Thursday, November 27, 2014

Many Reasons to Give Thanks

Mrs. R:

Our Thanksgiving began with a time of family Bible reading this morning. We then sang a couple of hymns. With twenty of us in the house this Thanksgiving we nearly qualify as a choir.

As soon as worship time was over, an intense strategy game started at the kitchen table.

By eleven, the meal preps for the holiday feast were fully underway. Many hands helped peel the potatoes...

...but the special touch that turns them into world's best mashed potatoes is Kirsten's. When we adopted her from Russia four years ago this month, she brought with her this special skill that has blessed our family many times.

However, when Kirsten's cousin, Amanda, wandered into the kitchen, Kirsten paused in her stirring and asked if I would take a picture of the two of them.

Meanwhile, Grandpa's preparation of the stuffing was happily interrupted by a visit from Brielle and Eliana. 

As much as Brielle normally likes being kissed by her grandpa, this time the two-year-old was far more interested in what Grandpa was doing than in his show of affection. 

The dilemma was easily solved when we found a way to position Brielle as Grandpa's helper. She became the keeper of the key ingredient for our family's stuffing recipe: SAGE.

Soon it was time to open the bottle...

...and shake!!! We learned years ago that great stuffing takes a great deal of sage. This year we started passing down that learning to the next generation.

Brielle watched eagerly as Grandpa stirred in the sage she had added.

Then she added another round of the all-important seasoning as Amanda prepared chicken broth to add to the mixture to moisten it.

Next, Brielle was eager to help Grandpa stir the massive mound.

She watched intently as he got out the foil pan in which the stuffing would be baked.

Finally, she helped Grandpa transfer the stuffing into the baking pan.

They scraped and scraped to get every last bit.

Finally, the holiday masterpiece was ready for the oven.

Since she was already in position, Brielle then wanted to help Amanda by drying the dishes.

Our big girl was such a big help!

Just as I was ready to put my camera away, I saw Kirsten slide over to give her daddy a hug as he turned his attention from the stuffing to the preparations necessary before getting the turkeys out of the oven. I didn't capture the special moment in focus, but I couldn't resist posting the photo anyway.

Our family has countless reasons to give thanks to God! The Lord has been so good to us. He abounds in lovingkindness!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Happy Trio

 Mrs. R:

I walked into our living room today to find Alison and Eric thoroughly enjoying themselves. I grabbed my camera and slid behind them to get a peak at what was delighting them.

This little face was staring lovingly at his mommy from his daddy's knees.

William has stolen both their hearts in a mere seven weeks of life!
And it's not hard to see why!

During this week of Thanksgiving,
I give thanks to God for our third grandchild, William.
Children are, indeed, a blessing from the Lord! 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Meeting Little Man

Last night Grandpa finally got to meet the newest member of the family, 6-week-old William,
son of Alison and Eric, when the trio flew in from New England.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pride Does WHAT???

Mrs. R:

For the past several months, I've found this quote very helpful in seeing the real me. The words were pinned by one of my all-time favorite preachers (see and authors, Jim Berg:

"Pride whines and pouts;
Pride shouts and demands;
Pride argues and debates;
Pride covets and grasps;
Pride screams and retaliates;
Pride lusts and indulges;
Pride manipulates and schemes;
Pride drives and obsesses;
Pride worries and frets.

"Pride is full of self-assertion, self-protection, self-promotion, self-confidence and self-esteem. Pride cries out, "I will not! I must have! I don't have to...! I won't let that happen! I can't take any more of ...! I don't like this!"

Dr. Berg also points out, "Most of the noise in our souls is caused when we try to gain control or regain it when it has been taken away." God is More Than Enough: Foundations for a Quiet Soul, pgs. 8

I'm so guilty of trying to stay in control in my own little kingdom. I like things my way! And while you'll almost never find me actually screaming or shouting, the attitudes that can produce these messy ways of living with others are often festering in my heart.

To fight the disease of pride, I've written Dr. Berg's insight onto a 3x5 index card. I review the card as part of my Bible reading early each morning, praying to God that He will keep me from the many manifestations of pride that can so easily wound my family. I've found that over time, God is helping me to become more sensitive to "ick" the lives inside me. Now I can sometimes even catch myself before I spill "ick" on someone near me.

Every once in a while a powerful quote is enough to change your life. I'm finding that these words are changing mine for the better. I think my husband and children would echo that and tell you that the daily "pride scrubbing" of my soul is making me a more pleasant, Christ-like person to be around. I'm finding that rehearsing these words daily and letting them be used by the Holy Spirit is increasing my joy. This is a win-win for everyone!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Helping {well...sort of}

Mrs. R:

I tried to take a nap today, but found that I was too full of the joy of the Lord to do so. I couldn't stop thinking just how blessed I am. After being told by multiple doctors that we would never have children, the Lord has given Mr. R and me TWELVE. And now multiple grandchildren are increasing our joy!

Since I couldn't sleep this afternoon, I browsed through photos, my favorite form of "evidence" of the Lord's goodness in my life. These photos which I took during a late summer visit to Aaron and Anna's house sure got me smiling. While we were there to celebrate Evelyn's first birthday, Anna tried her best to sort through her girls' clothing and put outgrown pieces away. She had two ready helpers!

At another time during our trip I caught a very curious toddler "helping" her daddy when he stepped away from his computer ever so briefly.

Ahhhhh...our children and grandchildren are such treasures! They keep me smiling and rejoicing in God's abundant lovingkindness!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

No Selfie . . . Boo-Hoo

Every once in awhile one of those perfect opportunities to take a selfie with someone important slips by and leaves regret. Just night I experienced just one of those incidences.

Mr. R and I spent about three hours in a laundry mat early last evening. Every once in while our capacity to keep up with our laundry positively exceeds the number of people living in this house. The dirty clothes brought home by a traveler exasperates the never-ending challenge to stay caught up. Thus Mr. R's suitcase full of dirty laundry after last week's trip to sweltering Zambia with Sarah put our family in a state of near-crisis.

In the midst of the tedious work of doing laundry in that environment, I was blessed by the Lord in such an expected way. A very elderly woman came in to wash her bathroom rugs. From the first time I spotted her my heart was drawn to her because she reminded me of my beloved mother-in-law, Jane. I could see that she was experiencing some trouble in comprehending how to use the machine she needed for her single load. I did my best to off the help, while still showing her dignity. Our three or four years with Jane's declining-brain function as she passes through her eighties has taught me much about gently coming alongside the elderly.

As we worked side-by-side attending our loads of laundry. Helen introduced herself and started a conversation by commenting our large amount of laundry. I gave the the simplest answer I could of I could think, which was just to explain that we are the parents of twelve kiddos. She immediately beamed and told me she had thirteen children.

Having guessed at the her season of life, I asked if she happened to have any great grandchildren . She blew me away by telling me she had some twenty-some, but, honesty, I didn't do my best listening. I missed the exact number because I was in awe! As I was busy considering her legacy, Helen went own to proudly share the news that she has great-great grandchildren! I immediately asked if I could hug her, telling her she was the very first great-great grandmother I'd ever meet. She looked sheepishly pleased at my desire to hug her and warmly took me into her embrace. I immediately felt as though I was in my mother-in-laws arms. What a joy that sensation was since we live six hours from Mr. R's mom and rarely get to see her.

After our embrace, I asked how long she had been married, and she told me that her husband died in the year they would have reached their 60th anniversary. I told her congratulations for reaching that unusual milestone. Her response was a sad shake of her head. She told me she believes few of those in today's culture will reach their 60th anniversaries unless they add up the number of years they passed in their first second and third marriages.

By this time Helen's bathroom rugs were finished, and she was ready to return to her home in an senior living center. We hugged again...and again, and then I told her what an honor it had been to meet her. This strong woman walked out carrying her own laundry basket and wearing a smile.

The Lord was so good to provide me with this bright spot in the middle of the glum of spending the afternoon in a dirty laundry mat! What a privilege! What kindness from the Giver of all Good Gifts! (James 1:17 NASB) My only regret that I didn't ask Helen if I could take a selfie of the two of us. After all, we're both mothers of extra-large broods! The memory of this sweet encounter will just have to live on in my mind.

Sister Love

Eric and Alison's first child, William, at about 18 hours old. He's being loved on by his Auntie Anna, Alison's older sister. Anna flew to New England from Ohio to help the new parents make the tremendous adjustment to adding their first new family member. Anna's husband, Aaron, was remarkably kind in giving our family the "gift of Anna" on this landmark occasion. He took four days off from work to stay home and watch their one- and two-year-old daughters.