March Madness ( a bit early!)


Ten weeks ago Andrew’s homeschool basketball team registered for the National Christian Homeschool Basketball Championships. We didn’t think we would be able to go. It’s about a weeks committment and then add a hotel room (or two) and meals x6 people, it just didn’t seem possible this year. But, I asked around on FB for any deeply discounted hotel rates, codes, etc. And Joey asked at FamilyLife. One of his co-workers at FamilyLife gave us their timeshare in Branson for a week! Because of their generosity (God’s provision, really!) we took this opportunity to make this our family vacation. Our FIRST!

Here’s the week in review: Monday

Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery



Table Rock Dam


Butterfly Palace



Unfortunately, we didn’t know that Celia is deathly afraid of butterflies (or just that many in one place.) She started crying and screaming the second we walked in to the butterfly room. Joey waited with her out in the atrium. Jacob  was frightened too, but only screamed once, and basically just took shelter in the stroller. He spent most of the time with his hands over his face.


He did venture out of the stroller once, with the explorer’s hats they provide, firmly on his head. He is adventurous and couldn’t resist the elevated wooden walkway!



Family photo!


Little ladies and little gentlemen.


Basketball started. The 10U boys Flames team is ranked #9 to start the tourney. We beat the Tulsa NOAH team to advance to the winner’s bracket.

Joey (as assistant coach) is crouched in the middle, leading the pre-game prayer.


Andrew is #24. .



Game 2. Joey was the head coach this game. We beat the OKC Knights, the #1 ranked team in the country, 28-23.  Andrew shooting free throws.


World’s Largest Toy Museum. (God provided discount tickets! We  showed up and had friends in common with the man working admissions, so he gave us a 40% discount!)

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Xtreme racing go karts

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Game 3: We beat the OKC Storm (the team that has won the championship the last 10 years), 42-25.

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Laura Ingalls Wilder home. This was a dream come true for me. She was my childhood idol. And she offers me hope that one day in my old age I can become a famous writer too!

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This is the spring behind her house that influenced them to purchase the land.


On another part of their property, their daughter built them a Sears Craftsman house, very modern. After less than a decade, Laura and Almonzo missed their old house, and moved “back home.”

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There was also a museum on the property, which contained hundreds of items from both the Ingalls and Wilders families. I could have spent hours in there, but my children could only last about 30-45 minutes. If I had a bucket list, then visiting here would have been on it!


Championship game!

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Unfortunately, we lost to the Houston Wolverines, 33-42. Here is Coach Holloway giving an after game talk.


Our boys played the toughest 10U schedule in the tourney. We are proud!

And to top off our week, we went to Jonah at the Sight and Sound theater that night! God again provided deeply discounted tickets for us. 55% off full price!

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This is the statue outside the theater. Because of heavy rain at the start of the evening, we took the picture afterwards. Kids are tired!


But we all loved it. Even Jacob managed to make it through the end. I think every Christian who visits Branson needs to go to a show here. They incorporate the gospel message into each show and have ushers stationed around the theater for afterwards, in case someone needs prayer and wants to talk about what they’ve seen. LOVED it all!

Here are some random photos from throughout the week:



Inside the condo, playing a game.






And we ended the trip with a stop at Ferguson’s Country Store in St. Joe, AR, on the way home.


The trip couldn’t have been any better. No one got sick. Jacob was a champ with no naps. It was a blessing we will never forget!

How to have fun as an 8 yr. old girl


(or, how to make your Mom really tired.)

Invite over your closest friends and do a craft (no sew pillows):


Have cake and ice cream (eat a lot of sugar):


Open presents (make a mess with gift bags and tissue):


Play a game (jump around the room and scream giggle when it’s not your turn):


Apply make up and perfume (LIBERALLY):


Watch Frozen and eat snacks (have more sugar and make sure and turn the movie up really loud so you can hear it above your own screams giggles, shout sing Let It Go, knock over all the popcorn boxes while performing to the movie and then proceed to scatter snacks across the living room floor)


Have some art time (stay out of the living room so mom can vacuum up the previously mentioned snacks)


Sleep in a circle (progress from talking really loudly, to whispering loudly, to screaming in fright because of unfamiliar house noises, cry and want to go home, and then have your Mom stay in the room until everyone falls asleep)


Wake up in the morning (start talking at the first hint of sunrise) and have donuts for breakfast (sugar to go home with!)


Do more dress up and videos until time to say goodbye (your Mom is thankful that at the end, everyone still likes everyone and she’s looking forward to watching you and your friends grow up together!)

Life goes on


Things have calmed down around here now that the rush of Christmas is over. We had a bit of a stressful holiday, with our washing machine flooding our kitchen 3 days before Christmas. And I had some health issues and a change in some family dynamics that left me  feeling drained emotionally. I was so ready to say goodbye to 2014! Yet I know  that I am not  guaranteed a better year.

However, when we open our hands fully to God, surrendering complete control in all areas, He can send rainbows. Storms  do not last forever! Our first rainbow this year came when a couple at Joey’s office offered us the free use of their  timeshare so we can attend Andrew’s basketball tournament.  An almost completely free family vacation!  Our first!  The kids are so  excited. And the timeshare is in Branson. Woohoo! Joey and I both teared up when this man volunteered his condo.

The second rainbow occurred at the dentist office. An unexpected place for a miracle! I was scheduled to have two cavities filled and was really dreading it. My last experience with that was a complete disaster. As I sat in the dentist chair, the Dr. examined my mouth before administering the anesthesia. He found no evidence of the cavities. So he ordered a set  of x-rays to be taken  and they revealed no cavities either. My teeth were perfectly healthy! The Dr. said very rarely they have problems with x-ray films showing false cavities. But I know this was truly God’s handiwork. When we have faith in God, we can expect supernatural rescues  or  supernatural perseverance through trials (Hebrews 11:32-38.) God confirmed to me that I can trust Him to handle anything! Keep on in the faith! So, slowly my hope is building for the coming year.

School dynamics have changed this week with the addition of a new student.


Jacob has learned to climb the baby gate. And he wants to stay in the room with us almost the whole time. And I thought the school room was messy before!

I had the kids do an art lesson/project this week. As part of art study, I buy famous artist coloring books and big coffee table books of the author’s works. This year, I introduced them to Monet. I photocopied whichever picture they chose from the coloring book and had them study the corresponding piece in the big book. Then, I had them paint in the style of the artist. I bought really tiny brushes so they could imitate the dots Monet used.




The end result of their paintings didn’t look much different than when they paint with regular brushes. And that probably has more to do with the media of the paint: tempera vs. oils. But, they did come  away with an appreciation for the perseverance needed to create a masterpiece. Their hands got tired of making dots and they said this method would take them forever!

Also, this week I hung a stained glass in my house. My very talented cousin, Katherine, made this for me in honor of Cora.


She also put it in the frame. Gorgeous!


I put this in the schoolroom, which was the only living space room that didn’t have a memento of her. I can also stand at my stove in the kitchen and see this hanging up. I no longer cry often about Cora. But the times  I do seem strange to me.

I visited a doctor’s office this week and the nurse mentioned some health issues last July and said,  “I see they were probably related to hormones.” I knew that in my file was information about the stillbirth. Eventually, we  made some friend connections in town and we talked about people  we both knew who had buried their babies. She never mentioned my situation specifically. Perhaps  she was waiting on me to volunteer the story. But, I didn’t. Maybe I should have. On the way home, I started crying about Cora. Grief can be confusing and unexpected!

Well, I’ll end this post with some  snapshots  of Jacob, taken in about 1 minute time span. He has the most expressive face out of  all my children! The apron he’s wearing was mine when I was a little girl.

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Let there be….



The son of God was born at night. God sent Light to the darkness. God sent Light to Mary, in what I’m sure was her scariest hour. I can’t imagine how dark that stable must have been. How smelly. How nauseas I would feel going through labor there. How much I would long for my mother or sister to help me through this. And how relieved I would feel when it was over. How exhausted. And how satisfied. This baby is what I staked my whole  reputation on. And He was worth it. This baby I love. This perfect baby. This normal baby who shines into my heart until I don’t notice the odors and dirty surroundings.

Maybe you’re like me and your Christmas season isn’t all holly and jolly. Perhaps this year it’s pretty dark. Are you struggling to find the light, too? I just have to keep reminding myself that Jesus came at night. Came when everything looked black. He came when no one was smiling, when everyone was exhausted, when tensions were high, when He knew he’d be homeless. And that’s Christmas. He came to make me His home. He came to bring Light to me. He is there everyday, in the darkness, waiting for us to focus on Him until His brightness dims everything around us.

I  love this song.  As I listen to it, I keep reminding myself that all is well in what truly matters.

All is well, all is well
 Angels and men rejoice
 For tonight darkness fell
 Into the dawn of love’s light
 Sing A-le, sing Alleluia

All is well, all is well
 Let there be peace on Earth
 Christ has come go and tell
 That He is in the manger
 Sing A-le, sing Alleluia

All is well, all is well
 Lift up your voice and sing
 Born is now Emmanuel
 Born is our Lord and Savior
 Sing Alleluia, sing Alleluia, all is well.

Our baby is 3!


We’ve been pretty busy since I last posted. Mainly with school and Andrew’s basketball. We also missed a week of school after Thanksgiving because everyone was recovering from a cold virus.

Here are some Christmas pictures I’ve taken:





The girls and I went downtown to the Old State House.


Celia sang a small solo in church.


We celebrated Jacob’s birthday early (something I don’t like to do when they’re young) simply because I want to spread out the time between birthday and Christmas presents.


He did great this year with opening presents. And he even managed to share his toys without too many tantrums.

Thomas the train cake.


He didn’t know what to think when everyone sang.


But he never has a problem eating dessert!


Field Trip #3: Hi, ho; Hi, ho…


…it’s off to dig we go! We finished our study of Arkansas history this week and took a trip to Murfreesboro.


We surveyed the field


and chose a spot to dig. Or, just really shovel dirt from side to side.


After two hours of work, this was our haul.


Buckets full of rocks. The brown and non-expensive kind. And hopefully they came home with great memories and an appreciation for the only public diamond mine in North America!

Capture Your Grief–Day 19. Give



Tonight I’ll be taking a meal to a friend who had a death in her family this week. It’s something new for me  to do. Now, I’ve taken meals to others before,but it’s always been part of a group effort. Someone organized  a meal rotation and I took part.  But this time, I took initiative. I didn’t wait for a sign up sheet before I gave. For me, this is a big step. I don’t like going out on my own. But I have learned that part of the way we can comfort the grieving is to voluntarily provide for their needs. Don’t wait, just do it.

I didn’t realize that by volunteering to help them, I would be opening myself  to pain. It was through recalling our first  week after Cora’s death that I realized this friend needed some help. I remember the sheer exhaustion of grieving. I remember almost burning myself on a pot of boiling water. I remember how helpless I felt to  control anything and how grateful I was for those meals. My thoughts were consumed with what I needed  to do in the next few moments; I couldn’t plan even hours ahead. Nothing seemed to matter now that my baby was gone.

It was painful to watch them at church this morning. Attending church was difficult for me after both my losses. While the promise of heaven gives us hope, hearing references to heaven just  reminded me that I was here and my baby was there. It was hard.  And this morning I was again aware of all the references we casually make to life, death and heaven. But in the words from one of my favorite songs,”Pain’s the path to blessing.” Because of the  pain I feel, I can bless others. My pain does have a purpose. Cora’s legacy lives on.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7