Content Amidst the Chaos

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I hope to always remember September 6, 2010

Filed under: S3,Uncategorized — jps23 @ 1:19 am

I don’t know if it’s having seven kids or if it’s because beyond their first year, I feel the information is insignificant, but I can’t keep anyone’s birth weights, lengths, or times straight.  Sometimes I can remember weights, but I often get them mixed up.  We even have to think a second when you ask for birth dates, not because we don’t know them, but because we have to remember whose is whose.  We have three in April and two in June, so it requires a little brain power to keep them straight.  We at least get the May and December ones pretty quickly, but we usually have to do a little math for the year.  Anyhow, I am completely digressing here.  The point in my ramblings is that I am not great at remembering things that most people have etched in their memory.  I wish I could remember their sweet little voices as they are first saying mine and Superman’s names, Mommy and Daddy.  But more than that, I hope to always remember the sound of their voice when they say the most important words they will EVER say in their life, “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Our youngest daughter was baptized today, and that girl gave her confession of faith loud and proud with a tone that said, “What else is there?”  Next Sunday, our middle daughter will do the same, and just six and a half months ago, our oldest daughter led the way.  I can still hear her sweet voice from that day.  I hope to always remember their voices saying those words, although I’m sure I will forget.  I can’t describe the flood of emotions I feel when those words are spoken in the average church member, so you can imagine my feelings hearing them from my own children.  Each of their baptisms are special for unique reasons.

Picasso has been thirsty for Him ever since I can remember.  The girl wanted a Jesus-themed birthday party one year, I think maybe when she was turning four.  She made her decision quite carefully, though, because although she was certain she wanted to follow Him, she was timid about getting up in front of the church to give her confession.  Not because she wasn’t sure, but because she’s a little bashful.  Hearing her say it was big because I knew it was so tough for her to get up in front of everyone, but she got to a point where she just didn’t care.  She was ready for this even if it meant doing something hard.  She was our first child baptized into His kingdom.  Huge for us.

Giving her bold confession!

Mary Lou’s baptism was special for a few reasons.  When we asked her who she wanted to baptize her, she said Roomie’s name without a seconds hesitation (for those of you that don’t know, we have our Children’s Ministry intern living with us, which was a summer arrangement, but it worked so well that she’s staying through the remainder of this year).  We first met her when she started visiting our church when Mary Lou was only three years old.  She also assisted in the preschool class where I taught Mary Lou that year.  Shortly after that, she became an intern in our children’s ministry, and she babysat for us when her school schedule allowed, so she’s very near and dear to our hearts.  The kids actually count her as a member of the family now that she is living with us!  Our church’s practice is that any believer can baptize, so she was chosen.  The cool part was that this was her first time.  It was also our new Children’s Minster’s first time taking a confession of faith from one of the kids in our ministry.  And to round out the morning, the old Children’s Minister, our friend Preacher, popped in after driving 10+ hours through the night from Arkansas to be support for Roomie and Mary Lou.  It was a beautiful event.  What stood out the most, however, was her certain, assured, and bold repetition of that confession.  It reminded me of the day I said my vows to her daddy.  There was no hint of doubt.

I’m sure that next week, I will be able to share how special the event ends up being for Cowgirl.  I can say this already, though.  An autistic child, who struggles with abstract concepts and things unseen, being so certain of knowing and loving Jesus just makes it special enough.  She’s been talking about baptism since Picasso took the step to obedience, and I tried to make sure she was ready.  Out of the blue the other day, she just said, “Why do I have to wait?  You didn’t make Picasso wait!  I’m ready to be baptized!”  I knew that I couldn’t hold her back any longer.  I can’t wait to share the events of her special day with you.  For now, I’ll leave you with a few more pics of our special day today.

A New Creation!

Roomie and Mary Lou

 

So he does have fingernails? August 29, 2010

Filed under: S1,S2,S3 — jps23 @ 1:29 pm

Yesterday, we were outside in our backyard trying to take down a tree.  Don’t laugh.  It was only a little dogwood.  The problem we are having with it is A) it’s in the middle of everything, kind of in the way, and B) it had two trunks, with one trunk no longer producing leaves or flowers.

just behind Cowgirl's head, to the left of the swingset

What does this have to do with fingernails?  Well, while we were working on taking down a dogwood with a hand saw (wrong equipment, I know), Picasso asked why God couldn’t just clip His nails so that one could fall out of the sky and chop the tree down.  Yeah, she comes up with stuff like that all the time.  I explained to her that God doesn’t have fingernails.  Jesus was the form of God who came to earth  to live as Man, so He would be the one with the fingernails, not God.  Then we continued to take down the tree.

Fast forward to today, when we were sitting in church.  Now, this is a complex path to follow, so if you’re tired, you might want to come back later when your faculties are in better working order.  Today was Homecoming Sunday, and Family Sunday, which means the elementary kids attend worship with their parents, and because of Homecoming, that would be in the traditional service with hymns and choral presentations.  Now, our contemporary band did a bluegrass mix of hymns, which livened it up a bit, but these kids are used to rockin’ sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs kind of stuff in their service that goes on each Sunday morning upstairs.  Anyhow, they displayed the words to the music on big screens, and the back drop for one of these screens was a picture of three crosses, like the ones on Calvary.  Cowgirl whispered to me, “Why are there three crosses?”  I told her I’d explain after church.  Then Picasso asked, “Why did Jesus die on a cross?”  I told her the same thing.  I mean, she knows that He died on the cross for our sins and because He loves us, but she didn’t know WHY someone would put Him on a cross to die.

So, after church, we commenced our conversation about the three crosses and why He had to die on one in the first place.  When I explained that Jesus came in the form of man to live on earth, but that He is also God (the Trinity is hard for kids), Picasso replied “So He does have fingernails?”  I just couldn’t help but laugh!  Here were are being all deep and theological about the three crosses and why Jesus was put on one by religious leaders who didn’t believe Him to be the Son of God, and that’s what comes out of her mouth.  She then goes on to ask why the guy who was preaching talked about food in his sermon so close to lunch time.  “Didn’t he know we were all hungry?”  She also asked about the big black speakers that were hanging in the sanctuary, wondering why they couldn’t just put some glitter on them.  These were their Family Sunday reflections!

I laugh, but we also had a very serious conversation about some big things.  Cowgirl wanted to know about the three crosses.  They wanted to understand the process of how someone dies on a cross.  They wanted to understand what would motivate someone to allow a person, especially Jesus Christ, to die that way.  They also realized that though this was a horrific and painful death, that Jesus was willing to do it for us.  That because God the Father loves us, He sent His Son to live and walk among us, and eventually die a painful death on a cross for us, so that we could walk with Him eternally by allowing the Holy Spirit to live within us.

What did you learn at church today?

My little theologians

 

Mary Lou, the Graduate! June 1, 2010

Filed under: S3 — jps23 @ 7:15 pm

School was a “unique” experience for us this year, but we couldn’t help but celebrate Mary Lou’s graduation.  Now we have mixed feelings on all these opportunities kids have to graduate these days, feeling like it lessens the feeling of accomplishment when they truly graduate from school, but nonetheless, we had a lovely time celebrating Mary Lou’s special day.  Our preschool director did a fabulous job of making this a special little ceremony for the kids.  I was surprised at the emotion it evoked in me.  My nephew graduated on this day, as well, so he will be featured in pics here, too.  Congrats Mary Lou and J.T.!

Their silly class pictures

Our little graduate

She's the one with her arms in the air!

cousins, born 12 days apart

Our proud family, minus the wild little boys!

Superman's mom, and Mary Lou's glimpse at her future self!

My parents and their grand-graduates

Excited for our sweet girl!

 

Camp Clean Up

Filed under: Our home,S1,S2,S3 — jps23 @ 6:48 pm

The title speaks for itself.  We are spending the first “official” days of summer cleaning up things around here.  I don’t know how you mommies who work full time actually pull this off.  Oddly enough, with us all home, I think we can do a better job of keeping things clean around here than when we were here part time and at school the other part of the time.  Well, enough is enough.  I need to change some habits in myself and in my children, so here goes.  Each day, we will tackle one room and clean it top to bottom.  We will take two small snack breaks and a break for lunch, otherwise we do nothing else until this is done!  Today we started in the girls room.  I didn’t take before pictures, and the room was honestly so awful, I probably wouldn’t have posted them!  You see, I don’t care about cleaning house or rooms simply because there are so many people here, it takes a matter of seconds to undo what took hours to do.  However, since recently finding out about Earnhart’s dust mite allergies, I’ve got to make a change.  We all have to make a change.  Here is the end result in the girls’ room after about five hours or work, total, in their room today.

The stray dolls were dropped off the beds by pesky brothers!

Wow! There are floors!

Their closet is finally clean enough to paint!

That’s the vacuum arm that I left laying in the floor.  My camera battery was dying, so I didn’t have time to pull it out of the way before getting the shot!  Tomorrow, we tackle the family room.  One day, I’ll post about room names.  They are ever changing in this family!

 

I love learning! April 25, 2010

Filed under: family size,homeschooling,S3,Superman — jps23 @ 11:22 pm

Let it be said that I have NONE desire to go back to school (that is the way Mary Lou says “no” in reference to how much she has or doesn’t have of something in particular- I know it’s improper English, but hey, it’s cute).

Tipper and Mary Lou

That being said, I love learning.  I love to browse Barnes and Noble or amazon.com for books on topics that hold my interest.  You’d think that with all the books I have on organizing, I’d be a pro and my house would always stay clean.  The problem is, no one else reads them!  But I digress…

The reason I share this with you is twofold.  Tonight, we started this amazing small group with some friends, Preacher and her hubby.  I never told her story (she is my kids’ minister at church, one of my dearest friends, and a 2010 graduate of our local college about to begin her seminary degree this summer), but part of it includes her finishing a degree she started 18 years ago at a Bible college in Arkansas.  Her father had heart problems that brought her back home and left her without a completed degree.  Fast forward to today, and she is completing that degree at the Bible college where Superman was just offered an opportunity to teach.  I must say that I think she is doing something now she might not have done before, and that God has her right where He wants her.  I can’t wait to see where He is taking her!  Anyhow, she has learned some amazing stuff in completing her degree, and fortunately, she shares a lot of it with me.  One of her professors has introduced her to the idea of forming very small groups called DNA groups, which refers to the fact that with Christ living in us, we carry His DNA.  It is also an acronym for something, but I don’t remember exactly what that is.  I know that ‘nurture’ is the N, though.  The idea is to meet with this really small group and, hold onto your hats, read the Bible.  That’s it.  No books.  No study guides.  No one’s interpretation of the Bible.  Just placing yourselves under scripture and discussing it.  You eventually break off and start new small groups, avoiding the possibility of getting too comfortable and allowing the chance to spread the DNA of Christ.  You assign a few chapters a week from a particular book in the Bible, chosen by your group, and you read it throughout the week in preparation for your discussion.  If all haven’t read, you just discuss but do not move forward until everyone is caught up.  Our group is made up of Preacher, her hubby, Superman, and me.  The best part is that our kids are just playing with each other while we study, and they see us in the Word together and know that it is important!  What an awesome thing for them to share and experience!  Picasso was even eavesdropping tonight because she was so curious as to what could be so interesting.  We are going to start with Matthew, and we’re reading chapters 1 through 4 for next week’s discussion.  Tonight, we just talked about the group approach and why it is a needed change.  We’ve gotten so product driven in Western churches that we are being pulled away from the scripture and the truths that they hold.  I am so excited to take such a simple approach to learning more about Jesus.

My other reason for visiting my love of learning involves homeschooling.  This year, we’ve participated in a homeschool co-op, which was really just a resting place for many of the local parents who were waiting on a charter school to open up in our area.  Needless to say, I’m not teaching homeschoolers at heart, and my girls aren’t being homeschooled because the goal of this co-op was really more about preparing these kids for a public-ed classroom.  Charter schools seem to be a great idea, but they are still public schools.  Now, before you take great offense at my “still public schools” statement, I don’t mean that in any ugly way.  That just isn’t the educational choice for our family.  So, my girls didn’t get the experience this year that they would have gotten at home, and while some aspects of this year were nice, it just wasn’t what it would have been at home.  If this year has done anything for Superman and me, it has affirmed our desires to homeschool our kids.  There are many reasons, which have been introduced on a small scale, but the whole shebang will have to come in another post.

My point…next weekend is homeschool convention weekend, and the bonus is that it is hosted merely 15 minutes away from our house!  The sitters are lined up, the registration has been submitted, and we are filling out our conference planning sheets.  I’m a little bit nervous because it is time to make some serious curriculum choices.  When we were just getting started, it wasn’t nearly as overwhelming because they are little, and well, the best curriculum for little ones involves lots of play.  Now we are at a point where the girls can read independently, which is super helpful, but we are also dealing with three totally different types of learners!  Mary Lou could do workbooks and worksheets, which I’m not a huge fan of, until her little heart is content.  She’s learned very well that way this year, however, this method is the farthest from the best option for the other two.  Cowgirl is very literal, which is very common with autistic children, and she gets bored out of her mind with worksheets.  She would probably do best with a lapbooking/notebooking approach, and even then, it will have to be done in small spurts.  She hates to write, and she lets that get in the way.  If she could dictate to me all day, there would be very little holding her back.  I have to figure out the balance in this.  Learning is the point, but eventually, the girl is going to have to write, so I’m still figuring out this plan.  She also loves nature.  She’s obsessed with animals.  She learns best in this environment, whose only connection to workbooks is that you have to chop down a tree to make a workbook.  Then there is Picasso, my sweet, dreamer child.  Art is her thing.  She’s also so introspective, always searching for meaning in EVERYTHING.  Learning with her is an adventure with few limitations, but a worksheet is the last place she cares to share those thoughts and observations.  I think notebooking is more up her alley, which is kind of a scrapbook of what you’ve learned, because it allows her to be artistic and creative.

Any way you describe them, the only word that works with all three is “different.”  Now, they all three love Jesus, so that’s a start.  All three of them can be flexible (some more than others, of course).  So, I know we’ll survive these differences.  I’m just nervous about honoring and addressing their differences while still being mindful to raise and train them to be well-rounded learners.  Oh, and did I mention that I have four, yes four, boys ages four and under to educate/entertain next year, as well?  I know, I know.  I don’t have to keep them home, and some of you are thinking that if I choose to, I have no right to complain about how hard or tricky it may be to do it all.  I’m just sticking my tongue out at you right now.  Yeah, this is going to be hard, but God wants us to do hard things.  We are never promised an easy, cushy ride.  And if you think that’s hard, examine how hard it is to un-teach certain words and actions picked up from other kids at preschool.  Think about how hard it is to get a sick one to the doctor while keeping the other six from catching what the sick one has.  That puts a large family out of public life for at least two weeks!  Am I complaining?  No, just stating facts.  However, if I wanted to complain, it’s my bloggy and I’ll cry if I want to!  I try not to, as my blog name is Content Amidst the Chaos for a reason.  Digressing again.  Ugh.

Only a portion of the massive exhibit hall

I am not complaining.  I am excited!  I can’t wait for conference this year.  I love the workshops with all the different speakers sharing their experience.  The exhibit hall can be overwhelming, but the great thing is that I don’t have to buy one thing (which is not what will happen, but at least I know that I don’t HAVE TO).  Even the stereotypical homeschool musical family group is a delight to see.  The diverse group of people that gather at the convention seeking the best educational options for their children are different indeed, but with one common goal and mission, causing you to care less that they are wearing a denim jumper made by their 9 yr old daughter and matching their six other daughters.  Endless chess games, overpriced food, the brand new RV parked in the exhibit hall that VERY FEW homeschool families can even afford, the nursing babies, and the smiling vendors.  Ah yeah, it’s conference time!

 

She’s ready for Him February 9, 2010

Filed under: S1,S2,S3 — jps23 @ 9:31 pm

Our sweet firstborn daughter has made the biggest decision of her life.  She is ready for Christian baptism.  Honestly, I have felt this decision was made by her even before she could say Jesus.  Picasso has always loved Jesus.  She once wanted a Jesus-themed birthday party.  She has loved Him all her life.  She is now just two months shy of turning eight years old.  She has been asking about baptism for the past couple of months, here and there, but we have been talking about it a bit more in the past few weeks.  The conversation about a week ago went a bit like this…

Me:  So, are you ready to consider being baptized?  (Remember, we’ve had a dialogue going on about his over the past few months.)

Picasso:  But Jesus already lives in my heart.

Me:  Yes, but the Bible tells us that He wants us to follow that decision in Christian baptism, telling others of our love for him.

Picasso:  I just don’t want to be baptized yet.

Me:  Why not? (she makes a face)  Do you not want to get up in front of everyone? (she is terrible shy outside of this family)

Picasso:  (Shakes her head)  No, I don’t want to do that yet.

Me:  That’s okay.  Just keep praying about it, and you will know when you are ready.

I really felt like God would give her the confidence she needed to get up in front of the church when it was time.  I didn’t know she would find that from Him so quickly.  She looks at me two nights ago and almost whispers to me, “Mommy, I’m ready to be baptised.”  I wanted to jump up, shout for joy, and squeeze my sweet little girl, but I held back a bit and calmly asked, “What changed your mind?”  She went on to tell me that our children’s minister said some things that morning in worship hour that made her think.  Since our children’s minister likes to talk to them before they walk down before the church, and since she is one of my very best friends, I sent her an email letting her know what was going on.  She’ll be talking to Picasso tomorrow evening.  I’m so excited that she has made this decision to live life for her precious Jesus!

On a side note, Mary Lou piped in to say that she was also ready.  Now, she is five, so I am a little hesitant.  However, she has also loved Jesus with all her heart, and she doesn’t hesitate about much that she wants to do.  She’s learned way more than I did about God at that age, and she has always acted about a year ahead of her true age.  Part of that is the two older sisters, but the other part is simply her personality.  Our children’s minister will also be talking to her this week to see what she thinks.  When I asked her if she understood what being baptized means, she said that it means “My sins are all washed away and Jesus lives in my heart as my forever friend.”  Even if she doesn’t move forth with Christian baptism just yet, living with this frame of mind is a great start!

As for Cowgirl, she didn’t hesitate to say, “I’m not ready to be baptized yet!”  Don’t worry sweet girl, we’ll get there.

 

Chaos clip January 29, 2010

Filed under: Chaos clip,S3,S5,S6,S7 — jps23 @ 11:56 am

I thought is would be fun to post little chaos clips.  What is that, you ask?  Well, when there has been a moment of sheer chaos that makes me either laugh or break down into tears, or maybe laugh until I cry or cry until I laugh, I thought I’d post it.  I also thought it would be a great chance for me to vent over the occurance without yelling at a child or the man who impregnated me with all of them!

Chaos clip #1- Inaugural edition (drum roll please…….)

I was nursing S7 in the chair while the kids were playing.  The girls were working on their calendars and the boys were playing hide and seek in a large suitcase.  One would count while the other hid in the suitcase.  S6 was wandering around the house with a stinky diaper, playing here and there.  The big boys start fighting over the suitcase.  I get up and deal with that.  I go back to nursing and the two younger girls go get clothes for themselves and their buddies.  S3 even got a pull-up for S5 and started to change him.  Oops, she didn’t check the current diaper for poop.  He pulls his feet out of his pants and diaper and leans back on the clean blankets I washed YESTERDAY!  Before then, they hadn’t been washed in over a month.  Thanks, S5.  I get up, put the baby in the swing and LOCK HIM IN, and go tend to the poop situation.  Rabbit drops, thank goodness.  In the meantime, S6 sticks his finger and thumb in his diaper.  Guess what.  He didn’t pull out a plum.  Yes, all of this in a span of about ten minutes.