Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Life Lessons from a Woman Who Lived Them

   Recently I was able to attend an annual ladies retreat.  At this retreat, one of the returning speakers is Mrs. Mina Olgesby.  She has a wonderful music ministry in addition to speaking at many conferences.

    I am always blessed by her topics and her sincerity as she speaks about what the Lord has laid on her heart.  In my last post, I told you that I would attempt to share some insights I received while I was at the annual ladies retreat this year.  I wanted to start with a session that Mrs. Mina shared which she titled "Life Lessons from a Woman Who Lived Them."  I don't think she would mind me sharing her points and the applications she made from Scripture with you.

     This lesson was all about the account in 2 Kings 4: 8-37.  This is the account of the prophet Elisha and his interactions with a great lady of the land of Shunem.  She is not named, but is commonly referred to as the Shunamite woman.  This woman went through many things in her life and yet remained faithful and humble in her walk with the Lord.  She can be an example to us today in many areas, and some of these ways are what Mrs. Mina brought out. 

    The first thing that is seen about the Shunamite lady is that she was more interest in giving than in getting.  We see this recorded in verses 8-10.  She freely invited God's man to partake of her hospitality, and even went so far as to approach her husband about having a special room built especially for Elisha's use when he passed through their area.  (The "original" prophet's chamber!)  When Elisha asked what he could do for her in return for this hospitality, she simply said, "I dwell among mine own people."  To me, this statement says that she had everything she needed, and she had no need for accolades of other men, or to have her kindnesses published abroad.  How many times do we perform services for others with a hidden desire for these deeds to be made known and made much over?  This lady realized that her reward for service was from the Lord, and that what she did here on this earth was seen by Him in Heaven, and that was enough for her. 

     Another thing that was brought out as a life lesson from this great lady is found in verse 9.  She was spiritually perceptive.  She recognized God's man, and saw God's holiness in him.  This is an important lesson for us, especially as women.  We need to be careful to be discerning about the things of spirituality in our lives.  Check what comes across your radar against Scripture--even if it is from a Christian source.  It is a dangerous practice to accept any and all teachings from a particular church or person without checking for Biblical accuracy.  Staying in the Scripture and having it a daily part of your life will help you grow in your spiritual perception, and false ideas will be more likely to sound false when filtered through a strong Scriptural filter. 

    There are several more things that were brought out in this lesson that I want to share with you.  Stay tuned... :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Time of Refreshing--and Adventure!

     Well, I made it back from another great ladies retreat renewed and revived!  Although, I must admit, I didn't feel very revived when I got home...late nights+early mornings+intensive listening+long drives=tiredness!  But after a night of sleeping in my own bed, I felt much better. 

     It was good to see family there, and also some returning attendees that we see every year.  One of the blessings of the Christian life is that no matter how much time passes, you always feel a certain kinship when you spend time with fellow believers.  Catching up on their past year, sharing struggles and blessings that have happened since you last saw them, and time spent in fellowship are always highlights of the retreat. 

    There was a brand new thing at the camp this year.  Over the summer they had installed a zip line.  So, during free time, my cousin and I accepted the challenge and suited up for the ride!  Here we are almost ready to go:

This is the view from the top of the starting point looking across to the other tower where you end up:
After you climbed the stairs to the top of the tower, the line attendants hooked you to the cable and then off you went!  There was no sharp drop; you just sort of sat down and gravity did the rest.  (Free-fall type rides are NOT something I enjoy!)  You zipped out over the lake and up to the next tower where you were unhooked and climbed down.  There were actually two different lines to ride, a long one and another smaller one.  I did both, and enjoyed it very much.  Plus, the boys were pretty impressed to see how high it was and so they think I'm cooler than ever-haha! 

     As always, the speakers at the conference were a timely blessing to me!  They had so many things to share that one blog post would barely even scratch the surface!  But I did want to share some of the things that I found especially helpful, maybe in a short series of posts.  So be on the look out for those as they show up over the next little while. 
     Well, it's time to get myself out of the air and my feet back on the ground, so I will wrap this post up for now.  Hope everyone has a great day!  Keep looking for the "Lego moments"--sometimes they're even found zipping through the sky! :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It's Fall Ya'll!

     My favorite season is here!  Cooler days, fire in the fireplace, colorful leaves--I love lots of things about fall. One of my favorite traditions of fall is coming up as well...the annual Ladies Retreat I attempt to attend every year.  It is such a time of spiritual refreshment, even though is a packed schedule!  I always come away renewed and revived and ready to tackle the craziness of life again.  I would encourage you, if you ever have an opportunity to attend a conference, retreat, seminar, etc. that you try your best to go at least once.  There is something about being away from the daily schedules and demands that really allows you to focus on hearing what the Lord may have for you to learn.

    We have been as busy as usual around here!  School has successfully completed the first quarter of the year.  We have had some "growing pains", but the Lord has seen us through them.  The boys are doing well so far this year.  I have been reminded this year especially that school really begins at home and learning should be a part of every day.  The littlest things can be "teaching moments."  Take advantage of them as they arise through the day--count things with your littles; talk about words and what they mean with your middles; give your big guys real-life applications of math skills they are learning.  Your kid's teachers will thank you!  Mommies and Daddies are the first (and best!) teachers their kiddos have--jump in there and share!

  One of the things I like best about fall is the great photo-ops that arise!  I was able to get some cute pics of the kiddos on a recent field trip to a local farm.  Yay for pumpkin pics!

*Sigh...they're getting so big!  I think these pics really capture their different personalities pretty well.  Not always easy to do!

  Little Sister started crawling last week.  The big brothers are discovering a mobile baby is quite dangerous to their life of ease!  Lego creations are now in grave danger!  Here's one that had to be rescued several times--a port with several ships.  They spent a lot of time on this one!  (We do our best creating in jammies!)


  Because of Little Sister's new found mobility, we have had to make several adjustments to our family schedule.  She is no longer content to hang out in her carrier or stroller, so school was getting to be a little more of a challenge for Mommy and Little Sister.  So, Mommy gets to stay home with Little Sister, and she gets to have the run of the house practicing her new found skills!  She is much happier, and so is Mommy, who always had some amount of "mom guilt" for bringing her to school every day anyway!  There will still be the random day we both go, but for now I am content to remain "behind the scenes" and tackle the paperwork aspects.  Added benefit: more time to handle house stuff that had been let go simply because there were not enough hours in the day!  So, maybe, just maybe, that means more time to blog as well!  I've been working on several drafts of things I just haven't had time to polish up and publish.  Fingers crossed...

    Well, hope you enjoyed this quick catch-up, and I hope to spend more time on here in the future!  Enjoy the fall season...I know I will!  :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Our Summer Wrap-up!

     *Cough, cough.  That's me-blowing the dust off the blog site to update ya'll about what's happening around here.  Remember the last post...the one where I said that I would probably be able to post more often in the summer, because we wouldn't be as busy?   Well, obviously I was a little too optimistic!  And since we start school in a week (!!), I figured I'd better write something...  Hmmm...I wonder if Blogspot kicks you off for lack of posting...

     Anyway, like I said, we have had a busy summer.  Still working at school, (those projects that never seemed to get wrapped up), tackling house chores that had been neglected, and family "together-times" kept us moving all the time. 

     We were able to sneak in a weekend trip to the beach! Daddy had promised the boys a trip to the beach, and we are blessed to have family that lives in Pensacola, so it was fun to visit with them and fulfill our "obligation" to visit the ocean.  Although, I have to say, the beach gets less and less fun with lots of littles in tow!  And a thunderstorm doesn't help matters any!  But the kiddos had fun, and got to spend some "boy" time with their cousin who has 5 sisters, and was glad to go with us to the beach!  Here are a couple of pics from the trip:

Love the wind! 

Finally at the beach!

     We also had our annual Fourth of July family reunion.  This is a great time of fun and fellowship with my extended family on my mom's side.  We were missing a few people this year.  As we grow up and get busier lives, it gets much harder to get everyone together in one place!  But we always enjoy getting together, and one of our favorite things to do is watch the fireworks at the end of the day.
Mommy and Baby Girl getting ready to watch fireworks--she loved them!

One of our favorite parts of the reunion is the singing time!
Baby Girl and her great-grandma, Nana!

Middle Biscuit & Stitch challenging a big cousin to a game of checkers!

       The boys have had a lot of time this summer to work on various Lego projects.  We have seen a myriad of different landscapes, vehicles, and buildings pass through the household.  Here are just a couple that we've seen:
Front and back view of a six story hospital, complete with helicopter landing pad and ambulance bay on the bottom floor.  (A very eclectic clientele: green army man and LGM from Toy Story, a very ill Captain America, and several people who seem to be suffering from "block-head-itis.")

Middle Biscuit's really big mini-figure.  He made three of these, one representing himself and both brothers.

   Baby Girl turned six months old a few days ago, so I thought I'd wrap this post up with a few of the pictures from her 6-month, "Pretty in Pink" impromptu photo shoot.  Hope they make you smile, and I hope to share with you again soon! :) 
Such a big girl!

Blue jeans and bare toes!

Sweet lady!

Happy girl!  (Mommy's favorite!)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hey, Remember Me? :)

     It has been so long since I've blogged that I thought some of you would think I had given it up entirely!  Let's just say that this morning was the first morning in some time that I stood in my clean kitchen, realized that the boys were playing happily, Baby Girl was napping, and there were no chores screaming for my attention.  (The chores always yell, but you can ignore them sometimes, haha!)  So, here I am, sneaking a few minutes to update you on our crazy life, and maybe give some words of encouragement for yours!

     School ended with a bang!  We had a great awards night, giving encouragement and recognition to all the students for their hard work.  First-Born managed to squeak out taking home the award for Highest PACE average, but he was given a run for his money by another student and Middle Biscuit.  They were all within a very small percentage of difference between them, and it was down to the last few grades to see who would come out on top.  We told him he would have to work extra-hard next year if he wants to hold onto the title!  Both the older boys played their recital pieces in front of their biggest audience yet (probably over 70 people were there that night!) and did really well.  Middle Biscuit was a true performer, playing his piece with a hastily bandaged finger from a paper cut he received right before he was supposed to go on stage!  A little trooper!

     Since school let out, we have been trying to prioritize "family recovery time."  Many things got put on the back burner in the last few weeks of end-of-year chaos.  So, we have been spending time working as a family, having fun together, and re-visiting some training issues that had been let slide in the busy schedule.  We had been seeing some behavior issues cropping up, and we knew it was simply because the consistency of training was lacking due to Mom and Dad's busy-ness.  The home has been recovering as we spend time nipping negative things in the bud, rather than letting them flower into full-grown "weeds."

     I have been enjoying spending lots of one-on-one time with Baby Girl.  I had tons of mom-guilt about having to head right back to work as soon as I was able to.  This was the only baby that I haven't been able to be at home full-time with, and it was tough, let me tell you!  She seems to have done fine though, and we are making up for it now!  :)

     One sad note this summer is that due to the recent decision made by BSA, our family will no longer be participating in Cub Scouting.  We came to this hard decision after much time spent praying and discussing the ramifications of this decision.  I know it will be hard for some to understand, but sometimes the right choice for your family is not always the easy choice.  We will miss our Scouting adventures, and we plan to keep in contact with our new friends made through our local Scouting chapter.

     This leads me into a topic Hubby and I have spent much time discussing this summer.  It came up partially due to the decision concerning Scouting we had to make, but also it's been something we have been dealing with in other areas of our life as well.  It is the idea of the importance of making hedges around your family.  Not walls, because as Christians, we are called to minister to the world around us.  It is difficult to see and minister to the needs of others from a fortress!  Hedges give protection, but still allow others to see your testimony, and allow you to minister as you are called.  But the hedges have to be maintained, which is the difficult part.  With walls, you can just build them up, and then stay behind them.  Hedges require a balance of "pruning" and allowance for growth.  Cut them all back, and you are left unprotected from the elements of the world.  Grow them too high, and they become isolating from the people you are called to minister to.  Striking this balance is a daily challenge for us.  Not only as a family, but also as a Believer.  So, I encourage you to give some thought to the idea of "hedges" in your life.  Are yours too low, allowing too many negative things to enter and cause problems in your family?  Are they too high, keeping you from sharing Christ's love with those around you?  Are they thick enough to act as a filter through which you can catch problems as they creep in?  Give your "landscaping" a check...prune or fertilize as needed!

     Well, this post is getting long enough, so I will wrap it up for now.  Hope everyone is enjoying their summer.  Hope to write more frequently, but we all know about "best laid plans" don't we?  :)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Messy Cribs and Little Oxen

     It's been over a month since I last blogged...and I can tell you exactly where the time went!  It went to the busy-ness that is our, home, boys, and baby!  I literally have had no time to sit down and write a blog post, but I have been working on one in my head off and on for about a month.  I ran across a verse that came at a good time for me.  (Isn't it "strange" how God sends us what we need exactly when we need it?) :)

     Anyway, the verse is found in Proverbs.  (An excellent place to find pick-me-ups, and great advice!)  Proverbs 14:4--"Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox."  Now, you may be wondering, "How can a verse about, umm, cows be encouraging to me?"  Well, I was feeling slightly overwhelmed in my life.  I had just started back to school, I was still getting up with the newbie during the night, and the household chores were falling behind because I was too tired when I came home from working all day to try and tackle them.  It was all I could do to get supper on the table and collapse into bed to get up and do it all again the next day.

     I was sitting in the nursery at church, feeding the baby, and I was reading from Proverbs on my phone.  (See, technology can be a good thing!)  I get to verse four, and I guess I had a small epiphany. As I was thinking about all the things at home, undone, and all the things I had to do in the upcoming week (not exactly a spiritual mindset for worship...) I realized something.  Why were there loads of laundry sitting around?  Why had the bathrooms not seen a sponge or cleaner in over a week?  Because I have a family, that's why.

     A family given to me by a loving Heavenly Father Who knew exactly what I needed and also what I could handle.  Yes, my house could be spotless.  Yes, I could have non-sticky placemats on the table and neatly folded towels in all the bathrooms.  But what would I have to give up to have that?  My "crib" would be clean, but I would have no "oxen."

     Now, don't get all upset that I'm comparing my little people to cows.  (Although, there are days....)  But in those times, cows were a blessing from the Lord and they came with certain responsibilities--and mess.  My family is also a gift from the Lord--one that comes with responsibilities and messes!  You can't have one without the other.  The verse goes on to say "...but much increase is by the strength of the ox."  This part can apply as well.  The little "calves" God gives us will be big "oxen" one day.  It is part of our job as "wrangler" to not only keep them fed and safe, but to train them to be strong in the Lord.  Their spiritual strength will be to our increase in eternity.  God will look at what we have done with the "calves" He has given us and He will reward us accordingly. 

     So, it's okay if the "crib" is messy.  (A struggle for my OCD soul...)  Because it's messy because God has blessed us with little hands to hold, little heads to fill with a knowledge of Him, and little hearts to guide into an understanding of His Word and will.  And what are a few loads of laundry, sticky walls, and toy-strewn floors compared with that? 

    I hope this reminder about the important things helps you face your challenges this week.  It has helped me to be more willing to focus on the important rather than the urgent. Love your messy "crib"--it's there because of the blessings God has given you!  :)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Our Newest Arrival!

    Whew!  February has flown by in our house!  I looked back at my last post, and realized it has been a month since I last looked in on my poor little blog!  Of course, this may be somewhat understandable since we have recently welcome our newest family member, our little Baby Girl!!  She finally made her appearance on Feb. 4th, much to the excitement of everyone--and much to the relief of Mommy!

     Her arrival was uneventful, which is always a blessing.  She was the biggest baby in our house, showing up at 8 pounds, 14 ounces, and 21 inches long!  But like someone commented, "She will need to be big with three big brothers to deal with!"  Mommy was thankful that all the "hard work" (aka labor!) was quick--2 hours & 41 minutes from start to finish!  
Here she is!  After first bath...about two hours old! :)

     After we were settled in our room, the brothers and grandparents came for a visit.  Stitch was nearly beside himself with excitement!  He had been waiting so long to meet his little sister!  he was somewhat disappointed when he found out he had to go home, and Little Sister had to stay for another whole day!  The bigger brothers took a token look, and then found the window that looked out over the city--which was much more interesting than a baby!  I mean, you could see planes flying and all the cars on the interstate--what's a baby compared to that! :)  We did manage to get a picture though...after much convincing!


     We are settling into a routine here at home pretty well.  Thankfully, Little Sister is a fairly decent sleeper, and doesn't wake Mommy up ten times a night!  She is a pretty good baby, and only has a little "fussy time" in the evening.  Stitch is still trying to convince me that he needs to stay home with me every day, instead of going to school.  We have reached a compromise where he has to go to school in the morning, but he can come home after lunch.  He is enjoying his extra time with Mommy and Little Sister!

     Thank you to all my readers for your prayers and good wishes at this exciting time in our lives.  I will try to be a little more regular with posting, but no promises...because how could you not want to sit and look at this face all day?! :)  


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Busy-ness, Birthday, and Waiting on a Baby!

     As usual, life has been busy, busy, busy here in the Lipskoch household!  Since I blogged last, we have continued preparations for our new arrival, hired a new teacher for school to help while I'm "off-site,"  attended my cousin's wedding, welcomed the Traveling Grandparents, and celebrated Stitch's fourth birthday.  And those are just the out-of-the-ordinary things!  School, home life, church, and Scouts were all mixed in as well!  Oh, and don't forget those weekly doctors visits!

     I have been on "enforced" maternity leave this past week.  I say "enforced" because I wanted to keep busy as long as possible so I wouldn't go crazy just sitting and waiting for the big day.  But Hubby (who also happens to be my boss at work--so I had no chance of winning this one!!) insisted that I stay home until Baby shows up.  So I have been finding things to occupy my time--going on shopping trips for last-minute supplies, and trying to stay out of the school building.  I may have spent a few minutes over there yesterday though...

     This past weekend, we celebrated Stitch's fourth birthday with a family party.  It seems like two months ago I was blogging about his third birthday!  *Sigh...  He wanted to go on a trip to a local state park, but we had a cold snap last week (we even had SNOW), so we told him we would go there another time.  The only other thing he kept saying he wanted was "a chocolate cake AND brownies."  So, Mommy made the brownies and Uncle N's girlfriend made the chocolate cake.  So we had one happy little boy when it came to dessert time!  Of course, he got presents too, which was just even more exciting to him.  I knew the party was a success when he came to me later that night and said, "Mommy, my tummy kinda hurts."  To which I replied, "Well, that's probably because you had brownies, and chocolate cake, and some Hershey bar (one of his gifts).  You need to drink some water.  That will help your tummy feel better."  His answer was, "No, I think my tummy wants more chocolate.  That will help it feel better more!"  Even though it was his birthday, he did not manage to convince me that this was a wise course of action!

One happy guy--surrounded by his brownies and cake! 

It must have been great.... :) 

     Of course, among all this busy-ness, we are still waiting for our new baby.  These last few days always seem the longest.  I'm fairly certain that Stitch has half-convinced himself that the baby will never get here!  And I must admit, there are days I have the same feeling! As I have written before, waiting is not my strong suit.  And yet, God gives this time to all mothers...this time of waiting.  Maybe to give us a chance to draw close to Him as we approach a time in our life that is like no other--the welcoming of a gift that He has given.  A little soul to mold and show the example of Christ to.  A daunting challenge and precious responsibility.  So, this time of waiting is also a time of reflection.  A time to remind myself of the calling God has given me, and a time of prayer that He will help me as I face the joys and challenges I know are ahead.  A time once again to find the "Lego moments" God has placed in my path.  :)  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Family Fun at Christmas Time!

     Whew!  We are winding down a very busy holiday season here at our house!  This has been a crazier time than usual around here--and that's saying something!  With the Christmas festivities, school-break projects, doctor visits (for the upcoming arrival), and various other activities, we have been going what seems like non-stop for the past two weeks!

     Activities we have taken part in began early for us this December.  One of the first holiday activities we take part in is the local Christmas parade.  We have gotten involved in this through Scouting, and the boys look forward to being in the parade and throwing candy to the on-lookers!  (Mommy looks forward to getting rid of all the candy that has accumulated in the house!)  So, Daddy and the boys suited up and did the parade thing, and Mommy and Stitch watched with our friends on the sidelines!  (And collected yet more candy.  I told the boys that the only rule was that we come back with less candy than we brought--and we did! Yay!)  Here are a couple of pics from the parade...

Levi all bundled up and ready to watch the parade!

Here's your candy!  :)  

     Right after the Christmas parade, we headed over to Baby A's first birthday party!  It's hard to believe that just a year ago, she was fighting hard in the NICU to come home and be with her mommy and daddy!  The boys, especially Stitch, love their baby cousin, and she getting big enough now to enjoy them as well!  It was a fun birthday party--with one special announcement--Baby A is going to be a big sister!!  Her mommy helped her open this very special present to announce this happy news!  (Although, you can see from the corner of the picture that Baby A was more impressed with her other things!) 

A new baby is coming!  :)

     In the midst of all these fun activities, we still have to have school!  Although, it's not all work all the time!  The students worked hard in the first quarter and all of them made Honor Roll.  So, we planned a fun Honor Roll field trip to Chuck E. Cheese!  They all seemed to have a lot of fun, and earned lots of tickets for some fun prizes.  The only problem is--what are we going to come up with for the next one?? 

First-Born & Middle Biscuit playing a flying game.

Stitch concentrating on riding his police motorcycle!  

     After some other fun school activities, it was finally time for Christmas break!  The boys were looking forward to it, and so were Mommy and Daddy!  We were able to enjoy some get-togethers with extended family, and then it was time to gear up for the big day!  We enjoyed a lazy Christmas morning before packing up and heading to the grandparent's house for more celebrations. 

All dressed up and looking handsome!  (When I pulled Stitch's outfit out of the closet that morning, he took one look at it and said "Uh-uh, no way, I am NOT wearing that!  Mommy firmly convinced him otherwise!)

New Lego Wii game!

Middle Biscuit checking out his new Lego set!

Stitch's current favorite toy!  He had been eyeing this for a while in the store...he loves to play with these imaginext sets.

      The boys were excited about all their gifts, but they were probably the most thrilled about getting their Legos back.  A couple of months ago, Daddy decided to teach a lesson in taking care of our things, so he told the boys that he had to put all the Legos in his room, and they had to spend the next few weeks searching through the house and gathering any stray Legos they could find.  He gave them a nickel apiece for each one they brought to him.  When they had gone several weeks without finding any, he would begin working on a Lego shelf for all their Legos to live on, and they could have them back when the shelf was finished at Christmas time. 

     Well, they continued to find Legos all the way up until Christmas break, so Daddy built the shelf during the break and gave the boys back their Legos on Christmas day.  There are just a few more finishing touches to go before we install our finished project in the toy room.  The boys had to help build and paint the shelf as well.  Daddy hopes that this exercise will help them remember how much work goes into something, and not to be so careless that things are lost or broken.  When everything is set, I'll try to post some pics of the finished project! 

     While the guys were working on their project, Mommy had a big one of her own to tackle--getting the room ready for the new arrival!  Lots of things had to be rearranged, and all the gifts we received needed to be sorted and put away.  Let's just say it is a very big job, and it's not finished yet!  But I have made a good start, and hope to plug away at it in my spare (haha!) time before her arrival.  (Funny aside: I am having dreams now about the baby coming, and when it gets here it's a boy...and I'm freaking out because we have all these girly things ready to go! Although, technically, I guess we are prepared even if there were to be any surprises!)

     One of the last projects that we will work on a little at a time is the after Christmas thank-you notes.  I have a ton to write for the baby gifts received as well as the Christmas gifts.  I will be having the boys write them as well, for the gifts they received.  This is a tradition that has gone somewhat by the way-side, but I think it is still a great tool for teaching gratefulness for blessings received.  (Also, a little extra reading/writing practice never hurt anyone!)  Do any of you still do this with your kiddos? 

     Well, this post has been long, but I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into our holiday season!  Happy 2013, and I hope you are looking forward to a brand new year filled with "Lego" moments!  :)