Saturday, August 31, 2013

Here We Are.

I came back to my blog today, because I miss it. I miss putting up pictures of those silly, quirky Hollinhead kids, and documenting our family adventures that are completely boring to most of the rest of humanity, but very near to our own hearts. I miss feeling like the mundane parts of life are important, because they are.  What has always made up the substance of my days, since the age of seventeen years old, has been the goings-on of my family...whether it was my new husband and newborn baby boy, or the flurry of homeschooling activities as our number of children grew to five and life became a swirl of grocery store "field trips", church activities, household chores, holidays and more as year after year clicked by my very eyes. It was the boring stuff, the grit, that made up who I am.  Changing wet sheets at 2 a.m., planning cheap meals for a week, weeding flower beds, filling prescriptions.  I know it sounds absolutely nuts, but I have come to realize that I love these things...all of them.  It's what I do, it's who I am...right?   I am the lady with the big family, with the hard-working husband.  We are blue-collar, old-fashioned, down home regular people who are doing their best to love God and raise our children to love Him, too.  But what if, somewhere along the way, I let all of those good things like being a good helper to my husband and being a loving mommy to my children, become my golden calf? Is that even possible, that the good things that God teaches us to aspire to can become stumbling blocks in our relationship with Him?  I think it is, and I think that did happen to me.  I made little idols of so many parts of my family life, and when my life exploded and my family didn't look like it used to anymore, I have to confess that there was a moment when I didn't know who I was anymore.  Like a kid who is lost at the mall, I looked around frantically and without the same familiar faces that I was used to, everything was scary and menacing, and the idea of living another forty years on this planet seemed more like a torture to be endured than a life of freedom and joy.   But...
        Lord have mercy.  He has mercy for me.  He loves me so much that He wouldn't let me keep worshiping that which was not mine to hold onto. When a person has done all they know to do,  cried themselves dry in the seeking of  the Lord and His will, listened to counsel of men & women with wisdom and prayed, prayed, prayed.....and still, the unthinkable happens, what is that person to say, to do, to think?  I will tell you what I think:  I think that God is faithful to show me what is TRUE. The solid rock on which I stand is the truth that God will never, ever leave me or forsake me.  That when something or someone is torn from our lives, we don't suddenly lose ourselves and forget who we are. Because WHO WE ARE is not based on our families, our role or job, or even our church or the lifestyle that we have carved out for ourselves in this dark world. Who we are is based on our adoption by the Father who reigns on high, through the blood of His innocent Son who died and rose again, for our sake.  For the forgiveness of sin. My sin.  

This kind of love is unshakable.

Ephesians 1: 3-11 says:
 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,  even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  In him we have redemption through his blood,the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will,according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,  so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.  In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

He didn't come looking for me because He knew that I would do a bang-up job at those middle of the night vomit clean-ups. He didn't save me because he thought I would pack a mean ham & cheese lunch for my husband to take to work, and then suddenly realize later that my sandwich making skills were not up to the job. Sounds ridiculous, right? But this is like what we tell ourselves when we rest in our own abilities, our own duties, our own roles. All of those things are important, and real, and things we should desire excellence in. But they are not the same as climbing up on our Father's lap and resting there, knowing that He knit me together in my mother's womb with care and love, and He has designed every moment of my life with purpose and compassion, and that anything and everything I do, have done to me, or strive to do in my days on this earth are a mere outward working out of a plan that has been in motion since the foundations of the earth. And shadows of the treasure that He has in store for me as a member of His family, in the Kingdom in which darkness and pain don't loom around ANY corner. Nothing is to be "endured", but all is embraced with the joy of complete freedom that comes from total acceptance and all being set right.

You may be wondering, what is the point of all of this rambling? Well, I will come to it. In the spirit of honesty and transparency, I lay it on the line. I am a single mom. My husband left me. As a Christian who believes in marriage for life, until death, I paradoxically find myself divorced. It would be tempting to see myself as less than what God wants me to be, to beat myself about how I dropped the ball and fell short. But that's just it. I do fall short, every day in every way. I drop the ball, and I pick it back up. Sometimes, I crazily fling the ball away from me, and then go chasing after it. And I am so much less than what God wants me to be...but praise and glory only to Him that when He looks at me, He doesn't look at me with eyes judging what I did wrong to make my husband leave. He looks at me with eyes filled with compassion, I hope and believe, that see my beautiful Savior's robes wrapped around me, His son's clothes stripped off and placed on me. How can I not marvel at this gift? I weep for joy that though all may reject me, He never will. He will walk with me through all that this life holds, through every twist and turn. he will guide me as I continue in old roles and ways, and try on new ones as well. And I will not toss aside the mundane any longer; I will not say that a new recipe is not worth sharing, a field trip not important enough to blog about or a photograph not worth posting, because they are important, they are part of the life He has blessed me with and part of the role that He has given me as a nurturer of my children. But I will do my best, Lord willing, not to make them my idols. I am His because He chose me from the foundations of the earth,not because of what kind of mother I am or wife I was, and there is no person, and no power on earth or in the heavens that will change that.

I share all of this with the faint hope that it may encourage someone who is having trouble remembering who they are, or really doesn't even know yet. And I share it because it is the truth. Those of you who know me well know that I have trouble knowing what to share and what not to share, so please know that this comes from my heart with the intent and the hope of showing myself weak and the Lord strong.

So...with that out of the way...on with the blogging!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

First Quarter Report

Today is Easter! I love Easter, it always helps to right my steering, and correct my focus.  It is also March 31st, and that brings to mind that the year is one-fourth over already. Wow, that was fast.  As I look for ward to the next part of the year that brings lots of busy things like end-of-the-school-year activities, recitals, field days and more, I wanted to pause to take a breath and look back on the everyday of life, so far in 2013. 

January held lots of Just Dance (Rachel got a new one for Christmas),

Abbie lost her first tooth,
and lots of regular old schoolwork days (not sure why that requires a slingshot on this particular day, though...)

February picked up the pace with a lot more happenings, like a field trip to the Henry County Fire Department

 (This trip was with our homeschool group, and I had to include this adorable moment with our little buddy John and the fireman, and a group shot):

...and Irene & Abbie's American Heritage Girls troop had a "Daddy -Daughter Night".  Mike had to work, but the girls were thrilled that their Papa Hollinhead could come in his place, and they had a great time!

They also made puppets with the American Heritage girls as we worked on our Puppetry badge in the Tenderhearts class.

We went with some goods friends to the Secret Keeper Girls' Pajama Party, which was all about helping girls learn that they are special, valuable and precious to others and to God because of who they are on the inside, instead of the outside.  We also hit Cheddar's on the way there for some good food! 

And to wrap up the events of February, I can't leave out that most monumental and momentous of projects on a gargantuan scale, the Great Laundry Room Redo !!!  Here are the "before" pictures of my (nearly) emptied laundry room, as well as the table in the kitchen that it spilled its guts onto:

And here is the finished room, although I wanted to get a picture of the whole thing.  I was trying to get a picture of the pegboard pot-rack to send to someone, and that was the only picture I remembered to take before I started messing it all up with laundry and such.  I do hope to get it clean again, and take a picture of the whole thing.  Don't stay up at night waiting on that one, though;  the getting it clean part may cause a bit of a roadblock.

One more picture from February, just for good measure...spaghetti noodle sword fighting is so popular right now, I hear:

If you are, by any chance, still with me, we shall venture on into March.   March has been the month of projects for Matthew at Konos that make a mother want to pull her hair out. He did research projects on Switzerland and made a portfolio that included menus, trip itineraries, maps, travel brochures, etc.  and wrote an adventure story using all of the information he learned about Switzerland as the setting to the story.  It was a challenging project but we both learned so much! 

Rachel turned 21 this month!  Wow, I cannot believe my precious baby girl is old enough to order a margarita.  She is not in the least bit interested, though, which I count as a blessing!  She asked me to gather some photos of her, covering her lifetime.  I think she was thinking one or two from each year.  I began that project on facebok, and in my usual fashion, could not narrow down the photos well, so I think I quit adding them at about 150 pictures.  I had worked up until she was about age 12.  I am thinking nobody wants to continue watching me add dozens upon dozens of photos of Rachel to facebook, but I think they are coming, if I can ever get back around to it! (Oh , and she split the cost of a WiiU with me for her birthday. Seems totally unnecessary to me, but what do I know. I indulged her because it's pretty much her last year of birthday presents. Shhhh...don't tell her, I have not broken that news yet.) 

Here we are singing to her...

...and she is hugging Abbie for the gift she gave her.

I am really bogging down here, so I am going to give you the super-speedy version on the rest of the month:


playing with Farmer Boy dolls made at Little House camp,

making crystals (made at Classical Conversations, then did it again at home!)

breakdancing with buddies

Michael came to see us and is too long for the loveseat

Went to New York to pick up my mom's car (sidenote: saw Statue of Liberty and Freedom Tower from the plane! Exciting!!) 

Here are the Twins:

We got a trampoline as a very late Christmas gift,

Mike got really pooped out after having to put it together three times,

The kids enjoyed their Easter loot this morning,

Abbie made a "tomb" in the dirt last week and buried a rock in there (Jesus)

...and today she rolled away the stone and Jesus was out, walking around (well, standing beside the tomb, as rocks do) and ALIVE (as much as rocks can be) !!!!!!!

Looking pretty for Easter at South Point Fellowship

a wonderful, Easter brunch with good, good friends

Easter " Tea",

and, finally,  gardening.

PHEW.  I am tired.  If you stayed to the end, you are a true blue friend.  Thanks for sticking with me.  Here's to launching the second quarter, may I document it more frequently than the first, so that I don't have to do this to you again!  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Little "Encouragement" from a Little Girl

Today, I had a parent / teacher conference at Matthew's school, and it sparked some conversation. Abbie asked me what Matthew's classroom looked like, so I explained it to her.  Then she asked me what Matthew's teacher looked like, so I told her she was very sweet and kind. This wasn't good enough, she wanted to know what she looks like. So, I told her that she was very pretty, and that she dressed very cute, like Miss Laura Beth. Abbie said that yes, Ada's mom always looks snazzy.  Being the sweet gal that she is, though, she quickly added on, "But you look really nice too, Mommy, when you dress up in your sweats!"  

What gets me about this is that when I laughed, because I was sure she was poking fun at me, she looked confused.  She meant it. God bless the sweet little girl, she really meant it! Love the honesty, sincerity and simplicity of children!