:8-9

06 July 2014

Summer Berry Cheesecake Pie & Fireworks!

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Why YES, that is a sparkler in the pie! The look on Faith’s face!

note: I wouldn’t recommend lighting a sparkler indoors, especially on a pie. The spark was extinguished almost immediately and the windows of the house were opened! 

 

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JELL-O, berries, and cheesecake….in a pie! You can’t go wrong with that combo!

 

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I usually make a big JELL-O Flag Cake on the 4th but this year, I woke up and realized I hadn’t made a Patriotic dessert yet and we were getting ready to head up to Riley’s. I quickly got on JELL-O’s website and found this easy dessert. It all came together in about 25 minutes. The time saver was definitely the premade crust. Of course, we prefer the homemade version but when you’re crunched for time, the pre-made ones sure come in handy! 

 

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No complaints from the family. Grace enjoys her second piece! 

 

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Is it dark yet??

 

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The girls are ready to light off their first fireworks.

 

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William, from down the street joined us.

 

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Tentative but excited!

 

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We decided to stay home and make our own 4th of July memories this year. In the past, we lived in La Quinta where fireworks were illegal but this year, we thought the girls might like the whole experience of lighting fireworks outside with our neighbors. Although they started off a little tentative, they had so much FUN!!!

GREAT memories!!  

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