Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Past...Christmas Present and Future.....

  That picture was taken last Christmas.  It was probably one of the darkest times of my life.  We didn't know what was going to happen with Katie.  We didn't know what her prognosis was going to be.  I thought to myself Christmas will never be the same.  At the time it was stated with all the drama this sanguine could muster up in her melancholy state of mind.

I was right.  I will never look at any Christmas that way again.  God is so good, to let us see up from the bottom of the pit.  I pulled out those Christmas ornaments I bought last year and gave them to our children to hang on the tree.  I wondered what would come to mind when I gave them out.  I wanted them to know that God brought hope to me, when I bought them.  Buying those silly little sparkly ornaments brought me hope for this year.  Hope that Katie would still be with  us.  Hope that we would again smile and laugh at the funny things of our life together.  We did. 

I was able to share with everyone my own fallen state of mind and how real God became to me when I bought the ornaments.  I was able to share that God knows our names, and He knows our times.  He knows our comings and our goings and nothing we can do can change that.  What peace and joy swept over me as I shared the ornaments with my bunch.  They snatched their ornaments and began choosing the right spot on our very junky ornament laden tree. 

Life is good, even if our doctor sent us to the hospital  last week to again have many tests run.  It's good, even if her numbers are crazy high...or crazy low.  Christmas this year is full of hope.  I've wrapped my packages, decorated our home and now it's on to making a few goodies and planning our Christmas Eve dinner.  The Lord has wrapped my heart in His care.  He will care for me, no matter what happens. 

The difference this year is that we know what we are dealing with.  We know what it can do and what we need to do if certain things happen.  That's how God's word works.  It's our guide.  It's our "help" button.  It steers us in the right direction.  It gives us strength when we are weak.  It has been my buoy this year to keep me from drowning.  The enemy so wanted to drown me in the tsunami of his evil lies, and did for a time.  But God's word brought me up out of that pit.  I can still feel so deeply all that has gone on this past year, but it's all for good.  God uses so many hard things to draw us to Him and perfect us into His image.  That's where the "American" gospel doesn't really pan out.  It's not always soft and cuddly.  Sometimes it's bone splitting hard.  But it was for Jesus too. 

2 Corinthians 4:8-10

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; stuck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body."

We are so blessed to have the opportunity to reveal Christ in everything we do. You never know, who you are ministering to in the trials of your own life.  You never know how many people you are touching that you never would have touched had you not been thrust into a place not of your choosing.

This Christmas, we are rejoicing in God's gift of Jesus.  The Jesus that reveals himself to us over and and over again.  As I have sung the wonderful Christmas songs this year, I just see such hope and such grace to have carried me along this year.  I'm so truly thankful. Part of that hope and grace has come through the Body of Christ.  I don't know what we would have done without the prayers and encouragement of our church friends and family.  They have carried us through the darkest of days and truly been the hands of Jesus to us. 

"But the gift of God is eternal life.  Eternal Life in Christ Jesus our Lord".  That is one of the verses on one of our Awana CD's.  I sing it all the time in my heart (sometimes out loud too!).  I'm so thankful for the gift of Eternal Life.  I pray you are too.  I pray that this season truly is a Merry Christmas.  That you can call out to God  from the very depth of your being and rejoice in the "new born King...Who IS Christ The Lord!"

Merry Christmas From the Hilltop,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful Prep Can Be Messy!

Yep...right now, my kitchen is a mess, my three year old (didn't do nothing) but my toilet has overflowed not only all over the bathroom floor, but also there was a waterfall to the basement.  I have sent the children away with my mother!  I'm alone, and it's best that way! 

I needed a moment to gather my wits about myself and face the music...or smell whichever you prefer.  I'm banking on music!  This is one of those moments, that I'm reminded of another Thanksgiving Day.  It was the last Thanksgiving my Grandmother was with us.  Since she wasn't well, my mom was in charge of the day.  As she was putting the last of the veggies down the disposal, water began to bubble up and flow out of any pipe that would take it.  What a mess.  Later they discovered that there was a broken foundation pipe.  Messes happen at the worst times!  Couldn't they come on a day that I assigned?!

There are always things that are happening in our lives that would love to get our goat!  I'm choosing to remember that it's so much better to choose thankfulness in the midst of a mess.  Oh it's so hard.  I can think of things to say and do that would make you blush! 

Thankfully, God has found a way to get my attention today.  I'm going to count it all joy and move on!  I'm going to go and clean up that crazy mess!  I had to clean the bathrooms anyway! 

I pray y'all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.  We've been reading all the little books about the Pilgrims and the Mayflower and Squanto.  We have so much more!  We can choose to be Thankful. 

Yesterday I posted on Facebook that peace is not meant to be a heavy yoke, but to refuse peace is a heavy burden!  When I choose to not be thankful, it's the same thing.  I hate a heavy burden.  So I'm going to go and lug those nasty towels to the laundry room and get the floors cleaned and rejoice that God is good, He knows my name and this is but a minor affliction!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Hilltop Blessings,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pursue Peace!!!

Psalm 37:37
"Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace."

Psalm 85:8
"I will listen to what God the LORD says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— but let them not turn to folly."
Psalm 85:10
"Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other."

Psalm 119:165
"Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble".

Proverbs 17:1
"Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife."

In the world of homeschooling and homemaking there are so many different thoughts of what is good and right.  So much so, that a gal could get really overwhelmed in wading through the waters to peace!  I have always thought my place in the Body of Christ, homeschooling, church philosophy, all boils down to balance.  Paul and I felt like God's word to us when we married was one of BALANCE.  It made no sense then.  It's very clear now.

We are usually in the middle of most things.  No that's not lukewarm!!!  It's balanced.  Our identity does not come from eating whole grains, no that's bad, we have to eat only glutein free grains, no that's bad, all grains are bad.  Our identity does not come from our schooling choices.  We use prepared schoolbooks, no we use Charlotte Mason, no we do Unit Studies...We do a bit of each!  See what I mean? 

There are seasons.  Seasons to be especially diligent on your food choices.  Seasons to do a unit study or make a nature notebook.  There are seasons to sit and read out loud to your children.  However, not many mothers of littles can find peace if they are trying to do it all and manage special needs children, a farm, a home business, two bible studies, awana, and music lessons for all! Doesn't just reading that make you jumpy inside?!

There was a season that I was grinding wheat, making bread, cooking everything from scratch, homeschooling everyone and taking care a sick baby.  I began to be a bit grouchy.  "No I can't  help you right now, I'm cooking.  No I can't read right now, I'm doing laundry....."  I began to be no fun!  I also noticed that the children were growling at each other as well!  I had set the pace for our home. 

Peace begets peace!  When I looked at what was important to our family and let the other stuff go, was when I found peace.  We still do some of it regularly, but not all of it all the time.  The most important thing, is that none of it earns me the Holiness Crown!  None of it.  Nor does it earn me the Super Mom Who Can Do It All Crown! 

When I get to the place of Grumpy Mama, I try to figure out where I went wrong.  Sometimes unfortunately, I go even more wrong in my "Mama Bootcamp"!  I will try to whip everyone in to shape.  We get a schedule, we get a chore list, we get CRAZY!  That doesn't work either. 

When I seek peace, then I find peace.  There might be a "Mama Bootcamp", but it's different.  It is a peaceful change.  It may even be abruptly different than before, but there is peace and joy!  That is the difference. 

This week, I have been sick, which is rare for me.  I had to let some things go.  It really bugged me that I was letting our schedule go, but it was not going to bring peace or healing to me.  It's amazing, but my children are still getting their work done, the laundry isn't piling up (too badly), there are still meals each day, but I have napped my way through the entire week!  Can we continue like this?  No, but for a few days, it's brought us peace. 

The Lord promises us peace if we keep our minds on Him.  I'm so thankful that He reveals Himself to us,even in the mundane things of our lives.  He is a good and faithful God.  I pray that today in the midst of your world, you find find peace and joy in the Holy Spirit! 

Hilltop Blessings!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

It's looking Like Fall Y'all!

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." Ephesians 1:3

It's this time of  year that I feel the abundance of the Lord's blessings.  Fall just does that to me.  I love seeing piles of pumpkins and gourds.  I love the leaves that change...(here they don't change until November, but I can imagine!)  I've really enjoyed temps in the 80's instead of the 100's!  That right there is enough to just stop and shout about!  Come and take a walk with me through my Fall decorating.  I've really enjoyed myself!

Truth be told...I'm a copier!  I love to look at other blogs and then make it my own or sometimes all out copy someone's great idea.  I've been dangling my foot in the waters of Pinterest.  I'm not really sure what it is or how to use it, but this weekend, I came out from under the book pile and have been looking at lots of blogs.  (I can do that because I'm coughing my head off...everyone has been happy to leave me alone!)

So, what to do with all these vases and candle stick holder, leaves and silver plates?  You make hurricane lanterns out of them.  They are awesome.  You can get all of the glassware at Dollar Tree and also the tall skinny candles. 

 Then you start playing with them.  You text  your close friends and ask them a million times to tell you how cute they are!  Yep and then they tell you they love them and where exactly in Dollar Tree can they find the stuff.  That makes you feel really good!  Of course you've just copied them from some other gal who has probably done the same thing!

 Here it is with the skinny tall candle inside the vase.  I had to be careful not to tip the plate.  It does fall over!

Next  you get your fake leaves and put them down in between the candle and the vase.  Just sort of shake them in.  Doesn't that look cute?

 Then I thought I would try some other looks.... Not so good.  In fact...awful!  You have to keep trying...

And then I tried some other looks.  Still not winning any prizes here, but the look is beginning to come together.

 It just looks better like this.  Oh well, that is how I saw it to begin with!  So much for my creative juices!  What can I do with those little gourds?


So here are my hurricanes all grouped together on my mantle.  You would think I would have a picture of the whole thing....I forgot.  Oh well, you get the idea.

This plate will forever be a part of my home decor!  I bought it the day we were told Katie might have Leukemia.  It has seen me through the dark days and brought me to His light and love!  There is a picture above it on my mantle, I can't move it, so I just go with it.  It's fine....

Once I get started, I can't stop!  I love fall.  It is one of those seasons that make me feel blessed when I look around and see God' abundance!  Yes those are bows on the pumpkins.  The squaty  pumpkins are from Dollar Tree.  The mason jars have popcorn, split peas, red beans and a tea light in them. 

 How is easy is that to make?!  I love easy.  I used these for table decorations for a party the other night. 

 These little jars are on my coffee table.  I'm wondering how long it will take my children to gobble  up the candy corn out of my jars!  Will they sneak it or will they ask?  

I made this little bowl a couple years ago.  It was so simple and I'm finally thrilled with what's in it.  I bought four twin covered pieces of fruit from Kirkland's and then I just filled it in with some old potpourri.  It was an easy!  I had tried a cute thrifted square table cloth underneath it, but it was forever in the way.  An old place mat works great!

Thanks for coming on a "look-see" through my home.  I've loved doing some fall decor.  The best part, is it's been so inexpensive.  I love reworking things I already own.  I pray your home and family are experiencing the coziness that Fall brings, but most importantly the warmth and love of our Heavenly Father!

Hilltop Blessings!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It's A Cupcake Kind Of Day!!!

We are so rejoicing in the blessing and mercies of God today!  Katie saw her Oncologist today and as usual, she had her finger "snapped".  I was cautiously hoping for a bit of encouragement that I could see.  I know Faith is not for the seeing.  I just needed a little sight..... can you give me that?

The Lord did.  He heard my cry.  He answered big!  The numbers we look at are her Absolute Neutrophil Count (ANC) and her White Blood Cell count (WBC).  Today her ANC was 1130!!!!  Last time it was 110.  See the difference? Normal is 1500.  In her life, I'm not sure she has had a ANC count that is this high.  Her WBC was 5.  It hasn't been that high on a day she needed a shot in a long time either.  I'm so thankful.  The Dr. said it was a fluke.  Maybe so.  He also said he would take a fluke!  I know I will!  

Last month after going to the Dr. and getting such a low count, I posted on facebook that even if her ANC was multiplied ten times it still wouldn't be normal.  Well, her number is more than times ten and I am rejoicing!  God is so good!  

I was thinking about baking a goodie to celebrate, but didn't know what.  Well, Linda over at Prairie Flower Farm knows all about goodies!  She posted the best cupcake recipe that I've ever seen!  It's called Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes!  What's not to like?!  You should go and check out Linda's blog, she has lots of great ideas over there!   I'm going to make those right now!  So blessings to you all and thank you so much for your prayers!

Truly His Mercies Are New Every Morning!

Hilltop Blessings, 

Friday, August 26, 2011

"You Is Kind, You Is Smart, You Is Important!"

As a believer do you know your value?  Do you know it deep in your core?  I've said this before, but it was such revelation to me that I had real value that was not based on my looks, or anything I had done.  It was based on what Jesus did at the cross.  He gave me value.

Recently, I saw The Help.  I loved this scene with Mae-Mobely more than any other scene in the movie.  Abileen was imparting value to this little girl.  When I first saw this trailer, I loved it and started doing it with Katie.  As an adopted child, I figured that the more I impart to her the more solid a foundation she will have, if doubts of belonging ever hit her.

I tell her:"You are wanted.  You are a blessing.  You are loved."  She has gotten to the point that as soon as I start saying it, she does exactly like the little girl in the trailer.  She tells it right back to me.  She loves it!  When our 12 year old son was little I would tell him I was so proud of him when he had done something really good.  Later he would ask: "Mommy are you so proud of me?"  We all love being affirmed!

There was a season in my early walk with the Lord, that I had written out many verses about who I was in Christ.  Daily, I would read these verses.  I would recite these verses and after several weeks of reading and reciting, they were in my heart.  I knew I was loved. I knew I was wanted.  I knew I was bought with a price.  It was an amazing transition in my life.

I love the Word Of God, but without getting it in your being, it's really hard to know who you are in Christ.  I challenge  you to pour the Word Of God into your heart and mind and pour it into your children.  While you have children in  your home, this is an incredible opportunity to pour into them The Word Of God.

Take the verses that fit your child's needs and pour them in.  For example, if a child is struggling with learning.  You can tell them they are smart.  Why?  Because they have the mind of Christ!  Whatever the issue, you tailor fit it to your child or yourself.  God wants us to be full of His ammunition to withstand the darts of the enemy.

Philippians 3:11-13
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me" 

We are to press on and take hold of all that Jesus has for us.  It takes continual work.  It takes continual pressing into His Word.  I pray that as you enjoy your weekend, you are filled with the knowledge of God and that you know you are loved and have value! 

Hilltop Blessings, 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

This One Is For The Tough Days!

We all have tough days.  My dear friend Christy sent this to me for my tough days.  I thought this was so good, I just wanted to pass it on.  We must remember that God DOES have the whole world in HIS hands!

In a world where we can control so much, we are often abruptly reminded that there are some things we can't control.  I pray that you are encouraged by this video as much as I. Be sure to turn off my music or you will have an abundance of music going on at one time!

Hilltop Blessings,

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ahhhh The Smell Of New Crayons....!

Was there a particular school supply that was your favorite?  Oh there was for me!  The joy of opening a new crisp box of crayons.  Rarely was it the pristine box of 64 with the sharpener on back...no those were reserved for special Christmas gifts.  Normally teachers just liked the plain Jane box of 24.  That was okay because nestled in those 24 glorious waxy colors was the Red one!  

I've never had a school list for my crew, because we just did our homeschool thing.  But, I've always felt compelled to buy new crayons!  I just couldn't help myself!  This year is different.  We are going to attend a coop, and I actually  have a school supply list.  On that list are several boxes of Crayola Crayons!  I have to say that my boys do not exhibit any thrill of opening a new box of crayons.  In the early  years one cherub had the gal to rip open the box!  Imagine just ripping into that box of brand new crayons.  No Respect.  Then the same cherub pealed and broke the crayons into tiny bits (except the ones he chewed!).  I could have sat down and cried!  

One of my dreams was to take my first little one and solemnly introduce him to the joy  and honor of coloring in a color book with (of course) a brand new straight red crayon.  He looked at me, dumped them on the table.  Swiped them haphazardly across the paper and smiled and said: "All done!"  I had to have someone explain that many little boys don't color.  At least they don't color what you want them to color!  I have been vandalized by green dry erase marker and we don't want to even go there!

Well it's dawning on me that I've spent this whole blogpost on red crayons.  I meant to say that we are going to be very eclectic in our schooling this  year.  I've got four cherubs doing four different things this year.  I've not done it this way before, but hey, it's a new  year.  I've got new hopes and new energy!  (let's just pray that it holds out!)

Our curriculum include Abeka Language Arts, Learning Language Arts Through Literature, Institute In Excellence in Writing, Texas History, Daily Grams, Teaching Textbooks 6 and 7, ACE Math, and Rod and Staff About Three.  I'm also going to begin going through the questions of the Catechism.  We will use that for both Bible and Handwriting.  I'm also adding some books with Progeny Press as well. 

So that's about it friends.  I pray as you start your school year,  you are filled with hope and excitement with the newness of all that is to come!

Isaiah 54:13
"All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace."

Praying this for you all!

Hilltop Blessings, 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Living With Severe Chronic Neutropenia and Overcoming Mommy Worry!

I wrote earlier in the year about our daughter Katie.  She was diagnosed with Severe Chronic Neutropenia.  We discovered it in December. ( For more about that, you can look at my January 1, 2011 post.  I gave the details about our experience there. )

I wanted to write a bit about this journey for others who are struggling with ongoing health issues.  It's scary as a mother to watch your child for every little sniffle.  Does she have a fever?  Will she develop Leukemia?  Did I hurt her when I gave her the shot tonight?  I bruised her leg...again.  We didn't have to hold her as tight tonight.  I heard her coughing.  Will she wake up in the morning?  She's sleeping too long.  She's not sleeping long enough....The list goes on.

Part of the list is normal...part of it is the attack of my uncontrolled thoughts.  As I continued to put on a happy face and live life, these thoughts assaulted my mind day and night.  Mostly night.  Often I didn't even realize I was worrying.  There had just been so many talks of Leukemia and all that goes with it.  I would see all the little ones at the Oncology office.  They were in my heart.  I was praying for many of them.  I met their mothers and felt compelled to pray for them.

By March, I had evidently crossed over the line from concern, worry to all the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.  I didn't even see it coming.  One night I sat up with my heart racing, sweat pouring off my body and thinking...well this is it.  I'm going to die.  I finally went to the ER about 6:30am.

I was not having a heart attack.  I was having a panic attack.  Me.  The girl who rarely worries.  I'm fairly strong.  I believe God is a healer.  I know He loves me.  Why was I panicking?  They asked me if I had any abnormal stress in my life....uhh yeah. I guess I do.

They sent me home with Zannac.  It worked like a charm.  I knew from the beginning, that I probably shouldn't get to comfortable with this medication.  By the end of June, I had taken all ten tablets.  Then I thought...hmmm how am I going to get some more?  That's not a good thought!

I decided to mention it to our pediatrician.  She told me upfront to NEVER take another.  She said  you need to identify what's happening.  You need to address the panic attack for what it is.  It's uncomfortable.  You will not die.  You need to think on things that are good and choose to relax.

She added that she had seen perfectly good parents become complete addicts and literally have to be placed in a mental institution due to the side affects of the drug.  I did not want that.  (By the way, this is for me.  There may be instances where you may have a prescribed medication and need it.  Please take what your Dr. prescribes you unless you feel the leading of the Holy Spirit to do otherwise!  There are instances where medication is very necessary!)

Driving home I felt the Lord confirm what she told me.  I felt that I was to acknowledge what was going on in my life.  I was to speak to the symptoms for what they were.  I then began to just sing peaceful scriptural songs in my mind.  It was amazing!  It worked!

I began to not fear going to bed.  I began getting real rest.  The heart racing still comes on occasion, but I don't sit up all night worrying I'm going to die!  I have peace.  The peace that only God can give!  Truly God does give sleep to those He loves!

Katie is still considered severely neutropenic. her numbers are considered extremely low.   Clinically she stumps them.  She is doing great.  She has had very few illnesses since last winter.  God is a good and faithful God.  I continue to press on in the things of God, knowing that He holds  us in His hand.  He loves us and He has good for us!  He has good for Katie!

I pray that if you are struggling with things in  your life, that you would be comforted by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Please know that real peace comes from Him.  If I can pray for you, please let me know.  If you know anyone with this disorder, please let me know.  I would love to meet others who are struggling with this rare disorder. 

Hilltop Blessings,

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

If At First You Don't Succeed.....Update On Solar Cooking

You try again another day.  The day hasn't come yet!

I put my dinner outside at 2:15.  I figured that it would cook much like a crock pot.  My timing was way off.  I think it would have done fine if I had put it out there about 10:30.  My brain is having trouble adjusting to the thought that it's okay to put your dinner outside on a hot sunny day!

The temp was 104, so I know that it got hot enough, BUT, raw chicken....  All those years of cooking with my mother, just bothered me.  When I went outside to check it at 5:15, everything was VERY hot, but not ready.  I brought it in and cooked it in the oven for about 40 minutes and it was just as tasty as I had imagined!

Lessons Learned: This is a slow bake kind of meal.  You have to give it plenty of time!  I need to put a thermometer inside so I can see what the temperature.  I really need a piece of Plexiglas for the top.

We are going to try this again, but with something a little more simple.  I think we will try a cake or brownies.  Once I get the bugs out of this system, I think it will be very useful!  We have many more days of this infernal heat left, so I might as well make them a little sweeter!

Hilltop Blessings!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

If You Can't Take The Heat...Get Out Of The Kitchen!

Making A Solar Oven!

So we did!  We are going on 39 days of over 100 degree temps here in the DFW metroplex.  Yes it's hot....unbelievably hot.  So hot that we have been facing the threat of brown outs because there has been such a pull on the power grids here.  I do NOT want to face this heat without AC so, I have turned up my thermostat and tried to keep things cool by closing blinds and such.  

One of the chief ways that I can keep the house cool is to not heat up the kitchen.  I have wanted to create a solar oven for a long time.  I decided today was the day.  I got on youtube and started looking for ideas.  There are a ton!  I found one that took old tires, wood and foil to make.  I have all those things and it wasn't labor intensive.  I don't think it will be featured on any of the cute home decorating blogs that I salivate over on a regular basis, but none the less, it's an oven!  It's free except for the shower curtain I bought.  I decided to use new on that one!    

 So here we are.  I used two tires.  The bottom tire has boards that become your cooking surface.  Then I stacked the next tire on top.  Pretty simple.   We stuffed newspaper inside the hollowed out part of the tire. 

 The children covered the tire in sheets of tin foil.  Unfortunately, I had to use those little sheets that come out like Kleenex.  (I saw them an Sams and thought they would be convenient...not so, but we have a blue jillion of them, so it's what we  use!)  

The boys worked on molding them into shape.  All the way around the inside and outside.  This forms the reflective layer.  By the way, this is when  you want the shiny part of the foil facing out.  

 We had to tape it down to keep it from blowing off.  If I had silver tape, that may have been better.  I just used the blue painters tape and it seems to hold good enough.

 Here is my chicken breasts, thighs, sweet potatoes, white potatoes and baby carrots.  I drizzled olive oil and sprinkled it with Canadian seasoning.  I put sliced onions on the bottom of the pan to keep the chicken from sticking. 

 We put the lid on and then began wrapping the whole thing in a clear shower curtain.  The youtube video showed using a large sheet of clear Plexiglas and another showed using just plain glass.  I was fresh out of Plexiglas and plain glass seemed dangerous....

 We had to wrap the whole thing around the tires and pull it tight with tape.  Yes it would have been a good idea to cut the shower curtain into a smaller piece.  That just too easy! Hey we found the tape, I'm not sure we could find the scissors and I didn't want to rant! 

 There she is all put together.  Aside from the blistering heat while putting it together, it wasn't difficult and we did it with very little fussing!  (You know the too many hands in the kitchen thing....)

There she sits.  I pray it's cooking!  My husband is a little concerned about fire.  I told my friend that if she calls in the morning and there is no answer, she might want to send for some  help!  This is new, but I love learning new and different things, so hopefully we won't be having eggs for dinner!

Hilltop Blessings!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Homeschooling With Toddlers And Others!

Short of tying them up or wrapping them mummy style...What do you do with young ones while attempting to educate the older ones?

I have had the joy of homeschooling our boys for now almost eight years.  The time has gone by in a blur and that is partially due to the fact that there were little speedy cherubs flying by me in that blur, while I dutifully taught another how to hold a pencil, read, write and cipher!  When I began teaching Ben his second semester of kindergarten, Daniel was four and Jonathan almost two.   Needless to say there was some juggling that took place.  I managed somehow, but since Katie has come along, I have been much more challenged with many ages and stages. 

I have found out the hard way that unattended toddlers can cause messes, and breakage!  Therefore, wherever I am, there she is also!  I keep a short leash on the busybodies and everything is much more peaceful!  Katie loves being with me and is always a "help" in the kitchen.  I have discovered that the dirtier and the more cooked on food, the better she likes her scrubbing!  By the way friends, it takes longer and that means more time for me to get something done!  

 She is happy to be right there under my armpits baking and licking the spoon!  It makes so much sense to have her helping me, so that she is not terrorizing boys that are attempting to do an assignment!  This is nice, because they get their work done, I get something done and she is occupied!

 I often assign her a place to stay on days that she can't settle down.  Sometimes the smaller the better!  This particular day she was thrilled to sit in the basket with an egg carton, oatmeal and measuring spoons and cups.  I usually will tell her what "work" she must do for her school.  She is so proud to show me her completed task!

 Again the kitchen is her favorite spot.  I know where she is and she is content to be doing productive work.  It's excellent  for a little mommy in training to learn these kitchen tasks. 

 Again, while in the kitchen, she brings in a book and tells me stories while I work.  I love it and she feels like she is really doing her schoolwork!

 When I am actually involved in teaching the boys, Katie has an area in our school room that is her assigned spot.  She has many "busy buckets" that she plays with only during school time.  Some buckets are play dough, others are lacing and bead stringing while others might be making patterns with pegs.  If it is a day that again she can't stay put, I move her to a high chair and choose the bucket for her to play.  Since she is getting older, she is free to build and play in her area with the toys that are already there.  Many days however, she needs direction prior to me starting with the boys. 

Boys that aren't needing my immediate instruction, are free to play quietly in our schoolroom as well.  It just helps to keep everyone together, so that I stay on task.  Sometimes if everyone goes their different directions "quietly" then I loose my momentum and forget to keep us going down our daily checklist of school work. 

It is a challenge to school multi-ages, but I have found staying together, the older ones entertaining the younger ones and small activities for the littles helps more than anything!  If all else fails, put the little one to bed and do school during naptime!  There are those days! 

Hilltop Blessings,

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Morning Life Verses

This summer the leadership of our church Waterbrook Bible Fellowship in Wylie Texas has been having people share their life verses.  Each week, I have come home saying "I love that verse!"  Every time, I hear whatever the verse is shared, I think, how amazing God is to reveal Himself to His children.

This morning, a precious lady shared hers from Isaiah 43:18-19.  It starts: "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past...."  We could all just stop right there and grow tremendously in God if that was all we did today!  But for me it was in a few of the earlier verses that really ring true to me.  They are my life verses!

Is: 43:4
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
   and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
   nations in exchange for your life.

For a gal that never really knew she was precious, it was the most freeing thing I had ever read!  It wasn't based on how I looked, or what I did or anything....He the living God, the Creator of the Universe loved me.  Loved me with all my many incredibly dismal habits and traits.  He even considered me worth dying for.  I didn't have to do anything to get His favor.  I had already found it at the cross of His precious Son.  That love saved my life.  Made my fake joy real.  That my friends, is worth it all right there.  For the first time in my life, I could be real and happy at the same time.

But we don't get to sit in the former things.  I don't get to sit on the Father's lap a content and joyful child of God.  Nope, I get to get off and grow and lay hold of the destiny that He has for me.  That means work!!!!  Work and letting His word change me and my stinky heart!  It means the unexpected bumps in the road, get made straight by Him.  It means, I get to trust Him and He will not lie or change His mind.  Things will be okay and I don't have to fear the future!

Romans 5:1-11

The Message (MSG)
1-2By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.  3-5There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
 6-8Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.
 9-11Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we're at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!

Once you read that, it kind of makes all the hard places okay.  It makes them worth being thankful and full of peace, because He is always with us, always a step ahead making our paths straight!  Blessings to you friends have a wonderful day in the Lord. He is good and He loves you.  Just in case no one ever told you: you are precious in His sight and He loves you!

Hilltop Blessings,

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Could We Have A Little Fun Here?

Proverbs 17:22

New International Version (NIV)
 22 A cheerful heart is good medicine,
   but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Looking back over my 2011 blog posts has made me realize something is MISSING!  Fun, Laughter, Joy.  It's been a tough year, but sheesh, it's time for some fun!

If  I could, I would try to make my life look just absolutely amazing.  Or if not amazing, well then maybe at least put together and if not put together, well then maybe whimsical.  But my life is  a lot of real living and loving.  Here on the hilltop, I'm trying to get organized for school that's fast approaching. 

The only way I know how to get organized is to go through things and put them in piles.  That I can do....it's the rest.  It's the figuring out what to get rid of and HOW to put everything back.  My dear husband is a bit afraid when I start one of these projects.  He is happy that I've started....but fearful to ask if I plan on finishing!  Things might fly if he doesn't ask in just the right way and the earth is tilted properly.  (know what I mean?)  However, he is very willing to help...but then, I don't know how to have him help me, after all I've got these piles.  Surely, I can do this!

Since I posted yesterday, about letting the Holy Spirit speak to others instead of me speaking to them, I decided I should apply this to him too.  It's so refreshing to not have to totally blow up when he asks me if I plan on finishing something today!  In fact I've almost finished TWO somethings today. 

Actually it was fun.  It was fun to get some things accomplished.  It was fun to see that a day that started a little shaky, turned into a day well spent.  It was a busy day, that wasn't too busy for some popcorn, pizza and a movie.  The enemy is always trying to get us sidetracked on the yuck of our lives, but God is bigger and shows us how much He loves us and how faithful He is!  We had fun.

This year so far has not been all fun.  But joy has come in and healed a worried, fearful heart.  I can smile at the day.  I don't lay my head down every night and instantly have a panic attack. (not fun!) God's word has come alive and showed me that when all else is seemingly falling apart, His word isn't!  There's joy in that.  That brings a real smile! 

I think living in this world brings all kinds of circumstances and serves them up real big on our plates. Most of them are like eating your peas.  Not so good, but you can bear it.  Others are like liver.  Not many want to eat liver.  But sometimes you just have to endure that too.  We've had some liver this year, but it wasn't as bad as my mind was telling me it was going to be! 

I pray that whatever is on your plate these days, you would see your Heavenly Father helping; you through.  He is good and He brings good things to His children.

Hilltop Blessings,

Friday, August 5, 2011

Jesus Made Me Free!

1 Peter 4:7-9

New International Version (NIV)
 7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

I've had the most incredible experience in God!  Didn't know it was coming, but boy am I glad!  I was in bondage to something and had no idea!  I'm not sure where it's leading me, but since the Holy Spirit instigated it, I guess it's okay for me not to be in charge!

Over the past year, there have been some issues that the Lord allowed in my life.  Issues that don't make or break the Kingdom of Heaven, but issues none the less.  I was challenged on my mode of dress, challenged on my mode of worship, challenged on my version of the Bible.  These weren't bad challenges, just challenges none the less.  At times, I was a bit prideful in my responses to my inner circle and they even rallied with me.  But in me, I knew there was more to be gleaned.  I knew that the Lord had allowed this for more than mere self justification.  There was more.....

There have always been questions in my thinking, they do _____________, but I don't!  Does that make me better?  More spiritual?  (often I thought so.....)

Then lightening struck!  My friend and I were discussing this and she said: "You know we don't have any conviction about doing certain things at all.  We feel free to do them.  Perhaps people who do _____________  don't have any convictions there either!"

Wow!  That would mean that the same Holy Spirit that convicts me and frees me, does the same for others!  I know these "others" and I know they love the Lord Jesus!  I know they are brothers and sisters in Christ.  Therefore, this frees me to love and walk with them, trusting our Father will speak on the issues that He deems important for them.  He will take care of His children without any help or preaching from me!  Wow!  That means I'm free to hear from Him about my stuff and just love everyone else in the meantime!

That frees me from judging others, it frees me from pride (my way is better), it frees me to completely love.  In the days and times we are in, I think we all need a little more love!  God is so good.  I'm so thankful.  This also frees me to see the entire Body of Christ as a unit rather than opposing entities!

It does seem that this revelation is going to seep into every area of my life.  Some not so  comfortable, but I bet that's more of the Holy Spirits doing!  God is so good, to mold us and shape us into His image.  I'm glad, He loves us enough to not give up!

I chose this picture of the butterflies morphing, because it shows me that we all are experiencing  different stages of growth.  Those of us that are children of God will, come to that place of worshiping at the Throne of Grace.  We will all be there, we just get there at different times!  We won't be looking around to see who is looking at how spiritual we are or how much we suffer or anything other than worshiping the One who is worthy of our all in all!

Keep on loving friends, we all need it!

Hilltop Blessings,

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bring on the Color! Bring on the long Awaited Change!!!

When we bought our home, it was like buying an addiction to home improvements!  We knew it was the way we could afford a home in the country, so we did it....and it had a basement.  The basement was absolutely what made the deal for my dear husband.  He hailed from Minnesota, so the thought of having a basement in Texas, thrilled him.  We bought the home, did the absolute must improvements and started saving for the next years iprovements.  That's what we have been doing now for five years.  It's been fun and a lot of work!

Probably the thing I disliked most about my home, was the kitchen.  I spend so much time in there, that it seemed like this year the project really needed to be the kitchen!  What could I do, and still stay within the modest budget we set aside?  If you look at the magazines they say a "modest" kitchen remodel is upwards of $10,000!  Well, my modest redo, was not anywhere near that price range!  I looked and looked for ideas.  Combed the home stores, websites and bought every magazine about kitchens I could get!  What colors?  What counters?  What could I do with my cabinets?  What to do?  Every night Paul would come home and I would tell him.  Okay....I've got it figured out for real this time!  With glazed over eyes, he would dutifully nod.  (honestly, he didn't care if it was red cabinets and black counter tops or black cabinets and white counters! )

At last I figured it out!  The cabinets would be white.  The paneling would be yellow.  The counters would be butcherblock and the back splash would be painted beadboard.  Did I tell you, I hate painting?  Oh yeah, I do!  I used a product by Rustoleum that transforms cabinets.  It really does!  It was the best paint I have ever used!  Thirty-three doors later and help from some friends, they were painted! 

When we pulled off the paneling, it wasn't pretty!  It was moldy and more than time to be replaced!  The warped counters came up and voila, things are really beginning to change!  The kitchen of my dreams is well on it's way!

I loved this faucett.  The first one we put it, wobbled and I didn't think that three boys would be very careful with it, so it went back to the store.  This one is much more sturdy.  Finally, I have a sink, that when I clean it, looks clean!  No more brown chipped enamel for me!  

It took a while to get this far on the kitchen, but it was so worth all the $5 pizzas that we had for a couple of weeks! 

I kept the original hardware.  I just couldn't part with several hundred dollars for hardware!  I decided that it was fine and I could use the extra money to hire a little help with the kitchen!  It was sooo worth it!  Two days after we finished the kitchen we took off to Minnesota to move Paul's father out of his home of 24  years.  It was a tough job, but it was so worth it to see his father happy and safe. 

To keep my kitchen within it's budget, I bought some of the butcher block from a friend who had bought it and never been able to use it!  I also bought the bead board from another friend who had not used it!  When you are looking at a project, it's often good to ask around and see if anyone has the materials that you are using.  

The butcher block counters are treated wood from Ikea that all I had to do was smear on a food safe oil!  Talk about easy!  

Now I can truly be a Proverbs 31 woman!  I have a beautiful new kitchen to prepare food for my household!  

Hilltop Blessings, 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Peace, Peace Wonderful Peace.... Menu Monday

Do you know this drill?  "Yikes it's 4pm and I have no idea what we are having for dinner!"  Picture in your mind frazzled, crazy woman with stand on end hair.... Then the mad dash to the freezer, (praying all the way) hoping that there is something easy in there to fix!  I've done it countless times!  That's why I added the praying part!

I've gotten back into making menu's.  There are so many incredible blogging ladies that do Monday Menu's that it's so easy to get some good ideas.  I still maintain that your menu's shouldn't be something so creative that you don't have time to prepare, or no one likes but bless God they are going to try something new everyday until they see Jesus or even things that knock you out of your budget ball park! (it is baseball season!)

As a rule, I keep basic pantry and freezer items on hand.  I always have pinto beans cooked up and frozen, rice, different cuts of meat and frozen chicken.  With these few items you can cook so many tasty dishes that your family won't complain about having the same thing over and over. 

I have said that we are bipolar eaters.  We eat mostly healthy foods with some chips and white rice mixed in.  I do make many of our foods from scratch, but for the sake of time have been buying our breads at the bread store. 

So here is my menu for the week. 

Monday: Eggs and toast, Beans and Cornbread, Fajita's and all the fixings
Tuesday: Oatmeal and Cinnamon Toast, sandwich, chips and fruit, Baked Chicken, rice and spinach salad
Wednesday: Pancakes, Nacho's and sliced fruit, Spaghetti, salad and garlic bread
Thursday: Cream of Wheat and or Banana Bread, Kid Pick, Chicken Enchilada's, rice and fruit salad
Friday: Eggs, sausage, biscuits, Sandwich and chips, Birthday Party so a desert dinner!
Saturday: Leftover Birthday Cake, Sandwich, fruit, Grilled Steak, baked potatoes, salad 
Sunday: Cereal and milk, Mexican Soup, chips and salsa, Pancakes and sausage

So there we are in all our glory.  Some great meals and some really quick meals.  I use menu's because they bring me peace.  I don't have to think about what I'm having.  I don't always have Monday food on Monday, but I do have seven planned meals to choose. 

One extra blessing that has come from meal planning is no quickie trips to the grocery store!  That's a savings on gas and time and certainly money!  Last Friday I got in the van and I had gone 32.8 miles since the previous Sunday.  We live a bit out, so there isn't any store close.  I was doing the happy, happy dance with so few miles.  I had stayed home most of the week.  I was amazed at what staying home accomplishes. 

Psalm 85: 7-9
7 Show us your unfailing love, LORD,
   and grant us your salvation.

 8 I will listen to what God the LORD says;
   he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
   but let them not turn to folly.
9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
   that his glory may dwell in our land. 

When I purpose to seek peace and do the things that I know that bring peace in my home, we have much less hurry and scurry before Paul gets home.  The house looks nice, dinner is made on time and there are far fewer arguments of who did or said ________.  It's the not turning to folly part that can really trip you up.  I'm not talking about blatant sin, but just allowing time stealers to eat up my time.  The menu's are just one more way of preparing our day for peace.

I pray you have wonderful peace in your home.  I pray you have wonderful tasty meals around your family table.  I challenge you to set a pretty table, enjoy a well planned meal, have a wonderful visit with your family at the end of the day and enjoy His presence and His peace! 

Hilltop Blessings,

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hello From Down Under!

No Time For Rocking The Days Away Here!

Have you ever been to "Down Under"?  It's been way down here.  We've been trying to finish school, get the flower beds done, garden done, chicks hatched without snakes eating them first and just the daylight and dishes of life!

I find that during the Winter, I can keep on top of my daily chores and activities, but during the Spring, I'm outside so much that I don't realize that it's time to start dinner and then we eat much later and then the children go to bed later and I'm still "doing" MUCH LATER.  That's all fine and good except, I get up earlier, because the sun comes up earlier!

Since there are so many wonderful "things" to do, I've begun to gauge our activities by distance.  If it's far, we might go, but will do errands on the way home, otherwise, I'm trying to stay home as much as possible!  I was so excited to get in the van this morning and see that I had only driven 30.8 miles since Sunday!  Today is Friday!  I'm doing the happy dance!

Living out here on a bit of land is always a bit of a learning curve for me.  I didn't grow up with critters, but I did read the Little House books over and over!  Needless to say Laura didn't tell me about sick raccoons!  Yesterday I was wishing that I knew how to shoot a gun.  The neighbor came over and took care of business!

Well friends, I leave you this:

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 
I Corinthians 10:31

It's so easy to get caught up in the business of life and forget everything we are doing is for "The Glory of God"! 

Hilltop Blessings,

Sunday, March 13, 2011

When You Find A Butterfly In Your Freezer.....

When you find a Butterfly in  your freezer....you know it's time to clean it out!  That was me yesterday.  Y'all are laughing, but I'm serious, as items fell out of my pushed and squished freezer, I pulled out a small zip bag with a perfectly frozen butterfly!  I only pray that the poor thing expired to butterfly heaven quickly!  

Life has been crazy lately and many mundane chores have been relegated to the Twelfth of NeverBut  yesterday was March 12 and it was time to get ahead and march into the mundane and get things done.  I decided to do what I like best first,which was to start with some cooking projects.  Cooking always forces me to clean!  

Breakfast can occasionally cause me to get off track if I'm cooking something special.  Since these days it's crucial for me to stay on track, I cooked all our breakfasts for the week!  I'll give you the recipes for: Egg McMuffins, Breakfast Burritos, Sausage Pancake Muffins and Chocolate Chip Muffins.  

With our chickens giving us almost a dozen eggs a day, I needed to use those eggs up.  So I cracked a dozen eggs and scrambled them well before pouring them into a 9x13 sprayed dish.  I sprinkled half a pound of sausage on top and baked it for 25 minutes at 350.  While they were baking, I toasted 12 english muffins and lightly buttered them.  When the eggs were baked and firm, I sliced them into 12 pieces.  For each sandwich you use a piece of egg, a slice of your favorite cheese and a muffin.  Wrap up and freeze.  They warm up beautifully and are a great quick breakfast.  I freeze all the individually wrapped sandwiches in a gallon zip bag.  That way you don't have loose sandwiches slipping and hiding all over your freezer! I got a version of the recipe from www.thefamilyhomestead.com.  She has many wonderful recipes!

I'm sure that you make your own breakfast burritos.  I used two different sized tortillas.  Some small and some medium. Since I cooked all the sausage at one time, all I had to do was add  half a pound of it to the dozen scrambled eggs and cook them.  When they were done, I put a bit in each tortilla, added some cheese and rolled them up.  I used wax paper to wrap them.  Again I put all of them in a gallon zip bag.  

I hate to waste milk.  We enjoy fresh farm milk and pay dearly for it.  In an endeavor to use some slightly sour milk, I made muffins.  I first read about Sausage Pancake Muffins at   www.HeavenlyHomemakers.com .  She has some of the best healthy recipes.  You can find the recipe for these muffins at her sight.  She takes unhealthy recipes and makes them not only healthy, but tasty!

When I still had milk left, I made chocolate chip muffins.  I have been using a recipe for so long, that I have no idea exactly what the original recipe was.  I use it as sort of an everything muffin recipe. 

Any Muffin Recipe:
2 cups flour of your choice (sometimes I add up to a cup of oats or the bottom of the box of cereal)
1/2 cup sugar of your choice
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1 egg
1t vanilla
1 cup of milk (if you need more add more)
1/4-1/2 cup fat (oil, coconut oil, butter, etc.)

Then you add in your extras like: chocolate chips, raisins, blueberries, etc.  Think about the combinations you like.  If you like blueberry, then add some lemon zest and perhaps a little more sugar.  For really simple muffins, make them just plain and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top before baking.  Sometimes these muffins are a little heavy,( especially if I forget to add baking powder!) but most of the time they are just fine!  Use your imagination and get creative, the kids will love you!  I usually make two dozen at a time.  They are great for hungry boy tummies in the afternoon!

After all the baking and packaging, the freezer still needed to be organized.  Organizing makes me feel so productive.  It makes me feel like the woman I really want to be when I grow  up!  That woman who knows where the extra batteries are.  Not like me who will dig around in a drawer to find one lonely battery and lick it to see if it's still good! You laugh, but without my husband, that's what would happen!

Organizing is a beautiful idea and invention, if only we could keep it going  year round!  I think it's like our time with the Lord.  When we are in His presence daily, we feel His presence.  We know that with Him we can do all things, we are confident and and content!  When we slip from our times with Him, everything gets messed up.  Nothing seems right on the inside and everything really does fall apart on the outside, because we are attempting to live without Him. 

I pray that this week, you would enjoy your time in the presence of the only one and true God, that is Jesus!  I pray that the Holy Spirit would lead you and guide you in His ways and His truths.  Blessings, as you endeavor to serve and love your family this week.  

Hilltop Blessings, 

Friday, March 4, 2011

March 5, 2011 Ben is Twelve!

How did this baby boy grow so fast? He was our joy made perfect!

We dressed our little Ben Boy up in his great, great grandfather's christening gown.  He wasn't too happy about it and I was terrified the ancient fabric would rip!  Getting his pudgy hands through those little bitty sleeves was a feat to be mastered.  The rocking chair was purchased in about 1904 for his great, great Aunt Sally.  Both heirlooms have been passed down all these years.  I wore the dress and had the rocker in my room as a little girl!  With three boys and Katie, it's been put away!  Go figure!

We learned quickly that Ben loved books!  He is a reader to this day.  Often he is telling us some interesting fact that he has read.  Sometimes they are strange boy facts, but never the less, he loves to read!

I had to have just the right cake! I was terrified of actually making a birthday cake!  Boy how times have changed us!  His cake will be homemade today!  Everything had to be perfect on his first birthday!  It was for this silly mama!

He was and is my helper! If there is chocolate involved then he is definitely my  helper!

Ben was in Paul's brother's wedding. He thought he was getting married!  He was so confused and wondered how he was going to take care of the little flower girl!   Ben was told that if he stayed in place during the wedding, he would get the taped dollar bill off the floor where he was supposed to stand!  He didn't move a muscle!

I loved it when he was my my snaggletooth six year old!  Somehow it reminded me of that toothless little gummy faced baby!

You can only imagine the critters the boys have found in our woods!  This was a box turtle that we returned to it's rightful place!  The woods.....

Ben has been so amazingly gentle with Katie.  He could hardly wait to hold her.  One night after the boys had gone to bed, he came in and said: "I just want to hold her and feel how real she is"!  It meant something down deep to him to hold her.  She stole his heart right then and there!

He willing poses every Fourth of July for the "group" picture.  Not his favorite thing, but he does it for his mama!  I'm so blessed to have this young manchild for my son!  God did everything that I had hoped or dreamed when he gave me Benjamin Aaron Lorenz!  Truly he is our beloved son!  Happy Birthday Ben!  I love you!

I  have been blessed to have four wonderful children!  I can't imagine life without any of them.  When I sit and think about Ben's birth, it reminds me how my life changed in a moment!  How glad I am that God gave me the opportunity to be a mother!  At times I wondered if it would ever happen.  I'm so glad that motherhood was better than I could have ever hoped.  Praise Jesus, that God had me wait for Ben!  He was worth the wait!

Blessings from the Hilltop!