"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge it's rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." Proverbs 24:3-4

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Three Out Of Four!

My little Soren got saved just the other day...

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in truth."
~ 3 John 1:4


He is now the third child, out of my four, who has come to me wanting to accept Christ.

(My Roman accepted Christ at age five, same as Soren; and Nola this past summer at age six.)

I have diligently been teaching them about the Lord their entire little lives, but in all three salvation moments, it has been the child who has come to me with questions and tender hearts. 

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." 
~ Deuteronomy 6:5-7


When I was in my pregnant and child-bearing years, I used to plead with the Lord not to give me any children that wouldn't grow up to love and serve Him.

Then when my children were babies, I would pray over their heads when they'd sleep that the Lord would grant them repentance at an early age.

Well, now it is happening!

I have led all three older ones to the Lord and have witnessed their salvation.


In all three cases my children have come to me alone asking for help with how to get saved. I would explain that I could help them, but I couldn't do it for them. This was between them and the Lord. I would then make sure that they understood what Jesus did for them on the cross (Philippians 2:8), and that He is the only way to Heaven (John 14:6), but after that the very next thing I would do is ask them about their sin. A child who is being raised in Sunday School will most likely know about sin and know that they have it, but it's crucial they know that they must repent of their sins! It's not enough to just believe in God.

"From that time on Jesus began to preach, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!'"
~ Matthew 4:17

"Unless you repent, you too will all perish."
~ Luke 13:3

"If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me."
~ Jeremiah 15:19a

There's a reason why this is so near and dear to my heart. I may even go a tad overboard in driving this point home, and it's because of my own personal testimony...

I got "saved" as a small child, too. I was raised in church and grew up around Christians. But for some reason I never repented.

I knew all the right things, did all the right things, and could answer all the questions correctly. I was a good person and believed in Jesus. I thought I was a Christian, but I really wasn't.

It wasn't until I became an adult that the Lord tracked me down, broke my heart, and I finally repented. It was then that I was truly saved.

My husband, Micah, has a similar testimony. So, you can understand then, that when my children come to me asking how they can get saved, I am hesitant.



Every time my initial reaction has been to say to them, "No, you are too young." Because I fear they don't really get it... I fear they'll be a false convert... I fear if I lead them in the sinner's prayer, they'll grow up believing they're saved when they're really not. But I have caught myself all three times. I realize that just because that was MY story, doesn't mean it has to be theirs!

All three times I've heard the Lord whisper to my heart, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
~ Matthew 19:14

So, all three times I have stopped what I was doing, and led them to the Lord... Praying the whole time that God would come into the moment, fill us with His presence, give me wisdom, move and work in my child, and grant them true repentance! 

"... In the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth."
~ 2 Timothy 2:25b


Once the moment ended I would wonder if it was really legit. I'd move on with my day knowing I really couldn't do anything about it except to pray for them and remind myself that God wants my children to come to know Him far more than I do!

"That we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth."
~ 1 Timothy 2:2-4

I also find great comfort in reminding myself that even if they grow up with a false assurance of salvation, as I did, that I can trust God to pursue them when they're older, as He did for me and Micah. 

"Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
~ Philippians 1:6


Really, all I care about in this world is that I can spend eternity with all four of my children in Heaven.

I have told them before that I expect to see all of them there! Haha...

I've said, "I know I'm going to be there! Make sure you'll be, too! I want us to all be together!"


"He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."
~ 1 John 5:12-13 

So, for now while they're young and at home with me, I consider this my job. My calling. I didn't choose it. God gave it to me.

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go bear fruit- fruit that will last."
~ John 15:16

My children are my fruit, and so far God has yielded from me
 three out of four.

:)

xo,

~ Courtney ~


Monday, October 2, 2017

A Weekend Project

Hello friends!

How was your weekend and how is your Monday going?

I truly hope you all are doing well!

 I always consider it a good weekend if we can manage to tackle a home project from our long, ongoing to-do list.

To live in an old home means constant projects!

I don't know if we'll ever feel as though this house is done!

But we did complete a small project this weekend that I've been longing to do for a couple of years now.

I'd like to show you!

It's a project in my bedroom...


To the left of this scene is a door that leads out to a small balcony.

As long as we've lived here, it's looked like this...


We initially wondered if we should replace the door altogether. But, because it's a nice solid wood door with antique brass hinges, we wanted to figure out a way to keep it. 

It's been important to us throughout our renovations to keep whatever is original intact!

We know from the windows that this door isn't original to the house, but nevertheless- if we can avoid putting anything new and modern into this old farmhouse, we certainly aim for that!


So... the idea was born to look for a beautiful window to go in the place of these ugly, 70's windows.... And if we could find one, it would mean we could keep the door!

Well, an afternoon in our friends' antique shop was all that was needed to stumble upon this leaded glass window...

The measurements would be perfect for the door, so we snatched it up and brought it home!

(This picture was taken after it had spent some time with my grandma. Some repair work needed to be done on it, and she used to make stained glass windows as a hobby, so she was able to fix it for us!)

After a good cleaning, and a trip to a glass company to have it incased, Micah was ready to begin the process...


He never took the door off its hinges for this project. He kept it in place and just cut out a square like this...


Micah likes to be left alone while working on projects, haha... So, I do my best to back off and let him work.


I still try to snap some pictures, though...


Here, he is making sure that his cuts were accurate, and that the new window will fit...

(I think I'm going to love it!)

Micah made and painted some moulding to go around the window, and even touched up the paint on the door. 

Everything was left to dry overnight.

On Saturday morning my room looked like this...


The hard work is done! What's left to do now is the fun, easy part!

AND with an admiring audience! Haha...


But it's hard to stay focused on the task at hand when little daughters need snuggling...


He managed to complete the project, though! And I'm in love...

Would you like to see the 'After'?

This is the door today!...


Good things come to those who wait!

I never thought it'd take several years to get around to this door, but that seems to be the pace at which we complete projects these days.

*sigh*


This is a more backed-up view...

(I love my bedroom!)


Before...


And finally, After...


It is important, when renovating an old house, to use as many authentic elements as you possibly can!


It breaks my heart when I see people buy an old home but then they re-do it in a modern way!

I can appreciate modern decor, but I believe it would be best for newer homes.

Our goal for our farmhouse has always been to find the balance between respecting the home's original elements and history, but freshening it up so it appears bright and updated.

It's been a balance I have struggled to find over the years, and have often wondered if I've hit the mark. But, I have remained unwavering in my belief that it is what's best and right for very old homes.


(I spy a kiddo running around in the yard!...)


 I loved my bedroom before, but I love it so much more now!

A tiny change can make such an impact!...


Take care sweet friends!


xo,

~ Courtney ~








Saturday, September 23, 2017

Kitchen Talk

Have I ever showed you my pantry's screen door?

Oh, friends! This is one of my most favorite projects we've ever done!

Come on in and take a look!...


We've lived here now for eight years, and our kitchen was the very first room we renovated upon moving in.

(before)

I really wanted it to have a down-home, farmhouse feel.

We had uncovered a stack of various old doors in our previous homes' attic, and it gave Micah and I an idea for our new farmhouse kitchen...

(Because what farmhouse kitchen would be complete without an old screen door?!!)

We selected our favorite one, and made sure it would fit...


Then spray-painted it white...


And... Ta-da!!!


After eight years, I am still very much in love with it! And it's probably the most commented on area of our home by visitors!

I turned the light on for the picture, but unless I'm in there looking for something, I usually keep the light off. So, it looks like this...


I spend a lot of time in my kitchen. I'm sure you do, too! It's like a headquarters for the homemaker, isn't it, friends? Haha...

You know, before I was married I lived alone in a tiny apartment, and I worked full-time at a salon. 

I didn't care about food or cooking.

I would spend about $30 a week on groceries and just buy a box of crackers, jar of peanut butter, a can or two of tuna, and a little milk.

I would work 10-hour shifts at the salon with just a sleeve of crackers in my purse to munch on in-between clients.

One day I was giving a middle-aged woman a pedicure, and she looked down at me and said, "Dear, you are extremely thin. Are you well?"

Puzzled, I looked back at her and replied, "Um... I think so... Why?"

She said, "You do not look well."

I did not know I was thin. I didn't look thin to myself in the mirror! But I remembered what that lady said to me and began buying protein shakes with my groceries. I still didn't attempt to cook or feed myself! Haha... I just sipped on a shake every day for extra calories! 

Why am I telling you all of this?...

Because I wish I hadn't wasted those years. I wish I had practiced cooking and baking in my tiny apartment kitchen! Just think of the cook I could be for my family NOW! To this day I am just a mediocre cook. I had several years before I was married where I didn't have any distractions (like babies and toddlers) and I could have gotten good at it!

Instead, I waited until I had to learn and by then I was battling nausea due to pregnancies, sleep deprivation due to newborn babies, and the hardest of all... toddlers underfoot in the kitchen!

So... I suppose my purpose in writing this is to encourage any young, single girls who may be reading...

Don't waste your youth!

Learn how to budget wisely, how to clean and do laundry well, and how to cook. Then when you get married, you won't feel lost like I did! Haha! AND, you can start being a blessing to your family right off the bat! 

(I don't want to even admit to all the times I fed poor Micah rubbery steak or crunchy noodles during those early years!)

So, my kitchen may have come a long way over the years due to renovations... But I have equally come a long way, too!

Even a mediocre cook who's trying, is far better than not cooking at all!!! Because you'll learn and get better!

Let me share one example...

Over the years I have learned a little trick for mashed potatoes. Would you like to make your potatoes really creamy and delicious?

I'll show you what I do...


Plop a little butter, cream cheese, and shredded parmesan cheese into a large bowl...


Of course the amount will depend on how many potatoes you are using. For my family I usually use three to four.

(My lovely potato-stirring assistant...)

Once they're drained, I pour the hot potatoes over the butter and cheeses to be blended all together...


You'll notice that the water's on. I like to have cold water running whenever I drain hot noodles or potatoes. This is because years ago I was watching Martha Stewart, and she walked over to her sink with a boiling pot of something in one hand, and flipped the water on with the other hand and said, "Remember! Be kind to your sink!"

I've never forgotten that!

I have a beautiful, bright white granite sink that I never take for granted, so... YES! I want to be kind to my sink!

A little salt and pepper are added in at the end... and these are very yummy potatoes to go with our dinner!

(The rule in our house is whoever helps gets to lick the beater!)

Let me know if you try this! Or maybe YOU have a few tips or comments to share...? I would love to hear from you!

Thanks for joining me in my kitchen today!

I loved having you! *wink*

Come over again soon!!!

xo,

~ Courtney ~







Thursday, September 14, 2017

An Indian Summer And Other Stories

I over-slept this morning!

Lately our days have been warm and clear, and the nights cool and crisp. It's wonderful to fall asleep with the bedroom windows open, and awake to sunlight flickering across the bed, birds singing, and my white curtains dancing around in the breeze.

I think it was this exact atmosphere that caused me to lose sight of all reality, and remain in dreamland until something caused my eyes to look over to the clock...

7:45!!!

Oh No!!!

How could I let this happen?!

I popped right up and bolted down the stairs. All of my children were awake; the younger ones watching PBS Kids, and the older ones sitting at the school desk working on school papers. I started the coffee and then realized.... 

This is not a problem.

We have no yellow bus to catch... I have no manager to answer to... and I don't have to get my kids over to their piano teacher until 10:30. So, I poured my coffee in gratitude, remembering all the years of my youth when over-sleeping meant great consequences! 

When I dropped my kids off at piano, I greeted their teacher, my friend, and said, "Good morning! How are ya?!" 

She sighed, "We're surviving... We had a bit of a rough morning."

I said, "Oh, me too! I over-slept! Didn't get up till 7:45!!!"

"Wow!" She said. "That's late!"

I laughed, and then quickly added, "But you know, we are SO lucky, aren't we?"

She nodded in agreement and replied, "We really are!"

Yes, friends, for the homemaker, our days belong to US! Isn't that great?! We design and manage our schedule! And as a person who has a background in public school and then career chasing... THIS is a breath of fresh air! And I've never felt freer!

It was in this freedom that I decided to whisk the kids away to the park the other day to spend the afternoon...


We've been experiencing a bit of an Indian summer. It truly is something to savor because Winter will be upon us before we know it, and he's cranky up here in the north, isn't he?- and never in any rush to give way to Spring. So, we disciplined ourselves to complete all chores and schoolwork in the morning, to take this lovely afternoon off. 


Soren cracked me up when we were wading in the water, he said, "Look mom! It's low tide!"

Haha!!!

We had the entire place completely to ourselves! 


Not another soul in sight!

It was like our own private little park!

This is like medicine to me! As an introvert, I thrive on quiet, alone time. It's like it renews me!

I sat on the park bench and watched my kids play and ride their bikes around...


You know, there was a time in my life when going to the park meant hard work! It seemed I always had a baby that I had to take down the slide, crawl through the tunnels with, and watch over carefully so that they wouldn't kill themselves.

But now, I sit and rest!!!

SO, mama's of babies, be encouraged!

Look at me reading a book on the park bench!

(I've earned this! Haha...)

This was such a treat! But not the only exercise my children get... Since we started school back up I have re-established our 'Morning Run'. This is something I instituted a couple of years ago for Roman, but now he and Soren are doing it. It goes like this... Every morning they are required to get outside for a brisk run before breakfast. It is one of the very first things they do! They are free to decide their route, but upon returning to the house they must tell me an observation. Over the years it has been things like...

~ A flock of geese flew right over the house!

~ The arrow on the barn's weathervane is pointing north.

~ The grass is wet.

~ There was an interesting bird in the maple tree.

~ A baby raccoon is stuck in the live trap!!!

More often than not, these observations have provided meaningful conversation for us while we eat breakfast! It is where real learning takes place! I can say, "Did you know that the reason the weathervane arrow is pointing north is because that's the direction the wind is blowing?"

Or, "What is it called when the grass feels wet first thing in the morning but we know it didn't rain last night?"

I have told the boys that they must keep up with their morning runs until the first snow. Then we will have a winter break.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In other news... Elsa has been going on the potty!!! And has quite the fan club cheering her on...


You don't mind if I use this blog to record some family history, do you? Really, I just wanted an excuse to share this hilarious photo! Haha...

OH! And this one, too...


Which really has nothing to do with anything other than I found it quite remarkable that I got them to all look and smile at the camera for once!!!

I'll tell ya, I really don't know what I'll do with myself when these kiddos all grow up and leave me! I sure hope they give me grand babies so that this doesn't have to end!

~ It's a wonderful life! ~


Oh, friends! I have more on my list of topics to write about and pictures to share... But it will have to wait until next time. It is late already tonight and I must get to bed so that I don't oversleep again tomorrow!!! Haha...

And what about you? You should get to bed, too!

We need our beauty sleep!

Take care sweet friends...


xo,

~ Courtney ~









Thursday, September 7, 2017

Our Week So Far

We started school this week.

Did you?

It's really been going well so far, and we're enjoying it!

I love having all of my children with me during the days, safely tucked into our nest.

The world shouts, "You can't shelter them forever!!!"

Well... I know that.

I don't need to be told that.

I figure, they'll grow up soon enough...


And for now they're thriving at home... so why fix what isn't broken?

So... I ordered our books, made a schedule, and prepared for our fourth year of homeschooling...


There were a couple of things that I wanted to tweak from what we did last year. So, we've been experimenting with that this week...

One change is to prep some of their seat work ahead of time so that they can get started on it right away in the mornings without me.

Last year I wouldn't really prep anything... Once breakfast was over and we were dressed and ready for the day, we would sit down together and pull out the books to begin.

Well, since my last post, so many of you kindly and wisely advised me to prep folders ahead of time and I've been doing that this week.

I love it!

We get up early...

I have my coffee and quiet time...


And the kids get a head start on school...


It's been working out great!

The other change I wanted to make was with our weekday breakfasts.

I was inspired by something I had read by Michael Pearl.

He was addressing the multiple issues that come with feeding kids at home, and he wrote...

"Picture this- It's breakfast time. The table is set with oats or scrambled eggs, real butter, honey, orange juice, wheat toast or fruit. They are invited to the table. All must come and sit, but it is their business whether they eat or not. If they do not eat, ignore them. Once the table has been cleared off, there will be nothing else to eat until lunch."

The reason why this inspired me is because up until now I had taken a different approach to breakfast. I would fix up four different plates of everything that I wanted each child to eat, then get into a tizzy if a child wouldn't eat what I had fixed for them!

That can be stressful and a lot of work!

 I decided to try Mr. Pearl's approach.

This particular day I had made scrambled eggs and cut up an assortment of fresh fruit...


(I didn't include a carb because the children had already had some dry cereal earlier that morning.)

Everyone was free to help themselves and take as large or as small a portion as they wanted.

It was freeing for me because I was no longer fussing over what they were eating. I was remembering Michael's words, "It is their business whether they eat or not."

As long as it's healthy, nourishing food, why can't I set the table like this and just let them take the portion size they desire?

I might stick with this approach!


We do our bible reading during breakfast. I read aloud while the children eat. Usually I read the Proverbs of the day, but we were introduced to a new curriculum at church recently, which has us reading from Ruth daily. So this is what we are doing at the moment.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

I really like to guard our time at home. 

I was just telling a friend and fellow homeschool mama today how I feel as though there is always someone or something trying to yank us out of our homes.

She nodded in agreement, and we laughed!

A lot of them are good things! But as that famous quote goes, "You must learn to say 'no' to what's good, so you are able to say 'yes' to what's best."

So in my effort to protect our homelife, I decided that each child can choose only one extra-curricular activity to be involved in. 

I was saying "NO" to a busy, on-the-go lifestyle.

Nola chose gymnastics, Soren wanted another swim class, and Roman asked to do a homeschool Art/Gym combo at our local community center.

This summer when I was doing my research for these classes, I noticed that not only did the YMCA have a swim class for Soren at the same time as Nola's gymnastics class, but they also offered a toddler gymnastics class that Elsa could be involved in... All at the same time!!!

I felt like I had hit the jackpot!!!

These classes all go on during the 5-6:00 hour on Wednesdays, which is perfect for us! Because of church, I have to load up the car and get us ready to head into town each Wednesday anyway, why not leave a little early and knock out 3 out of the 4 kids' classes all in one hour!!!

YES! This is going to work out splendidly!

Yesterday was our first round of classes...

I figured I'd better pack some supper for us to eat in the car on our way over to church once we left the Y.

I happily swung open my cupboard doors to pull out our lunch boxes and get to work, but was met with this mess!...

Ugh!!!

No, no, no... I shouldn't be living like this!

And the next thing I knew I was sitting pretzel-legged on the floor in the kitchen, pulling each item out and organizing this messy cupboard. 

Ahhh.. This is better...


Time well spent.

Now I can make our supper!

(Packing lunch boxes for four kids is kind of a chore! I hope my motivation for this stays up as the weeks press on!) 


Our time a the Y went fast, but was really pleasant.

Elsa has never taken a class outside of church before. She was excited to try something new! 

She has never been a shy child, and I felt happy and proud to watch her walk right on in to a new environment without any hesitation!


I tried to snap a few pictures, but desperately didn't want to be a helicopter mom, so the pictures were taken at a distance...

Nola in her class...


And Soren in the pool...


I did not go into the classes with them.

 I think when you're a homeschool family, kids are sometimes deprived of something that can be just theirs. Do you know what I mean? 

Some activity that they can own... Some small chunk of their life where boring, old mom isn't in their face for once. 

This is one of the main reasons why I so far haven't volunteered to teach any of their classes at church. They need opportunity for some independence... Spread their wings a little... Learn how to obey authority that isn't mom or dad... And practice the social skills they've been learning at home, without me hovering over them. (Although I am still in the building and can pop my head in to check on them if I want. *wink)

They all did great in their new fall classes, and loved it!

I think this will be a wonderful school year!

Our week so far as been quite enjoyable!

How has it been for you?

I sure do love it when you leave comments for me! It helps me get to know you better, and I love that, because when I sit down to blog I feel as though I am visiting with friends!

You all are my friends, you know that, don't you?!

:)

Thanks for reading...

I'll be back here again soon!

xo,

~ Courtney ~