Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Practical & Spiritual Motivation for Exercise

Today's post is a "re-run" of a post I wrote several months back, but one that has been circulating on Pinterest quite a bit, so I thought I would bring it back just for today!  
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Let us run with perserverance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1

Ever since I really started running regularly in college, I have loved the biblical references to athletics and their parallels to the spiritual life...

 Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it! ~ 1 Corinthians 9:24

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. - Philippians 4:13

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  ~ Romans 5:3

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:13-15

As a mother, these verses still give me so much encouragement!  Running has evolved from a means to be able to eat more pizza (in college) into a habit essential for maintaining perspective, inner peace, and mental and physical strength for facing the challenges of motherhood and life in general.
That includes stepping up to a sporting clays challenge!...
My dad was the first person who, through his example, inspired me to exercise. He has dedicated himself to a life-long habit of fitness.  I have memories of him coming into the kitchen early in the morning after a good workout with a sweaty brow and ruddy cheeks greeting me cheerfully as I nibbled on my bowl of Cheerios.  He told me as I grew older that exercise for him was essential for managing stress, and approaching the work day with renewed vigor and confidence.

I have come to discover a deep sense of truth in his wisdom. The benefits for most of us, rest heavily in the mental and emotional clarity we gain from working out.  It's much greater than the physical benefits.
Several readers have requested that I write about how to get motivated and stay motivated to exercise.  This topic will probably be answered over the course of several posts, but I'll begin with this:

FIRST - you have to have to do something you enjoy.  Running, walking, biking, hiking, yoga, weightlifting - whatever it is, you have to enjoy it.  Although exercise isn't always fun, the fruits of it will be what keep you coming back.  Exercise isn't always fun, but the feeling that you have after you exercise is great, and is usually what makes it easier to choose to workout again the next day.  You can thank endorphins for that!

SECOND - you must remove from your mind the falsehood that exercise is selfish.  It's quite the opposite, actually.  The fit person is stronger
For the Lord 
She is able to fulfill His calling and purpose for her life with strength and energy.
For her Family 
 She works hard and plays hard with joy and efficiency!
For her Community 
She has the will and dedication to serve not only her family but others as well.

Notice I said the FIT person, not the SKINNY person.  Fitness comes in all shapes and sizes.  Don't believe me?  Just go stand alongside a course at any road race.  You will see all kinds of folks taking on the miles!  I ran 5 miles of my first half-marathon with a group of grandpas who were clipping right along and having a ball!

There are so many excuses out there for not doing it.  You just have to find your reason FOR doing it, and stick to it!  You'll be surprised at how your family and friends will come alongside of you to help you meet your goals.
The human body is an amazing machine, and when it becomes stronger, so too does the intellect (sharper focus), the will (choosing a virtuous path) and the proper order of our emotions (ladies, we need this!).

I hope that this gives you some encouragement to get out there and find a pathway of fitness you enjoy.  If you're already there, keep going!

Fabulous photos from Runner Girl ~ Discovered on Pinterest (of course!)

Friday, June 22, 2012

On The Farm Friday - Harvest Time!

This weeks "On the Farm Friday" post is dedicated to a fellow Wildcat and future farmboy, George Desch.
George is the son of a very good friend of mine from college.  (We are K-State wildcats through and through!) Even though he lives miles away in the beautiful state of Virginia, he loves the farm and has been praying for rain for all of the farmers in Kansas! (Don't you just love him already?) He is about the same age as our son, Henry, who is also all about everything farm.  Maybe they will meet someday!!  This is for you, George! (P.S. Keep the prayers coming ~ it rained twice last week!)
Without a doubt, summer is the busiest time of the year on the farm.  Every farm across the country is unique in its own way.  Some raise only crops, others have crops and animals and some even have special equipment for doing custom work, as we do, such as swathers, bailers, seed drillers and semi-trucks.  
Our farm primarily consists of alfalfa production.  You know this better as hay, and can often see the large round or square bales lined up at the edges of the field waiting to be trucked to a feed lot or dairy.   Only a small portion of our acreage is dedicated to growing wheat and corn.  In fact, this year we didn't raise any wheat at all, and the boys were very sad about this, because they LOVE to watch the combines roll through the fields, and sometimes get to ride along!
Henry was especially sad, but thankfully, he has an uncle who was running his combine this year and said, "Yes!" when Henry asked if he could tag along. After gathering up his snacks, water bottle and favorite hat, he was ready to get down to business!
One of the most beautiful sights across rural America in the summer is a field of golden wheat being harvested by a roaring combine.  This is a Case combine.  You can see just how big it is, as Henry stands at the top by the cab.
The part of the machine that cuts the crop is called the header.  This one is 36 feet wide. Different headers are used for harvesting different crops.  

If you own a toy combine, it probably came with both a wheat and a corn header, so you know exactly what I'm what I'm talking' about!  This is a corn header.  Doesn't it look like it's ready to chomp up the acres of corn??

After the combine cuts the wheat, a machine inside separates the grain from the chaff. The chaff is blown out the back and the wheat berries are collected inside of the grain bin.  When the bin fills up, a tractor with a grain cart is always nearby waiting for the combine auger to transfer the wheat into the grain cart.  Then, the grain cart is driven over to the edge of the field where the semi-truck waits to be loaded with the grain.
Once the semi-truck is full, the driver hauls the load to the grain elevator. Semi trucks are also a favorite topic among the men around here. Henry was all smiles after riding with his uncle Doug and his cousin, Ethan in their semi during harvest.
If you look closely you can see the trucks pulling in to a narrow opening between the bins.  After weighing in on a scale, the driver pulls the load over an open chute.  The trailer on the semi is called a hopper bottom trailer.  The bottom of the trailer opens up releasing the wheat into a pit where it is then transported on an elevator system up into the bins where it is stored for future use.
Sometimes the elevators can look as though they are abandoned or unused. There are many of these along the highways of Kansas, especially in our area of the state where so many farms exist. Now you know that they serve a very important purpose! If you had cereal or toast for breakfast, the wheat ingredients may have once been stored in one of these elevators! Think of us the next time you have a bite of Cheerios! 
We hope that you will come and visit us one day on our farm, George! You and Henry would have so much "work" to do!!  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Audio Books - A Great Way to "Unplug"

Are you taking a break from the classroom this summer, or are you a "year-rounder?" 
As CEO of our school, I set our schedule to run from September 1 to June 1 each year.  Individual reading time and music practice is still required in addition to all of the wonderful lessons that they naturally experience from living on the farm.

A new routine I've enjoyed is taking one hour a day to listen to audio books.  The boys know that during this hour, the house will be quiet (as quiet as possible) so that the baby can nap, and I can have uninterrupted time to catch up on a few of my own duties.  They sometimes lay on the floor and listen to the story of choice, do crafts, or build with Legos while the story plays.

Audio books are also wonderful for summer travels.  They have a magical way of conquering relentless begging for movies, squabbling between siblings and whining.  Here are a few that we have enjoyed:
We enjoyed the reading the books so much (and still do), and listened to these before the movies came out.  The boys still love them!  They have incredible sound effects, different actors for each character and are accompanied by musical scores.  Thirty-one hours of story telling at its best!
Jim has an incredible collection on his website (which I recommend ordering from, since the stories are categorized by age), so there is something for everyone in the family!  A few of our favorites are American Tall Tales, Sherlock Holmes, A Treasury of Wisdom and Famously Funny.
After I read aloud the first book in the Redwall Series to the boys, they were hooked.  The books are a challenging read, so the audio version makes it possible for the younger ones to join in on the story too.  Brian Jacques has a wonderful website you can use as a reference, but I recommend ordering the audio versions from Amazon or downloading at i-tunes.
Beethoven Lives Upstairs is a part of the Classical Kids Series, and has by far been our favorite (of the four that we own).  The story is accompanied by some of Beethoven's most famous works which are listed on the inside cover for reference.  (Note: The Story lines are typically fiction, not historical fact.) We use it as ear training for the boys.
Glory Stories, from the Holy Heroes website contain inspirational stories of heroic individuals, Saints, and recorded prayers and songs.  The saint stories can be purchased with an accompanying coloring book, which the little ones enjoy.  We own several of these stories, and have loved them all.
Finally, I cannot forget the Hank the Cowdog Series.  We got hooked on these when we lived in Kansas City.  The libraries there had a great selection and we listened to them during our trips out west to the farm.  You can listen to samples on the official website.  Get ready to giggle!

Do you have any favorites that you'd like to share?  I'd love to hear from you ~ please leave a comment!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Spirit of Joy

The virtue of JOY has been on my mind a lot lately, and I've been contemplating it within the realm of daily living.  I think that I expect my children to go about their chores, their play and other activities cheerfully, without whining, complaining or fighting.  But, the truth is, they see me respond to difficulty with frustration, they hear me complain at life when it is less than perfect. I model to them a host of contradictions every day (despite my best efforts).

A JOYFUL HEART I desire for them - I must show them mine, first.

Do you remember the movie, Life is Beautiful? I'll never forget the intense love the father had for his son, and how he desired to demonstrate optimism, cheerfulness and JOY in the midst of such dire circumstances.  My daily circumstances will never resemble such a horror as the Holocaust (I hope). And, yet, I struggle to show my children that the hope in my heart for the Lord is stronger than any struggle before me.  That hope is best exemplified through a joyful countenance.
(Photo from Walking With Faith in God Blog)
I am inspired and encouraged by Mother Theresa's words concerning cheerfulness in daily life, taken from the book Heart of Joy, and I hope that you will be too:

What would our life be like if the sisters were not cheerful?  It would be mere slavery.  We would work without attracting anybody. (Yes, who would want to be a stay at home mom if they thought it would be miserable?) Sadness, discouragement, and slowness open the doors for sloth, which is the mother of all evils.

If you are joyful, do not worry about lukewarmness.  Joy will shine in your eyes and in your look, in your conversation and in your countenance.  You will not be able to hide it, because joy overflows.  When people see happiness in your eyes, they will become aware of their nature as children of God. (What a gift our joy is to our children!)

Holy souls sometimes undergo great inward trial, and they know darkness.  but, if we want others to become aware of the presence of Jesus, we must be the first ones convinced of it. Imagine a sister who goes to the slums with a sad face (or a mommy who goes about her home in the same way) and a slow pace.  What can her presence convey to poor people?  Nothing but a deeper discouragement.  Joy is very contagious.  try, therefore, to be always overflowing with joy whenever you go among the poor (or among your family!).

Joy, according to Saint Bonaventure, has been given to man so that he can rejoice in God, because of the hope of the eternal good and on the sight of all the benefits he receives from God.  Thus, he will know how to rejoice at his neighbor's prosperity, how to be pleased in giving glory to God, and how to feel discontent concerning empty things.


Water Please!

There's a few charitable souls in this world who have at one time or another labeled me healthy.  They are the few who have seen me eat a salad and snack on an apple, but haven't witnessed me wolf down anything chocolate or chug a brew with a bag of chips (yum!).  

That being said,  I do my best to maintain a decent level of health.  When those "few" ask me how I stay healthy, I usually scroll down a list of about 3-4 reasonable habits.  One of those habits that I truly believe is vital for overall health, is drinking water.  Lots and lots of water.
The #1 simple and economical step anyone can take toward good health, weight loss and increased energy is to substitute water for soda, juice, sport drinks and other sweetened beverages.  When I give Juice Plus presentations and offer attendees a visual aid, such as this one, which is floating around the web, of just how much sugar is in their drinks, they are typically very surprised.

Subbing water isn't so easy at first, but once you make it a habit, it's one that tends to stick.  You've probably heard that you should drink a glass of water if you feel hungry, because sometimes you're body is just trying to tell you to drink more fluids, not more food.
One trick I use for drinking more water is to fill a special container and set it out on my kitchen island with a glass and some lemon slices.  This is my set up. Seeing it out reminds me to keep drinking.  If you're a mom like me, it's nice to have a lovely pitcher or a unique glass just for you to drink from that looks pretty (a perk for all your hard work!).  

I bought this carafe at Hobby Lobby, but you can also find it at Target, Sur La Table and World Market.  Any pitcher will due, really! 
Making flavored waters can be fun as well.  If we eat with our eyes first, the same is probably true for drinking.  My "go to" infused water recipes, which are simple and refreshing, are:

Lemon + Basil
Lemon + Rosemary (I know it sounds funky, but it's really delicious!)
Orange Slices + Cranberries (fresh, not dried) + Mint
Orange + Lemon + Lime Slices
Cucumbers + Mint

I typically have these ingredients on hand, herbs from the garden and produce in the fridge.  The kids like it too!  Need a few more recipe ideas? Head on over to "The Yummy Life".  You'll find a great list of combinations there, and the photos are fantastic.  Don't you love the Ball canning jars?  You can never have too many of those on hand - they're a staple around here!  
On a final note, I have personally experienced the benefits of drinking lemon water in the morning.  I buy a big bag of lemons and juice a full one or two in a large glass of water and sip on it throughout the morning.  A few of the benefits of doing this are:

~ Packed with Vitamin C, I get a boost of energy and a kick start for my immune system.
~ It helps keep my skin clear!
~ It actually helps control my coffee cravings, and I LOVE my morning cup of joe!

You can read more detailed explanations of the benefits of drinking lemon water at La Jolla Mom.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tubing at the Lake

Hi Everyone!

So, tell me how you spent your Father's Day weekend! BBQ-ing?? Baseballing?? Napping??

We spent ours at the lake.  Well, not the Lake, just a lake, a little spot called Horsethief about an hour east of us.  Yes, Virginia, there are lakes in Kansas!  Nothing like the Great Lakes, of course, but where there is enough water to float a boat, you will find land-locked natives desperate for water out to find some fun!

Steve's sister, Jennifer, brought along a camera, so we all took turns snapping some pics of our afternoon together.  
Here's what went down:
Next to snacking, tubing was definitely the main event.  We didn't even attempt to get the skis out, because the water was too choppy, but no one was about to back down from a tubing challenge.
There was so much energy on the boat, and the kids were totally wound up with excitement to go tubing.  I tried to show them how to make the "hang loose" sign with their fingers before I snapped this one, but the pinky and thumb only instruction was a bit challenging.  They kept making the devil sign.  I was having mental flashes of them head banging at an Aerosmith concert (Lord have mercy). It sort of defeats my "Honk if you love Jesus" bumper sticker. 
The 7 little offspring of the boating crew were just sure that Jen and I could not handle the tube.  
After a little dance warm up to Mustang Sally we were ready to show 'em how it's done.  I remember the days when being able to roller skate or play my saxophone really impressed them.  It's not so easy anymore.  What's next, sky-diving?
I realize that this isn't exactly a super close-up shot of our strength and bravery, so you'll just have to trust me when I say that we were awesome!!!  

The dads did their best to capsize us, but they failed. Jennifer put it well when she said that we were like Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump hanging on to the mast of the shrimp boat in the middle of the hurricane screaming, "C'mon! Is that all you've got??"

She's hilarious, that girl!  I laughed so hard I nearly lost my voice.  Praise the Lord it came back just in time for me to yell slightly raise my voice at the boys today when I needed to break up a fight.
Who's the captain of this boat, now baby?  That's right, I am. I mean we are - the Tubing Queens and Charlie!
Speaking of Charlie, he lu-u-u-ved the water.  It looks like he is shriek-crying here, but he's actually laughing. He likes to show of his man-teeth.  You can only guess how much fun it's been getting those molars in! I know he's only 1, but I'm hoping that this means he's also advanced in other areas of life like math and room-cleaning skills.
Here he is, takin' in a little smushy cheeky smooching' from Daddy after a nice cool dip in the lake.  Babies are so yummy!
Speakin' of yummy.  My kids were in hog heaven.  You know when you catch your four year old consuming a stack of about 30 Pringles (which he called his chip sandwich) you may be a junk food Nazi. According to our estimates this is the amount of food consumed by 6 of the ship mates, not including Charlie (and they were still hungry when we got off the boat):
 - 5 cans of Pringles potato chips
 - 12 granola bars
 - 6 packages of Twizlers
 - 5 packages of peanut butter crackers
 - 1/2 bag of cherries
 - 16 Capri Suns
 - 3 quarts of lake water
Not to worry, though, they earned every non-nutritious bite, because the Tubing Queens made sure that the crew kept the deck swabbed and the tube reeled in.  

After five hours of boating, swimming and tubing, we all went home and fell into bed.  

It was definitely one to remember!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day ~ 2012

In our home there are 
50 toes and
10 little soles
to follow your example
wherever you go.

We have a love affair, you and I with our babies' feet.  Each one of them has been tickled and kissed too many times to count.  They carry our boys as they jump out of bed in the morning, climb up trees and run to the door to see you the moment they know you are home.  

Over the past couple of days I've been thinking about where their little feet will carry them in life.  Our oldest son is growing so fast, and will be walking out into the big world before we know it.  Little Charlie is trying with all his might to master those first steps without holding on to a pinkie or a couch.  And, all of the marching in between by younger brothers trying to catch up to the oldest, they are all in one way or another hoping to grow into your boots.
You know, without a doubt, how much your boys adore you.  But, I wanted to take some time this Father's Day to tell you why I believe that they will grow up to regard you as not just a father, but a friend, a mentor and a hero as well:

The number one example that you lead our sons in is love for God.  You may not know it, but they notice you with your cup of coffee, early in the morning, bible open praying in the quiet.  I believe that they also overhear the short conversations we have here and there during the day about life-matters, good and bad, and how you often speak of real struggle and real success in relation to our Father.  And, perhaps right now, praying with them at night and teaching them about the beauty of our faith after supper is just routine, but some day it will be reward.
Next to loving our Lord, the love that you have for me is setting a beautiful example for them.  You are always respectful, and helpful, affectionate and encouraging.  It is not so easy to live in a world saturated with images meant to turn a man's head and heart in every direction except toward his wife.  My heart swells with gratitude for the strong-hold you have on that temptation, and for the sacrificial love you pour into our marriage.  I think that they will remember with fondness the way you tease me, how much we laugh together and dancing together in the kitchen. The children feel safe in our love, they smile when we are close, we cannot underestimate the power of that gift for them.

Finally, there are just so very many things that you can give our sons, that I cannot.  I see God's design in our complimentarity, because it is so very visible throughout the days.  They are connected to you on such a masculine level, that I can only stand by with admiration.  Thank you for stepping up to the plate of quality time.  You could always be more invested outside of the home with work, projects, meetings and hobbies or parked in front of the television oblivious to the the little hearts longing to throw the football around or be taken fishing.  The energy that you pour into everything that they do from sports, to experiences on the farm, to their education are all so vital to their formation, and I could never do it alone.

I hope that this Father's Day you know that within our very imperfect life there lives five little souls who look up and see you as nearly perfect.  Their love for you cannot be contained, their admiration cannot be hidden - cherish it, as they so cherish you!

~ Happy Father's Day!! ~

Friday, June 15, 2012

On the Farm Fridays

I've decided that every once in a while I will dedicate my Friday post to the discussion of all things related to the farm.  There are so many things to write about, and my husband can jump in a join me as a contributor since he's the expert.  When you can throw out some agricultural lingo at the coffee shop, your friends will be so impressed, or concerned, I'm not sure which.
Farmer Henry, prepping my yard for grass seed.  
Currently on the farm wheat is being harvested and hay is being swathed, and our boys are crazy excited to be in on all that action.  In between packing lunches for my crew and watching my laundry pile grow, I'm getting a great collection of pics and will put them up next Friday.  So, what's up for today?? Well, it's not pretty, but I feel it must be discussed: today we're talkin' about poo.
Now, even though I didn't grow up on a farm, I'm no stranger to rural life.  Both of my parents were raised on farms, and the little town where I grew up was surrounded by farms.  Here's the classic text book picture of the original PIONEER WOMAN - not quite as glam as the current blogging and Food Nework Star would you say?? 

Anyway, this chick is collecting dried buffalo poo patties to be used for fuel.   Poor thing.  How many of those suckers slid off the stack on her way to the homestead?? She probably had 18 kids running behind her to collect the casualties. Well, I'm not here to say that I pick up poo patties in my spare time, but I am here to say that these days I'm surrounded by poo and it STINKS!!

This is a field of corn in the early stages of growth, and no, that is not rich, dark soil between the rows, it's poo.  Across the road from our house cow manure has been spread on the fields to 
1. help fertilize the crops and 
2. keep the topsoil from blowing away.  
The wind blows like C-A-RAZY here.  No, I mean crazy, and it blows all day long for multiple days.  It shreds the flowers in the pots on my deck, shrivels up the veggies in my garden and blows the fine sandy silt through the cracks of the windows and doors. I get to dust 17 times a week, I mean my children dust (it's a punishment for fighting. Clever, eh??).

This whole method of poo application is fine and dandy, unless you live on the wrong side of the tracks.  Ya'll know the wind blows out of the south in the summer and guess where we live? Yep! On the north side of the pooh.  I'm thinking about setting up camp about a mile or so south of us, where the breeze is still fresh.  I'm pretty sure I can keep an eye on the tribe from there with some high powered binoculars.

Just to the left of the photo you can see a road that runs north/south.  I like to jog there, but it seems that these days, no matter which direction I run, I need a clothespin for my nose.  I asked my husband when I might be able to open the windows again and find fresh air.  This is what he said:
"Well, hon, don't worry, the stink will pass.  What we really need is a good rain - although that will make it smell worse for a little while (my eyes are crossed in disbelief here, can it get worse??)." No, big boy, what we really need is a two week vacation in the Alps so I can breathe!!!!
Every day I've been begging for a rain.  And, the skies play tricks on my heart filled with expectation by throwing up these monster teaser clouds.  Then, unexpectedly, last night our son's baseball game was cancelled due to a HUGE storm that came through, a storm that brought RAIN!!!!

You know what that means.  It's going to be stinky BAD today....but maybe tomorrow I'll be able to open the windows.  So, there you go.  You probably know more about poo now than you ever wanted to but, you're wiser in the ways of the farm. A fresher story next week, I promise! 

Happy Friday!!! Over and Out.

Takin' It Easy

A couple of days ago my mother-in-law, Kathy, called me laughing with a story about Andrew.  He was swathing wheat straw with his brother Benedict and decided to pull the machine over to the edge of the field and shut it down.  Steve ran over to see what the problem was and noticed that Andrew was just sitting in the cab munching on a bag of chips.

"What's wrong, Andrew?"
"Aw, nuthin' Dad, I've just decided to take life easy." 
You have to know Andrew, one of his best gifts is his sense of humor, his ability to bring LIFE into any situation, any event.

Yesterday, he staggered in, pulled my K-State frosty beer mug out of the fridge (you really need one of those around 5:00 p.m. on Friday), filled it with lemonade and put his feet up. Just then, I looked down at the stack of mail on the kitchen counter and laughed. Resting on top was a new Lands End kids catalog.  The boys on the front were perfectly groomed in their polo shirts and deck shoes.  The contrast between the photo and my son sitting in front of me was serious.
Andrew was covered from head to toe in dirt.  I knew that he had been helping his grandpa Bob fix a swather out in the shop, but all that dirt had to have come from somewhere else.  He told me he had been messing around and playing with George in one of the sheds (the floors are made of dirt).

Usually, when any of the crew comes in that grimy, they have to leave their dusty duds in the laundry room and scrub up a little.  But, I didn't mind that he had forgotten.  Honestly, I was tickled to see him so happy.
This is life UNPLUGGED.  Boys are meant to run, seek adventure, work on projects, build creations from their imagination, and GET DIRTY.  Video games and TV will never be a substitute, will never satisfy what is deep in the heart of a boy. They truly are meant to be wild at heart.  That day it really showed. (However, dirt has its limits.  We have to corral the wildness on occasion, and break out the polos and deck shoes!)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Hello friends, family, strangers and accidental tourists!  
If you are visiting our new website as a former reader of All Things Bright and Beautiful, I am so happy that you have decided to jump over to Sole Searching with us! 
Here's a little background on Sole Searching: 
It's NOT about RUNNING! (Okay, maybe it's a little bit about running). Sorry to disappoint any running devotees who might be visiting.  It's about the FRUITS that I personally experience from running - greater perspective on life, gratitude for all of my blessings, and fresh ideas and inspirations related to all things that come with being a wife, mother, teacher and daughter of a Loving Father.

Other titles that we considered were:
"One Shaved Leg" ~ With five boys to take care of, the five minute shower might be a bit of a luxury! It's not uncommon for me to step out of the shower with one shaved leg, and out of the house with one mascara-lashed eye.  Our look may be a little unpolished, but our life is beautiful!

"Why Can't I Fry?" ~ I love to cook, and my crew tells me that I can cook really well, but man, I cannot fry!  But, since this is not a cooking blog, that one was clearly out. And...

"I Think the Stork is Stalking Me" ~ Dedicated to all of the thoughtless individuals who can't find a more creative way to express their sarcasm regarding our family size.

We hope that our new website will continue to give you all of our family stories you so kindly keep up with, and also a few more tidbits on topics that may be of interest to you.  Those topics are visible in the tabs (which I didn't have on A.T.B.B.):  Homeschooling, Oh Boy, Faith, Health and Fitness. The Home page will be a buffet of randomness - everything from recipes, fashion and products I love to the latest happenings here on our farm.  (It's my little whimsy tab.)  I've given each of these a little more detail on the "About" page.

Finally, if you check out the right sidebar, that's where I'll be updating things like the books our family is reading, other blogs/websites that I'm keeping my eye on, and new music that I occasionally add to my running playlists.

How can you stay connected to Sole Searching??
1.  Become a follower!  Add your name to the "Followers" section on the right side bar.
2.  Become a fan of Sole Searching on Facebook!
3.  Subscribe to updates via e-mail (also on the right sidebar).

Here's What's Up on the Pages this Week:
Oh Boy! "Don't Make Me Smell 'Em!" (An silly essay on stinky feet.)
Homeschooling: "Consruction Trucks Concepts" (A fun and practical hands-on activity for preschoolers.)
Faith:  Sacrificial Love ~ The story of Nora Rose
Health and Fitness:  "If the Shoe Fits" (How to find the perfect athletic shoes for your feet.)

I truly appreciate your comments and suggestions, and hope that you'll hang in there with me as I navigate this new level of blogging!  I won't be writing a column for each tab everyday, so if the "Home" page doesn't change, it doesn't mean that the other tabs haven't been updated!

Thanks to Ami Price at Price Photography for jazzing up the header photo for me!

Inspired By Courageous Love

Okay, be honest, who out there reading this has already had a pity party (or two) this week?? Guilty here.  
You know how it goes - wake up (I mean fall out of bed), step on Legos, stumble to the kitchen, nothing to eat but cereal and there's no milk, baby's nose is running, phone rings, you missed another dental appointment, a child bursts into the house bleeding and screaming uncontrollably because the wind is blowing so hard it blew him off of his bike (that is no lie!), husband calls to let you know that the next three days will be spent traveling for work, a neighbor just ran over the cat, and you haven't had coffee yet.  
Can't go back to bed.  
Too early for wine. 
Phone it in, girl.  Phone that friend, a friend with patience, a friend with wine.  

Haven't we been there?? Many, many, many times??  I hate irritations, annoying difficulties, the little sufferings placed on my path, tripping me up when I've got things to do, places to go, people to see. As the difficulties pile up, I sometimes run and hide inside of myself, the inner voice rambling on in a monotonous tone of self-pity, "Why do I...." or "why can't I...." or "How does she...." or "Your dad doesn't have to deal with this...." 

I know deep down that all of these minor inconveniences are not without purpose or merit.  They are there to raise my eyes up to a Greater Strength.  They are meant to draw me into Christ, to loosen my grip on life, to push me into an ocean of trust, to set my heart on what is most important in life and to give up my endless list of wants for the sake of counting my blessings.

Even more, suffering is an undeniable part of life for those who COOSE TO LOVE.  I chose to get married, to have children, and to take on all of the things that come with the vocation of marriage and motherhood.  With the choices, with the LOVE, comes struggle, comes brokenness, comes heartbreak and headache.  All of the intensity of self-sacrifice, self-donation, risk and reward reminds me of a quote from C.S. Lewis:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

We are vulnerable - to both the extraordinary (saying "I do", giving birth to little miracles) and to the ordinary (the unavoidable illness, poverty, messy homes, our children's less than perfect behavior) when we say we will LOVE at all.

When I live within the days where it truly does feel as though my heart is "being wrung" my senses are overwhelmed, and I retreat within, shutting down my ears, my eyes and my heart.  Anything to avoid the hurt.  It takes something like lightening to break it all back open.  And that's what the Father does, He sends the bolts thundering in, piercing through the dark, a mass of light, His voice electric.

Does that ever happen to you??  Just when you feel as though your life can't be any more pitiful there comes a story, a very special story of someone who is really truly suffering?  But, suffering in a courageous way? In a beautiful, obedient, sacrificial, joyful way?  

A couple of weeks ago, this was my situation: After sending the boys outside to play,  I plopped down in front of the computer with a handful of chocolate chips and an enormous cup of coffee, and scrolling through Facebook's latest, found a remarkable, encouraging story that a friend had posted about a very courageous woman who chose life for her unborn baby, knowing that she might not survive outside of the womb.

You must read the story for yourself.  I will not even attempt to recount it here on this page.  Just so you know, I shed buckets of tears, so get yourself some kleenex before you read it.  This link will take you to their story (when you scroll to the bottom, there is an unforgettable reel of photos that you will not want to miss.):

Also, be prepared after reading their witness to be possessed by an overwhelming desire to smother your children in squishy hugs and countless kisses!  I found Nora Rose's birth story to be so captivating,  that I decided to pray for her daily and to follow her life story on their blog, I Will Carry You, which you can find on this link:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 
~ Romans 8:18