Sunday, September 30, 2007

Go on over to The Prissy Closet

Priscilla finally has finished her first post about her mission trip to Africa, with parts 2 and maybe 3 to come.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Feast of Tabernacles

Last night started the first of eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles. We celebrate this simply by camping out on top of our hill. Every night we have a bonfire, singing, reading Scriptures and enjoying fellowship, smores and usually, popcorn! Last night a beautiful full moon rose over the mountains, which is my favorite part of the Feast. Kezzi is learning to play the guitar, so this year we have some music added to the mix.

We've mentioned it to quite a few family members and friends, some of which joined us last night. If I forgot to mention it to you, and you would like to come just email us for directions at And bring your instrument if you play one! We usually head up there around 7:30 every evening.
(Saturday night is the only night we won't be doing this.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Questions from a Reader, Answers from Me

From an anonymous reader:

"I hesitate to post this, because you seem to have fears that someone might post something ugly or nasty on your blog due to the approval delay, but I will post anyway.

I have a question that has been bugging me since your daughter got "engaged". My question is: Why would you want your daugher to go to marriage counseling if you knew that God was all in it? I mean, if you can only know a person for 2 whatever weeks, and then KNOW that God wants you to marry this person, why bother with the counsel?

have been following your blog for some time now, and find this very interesting subject. What if the counselor finds these two won't work out, or need more time, would you take the advice of the counselor? Would you take the advice to wait for a year? Or whatever he/she was to say to these young people? Would you pull the stops and cancel the "marriage?"

I am not a good writer, like you, but my question is why bother with the counselor? If God be for us, who can be against us? Why use man as a mediator?

I am for counseling, dont get me wrong. I truly think that it is wisdom and a good thing. But, the way this method seems to have some flaws that I do not understand, nor the intellectual faculities for.

I have several small children, and this is an issue that my wife and I have struggled with. "

Yes, sorry about the delay in posting comments. I do this for a couple of reasons. First of all, spam gets through. Secondly, I have had people post inappropriate things. So, since it is my blog, I control what gets put on it because I'm the one who bears responsibility for it.

Your question is a good one. Candace and Michael are going through counseling for several reasons. I think pre-marital counseling is not just for the purpose of finding out if you are meant for each other. It can help you build a good foundation, thinking through how you will handle issues before they arise. Candace and Michael have spent their whole lives getting our perspective on life and it's nice for them to have a chance to hear from someone else who we greatly respect and honor. We already know from hearing our pastor teach on Sunday mornings that he has a lot of wisdom and great things to say, so it's easy to trust him to give sound advice to our children. I think Candace and Michael greatly honor their parents and they are old enough to have had some time to judge whether or not they think their parents have had wisdom in their teaching or not, but even still, I think it's nice for them to hear it from someone else. And if he has differing views, it's still good for them to have a chance to think through what they believe. In fact, our pastor has asked Candace to review the book (in writing) that he has asked them to read. And both Candace and Michael have already read enough to see that they have differing views from the author. The times in my life when I have learned the most, is when I have questioned something I have heard that didn't set right with me and explored it for myself.

We did not recommend counseling in order to obtain a stamp of approval but if our pastor had serious reservations and recommended doing something other than following through with our plans, it is something we would take seriously and devote a lot of prayer to. I can’t say ahead of time whether we would agree with his advice or not. We would have to know what his advice was and how he arrived at it. We try to follow God, not man. But it is something we would weigh heavily. And no matter what we do, Candace and Michael are adults and are free to make that decision themselves. We do not have the power to cancel this marriage. All Ford and I have to do is decide whether we give our blessing or not. Candace and Michael would have to decide to proceed without it or not.

You are correct. There is no flawless way to go through this process. I have told the girls that there is no guarantee when it comes to marriage. There is no way to enter into that covenant without risk. There is incredible risk. We can only throw ourselves on the mercy of God and always try to trust Him no matter what happens. No human being deserves unconditional trust. A spouse will always have the power to hurt you. That risk doesn’t even end after twenty years of marriage. It’s always there. You have to take the risk and be vulnerable. It’s just the way it is because we live in a fallen world and people always have a choice to do what's right or not.

However, I do believe strongly that there are ways to reduce the risk of disaster. It is obvious that the modern method is NOT working. So, we've been willing to rethink the whole process and consider alternatives. Sometimes it's as simple as "considering the ancient paths".

We have made some mistakes and, I hope learned from them. We also have had some successes. By successes, I mean not just Candace and Michael, but other situations that have come about when the outcome has been realizing that the matches are not right without any damage or hurt on either side. I especially rejoice when the young men leave the process without any ill feelings toward us - and better yet, when they remain as one of our family friends. We have had two experiences like this recently.

Your questions do not offend me at all. On the contrary, I enjoy them and would love to have more conversations about this issue, especially with people with whom I go to church I'm real glad you are thinking about all of this and questioning what you see and hear. I wish everyone would. So many people just float along on the stream without thinking about what they are doing. As a parent, you are on the same journey as we are and I'm sure you want what is best for your kids. Since we are only human, none of us are perfect. But I serve a perfect God who does have answers and promises to give me wisdom if I will only ask and believe. My fault has been in barging ahead without taking the time to ask. Don't make that same mistake. Ask away.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Our Collision with a Deer

At 7am this morning Candace and I were on way to meet Michael for their pre-marital counseling class when all of a sudden a huge buck was on my windshield. All I remember is seeing the head of a deer right in front of me and looking right in it's eye and then hearing glass shatter. I stopped the car and then just starting screaming. The shock of it just brought back memories of other accidents and I felt as though I was reliving them. Candace was beside me and immediately asked if I was ok and started trying to calm me down and tell me it was ok. She was the one who had a level head throughout the whole thing. I just lost it.

Luckily, the deer did not break through the windshield, although you may be able to see from this picture that it almost did. It did kick out the passenger side window where Candace was sitting. When she turned her head to protect her face, she saw deer hooves coming in the side window. That glass went all over us. The picture below is where Candace was sitting. And we both had deer excrement all on our clothes. I even had some on my back! It must have come in through Candace's side window.

By the time we stopped and were able to get out, the deer was no where to be seen. It did leave some of it's insides on the road and hanging on the roadside fence. We are thankful that neither of us have any serious injuries. Candace has some tiny cuts on her face and arms and I have just a few. As we stood waiting for the police to arrive, we had to shake the glass off of our clothes and we could feel it come down our pants and land in our shoes. But it could have been a lot worse. Ford and Michael were both on the scene within minutes and Ford was able to drive the car back home.
This incident has made me really want to get the deer population under control around here. We need more hunters out here! We were talking to a guy at church last night and he mentioned wanting to come out to hunt. I think now I'll send him a written invitation!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Marys and Marthas

Last night was our first women's meeting of the new season. This year I volunteered to be a table hostess, which means that I help cook part of the meal and I'm responsible for serving the ladies at my table and leading the discussions after the speaker. I'm really excited about the coming year and am so thankful for the opportunity to serve the beautiful women of our church, even in this small way.

I was kind of nervous about the small talk time because I am horrible at instigating small talk, especially with strangers. Even when I am interested in the other person, I freeze up and can't think of a thing to say. However, I knew that if I prayed, God could help me. So pray I did.

Candace, Priscilla and I left early, picked up Michael's aunt Alana and arrived to a beautifully decorated room where we were to meet. I popped my casserole in the oven, helped set out a few things and then sat around visiting. People began to arrive and I went and stood by my table, waiting for the women to get seated. God's special blessing to me that night was to fill my table with women whom I knew already and had already come to love! As I looked around, I breathed a big sign of relief. I kept thinking that it was amazing that I've only known these women for a year, because it seems so much longer since they have become a part of what I look forward to so much.

We had a great time. One of our pastor's spoke, kicking us off for the year by encouraging us in the chosen path of topics, which is spiritual disciplines. He talked quite a bit about Mary and Martha in a way I had never heard before. "Martha always gets a bad rap," he said. And then he went on to elaborate on the scriptural evidence of Martha's character. Being a Martha, through and through, I was so blessed to see this other view of things. After he described some of the nature of Mary and Martha types of personalities, he had those who were like Mary stand up and then those of us like Martha. He encouraged us all to look around and seek friendships with the opposite types. Then he had us pair up with the opposite type personality and we all prayed together, asking God to help us learn from each other. A lot of times, things like this can be real hokey, but this wasn't like that. It was real.

I laughed to see both women who sat on either side of me, both of whom had become very dear to me, stand up as Marys. It really almost brought me to tears. God is so good. When we walk in faith, trusting His goodness, He blesses us beyond our imaginations! Much beyond what we deserve.

Smartening Us Up

Several of my friends are reading Gatto's Dumbing Us Down, so I thought they might appreciate this quote to go along with it.

"The child does not mind a bit if there are things he does not quite understand." To which I add: It's important that there be things he or she doesn't understand, or understands only partly, by guessing from the context. That's an excellent way to learn.

Books for very young children don't have to be Dick and Janeish, or even Goodnight Moonish. I see no need to dumb down in writing for the young. Why not smarten up instead? Brooke did.

Quote from A Child's Delight by Noel Perrin

I saw this book mentioned on a couple of other blogs, so always interested in children's literature, I ordered a used copy. I liked this quote and have noticed how true this is when I'm reading to Annalise. Today we were reading Beauty and the Beast from Andrew Lang's Blue Fairy Book. While I was reading, I knew there were many words she did not know but it did not diminish her enjoyment of the story. It's amazing what you can pick up by the context. And I agree that it is an excellent way to learn. Much more interesting than lists of vocabulary words.

For Instruction In Righteousness:A Topical Reference Guide for Biblical Child-Training

This is a little gem of a book we have used over the years. We are currently using it in our morning time together, reading through verses that talk about being kind to each other. It's really simple to use. Everyone comes with their Bibles and I call out a verse for each one to look up. They all take turns reading their assigned verse and then we talk about it. Simple and easy. Many times we prefer to read through whole books in order to grasp the content by reading it in context but it's nice to occasionally take a topic and see what God thinks about it.

It's been convicting to realize that I have not always enforced kindness in our home the way I should have. It's sobering to realize how serious God is about how we treat each other. We are a very close family but sometimes we are not very kind. Since we are so quick to forgive, we sometimes take that for granted. I think this study is waking us up a bit.

Monday, September 17, 2007

In Hopes of Helping to Alleviate Anyone's Fears

Some people have been concerned about the quickness of Candace's engagement. So far, everyone that we know of that had concerns, has been quickly reassured after spending any time with Michael or talking to Candace. And today, our pastor, Chad, was no exception. Chad had concerns after hearing how fast things went. He even called Ford to talk to him about it and to make sure we were ok with it. After their first counseling session today, he said his concerns were gone. They had a great time with him and are really looking forward to the six weeks of counseling ahead.

One of the young men came up to Kezzi at church and asked what was going on. How come Candace had a boyfriend when she had preached against dating to everyone else? Kezzi tried to quickly explain that they had not dated and they were engaged. The young man was shocked and Kezzi didn't have time to explain more. She was sure he left confused but she plans to try to explain more later. Most people don't understand how you can get to the point of engagment without the dating part.

I am really looking forward to the wedding and life with a married daughter and son-in-law. Michael has been so easy and we couldn't ask for a better man for Candace. Of course, we know he must not be perfect, but neither is she. Or any of us. People don't have to be perfect to be a part of God's perfect plan. I pray that the example of God's faithfulness and theirs will be an inspiration to many. I know it's encouraged me even more to trust God - that He is worthy to be trusted and He often has better plans for us than we can even imagine.

My Girl is Back and So Are We

Pris got back Thursday but we had to wait until Saturday night to lay eyes on her since we were still gone on vacation. It was so good to see her! I missed her so very much. She had an amazingly good time and brought us all gifts. Annalise especially enjoyed her tales of buying things in the marketplace. She brought back a t-shirt for Ford and I got a purple vase, coffee and a mug from Amsterdam. The girls got necklaces and the boys got knives and Kenyan money. Annalise got a sweet little doll and candy. Hopefully she'll blog soon because she has lots of great stories.

We left the beach a day early to spend some time with our family in Charlotte. It was a nice time visiting with everyone. My sister-in-law, Caroline, was my hero! When I told her the only thing about the upcoming wedding I was dreading was finding something to wear, she offered to take me shopping the next morning. I hate shopping. My wonderful mother-in-law volunteered to take Caroline's son to his karate class so Caroline would be free. And wonder of wonders - I found a dress! And even better yet it was the first and only thing I tried on! So, I'm set. And I'm very grateful for great family!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

It Has Been Great

This vacation has truly been what I had hoped for. Even though we've been pretty active, I've enjoyed a relaxed state of mind. Vacationing with my sister and her family is always so easy because we all enjoy being spontaneous and going with the flow.

Here are the little things that have made this vacation for me:

1. access to 24 hour news tv

2. a huge garden tub with jacuzzi jets that I can fill up any time I want to with no thought of the cost of all that hot water

3. listening to 24 hour news tv while I soak in the above described tub

4. eating the most delicious tuna steaks out at a fabulous restaurant and then finding a little market that sells the same kind of meat for us to grill on our own the next night

5. heading to the pool in the dark after everyone else is gone and swimming laps until I can't swim any more

6. having enough homemade bread to carry us through the week

7. having morning coffee with vanilla carmel brownie creamer while watching 24 hour news tv

8. having the constant company of an adorable and funny almost-two-year-old and a baby to cuddle at any time

9. seeing all kinds of local wildlife including dolphins twice this week

10. a suntan that was acquired effortlessly

We are heading out tomorrow, a day early, so we can stop and spend some time with some extended family on the way home. It's been wonderful but I'll enjoy getting home too.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Now it's Our Turn

It's 2:40pm and we are packed and loaded for the beach, the house is clean, all of the laundry is completely caught up and we are having leftovers for dinner! Kezzi is doing errands and Candace even had time to bake 6 loaves of bread. Whew! It's mighty rare that we are this ready this far ahead of time. We're not leaving until 6am tomorrow morning. Usually I'm running around like a drill sergeant barking orders at the kids and feeling overcome with anxiety over that something I must be forgetting. Maybe I'm getting smarter in my old age and finally learning to do things ahead of time - before the stress hits.
I'm hoping to be soon indulging in scenes like this before I come home and a flurry of activity hits. We will have nine weeks before the wedding from the time we get home. Two weeks in November are going to be insane. The girls are going to be performing their major production on the 10th, then the rehearsal and dinner on the 16th, wedding on the 17th, then my homeschool meeting on the Monday evening following, Tuesday night brings the night for our women's ministry meeting where I am to cook something and be a table hostess, then Wednesday we will leave for Charlotte for our family Thanksgiving celebration. I'm hoping to stock up on rest at the beach and save up for the crazy times ahead.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

She's Off...

Update: We received an email from Pris this afternoon (Friday, Sept. 7th) and she says she's having a amazing time but really missing all of us. They have already visited the orphanage, which turns out to be more like a school, and the kids were following them around begging to have their pictures taken, which she was only too happy to oblige. She says she has really felt the presence of the Lord the last couple of days and asks for prayer that they will have a strong impact and that they will grow in the Lord through it. Also, please pray that she won't get too homesick because she usually has a hard time being away from all of us - and I'm sure it won't help that she knows we are headed to the beach for a family vacation. The two trips coincided and we couldn't change them. But we know God is bigger than all of that and we trust His purposes!

Priscilla is on her way to Kenya on a mission trip. It's amazing to think she' ll be in a country bordering an ocean we've never even seen before. People have been asking me if I'm nervous or worried. Even the cashier at McDonalds, where we stopped to get ice cream on the way to the airport, asked me if I was ok with her going. (We told her about the trip because she was asking if all of the kids were off school) Maybe it's weird, but I'm fine. I can't wait to hear all about it. I'm excited for her and thrilled that she has had this opportunity.
Thank you to everyone who has helped with financial contributions and prayers. Please continue to pray for them this week.
She took our digital camera and a journal and has promised to write in it daily. I'm sure she'll be blogging about it when she gets home so stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Advice to the Father of the Bride

We were all cracking up today at lunch when I read this post from the Trivium Pursuit blog aloud. Especially Ford, who is gearing up for such things.

Labor Day Weekend

We started the weekend off by picking up Michael at his aunt's house Saturday morning and driving 2 1/2 hours away to visit some new friends of ours who live near the Virginia/Tennessee border. They fed us a great lunch and then we hiked over to their shop where they make ornamental metal gates. We even had a demonstration of the making of a metal rose. Their work is so beautiful that we determined to make plans to order a custom gate for the bottom of our driveway. Once back to the house, we made Michael play his guitar and sing for us and then Candace twisted Hope's arm and had her play a few of her songs on the piano. Later, the older kids all piled in our Durango and traveled about 30 minutes to visit a friend of theirs who recently married and returned home from her month-long honeymoon. Annalise missed them while they were gone but before they left she had her first horseback ride ever, something she has been bugging me about for years. Ford and I enjoyed hours of peaceful time with conversation with the parents and grandparents. Then the kids all invaded again and set up at the kitchen table to play cards. We had to drag ourselves away to make it home in time to get to bed since we have to leave for church so early but we left thanking God for answering our prayers for good friends with older kids.

On Sunday we went to church and then back home again for an afternoon at my parents' home. They cooked a wonderful meal for us. After we ate, most of us found ourselves dozing in different places of the house. It was a laid back, relaxing day to catch up on some much needed rest. That evening Ford talked a few of us into playing a little tennis before taking Michael back to his aunt's house. We arrived at his aunt's with every intention of staying for a few minutes while Candace opened a gift from her but we ended staying and yakking and laughing until the time we had set for our bedtime that night. (The gift was a beautiful photo of Candace and Michael with the words of a country song, Josh Turner's Go With Me, which has been special to them.)

The next morning we got up at 5am and left around 6am to head out to Michael's parent's home about 4 hours away. Again, we picked up Michael and had to stop at the 24 hour pharmacy to get Priscilla's malaria medicine. While we were in the store our alarm on the Durango went off so Ford went out to turn it off. After he turned it off, Michael was goofing off by pushing the horn of the car he was driving to make Ford think it was ours. The kids were cracking up to see Ford come out again to turn it off, only to realize it was Michael. After stopping at McDonald's for breakfast we were finally on the road. We stopped and saw the place where Candace and Michael will be living and met Michael's wonderful grandmother. After that we were whisked away to Michael's home to meet his mom, dad and siblings. My heart, which has already been at peace about Candace marrying and moving away, was even more so after spending time with such a wonderful family. I was instantly comfortable and we had a lovely afternoon filled with laughter and singing. Michael's mom played and sang some songs for us, along with a couple of songs she wrote when Michael was little. Michael and his mom played and sang some songs together and Candace and the girls sang a few songs they had worked up. (All of you who come to the wedding will get to hear those in the celebration time at the reception) All of us have such a peace about this marriage and it only continues to become more evident that Candace and Michael are meant for each other. We left making plans for his family to come stay with us some weekend and we are all really looking forward to that.

We arrived home at 9:30 last night to find a note on our door from a friend that we have all been missing. He stopped by while we were gone and all of us were bummed out that we had missed him. We need more weekends to have time for so many wonderful friends and family!