Saturday, July 9, 2016

"Sory pants...."

Maggie FINALLY agreed to throw away a pair of leggings that saw their better days about a year ago.  They were hand me downs but in good shape when she received them.  She LOVED them.  She wore them all the time.  They were in every load of darks that I washed every single week and I've been encouraging her to let go of them for some time.  The holes in the knees were so large that her upper and lower leg were both visible.

She finally relented the other day which came as a surprise to me.  And she seemed to do it with little fanfare until I went to throw something away shortly after and found this note on top of them in the trash can.

This girl has a fantastic sense of humor. 

Fearfully and wonderfully made.
Well done God.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Home Sweet Home

I had the unexpected joy of a short trip "home" a few weeks ago.  It was my first visit back in 4 years and a trip that was planned and taken in just one week.  Phew.  A whirlwind week.  More about that another time.

I say "home" and not home because after 8 years in a new place you begin to refer to that as your home.  Yet, when I came into familiar territory and took in the sights I grew up around I was quickly reminded that it was still home to me. 

I listened to my mom tell me "yeah there aren't those big evergreens you have out there around here," wondering if she thought I found it less pretty because of that.  Just in case you were mom, I don't.  I took my cell phone out and snapped a quick picture of one of my favorite views from home. 

The crest of the hill on Montgomery where I descended many times to go to Eagles with my mom, my first job earning a bonafide paycheck, school and sporting events, my first college classes that I took locally and then my first big trips away from home.  I left down that hill for my dates with Michael and the day of our wedding when I left for the last time as Julie Schulting to move across the river and start a new life. 

That life has taken me quite far from Iowa and Illinois.  I am so thankful that I never left because I didn't like it.  I love where I am from.  I love the hills and bluffs and how green things are without really having to try.  I love the landscape and the parks like Gramercy and Eagle Point where a person can forget about everything else and enjoy the things that God made.

God met me in those places and showed me a side of Him that I never knew before.  I drew close to Him in those places. 

I was home with just Ellie and while it was inspired by something sad, a dear uncle who's health was failing, I really loved being there and being physically close to people who mean the world to me.  On a relatively shallow note, it's pretty fun being a mom of 4 and having a "holiday" with just the little baby.  You never appreciate how easy taking care of one baby is when you have your first baby.  Because it really isn't easy!  As a new mom with your first baby your learning new things and it is a huge adjustment.  But I got to sort of reverse the clock and have all these years under my belt as a mom and enjoy being away with just my baby.  A very easy to care for baby at that.

Then my plane began it's final descent in Spokane and I saw the evergreens and the mountains and had a wave of peace and familiarity wash over me.  The views!  It is so pretty.  I was home again.  But I just left home....  And that's when I became overwhelmed with thankfulness for where I'm from and where the Lord has brought me.  Something about flying also makes you realize just how close you can be to people who often feel so far away. 

So thank you God for giving me two beautiful places to call home while I journey on this earth.  Maybe you have more in store for me yet, I don't know.   But I sure do enjoy the trip!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Ellie Joy Schneider

 Not enough words or time right now to express our gratitude to God for this great gift...publicly  (our hearts and mouths are abounding with thanks to Him).  Enjoy the pictures....more words another day.

I can hardly believe she is here.  What a gift!  God is good and He does good just like His word says. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

A late Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

No Christmas cards sent out two years in a row.

No family picture amongst the beauty of the snow laden trees that I have been wanting.

4 remaining cabinet doors that are begging to be painted and hung back up in their rightful homes.

1 large, very fun frame that has yet to be emptied and made mine and hung above the bed.

Two closet openings still remaining open waiting for their rods to hide the contents.

1 picture still propped up in Maggie's room waiting to be hung.

This is actually kind of helpful.....sort of an online, public to-do list the more I sit and have these unfinished items come to mind.

In addition, there were...

2 amazing weeks at home with the kids, no school, no running around, less work, more rest.

3 great weeks leading up to Christmas spent enjoying a new kind of Advent for us...I loved it.

3 very messy, cluttered areas cleaned up (finally!!!) and made new for me.

1 annoying box that has lingered for almost 3 years finally emptied and dealt with.

1 daughter's room cleaned again in preparation for a big change coming soon.

Many bags of things given away in our lifelong endeavor to have less.

Several books enjoyed....some devoured, some slowly taken in and savored (Jane Eyre, 7-An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Kisses From Katie, Absolute Surrender, Hebrews, Colossians)

Evenings with neighbors well spent enjoying friendship and celebrating Jesus' coming in a way I think, I hope, pleased Him.

Day after day of incredible, white, abundant much. beauty.

So many moments of joy and surrender culminated in this beauty of a month where we anticipated one day to remember that Jesus came to this earth for us.  This past year has been anything but what we thought it would be.  We started out last January beginning our journey to become foster parents and could only see one path of what lay in store for us.  Little did we know that 6 months later the Lord would give us someone we never thought possible. 

Someone we even thought for the first 5 or more months would go away like the 4 before her.  And yet, here we are today 8 weeks from anticipating delivering a fourth Schneider.......Unbelievable to me.  Still so unexpected and still humbling to see how God has been dealing with us during this past year.  He is God and we are not.  Period.

I think this picture was around 20 weeks?  Right about the time I realized that she might just be sticking around long enough for us to "have her."  Feeling her move and having the undeniable presence of her life in mine every day to be reminded that my God is God and I'm not.  To be reminded that He is good no matter what and that He loves so so deeply all the time.  To be challenged to trust Him with the unexpected.  To learn a glimmer of peace in His presence and not trying to figure out all the angles of what He is doing.  Just resting in Jesus because there is no better place to be than looking at Him and knowing Him more deeply.

A memorable quote I came upon while reading Brennan Manning's "All is Grace" this past year:

"...If God wants it to, my life will be useful through my word and witness.  If He wants it to, my life will bear fruit through my prayers and sacrifices.  But the usefulness of my life is His concern, not mine.  It would be indecent of me to worry about that."  Something Brother Dominique Voillaume shared with the author. 

My eyes have been opened to not striving so hard to be useful for Jesus but instead to strive hard to be close to Jesus.  And He has delighted my soul in the outworking of this as my thoughts are more and more surrendered to Him and He has been ever so present in my life.

So while my now-public "to do" list sort of spilled out of my head as I sat down to write, I guess I just needed to "think out loud" to help me get where I had wanted to go for some time now.  The Lord has been doing so much in me this past year and especially with the unexpected pregnancy that I didn't know how to share without cheapening the beauty of what He is doing.

There are still fears of the worst that I have to see as quickly as I can and give them over to God so they don't take hold of me and steal the joy of this time.  So please do pray for my mind to not be pulled in those places.  Because even if He doesn't give what seems so likely, He is still good to me. 

These little treasures are growing like weeds!  This was the closest I came to get a holiday picture.  :)

Oscar is almost looking.  He's still an amateur when it comes to having his picture taken.  He just needs a few weeks with Aunt Jennifer and he'll be smiling for the camera like her dogs do!

Blurry, but such sweet happiness captured here.  She was reading a favorite part of this book to her Daddy.  So sweet.

Oh my joy...I set up camp here while the kids played in the snow last week.  Could stay here all day on days like this.

The power had gone out.  Michael and I previously had bemoaned our kids' new affection for Pok√©mon but I've come to appreciate that it's something they all enjoy doing together.

Everyone had their own headlights and life was good without power!
This young man shoveled the front drive way for me with his sister on the day we had the absolutely wettest snow.  I couldn't believe how hard they worked with how heavy the snow was.  I surprised them in their last couple of feet and told them to go inside and drink hot cocoa I had prepared and watch Wild Kratt's and was shocked at how heavy of work they had done.  I would have told them to stop sooner had I known!  He also wrote a very witty little poem recently.  Very creative and so much like his daddy in his introspective mind.  I love him.

And this young lady got her ears pierced a few days ago.   Daddy finally consented realizing he wasn't going to ruin the little girl within.  ;)  And let me tell you, she impresses me and surprises me with parts of her personality I would not have known otherwise.  She got to choose from about 40 different pairs of earrings, some were pink, flower shaped and even Frozen inspired and it took her all of 5 seconds to pick the teal blue pair.  She also did not back down despite our telling her that it was going to hurt and I honestly thought she would change her mind once she got in the store.  But she didn't.  And even in doing the ear care at home since then I have noticed her resolve with her decision.  She realized how long 6 weeks is when we marked the calendar for the date when she is allowed to change her earrings and her response was a confident, "Wow, that's a long time."  Exhale.  "I don't care though!"

 Maggie broke her shovel while shoveling the drive way the day I referred to earlier.  I think this was taken on that "wet snow" day.

I believe this is about 4 weeks after the first one I posted.  I love that scarf Jennifer!  So warm.

So there you have it!  Hope you have had a very Merry Christmas and are enjoying a good start to your new year!  One of these years I'll do what I have dreamed up in my mind to replace the old fashioned Christmas card...  For now this blog will have to do.  :) 

All glory be to God!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

YOU SHOULD FEEL MY HAIR!!!! ah ha ha ha ha

I have forgotten how good it feels to have clean hair.

I have made it a goal in the last couple of years to do things more naturally.  It all started when I discovered some food sensitivities and explored recipes that were more friendly to my GI system.  I discovered that a lot of the people sharing these recipes were also advocating all natural and chemical free products for the home and body.  Naturally, (ha ha, no pun intended) I began to think "well if it's not a good idea to put it IN my body why would I put it ON my body."  I realized that I could make a lot of things and feel better about what I was using.  And in in a lot of cases I was saving money by not purchasing all of the products I had to before.  My husband feared that I had become "one of those people."  Do you know "those people?"  You know, the ones who boycott GMO's and advocate for singing to your grass fed chickens while you snack on kale chips and sun butter stuffed dates that taste "just like a Snickers bar?" 

My first big change was making my own body butter.  It was a great feeling to create something so useful and feel like I was doing something better for my body.  I learned how to make cough syrup, elderberry syrup and remedies for headaches and tummy aches using my essential oils.  Then I delved into a spider spray, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, deodorant, and lastly shampoo.

And that brings me to my hair...  I really wanted the shampoo to work.  It HAS to work (think Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail, "She HHHHAAASSSS to BE!"  If I'm this "1 in 500 people gets this disorder" kind of person then I HAVE to do all things natural.  What if I can prevent something terrible by making my own toothpaste?!!  (Toothpaste was the next item on the list).

The truth is, I started to stink.....  Literally smelling like I hadn't washed my clothes or worst had washed them and let them sit all wet for days and then dried them and wore them.  I don't want to stink.  About 4 or 5 months ago I thought I discovered the culprit.  I eliminated cocoa butter from my body butter recipe and it seemed to help.  No more stinky clothes for the most part thanks to the homemade laundry detergent I started using.

It helped and I thought I was home free.  But yesterday I smelled it again and decided enough was enough.  I was 30 days into my shampoo au natural and beginning to be more uncomfortable with my oily, gross to the touch hair.  On top of that I decided I had spent enough time trying to trouble shoot this lotion issue.  No mo homemade body butter or shampoo.  I was going shopping!

It feels ridiculous to admit that even 7 1/2 hours after showering and washing my hair I am still noticing how clean it feels and enjoying the way it feels and smells again.  No more vinegar smell.  No more "oh right, I feel better if I just don't touch my hair and pretend it awesome because I used honey and water or clay or castile'll adjust soon and feel awesome.  I'll show those sulfate, paraben filled shampoos!" :) 

So why am I writing this?  When I started this blog it was pretty clear that I was just sharing the sweet things I noticed God doing in my life.  I hadn't planned to go on and on about why I think it's better to make your own toiletries.  I am (I think) a fairly normal 30 something "young" woman who has struggled with the balance between being healthy and natural and sane.  But here's the thing....God made each one of us and a whole lot of things that are wonderful remedies and "products" for our health and well being.  And if it's dangerous to be legalistic about some issues it's certainly dangerous to be legalistic and overbearing in this area.  You SHOULD care about your health and what you put on and in your body.  Be a good steward of the body God gave you cuz it's all you get till heaven, if that's where you are headed.  But don't stress about it.  When you realize you are feeling angst because you just can't figure out how to lower the grease factor while upping the moisturizing effect and really hoping you are not stinking when you give someone a hug because you are doing all this because you don't want to give yourself know something needs to be re-evaluated.  But I won't judge you if choose to eat wheat and buy that shampoo you love because it makes your hair smell like the sweetest joy a person could smell.  I WILL continue to enjoy many other homemade ventures that are successful for me and not begrudge myself for giving up on the failures.  It is fun for me to try.  Sort of a hobby that can turn tortuous to my spirit if I don't include the Lord in it all and ask for His help to be level headed.

Ironically, this all comes about when I've had more tummy troubles and you know what helps me feel the best?  Healthy eating habits, exercising and surrendering the care of my body to the Lord who made me and helps me to relinquish control.  He reminds me that it is most important that I am walking with Him and including Him in this journey.  He is first and best and in my opinion we won't be obsessing about what we eat and put on our bodies in heaven so we probably shouldn't be doing that down here while we get ready to go there ;)  Sometimes illnesses can make that hard because we have to deal with them but THANK THE LORD there is grace and help for those times.

And seriously, does anyone believe that a date stuffed with nut butter tastes just like a Snickers?  I might actually try this but I don't have my hopes up too high.  :)

I'm going to go read my Bible....phew!

P.S. My husband just texted me in response to me spaz texting him pictures of my hair and going on and on about how clean it was and his reply was, "Yaaaay for FDA approved products!!!!"  He helps to keep me sane.  Thank you honey.

Monday, December 29, 2014


An unexpected day with my family...the whole bunch, daddy included.  Homemade granola, a new stash of local honey, a walk down memory lane with videos of Maggie and Sam when they were 2 and 3 and the last 2 chapters of Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown.  If you haven't read the Betsy Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace, you must!  I second guessed myself when I started this last one with my kids because their age groups are separating more and it seemed like they might be less able to relate or understand.  But I was wrong!  Even my 3 year old boy requested another chapter several times!  And I cried at the end.  It could not have been a more enjoyable story to step inside. 

So as I sit by my dwindling fire and get beckoned by the dryer buzzer alerting me to come I am so thankful for this day. 

Some of my reminiscing looked like this...

Sam is quoting part of Psalm 1 and Maggie is saying "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."  So precious.  It's a wonder that we ever understood anything they said. :)

Sometime I may need to do a post of all the pictures of them sleeping, lots of funny and precious memories there! 

In the spirit of reminiscence, here's an older photo of my Max.  This little fella just wanted to "nuggle" when when he woke up from his nap.  I had to scrap the plans for chicken pot pie but it was worth it.  Due to the late afternoon honey run I already didn't have enough time anyway to do the pot pie.  The poor little guy looked so confused when I told him earlier this week that he couldn't kiss me on the mouth or the nose because of his bad cold and recent fever.  Luckily we have cheeks and they are still quite kissable.

And to think that I almost missed it.  I had an opportunity to work today with Michael being called off due to low census and I am so grateful that I didn't. 

I have had to correct myself a couple of times lately when talking to Michael about something the kids did when they "were little."  They "are little," and it was just when they "were littler," if there is such a word.  :)  It's just amazing how fast time goes by and how fast and easily we can miss it. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

One of the best links you'll ever click on and a throwback!

The BEST flash mob ever.  I have seen this several times in the last 1-2 years and I still cannot watch it without choking up.  Whether it's the quality of the singing which is top notch or the fact that hundreds of people are walking around hearing Christ proclaimed publically in a mall, I can't stand to hold back the emotion!  And to know of all the things people do in this country to remove God from his throne...He doesn't change or cease to exist because people and politics are driving Him out.  "He shall reign forever and ever."  What a mighty God.  A glimmer of heaven someday?  As best as I can imagine it except with me flat on my face...  And to think that He became one of us?! 
picture circa December 2009