Growing Kids and Raising Gardens

Today was a glorious Family Day. We were delighted to have the oldest two children home again, and I was determined, now that they’re home again, to spend the day doing something as a family.

Pool Buddies
David and Sarah serve as poster-children for sweetness toward each other.

“Don’t go to the book sale,” I begged Kathy on Tuesday, as she considered a scheme to attend a home-school curriculum sale on Saturday. “The kids will finally be back — we should all stay home together.”

The weather reports have been rather conflicted about this Saturday — first they said it would be partly cloudy, then they said it would be fully sunny, then yesterday they claimed there would be showers. I got up late, just in time to see some clouds rolling in. “It’s been beautifully sunny so far,” Joshua assured me, as I staggered downstairs, bleary-eyed.

Kathy wields the shears
Although odds were running 3:1 in favor of the bush, Kathy prevailed.

“If you want to see the sun today, you’d better get outside,” I informed Kathy gloomily. How wrong I was! The sun shone all day long, and the sky remained blue and mostly cloudless.

Rachel cuts boards for our raised-bed garden
Building the raised-bed garden was reminiscent of playing with Lincoln Logs.

We spent the day working on the yard and building a garden planter or two. It was a lot more fun than it sounds, and there were many chances for laughter and fun. The kids helped me plant a bunch of my never-ending crop of tomato seedlings, and Joshua shifted dirt from the driveway to the garden.

A load o' dirt
My oldest son returns home Thursday night, and six cubic yards of dirt are delivered early Friday morning. Coincidence? Maybe.

Kathy weed-whacked and pruned bushes and cooked delicious meals for us; whenever she could, she sneaked away to read her Dave Ramsey book.

Taking credit where little credit was due
Joshua was actually the one who filled the planter with dirt, but (since he doesn’t really like having his picture taken) Daniel and I horned in to take credit.

At one point, Rachel was playing an elaborate game of Trivia with the three younger kids — I just had to sneak up and take a few pictures, and to eavesdrop on their game.

Rachel holds court

Rachel enjoys a good laugh
These kids really know how to enjoy each other.

We had Slurpees™, ate fried chicken and (once it began to get dark) watched most of National Treasure 2, which Kathy bought for our anniversary. I provided sherbet and some Tillamook Mud Slide ice cream, which was every bit as good as it sounds.

Planter Number 2
There were a few design flaws on the first raised-bed garden, so I’m trying again. Besides, we still have lots more dirt.

One of the “Fathers Mandates” we’ve been studying in our Growing Kids God’s Way parenting study is the establishment of family identity. We joke about matching T-shirts, but I’ve often thought that a strong and positive family identity can serve as an excellent shield against many forms of outside temptation. While I read “the chapter” to the kids tonight, we all agreed: this was a very good day to be in our family.

Project 366, Day 115

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Sixteen Candles

No, I’m not referring to a Brat Pack film about unrequited love and a forgotten birthday from the early 80′s. Instead, I’m privileged and delighted to celebrate the 16th anniversary of my wedding to the girl of my dreams.

Kathy and her Dad, minutes before our wedding ceremony
“Daddy, I’m not sure I want to go through with this … “

As we stood in the hallway this afternoon, sneaking a quick smooch, Kathy asked me, “Doesn’t it seem like yesterday, that we were living upstairs from Nancy in our little Stamford apartment?”

It does seem only a few years ago … I remember when it was just the two of us, and we still felt like kids, just pretending to be married people until the real grownups came home and sent us off to our rooms.

Wedding Recessional
Mr. and Mrs. Edgren take their first few steps together …

Time’s relentless current has swept us through the years, and here we are with five children, less energy, a very full and busy life, and just a little more wisdom, than when we started. In all this I have learned one important thing: to give thanks. We have so much to be thankful for, so (as any good parent will agree) I should write a thank-you note.

A Thank-You Note to God

Thank you, dear Jesus, for loving us and for saving us from our sin through your death on the cross. Thank you for adopting us into your family and giving us the Holy Spirit to guide us in joy and righteousness. Thank you for arranging our lives so that we could meet at a time when we were both capable of loving and being loved.

Thank you for protecting us from being too intimate (with others and with each other) before we were married. Thank you for blessing us with good communication skills, and with a good marriage. Thank you for teaching us how to fight gently, and for restraining our speech so we didn’t say things that would hurt each other deeply.

Thank you for giving me the ability to work and earn a good living, and thank you for helping us manage our money. Thank you for blessing us with the courage and desire to raise five children, and for giving us the fertility to conceive them and bring them into the world. Thank you for growing us in maturity and grace, and for helping us to build our faith and our love for you.

Thank you for giving us excellent examples in our parents, of marriages built for the long haul. Thank you for allowing some trouble in our lives, so that we could learn to hope and persevere. Thank you for sixteen great years of life together.

I have some regrets about my life. I wasted some years in high school, fighting spitefully with my parents. I spent nearly a decade getting through college, carelessly losing my scholarship and taking a lot more time to grow up than I should have needed. But I can’t say that I regret any of the years since I found my sweet Kathy — she has filled up my days with fun and joy and purpose and meaning, as we build our family and present it as our offering to our Lord.

Kathy at Crim Dell
They say that if you kiss a girl at the top of this bridge, you’ll be with her forever. Kathy and I took extra care to make sure.

Indeed, candles are a poor metaphor, burning out so quickly and dribbling inedible wax on the cake. Perhaps it would be better to speak of jewels in a crown, one for each year that we have enjoyed, loving and serving each other as unto the Lord. A few months ago we had the chance to honor a couple at our church who had been married some sixty-plus years. As the applause of the congregation washed over the white-haired pair, I quietly resolved, “unless the Lord takes us home, there’s Kathy and I in fifty years.”

These days many think that when marriage gets tough, they are free to walk. Others don’t bother with marriage at all, and some misguided folk even think same-sex relationships should be called ‘marriages’. Kathy and I place a high value on marriage in the sight of God, between a man and a woman, and we continue to honor our vow from that day, sixteen years ago: ‘Til death do us part. My heart still skips a beat when I look at her sometimes … not because she’s still a 21-year-old hottie, but because our love and trust and investment in each other has grown and grown over these years.

Happy Anniversary, Beloved.

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Come Home, Beloved Children

My world traveling children shall soon be on their way home. Poor David (age 7) is having a difficult time waiting.

Mom, I just can’t go for two weeks without my big brother, he moaned, draping himself across the arm of my chair this afternoon. It’s much, much too long. I’m desperately missing him.

Sarah refused to sleep in her room alone. I’m too scared to sleep by myself, Mommy. She spent nearly the entire portion of Joshua and Rachel’s absence in Daniel and David’s room. Lately she has taken to counting the days until their return on the calendar. She gives us frequent updates, which are vigorously analyzed by her older brothers.

You can’t count TODAY. Today is already happening and so you have to start with tomorrow.
No, I think you count today because today isn’t over.

come home soon!

Amidst all of the eager anticipation, Tim and I got the news that Air Norway was on strike. Well, isn’t that an unpleasant pickle. After much scurrying about, the travelers had a Plan B. Instead of flying out of Norway, they will take a 9 hour train ride to Oslo and then catch their flight to Frankfurt. From Frankfurt to DC and from DC to Seattle. My goodness, won’t they be a weary bunch.

we'll wait all night for your return

We are eager to hug them and have them back under our own roof. A tremendous thanks to Mark and Elizabeth, the ever gracious and beloved aunt and uncle, who hosted our intrepid explorers and provided a wonderful vacation for them. And, of course, another overwhelming thank you to Grandma and Grandpa, without whom this entire adventure would not have been possible.

We are incredibly blessed with dear, dear family!

And Thursday night our family will be whole again.

Project 366 – Day 142

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WFMW – Devotional Books for Boys

wfmwLet’s chat about some great devotional books our family has enjoyed. I LOVE character study books. I have seen my children grow in their faith and understanding of how the scriptures apply to their lives on a real and meaningful basis through the books and stories we have read over the years.

This is one of my favorite topics and I am passionate about intentionally providing excellent devotional books for the children. I wrote about some of our choices for the younger ages in an earlier WFMW post. This evening I went through my shelves and realized I have several books that are especially appealing to boys. That said, I must note that with five children (two of whom are girls) it is imperative that our reading is accessible to both the male and female listeners. These books have been enjoyed by the girls and boys alike in our family.

Now I share them with you.

daniel displays our selections

Devotional Books for Boys

The Power of One by Ron Luce. The edition I have is a gift book. Amazon links to a new one that is being published in July.

This is a powerful book full of personal stories of teens who face real instances of peer pressure. Very inspiring. I am definitely going to look for additional books by Ron Luce. Luce is the President and Founder of Teen Mania Ministries, a Christian youth organization that reaches millions of young people worldwide.

Tiger and Tom (and other stories for boys) by J. E. White. I found this little treasure at a curriculum sale one year. The stories were originally gathered from church papers in the 1870′s and many of them powerfully illustrate the consequences of sinful life choices.

What do I do now, Lord by Chris Jones. This book was in a big box of library cast offs. Always looking to connect with my active boys, I immediately grabbed this when I saw the sub title: Devotions for Boys. Each of the individual stories feature a young boy facing real-life problems — fears, friends, bullies, getting along with parents – and end with a scripture and prayer. I read this to Joshua (age 14) years ago and recently picked it up to read to Daniel (age 11). It’s perfect for the pre-teen (or younger) boy.

read this one

Her Mother’s Bible & Hedge Fence The Golden Text Series by Isabella Alden. This is another collection that was written in the 1800′s. In each story a young boy reads a portion of scripture that has been highlighted by his grandmother. God teaches him what the verse means and how it should be applied to his life. It was moving to see how his understanding of scripture grew through out the book. A classic.

another favorite

Building of the Rock five book devotional series. Joel Beeke and Diana Kleyn have taken a selection of real life incidents and fictional narratives and developed them into a series of devotional books for children aged 7-12. We devoured all five of these books and were eager for more. The stories include a mixture of historical adventure, childhood experiences, remarkable instances of conversion and dramatic, rescues from danger. There is a question and scripture reference at the end of each story.

How God Used a Thunderstorm
How God Stopped the Pirates
How God Used a Snowdrift
How God Used a Drought and an Umbrella
How God Sent a Dog to Save a Family

one in the five part series

There you have it, just a few of our favorites. If you have a devotional book that your family loves, please leave a comment. Amazon is just a few clicks away and I am always eager to build our faith/life lessons library.

Stop by Rocks in My Dryer for other Works for Me Wednesday posts.

Project 366 – Day 141

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When Do We Paint?

I have splotches of coffee splattered on my living room walls. It’s not really coffee, it’s paint. Three big, ugly messes on my wall. I can’t blame it on my toddler or sloppy husband (not implying that you are sloppy, Dear). Nope, I did it myself. I purposely painted in three different, random spots on the wall.

That color is going to be too dark for your tastes, Tim told me after I painted the hallway a fantastic Starbucks shade.

Hmmm, you may be right, I concurred. I know, I’ll just paint a few swatches on the wall so we can try it out. Then, when I paint this weekend I will know which shade I want.

Sure enough, I agreed with Tim and selected a lighter shade of the coffee/mocha tint that lines the hallway. I even found it in the Ooops Paint section and got a great deal.

That was in December.
Well, define “this weekend.”

some of my best helpers are 10 and under

See the Christmas lights along the banister? Sigh.

Now, every time I take a picture in living room, I have to be creative in my framing or I end up spending way too much time Photoshopping the blotches out.

I need to paint. The gallon jugs are sitting in my laundry room, silently accusing me of neglect each time I step over it to wash some clothes.

It’s time I don’t seem to have. Or at least not quite enough of it strung together to give me the confidence to begin painting. If you also have the same problem, visit this site and hire a professional painting contractor. I’m the queen of unfinished projects. Did I mention the five windows in my living room are arrayed with exactly one curtain? And it’s one half of a curtain at that. The other side of the window is bare and drapeless. It’s tragic, really.

sarah has talent!

Maybe Sarah will help me decorate the living room – she obviously has flare!

But I have hope. Hope that summer is approaching. Hope that we will finish school (I hear my children cheering in the distance). Hope that the older kids will grab paint brushes and rush to join me. Hope that one day the windows will be dressed.

Until then I will be content to take pictures of Sarah painting and waste time reading about other people’s great decorating exploits. It seems sad to be lacking both artistic ability AND money. Either one and you can fake the other. To be devoid of both is a cruel twist of fate.

Thankfully I have a great deal of charm (and, obviously, humility) so hopefully people overlook the splotchy, “who made that horrible mess on your wall?” paint swatches and instead sit down to enjoy a cup of coffee and a friendly chat.

Either that or they had better be prepared to pick up a brush and help paint.

Project 366 – Day 140

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