Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Big Day!

This year for Christmas, the kids received a trampoline from their aunt and mawmaw and pawpaw from Louisiana. They were soooooo excited!! (And so were Mom and Dad!)

Thursday night we drove and picked it up and today was the day of assembly
(trumpets, please!).

Poor Earl . . . he has been "taxed" to the limit this year as he's been called upon to assemble an electric train set and a race car track plus the trampoline today. He did awesome jobs on all three of them!! (loud applause and screaming!!)

The day begins . . . with reading the directions. ("Hmmm . . .says here it requires the help of 3 strong and able-bodied adults . . . hmmm . . . ")

We didn't have the 3 adults, but we had LOTS of energy and enthusiasm and some good senses of humor.

So far, so good!

Even Jonathan stuck it out all day, helping where he could. He was a real trooper!

Of course, David enjoyed getting in there and helping his dad. It's fun to see him so capable of TRULY helping now.

Things were going along smoothly and we all were getting excited with every step. I (Jan) was busy inside taking down Christmas stuff and taking pictures and helping when I was needed. I kept sticking my head out of the door and asking, "Is it done yet?" to which my very wonderful husband kept cheerily replying, "Just 15 more minutes!" (Sound of a big smooch!)

We got to the part of putting on all of the hundreds of springs. Earl was pulling on this thingy and I was supposed to stretch this spring onto that thingy that he was pulling towards me. I thought I was going to die!!! After about 7 of them, I was as good as dead and while Earl went to get some gloves for his hands ("I'm sorry, how are those supposed to help MY arms???), David figured out a different way. He figured out a way where he could do it all by himself. Hmmm . . . we just stood back, red-faced and watched him finish in 5 minutes what it would have taken us 3 days to finish. Go figure! Yeah, David!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Another big smooch from your mom who was about to cry that she couldn't help your dad finish this important step!!)

You go, Boy!!! (I was soooo proud of you!!)

Finally it was done!! Whooo Hooo!

Earl had just enough energy for one inaugural jump!

This is Molly, just after landing on her feet after completing a double, side-winder somersault, with 2 half twists!! You go, girlfriend!!

We finished this part about 2:30 . . . just in time for each of the kids to have a quick turn jumping before we laid the "littles" down for a needed rest time. (Earl and I even took a break and had some quiet time alone!)

Then it was back at it to hurry and get the enclosure put together. We ALMOST finished, but darkness fell and we were forced to retire, with just a few more steps to go.

Thank you, Aunt Sonya and MawMaw and PawPaw!!!We are sooooo excited to use this. It's an awesome gift!!! (The kids keep saying, "I can't believe we have a trampoline!!!!!!!!!")

Friday, December 28, 2007

The 12 Days of Christmas

This year, the kids and I (Jan) "surprised" Earl every morning after our family time with singing "The 12 Days of Christmas" and presenting him with a little silly gift:

The 12 Days of Christmas

On the 1st day of Christmas, my family gave to me . . . a can of Coke just for me.
On the 2nd day of Christmas, my family gave to me . . . 2 new socks and a can of Coke just for me.
On the 3rd day of Christmas, my family gave to me . . . 3 cough drops, 2 new socks and a can of Coke just for me.
On the 4th day of Christmas, my family gave to me . . . 4 incense cones, 3 cough drops, 2 new socks and a can of Coke just for me.
On the 5th day of Christmas, my family gave to me . . . 5 CHOCOLATE KISSES! . . . 4 incense cones, 3 cough drops, 2 new socks and a can of Coke just for me.
On the 6th day of Christmas, my family gave to me . . .6 packs of cocoa, 5 CHOCOLATE KISSES! . . . .4 incense cones, 3 cough drops, 2 new socks and a can of Coke just for me.
On the 7th day of Christmas, my family gave to me . . . 7 little sausages, 6 packs of cocoa, 5 CHOCOLATE KISSES! . . . 4 incense cones, 3 cough drops, 2 new socks and a can of Coke just for me.
On the 8th day of Christmas, my family gave to me . . . 8 little snack cakes, 7 little sausages, 6 packs of cocoa, 5 CHOCOLATE KISSES! . . . . 4 incense cones, 3 cough drops, 2 new socks and a can of Coke just for me.
On the 9th day of Christmas, my family gave to me . . . 9 Bic shavers, 8 little snack cakes, 7 little sausages, 6 packs of cocoa, 5 CHOCOLATE KISSES! . . . 4 incense cones, 3 cough drops, 2 new socks and a can of Coke just for me.
On the 10th day of Christmas, my family gave to me . . .10 peppermints, 9 Bic shavers, 8 little snack cakes, 7 little sausages, 6 packs of cocoa, 5 CHOCOLATE KISSES! . . . .4 incense cones, 3 cough drops, 2 new socks and a can of Coke just for me.
On the 11th day of Christmas, my family gave to me . . . 11 pieces of gum, 10 peppermints, 9 Bic shavers, 8 little snack cakes, 7 little sausages, 6 packs of cocoa, 5 CHOCOLATE KISSES! . . . 4 incense cones, 3 cough drops, 2 new socks and a can of Coke just for me.
On the 12th day of Christmas, my family gave to me . . . 12 new blue pens . . . 11 pieces of gum, 10 peppermints, 9 Bic shavers, 8 little snack cakes, 7 little sausages, 6 packs of cocoa, 5 CHOCOLATE KISSES! . . . 4 incense cones, 3 cough drops, 2 new socks and a can of Coke just for me!!!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Annual Photo Session

On Saturday, Dec. 1, we had our annual family photo taking session, trying to get that "perfect family picture" to send to relatives and friends who want to see what this aging family looks like this year. We also got a few "fun" shots while we were at it.

Here is Jonathan making sure all of the "equipment" is working properly. (He actually dismantled this thing in a way that I didn't know it could come apart!)

For those of you who actually read our blog, you get the first peek at this year's family photo!


Then Daddy had some fun with the boys! They love being tickled by him. Amazing! They actually look forward to bedtime every day because they know after prayers will come the tickling (regardless of how much they've already gotten that day!) I'm so glad I was born a "girl" and can get away with screaming, "OW!! That's my sore arm!!!"

Jonathan is our resident "kissing boy". We all love to kiss on him!

And those girls . . . my, but how glad I am to be mom to these three young ladies!

This one actually turned out GREAT with the kids just pushing the button. It is so seldom that Earl and I get a picture we like of ourselves. I still fall for this man after 11 1/2 years of marriage! What a gift!


David says: . . . . I love having a brother!I have #3 sisters so imagine how releived I was when Jonathan ( the one on the right) came along.Me(the one on the left) and Jonathan have tons of fun toegether. Though in a way we are different,because I like cowboys and Jonathan likes cars and trains.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Day of Thanks!

This Thanksgiving was a wonderful time for our family. Jan's uncle and aunt from Washington were in town and came over to spend the afternoon and evening with us. It was great getting to see them! Earl's sister from Louisiana flew out to spend a few days with us as well. It's always a joy for us to have her stay. Jan's mom came and we were delighted that Jan's sister, Gail, was able to get off of work early to join us also. So . . . .we had a full house this year to match our full hearts!

The kids all helped to decorate the house and the table (our favorite part!).

Irene, Gail, and Emily

The day after Thanksgiving, we took Sonya down to the Seal Beach Pier and had lunch at Ruby's and then played in the sand a bit. It was a BEAUTIFUL CA day!

On Saturday, we met with my uncle and aunt at Mimi's for breakfast and got to visit a little more with them. They enjoyed seeing the kids open their gifts of "headlamps" to read in bed with. Even Jonathan got one and felt like a "big guy". The kids have found all kinds of ingenius uses for those headlamps!

On Monday morning, Sonya had to fly back home. So we postponed our school day a little and took some pictures and played a bit until Daddy said it was time to leave for the airport. As usual, there were lots of tears.

It was a wonderful few days together . . . remembering the MANY blessings our family has received: our many friends and family, the ministry we've been priviliged to serve in, physical provisions and always plenty to eat and wear and to occupy ourselves with. Most of all, Earl and I are profoundly grateful for the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ in atoning for our sins, mediating between us and the Father, and satisfying us with life-giving joy and a firm foundation on which to stand during our pilgrimage.
Thank you, God, for yet another wonderful year of life!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Desperate Housewife!

I am a desperate housewife . . .
desperate for the filling of the Spirit that I might find grace to walk out a life of serving those around me . . . desperate to know that I am pleasing to the Lord . . . desperate to know that the seeds I am sowing in the lives of my children will bear eternal fruit for the kingdom of heaven . . . desperate to be my husband's helper in seeing him grow in his gifts and to make this earthly journey even just a little more enjoyable and FUN [smile] . . . desperate . . . desperate . .

I am home this Sabbath morning because my youngest has croup [yuck . . . feeling so sad for this hoarse but endearingly sweet little boy!]. I am missing not worshipping with the Body today. For the past several weeks I have found myself unable to worship "in song" without crying (resisting the need to weep!) . . . as the thought of God's amazing grace just penetrates my very soul. To think of the awesome privilege I've been given to stand among the redeemed because of the utter and astounding grace I've been shown in light of all my unrighteousness (sin!) . . . and to offer praises to a God who is eternally good and exceedingly holy and incredibly wise and powerful . . . . I could go on and on! Just amazing!

My husband has just begun to preach through Romans [contented and thrilled sigh], and last week was very encouraging as he spent the second week teaching on Romans 1:1 (!). He explained how Paul was a "sign of hope, a slave of hope, and a servant of hope". I've been thinking this morning about that "sign of hope". Paul's message after his beatings and shipwrecks and imprisonments and deprivations, etc. was that if God's grace can be sufficient to him in light of his many sins against Him (the chief among sinners), then His grace can be sufficient for me (I'm leaving out, I know, the trail of Scriptures and the specifics of his message. Just giving you what the bottom line was for me). Earl also spoke of Jonah as being a sign of hope as well. When he showed up in Ninevah, who knows what he looked like after living in a fish for 3 days and we don't know how much of his testimony he shared, but it is likely he spoke of God's judgement in light of their sin using his own story as an illustration. And they repented!! They saw their sin and they saw how God had shown mercy to Jonah in light of his sin. They had hope that they would find mercy with God as well.

My hope this morning . . . for bearing fruit in the lives of my children, for helping my husband, for living with grace to serve all those in my sphere of influence is found in God alone. He alone is my rock. He alone is my Savior. He alone can rescue my soul from the overwhelming flood. He alone can transform this selfish heart . . . to break apart the stony ground and replace it with soft, fertile soil.
He alone is what I am desperate for!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No Righteousness of My Own!

I have been under some wonderful, biblical teaching for the past 20+ years and it became real again to me this last week.

I was driving to pick up a friend for an evening out and I was reviewing my day while alone in the car. It wasn't pretty. My sin was before me and I realized just how wrongly I had responded in the face of the opportunities that God had put before me. As it often does, the thought came to me, "What if this was the moment that I was ushered into the presence of the Holy God?" Now, some years ago, that thought would have filled me with shame and fear. "NO! Not now! Not on the heels of THIS day! Let me try again . . . I'll do better!"

But NOW, the realization that I have no righteousness of my own is a truth that both causes me to cry out in desperation as well as to rejoice in the hope that God Himself has provided me a righteousness found only in the perfect life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And so when the thought came of standing before Him after the day I'd just had . .. .I was filled with thoughts, not of fear and shame, but of relief and joy and awe and thankfulness (yes, some soberness too, but not shame or fear connected with condemnation).

Now the teaching I've been under has been great and has greatly influenced the renewing of my mind. However, one thing GREATLY stands out among the rest . . . the life and testimony of my absolutely wonderful husband. From the very beginning . . . from the very beginning, I have been in awe of God's goodness to me through Earl. I have felt loved by him as by no one else. I have been unconditionally loved by him as he has been by the Father. He has an incredible way of making me feel delighted in and cherished even after what for me has felt like a "day of defeat" in light of the battle to be fought with my flesh. He listens to me, He speaks the truth to me and laughs with me when I try to argue against the counsel of Scripture (knowing it's a losing argument). I have never been afraid of him. I have felt remorse and disappointment in myself and have cried buckets of tears of repentance and frustration and he has walked through it with me every time. Knowing what that kind of love is like has taught me by experience that I do not need to fear my heavenly Father, but can run to Him expecting and receiving His loving and comforting embrace and the strengthening of His counsel and Spirit.

Oh, I certainly long to hear "Well done, thy good and faithful servant!" and I want my reward to be as much as there is to be had . . . but alas, the truth is that I have no righteousness of my own . . . but thanks be to God, Who always leads me in triumph through Jesus and Who has promised to perfect the work He's begun and to present me spotless and blameless. Amazing!! I will trust Him . . . even on my worst of days!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hi! This is Emily. Here is what I'm thinking about today . . .

We got a lot of the Sana Ana winds today and it was fun hearing the wind howling outside!
Today Dad took us to the bank to open up our first account and I think the biggest thing
that stood out to Molly and Annie was the toys! We each received a piggy bank and a toy of
our choice for our entering the Kinecta Bank Account for kids.

I am divided against the wind. Half of me wants the wind to go on all week.The other half wants the wind to stop because there are about 10 big, huge fires all over California. One is even
down in Irvine about 5 miles away from where my Grandma lives. I bet the smoke is polluting the air so much down there that she doesn't want to open her door unless she absolutely has to!I
certainly hope the firefighters can get the fire under control before too many people get injured or killed.

Well, I think I'll close it down for tonight and I hope everyone has a good night!
Em M.

Friday, October 19, 2007

For the joy set before us . . . !

" . . . for the joy set before Him endured the cross, . . . " Hebrews 12:

I have been reminded that that is one of the main reasons why we homeschool. My family homeschools for the joy set before us.

As I sit here with my stack of schoolbooks in front of me and my pen poised, ready to begin creatively filling in yet another blank weekly plan sheet (that's the goal at least), I feel my mind wistfully going back to this past summer. This year we transitioned slowly from vacation to school. We officially started school at the beginning of August, but there were many things that cut our days short: out of town guests, an anniversary trip, an extended swim lesson session and rescheduled play dates with friends. So summer vacation lingered for me and I'm finding this a good thing because I've just had an "ah-ha" moment: Learning to read is much like learning to swim.

I have five children (9, 8, 5, 3, 1) and at the beginning of the summer none of them were water safe yet. This was one thing that needed to be remedied this summer. I found an excellent private instructor and the dates were set. My oldest four would take lessons for three weeks in July. Most people would agree that my children were not too young to learn to swim. However, there were days when there were tears and they didn't want to go. I even on occassion had to keep my three year old from bolting from the pool. But with an instructor who patiently dealt with their fears, who enthusiastically praised even their smallest success, and who graciously extended their lessons, I am excited to say that all four are now swimming at appropriate levels and finally experiencing the joy set before them that threatened to pass them by. They all learned, but in different ways, and the results even look different. My children were all eager learners. I'd wager that no child ever wanted to swim more than mine did. And they were big talkers all the way to the pool. Once there however, the difficulty confronted them and their fears arrested them. There was certainly stress involved, but in the end it didn't diminish the quality of their childhood. Quite the contrary. It actually worked to enhance the quality of their childhood by adding joy and the opportunity for more fun. And isn't that why we as parents ask our children to do all kinds of "stressful" things? We know the joy that is before them - becoming healthy again by taking medicine, learning to swim by taking dreaded lessons, and peeling off ban-aids so their skin can breathe and so they can see the "owie" is healed and get on with life. And last but not least, learning to read, that the world might open up to them as well as the God of the universe Who reveals Himself through the written word (the very beginning of the joy before them!).
Now, my very most favorite thing to teach is reading and it is also my most dreaded (in a sense). My five-year-old Molly is reading. It has just "clicked" for her within the last few weeks. We are both just as excited and as tickled as can be when she points out a word and exclaims, "Mom! That says 'house' right?" But we were not excited and tickled last year. No. Honestly, there were many days I was discouraged and impatient. Molly was sometimes uncooperative and on the verge of tears. But I never even entertained the thought of waiting until she was older (I just changed my strategy). My eyes were fixed on the joy set before me and on the joy set before her. I had watched this little one of mine learn coutless things from the time she was born. She had even mastered a difficult verbal symbol system and learned how to talk (and talk and talk and talk!), so it just didn't make sense to me that she was "too young" to master a written symbol system. As a Christian homeschooler, I can not shy away from those things that may trigger "wrong attitudes" in my children or myself like anger, rebellion, laziness, apathy, etc. I must take those "wrong attitudes" to the throne of grace and plead for the Father's divine intervention through the help of the Holy Spirit in my own heart as well as in the hearts of my children.
Character is important in all of us. It enables us to not miss the joy before us. My husband and I desire whole-heartedly that our children will see all of what they are learning as keys to apprehending the truth and working for the progress of the gospel.
It is a fight to keep my eyes on the joy before me (in thinking about it, it's what enables us to obey the command to "rejoice in all things".) It helps to remember that the cross is the cross and the joy is the joy. (Seems like a no-brainer, but I tend to forget.) Generally, I don't view our homeschooling as "a cross to bear", but I will admit that there are plenty of days when my flesh rises up and wants to go a different way than where my lesson plans are leading or my children's flesh rises up and causes them to desire something other than "diligent application to their studies". So, my constant prayer is that on those days I will "run with perseverenc" by setting my sights on Jesus where my faith begins, and remembering that the joy before me of seeing our children standing firm in the truth of all that God is and in all that He has done and is doing is the hope that motivates me to walk humbly in obedience and to "continue on".
(written in the fall of 2006)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Our Jonathan was named partly after the great preacher Jonathan Edwards. Our hopes and prayers for him are that he will grow up to have a great passion for the Lord Jesus Christ and a boldness in proclaiming the Truth. He has been cracking us up every morning during our family devotions.

We have a tradition of involving our "non-readers" in our Scripture reading by having them repeat after either Earl or myself and Jonathan has participated with GREAT enthusiasm. Here is a sampling of what we hope is . . .

Jonathan Edward Miles' preaching practice!!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Developing a Work Ethic

This past summer, we had many projects going on. It was fun working together on them and having the kids join in where they could.

We painted a cupboard in the garage for our school stuff (Here is Jonathan our two-year-old giving painting a shot for the first time. He lasted about 2 minutes!).

We also painted our brown bookcases white, which took more work than we thought, but looks so nice, though not perfect. Emily was a huge help on that project and I enjoyed working with her out on the driveway in the cool of the evening to get it done.

David has wanted a desk, and found one out on the curb for the trashman. We told him he could take it IF he did all the work to get in back in shape. So, he spent his summer, cleaning it, sanding it and finally painting it. He did a GREAT job and we are so proud of how it turned out!

Here is Jonathan entertaining us while we all worked. Oh yeah . . . did I mention that I also was potty-training this kid while trying to paint book cases and oversee the painting of the desk, in triple-digit-temperature heat????? What was I thinking??? It made for some great memories though.

Today, we woke up to a rainy Saturday. We had planned on making it a "work-day", so after our traditional rainy day cup of hot chocolate (it doesn't rain all that much in So. CA!!), we set to work. I (Mom), during breakfast, made out a list of things that needed to be done - separating child and adult jobs. Then everyone got to choose what they wanted to do and we got to work. Some of them chose to work together on some jobs and some preferred to work alone. We put on our favorite "working music" (The Martins!!) and it was a fun day.

Here is Dad cleaning up the laundry area (photo taken by child!). You go, Dad!!

(What a honey I have!)

Here is Molly (6) cleaning and organizing a box we have of "books on tape". Of course a job like this takes a LONG time, because our family gets VERY distracted reading each of the books!!

See what I mean? This is Annie (4) straightening out the bookcase in the girl's room. This is an all-day assignment, even for the most diligent of our group! (smile)

David (8) and I tackeled the family room. We dusted and moved furniture and vacuumed until we were sneezing!! Yeah, it gets pretty bad . . . one of the draw backs of homeschooling for me, the cleaning can get put aside for way too long. But THAT's about to change!

Emily likes to work alone and has a wonderful gift for decorating, I think. She took the living room and did all the dusting and vacuuming and "decorating" and even closed the doors so we couldn't see until she was done.

Oh, our Jonathan! Such a silly boy. Here he is "taking a break" and as always, entertaining us all while we work. (He is a hard worker though. He is ALWAYS ready to help carry something somewhere or move something and he picks up his toys better than any of the rest of them!!)

Here is our family room, ALMOST completely done for the day - minus the silk plants that we had set outside to get washed off.

Just had to take a picture of it, 'cause it so seldom looks like this. (smile)

Our living room looked great too. Em did a fantastic job and the cool breeze blowing through the window just added to the wonderfulness of the day for me!

Here is Emily's touch of decorating. Her own style! I thought it looked fine . . .

After a very productive morning of work, we had a well-earned lunch and then we walked over to 7-Eleven and Daddy treated us all to Slurpies!! Woo-hoo!!

A Very Fun Day!!

We're so proud of our TEAM!!!

A worker is worthy of his wages!!

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