Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Getting Ready for the Miracle

Several years ago I had the privilege of co-directing a church musical called Getting Ready for the Miracle. It is about a girl named Mary who was born on Christmas Day. She doesn't appreciate Christmas shadowing her birthday resulting in a lack of presents. In the end Mary realizes the true meaning of Christmas is not about getting lots of gifts, but about receiving Jesus, God's gift to us.

Is it really so simple? Could we actually put aside the commercialized view of the holiday and just celebrate Jesus? And what does celebrating Jesus look like?
Is it getting together with family and friends, laughing, feasting, and making memories? What about caroling, gift exchanges and traditions passed down from the generations? Those are wonderful things (traditions make my heart sing) but I'm feeling more and more like we are missing the point.
When I hear how many millions of dollars are spent at departments stores each Christmas while there are children starving and dying from preventable diseases and so many others in need, I am grieved. How must Jesus feel?  We are honoring HIS birthday. Shouldn't we spend our time and money on things He desires?

How am I spending my time getting ready for the miracle of Christmas? Am I spending my days lost in the hustle and bustle of shopping and preparing for my parties? Shouldn't I spend more time preparing my heart for Him?
As I rocked my littlest to sleep today, I got emotional (my new middle name) thinking about how Mary must have felt that very first Christmas Day holding her precious Babe. What did she do to prepare for His coming? How did she feel giving birth in a lowly stable? Did she realize the beloved Baby she was holding would be a sacrifice for all people...including her?

As you go about this magical season anticipating the excitement of Christmas morn, be sure to remember the reason we celebrate. Rejoice in knowing that God gave us His only Son, born as a baby, so that we may have eternal life! Never has there been such a gift of love so amazing!

Merry Christmas, my friends! May God bless you with love, fill your hearts with joy and give you true peace!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

November in a Nutshell

November came in like a lamb and went out like a lion, a big, growly lion. We were spoiled with temps warmer than I ever remember for this time of year. I'm not sure where the month went. One day it is 11-11-11 (I love days that have quirky numbers!) and the next day it's December. The month snuck (sneaked??  Is it sneaked or snuck?!) by without regard for my desire to leisurely enjoy the holiday season. I'm digging my heels in and holding tight onto the tail of December to try to slow it down a bit.
 I love the look of snow! It tells of cleanness and purity. It hides the depressing dead of late autumn.
However,  I'm not a fan of snow covered ice. We had our first ice/snow storm of the year. We were fortunate to keep our electricity. Some of our neighbors weren't as lucky and were without for 36+ hours. This day also happened to be a memorable one for my sixteen year old.
He scored the coveted ticket of freedom. Well, semi-freedom. He took his driving test while the ice started to fall from the sky. What a brave instructor. I think I would have been cancelling if I were her.  This is what our road looked like when we got home.
Not ideal for a newly licensed driver. Or a seasoned driver.

Faith loves to climb on furniture and see what's going on out the window. She was in awe of the snow.
Baby girl likes to do her own hair too. I appreciate the headbands more than her brother's underwear for hair accessories. She'll dig through clothes baskets to find underwear to put on her head. Should I be concerned?
We celebrated Court's birthday mid-month. Okay, we didn't really celebrate, but we did sing to him (I think) and he got cake.
He's loved. Speaking of love, we also celebrated our 17th anniversary in November. Seventeen years?? I don't know how that is possible when it was just last year that I was 17. Wasn't it?
picture taken by Apryl Deeter
Another highlight of the month was getting to go out with my long time (as in since 4th grade) best friend Sheila. Since she lives in Colorado, we only get to see each other once a year when she comes "home" for a visit. I'm so happy that her husband landed an awesome job 2 hours away and they are moving next summer! How appropriate that our date was going to see a musical!

I had such a good time. And I am all the more wiser now since she taught me how an expert orders at a coffee shop!

For one reason or another it has taken over a week to finish this silly little post, from internet problems to busyness to forgetfulness.

So long, noviembre! (Isn't it bizarre that months aren't capitalized in Spanish??) Your holiday is one of my very favorites. Although this year it seemed to come and go without big fanfare, my heart is overflowing with thankfulness. 

I'm looking forward to all December has to offer. And of course celebrating the true meaning of the season. 

It's easier to spread Christmas cheer when you are dressed the part. 

Bring on the jingle bells!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Saturday's Magic

One of the most difficult things about being a mom to six kids is dividing my time between them. I'm constantly being pulled in all different age directions, from supervising driving skills to teaching how to make bunny ears with shoelaces to keeping toddler destruction under control (impossible with my active girl!). Sometimes a couple of little ones get lost in the shuffle of busyness.

I love doing fun things as a family.....with ALL the kids, but it is getting harder with the age division of interests. Do we play Euchre or Uno? It's like when a big kid is shouting "Hey, watch me, Mom!" on the high dive and I'm stuck in the kiddie pool. (true story) Sometimes my kids do all agree on something fun together, like The Farming Game.
Funny how Faith just sits there like she is part of the game

I hate dislike that game. Who wants to play a game where you owe the bank tens of thousands and are always in debt? Sounds like real life to me. My kids know that as nice as I am :-) I will never play that game with them.

And sometimes I catch my big ones joining in on a make believe adventure with the little ones.
It makes my heart smile.

I'm letting go of the concept that all of my kids need to be present in order for us to enjoy family time. My preference is that we all play together but I'm coming to realize that it is okay if a big kid or two wants to stay home instead of going to the park with the little ones or whatever else we choose to do.

Today I invited all kids to go to town for some entertaining family time. Only two were excited about going. (Mostly because I had no details. For some reason big kids like specifics.)
So, I took my only two brown-eyed babies and headed out. Side note: The awesome thing about having kids with a wide age range is the babysitting. We don't (or try not to) take advantage of them. Really they love to babysit and ask to. Seems weird, huh? Don't let their innocent, teenage looks fool you. Free television and snack privileges come with babysitting in this house. Oh, and no other chores for the day. Good incentives. I hope they will always treasure the special bond they share.

Our charming town was celebrating the beginning of the holiday season. There were all kinds of fun activities. And did I mention....everything was free? One thing we were for sure doing was going to the movie theatre to catch a show.
It was a bonus that I had been wanting to see this movie. I was disappointed to learn that I wasn't missing much. (Sorry to all of you who love this Christmas classic.) Maybe had I not watched the movie through Corbin's eyes I would have felt differently? My 5 year old doesn't need the example of bad-mannered kids. (I'm sounding all prudish, aren't I? If you would meet my spicy little guy you would see that he shouldn't have that encouragement.)

After the movie we went on a game hunt. We walked from store to store to play carnival-like games and fill our lists with stickers.

There was to be a drawing later in the evening. Four kids would win $25 to spend at any merchant in town. Emmaly was one of the winners! I was overjoyed that my big-hearted girl won money for herself. Whenever she sees a bucket or coin jar for charity she gives all or most of the money in her purse. She doesn't usually have more than a dollar or so but she is very generous with what she has.

Guess how she is spending her newly won money? Christmas presents for her brothers and sisters. I love this girl.

The day was beautiful. The quaint town was decked out in her Christmas finest.
I had the most delightful company.
I'm not quite ready to celebrate the Christmas season since Thanksgiving is over a week away. And I [heart] Thanksgiving! It's a time to reflect on all our blessings and offer thanks to the One who makes all things possible. It's a time to get together with family without materialistic expectations. And the food..... I'm sure I don't have to tell you about the feasting! But right after Thanksgiving Day it is exciting to anticipate the coming weeks.
 After our trip to town we came home and continued our play day.
After the sun had said farewell we headed back to town to watch the nighttime parade and attend the Miracles at Main & Market Streets. We ate homemade (from the Amish community!) cookies, drank hot chocolate, huddled around cozy barreled fires, lit candles and sang songs. What amazing people fill our neighborhood. It was a magical day.

Monday, October 31, 2011

For Ages 8 and Up

Everyone except one has celebrated a milestone birthday this year in the Bitting house. Austin-16, Dakota-15, Brooklyn -13, Corbin-5, and Faith-1. That leaves Emmaly. Shouldn't every year be a milestone? I think so. Every year that passes is time that we have gained experience and knowledge. At 35, I know that I have so much more wisdom to learn and insight to be acquired. I think that, in itself, is growth. After all, I thought I knew everything when I was younger...as do a couple of my own children. :) I used to look at my elders and think they don't understand me or know much about now days happenings. The older I get the more I realize that knowledge comes from life and experiences just as much if not more than from education. People with blue gray hair and unsteady voices have so much to teach us if we would take time to listen to them and learn. I'm glad that I dismounted that high horse named Know-It-All and put it out to pasture.

Emmaly turned eight on Friday! Eight isn't exactly a landmark birthday but Em decided it was. She told me that now she gets to play every game we own, specifically the ones designed for ages 8 and up. I wonder how long she has been counting down the months and years until she could play Monopoly and Scrabble?  I won't burst her bubble and tell her that Clue actually says 10+.

She also decided that since she was turning 8 she wanted her hairstyle with bangs. I'm always reluctant towards change but I know that haircuts make her feel special. She loved doing Locks of Love earlier this year.
Even though I tried to talk her out of bangs (she has such a pretty forehead), I think it turned out very cute.
She has come to the age where I can no longer decide her hairstyle for her. I'm okay with that. I like that she knows what she wants and isn't afraid to try something new. She isn't afraid of much at all. She's a tough girl too. She didn't make one whimper when she had to get a couple stitches a few weeks back.

Just one more scar to add to the tally sheet on how to have a fun childhood. Boring is not in this girl's vocabulary.

We made caramel apples for her special day. They were dipped in goodies like walnuts and mini Reece's Pieces.

She helped make Black Forest Cherry cake. Her new favorite.

Her birthday didn't end up being the merry day she hoped for because a few wrenches were thrown into her plans. I told her that was good because then we could stretch her birthday out into the weekend and even longer. We ended her celebration by walking the town with cousin-friends dressed up, begging for candy.
cowboy, cowgirls, rock star and transformer...what a group
The big sisters and I are in the process of making a special space for Emma in their bedroom. It's not such an easy task with three girls sharing a room. She's always had a place to sleep in there but that is it. Even her clothes closet is in another room. The poor girl doesn't really have a place to call her own. (Now that I think of it.....neither do I. :-) ) I hope when we are finished she feels welcomed and loved. She is such a joy to have  in our family! I hope you had a wonderful birthday weekend, sweet Emmaly Yvonne!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Self Discipline

I was asked to speak on discipline at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). I'm speaking along with two other ladies. My portion is on self-discipline. If that isn't a laugh! I am so undisciplined in several areas. Me being asked to talk about and give advice on self-discipline is like asking my 18 month old to explain why markers are used for drawing on paper.

 An example of lack of discipline:  Last Thursday I was sick with a cold and sinus infection. (I'm still battling the infection...I'm determined to get over it without a doctor's visit.) I woke up feeling that I had been smacked in the head with a bat. But there are no sick days in Mommyhood. Most of my everyday duties got accomplished. Kids were fed, homeschooling supervised, laundry somewhat done, toddler messes picked up, no one had to get stitches.....and the reward was bedtime. However, no dishes got washed. I have a hate relationship with washing dishes. With a family of eight, washing dirty dishes is ne.ver.end.ing. Not having a dishwasher for over a year (because of electrical issues) has been unpleasant to say the least! *Don't take this as whining and ungratefulness because I feel so blessed to have running water and a house full of little people.* So, the dishes didn't get done, oh well. Then Friday came and I was feeling better but not great. My kids were at Friday School, so it was just me and my littlest. I got a few chores done but I closed my eyes to the mountain of dirty dishes. Maybe if I didn't see them they would go away. It was more fun to be lazy have snuggle time with my baby then get my hands pruney in dishwater. Earlier in the week my wonderful, jack-of-all-trades brother-in-law fixed my electrical problem and we were getting a dishwasher! I knew this in the back of my mind which is a little of the reason I let the stinky, crusty dishes set in the sink, on the counter top, and stove. Friday came and went with dishes undone.

 The only thing worse than washing dishes is waking up to a kitchen overtaken by dirty
bowls and plates and glasses and mugs and pots and pans. There was not one piece of clean silverware. Cooking was almost impossible. (The grossness of all of this is not lost on me.) I knew that Saturday afternoon we were getting the much anticipated new appliance! Just a few more hours of shielding my eyes from the embarrassing sight of the kitchen. I know some of you are thinking that I have several big kids who could/should be doing dishes.
Yes, they should and they do. But their school workload has been so full lately that I haven't been making them. And for some reason they don't volunteer to in their little free time.

Because of busyness we didn't end up getting the dishwasher until late Saturday evening. I was very excited to see it hooked up and doing its business. But... we didn't quite have everything it took for it to be hooked up (sigh) so I had to wait until after church on Sunday. Are you counting the days? That would be day FOUR of only washing a dish here and there to get by. After an hour of Hubby and Austin installing the beauty we turn it on and NOTHING!! ?!?!? The outlet quit working again. This old house has problems. (Hopefully not dangerous complications....electricity can be scary.) After 3+ hours of washing dishes by hand my husband comes in the house with an extension cord. Wha? What? You mean I spent over 3 hours with my hands drowning in hot, soapy water scouring dried on food when we could have plugged it in somewhere else? WAIT! You mean I could have had a dishwasher 13 months ago and just plugged it into another outlet?!
I would have been more than happy to wind up a cord after every use. Why did I not think of that? We are having the outlet looked at again but in the meantime you will not hear one complaint from me about tripping over a heavy duty cord that rests across the kitchen floor. The point of this story is if I was more self disciplined I would have washed those dirty dishes right away instead of waiting until I was ready to move out and leave all dishes behind. Housekeeping isn't the only thing that takes an extra dose of self discipline for me. I like sleeping in. No, I LOVE sleeping in. My bed is so soft and cozy and warm. It begs me not to leave. It whispers promises of comfort and sweet dreams.
I don't like to disappoint. When it asks me to stay for just 5 more minutes, I almost always comply. Today I have decided to end the relationship. When my queen-size love dressed in king-sized clothing insists I spend "just a little longer" wrapped in its coziness, I will resist. Maybe not all mornings but most. I'm telling you this because I need accountability. Go ahead. Give me a call at 8:00. I'll be downstairs and ready for the day. Today instead of pulling the covers over my head when Court got up, I got up too. It felt good to see him off to work and to have a bit of alone time before the house awakened with the noise of laughing, crying, yelling, singing, stomping, clapping and all the other sounds of the Bitting house. I'm taking the challenge of self-discipline. I know it won't be easy.  "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11  I want my children to reap the rewards of being self-disciplined. I want to be a good example.
                 So, I'm dying to know.....how do you stay self-disciplined??

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Fifteen years....it seems like a life time ago and like just yesterday. I was sitting at the kitchen table at my parents house when a police car pulled in the drive. It was 8:00 pm. My life would never be the same again. She was gone; my friend, one of the best I ever had. And with her went her daughter, my sweet niece, Mikayla Jo, only two years old. A horrific car accident had ended their time on earth. Erica wasn't just my childhood friend, she was my brother's wife. She left behind my brother and their 10 month old son. And me. I felt so lost, so alone. We were sisters, not just by law but by heart. How could God call them home when I wasn't ready for them to go?? Didn't He know I needed them here? How could He take a mother from her nursing baby and a wife from her adoring husband? Their life together had only just begun. And precious Mikayla with her long dark hair and blue/gray eyes, didn't God realize her daddy needed her here more than her Father needed her in Heaven? My kids would never know their cousin or their aunt. But worse, my nephew wouldn't know his mommy or his sister. He wouldn't remember his mom's loving embrace or the sound of her beautiful voice. He would never get to play make believe with his sister or pester her the way all little brothers do. My brother wouldn't get to teach his daughter how to ride a bike or walk her down the aisle. How did God think OUR family could handle such a loss?? I struggled with these questions for months; long, dark months. I knew that God was faithful. I still didn't understand. I watched as my brother was told that his life had been torn apart. My heart was completely broken. He was so strong. I clung to him and he said, "Jamie, God has a plan." His world had just crumbled around him and he didn't waiver in his faith. As hard as it was to accept the new path, God did have a plan. I mourned for years the loss of my sister. I wished for time to speed up so the hurt would go away and longed for time to stand still so I could hear her laughter and see her face. I didn't want to forget one single memory. The depression I fell into wasn't healthy. It may not have even been outwardly noticeable. But it was there, an unwelcome companion. It was hard to be happy. I felt I was betraying Erica by having fun and getting on with life. Sometime during my mourning I was hit with the realization that I was mourning like I had no hope. And I DID have hope. Erica was saved. She loved Jesus and gave her life to him. I have hope because of God's promises.  ".....do not grieve like the rest of mankind who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.." 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 "For it is my Father's will that whoever looks to the Son and believes in him will have eternal life." John 6:40 Of course John 3:16. God's wonderful promises and amazing hope! I will see Erica again! And Mikayla and Lessli (another dear friend gone from a car accident) and my baby whom I never got a chance to hold and all my other loved ones who have passed from this world and have proclaimed Jesus as Lord. What about you? Do you know the Lord? Can you rest in the assurance of eternal life?
     There is nothing more difficult than losing a loved one but life does go on. My brother met and married a wonderful, Christian women who is so good for him and loves my nephew like he is her own. He is her own. Erica wouldn't want it any other way. She would have wanted her son to love and be loved by a new mommy and not be torn by loyalty to her, his birth mom. He has grown into an amazing young man, quite handsome too, I must say. Sometimes I am blown away by how much his looks and mannerisms remind me of Erica. I feel so blessed to be able to watch him grow and see a part of Erica that still lives on.
     Every year as the leaves start to change their colors and the autumn wind forces me to trade in my short sleeves for sweatshirts I am brought back to October 4, 1996. I let the tears come as I remember our last minutes together, not knowing that when I hugged her goodbye it meant I'll see you in Heaven. Had I known, our embrace would have lasted longer. I would have told her all that she meant to me. Although I'm sure she knew. Afterall, we grew up together. She knew all my secrets (and loved me anyway). I don't wallow in the sorrow for long. I thank God for allowing Erica and Mikayla to be a part of my life and for sparing my sweet nephew's life as he was also in the accident that claimed his mommy and big sister. I thank God for all the blessings He has bestowed on my family. Mostly, I thank Him for His promises.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Boy

Today seemed longer than usual. Cold and rain have that effect on me. Five straight days of rain make me almost crazy, especially since we have a nonworking dryer. Can you imagine the piles of dirty clothes for a family of eight? Wouldn't it be nice to live in the simpler days when everyone owned two outfits, one for everyday and one for good? Half of my cleaning problems would be solved! But, seriously, no complaining! We are blessed with an abundance!
Rain also makes little boys restless. At least this little boy:
He kept busy this morning with writing and paper airplanes and drawing.
Here's a cow he drew earlier this summer. He loves drawing cows. 
He kept busy this afternoon building Lego creations, sword fighting bad guys and making music.
He can play a mean 2 string guitar
Then this evening he was bored. Not good. Let me back up a bit. Earlier when there was a break in the rain C went outside for a mandatory burn-off-some-energy jump on the trampoline. An older gentleman with a white beard and stout build stopped at our house. C spied him and yelled, "Hi! Santa Claus is coming to town!" I can't be sure if the Santa-look-a-like heard, but he gave C a wave as he left. C must have liked the facial hair look.

This boy keeps family time from being boring. Another funny moment today involved him and big brother A. They were wrestling which usually leads to C getting hurt. (It's not easy having a brother 11 years your senior.) As predicted, C ended up crying. Knowing how rough A is I, in my infinite mommy wisdom, allowed C to take a free punch at him. After C got his strike in, he started laughing. He said, "Haha...that was a joke cry!" What a boy. 
Right now this clever little fellow is up sleeping in his bed sporting superman jammies......and a blue beard.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Girls' Night

It's the girls' night out, na na night out..... I've been known to randomly break in to 1980's songs. Aren't they great? My kids don't seem to appreciate them the way I do. I know the look exchanged between my older two girls. It is the same look my sister and I would give each other regarding our mom. My girls don't understand that I am a cool mom.They should feel privileged to have me. :) (I can see their eyes roll as they read this.)
They may not think I am the raddest mom but I sure think they are pretty special. I don't often get to spend one on one time with any of my kids. I'm determined to see that we do. Friday was mother/daughter night with D.
Things I love about this picture:

  • Dakota looks so beautiful and grown up. (Perhaps I don't like that she looks so grown up....)
  • She is wearing my high school cheerleading jacket. Maybe she thinks I'm cool, after all. Or at least my old clothes are.
  • Her cowboy boot necklace shows a little window to her heart. My necklace was a gift from my sweet sister.
  • My earrings were made by Emmaly just for me. She picked red because it is my favorite color. What an observant, giving girl.
  • The background shows Austin's Chevy Luv .....the cutest truck ever!
  • You can take a little peek at the play yard....swingset and trampoline.
  • I would say that I like my flannel shirt and hat but I was informed by my ever-stylish girls that I looked like a lumberjack. They meant it in a "good way". Of course. Most lumberjacks try for the classy look.
D and I both love a good book. She averages a novel or two a week. I love reading the same story and then having our own book club discussions afterward. (B joins our club once in a while.) I have been wanting to read The Help. When I heard it was coming out in theatres I decided to wait and watch the movie before I read the book.
It was a wonderful movie and I had fun company. D was the youngest one in the theatre. (Unless you count the two kids that were probably there because of a lack of a sitter.) We're looking forward to reading the book now. After the movie we went for a hot drink.
D is for sure going to be a coffee drinker. I say "going to be" but she would love to be now. I let her indulge once in a while. Maybe I would give in more if I understood the coffee-hype. I'm a hot chocolate girl. I'm also really dumb when it comes to flavors and ordering at a coffee shop. I asked the barista what was good and she gave me an odd look. She answered with a "Well, what do you like?" I felt even more ignorant. If I knew what I liked I wouldn't have asked.  D ordered a chocolate mocha. I ordered a pumpkin-something-or-other in honor of the first day of fall. Then 30 seconds later I couldn't get the taste of chocolate out of my head so I scratched my order and asked for the same thing D had. (I am the MOST indecisive food customer! Something that drives my husband CraZy.) Still wanting to honor autumn's appearance we bought a big slice of pumpkin cake.
She looks like a Simpson in this shot; being yellow and all. I hope you had as much fun as I did, Kodi! It was refreshing to be able to spend time with you! You are a breath of fresh air!  I'm looking forward to next time! ....It's the girls' night to play...all night to play....so don't wait up for me...na na na na na na... :-)