Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy Birthday Big Boy

Dear John,

I can't believe that you are two now. I'm really going to try my best to no longer call you "Baby John". I can see you growing each day before my eyes into a little boy. You love all things ball. Anything that resembles a ball in the slightest must be thrown and thrown again. You love to sing, especially in the car. I don't quite understand what you are saying yet, but I can recognize the tune most of the time. And you love to imitate everything that your older sisters and brother do. If they run, you run. If they jump off the stairs, you jump. If they sneeze, well, you try to sneeze, too.

I love the boy that you are becoming. I love your energy and the spark in your eye (reminds me of your dad). I love your kisses and hugs that you give so generously. I love it that I never know how it is that you acquire your bumps and bruises- you are a tough guy. I love you John Lemuel Bird. Happy Birthday, son.

The only way we could get John to blow out the candle was to sing his favorite song.

First night in the big boy bed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A special place

There is a special place...

That was once set up in the greatest expectation.

Where little heads of curls laid in slumber.

In which bright morning eyes peered over the edge

And little fingers reached through the slats.

Where the carpet is worn from pacing and holding.

From which midnight cries were answered

And babbling talk echoed in the sunrise.

It is the place where rest was found, prayers were answered and babies grew.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Got to have a plan

By the goodness of God I got called off work today. Nothing like a 4:30 am call asking, "Would you like to stay home today?"

Sean cashed in points from his recent hotel stays and got me a room for today/tonight. I won't be far from home, but will be getting a lot more accomplished than if I were.

I know myself well enough to admit that if there is no plan, then it simply will not get done. There must be a plan. So, I'll be taking along three laundry baskets full of homeschool books and lot of iced tea. I'll have some uninterrupted time to plan our homeschool year as well as set some goals for myself and my students. Last year I did this in the front seat of the van on our drive to Canada and back. There is more isolation than one might think while sitting in the front of a 15-passenger van. I think I'll be a lot more comfortable this year.

Now, let's see how much I can get done between 3pm today and 12 pm tomorrow. Better go sharpen my pencils.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How to give this frugal woman a stroke

I came home from work this evening thinking about how the extra call pay will help to knock off the van loan a little sooner.

I opened to mail to find this bill. $1402.52!!!!

I nearly choked on my $.50 Rice-a-Roni Alfredo noodles and leftover chicken!! All I could picture was a pipe burst under the foundation pouring out Niagara Falls into which our house would quickly be swept away.

I was more than relieved to learn that our new meter man had entered an 8 instead of 800. Whew!!

Think Different: Hospitality and others

Mary tagged me back in April for this meme. I've actually been pondering it on and off since then and asking the Lord to really bring to my attention an area in which my thinking has been flawed. It has been incredible to see how God has opened my eyes over these past few months and provided me with some concrete examples to live by.

Hospitality is the call of every Christian, but seems to fall primarily to the women of the household to insure that the home is opened up to others. There are all kinds of examples of what hospitality might look like. I know many, many talented women who just exude hospitality. They have special abilities in cooking, baking, presentation, decorating, organizing.... I admire them and they inspire me in so many ways.

When we were first married we lived on campus in an apartment. All of our friends were dorm dwellers and we saw immediately a great opportunity before us to minister and connect with others. Every Sunday evening we would open our doors after Vespers to anyone that wanted to come in. We provided some snacks. Since we had virtually no money the snacks were usually pretzels and iced tea or on a good week Pillsbury bread sticks with cheese sauce. So with what we had, we would serve our guests and enter into each other's lives and thoughts through conversation.

The first year we were in Indianapolis another young couple came to visit our church. I jotted Ryan and Lisa's phone number down and later in the week called them over to share our spaghetti and sauce from a jar dinner. They gladly accepted and thus began one of the best friendships of our adult lives.

In later years, we opened our home each week with a shared meal and Bible Study. Many important topics were covered and relationships strengthened around our small table even before the study would begin. From the world's standards it wasn't much. Usually it was a self service food from a crockpot and homemade dessert, but it was a joy to serve.

Somewhere along the line my thinking has gone astray in the area of hospitality. Now that I'm no longer in the newly married or young family category, it seems that hospitality has stepped up a notch. I fear that I have imposed the expectations of HGTV and the Food Network onto what God intended to be a ministry that is other focused rather than self focused. I have turned my eyes watch others exercise their gifts rather than trusting God to use me as He desires. I've been thinking more about myself than others.

After being surprised and humbled by the hospitality extended to us this summer in Florida I've been convicted about my many excuses- I'm tired, my house is not up to speed, I don't have time to make something nice, I could never do it like so-and-so, my glasses don't match....

God says:

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. -Romans 12:12-13

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. -1Peter 4:8-9

Attending the funeral of our friend, Barbara, there was story upon story about a life dedicated to serving others. Some were being heard for the first time. The hospitality she gave came in many forms and extended beyond the confines of her home. I don't doubt that God grew her character through the years she served countless people from her own table. She lived her life intentionally giving support and comfort to others. Here are a two examples:

Barbara and her husband brought my parents their first cord of firewood tied up with a red ribbon. They had briefly met once while visiting church and knew that my parents were building a new home and probably didn't have any cut. She thought that my parents might need some firewood for warmth. That interaction led to more encounters and eventually my parents joined that church where they raised us in the faith.

When my best friend's dad died when she was eighteen, Barbara attended the estate sale. She inquired about my friend's favorite childhood toy and purchased it. She saved that toy for about thirteen years and presented it to her at the birth of her first child. Barbara's vision for loving my young, hurting friend extended ahead through the years.

There were many, many more examples shared of her practical ministry. Many more I'm sure are only known by the Lord. Truly she was the woman described in 1 Timothy 5:10 "... is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds."

In her Bible was found this poem. It sums up well what I have been thinking and praying about the past few months.


Lord help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayers will be for Others.

Help me in all the work I do
To ever be sincere and true
And I know that all I do for You
Must needs be done for Others.

And when my work on earth is done
And my new work in heaven begun
May I forget the crown I've won while thinking still of Others.

Others, Lord, yes, others
Let this my motto be;
Help me to live for Others
That I may live for Thee.

This is by no means a quick meme, but I'd love for you to share with us what you have been challenged to think about differently. The topic is wide open. Saralyn, Sniz, Michelle, anyone else care to share?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Super Savings Saturday

Besides being buried in the closet organizing and matching an unmentionable number of socks, I've found myself out bargain shopping these past few days. Tonight I returned for a few quick stops to repeat some deals that were worth repeating.

This is what a person can get for $13.84 by matching a lot of coupons with some great sales. I walked away with all of this, a $5 Target gift card and $2 off my next Kroger purchase. Milk wasn't on my list, but I couldn't pass up the $.25 price tag.

Be sure to check out BeCentsAble's Grocery Gathering Tab to find deals in your area.

I also went to a neighborhood garage sale this morning. I have not done this in years. I don't enjoy sifting through a lot of stuff in hopes of finding a gem. But I was in need of some stools to go around our school table. We salvaged this art table and white board from the storage barn at Sean's school last Spring. They were on their way out. I found the perfect pair of chairs for $25 and got the lady to throw in this precious little chair as well. It's just the right size for Rebekah and John. I'm not a huge fan of time out, but it would make a good "thinking" chair.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Getting Ready

It seems like yesterday that Teacher let the monkeys out. But in three short weeks this teacher will be calling the monkeys back in for school. We are starting earlier than ever this year to finish up by April 24th. I learned my lesson last year while dragging the kids through May. After being inside for months, none of us wanted to sit still once the Spring weather hit. I don't want to do that again and neither do they.

Sean and I have decided to try some different things this year in regards to curriculum. Up until this point we've been using Sonlight to set the atmosphere for our homeschool. But it has become apparent that our children are individuals who learn in such different ways. Thus, we need different approaches to really inspire them to learn. So we've branched out and purchased a year of Abeka to add to our library. Lydia will be using it this year while Hannah continues on in Sonlight. It will be a great resource to have as needed for the pupils coming up behind them.

In my dream world I would order our curriculum new directly from the company and it would arrive at my door within the week. The reality, however, is that homeschooling does cost something and we could easily spend upwards of $2000 to get all that we would like to have. But just like all things, there is always a way to save. I've spent the last few weeks on ebay and online classifieds wheeling and dealing. Thankfully, we've been able to get what we need for about 40% of the total retail cost and hopefully helped some other homeschool families purchase the things they need. It's been fun getting some packages at the door filled with new-to-us books and the anticipation is building.

My next step is to clean out the school room and try to sell those things we won't need again. Sean has mentioned giving me some time away in a hotel to work on getting the lesson plans ready for the year. I really want to take some time to pray and lay down some concrete goals for myself and the kids in the coming school year. Whew! Here we go!

When do you plan on starting school? What kinds of things do you do in preparation?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Family Time

Every summer my family (25 in all) plan for some extended time together. It's taken many different forms over the years from tearing down a barn/camping out in Illinois to a couple of cabins at an Indiana State Park to a beach house in Florida to a local amusement park to a borrowed lake house. Much of what we do is determined by the ages of the children and available funds. This year we stayed local and hung out here on the west side of Indy. Three families live within 5 miles of each other so we let the kids "sleep over" every night with cousins and had a great time reconnecting. All in all this was one of our more affordable vacations. Excluding gas it was around $50 a family.

The boys went hiking and camping. I hear it was enjoyed by all. Maybe next year canoing will happen.

(Pictures to come)

Meanwhile, we girls had our own time. We saw Kit Kitridge, went to eat at an outdoor mall, window shopped and then had a pancake pajama party while watching Ever After.

We played tennis (our favorite family sport) and the kids jumped on the trampoline until they could jump no more. Yesterday, some family friends hosted us at their pool for the day. It was perfect for our crowd. They also have an indoor basketball court and lots of fun games to play.

We grilled out, made smores and in honor of my parent's fortieth wedding anniversary played played our own version of the Newlywed Game.
I love my family. We are not perfect and sometimes being such a big group can be overwhelming, but we all cherish these times- times to be just us and relax and laugh and love.

We finished our vacation today by attending the funeral of our friend, Barbara. It truly was a gift to be together at just this time to remember her and comfort one another. As always, God's timing is a beautiful thing.

What's in the plans for next year's family vacation? Mom's still promoting the idea of living with the Amish for a week, but I've heard talk of more camping and a pie bake off....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Words that make my day

Elizabeth while putting on a puppet show starring her Popsicle sticks with feathers taped on top:

"Then they went to high school.... and then they went to college....What happens next mom?"

"They get a job."

"And then they worked at McDonald's."

Joseph in the pool venturing away from the edge:

"Mom, help me I'm shrinking! I'm standing on my tippy toe nails. Help!!"

Miriam while snuggling with me on the couch with a book:
"This is the coziest spot in the whole wide world."

Rebekah screaming and crying on the trampoline:

"Betsy bounced me!!!!!!!"

Need to smile today? Go over to Mary's and read what funny things kids are saying.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Real Life

Lately I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed. I feel pressured. It's not coming from one particular person or event. It's just my life. Perhaps it is the realization that my real life is about as far as one can get from a no commitment, simple month at the beach.

We are back at work here and hitting it hard in the month of July. Sean held his own institute last week hosting Calculus teachers from all over the country. It was a hit and I am so proud of not only his knowledge, but his initiative to make it happen. This week we are enjoying an extended visit with my family and Sean will be leaving for Texas for a week. He's being evaluated to be an instructor for Texas Instruments as well as spending a few days on a writing team. Did I say I was proud of him?!

I have been cramming in a lot of work hours in between. Having missed the month of June, I'm trying to do some catch up. I know some people like to switch roles with their husbands, but I do not. I despise putting expectations on Sean that he was not designed to meet. Working 12 hour shifts not only takes me away from home physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. When I come home I am exhausted and ready for bed, but my eyes see (as only a woman's eyes do) my real workplace- my home.

I'm thankful that I don't have this tug and pull every day. I know some women do. I fear that I would not fare well. I am also thankful for a husband who is willing and able to manage seven children and make their days fun while I am gone. He has stepped out of his comfort zone in many more ways willingly and without complaining. Not many men would do that.

This past weekend I was feeling particularly overwhelmed by this whole scenario. Perhaps it was because I am beginning to plan our homeschool year. Perhaps it was because our schedules have been so full these past two weeks. Perhaps it was a culmination of emotions from this past week finally coming to the surface.

God reached down to me to comfort and soothe through the words and hugs of Sean. Instead of telling me to calm down and get a grip, he just held me close with soft words of assurances and rubbed my back until I fell asleep. And then this morning I read this.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Eat mor chikin

We are all about supporting our favorite fast food restaurant especially if it means we get dinner for free. Tonight we took our herd out for dinner. Each one received a FREE combo meal. Not having to share a drink was treat enough, but having their very own waffle fries about sent them over the edge!!

Moo..... We brought our neighbor cow, Rebekah, with us.

Elizabeth was a ballerina cow. She made her little cow a cow mask, too. Funny girl.


But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

-Isaiah 43:1-2

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I've been writing this blog for over a year now. Hard to believe that much time has passed and that I have had that many original thoughts to record. Blogging in many respects has brought out of me a part that has been screaming to be released. Like all moms, the daily responsibilities and relationships with family, though rewarding, leave little time for reflection. This blog has given me a safe place to come late at night or in the early hours of the morning and think through my days and God's goodness in my little corner of the world.

As many have said before me, possibly the best outcome of this blog have been the relationships. Several friends at my church and in my homeschool group write. There simply would not be enough hours in the day to hear all their wise words and great stories. Reading their blogs has opened up deeper relationships with many of them. And then there are those of you I have never met (yet) who continually inspire and bless me with your comments and own blogs. Thanks for sharing and allowing others into your life.

I continue to read many wonderful blogs by the "big bloggers". They may be inspirational, frugal, popular, crafty, funny.... Day after day they bring back more and more readers into their world with their words. I know that Shine Again will never be all that, which suits me fine. At times I've struggle with my focus in this blog. I'm not sure I've quite figured that one out yet. But I pray that those who read it and my children, in particular, as they grow, will see how God's goodness is reality in my life. It may not be a glamorous, funny or even extremely interesting life. But in the end, it is for Him.

Just a side note: While we were gone in June, my family had a get together and read back over their favorite posts for a good laugh. Too good for words, I hear was the winner. Thankfully, I haven't had a day quite like that since then.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

Sean and I have been staying up WAY too late at night this week watching this HBO miniseries. Being that a person can only check out one of the three DVDs at a time, we haven't gotten to see it in order. In fact, we have yet to watch the second DVD. But no matter.

Besides being very well done, this DVD has opened my eyes to parts of history that I have forgotten or never really knew. The months of debate and politics that went into the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence was astounding to me. The insights and passions of our founding fathers came to life through the actors and I appreciate all the more the process they endured in order to assure our freedoms we claim today. Walking through that time in history also gave an up close look at tar and feathering, inoculations and the dental trials of the day. Interesting.

All this to say that this July 4th my perspective on our freedom as a nation has been widened. However, I am all the more grateful to our Great King in Heaven who rules now and forever. He is the One reigning over the kingdoms of men.

The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.' Daniel 4:17

"It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me. Jer. 27:5