Saturday, October 18, 2014

You Can

A certain song…..

A warm, caressing breeze…..

Or some particular small beauty…..

These can crack the scars.

And I clutch at my chest, pressing my hands desperately to my heart in hopes that the old and new and familiar grief won't spill over again.

The thought that, okay, I'm fine, I'm up out of that dark pit, my feet are secure and everything now is sweet and bright and well….and the whisper comes, again…

"How much sweeter, how much better, how much more joy would there be here, if….."

And then the questions come, rushing in and overflowing like a storming and out of control river…..

There were days when I craved physical pain.  There were moments when I would try to press myself into the earth under which my babies' bodies lay, wanting to sink into the cold, silent ground just to hold them again….There were nights when the dreams would torment and tease, and they would march, unbidden, on my weary and devastated mind…..

There would be a little girl, smiling, tiny and beautiful in a dress of light blue, with bows in her dark and shiny curls, and she'd be giggling a musical sound and she'd hold out her arms to me, and then, with a knowing and wise look in her eyes, she'd turn and run away, just when I would be about to touch her…….

And later, many years later…..

I'd see a blonde sweetheart with Pennie's face and eyes and the same heart-shaped birthmark on her other foot, and she'd grin a baby-grin at me and she'd blow kisses and she'd tell me to take special care of her sister's heart…..

I'd have to force myself to breathe! I'd wake up and clutch at a reality that was far more uncaring than the dreams to which I so deeply wanted to go back……

Those were dark days, days which seemed, to my tormented and shattered mind, like a seamless blend of never-ending agony…..

Where was the sun? When would I ever again be able to open my eyes without punishing shards of anguish piercing them? Would I ever experience laughter again? Would my heart ever get to experience true joy and blessing, ever again, without breaking?

The answer is….

Yes.

Through hard-won victories, my frame is put back together.  That frame is crooked.  It's bent and worn and so much different from that girl that I was, oh those many years ago…..

But I'm alive.

I'm standing again.

The stitches remain.  Under the dark, thick stitches are a jagged network of scars.  These scars will never go away.  The stitches will never dissolve…..

But now, there are good days!

The trauma and the torture and affliction have shaped me.  They've made me into who I am today.

Even when I wanted to deny that there really was a God, and even when I wanted to forsake my faith….

He held me fast! He was always right there, weathering the hurricane with me!

I didn't want Him to!!

I wanted to break fee from this one whose eyes were so compassionate yet Who I thought, in His great and sovereign wisdom, was going to kill and condemn me…..

I've said all of this to say that the only reason I'm winning the next breath today, the only  thing, the Only One Who holds my every shred of sanity……

Is Christ!

Dare I say that I'm a better person today? Yawning, desolate anguish either destroys or makes a soul….

And I'm made!

I'm fiercely empathetic.  I can internalize your pain so much better, and after all…..

Isn't that the very essence, the heart, of being a follower of Christ?

Sometimes I don't want to follow Him!!

But He's there, right there…..

Closer than my skin…..

He shoulders my broken heart, and when I can't carry the heavy burden of it anymore….

He takes it for me!

And I can say with assurance…..

That if you ask Him to, He will shoulder your load too! 

He WANTS yours too!!

Oh friend, give everything you have and are and desire to Him, because, hear me now…..

You CAN trust Him!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Why 9 Kids??

Okay.

Fine.

Whatever.

This is going to be a LONG post.  It may even become a two part post.

Today I'm going to talk about fertility and why I have "SO MANY KIDS!!!!" (Most of the time, said with as much derision and disgust as the person can pack into that phrase)

I guess my aim for this post is to try to get you to understand why we have as many kids as we do.  I hope that you'll have a better understanding of most mamas with large families by the end of this post.  I hope to help you get to know me better.

What I do NOT want to do is make you feel cornered or like I'm pointing fingers or deriding or ridiculing YOU for your choices.  I hope my blog never does that to you.

What I want you to know about me is that I'm NOT crazy.  Yes, I know how babies are made.  And yes, we do have a life outside of the bedroom.  I'm not Mormon or Catholic and I'm not Amish either.  I don't go about in homeschool mom sack dresses and with a head covering on my head.  I'm not SuperMama.  I don't have tons of energy and patience and I'm not the best mama in the world.  Let's clear this up right now: I'm not perfect, I'm not uber-organized, my house is not spic and span…….

I'm just trying to do what the Lord is telling me to do, in the best way that I can.

So, here we go!


When I was growing up, I never, ever had dreams of that perfect and fairy tale wedding to the man of my dreams.  I never thought about getting married.  I didn't put one moment of my time into thinking about having babies and loving babies….

Truthfully, I was a kid who hated babies and children.

Wow, right?

Really, that's the honest truth.  I hated other people's kids for their screaming, snotty noses, dirty diapers…..and on and on, the reasons are countless….

But the biggest reason I hated children was because I was taught to.  

 My mother and father divorced when I was 2 years old.  I grew up without a daddy. 

My mother was a career woman.  She got up in the morning, fixed her hair and makeup and walked out the door to her job.  I got ready for school and got to school all by myself.  I came home to an empty house every day.  I had an older brother who despised me and was such trouble that my mother shipped him off up North when he was 14 and I was 12.  So, since my brother was in so much trouble growing up, I pretty much was an only child.  

I'm not disparaging my mother here, folks.  She did the best she could and did what she thought was right.

But I came out of my home situation with absolutely no desire to marry and have a family.  

I came out of my situation being a man hater and deeply knowing that all men wanted was one thing and that I was not going to provide that one thing for them.

I'm from Southern California, from a huge city of over a million people that is right next to the beach.  I thought palm trees were the only tree on earth, and I had never heard of a place called Washington State.

My mother packed me up when I was 11 and we began running away.  I went to 3 schools for 6th grade.  We had lived in three cities by the time I was 12.  

When I was 13, we moved up to Washington State, and I was miserable.  I vowed that I was going back to CA the minute I turned 18.

But then I met Jesus.

At a small church youth group that I went to to please my new friend, I met the Lord.

And I'm so thankful I did.

I got involved in the youth group.  I was on the worship team, as I had been singing since I was 6 and hey, let's use the voice for the Lord, right?? I was happy and content with my three new friends!

For the next two years I thought of nothing but youth group and Lock-ins and getting the youth pastor to shave his head and stupid, silly games that made no sense and were designed to bring us closer to the Lord….how????

Anyway.

When I was 15 I started to notice this guy.  He was super tall, like, the tallest guy I'd ever seen.  He was clean cut.  

He played the piano.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

The Piano Guy and I got together.  Shortly after we got together, we went to our church and he played the big black concert grand piano for me, just me, and I fell SUPER HARD.

We were married when I was barely 20.

Now, we had never talked about family or children or how many kids we wanted.

And I'm thankful today that we didn't, because my husband, when he was a little boy, used to pray that God would give him "a green eyed wife" and he beseeched the Lord for 12 children.

I didn't know these things until we had been married for about 5 years.

The thing is, I can make this a really long story.  But I won't because the gist of the matter is, fertility.

My husband and I had started to hear how detrimental hormonal birth control could be on a woman's body.  We had started to question the medical establishment and their advice and their methods of doing things.

2 years after we were married, Russell was born.  And then two years after that, Hannah was born….

And when Hannah was 6 months old, I got pregnant.  With Samantha.  And my oldest two daughters are a little over 16 months apart.

That was hard.

But after we had Samantha, we started to think about how many kids we wanted, and Dave told me he had prayed for years that he would get to have 12 children.

Okay.

So, we started to ask the Lord about how many kids He wanted us to have.

After all, doesn't the Bible say, in Proverbs 3:5-7, "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding, but in all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.  Do not be wise in your own eyes.  Fear the Lord and depart from evil, and it will be health to your flesh and strength to your bones".

This has been my verse, these many years, that has helped me explain why we have a big family.

I remember so clearly when I surrendered myself to that decree.  I was scared to death.  It hasn't been easy.  But I knew that, for myself, if I truly wanted to be Christ's, and if I truly thought He was whispering this to my heart, then I had to put this into action, in all areas of my life…..

Even my fertility and the size of my family.

That verse is the reason we have so many kids.  That verse is the reason I've had 16 pregnancies.  That verse is the reason we have 9 living children, praise God.

One day, many years ago, I put my womb into His hands.  I told Him how scared I was of children and babies.  I told Him I was freaked out.  But I also told Him that I wanted to be fully His and so, I gave Him my womb and since then, I have tried to let Him plan our family.

Look, I'm not an eloquent writer.  My words are not carefully thought out and calculated.  I'm pretty messy in my heart.  I'm not wise or educated or very logical, at all….

But let me tell you this: if you surrender yourself to the Lord in that area where you know He's gently asking, then your life will change.

I read blogs where the mamas say that they really want four kids.  Or two kids….or none. That's okay if that's what God is really saying to them.

My thoughts are that God did not create a pill or shot that will stop you from having babies.  He didn't create that stuff.  He didn't create a pill that would cause your eggs to come down and get fertilized and implant into your uterus, only to be flushed out when the pill caused you to have a period.  God did not create a device that gets shot up into your uterus and implants there, to cause scar tissue to form and block your uterus from receiving eggs for fertilization.

He DID give us women knowledge on how to chart our cycles and how to listen to Him. I personally believe that if you are seeking the Lord and you don't believe now is the time to have another baby, then don't have intercourse when you're ovulating.  I do think God gave us women that knowledge.  

I decided that I wasn't going to force God's hand in this matter.  I was intensely convicted that I was trying to play God in my life by stopping myself from having babies.

And that is why we have 9 children here on this earth.

I realize that this will be offensive to some of you.  I realize that you might even begin to hate me and stop reading my blog too…..

But the bottom line for me and my husband is this: we don't want to rely on our intelligence or our faulty wisdom to decide the size of our family.  We want to try to do what He's asking us to do in those verses in Proverbs.  We are convinced that He knows what's best for us.  He loves us and He wants us to be fully surrendered to Him in every single area of our lives.  He doesn't want us to hold back any area of our hearts from Him.

So we have tried to give Him everything.

Honestly, this is still hard for me!! I've heard every single snide and rude and catty comment you can imagine! I've seen the hundreds of nasty, hateful looks when I'm shopping around town.  I've lost friends because of this.

It isn't easy.

I've had two early miscarriages, two second trimester miscarriages which almost killed me both times, and I've had two stillborn babies.  God gave us twins, after praying for 6 years for them, only to decide that one of our babies had lived out her life in my womb and needed to be with Him.

Why go on after that?? Why not take back what I had given to Him??

Because……I believe that He's sovereign.

I believe deeply that He knows what's best.

I have 9 kids because I don't want to stand before Him on that day when He calls me Home and account for playing God in my life.  

I have 9 kids because I want to see how He wants to change me through my kids.

I have 9 kids because it's fun.

I have 9 kids because life is dull when you're planning it yourself.

I have 9 kids because He wants me to.

I have 9 kids.

Thanks for listening to my thoughts on this matter.  Thanks for trying to understand me better.  Thanks for loving me anyway, even if you don't agree with me or my ways.

Now, I hear Jack waking up and I need to go get him!


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My Walk

If I have asked Jesus Christ into my heart, if I have asked Him to forgive my sins, then I am a Christian!

I have been redeemed!

I was once in bondage.  I was once walking regularly in darkness and foolishness, according to Galatians 4:3~

"Even so, when we were children, we were in bondage under the elements of the world…"

But the Light of Jesus Christ shone into my heart and chased away that darkness~

The Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, freed me, according to Galatians 4:4~

"But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law that we might receive the adoption as sons."

I am no longer a slave, according to Galatians 4:7~

"Therefore, you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."

And if I am no longer a slave, this means that I am no longer that old person. 

According to Galatians 5:1, I do not have to be entangled by my past~

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage."

However, since I am still human and I'm not yet perfect, this means that I am subject to the temptation to go back and embrace that old person and those old ways.  Sometimes, to me, this looks like the easy way because, let's face it, being a Christian is super hard!

You've seen a tree~~you've seen a tree and the inevitable process of the tree's changing seasons.



I, as a Christian, am like a tree.  I have times when I display emerald green leaves and luscious fruit.  A lot is happening with this tree.  It's awoken from a long sleep and there are times when my tree is strong and tall and gorgeously shady.




I have times when the fruit rots and the leaves die and fall off…


My leaves fall off in certain seasons.  This is sometimes preparation for my tree to go to sleep and just rest and relax and gather strength for a more fierce and busy season….



There are times on my walk when my tree is seemingly bare and stark, but I know that a lot is going on behind the scenes and new leaf buds are waiting to burst forth.

The hardest times in my life are the pruning times.

I'm being pruned.  I'm always being shaped and formed, and branches that don't have fruit or aren't alive get cut off.  The dead stuff gets lopped off~this is normal and healthy in a Christian's life.

As a human and an imperfect Christ Follower, I sin.  I fall down.  I revert back to old habits and mannerisms~this is a given….

But I no longer have to live there. I don't have to be known as that old person. By God's grace and the gentle mercy He extends to me, I can get up, brush myself off and start walking again, reminding myself that I am no longer under the law of sin and death.

I am not perfect and I will never be perfect, but I can still live a full and abundant life! 

This natural human imperfection is NOT a license to live a sinful life.  This human life is an opportunity to live in grace and mercy, and to extend to myself God's grace and mercy.

This Christ Following life is a process.  I want to always be in a teachable state! I want those around me who see me all of the time to see progress in my life.  

Although I will never be a finished vessel until the day that Christ calls me home, I want to be known as one who is striving for that goal of holiness with everything in me….

In every season of my life.



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Courtship?

Courtship versus modern dating is a very, very hot topic, especially in the homeschool community!




Dave and I talk about this subject a lot, in light of the fact that we do have 7 daughters, three of whom are teenagers, and knowing that another of our gals is quickly approaching teenager-ness!

Our 17 year old daughter wants to marry young.  I'll be right up front and truthful with you: I think that, if the two young people are Godly, mature, well adjusted people from very good families, then I'm okay with this! I'm not asking for judgement or conflict here, I'm just stating what I think.

**I know that this is a controversial issue among parents in the church, and I'm not seeking to start any arguments here.  I just want to share a blog that hits home for me and has some really great insight on courtship versus dating…..

For the record, since Dave and I came out of the traditional dating, going steady, youth group culture, and since we've prayed and prayed about this topic since our first girl was born many years ago, we tend to adhere to a courtship mentality and philosophy….  

The thing is, in the homeschool community, particularly the very conservative homeschool community, we have found the thoughts about courtship among "leaders" of the movement to be stifling and legalistic with a very controlling and disapproving atmosphere.

This is very, very concerning to us.

So, I accidentally found this young man's blog the other day on my friend's FB page, and I started to surf his blog, and he has some really good philosophies on dating versus courtship.

For the record, he comes from a large family in Canada who are homeschoolers and they make funny YouTube videos called Jostie Flicks.  We adore this family even though we haven't met them! They're also very talented musically and that makes us, as musicians ourselves, like them even more.  This family toured our region last year and came to a town near us, but we couldn't go to their concert because we didn't have a car at the time! BOO!

I guess what I hope to accomplish by posting the link to this article is this: that those of you out there who are unfamiliar with the courtship thing would hear and read about it from someone who has good things to say from a balanced, respectful perspective.  I hope that all of you mamas out there who are also contemplating the issue of dating and courting will think seriously about this in more depth.

I really believe that this is an issue that needs to be discussed in more detail among families and mamas and daddies, and even at church, because I believe that traditional dating and going steady and the boyfriend/girlfriend thing just isn't working, for so many reasons.

I do hope you take the time to read this young man's article and pray about it.

Let me know your thoughts!!

Here's the article:

Also, surf around on his blog.  He has a lot of good things to say!!

Thanks for reading my blog!!

LOVE Leanne 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Loves

Well, I looked back at my posts for June and July.  I took a 30 day blog challenge, although I didn't sign a contract or make a pinkie swear or anything like that.  I just really want to be a better blogger, and I knew that challenge would help me.

I have lots of posts running around in my head, but once I get to sit down and have a bit of free time on the internet, I always have way too many posts in my mind and can't choose what to blog about!! 

I've blogged pretty steadily, for me, and if I'm going to stick to the 30 day challenge I gave myself, then I currently have 9 days to make up for. I'd like to try to do that by the end of August.  

Anyway.

Today I'd like to share some things that I've recently started using and loving.  It's a random list, like me, but I hope you enjoy it!!



This almond milk.  What can I say? It's the best almond milk I've ever had.  It's brand new at my favorite local store.  I went out on a limb and bought it because my husband likes almond milk and I'm lactose intolerant and this stuff is awesome.  I used this coconut almond milk in my mocha this morning and it's subtly nutty with a great coconut flavor! It's $3.99 for 48 ounces, but I had a coupon for $1 off of each jug and so, I bought three jugs.



I had to look for a new hairspray to use every day because the one I was using, TresEmme, was making huge white flakes in my hair and was itching my scalp.  Now, all you gals out there know how overwhelming it is when you go to the store and are faced with two huge aisles of hair products! And isn't it like a serious world decision to pick a new product? I was at Target the other day and saw this, and it's brand new, and I actually sprayed a tiny bit on my hair right there, and I was sold!! It's more pricey than my last hairspray at $12.99, but it's cheaper than anything I'd get at my salon and I loooooove it.  I use the Casual type, which is more flexible hold.  Unbeknownst to me, I bought the last bottle, so I need to go online to get some more!!



Now, in my opinion, avocados never, ever go out of style.  I could eat them every single day, every season.  Avocados are in my blood, and it's a hold over from growing up in Southern California.  I adore them.  Not only are they filling, but avocados are loaded with good fats and calories, and they also help your body produce and upload seratonin, one of the key chemicals that your brain should produce to ward off depression! YAY!



I've only had three favorite perfumes in my entire life, and this perfume is one of them! It's Pacifica natural perfume.  My favorite is Tuscan Blood Orange. They also make 
coconut, vanilla, gardenia and guava.   
You can get it at Target too, and you can get a totally natural spray cologne or a roll-on perfume that's more concentrated.  We got the roll-on perfumes for each of our older girls in their stocking at Christmas time.  I need a new bottle because mine is almost gone!!



And, because everybody knows I'm a total foodie, I'll include this as my last favorite for today.  It's feta cheese! I simply love it.  I love it on our home grown, fresh from the garden green beans, sautéed with butter and garlic.  I adore it on my home grown, sautéed yellow squash.  I love it on every salad imaginable.  I love Greek food and that's what turned me on to feta cheese.  I'm about to eat some guacamole with feta cheese in it for a new twist! 


I hope you have a fabulous and sunny day!! 








Friday, August 1, 2014

The Rodeo, Part 1!

Last weekend, we all went to The Fair and Rodeo.

Now, before you quit reading this post out of boredom, just know that, for our family of 11, doing things like going to movies and sports games and the fair are almost impossible due to the cost of tickets for all of us.  The money that would be used to go places and do things like bowl or go out to frozen yogurt for all of us could actually start a small country! I mean that!

But last weekend, it was Hannah's 17th birthday weekend, and she loves to go to the rodeo every year, but this year she decided she wanted to go to the fair too.

Gulp.

The thing about Hannah is that she's very organized and she had told us months ago that she wanted to go to the fair too this year.  This gave us time to save money, which is something that we just don't do a lot of in our family!!! Ha.

We love our local rodeo.  Hannah is a cowgirl at heart, as is her sister Samantha, and somebody told Dave that if we went on Saturday afternoon, we'd save $90.

HUH??? Okay.  That's awesome.

So we went on Saturday afternoon instead of Saturday night. It was a relief to go during the day, because the evening show is when the whole entire county comes out for the rodeo and the stands are packed like sardines and you're rubbing elbows with people you've never seen before, and maybe never want to see again….

I digress…..

Anyway, here's some pictures of our fabulous, fun day at the rodeo and fair!! We got to the rodeo at 12:30 that day and didn't get home until 10 PM!! I sat next to Samantha, who is a very knowledgeable horse woman, and she and I talked about each horse as it came out, and that was super fun! She definitely knows her stuff from studying horse encyclopedias and books when she was younger.  We loved the parade of flags.  Each of the sponsors had a flag, and horse women ran each of those flags around the arena.  I have to say, I saw some of the most beautiful horses that day!

So, without further ado, here we go!




The view from our seats in the grandstand of the ferris wheel and the vomit comet



Jack's first rodeo.  Even though his day was really, really long, he did splendidly and he was so good.



The youngest girls.  Look at Pennie! I wonder what she's looking for…..



The rodeo "clown".  He was hilarious! He tried to make it seem like he didn't have a clue what was going on, but this fella is from Okanogan, which is Rodeo Country, and he totally knew what he was doing.  He was a small, wiry horseman himself and he wasn't annoying like your typical rodeo clown. I liked him!


Some of the older girls.  It was hot but there was a really nice breeze and we got to sit in the shady part of the grandstand.


Daddy.  And the beautiful view in the background.  It was such a gorgeous and vivid day!


This is Kellie, before the rodeo started.  She likes to take serious pictures of herself, for some reason!



We had the most fun we've ever had at the rodeo and fair this year.  It really was a fantastic day.  I'll post more pictures of the fair, including pictures of Pennie riding rides for the very first time, and the girls going on their favorite ride, the Typhoon.  I myself would never ever go on the Typhoon, but apparently the girls loved it because they went on it at least 4 times!!

Do you have a fair or rodeo in your town? Do you go to it? Tell me about it!!










Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tasty Tuesday

I have another recipe for you!

It's my hummus recipe.

Now, before you turn up your nose in disgust, hang in there with me! 

A couple of years ago, I began to see a lot of this stuff called "hummus" in the grocery store. Upon reading that it was made of garbanzo beans, I was grossed out! Ewww.  Did anyone eat this stuff?

Fast forward a few years….it's popular! I tried it.

It was hideously disgusting.  The stuff in the stores tastes like bland paste! However, I liked the texture and I could tell that, with some tweaking and reworking, hummus could be wonderful.

So I took on the job.

And here's what I came up with. 

**Let me say a few things first: I use my Vitamix blender for this recipe, and it blends as easy as warm butter.  You can also try your food processor, if you have one, but a good, high power blender works best.  

**One of the unique things about this hummus is that I use essential oil.  I know it seems strange, but my Young Living essential oils are the only essential oils sold on the market that are safe to eat! I realize that most of you don't have this lemon oil, so you can use the juice of half of a fresh lemon plus the zest from that half lemon.  It's a bit more time consuming and labor intensive to do it that way, but I've done it and it tastes pretty good.

You can serve this with your favorite crackers, or you can use baguettes or warm pitas or even serve it with your favorite veggies! 


Mama's Lemon Parmesan Hummus

2 cans garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 C good olive oil
2 cloves garlic 
2 tsp salt
1/2 C good parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/2 bell pepper, sliced
2 TBSP Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/2 can black olives (I know, it's a strange amount, but give the rest of the olives to your toddler!)
5 drops Young Living lemon essential oil

In the pitcher of your blender, pour the olive oil.  Add all of the other ingredients and blend on low until mixture is smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides frequently.  If blender is having trouble blending this mixture, add more olive oil. When it's blended smooth, taste it and adjust the salt to taste.  That's it! Serve with your favorite crackers and ENJOY!!


Recipe copyright leeswords2014.