Saturday, July 18, 2015


Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children[a] of one's youth.
Blessed is the man
    who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.[b]
Psalm 127:3-5 (ESV)

Today I will take out the car to town, and I will bring it back filled to the brim with groceries. All sorts of wonderful foods that my children like to eat. Clean, healthy foods that taste great. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Bread that I didn't bake. Meat. Pounds of meat: a luxury to most of the world, normal to us. When I come home, I probably won't have to go to the store for another week.

I sat on the deck in the quiet of the morning and thought about this. I thanked God for the blessing of my grocery shopping days. Warm tears began to flow as I thought of my sisters in Christ around the world who have to forage for food to feed their hungry children. Or even those who lack the luxury of safe storage for a weeks' worth of groceries and must shop every day. I remember with shame how just a few minutes before I was complaining over an inconvenience. A spilled cup of milk. And now I cry because I know--I feel--I am so blessed far beyond what I am worthy of. It is not because my Father loves me more. It is not because I am more obedient or love more or am anything better than anyone else.

I wrestled with why and didn't come up with a conclusion, but I did find my thoughts upon a different realization.

My children are a blessing, but the sheer number of children I have are a reflection of blessings upon me. My children reflect that

~we have access to excellent health care
~we are well-fed
~we are clothed
~we have shelter
~we have the choice for me to stay home with them

And I plead today that I will not waste it. It is hard to have ten children. It is crazy. It is sacrificial. But it is a blessing. It is possible only because God has made it possible.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Updates from Ukraine

Mitch and Micah joined with three other team members from our church this past Wednesday and traveled to Horol, Ukraine. We are thankful they had safe travels all the way from here to there.

They have had wi-fi access for all of their trip so far, so it has been easy to receive updates. Micah has posted a few videos on his facebook page, and for the most part they are fun and even humorous. I have loved this.

Each team member took 2 suitcases packed with supplies for Vacation Bible School as well as gifts for friends and church members. They packed all their personal belongings into carry-ons. Unfortunately, they were separated from all 10 suitcases.

Today is Micah's 18th birthday. Our friends in Horol planned a special birthday surprise for Micah and I am oh so grateful! With the wonder of technology, this is what I woke up to:

Here are some pictures Mitch sent too:

 Ukraine is 8 hours ahead of us, so just before midnight there, it was only almost 4 pm here. I was chatting with Mitch using WhatsApp and he sent the above picture captioned, "Last picture as an 17-year-old."

A few minutes later he sent the below picture and said, "Does he look any different as an adult? He is 18 now." ^^


 Practicing the birthday song before waking Micah up (in the video above)

He sent me a few pictures of the beautiful countryside.

Today Micah posted quite the grown-up video update, complete with prayer requests.

Posted by Micah Theis on Saturday, July 11, 2015

I would add Barb's prayer request that they would be reunited with their luggage by Monday (the first day of VBS).

On the home front I'm beat up with a cold. I knew that I would be tired because Obi, Mercy, and Genna all wake up at night. I just didn't expect to be tired AND sick. I was able to get to the store today and restock my medicine cabinet. Whew!

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Genna at 5 months!

Genna was 5 months old on the 4th of July! We celebrated the 4th by going to watch fireworks on the 3rd. We went to a parade on Saturday morning, then we had the Emersons over for lunch. It was fun as always, but different this year with my big kids working. Genna didn't seem to mind the loud booms of the fireworks. She watched them the entire time.

Genna is so chubby and cute! Her round bottom gives her a wide base for sitting. I was surprised when I sat her in the grass yesterday and she sat up on her own. I picked her up and went to get my camera, and she sat up again for me. :)

According to my scale at home (the crazy set up that I have to do to get a measurement), she weighs over 17 lbs. Hehe. At her 4 month checkup 3 weeks ago she weighed 15 lbs 15 oz, so I would say that 17 lbs and some change is close to accurate.

Genna can roll both ways, but she doesn't roll from back to front very often. I have found her rolled off her blanket several times now. She loves to play with toys she can put in her mouth. She would rather be held than to be anywhere else. She stands on our laps and jumps. She loves to make eye contact with people and is very social. She smiles and laughs and "talks back" when people talk to her.

Her brothers (Zeke, Josh, Malachi, and Obi) adore her, but they aren't always gentle enough. Mercy likes her but I see a bit more jealousy. ;) Caleb is good at getting her to sleep when I can't.

Speaking of sleeping, it's going horribly. She's waking up frequently at night, as often as every hour. :( I'm pretty much in a sleep-deprived coma today after three rough nights. Just keeping it real!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

This is the blog that does not end...

Just a few more pictures...

 Micah's new wheels! He learned to drive a stick shift/manual...then he taught his best friend! In other news, Eden got her driver's license last month too. Yay for more drivers! Boo for higher car insurance. 

 One day Josh took a walk around our neighborhood and came back with these beautiful flowers. Upon questioning him, I learned that he "found them growing by the pond." And upon further questioning, we learned the truth that he had found them in someone's garden. So he took $3 of his allowance money and went with his dad to the house where he took the flowers. It turns out that a  retired couple lived in the home, and they were very kind to Josh. They refused to accept his money, but did accept his apology and instructed him to ask anytime if he would like flowers for his momma. It was a super lesson learned and an encouragement to me as well. Because as a tired mom, sometimes I just don't want to do the right thing, the hard thing, and be a parent. I could have overlooked his lie. I could have just handed out a punishment. Mitch could have refused to take him to the owners for a confession. Josh could have refused to tell the truth. But the beautiful reality here is that God's grace overflowed to all of us--to Josh, to me, to Mitch, and to the owners. I left the flowers on my counter. At first it was just a reminder that Josh made a wrong choice and "stole" from a neighbor. But now it is a better reminder of how God redeems for His own glory. Oh how sweet that pink flower smelled too--it smelled like punch! It was glorious.

I think I've seen something like this somewhere before...
Thankfully it ended well, without so much mud!

Both Zeke and Josh learned how to use the lawn mower!

Mercy is in training. :)

Mercy and Genna were both wearing dresses that were Eden's, so I wanted a picture...
Then Tirzah came upstairs also wearing one of Eden's dresses, so I had to get a picture of all three. Unfortunately, Genna grabbed Mercy's dress, causing quite the uproar...
Big sister to the rescue!

Obi adores his sisters!

{Mercy with a blueberry smoothie mustache}

{and corn on the cob!}

::baby love::

Northern Lights

When we first moved in here 12 years ago, I was driving home from grocery shopping one night when I noticed strange lights in the sky. I thought it was a spotlight. By the time I got home, I realized it was Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. This week it happened again. I was so giddy to be able to see it right in the middle of the city.

I don't have any experience taking pictures of the Aurora, but I gave it a try anyway. I did a little photo editing ::gasp:: to lighten the photos.

It was so amazing!

Summer Projects

 We started off the summer with a long project list. It was mostly my list to begin with, but I did need some help from Mitch with a few things. I wanted to make a list so that I could look at things, then prioritize what I really wanted done first. Mitch added a few things to the list, and we started whittling away at them immediately. Early on in the summer we had most of the easy things done. We have since finished the list completely and started a new one. The second list has felt a little slower, but we're still getting tons of stuff done. Mitch has been working very hard both at home and with friends.

I started a stack of 20 diapers over a year ago because I wanted to sell them to raise money for our Nicaragua trip. I ended up not finishing them, mostly because I didn't have the time. I wanted to get them finished up and out of my way. It was fun to do a little sewing. At the same time, though, I actually closed my Pampered Cheeks business. So it was bittersweet. It is fun to have a few diapers to do what I want with them. This print was so pretty and came from a scrap of knit fabric that I loved. I had so much fun choosing snaps for the front.
 The finished stack--6 newborn diapers, 4 smalls, and 10 mediums. ::love::

Something that didn't make it onto the project list but was a huge priority of mine was getting the tack strips removed from the basement floor. I put this off for way too long, mostly because I wanted to be sure we were not putting carpet back down. Our basement flooded last year when we failed to use the sump pump to drain our pail. Our basement is staying dry and I would feel comfortable putting carpet back down again, but we have some kids with allergies and I think it would just be cleaner to not have carpet. So up it comes!

 It feels SO good to have this up. I think we are going to put down what kind and how much $ to spend?

 Last year we moved all the storage tubs from the garage attic in anticipation of having our roof fixed. That didn't happen until November, but the tubs were in our basement nevertheless. Another "want" this summer was to transform our family room once again into a livable space.
 I have been on a huge purging binge lately. At the beginning of June we stuffed our Subaru Outback (station wagon) full to the brim of stuff that we took to the church garage sale. Mitch bought new storage tubs for my clothes so that they would all be uniform size/shape. As I transferred clothing to the new tubs, sorting and organizing, I ended up with 10 more full tubs of clothing to donate. Wow that felt awesome!

Mitch didn't want to put the clothes back up into the attic. He built shelves along the garage wall to accommodate the tubs. 

The kids had some fun climbing on the shelves while he built them.

 Mitch has also done a lot more work in his garage. Our dream was to insulate and heat it so that he could work in it year round. That's not going to happen at this moment (we are unable to use the insulation we wanted to, and the space is really small). But he has done an amazing amount of cleaning, building, and organizing. At least he is creating a bit of useable space for when the weather is warm enough to work!

Some other things on our project list:
hem the curtains that we hung
still need to fix the rocking chair
shoe shopping (everyone grew out of their shoes at the same time!)
put panels back up on the laundry chute (so my clothes don't get stuck between the floor and ceiling--lol)
put new mulch in front (Mitch is fixing our gutters so the mulch won't wash away anymore)
replace the back door (need a friend to help with this since it has a leak--no mold, though, thankfully)
sew gift bags
change the design of our middle boys' bed

A Great Start to Summer

Our summer is off to a pretty great start. I thought I should clean off my camera card and blog about it. I have a ton of pictures and I'm not even going to apologize. I do think I'll break it up into multiple posts.

At the end of May/beginning of June, Mitch's sister Hope visited us with her husband, Nate, and two boys--Tristan and Jasper. Tristan is just about 11 weeks younger than Obi. We haven't seen them in a few years, so it was super awesome to get to spend a few days with them.

 {Hope, with Josh, Genna, and Jasper}

 We went to the park...actually, to two parks, and it was a blast!

 {Jasper and Mercy}

 {Hope and Eden}

 We wasted a bit of time trying to come up with an easy idea to paint on t-shirts as a project with the kids. We ended up cramming them back into the closet. Some other time, I guess!

 Our best attempts at a group shot...

 {Tristan is a bit younger, but definitely taller!}
 Nate, Zeke, and Hope
 Hope and Tirzah
Hope and Caleb
Hugging Micah goodbye. On the next trip through Minnesota, I have to get a front shot of Micah and Hope together. :)