Monday, January 30, 2012

Lasting a Lifetime

     So far this New Year has been full of new!  Along with new goals, we have new ideas!  Here we have family time ALL the time.  Church and home school are alot of what we do.  I am so thankful of all our togetherness but recently realized we do not have much one on one time. 
     Nathan and I have started going out alone again after 10 years of marriage.  His idea for that has turned out great.  He's so good to me!  He even bought me a dozen roses yesterday when he ran into the store for diapers!  Even the kids are so excited when we go out!  They love spending time with others playing and having fun.  We are going to try this at least every other week.  It's been alot of fun and nice to eat without cooking or feeding someone else.  We also can't wait to be the kids again like it's been forever!  ;)
     Another thing we are currently implementing is one on one time with each older child.  A friend of mine encourages this as a way of becoming close with each individual child.  Nathan and I have always made an effort to pray and read with them together daily as a family, but one on one time seems harder to come by with our growing family!  The babies get TONS of attention from everyone daily.  Nathan regularly takes the girls hunting and fishing (sometimes as much as 5 or 6 times a week).  I, on the other hand, have my schedule full with everyone all at once!  Now once a week I am going to town alone and rotating turns with Kaley and Marianna.  This way we can talk without being interrupted, go eat, and/or do something special just between the two of us!  I have found even when it was just grocery shopping and errands, they loved it!  They love helping and feeling important as they are.  Little things are so important to them.  I am looking for this to open up a whole new relationship between the girls and I as they hit the teen years.
     I am so thankful for my marriage and our children that the Lord has blessed our lives with.  I want to keep all of those blessings close to my heart and guard them with prayer.  Nathan and I have a close relationship and want the same as a family.  I dream alot about them getting older...who they'll be, what they'll do...and I want all of their decisions to be based on God's plan and include us.  I desire to have a close relationship with each one (and their families that they choose).  I want them to be welcome at our house at all times and am willing to rearrange schedules and budgets to include every holiday, birthday, and family vacations.  They are all so special and we cannot take back time once it's past.  I am so thankful for the time I have now to kindle relationships with those I love that will last a lifetime!  

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Re-planning Our Resolutions

     I read where New Year's Resolutions usually don't last until the end of the month.  One of my main goals this year was to encourage our family to live healthier through diet and exercise.  I'll have to admit that old habits are hard to break!  We are still using the reward charts.  All of us have around 40 stickers.  The pace at which we earn them is beginning to
S L O W  
                                                                               N quite a bit though!  Sometimes it's so easy to go through a drive thru and eat junk or not exercise because life is so fast paced and busy!  So I've come up with a plan to spice things up a bit!  I'm going to go to town and buy Kaley and Marianna 2 gifts.  I plan to wrap them and place them on top of the refrigerator.  They will have a name and a star value.  One gift will have a name for 60 stars and one will have a name for 80 stars.  Then when every family member receives 100 stars, we will pick something to do together as a family.  This will also reinforce Marianna's counting skills as she has learned the "80 Family" in her Kindergarten studies.  I am hoping that a surprise just out of reach will be the push everyone needs to forge ahead in this New Year!  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I Heart Homeschooling!!!

Our School Room

     Homeschooling is a blast!  Guess what?  We even do school work!!!  ;)  Our school room is one of my favorite rooms in the house.  We use the Abeka DVD program.  This curriculum is pretty intense.  Kaley has recently been doing pre-algebra equations at only 9 years old.  I have been blessed thus far with very studious girls.  Even if that were not the case, it allows for as much practice as needed and one on one attention.  We work at our own pace according to our family schedule.  Yes, you may see us in town eating lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, but what you don't see is us testing at 5:00 in the afternoon or finishing up an Animal Science Notebook on Saturday.  This is the beauty of it-flexibility!  By law we are required to finish 180 days of school each year.  We do more than that actually.  We complete all 170 lessons that come with our curriculum plus make a big deal out of holidays and unit studies.  Awesome field trips are also a must!  We are a part of CCCHE, a local home school group, consisting of about 60 families from our area.  We meet once a month and do many activities as a group.  Watching my children learn to read sitting beside me in the recliner brings an indescribable joy to my heart.  I love being with them all during the day and not missing out on that part of their lives.  I couldn't imagine them being gone about 40 hours a week and only being here in the late afternoons.  A friend recommended this video to watch, and it is so funny because it is so true!  It is also sad that people do think this way... 

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Boys!

     Camouflage is just a way of life here.  I keep reminding Nathan that Clay may not like to hunt.  He only thinks that is weird.  I always hunted with my daddy and family and he with his also.  Nathan's parents bought Clay this outfit and even the matching camo boots.  She took this snapshot of them in the edge of the yard and emailed it to us.  Thanks Mamaw & Papaw! 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

When The Serving Gets Tough

When chaos abounds...
When the kids are so needy...
When he's gone too much...
When there's 2 kids in dirty diapers... 
When I clean up one meal to start the next...
When the laundry baskets won't hold it all...
When I just cleaned and now it's worse...
When money is too tight... 
When the bills never quit coming...
When family contantly drives us nuts...
When I never have a moment to myself...
When God seems so far away...

Marshall Hall sings it so well! 
"There Is Nothing Greater Than Grace"

So When The Serving Gets Tough...
The Tough Keep Serving!!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Meet the Kiddos

This is our oldest, Kaley Mariah.  She turned 9 in September.  Hyper would be the very first word to come to mind in describing her.  She's active and never seems to run out of energy.  She's also a caring and giving child.  She never wants to hurt anyone's feelings.  She is somewhat of a perfectionist which is sometimes good and sometimes not.  Her #1 goal in life is striving to please God.  She is extremely knowledgeable in the scriptures.  It's so unreal to me how many she can recite.  I won't take all the credit for that.  Most are learned through her home school curriculum.  She is my rock and oftentimes my lifesaver, a willing worker.  She's her Daddy's and Papa's sidekick when it comes to hunting and fishing.  Her Meme and I have also introduced her to the world of shopping! 
This our second child, Marianna Jewel.  She'll soon be 6 in March.  Her motto in life seems to be, "If all else fails, twirl!"  She is very laid back and easy going.  Nothing seems to ruffle her feathers.  She is definitely not a worker but will be glad to sit in your lap and soak up the love!  She is our most loving.  She loves babies and animals.  Her wish is that we'd have tons!  To my surprise, she enjoys learning and does very well in her school work.  She too has showed an interest in learning about God.  She's always playing and can entertain herself or any willing participant for hours on end.  She too loves the great outdoors.  Hunting and fishing both seem to be her knack.  On the other hand, she is always concerned about how "cute" she looks.

Raegan Amily is our baby girl.  She's both quiet and sweet.  Carrying around a baby doll is almost a must for her.  She loves to be held and listen to books.  She also has a silly side and makes funny faces.  Her feelings are carried around on her shoulders.  Being brave is just not her thing either.  You can't help but love her!  She's our little trouper-pulling through surgery at just 6 months old to repair an absence of skull on the very top of her skull.  You would never know it because even the scar hides under her hair.  She sticks close by Mama's side.  She is always full of love and laughter!

Mr. Clay Walker is our only little boy.  We will celebrate his 1st birthday in March.  He is a sweet, cuddly baby.  We love him dearly.  He is always full of smiles and love!  He is sure to be doted on and spoiled.  One day he's sure to wonder how anyone survives without a house that's full of sisters like he has!  He is very active and extremely busy...working so hard trying to walk and plunder!  He has this family by the heart strings! 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Then & Now

We met at a small town football game.  I was only 15, and he was 17.  We were just like any other teenagers...happy go lucky.  Falling in love just happened.  We didn't know what would lie ahead of us but somehow knew it was right.  We gave our hearts to the Lord while we were dating.  That's the real difference.  Young love is real and can last!  Jesus was the real reason it's all worked out.  He put the pieces together.  It was all just like a dream.  We married the following October after I finished high school.  It's funny now how young yet certain we were.  I can remember the excitement as we left heading towards our honeymoon destination.  We talked about how now we could "do what we want to do" without checking with anyone to see if it was okay.  lol  Lesson learned-Your parents never quit caring, and always treat you like their little kids.  Now, over 10 years has passed with countless lessons learned and 4 kids in tow.  I'd like to think we are still young as I'm headed into my 30's at rapid speed!  This isn't everyone's dream, but that's okay.  It doesn't have to be.  It's ours, and that's all that matters between us.  We are just two hearts, one dream and wouldn't trade it for anything!  Life is not always perfect.  Even Cinderella had obstacles to overcome, but in the end it was happily ever after!  Heaven is awaiting, and we are on this journey together. 

True love - when being together for eternity
just doesn't seem long enough.

In His Service,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Watch out Mr. Valentine!!!

     Last night was super extraordinary!  Mama is always asking to keep the kids.  The 3 girls spent the night.  We got home around 6 and on a whim decided to go out to eat at a very nice restaurant that we'd heard some rave reviews on.  Yes that late we got baths and started getting ready.  I looked the place up online, called to see how late they stayed open, and found out that reservations were still available.  So here we go trekking off a little over an hour away for a nice dinner at Elements in Lyons, GA...with baby Clay in tow.  Nathan called them back on the way to find out directions.  We had the only baby in there, of course, but Clay was really sweet.  We even laughed at the table figuring people would never predict us to have been married for 10 years and having 3 other kids.  The restaurant was fabulous!  It was in an old historic brick building right beside a train track.  The old down town was pretty-all dimly lit up for the night.  The food was over the top!  We shared an appetizer dip trio and both happen to order the same dish.  I think only in the South do fancy restaurants serve "Shrimp & Grits."  The grilled shrimp was served over cheese grits and topped with roasted kernel corn and lobster bisque.  I would have never guessed collard greens were a side, but they were amazing!  They were topped with the most divine
sauce ever!  We had the best time together.  Although we didn't earn an "Eats Healthy" sticker, the hot blackberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream to share was definitely worth it!  We also learned that a very special couple at our church are now engaged!  So you better watch out Mr. is in the air before your time!

Isn't loving one another "In His Service" also?  :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Our "Crowning Rewards"

     One way I want to serve our family in 2012 is by encouraging us to be healthy.  God has blessed us with good health and entrusts us to do our part to take care of our bodies.  I feel somewhat responsible for our eating choices since I do most of the grocery shopping and cooking.  I read alot of different web sites about how we can gradually make changes as a family that may actually stick.  Many suggest starting by making small changes and rewarding good efforts.
     To motivate our family to make better choices, I figured a rewards chart with several positive goals sure wouldn't hurt.  I also purchased some new water jugs that would be an appropriate amount to drink per day according to how old each individual was.  The small ones were only 96 cents at Walmart.  They step up in different sizes (and some in price of course).  On the charts I printed from our computer, I chose categorizes for "Works Hard, Drinks Healthy, Eats Healthy, Is Super Sweet, Exercises, and Bonus Rewards."  Each time you complete a categorized task, you earn a sticker.  We sat down as a family to come up with rewards.  We used several of the kids ideas.  Our charts were entitled "Crowning Rewards" and has a picture of a crown.  Each person decorated their own crown for a personal touch.  Nathan and I are also participating.  That seemed to make it more fun for the kids.  They have enjoyed racing us and it puts us on the spot to be good examples.
     We have all enjoyed the flexibility of our charts.  You do not have to feel guilty about "cheating on a diet."  You do not feel forced to make good decisions but are rewarded if you do.  Some of us choose fruit for breakfast and get a sticker while another may eat a slice of pecan pie!  ;)  Nathan and Kaley have always liked drinking water.  Now the rest of us are making that choice more often.  Even Raegan, who really isn't participating, began carrying around her jug on day 3 and drinking water along with everyone else.  I have been trying new, healthier organic recipes.  Also my children have been better about completing their chores without having to be reminded because if they have to be reminded, they get no sticker.  We are still working on the "Super Sweet" with the kids.  The charts are not miracle workers!  It still takes action.  Nathan has brought home several sweet cards lately, I've also ran him a bubble bath, and so it must be working for us, too!  It's reminding us of the importance of going out of our way to do something sweet for one another.
   Deciding to make positive changes for 2012 has thus far proved to be a blessing for us.  I wonder how long this will turn results???

In His Service,

Sunday, January 8, 2012

2012 Serve

serve - vb  to work as a servant, to render obedience and worship to God, to comply with the commands or demands of, to work through or perform a term of service, to be of use, to benefit, to treat or act toward in a specified way

   For first time in my life, I've adopted a word for this year.  Actually, my word found me.  It found it's way into my thoughts, my heart, my prayers.  Then one day right as the first of the year was approaching, I read an article about having a word for the year.  I knew exactly what mine was...just didn't realize others made this a yearly practice.  Then while reading one of my friend's blogs, she too was blogging about her word for the year.  It's quite amazing how real God works and how things happen to His accord.
     Although I could define the word as long I can remember, to serve has taken on a whole new meaning for me in the last few weeks.  I've pondered over the scriptures and examined the reality of my life only to realize that serving is a choice and requires an action. God calls His people to action.  He desires for us to serve His kingdom by choosing to serve the needs of others.  That is my goal.  I'd like to be a servant used by Him, for Him, and to glorify Him.  I'd like to be led of Him to do His service and not haphazardly taking things into my own hands.  I'd like to feel His nudging, His presence, and to know He's there even out of my comfort zone.  I'd like it to touch lives without it being me and it being about Him.  I want others to know who Jesus is.
     I have no idea where this new sense of the word serve will take me.  As a wife and mama to 4, I'd like to believe that serving comes naturally.  So selfishly the flesh  would like take over and to pin roses for already surviving the daily grind of tasks and when duty calls to be a nurse, a teacher, a cook, a maid, a counselor, a help meet, whatever the situation, that I'm ready and willing.  But see, I'm somewhat experienced with that and always have a plan in place for those things.  Not knowing and not having a plan is so against Laurie.  Surrendering isn't exactly a quality I've ever tried to strive towards.  I thrive on order, organization, and having a predictable schedule.  My faith reminds me, however, that I don't have to know.  I don't have to have an answer.  I don't have to figure this out.  I don't have to be an expert to attend to my Father's business.  I just have to be willing to live present in the moment, listen closely for His voice, and take action to serve in 2012.

Desiring to be found in His service,

Friday, January 6, 2012

Behind the Type

     As this journey online begins, I figure the polite thing would be to introduce us.  I'll elaborate more than my "About Me" section.  I'm Laurie, a true South GA Mama.  I'm a wife to Nathan and mama to 4 kiddos.  The 3 girls are Kaley-9, Marianna-5, and Raegan-2.  Our "Little Man," Clay will be turn a year in March. 
     Although it can be overwhelming at times, I am blessed to stay at home.  Nathan works very hard for me to be able to do that.  We live on the family watermelon farm.  Yes, during the summer lots of watermelons grow right in the fields behind our home.  He works long hours during those months, but the rest of the year he's flexible...working hours in his Taxidermy shop in our yard.  There is where he has built the business of his dreams.
     We love God and desire Him to be the center of our lives.  I pray the decisions we make in this life are lead by Him.  He's blessed us in ways we couldn't ever explain.  He gave His all that we may live.
     My favorite part of our everyday life is homeschooling.  Education is important to me.  I enjoy watching them learn and grow right before my very eyes.  I love to see them as they seem to magically grasp concept after concept and rationalize their way through every explanation.  It brings me sheer joy!
     We live in rural South GA right on a dirt road on our family farm.  We love the country!  We enjoy hunting, fishing, and gardening right here together.  My girls can go from best dressed by day to full camouflage by afternoon shooting deer, turkey, squirrel, or hogs!  We call this "God's Country."  We were both born and raised here and plan to stay here unless our Maker calls us otherwise.
     I enjoy the crazy days and the rare peace and quiet, too.  There's always school to finish, laundry piled high, diapers to change, a meal to prepare, family to see, or a church service to attend.   I am outgoing and enjoy being with the people I love, but it's in those beloved quiet moments where I seem to escape.  Writing has always been a passion of mine.  When there's a whirlwind all around, I can write the day away...just me and Jesus!
     So enough about us!  We are now headed into uncharted waters.  The new year of 2012 is now in full swing.  Where will it lead us?  This blog has only just begun...we hope that you too will enjoy the reality of it!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 ~ A New Year ~

     The New Year brings with it an excitement and an anticipation of starting afresh.  As so many of you do, I have new goals and aspirations for me and my family.

     1 -  Starting this blog...trying something new and seeing what happens!

     2 -  To "serve"...praying that our eyes would be open to really see how we can serve the needs of others.

     3 -  To be a healthier family that's committed to making better choices to help protect and care for our temples, the very bodies God has entrusted us with.

In His Service,