A Coat Rack for the Old Farmhouse

Old farmhouses present unconventional problems. In certain places there are things like floors that aren’t level and lathe-and-plaster walls that crumble when you try to screw or nail things into them. Our front hallway has both of these problems. But, we needed a coat rack. The small coat closet didn’t provide enough room, not to mention that the younger ones couldn’t reach high enough to hang the coats in it.

A year or two ago, I had an idea. The unused space beside the front door would be the perfect spot for a coat rack. The floor beside the door is not level, so something would have to be hung on the walls, which, as I mentioned, are crumbly, and would never be sturdy enough for a coat rack with all the weight of the coats hanging on it. After considering my options, assisted by my trusty crew, we came up with this.IMG_0074We used liquid nails to mount wooden pieces in the corner; these pieces would then hold screws and weight with no trouble. The wide wooden trim around the front door (left) and bedroom door (right) gave us another place that would firmly hold screws. We mounted the boards that would hold the coat hooks, painted everything, and I found some hooks that would hold many coats of various sizes. They were originally silver so we spray painted them black. I was so pleased with the final result, and it worked beautifully! A coat rack low enough for all the little hands to reach and sturdy enough to hold lots of coats. As a finishing touch, I found these cute little pieces of decor that seemed to fit just right, marked down 50% at our local Dollar General.IMG_0072

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Here is the instagram picture I posted after the initial coat rack victory.

Then, this winter, it seemed expedient to make further use of that same area by mounting a second coat rack above the first. (Where do all the coats around here even come from? Not to mention all the bags and purses?) Here are some pics to show a little bit of the process. All of the measuring, cutting, mounting, and painting was done by the crew. You can see this is not a perfectionist job (old farmhouses –combined with a crew in training– don’t allow people to hang on to their perfectionist tendencies) but it is functional and I love it!  IMG_0079IMG_0081 

IMG_0073IMG_0095IMG_0098IMG_0103One of the things I just love about homemaking is having my own little domain. I’m sure you feel the same way. Homemaking gives us a place where we can do things in the way that seems best to us as the managers of our homes. A place where we can take what we have to work with, and use it to the fullest extent of our creative abilities.

I enjoy finding uses for the nooks and crannies in this old house; figuring out how to make it work; and I love how my crew can provide the footwork needed for making my little homemaking ideas like this one become reality.IMG_0118IMG_6261

 

Mom, You are Priceless (seeing yourself through the eyes of your child)

{I shared these words back in 2011, when speaking at an event for a gathering of mothers. I hope these words encourage you today. We had a break in the cold weather recently and Katelyn took these pictures of the girls in the pine needles and sunlight. Neither of these girls were yet born when I first shared these words.}

All of us here today have at least one thing in common, and that is that we are mothers.  We have been privileged to bring at least one life in to the world, and the well-being of that little person has been completely committed to our care.  It’s a miracle and an awesome privilege.

I am expecting my fifth child in just a few months.  It’s a boy, which makes four boys with one girl right in the middle.  I am thankful to God for blessing me with these children, and for ALL that He has taught me through it.  I do not stand here today as a mother who “has it all together.”  I am not a super-mom. I do not have all the answers.  In fact, with each day that goes by, I realize more and more how inadequate I am for the task before me of raising these children and getting them launched out into the world.  It is an overwhelming job.  Most days I struggle just to keep my head above water.  I tell you that to say that I am probably just like you.  Many of you would agree with me that being a Mom is the most difficult and demanding job you have faced.  Of course, it does have many blessings along the way.  Praise the Lord for the rewarding moments that sometimes come so unexpectedly!

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Sunshine is so good for the soul!

As I thought about the opportunity to speak to you today, many thoughts flooded my mind.  What should I share with you?  I really wanted to use these few minutes to benefit and help you in your job as mothers.  Trying to get my scattered thoughts to come into some kind of order has been a challenge,  especially being interrupted every 30 seconds!  I’ve been working on potty training my 2-year-old so my preparation for this message has been broken up by ump-teen trips to the bathroom.  I’m sure you know what I mean.

IMG_6254Did you know that the job you have as a mother is one of the most important jobs in the nation?  In fact, did you know that mothers are nation-changers?  I know it sure doesn’t seem like it when we are rushing that 2-year-old to the bathroom AGAIN, and sitting there with them.

“Mom, shut the door.  Mom, lock the door.  Mom, count to ten.  Okay, I don’t have to go, Mom!”

During those moments we don’t feel like we are doing anything important.  Nobody notices, nobody sees.  But if we can mentally step back, and see the big picture for a minute– we are shaping the life and destiny of a little person who is going to grow up and take his or her place in the world.

There is nobody like Mom to understand the jibberish of a toddler, or to kiss a hurt knee, or to give a hug to calm their fears, or to tell them, “Keep trying!  You can do it!” when they are discouraged. There is nobody like Mom to bake cookies with, to read that favorite book again, to explain things they don’t understand, to understand how they feel inside, or to exclaim over the dandelion bouquet.  In your child’s eyes you are irreplaceable.   You ARE irreplaceable– you are the one and only mother that child will ever have.  I know you are not going to hear it on the news or read it in Woman’s Day magazine, but as a mother you are valuable and vital not only to your child’s future, but also to our country’s future.

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Children love to bring their mom little treasures. This little bouquet was brought to me, piece by piece, last summer. Hands behind the little one’s back and “Surprise!” as a piece of clover is presented with such love and shining eyes.

 

IMG_6236We are often concerned about giving our children so many things that we think they need, but in reality, your child is content with just having YOU.  I often think of this when I am preparing for  a new baby, like I am right now.  We start gathering up all kinds of things– a bassinet, a stroller, a carseat, baby toys, clothes, outfits, blankets, a rocking chair, painting and decorating the nursery. . .  But, when that baby comes into the world, all he or she really wants is his mommy.  Her loving arms, her warm breast, her gentle voice, her tender touch…  Those things can meet more of that baby’s needs than any material things ever could.  Your baby’s whole world is wrapped up with you.  In many ways this does not change even as your child gets older.  Your time, your praise, your training, your encouragement, your unconditional love, are worth more to that child than all the material possessions in the world.

Often we think that as children grow and especially as they become teenagers, they don’t need much of our time anymore.  They may act like they don’t, but deep down, they do.  They need mom and dad’s direction and influence more than ever.  And the best way to give them direction and influence is to spend time together.  Lots and lots of it.

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The photographer took a moment to capture her own boots.

I want to encourage you to take this mothering job seriously and give it your very best.  It is a job that deserves your utmost devotion.  I know it is not easy.  At least once a day I usually end up thinking, “How did I get myself into this?  Where do I go to resign?  I think I’d like to do something else now!”  But, motherhood is a high calling.  It is a job given to you by God Himself, and it takes dedication and faithfulness, day after day, year after year. IMG_6253We can take much comfort in knowing that we are not alone in this job.  As I said earlier, we often feel that nobody sees or notices all the sacrifices we make as mothers.  But, the truth is, Someone does see.  Someone does notice.  I’m not talking about our friends on Facebook who can read our posts and find out what we’ve been doing that particular day.  I’m talking about God Himself.  He notices.  He has given this job to us, and He has not left us alone.  As we seek His help and guidance, He promises to give it to us.  He has promised strength for the weary and wisdom to those who ask.  God uniquely equipped you to do this job and He will help you if you ask.

It is wonderful to know that God is not only the God of the huge, the vast, the incredible– such as the glorious mountain ranges or the mighty ocean– but He is also the God of the very small, the miniscule, the tiny– such as a single dogwood blossom or a water droplet on a blade of grass.  Not only is He concerned about the nations, the world, the universe, but He is also concerned about each individual home and family.  After all, it is individual homes and families that make up the nations.  God is indeed the God of the very small, and that includes the myriad of “very small” things we do as mothers each day.  He is concerned.  He sees.

IMG_6241Does God have some “enormous” task for us to do? He may, but more than likely He has all kinds of “little” things — a baby to be comforted, dishes to be washed, a kind word to be spoken, encouragement to be given, meals to be cooked, clothes to be washed, a child to be hugged…

Do these things matter to God? Yes, they do. The Bible tells us in Luke 12:6-7: “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?  But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”  If God even sees the sparrows, I know He sees me as I work in my home.

Sometimes at our house, when our day gets just too hectic, I stop the children right in the middle of the chaos and say, “We need to pray right now and ask God to help us have peace in this household and be loving to each other.”  Your children won’t forget you doing that kind of thing.  They certainly would rather hear mom pray than hear her “lose it” and yell at them instead!IMG_6235The journey of motherhood can cause us to know God in a deeper way as we have to learn to depend on Him to a greater extent than we ever have before.  I’m so thankful that we can know God.  Although we are separated from Him and condemned because we have broken His holy law, He has made a way for us to come unto Him, through His son Jesus Christ.  We will never be able to fully be the mother we should be until we know God in a personal relationship, through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Hebrews 7:25 says about Jesus, “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him.”  He is able to save us from God’s judgment and to cover us with His righteousness.  That is the best news I have ever heard!

Let me encourage you to get to know the True God.  There are a lot of ideas out there today about who God is and what He is like.  But, what is He really like?  All the ideas in the world don’t change the truth of Who He really is.  As we search the pages of God’s Holy Word, we can begin to see God for Who He really is.  Then, as we know God ourselves, we can give our children the most important thing we could ever give them– an Anchor for their souls.  Our highest privilege as mothers is helping our children know God through His son Jesus.  Their view of God is shaped by us as their mother even from their earliest days.  As they go through life, our children are one day going to face situations and trials that we will not be able to shield or protect them from.  Where are they going to turn?  Will they know the true God– their Redeemer, their Hope, their Strength, their Burden-Bearer?  Point them to the Savior from their earliest days, and you will have given your child the best foundation possible for them to build their lives upon. IMG_6242I also want to encourage you to treasure the moments you have with your children.  I’m sure you have heard the same thing I have, when you are out and about with your little ones, and an older person will pass by and say, “They grow up so quickly.  It goes by so fast.”  I don’t know how many times I have heard that.  I’m starting to see the truth of it.  My oldest is now 11 years old.  I have a Polaroid picture of him on the window-ledge above my kitchen sink.  It’s a little craft he made for Mother’s day when he was about 2.  He is so little and cute, with curly blonde hair, squinting into the camera.  I have kept it there for 9 years now.  It serves as a reminder of the quickly passing years.  We need to cherish the moments.  Treasure the time you have together.

“Embrace your God-given responsibilities and purpose to enjoy each season of family living.  Children are a blessing from God.  The fruit of the womb is His reward.  Diapers and pacifiers will sooner-than-you-think give way to school clothes and snaggle teeth to gym clothes and braces to graduation gowns and goodbye kisses.”  — Tim Cruse

IMG_6205I have never forgotten the example of a lady whom I knew over twenty years ago now.  I was privileged to be a friend of her daughter’s in my early teen years.  The lady’s name was Barbara.  She was not glamorous or wealthy in worldly things. She just loved people and made her home available to many– her own four children, one adopted daughter, and many others whom she cared for.  Barbara had an unusual wall in her kitchen.  It was one little section of wall that was scribbled all over by markers.  I’m not sure how it got to be like that.  I guess various little people had contributed their artwork.  Anyhow, I asked Barbara one day if it bothered her that her wall had scribbling all over it.  Her reply to me was, “Well, I guess I’ll paint over it one day.  But right now I’m just going to leave it, because I’ll never have another wall like that again.”  What a statement that was about her priorities!  God help us to be that kind of mother!  The kind of mother who knows that people are more important than things.  Undoubtedly we will then leave a lasting impact on people’s lives, including the lives of our own precious children.IMG_6239As we do this job, there are no guarantees what the outcome will be.  We do not know where our children will ultimately end up.  We do not know if they will ever realize all that we sacrificed for them.  We do not know if they will make us proud as mothers.  We certainly hope and pray that they will.  But, if we give our very best to this job, we won’t look back with regret, knowing that we could have given more for our children.  We will know that we stepped up to the task with God’s help and we can leave the outcome in His hands.IMG_6248

I took a piece of plastic clay
And idly fashioned it one day,
And as my fingers pressed it still,
It moved and yielded to my will.
I came again when days were passed;
The bit of clay was hard at last,
The form I gave it still it bore,
But I could change that form no more!

I took a piece of living clay
And touched it gently day by day,
And molded with my power and art
A young child’s soft and yielding heart.
I came again when years were gone;
It was a man I looked upon;
That early impress still he wore,
And I could change that form no more!

-(Anon.)

So again, remember, you are a nation-changer!  Your job as a mother is so very important.  God has given it to you and He will help you if you ask.  Treasure the time you have with your precious children.  And pay attention to the little things in life, because one day we may look back and realize that they were the big things, after all.

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A phone pic from our family outing to get our Christmas tree. Just LOOK at those big boys! The blonde-haired squinting little boy (mentioned above) is now the young man wearing the red coat… about to turn 18 next month. The years do fly. Invest in the little ones while you can, dear momma!

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January chit-chat, an essay, a product review, and snow pics!

Hope your new year is off to a great start. I love January. Cleaning up, cleaning out, a fresh start, quiet(er) days, back into the routine, and maybe even some snow.

I had wanted to say hello a little sooner than this (other than telling you about our new card game)…. but due to unforeseen computer difficulties, my communications have been limited. (Disaster struck when one of my children, who will remain unnamed, spilled a cup of hot chocolate on my laptop. I’m afraid I came close to failing that test of spirituality.)

I’ve really been wanting to show you these pics that Ethan took after our first snow of the year, back in December. Since then we’ve had only one other snow and it wasn’t much to speak of.IMG_6722

IMG_6697Remember how I told you about the book of E.B. White essays that we were going to study in our homeschool this year? In hopes that my older children would learn to write a good essay? Well, here you can get a glimpse of how this effort is either succeeding or not succeeding, depending on how you look at it. I thought I would share this essay that Katelyn wrote in school last week. She chose her own topic. (Shared with her permission.)

Why I Hate Writing Essays
by Katelyn Hall
1/17/18

I hate writing essays, especially ones that are four hundred words long. First of all, it is extremely hard to think of a topic to write about. I sit and think, and think, and think some more, then I get sidetracked and stop thinking about the essay and begin thinking of what I’m going to eat for lunch, or the book I’m reading, or who is playing football this evening. By the time I finally start writing the essay I am out of time, and it’s lunch break (which really isn’t that disappointing, because as I said, I hate writing essays and I am glad for the break). When I eventually do get around to writing the essay, I have forgotten what my idea was and I have to start all over again.

In my opinion, essays are totally useless, in fact I think the whole world would be a much better place without them. Essays just go on, and on, for an eternity and seem to never end. The essay study we do by E.B. White is supposed to be “interesting”; I cannot imagine what an uninteresting essay would be like.

After writing about the first two sentences in my essay, I run out of what to say. I can pretty much sum up a whole topic in two sentences. It could actually be considered impolite to do an extremely long essay because you’re taking up the precious time of the person reading it. You made them read two whole pages, when you could have easily told them in two sentences.

Once I finally finish writing the essay, Mom takes it and gives me about a million corrections, so I have to go back and fix them all. After that, she takes it and gives about half-a-million corrections more. This process continues until everything is perfect. (Such as commas, and periods.)

No offense to any essay writers out there who are reading this, even though I think what you do for a living is useless, and a waste of time, I still would probably like you as a person in general, as long as you don’t try to convince me of why essays are a good thing, because I have made up my mind that they are bad, and once my mind is made up there is no changing it. So that is why I hate writing essays. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and maybe if we can get enough people to agree with this essay, then we can start a riot and ban the world of essays.

IMG_6671IMG_6668The winter months are a happy time for our homeschool. The fall semester seems to be full of so many distractions every year. When we finally land in January after the holidays, homeschool becomes our only main focus, at least for a few months. Time to re-evaluate where we are and where we are headed.

Time, also, for a few extra things, like our Physics 101 DVD* by Wes Olson. I can’t speak highly enough of these science DVDs. Last year we enjoyed Chemistry 101, which was our first exposure to these well-crafted, interesting, and inspiring DVDs. Although I am the daughter of a scientist (physicist, more specifically), I was a music major, and consequently my ventures into the world of science have been pretty sparse over the years. We have been learning so much from these DVDs. Science is utterly mind-blowing and amazing, reminding us of just how small we are in this vast universe, and yet God has given us the privilege of searching out and understanding His ways. (Proverbs 25:2)

All of our school-age children gather once a week to watch a segment.  Each segment could be called a “lecture”– but guaranteed to be among the most interesting lectures you have ever heard. I asked Joshua and Toby to comment on these DVDs.

Joshua (12th grade): “Very entertaining and comprehensible. Helped me to understand concepts that I previously had not fully understood.”

Toby (1st grade): “The Physics DVD has a lot of cool things on it. I like watching all the different experiments.”

Mr. Olson teaches from a Christian worldview, with such passion for his subject matter that it can’t help but be “caught” by the student. Hats off to the Olson family for such quality educational products. Check them out sometime; I don’t think you will be disappointed!

IMG_6683.eIMG_6643IMG_6713*{As always, when I tell my readers about a product, it is not for any financial gain on my part whatsoever. I only review products that have enriched our lives as a family; products that I think others would like to know about.}

On the way into Bethlehem

We parked. The whole family piled out of the van, donned coats and hats, and began to wade through a sea of vehicles. Strains of Jewish music floated over the fence from across the road. Who knew that the local “Bethlehem Village,” hosted by several area churches, drew such a crowd? 

With two littles in the double stroller, we moved quickly before they could start deciding they didn’t like being in the stroller after all. A parking attendant called out, “There’s a place to cross the road about half way down.” Continue reading “On the way into Bethlehem”

My Favorite Christmas Tradition

Simple traditions are the ones I love best. They stand the test of time. No matter how hectic the holiday season becomes, they still endure.

We started one of those simple traditions about five or six years ago. All you need are four candles and voices joined together in song. I’m so excited to share with you Continue reading “My Favorite Christmas Tradition”

Photo Post: Leaves & Hot Chocolate

November has slipped away already. I can’t let it go quite yet though, without first sharing these pictures. There were just too many good ones to share them all on the clutter post two weeks ago. So we are starting a new category here on Treasuring Home– Photo posts!

I know you are quickly getting into All Things Christmas Mode (we are too!), but let’s just take a moment to savor this last little glimpse of Fall. Continue reading “Photo Post: Leaves & Hot Chocolate”

It’s OK to live a cluttered life (there are many things worse).

I have just emerged from the basement, where I am making a valiant effort to de-clutter.  I almost drowned in a sea of game pieces, puzzle pieces, stuffed animals, dress-up clothes, wooden blocks, trains, dolls, legos, and everything in between. I have lived to tell the tale, but the clutter is not conquered. I would say I made a dent in it.

Minimalism. We see it talked about all over the place. And hey, I get it. Materialism has taken over America. Americans seem to live to get more things, and then need time to take care of those things, and then need time to get rid of things, Continue reading “It’s OK to live a cluttered life (there are many things worse).”

If Mama Ain’t Thankful

She stood there smiling at me, in the basement of the church where we both were visiting. It was a genuine smile, a relaxed smile, not a forced “I have to smile at you because I’m the evangelist’s wife” smile. She had three or four small children in tow, and they were climbing on everything in sight, as were mine. Continue reading “If Mama Ain’t Thankful”

Homeschool chit chat: readiness of the child, state laws, and the question of October birthdays

This blog post is going to be conversational in nature. That’s because it was an actual conversation that happened via texting recently, between myself, my younger sister Rachel, and my Mom. Rachel’s first child is not yet school age. My sister-in-law Esther pops in at one point as well! These ladies have kindly given me permission to publish our conversation here. 

Rachel: Mom and Jennifer, what age did you start first grade? And did you do a year of learning to read before first grade, or did they learn to read in first grade? Continue reading “Homeschool chit chat: readiness of the child, state laws, and the question of October birthdays”