Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry, Merry Christmas

So, we decided to do something a little different this year and send post cards with the link to the blog for our Christmas letter. We are having small problems getting out of town and the postcards don't have stamps yet, but here is the letter. So, you may get a postcard...who knows...but Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

Are all these yours?” She asked me with a strong accent in the parking lot of the grocery store. I looked around to find out where the question came from, smiled widely and replied, “Yes, they sure are!” “Ohh!” She squealed with delight, “You are so lucky!” I brimmed with joy and replied, “I sure am!”

Here in the Bible belt it’s sort of frowned upon to say that you are lucky. We all believe that every good thing that happens is a “blessing” from God. We aren’t in Vegas hoping for the best, we’re on earth, and receiving every good thing from an incredibly gracious God. May I, however, be honest here? I feel really stinkin’ lucky! I know that all that I have comes from God. I know that rain or shine He is giving me all things. I am aware of Him in my everyday and I am so very thankful, but the way I feel is simply, “Lucky.” You know the feeling when you put on those jeans from last year and you find a 10 dollar bill? Or that you buttoned those jeans from last year? You know that feeling? That’s how I feel.

When the angel appeared to Mary and gave her the biggest news ever, she waits a few months and then she visits her cousin Elizabeth and she bursts into song, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me-holy is His name.” Luke 1:46-49. She’s elated…thrilled…full…does she feel lucky? I won’t suppose to know, I just think the way she responded is powerful, challenging and I wish I could respond to everything with such astonishment.

I’ve not won the lottery, we haven’t struck black gold…Texas Tea, we’re barely coming out of this year ahead of when we started, but dang…I’m lucky…here are a few things, people rather, that make me feel lucky.

Mike. He’s teaching P.E. and walks through the door everyday glad to be here. I might be in my pj’s, dishes in the sink, but we’re happy and he’s glad to be back with the Team he loves. He loves to build things and chop things and grow things and I love watching how God made him to think and create. I’m one lucky woman!

Anson. That boy. He was 9 this year and his new favorite subject is Latin. He was wired to learn and I try as best I can to stoke his educational fires, and then when I can do no more…we’ll play a game…one that I can win!!! He’ll read practically anything, loves adventures in the woods and is a pretty good big brother.

Julia. Oh, Julia. She’s seven. Today she changed sweaters because the one she had on was too fancy. She has opinions about practically everything and without her two front teeth she’ll melt even the hardest heart. She is catching up on Anson academically and I can throw most any book at her and she’ll gladly read it. Recently she has really been enjoying the American Girl books. She and “Ell Bell” will disappear for hours playing with their dolls. She’s a treasure of a daughter.

Ella. Good grief is she ever nuts! She is 5 years old now! Our Sunday afternoon eatery is a little Mexican restaurant and we always eat outside. She loves to dance in the reflection of the doors completely unaware of the show she’s giving those dining inside! She’s a hoot! Her curls fall carelessly around her face giving her one of the most beautiful frames a face could have. She makes up her own words and I have just about given up on her ever speaking proper English. She “taked” a shower, “Maked” her bed and sometimes, she told my dad, “Sometimes her feet just be dirty!” I wish I could say someone else was teaching her…but it’s me!!! Oh mercy!!!

Our newest addition is Sweet Caroline. She made her way into our hearts way before she made her way into the world. She arrived on June 17th around 1:30. She was one of our bigger babies at 9 pounds 10 ounces and she has us all twitterpated and feeling rather lucky. She can barely see anything because there is almost always someone in her face. I hear, “May I pick her up? May I hold her? It was my turn!” Several times each day and for that I am grateful and usually only mildly annoyed. She laughs, drools and screams…you know, the normal baby stuff. She’s super!

Me? Well, it’s business as usual I suppose. I continue to learn more and more each year and I’m thankful for that. I won’t say that my days are easy as pie and that every day is dreamy. I choose joy a good bit, and when I don’t, I have 4 people reminding me that I should. We read a lot, sing a lot, eat lunch with Grandma, just sort of roll easy. I enjoy a good book, long walks on the beach and dinner served on fine china. I will, however, settle for the book, a quick trip to the beach and dinner on chinette!
I know some years are harder than others. I know that people are sick, and leave us for their heavenly home. I know money is short and months are long. I know that, and I get that, but I hope that there are some things that make you think, “Dang, I’m lucky.” Then, like Mary I pray that we will all burst into a song that glorifies the Lord.

One lucky duck,

Friday, December 2, 2011

One Big Disappointment?

"A baby? You sent a baby? We've been oppressed for hundreds of years and we are now under the rule of the cruelest yet and you send us a king with a diaper?" Can you imagine? They were waiting on someone to come and obliterate their enemies. Someone that would show up and show off. Put the Romans in their place and show them that the Jewish people were not to be messed with...they had a King. But, alas, a baby. He couldn't make decrees, order armies, or conquer the enemy. Just a big disappointment. Then you look closer.

"It's not just any baby. It's mine. It's my only Son. Not only that, it's Me. I left my throne, put on your filthy diseased flesh and laid myself in a dirty feed trough. Just to know you better. Just to know you and to rescue you from that filthy diseased flesh and pull you out of your dirty feed trough of a life."

Just not the plan of people was it? We have the wonderful gift of the entire picture. We have, in black and white, the Old and New Testament. The big picture bound in bonded leather sitting on our tables. What did they have? Enemies, big ones. Hopes of a King coming in with bulging biceps and wielding a powerful sword crushing everyone but His own. Instead...a baby.

I love the plan. John says that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word WAS God and that it, the Word, came a dwelt among the darkness. The light came into the darkness...pierced it like a sword. There He was in order to feel the wind, and the sting of the murderous threats, to throw tables and calm seas. To walk the dirt, experience hunger and fatigue and He even wept. Then it came time for Him to lay that bruised body down, spread those calloused hands wide and breathe this wretched air once more. Then, oh blessed rest of the story! He defeats the death that has been threatening since that devastating day in the garden when man chose himself. He beats it down, chases it to hell and leaves it in the dank and dark depths to never haunt His people again. He handled the enemy all right. Once and for all He took care of the enemy. Thank you Jesus!

A baby. I have a baby now and she has to eat and sleep and be changed and carried and one day she'll hear the wonderful story of the baby that now is our bread, our rest, the One who changes us and carries us. The One who sits at the right hand of our Father and pleads for us with those scarred hands. He knows our journey. He knows how it smells here. He knows how it feels. He knows joy and sorrow and He knows how tight this flesh can feel sometimes. All because He came as a baby. A King. The Promise. The Savior. Our Redeemer and Comforter. Our Emmanuel...God with us.

I love His plan.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

For those of you interested...

So, a little bit of background on me...I am NOSEY!!! I love to read the blogs of folks I don't know and look at their pictures and enjoy their stories. I have even read the posts that give a random glimpse into a day in their life. So, I thought I would share a little snapshot for you.

When people find out we homeschool (I don't keep it a secret, just when it leaks out) they almost always say, "Oh, I could never do that!" Now, you might think after spending time with my children academically that all we do is school...however, get my kids in another setting and you'll hear the practical jokes, the songs, dances and desserts that we enjoy all day long. So, for those of you that don't have a minute, go read something inspirational...come back to this some other time, but for those of you waiting on the laundry to dry or something like that...this will kill a few minutes. So, welcome to a day in the life of Team Wessner.

I rouse around 6:00. Mike hits the snooze several times, so it's not until 6:53 that I actually get up. I usually have to sit up and then lay down again before I get started. Some of you may remember that we eat our big dinner meal in the morning so I had to get up to get our taco salad started. My Caroline slept through the night and I was grateful, but ready to feed her...know what I mean? So, I wander into the kitchen, discovering that my crap fairies have disappeared and everything that was out when I went to bed is still out. Oh, well...such is the life. So, start breakfast...greet Miss Ella, she's always the first one up. She snuggled up to read some books. Got everything out and on the table, Mike woke the other 2 kids up and then Miss Caroline popped her little head up...she must of heard I was about to sit down to eat my breakfast. So, I grabbed her up and fed her whilst the rest of my family ate. Fortunately for me, I am the little old lady that lives in a shoe with my many children and I could still be with them because our living room and dining room are really the same room. We listened to Proverbs on the Listener's Bible and then Mike headed off to work.

So, now it's just me. In my jambos (that's what we call pajamas...but it means hello in an African language. So, when folks see me in my jambos I'm like, "Hello!") I just wanted to point out that I wasn't up and dressed with makeup and shoes by 7:00. Sometimes I am, but my super powers wane. Caroline was happy now with a full belly, so I decided I should eat. It was delicious. I love waking up to a yummy meal. Although I know some of you think it would be super gross. It's super not! So she chilled in her saucer and played with Ella while I ate. Anson and Julia are, at this point, hoping I don't notice them curled up with some of their new library books. They are the luckiest kids! My belly was now full and I felt as though I could start the day. So, I remembered that my sweet little baby hadn't been bathed in an unmentionable amount of time, so I decided to give her a bath. The bathroom is messy...dang it! I scrubbed her up and got her in some clean britches and she was ready to go back to bed. Oh to be 4 months old!!!

Once Caroline was back in bed Ella thought it would be fun to take a bath. The only problem was that the hot water was tired of coming out, so it sent the cold water and Ella was so not digging it. I finally got her calmed down and explained she would simply have to wait. It's 8:30 and I had turned on GMA while I was getting Caroline dressed and Anson wandered into my room (where the TV and Caroline are stored) and wanted to see the Extreme Makeover thing. He got under my covers and looked so cozy that once I left the room I left him there with the bedside table light on and his book. The TV was off.

Now was the perfect time to snuggle up with my Ella to read some of our new library books. We went to the library yesterday and maxed out my card (you can have 50 books) and now we are gobbling up our new treasures! We read 3 books while Julia read her new Molly book (American Girl) and then Ella decided that the tub was probably ready.

So, she jumped in the tub and I thought that now would be a great time to work with my older kids on their Bible studies. We use the Kay Arthur and Janna Arndt Inductive Bible Studies for Kids. They require some work, but we've been studying the Bible with them for 4 years. Anson is studying Joseph, Isaac and someone's Genesis and Julia just started with Esther. Anson works on his own and I am teaching Julia. Today when we were finished we googled some of the stones and marble that is mentioned in chapter 1 of Esther to find out how lavish King Ahasuerus' banquet really was. It WAS!!! So, we finished up with those (I set the timer for 25 minutes because sometimes they can take much longer...we don't try to get a full lesson finished, we just work until our time is up.) Let me interject something here...I have to fight my flesh to make this a priority. It is hard to say, "We are doing this first." I have to fight the desire to get the "real" stuff done and then do Bible. The Bible is the "real" stuff and if we don't have the mind of Christ, none of the other stuff will make sense. He holds all things together. So, the timer beeped...Ella is out of the tub and now Julia wants to get in.

I just realized that this might be my window for bathing and told Julia to go easy on the hot water because I was going to scub a dub dub right quick. I wrote Anson's list on the white board (the small board that is stored in between my computer armoire and small chest freezer...awesome, I know) It read, "Thank you notes:3, Copywork: History, Geography: trace new states and practice drawing the US freehand Math: 15's and there was one more thing...what was it? Oh, Math worksheets. We are working on mastering the basics. Anson is mastering multiplication and Julia is mastering addition. A simple thing that will reap huge rewards! So, I hopped in my luke warm shower thinking of my cousin in Cameroon and trying not to complain. Oh, Caroline was stirring, this had to be quick. So, Julia is in her tub, Anson is at the table and Ella is cleaning her room. I got dressed and it was time for Caroline to eat again. I would like to mention that my breakfast dishes were still on teh counter and the laundry was not yet sorted on the kitchen floor...I'm so efficient that my kitchen doubles as my laundry room. I know, right?

So, I let the baby yell at me while I was drying my hair and then brought her out to feed her. Anson was working steadily on his thank you notes and Julia was soaking. I reminded Julia she did have some work to do. Anson doesn't have to do Language when he's writing thank you notes. It's a rule I have for not making myself crazy. I want thank you notes done right, so I make time. While I was feeding Caroline I called out Anson's spelling words (Sequential Spelling and we usually do it out loud). I reminded Julia again that she should get out of the tub. It's about
10:45. Let me think. Finished feeding Caroline and went to check out Ella's room. Not quite sure what she did other than move some piles, but she wasn't asked to do it and she was I put on my happy face. What's next?

I think I started the laundry at this point and checked Anson's math. Still haven't touched the dishes. Got Julia going on her list and realized that she has a crummy attitude. She says that everything is taking too long...I remind her of her bath. She and I work on her First Language Lessons while Ella and Caroline played. Now it's approaching lunch time and Anson has Latin at 1:30, I better get a move on. Caroline is ready to go back to bed at 12:00 so I know we aren't going to leave early to meet friends at the park. I give Kelli a call to let her know I'll pick Jackson up and drop my older girls off with her at the new park. Julia is left to finish her language while I start lunch. We have assorted sandwiches, some pineapples with brown sugar and crackers. I am somewhat of a short order cook at lunch time. I think everyone should enjoy lunch especially because I don't enjoy making it. So, I make a special effort to make it delicious. I toast em' broil em' and put them on the waffle iron (it's like a panini). So, all of our school work is shoved to the center of the table while we eat. I eat standing up today (this is uncommon) because my sandwich was still being waffle makered and I was finally working on the breakfast dishes. I sat down for a minute while Julia was finishing her copy work and had to discuss her heart...again. She misjudged how much room she would need for her work and would need to do it over in order for it to be done correctly. Sorry. You need to repent of your attitude and choose joy.

Move the laundry over and load the dishwasher. Let the kids know we have to leave before too long. Anson walked the dog and I did the girls hair. The laundry is simply sitting in baskets in my "laundry room" and I look forward to folding it tonight while I watch Modern Family. We got everything put away, well, mostly, as I look around I still see a copywork book and some Latin not to mention wooden beads and our new Slugs and Bugs CD. So, we head out the door. We pick up our neighbor (how crazy that our neighbor goes to Latin too?) Today we didn't take the other Latin student, but his sister for her Math tutoring. She's super sweet.

Dropped by the park to pick up Jackson and unload my girls and then dropped the 3 off where they needed to be. Now, back to the park. It's a nice new park, so there are many friends there. It's still upper eighties here, so it was a nice day to be there. I got Caroline fed...again...and then got to catch up with an old friend that I haven't seen a while. It was a real treat. Kelli left to get the folks at Latin/Math and now they are back and playing. I really needed to get home...but it was NICE! We finally left around 3:30 and I stopped for a Coke (a guilty pleasure). So, got home, changed little Miss Caroline, laid her down and the other kids could read quietly since it was too late for them to actually sleep. Julia is so sweet she read many books to Ella and Anson finished two of his. I don't think either one of them was Where the Red Fern Grows which is what he is to be finishing. Oh, the laundry...I moved it and I'm sad that I didn't wash diapers today because it was a great day to hang the diapers. But, the whole hot water thing threw that idea. It will be sunny again...I'm certain of it.

So, I sat here and spent an hour typing my day. The kids are now outside playing in our awesome swing and whatever else they can come up with in our backyard. I did send Ella to her room for yelling at her sister while typing this...just told Julia not to hog the jumprope while going to the bathroom. Do you really need a jumprope in the bathroom or are you simply trying to keep it from your sister? No, Ella, no popsicles. I missed the times that I checked my e-mail, snacked on something yummy or sat watching the kids. We didn't look up the Dred Scott Decision, Compromise of 1850 or the Fugitive Slave Act to learn more about our history sentence. Julia didn't get to her geography or spelling and Ella didn't get her reading lesson. Not today. I can do it all...on different days! So, it's 5:00 and Mike should be home soon. He stopped by the PeachMac store for an IPad for work. Hmmm and should be home soon. Maybe we'll go ride bikes, or play outside and then we'll finish off the day with Daddy reading the next chapter in Little Britches and the kids coloring their giant Halloween coloring book. Once they are in bed I'll pack lunches for tomorrow for our field trip to see Cinderella put on by Storyland theatre. I might get the laundry folded, but probably not put away. Oh, and I did vacuum the bathroom floor, but it was wet, so I just used a towel and "mopped" it instead.

So, what do you think? It's totally possible for anyone to do what I do. You just have to know yourself, know your kids and be willing to enjoy your days rather than enjoy checking off a list of things to get done. Some folks do a lot more than me. Some do a lot less. I did stop asking, though, cause I'm just gonna do what I can do. I plan on home-educating until the kids leave, so I need to pace myself. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Thanks for, go enjoy something!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Born Again.and again.and again.and again.

No, I only asked Jesus into my heart once, I know I don't need to be born many times! This is the last day of birthday season for us. Well, there is one more birthday in November, but as far as the kids was the last day. Today Ella turned five. She got to get her ears pierced and was a little nervous that she might not be five tomorrow. She is too funny. This morning we didn't have to pack lunches for co-op, so we had some time. I found the DVD from her first birthday and also a disc Mike made of pictures of her birth. I looked at myself in those pictures and as unselfishly as possible I thought, "That day was about me, too." I was born again. With each child something new births in me. I am not the same. The minute they show me that little person I become someone new. I have to change to accomodate the new role. I have to bend to my new responsibilities. I become a little more who God made me to be. For example:

Anson: I became a scheduler. I LOVE to fly by the seat of my pants, but I became the nap nazi with my little man. I wanted to be sure that he slept and ate and "waked" when he was supposed to...and he did! My joy was intensified with every new day. He was happy and compliant and smart! Not to mention a good lookin' boy. I became a Mom with Anson. I began learning about small pieces and taking temperatures and getting up from a dead sleep to make sure that all was well. I watched Three's Company in the middle of the night and mourned when John Ritter died because he had become a friend to me during those late night feedings. I became convinced that I could not balance working outside of our home and became convinced that I was made to be a wife and a mother. I was in love.

Julia: I became a task master. I always had to be just a little bit ahead of those two. I needed to have lunch ready before they were and get them to nap before we all fell to pieces. I became more feminine than I realized. I figured out how to make bows and I made them...a lot of them! She got sick with a nasty bone infection and I became an advocate for my children. I realized that no one is going to speak up for them but me. I became a little crazy. My anger emerged and I realized I scream. I became the woman that I had judged for so long. Anson didn't prepare me for tantrums. I became normal.

Ella: I became rather busy. I learned how to cram many people into my lap to read books and realized that bed-time was for everyone. I realized that I need Jesus to control my temper and that little girls with curly hair are nuts!!! I became a Mom that had to start thinking for others and spreading my time a little bit. I had to start deciding what was the best way to spend my time because I didn't have very much of it anymore. I became submerged in my world of Mom. Parks and playdates and libraries oh my! I loved it...and struggled at the same time. I began wishing for the "easy" days that I was sure were before me. I longed to sleep until my body woke me up and struggled sharing myself. I learned that Jesus is the only way and that when my children see me ask for forgiveness they begin to understand that Jesus is for everyone. I became a discipler.

Caroline: I became thankful. I welcome the mess and the night feedings, the tantrums (we don't have those yet which is why I can say bring it memory fails me a bit). I became aware of how fleeting this life really is and that I do have time to watch my baby smile and talk and even wash diapers. I have time right now. This is the only time I have and I want to wring it out and relish every dirty, stinking, wonderful minute of this 24/7 job. I think that I am becoming a mother. Slowly. One person at a time. God is shaping and molding me more and more into a Mom. Yup. I'm just plain thankful.

With each child I feel as though my emotions are intensified a bit more. My joy, my anger, my fear, my contentment. Good or bad I feel more intensely. I love them and hate sin which threatens them on a daily basis. It's bizarre how they have changed me. Or maybe they haven't changed me. Perhaps they have developed me. They have been used by God to mold me more and more into who I was really already. The person that I was molded to be. With His help and for His glory I pray that I fully become Alison Wessner. I hope these kids like what they have helped create!!! :)

Note: The pictures are NOT in order. From top to bottom they are Caroline, Ella, Julia and then Anson. I didn't have a picture of Anson with me in the hospital. They were on another site that dropped them in a dark hole somewhere in the cyber world. Hmmmm

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Her Last Two Dollars.

"Mom, how do you spell 'dear'?" She was spread out on the floor in front of me with her pencil and paper in hand. I was feeding the baby and really didn't want to dictate and talk about which side the stick goes on or why the eraser doesn't work.
"Ella, honey, if you want to write a letter bring me a piece of paper and I'll write it and you can copy it." So, I wrote the letter one handedly. It was sweet. We had a surprise guest this last weekend and she had given him some of her special rocks and he accidentally forgot them. She wanted to send them to him.

The special guest was my dad, Pop. He flew down to celebrate Julia's birthday and we were thrilled to have his company. Especially Ella. She loves him. So she gave him some of her favorite rocks.

She was folding up her letter, retrieving the envelope, just getting her little letter all ready and then she asked where her wallet was. I never know where their things are and I didn't ask what she needed it for when suddenly she was back at my side with the letter in hand. "Write, you each get a dollar." Her curls are crazy lovely falling around her face and I swear her eyes know how to smile. She was enclosing 2 dollars. One for Pop, and one for GramPam. I really could have cried. She's saving for an American Girl Doll (I hope she still digs them when she's 18 because that's how long it will take her) but her last two dollars were lovingly slipped into an envelope with a bunch of rocks.

I saw it. Right then I saw it. I've understood the principle, but I don't think I've seen it as purely as I did just then. My father doesn't need her dollar. I mean, he's the guy that actually puts dollar bills into tip jars at restaurants that don't serve. Pam doesn't need the dollar either. They have what they need and Ella's dollar isn't going to enable them to do more or see more or have more. They are capable of meeting their own needs. They will, however, be humbled at her love offering. That's really what it was...a love offering. It was a, "Hey, I have this and it's the most important thing to I'm giving it to you because I love you more."

The verse that flipped in my mind what, "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands." Acts 17:24. The Lord doesn't need my money. He doesn't need my stuff. Another verse that just came to mind while sitting here was from Isaiah, " I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, 10 for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. 12 If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it." It's a love offering. It's me as a little girl looking around and saying, "What do I love? That's what I'll give."

I struggle to give over what we have set aside to give. I battle with committing to "pledges" and things of that nature. Ella didn't think twice. It never crossed her mind that she'd be set back a bit. Her face said it all. She was glad to give it, thrilled to give.

Whew, that girl continues to teach me a ton.

Lord, make me a beautiful giver. One who doesn't count the cost, but only the joy there is in giving.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hard, but good?

It was almost a joke how we would respond to questions in college. There were many of us that made some pretty tough choices after coming to know the Lord. Tough. We responded that things were, "Hard, but good." is that, really? I think it's still true. If you were to ask me how things are lately that may be how I answer you, "Hard, but good."

I've been walking with Jesus since January 16, 1997. I've never wandered too far from Him although there have been times when we're more like church friends than best friends. We just get cozy. We moved into this house over 6 years ago to get out of debt. We have remained debt free (except for our house) ever since. We have also grown as a family ever since. Our house is a great size...for another family. I finally admitted that we are too big for our home and have come to terms with that. I was finally able to put words to my battle. It was the battle of abundance. I couldn't reconcile my abundance when I knew that there were many who had so much less. I knew people were raising larger families in smaller spaces and some women on the other side of the world were walking away from their dying babies because there was no water...and we dump water out of our swimming pool every couple of days because it's "dirty." My response was to feel guilty for what we had. I have found that route only brings condemnation. I realized the real way to reconcile abundance is through gratitude. I must give thanks or it is all wasted. I must praise the Giver of my gifts or it is all for nought. So, we are selling our house. So, we are cleaning out our house...and schooling and having our regular life swirling around us. Soccer, playdates, lunch, naps, books...boxes, boxes, boxes. Hard, but good. Hard in that I have trusted in our smaller mortgage to keep us above water. I haven't trusted the One who walks on water. I have believed that our needs would be met because we were living within our means, not because God gave us our means to live within. I'm nervous. I'm thrilled. If this house sells it will be because He sold it. I'm looking for Him again and you know what...I'm finding Him. We sell our selves short when we settle in to our status quo. We provide for ourselves and suddenly He becomes a super friend that got us out of that eternal bind we were in. When we sit back and settle in we stop looking for the Divine encounters that He plans for us on a daily basis. How every plan that is changed and every day that is rearranged is done because He is sovereign. Hard...but good.

How is homeschooling? "Hard, but good." Do you know what an "antecedent" is? Do you even know if I spelled it correctly? I sure don't. I'm hoping we'll need this information. (Let me just interrupt here and say that I am babysitting my sister's bulldog and she is scaring the crap out of me because it's 1:30 in the morning and she is snoring like a grown man...CREEPY) Ella is sort of wandering around bored (yeah, I said it) and I'm still adjusting to having two real schoolers. Did I mention boxes? It's good because when I freak out because my super smart son doesn't know how to load the dishwasher, I can ask him for forgiveness and he smiles at me and grants it. It's hard because somedays I would rather just do what I want to do and that includes, but is not limited to...laying in bed and staring out my window, watching daytime T.V., wandering around Target and reading a book while eating a meal someplace. I don't like coffee, but Starbucks looks like one of the coolest places ever. Probably not with kids, though. I am having to lay down my life for these kids. Wait, no...I GET to lay down my life for these kids. They are messy and a little lazy...they leave panties on the floor and jelly on the counter. They don't move fast enough and they are starting to smell like they need a shower in the mornin' and the evenin'. Hard, but good.

How is my walk with Jesus? Hard, but good. I struggle to see clearly. I struggle to walk in the Spirit and not in my flesh. It is really hard for me to believe, on some days, that He is able. Good...I know that His promises are true and that He CANNOT leave me or forsake me. I know that even though Ruby is scaring the fool out of me, my Savior, the One who watches over Israel, will neither slumber nor sleep. He knows that I am scared about moving, and wildly excited about a bigger kitchen. He knows my needs and will NOT give me what is going to hurt me. I suppose the real answer should be that I am hard...I am difficult. I don't listen carefully and make suggestions to the God of the Universe. Yes, I am tough...but He, Oh man, He is good.

Yes, the pics don't go with the post...just showing off a bit of the good! She's 2 1/2 months old now!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's all broken!!!

It started with hearing little feet pattering around prematurely. If the sun isn't up, why are they? I always get ready for dealing with a cranky person when that happens, well, 2 cranky people including myself! Then I tried to turn the stinkin' light on in the living room and the chain was over extended, and wouldn't turn the light on. The floor was littered with the stuff of life and folks weren't fired up about chili for breakfast. "Durn it Mike! Would you please fix that chain? I shouldn't have to pull a kitchen chair in here everytime I want to turn the light on! It's making me crazy." His response irritates me further, "Ali, it's not broken. It just doesn't work properly." Hmmm. Really? It just doesn't work properly? "Yeah, Mike, another word for that is...BROKEN!!!" He continues to argue (which is rather unlike him) that the light isn't broken, it simply malfunctions from time to time. "Call it what you want, Babe, it's broken to me and it's making me nuts."

It was then time to sit down to breakfast (y'all know we eat "dinner" food in the morning which is why it was chili) and read the Bible and pray for our kids and show them what it's like to put Jesus first and I just wanted to go back to bed. I bowed to pray, mostly because I wanted to get on with the torture of making people eat that which they do not, and said, "Lord, I say I'm frustrated, but what I really am is broken. Please help us, heal us...fix us I pray that we wouldn't make up excuses masking what is really wrong. Please. Amen."

We make excuses for practically everything. If my kids are cranky they are "tired" if they are snatchy they are "struggling with sharing" if they are lippy they are "trying to communicate" when really all of us are broken. Now, nothing is ever a perfect analogy...on our own we are a broken mess. I do have Christ's righteousness rather than my sin when it comes down to it, but in this world, in this life, before glory...I malfunction from time to time. I get angry and say things like, "What is wrong with your English that when I say, 'Get into the van' you 3 stand around chatting on the porch?" I say it loud and ugly and then look around to see if any of my neighbors heard me. I choose to check e-mail rather than read a book to the children begging for my attention. I get frustrated when lights malfunction and when children are "tired" and when my husband is late. We can call it whatever fancy word we can think of. We can make up excuses until we are blue in the face, but this world got a crack in it when the father of lies whispered seductively into the ears of our first parents, that "God didn't really say that."

He's working though. All of creation knows that it's coming. The reckoning. The day when it's all set right for good and forever and there are no more malfunctions. No more "Will you forgive me?" No more guilty consciences and shame. We have the hope now. We hope for that day. We have peace from God for sure. I know that I have been justified by grace through faith and that I will stand before a Holy God and not be consumed because of the work that Jesus did in His life and on that cross. I do, however, live in a world that is broken. I'm going to call it what it is and then look to my Savior to help me get from here to there with joy!

The picture is somewhat unrelated, we wanted our family in PA to see Anson and Mike at the game. But, these are the best broken boys I've got!!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Cup Running Over

I thought about it this Sunday. We were waiting quietly after the first two verses of "The Old Rugged Cross" for the body and blood to be administered to us all. We had come to the table, bellied up for a reminder that God made a promise. Made and kept a promise. We never run out.

I grew up in a family of 5 kids. My step-dad worked insane hours at jobs that he was more than qualified for to be sure that we ate. Mom came home after all the other teachers and sometimes still had a heavy load of work to do. We ate dinner together. We had delicious meals. We "called" seconds. Do y'all know what that means? That means while you are still eating the food you've been given, you study what is left and you "call" it. It sounds like, "I call last biscuit! I call last drumstick!" We wanted to be sure that if there were extras, we got them. We would split the favorites from time to time, look out for each other, but we ate up to be sure! We never went hungry, please don't misunderstand, we just fought for leftovers!

As I sat in the very last pew this Sunday I smiled almost thinking that that's probably the only meal that I don't fret over running out. When I serve people at home I always make too much. I want people to be full when they leave. I usually have a big meal and dessert...just to be sure. When I go someplace to eat I am always nervous that there won't be enough, maybe we'll be hungry. Mostly this reveals an unhealthy love of big portions!!! However, this post is about The Table. The Table that has one requirement, that you realize how desperately you need to dine. The Table that says, "You've got nothing and I've got it all...and I'm giving it to you." The Table that beckons the worthless sinner to run, not walk, to the seat next to the Master and says, "Eat and drink, I've made a way." That Table is one that you don't have to "call" seconds. There is always enough.

Are you hungry? I mean, hungry. I'm beginning to get my appetite back, I'd been sort of lazy for a while. Picking off the bones, or living off of leftovers. Why? There is a table spread before me. A table of abundant grace and mercy. A table that offers what this world, and the everlasting type. Oh, man...I'm bout' starved thinking about it.

P.S.I put the picture up to prove none of us went hungry...and to show everyone this family that God continues to feed.
This picture was taken in December of's hard to get recent pics as we aren't all together all that often. We are always thankful for His Grace when it happens!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Why Songs Matter

I'm beat. I think I'm having a delayed reaction to having a baby. Her first 6 weeks of life my husband was home and we had family in town and we were getting meals and I was practically on vacation everyday! So, now I'm not. The laundry and the meals...they are all still very alive and well. So, I'm sleepy. That's just an update.

The other night we got together with some other super Moms from our Classical Conversations Community. It was a getting to know you shin-dig, so I decided to get to know the real "you" we should answer 2 questions. They were, 1.)What song do you have to sing out loud no matter where you are or who you are with? 2.)What movie are you super excited to see with your kids...when they are old enough? My answers were, "I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more just to be the man to walk 1000 miles..." The movie? The Goonies. There were many songs and movies that we shared that brought some serious laughter. It was fun. Do you realize how many songs are stuck in your head? Ice-Ice hear the music don't you...ALRIGHT STOP...collaborate and listen...or Blame it on guessed it, the RAIN!

Growing up my family sang a birthday "medley." It starts with Happy Birthday, then Happy Birthday, Happy, Happy Birthday...this is your day but we have all the fun, then a big finish with Roll out the Barrel. My grandpa's doing. Everyone who has parties with us now sort of waits for it, some are like, "Can we eat yet? Blow out the candles already!" My kids sing it. We never told them, "This is how we do it." They were simply present when we sang it and it's their normal. My grandpa established a normal for our family that continues eventhough he is no longer singing with us. (He was super awesome at a party!!!)

I would like to challenge you all with a little something. God's Word. Now, I'm no professional, but we've started doing some stuff that actually works. We have been choosing Psalms and putting them to our own tunes and committing them to memory. So far we have the following chapters memorized 23, 24, 121, 65, 67, 84, and we are just about finished with 34. I'm not tooting our horn (although I'm proud of us for continuing this practice) I just want us to all be aware that what goes in, stays in. Another example, "Girl you know it's true!!!" We could play this all day long. We are all humming something all day. You know the, "I've got this song stuck in my head." How about, "I've got this Psalm stuck in my head." It will matter for generations to come. I want a new normal for my family tree, I think most of us do! Do you have any tricks for memorizing scripture? Please share!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

So let us know...

The grass doesn't bend under my barefeet, it breaks completely. It's dusty and dry and hot as blue blazes. I walked out to get some paint from the van, "I don't know what this heat will do to it if it sits in there all day." I told Anson as I walked into the electric blanket of Georgia heat. Something you hear around here when it rains is, "Man, we sure needed it." We so welcome rain around here. We seem to think it cools the air, but I think it simply cools the asphalt for a spell. Either way, we welcome the rain.

How is your soul? Dry, dusty? Does it bend or does it break when pressure is applied? We have been (finally) diligent in reading the word with our children and I'll tell you what, my soul is softening. My heart is beginning to yearn for Him again. My desires are for His desires to be fulfilled in me. I am smelling the rain (oh how I love that smell) in the distance and know that I desperately need some rain to fall on my parched soul. Lord, Jesus, indeed rain on me!

When in Africa we worshipped in this little chapel on our property. We didn't have any fancy equipment. We has some guitars and some college students lifting their voices in earnest prayer and petition to their One and Only. One of my favorite songs that we sang in that little chapel, and in our little combies (those were our vans) was a song that came from Hosea 6:3, the song paraphrases the verse:
So let us know
echo: So let us know
So let us press on to know the Lord
So let us know
echo: So let us know
So let us press on to know the Lord
His going forth is as certain as the dawn and He will come to us like the rain
Like the spring rain watering the earth
Let us press on to know the Lord.

Mike and I started teaching the kids that song over the weekend and I can't tell you how my heart rejoices at the opportunity to press on with my 4 little sinnin' blessings by my side. Refining me, challenging me, loving me and urging me to press on to know the Lord.

So, if your soul is parched, dry, cracked and looking brown and dead...take heart...He will come like the rains. Press on.

Friday, June 24, 2011

One Week Later!

Hello There!
My dear sweet husband posted the baby information and wasn't sure if I used names of our children on this blog. So, here is a little bit more information on...
Caroline Marie Wessner I sent this out in an e-mail as well, so some of you may have it...but this is for those of you that I don't have your e-mail or for those of you blog surfing just curious about some random family that just had their 4th baby...


One week after our little peanut has arrived and I am able to sit in this uncomfortable chair long enough to write a skinny report on how she got here...EARLY!!! For those of you who just need the facts:

Caroline Marie Wessner was born on Friday, June 17 at 1:32 via c-section. She weighed 9 pounds 10 ounces and looks very much like her big brother Anson! We cannot believe she's here...

For those who want some details:

I am a large pregnant lady and many people don't think I'll make it to the seventh month. I have, however, never gone into labor...until Caroline. I was nervous about going into labor because my doctor was on vacation in Charleston and I didn't know if I would know what labor felt like. I'd be the crazy lady showing up delivering in the parking lot because I didn't know that I was in labor...and I've already had 3 kids!!! For those of you who don't know...all 3 kids (4 now) have been c-sections. So, my sister told me that I would certainly be able to tell the difference between real contractions and braxtion hicks. Here is the want to hit someone when you are having a real contraction. So, I was up for 2 nights wanting to pound my sleeping husband's face in and then I realized that perhaps I should call my Dr. So, I was tired and grumpy and scared last Friday and I called him on his vacation, apologized for bothering him, and asked what I should do. He sent me to his office where I was monitored and checked for "progress." For the first time EVER I had progress!!! I was 80 % effaced and 1 cm dilated. After the Dr. told me I said, "Really??? I've never done any of that before!!!" She said that we should go ahead and have a baby because there was no way I would make it until Monday. Monday was the day of my scheduled c-section. So I said, "Well, can you hand me my purse, I should call my husband." Well, for those of you who know us, you know we only have 1 phone...and I had it. So, Mike was heading downtown to get the kids to camp at our church so I left a message on my own answering machine!!! How nuts is that, "Hey Babe, it's me. The Dr. said we should go ahead and have the baby. Our Dr. is on his way home to deliver Caroline. Go ahead and pack the clothes I laid on the bed and just get here before Coach. (Coach is what we call my OB)" So, then Mike gets this message and calls me back. Thankfully my Mom was able to pick my kids up from downtown and Mike's parents were here by 10:45. It was so much fun seeing how all things had been planned and prepared. As I sat in the Dr. office I thought of Psalm 139..."all my days were ordained for me before one of them came to precious to me are your thoughts O God, how vast is the sum of them." We planned a day and the Lord had a day already. There was almost a relief knowing that it was "time" and we were not pushing things. I was thankful to say the least. So, Mike showed up and the kids and our parents and we glowed with excitement to meet our newest gift.

So, we got the medical part out of the way (I really detest the epidural!!! I love how I feel, but I don't love the idea of a needle in my spine!!!) and I was wheeled back to have my baby. It was one of the harder deliveries I have had. I had some nausea which has never happened and felt a bit more pressure than in the past. hear her cry and see her!!!

She looks like Anson. She's super cute and cuddly and now that she has milk (it took 2 or 3 days this time so she was slightly hungry) to drink she hits that milk coma and can be passed around from one doting sibling to another. The kids are smitten to say the least! Ella says, "When is my sister going to wake up?" They kiss her and check on her and constantly ask if they are the next one to hold her. I hog her, to be honest. You just never know when you are holding your last baby. I have also enjoyed just laying low. I am so thankful for all of you that have called and left messages and have signed up for meals. We were going ninety to nothing the last 3 weeks and even if I hadn't have had a baby via surgery I think I would have attempted to disappear! Whew! So, we'll be returning to the land of the living soon...until then I wanted to tell you all sort of what happened, why she was early and why I have disappeared a bit...I'm just falling in love all over again. With my baby...with my husband...with the God of Heaven and Earth that would not withhold this sweet treasure from our family. I can't wait for you all to see get to know her...and for all of us to know the story God has for her.

So, thanks for reading this...for caring about us...and Caroline...Sweet Caroline.


Ali on behalf of the whole Team Wessner!

Friday, June 17, 2011

New Team Member!

We welcomed our newest member of Team Wessner today!

21.5" long and 9 lbs. 10 oz.!

Here are a few of the first pictures to enjoy.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Persistent like Ella

"Mom, I want to show you the dress that I want to wear today, and I know you're gonna say 'No.'"

This is how our dialogue goes on most Sunday mornings. Now, I am sure that many of you have all the clothes picked out with socks and shoes and belts located on Saturday night...I think that is so smart...but I can only think about it. So, Sunday morning we are choosing and finding and all that good stuff. So, Ella has this BEAUTIFUL dress that came from someones trunk (who loves that??? ME!!!) It's a gorgeous white Strasburg dress with pearl beading. I could never buy it. It has short sleeves, though, so I have had to keep saying "no." Today, however, the forecast was sunny and 80. I followed Ella into her room and said, "Today is the perfect day to wear that dress. I just need to iron it." Needless to say, she was thrilled. She looked like a picture and I am so very thankful for the generosity of our church family. We have some of the most LOVELY dresses hanging in our closet and with 3 girls (did you know I was having another girl???) I'm so very grateful. So, in church I was thinking about the whole scenario and thought, "I wish I were more like Ella."

Every Sunday for the past several months she has asked to wear that dress. Every Sunday for the past several months I have said, "no." I stop asking the Lord. When He says, "No" one time, I quit. The only reason why I wouldn't allow Ella to wear the dress was because the season wasn't right. How do I know what season it is in the Kingdom of God? Is it time to rescue my brother from the pain of the fall? Is it time to send my family overseas? Is it time to sell our house? I can keep asking. He may keep saying, "No." But won't that be a sweet day with my heavenly Father when He smiles at me and says, "Today is the perfect day for that dress, my love. I'm so glad you asked."

How about you? Do you keep asking? If I weren't so painfully tired with a good bit of reading yet to do for my Perspectives Class tomorrow night I would find the passage regarding the man that kept on knocking on his neighbors door. Do you remember that one? God, help me to knock until my knuckles bleed. Amen.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

This is Ella...Ella, Ella, Ella

"And then what are we going to do? Will we skip naps today? How many days is that? Will you be there? Will we have dessert? What is dessert? What is dinner? Do I have to eat it? How much? What does that mean? I don't know what you are talking about!" On and on it goes. I'm not quite sure why, but Ella gets anxious when she doesn't have all of the information. It drives me nuts. I find myself saying, all the time, "Ella, honey, you are just going to have to trust me." I actually find it offensive that she won't simply walk in faith. Just enjoy the day. You are 4 years old and life is good.

Today was a beautiful day here. We don't live in the Arctic, so we don't love cold weather. Our winter has been colder than usual, and this warmth is so good for us. It's one thing if you sign up to live in a cold place...but I didn't. I sweat..I don't love cold. Today everyone got outside, even Sonny. Mike was working with our neighbor to split a large tree stump and the kids roamed around and played on our neighbor's play set and trampoline. Man it was nice! As Ella was getting off the trampoline she started, "Are we going to skip naps? I can't be still and close my eyes. Can I just read a book? What if I can't close my eyes." It was such a lovely day. Why would she even concern herself with nap when we hadn't even eaten lunch yet! I just looked at her. "Ella, you are going to have to trust me." Please.

I know that there are mothers that are better than me. They have it more together and can pull of washing, drying, folding and putting laundry away on the same day. Sometimes, not as often as in the past, but I forget to brush my teeth. I'm also not ashamed to say that today, in my neighbor's yard, my sweatpants and long sleeved t-shirt were also my pajamas last night! I don't have it all together, but you know one thing I do...I think for my children. I think for them and I plan for them and I love them immensely. I do not look for a snake pit to dump them in. I feel like my record of care should speak for itself (besides the fact that Ella wasn't eating enough around 9-10 mos...we rectified that as soon as we realized it!). I feel like they should be able to simply check my record and believe that all will be well. That my care may be crazy at times, but they are never, ever, in danger. Ever. I adore them.

I have been really paralyzed lately. I feel like the Lord has been stirring things inside of us and we don't know what to do with them. I want to know the answers and I want to know them 5 minutes ago. I want to know if we should move or stay or sell all and live in a hut in Sub-Saharan Africa (remember I don't do cold!). I find myself worried and not believing...just like Ella. If I were to challenge God's record I would not find a blemish. Each and every time I have heard, listened, and obeyed His voice, I have never ended up in a pit of snakes. I have never been painfully disappointed or injured in any way. Never. Why would he start now? Is He a man that He should lie or a son of man that He should change His mind? Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill? Why would He start now? Why can't I just enjoy this beautiful day? He is a good excellent Father. I really want to relax. I know that by His spirit and because of His Son, I can...and I will. No more questions. For now...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

That dog will run!

He will take off. He's fast and he's stubborn. When we adopted him, we were told that he was part Lab and some other stuff. As he grows we believe that he might be part Greyhound. He's been extremely helpful during this pregnancy as Mike and I take turns making sure he gets his walks in. Mike takes the morning shift (I had that one first and this little heartbeat conquered my ability to get up at 6:20) and I take the evening shift (with my neighbor which I so enjoy!).

We've been working on training him, and anyone who knows us, dog-training isn't one of our greatest abilities. We're working on it, though. So, a few weeks ago, I thought, "I wonder what he'll do if I turn him loose." So, we got to a good stopping point close to our house so I could see him, and I had him sit, and then I took off his leash, gave him a pat and said, "Release!" He took off!!! Straight for our house. He ran a bit and then stopped to see where I was, then ran a bit and stopped to see again. I was surprisingly proud of my four-legged pal!

That's why we do what we do. If my dog is in fact a Greyhound, he was made to run. He needs to run, but he needs to know how to run safely and where home is. My children are like that. They will run, I know it. I feel them pulling on the leashes every now and then. (I don't really have them on leashes, I mean rubbing up against the boundaries.) I cannot, however, turn them loose until they have received proper training. I have to be sure that they listen to not only my voice, but the voice of their ultimate Master. He is the One who made them and knows what they are capable of. Not only what they are capable of, but what they were made to do. I do believe that all of us were made to run.

I'm sure there will be no greater joy than to watch my children run away from me at full speed ahead...home to where the Father has called them. It is to this end that I labor.

So, as we all set out on this New Year, let's fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith and run this race with perseverance. Parents, married, or single, we were created to do something...bring Him glory. Run, run like the wind, just be sure that you are running home.

Happy New Year.