February 16, 2017

Chasing You

You know?  Some days are just long, and some feel even longer. Today I retro-published a draft on my blog that I began writing in October, and I realized that since beginning homeschooling in August, I've been on such a learning curve myself, I've not had much time of my own, to put into what I love.  Of course it doesn't mean I don't love what I'm putting time into.  It's just that it's not my own, for me or my interests.  I can't believe how long it's been! 

I got thinking today... and, for whatever reason... perhaps I'm starting to get into a groove with school, or maybe it's that remembered for a minute what I love since I've been missing it for so long... I found myself asking these questions.  "What is it that makes me, ME?  What was I created FOR?  What dream did my Father have in mind when He breathed ME into existence?"  Every time, these are the thoughts which bring me back to the beginning, to my place of origin in the Father. 

It's like this.  The other day as I was standing in my almost finished kitchen, watching Randy work, for the first time I heard a certain song that struck me.  Not sure how I've not yet heard it, but sometimes a song does that.  It has a way of opening up my soul, and in a moment the words mean everything and resonate so deeply with the season of my heart.  Immediately I began dancing around my kitchen island, freely expressing my desire for my Father, remembering.  I've been playing it for days. 

Chasing You
by Jenn Johnson & Bethel Music

..."This life, this love, was always meant to be
A wild, crazy adventure discovering
The thrill, the rush, the more of You I see
The more it leaves me wanting..."

"I’m Chasing You, with all my love
Captivated, I just cant get enough
I’ll spend my days, Running after Your heart
Your heart, Your heart..."

Remembering... the passion of living life in love, adventure which conquers monotony, purity of purpose that inspires me to persist... 

Our house will be built!  Our children will be taught!  We will travel!  A day will come when once again we pursue our passions!  Until then,  and no matter how long the day feels or how impatient I become in the waiting... I remember.  I keep my eyes on Him!  He is my adventure, my prize!  My joy is steady because He is steady in me. 

October 10, 2016

Stretching or Snapping?

Last evening we went for dinner with friends... kids at a booth nearby.  I don't know, maybe it was the simplicity of such an impromptu gathering at a local Italian diner, and the familiarity of old friends, and the simple food that all came together for an obvious realization that our life is really crazy right now.  Ever been in a season like this?  When you feel like you're pilgrimaging (is that a word?- spellcheck doesn't think so!) through the valley of Baca, where  robbers camp out on every side, waiting for tired ones, whose strength is running low and whose water's almost gone.  When who you've been in a more fertile season has become somewhat blurred to your current circumstances.  When you continue trudging through, though, because you know you can't stop in the valley, as there's no permanent life here in this wasteland, which is a transition of sorts.  Must. Push. Through.

This morning the kids and I were reading Psalm 84.  And then, I was reminded too of how God had taught me three years ago through Isaiah 54:2-3 to believe Him when he said, "Enlarge your house. You are going to need a bigger place; don’t underestimate the amount of room that you’ll need. So build, build, build.  You will increase in every direction to fill the world.  Your offspring will take over the nations; Your people will revitalize long-abandoned towns."

It's funny how, at the outset of an adventure, you never quite realize the extent to which you'll need to stretch to grow into the promise you were given.  Enlarge, I understand... but, stretch out... I'm beginning to get it!  Without the stretching, there's no enlarging, no extending.  Stretching is HOW we expand!  If we're not stretching, we're snapping, and sometimes it's a very thin thread that makes the difference between the two.

In this season we are being expanded.  No kidding!

Psalm 84:4-7
How blessed are those who make Your house their home,
    who live with You;

-->  they are constantly praising You.
Blessed are those who make You their strength,
    for they treasure every step of the journey [to Zion].[c]
On their way through the valley of Baca,
    they stop and dig wells to collect the refreshing spring water,
    and the early rains fill the pools.
They journey from place to place, gaining strength along the way;
    until they meet God in Zion.

August 13, 2016


This week my dad's mason crew has been bricking up the chimney.  Brick wasn't even on our radar for the exterior at all, but as the guys were bricking up the interior fireplace, and I noticed how beautiful the red brick looked on the chimney, we realized we wanted to make the switch from stone to brick for the chimney.  When your dad is the mason, making that kind of a change isn't all that difficult, thankfully! So, off we (the kiddos, my mom, who is the ultimate color designer/decorator, and I) went to the brick store, to choose our brick.  The crew laid up a few samples, and then we were able to make our mortar color choice.  Dad says that mortar color can make a HUGE impact on how the overall outcome looks.  A seemingly small detail can obviously make the brick look totally different and change the whole face of the house.  I'm very happy with our choice on this!

On the interior, Randy and his dad have been pouring so much love and time into the wiring of the house.  We've walked through so many times, making sure lights are placed properly, switches are everywhere we want them, and outlets are positioned exactly right. We've googled standard bed dimensions, counter and range hood heights so many times, I can't even keep count!  I finally decided to print out a list of standards, so we can just have it on hand.  

Last week I put out a question to the Facebook family for local woodworkers, and I was not disappointed!  Thank you, Facebook friends... you've come through!  We decided on a local artisan, Redbeard Rustics (amazing!) and have met with him and put in our order for a pine farmhouse table and two single beds made of old barnwood. 

The kiddos have made many batches of iced tea and trips back and forth from the house with water and Gatorade, and they've been helping by sweeping up the drilling shavings after we gather quite a mess of it.  Sam's been helping by sitting patiently in his stroller (most of the time) and watching Youtube toddler tunes.

One more exciting mention... A while back I made a visit to the Chambersburg mall's antique stalls, looking for treasure.  (I like a mix of the old and the new!)  I remember seeing an industrial, canvas laundry cart I really liked, praying in my heart and under my breath that I'd like to have it, though the price was too steep, and then letting it go.  Well, wouldn't you know, the very cart I saw was for sale at a yardsale last week, as the owner was closing down her stall at the mall.  I just happened to drive by the yardsale on Orange Street, in Shippensburg, on a short trip out with my dad?!  It was a much better deal, and one I was thrilled to make!  It's like I heard Daddy God, saying, "Surprise!" 

July 5, 2016

Under Roof

Oh the sights, sounds, and smells of summer!  THIS summer!!!  School closed out with a bang (Levi and Julia finished up at midnight on a Friday, the eve of the last possible day for completing work for PAVCS - they are SO happy to be moving on from deadlines and assessments to bigger and better things!) as Randy busily prepared the house for framing.  We left for a Musser family beach vacation in North Topsail Island, NC the following Monday, and enjoyed a much needed, timely getaway.  Where we stayed, the beach was a short walk from one side, while the bay was on the other, complete with a pier, a swing, and gorgeous sunsets!  We had a panoramic view of God's natural beauty, and I could go on and on...

We returned on a Monday evening, just as a full moon was rising over the horizon, and quickly explored the wonder of our house under roof!  We were so blessed to have our brother-in-law's crew, at Timberwright Creations, LLC frame the house while we were away!  If the timing had been off even a week, Randy would have been fretting at the beach, antsy to get busy, but as it was, the framing was happening without us being home.  Nothing missing, nothing lost, nothing broken... everything as it should be.  Completeness, wholeness, all in good time!  (Psalm 34:10)

Amidst visits from friends, holidays, and other real life adventures, we've settled back into a sort of routine (ha - it's summer, after all!).  Randy's been preparing the mechanicals (a word I've learned to mean "requiring machines or tools"), which is mainly the plumbing and electrical work, the guts of it all.  Seriously, there is so much that goes into the unseen parts of a house to make it functional; I am in awe of those with such skill that do this work, and so thankful!

For example... before stairs were placed, we had a ladder that went to the second floor, but with a bare space the whole way to the basement, going up and down it was quite treacherous!  Though we allowed the kiddos to do it, I was jittery each time they did.

I've been working on experimenting with floor stain colors, and I've been trying my hand at distressing the hardwood to make it look naturally worn.  (Although I know lots of distressing will take place on its own - and we welcome this - I wanted some of it to happen before staining begins.)  I've tried taking a hammer to the lumber, banging a nail filled sock against it, and punching nail holes into it in certain areas.  It's a fun aggression release! 

This week is full of meetings, with the plumber, cabinet man, and a stop by the shop of a local guy who has some old barn beams!!!  Will keep you posted! :)

May 11, 2016

Rough Places Smooth

This morning at breakfast Levi shared with us a dream he had last night.  The significance is that he often dreams this or a very similar dream, and it's obviously something near to his heart.  He dreams of discovering hidden treasure; how I love him so!  I didn't think much about it, beyond pondering hope away in my heart, before racing to finish clearing eggs from sweet little cheeks and dirty plates.  
Later on in the day, I was realizing that I've not taken many pictures of the house building project lately, and so I began taking video shots of the backhoe pushing around dark shale pieces and transferring them from heightened areas into other low places that needed "brought up".

I was reminded of the passage in Isaiah 45:2, "I will go before you, and make the rough places smooth. I will break the doors of brass in pieces, and cut apart the bars of iron."  (World English Bible)
When I came inside and listened into the heart of the Father from this passage, I was surprised by the verses preceding and following.  In Isaiah 44 God was wooing his children back to himself, and in Isaiah 45:1, God says of Cyrus the Persian, his chosen agent, "Not by his hand alone, but with his in Mine, nations are vanquished, their leaders conquered; doors and gates open without a fight and will not close." (The Voice Bible)

God chose to use Cyrus, an unlikely character, to free his people and bring about his plans on the earth.  Though God never did, nor ever will cause evil or pain, He did and will continue to use every situation and challenge we find ourselves surrounded by to shape us, to "make the rough places smooth".  He has a noble plan that he works in us and through us, breaking down, and building up, leveling the ground, and maturing us into the sons and daughters we are, as we continually yield ourselves to his Love.  And then, He says in Isaiah 45:3, "I will give you hidden treasures and wealth tucked away in secret places; I will reveal them to you.  Then you will know that I am the Eternal, the God of Israel, who calls you by name."  (The Voice Bible)  

Dreams are coming true, Levi!  Dreams are coming true!  

April 11, 2016

Building the Foundations

Over this past week, especially, I've been in a place of revisiting foundations, both with the building of the house, and of a more intimate kind.  In the middle of last week, Randy, his dad, and my dad, all worked on forming the footers, into which concrete will be poured that will become the foundation for the block walls that will be built up.  Very important indeed!  The footers were formed, and then on Thursday, dumptruck loads of small gray stone was brought in and placed on the basement ground floor level of the house.  The pressure of the stone pushing against the forms, caused them to lean, and so on Saturday, Randy was outside most all of the day reinforcing the already formed footers.  With a shovel and lots of strong muscle, the stones were removed of their pressure against the footers and were fortified.

On Friday, my brother made a quick trip to PA from his home in Nashville to buy a much needed new car for his family.  It was so wonderful to have even the short time we did with him and to reconnect as a family.  While Randy was outside reinforcing the foundations of our new home to be, my parents, Ryan and I were inside and had a rare foursome moment, that was reminiscent of days gone by, where we'd share together, almost in "family meeting-like" vulnerability.  There's just something about this kind of family discussion that gets me every time!  The raw openness has gotten me thinking about other foundations, of the heart.  I'm realizing a similar trend happening in me as was true of the footers.  Just as the pressure of the stones pushed against the forms took necessary reinforcement to be useful for building a strong foundation for the house to be built upon, so the reality of my identity as a daughter of the King has taken some leaning pressure lately.  I'm sensing the need for some digging and strong muscle to get to the bottom of some of this, and some straightening up within to fortify the truth and to allow it to settle in deep.

April 1, 2016

Day 2

This morning, when Randy opened the balcony door to our bedroom, we were both reminded so much of Thailand.  The smells and sounds all brought back so much memory.  George, our rooster, was crowing, and the rain was falling gentle and steady.  It felt a bit like a day during rainy season.  The track hoe was here before 7:00, and so the diesel fuel exhaust drifted in, adding to it all.  I wasn't feeling well today, so it took me longer than usual to make my way downstairs to prepare breakfast, where the kiddos already had my coffee brewing.  I so love them!

Being that it was April 1st, Julia had a few pranks planned for her Dad and brothers.  She'd prepared Jello "orange juice" for breakfast, Oreos with mint toothpaste substituted as the filling for after lunch "treats", and a sign on the back of Dad's truck that she'd taken out and placed by 6AM.  It read, "Honk and yell hi, April Fools Day!"  Interestingly, Aaron snuck an Oreo before it was time and ate the whole thing.  He had no idea?!  Obviously this boy doesn't have much experience with Oreos! :)

We had a few visitors stop by; my friend, Rebecca
and her 2 boys brought lunch and we enjoyed ours outside with them, watching the show! It was nice to have company.  

Today the track hoe dug the basement.  This was how the land looked by around 10AM, and by 3PM...  I was being asked by the kiddos for special permission to join Pap Pap in making a trip onto the dirt, and into our basement.  Doesn't it look great?

Standing in the basement
Oh, one more thing!  At one point today, Levi seriously thought one of the worker's names was Phil.  The man running the track hoe is Jim, but all this talk of fill being brought in, he really thought Phil was joining Jim!