Friday, December 5, 2014

We Played In the Rain

                                             at grandpas's 100th birthday - october 30, 2014

a  week ago i left my 100 year old grandfather's hospital room and on my way out he stopped my husband and me.  he said "keep taking trips.  go on picnics.  be together as a family.  that's where the memories are."

two days ago my mother told me that grandpa had officially been put on hospice care.  my children were just finishing their lunch and we talked about the new information we knew about grandpa miller.  we went to the front porch to watch the rain pour down.  it was amazing.  the curious slowly left the cover of the porch and inched their way out to the lawn looking back to me to see if the were going to get called back or not.  i let them play.  soon there were big splashes in the river of a gutter that was rushing down the street.  they were having a good time.  right there i had a choice.  was i going to go with in or live?  i did change my clothes real quick and joined my babies out in the rain. even the big guys came out. we splashed and kicked the puddles at each other.  we floated a plastic duck down the stream.  we had a great time.  we were making memories.  maybe crazy memories but we were making them none the less and we were having a great time in the process.

today i went to see my grandpa.  i told him about playing in the rain with the children as per his instructions to make memories.  he smiled and patted my hand approvingly.  with that my mom began to share fun times that she remembered with her dad, my grandpa while growing up.  it was a sweet time. a day that i will treasure always.

december 4, 2014 at 7:05pm Jesus our Lord and Savior pulled back the veil between heaven and earth and ever so tenderly invited my grandfather, Paul Kenneth Miller, to join Him there.  we are saddened as we will miss grandpa more then i think i can even comprehend at this moment but we truly rejoice  that he is not in any pain, that he is worshiping the King of Kings and that he is in eternity.  my grandfather was a man who loved Jesus, loved my grandmother (married for 74 years) and loved his family very much.  he was a man of integrity, great character and a hero to many.  not a perfect man, but a real man.  i am so grateful for the many memories that he made with me, my husband and our children.

thank you grandpa.  i love you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Have You Suffered For Nothing?

i ran into a girlfriend at the orthodontist yesterday.  she was willing to have a cup of spontaneous tea with me.  what a treat!  we sat for a couple of cups and caught up on life.  she asked me about a piece of art work that i made several years ago.  art wise i think it was a good piece.  mixed media stuff.  i was happy with the layout, layers, etc.  what it said was completely different.  i was at one of my very lowest points.  lonely.  self focused.  not realizing that i was self focused which of course always increases the self inflicted pain that causes.  i felt like i had been hit by a truck, left in the gutter.  kind of like that pitiful cat from the musical CATS.  seen that?  remember her?  gnarled and all.  as my littlest daughter would say "ba-lah.  blahhh!"  meaning ick.  down right ick ick ick.  it was sinful thinking.  and that my friends is ick.  what's that smell?  oh!  that's my disgusting flesh!

i didn't really share the turn from that piece of art work with my friend. so much has changed since than.  God has healed hurts.  restored relationships.  opened my eyes to His faithfulness to me.  restored the joy of my salvation.  blessed our family with unity.  provided a group of believers to fellowship with.  as my physical body slowly continues to heal from a couple of years of shakiness my soul feasts at the table of the King and i am ever so grateful for the fullness i feel in Him.

as i spent time in God's word this morning He brought me to galations 3:3-5.
"Are you so foolish?  after beginning with the Spirit, are you trying to attain your goal by human effort?  Have you suffered for nothing - if it really was for nothing?  does God give you His spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believed what you heard?"

i was struck by that "have you suffered for nothing?"  no!  i know that the trials that i have gone through, even the ones, mostly the ones, that were caused by my own selfishness, inward thinking, lack of service, fear, PRIDE (that one is the ugliest) judgment of others, control in my marriage, God will use this.  God is using this! as i have repented and have been given the gift of a repentant heart from the Lord i can share what the Spirit has taught me through His Word. if this brings anyone to the foot of Jesus, to the cross and they can have a repentant heart than i have not suffered for nothing.

a young gal i'm acquainted with lost her sweet baby boy just one month ago similarly to how i have lost my sweet daughter.  a mutual friend put us in contact with one another.  sharing with her the hope of heaven, that that's where our children are and the sharing the comfort that Jesus brings.  that made it so my suffering was not for nothing.  may God be glorified even in our pain.  may we rejoice as we know that "trials of many kinds develop perseverance.  perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  i still long for and miss all my babies i have lost, but i am able to see the many blessings that have come out of that hurt.  one of those blessings being how drastically our perspective on children changed to what a blessing they really are!  God used this to change even our words with our children.  how we talk to them and how we talk about them.  even in a joking manner.  we want to, and try to lift our children up with our words..  not tear them down by saying ill words.  we value them in such a different way and try to take our responsibility seriously as we understand it in God's word.

i often wonder why in the world should i write?  isn't there a book already out there on just about everything?  don't we have thoughts and opinions spread all through out this world?  why in the world would anything i say be different than the next gal?  my husband answered this for me.  sometimes he has to speak in "joanna language".  especially when we are talking math, money craziness.  he puts it into words i can get with my artistic brain.  he told me to write because maybe someone will hear the love of Jesus in their language.  maybe God will use me.  Lord please use me.

final thoughts...the trial you are going through right now, God can use this.  will you allow Him too?  is your suffering for nothing?  often it is so hard to see what some of the blessings are on the others side of the trial.  remembering that our Lord is faithful, has been, is now, always will be, this is some of the truth that we need to focus on.  not the feelings of "ugh, i'm sinking in this".  i am trusting more.  trusting, believing.  knowing that there is a specific purpose for the road God has us walk. are you going to trust that He has you on the road you're on for a reason?

Monday, October 27, 2014

More rules...but these are for Mama

Earlier this month I wrote about "House Rules" for the children that we have collected through out the years.   Here is a new list.  This list is for Mama...

1.        Remember that this season of life is only a season.  It is over too quickly and before you know it this beautiful bundle you hold in your arms will make you a grandma.  This is true.  Just ask your mother. 

2.       The goal in the middle of the night is not “get the baby back to sleep”.   The goal is to comfort and love and enjoy this moment.  Fulfilling this high calling of motherhood.  For these moments of a wee one at the breast will be the moments you cherish when you think back on the early years.  I have often asked God to help me remember specific moments of nursing, a toddler hand in mine, He has gifted these memories to me.

3.       Littles climbing into your lap while having morning Bible study is not an interruption.  It is a divine appointment.  Welcome them in.  Read Deuteronomy 6.

4.       Smile.  A lot.  There is so much that can weigh on a mama’s mind.  Don’t let their memory of you be a furrowed brow but rather smile and have a sparkle in your eye.  Do this with Daddy too.  There is so much that can weigh on a daddy’s mind.  This sparkle only comes from Jesus.

5.       Littles want to help with everything.  Dishes, laundry, cleaning, cooking…  If you are faithful and patient to teach them while they are little you will not sigh a big sigh of distress when baby is a teen wondering why YOU have to do everything. 

6.       Daddy’s play differently than mamas.  This is a huge gift.  Don’t correct daddy with everything he should or shouldn’t do with baby (at any age).  This is a sure way for discouragement.

7.       Dishes, laundry, cleaning, “stuff” will wait.  It will be glad to wait for you.  Littles don’t wait.  If love tanks aren’t filled they will find something else to do.  Be flexible. 

8.       Love Daddy.  One of the greatest gifts you can give your little one is love and respect their Daddy.  He is a hero to his little one.  As mama we can encourage this or break it.
(see rule 6) Ephesians 4:29   Proverbs 14:1

9.       The world, and even the church sometimes, does not always see the job as “mother” as one of a high calling.  It is.  Be cautious of the thinking or even joking talk that says children are a burden, so much work, too expensive.  Psalm 127:3-5  “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior (Pastor Wiemann says “launch them in the correct direction”) are sons born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.  They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.”  (emphasis mine)

10.   Share your secret chocolate stash with your littles.  Doing this will make them feel so special and they will definitely remember how it is you made them feel.  When they are big they will bring you more chocolate or if you’re lucky a grande nonfat latte!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Miscarriage Remembrance Month

quote found on pintrest

Did you know that October is a remembrance month of miscarriage, stillbirth, pregnancy loss and infant loss?   Did you know that chances are that those mamas (and daddys) that have lost babies through miscarriage, or stillbirth still think of those little ones that that they never got  to hold at their breast and rock in the night?  How do I know?  Because I am one of those mothers.  1 out of 4 mothers lose their babies to pregnancy loss,

I have five babies in heaven.  Three of them I have named.  Two of them I have gone through labor and delivery  I have held them, wrapped them in blankets, stroked their tender cheeks, kissed their sweet faces.  I have buried them.  I have been swollen with milk unable to nourish my little one.  My body still bears the stretch marks of pregnancy.  My arms still long to hold the babies.  At night when I rest my hand still lays over my empty womb waiting to feel the flutters that won't come.  I say "I" in all of this but the loss is ours.  My husband and I.  We have gone through these losses together.

When I have had pregnancy loss I really haven't had a question of why but fully believe that it part of God's perfect plan for my life.  For my families life.  I still grieve.  My heart still breaks.  I still think of and long to hold my children.  BUT I know that the Lord is faithful.  He has yet to leave me.  He gives me soothing peace as only a heavenly Father can do.  He reminds me of His love for me. Reminds me that my children are with him free from the confusion of this world.

For the last two deliveries with my children at home I have sung during labor and delivery.  I know that sounds strange but i grew up singing.  loving to sing and was able to block out hurt or distraction with song.  So i tried this with the intense pain of labor.  the morning of knowing that I would need to delivery a baby whose breathe was gone I walked around the block of our neighborhood.  I needed to be alone with the Lord.  Wondered if I could get labor to start moving.  I remember feeling like I was on a death march.  Knowing there was no turning back but that at that moment the Lord God had it planned for me to go through this storm.  My Jesus can walk on water and He can calm the storms. The song "Captivate Us" by Watermark   came on.  I locked it in on my phone and that would be the song that we would listen to for the hours of this journey.  My husband and I were able to quickly learn the words as we would sing together. Crying and holding each other we would continue to worship.  Now, a year latter, when that song comes on we reach for one another's hand.  Praising Jesus for the little girl that song reminds us of and missing her terribly.  Her name is Maple Clara.  A little sister to three sisters and four brothers here.

Chances are you know someone who has lost a little one that they love and still miss.  Why not send them a handwritten note to let them know you haven't forgotten and you know they haven't either.  I know for me it is healing to talk about my little ones - especially as it is so recent to have lost them.  I have lost three babies in the last 19 months.

I am still awaiting the due date of my fifth last miscarriage. I was four months. October 25, 2014.

Have you lost a little one?  Your child? A grandchild? If you like please honor them by writing their name in the comet list below.

Monica 14 weeks 1995
Matthew David 7 months February 2000
Easter baby 8 weeks March 31, 2013
Maple Clara 5 months October 20, 2013
Baby Caldwell 4 months April 14, 2014

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Rules Conclusion

What could be better than happy, creative children who want to learn, love and play?  The list of rules is long, but in all it’s just for play.  We don’t live by tight rules. An occasional bouncy time on the bed or the couch happens, but not everyday.  I want to remember that my children are children.  They don’t need to act like little adults.  Polite yes, prim and proper always? No.  We encourage lots of play in the mud, bouncing on the trampoline while holding a hose, back yard adventures that include tipis, worms, and archery.  That reminds me of another rule, you must wear underpants under your Indian costume that you have made with paper, yarn and scotch tape.

We learned back when we only had two children, when our third went straight to heaven and not into our arms, that children are truly a gift from God.  They are not ours.  Even though we name them, care for them, play with them, teach them and all of those different things, they are not ours.  Each and every child belongs to God.  Each and every child has been put here, in our care, ultimately to be trained to serve Him, love Him and to point others to Him.  I don’t want to mold my little ones into what I want them to be, but rather what the Father wants them to be.  I want to teach them to yield their will to mine when they are young, so that when they are older they will yield their will to Gods.  Yielding of themselves won’t be a brand new idea.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

As with all rules...

             As with all rules, even silly rules, they are usually put in place because the event it is referring to has happened.  Yes.  All of these rules have been put in place because of previous incidents or because of great planning.  My children tease me that I have to many rules, but as you can see with the list below, some of them are just necessary.  With seven children almost anything can happen.  Trust me.  ANYTHING can happen.  Praise the Lord for that.  What an incredible blessing of adventure they bring to our home!
I know some of them would fall under the category of "Oh gross!", but Hey!  It's real life!  And it's mine...

House Rules

1.    No tinkling into the coop for the baby chickens, especially when the coop is in the house.
2.    Do not vacuum up the chicken poop.  It makes the vacuum and the hall closet smell really bad.
3.    Do not hit chickens with sticks when you are chasing them.
4.    Do not eat chicken poop.  Don’t even try it.  It is not good for you.  Icky. Icky.
5.    Do not chase your brother with the mop.
6.    Do not chew gum that you find already chewed at the park.
7.    Do not pour the honey onto the table, or onto the chair your bare feet are standing on.
8.    Do not tape your brother to a tree even if he asks you to.  This is especially important if mommy is not home.
9.    Do not fasten your stuffed animals in anyway to the ceiling fan.  They can go for a ride on the swing set instead.
10. Do not keep your snail collection behind the couch in the house.
11. Do not turn the refrigerator or freezer knobs to the “off” position.  This is especially bad right before mommy is planning to entertain for dinner.
12. Do not chase each other with butter knives.
13. No you may not kill a bear with a butter knife.
14. Do not drink ketchup out of a sippy cup.
15. Do not open three boxes of almond milk at the same time.
16. Do not mix a container of almond milk with popcorn and water.
17. Do not serve this “drink” to your brothers or yourself.
18. Do not drink out of the fishbowl.
19. Do not try to hunt the fish with a butter knife.
20. Do not mix syrup and baking soda on the pantry floor.
21. Do not climb on the counter to unlock the high lock daddy put on the pantry.
22. Do not empty mommy's hair products out.
23. Do not kiss anybody’s eyeball.
24. Do not take a bite out of anyone’s deodorant.
25. Do not pour the container of laundry soap on the laundry room floor.  This isn’t really how the clothes get clean.
26. Do not chase your brother with a PVC pipe.
27. Do not put rose petals in the VCR.
28. Don’t encourage the dog to walk on the table.
29. Don’t put the dog in the baby’s crib.
30. Do not put extra covers on the baby with out asking.
31. Stop telling your brother that FedEx is coming to pick him up.
32. Take your muddy boots off before you come in the house.
    Do not put gravel in the hubcaps of the car.  This makes daddy think that the           breaks are having a really bad problem.
33. Do not look up in the bottom of the vacuum while it is running.  This is really bad when your sister is the one looking and she has really long hair.  This can cause her hair to get sucked up really fast.  If this does happen, pull the vacuum off of the child’s head quickly in one smooth motion.  Kind of like a big heave. 
34. Do not pour milk on your sister.  This is not considered “water” in a water fight.
35. Do not tie your grandparents to the sofa bed at three in the morning with yarn.
36. Do not paint the dog.
37. Do not paint the house without Daddy or Mama’s permission.
38. Do not glue anything to the carpet.
39. Do not put the baby on the treadmill to see how fast he can crawl.
40. You must keep your clothes on in Sunday School.
41. Do not paint the chickens.
42. No chickens allowed to free range walk in the house.  I know this is ok at your Aunt’s house but not here!
43. Do not run thru the house with a pail of water.

44. DO NOT take Mama’s dark chocolate with out asking.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


it's crazy at times... the ways emotions can roll in like the waves.  little wave. little wave.  whoa!!! watch out wave.

my best friend is moving.
my BFF.
my drop everything, drop to our knees , we gotta pray type of BFF.
my let's have coffee for hours, talk, read, pray.
that's the one.

the funny thing is, is that i'm the one who moved five years ago.  i can still see her as i got into my big red excursion with all six of my children of various heights and ages strapped in.  she was bawling.  not just bawling but bawwlllinng...  and now.  here's me.  even though we are miles apart we are still on this same side of the country.  the same state.  the same "edge of the map".  and i am picturing her getting into the big car -  a truck most likely - and i'm bawwwllllinnng.   i am so happy for her.  i am so sad...

that's what we do though right?  we change seasons.  our coffee season was like this.  we meet pretty faithfully once a week for coffee (jonoe).  we talked.  we laughed.  we cried.  we read our Bibles.  we prayed.  we rolled on the floor in the coffee shop holding our bellies from laughing so hard.  we drank gallons of coffee.  "coffee IV please. chair 1"

we did this for about 9 years.  seriously.  9 years.  in crisis times, which of course basically means ill perception of what it was/is that God has called us to do, we met more than once a week.

this is probably one of the biggest gifts i have ever received in my life.
with this friend, i know that i am excepted.  i am loved.  i am reminded, know and BELIEVE that God loves me.  that His son Jesus loves me.  i am reminded of truth.  of what really matters.

this is my best friend.

dear sweet gal on the other side of the map...
here she is.
she's amazing.
she loves Jesus.
she sings.
she's big into excersize. - (i know that's weird.  don't tell her.  it makes her happy.)
there's so much....

this i know.  God's timing is always perfect.
He is the changer of the seasons.
Father, please go forth of my BFF.
provide for her and her family.
Lord, when she is settling in to her new little nest, please send a flock of friends.  the ones who love you.  the ones who will challenge her in her faith.  the ones who will share this next season with her.
and Lord....there is still another BFF of hers and mine that will be in that little country town.  Father God, please more than ever, be that BFF to her that she needs.  we trust you Lord - with everything.