Thursday, October 26, 2017

{ten}


I, Andrea, take thee Ben, to be my wedded husband.  
As the Church is in her relationship to Christ, so will I be to you.
I will joyfully give you my life, and in confidence submit
myself to your leadership, as to the Lord.
I will live for you - loving you, obeying you, learning from you.
I will always strengthen, help, comfort, and encourage you.
Therefore, Ben, throughout my life,
for better, for worse...
for richer, for poorer...
in sickness and in health...
at home or abroad...
I pledge you my life, as a loving, faithful, and obedient wife, 
to have and to hold from this day forward,
'til death do us part.

Happy {ten} year anniversary, Ben. 
I still do.

 


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Visualized Songs - Power in the Blood, Jesus Paid It All, and Stop! And Let Me Tell You

One of my goals this year was to teach my kids a new hymn each month.  I am just learning about what some homeschoolers call "Morning Time," but I guess we've had an abbreviated version of this all year.  We open our homeschool day with pledges, prayer, and a hymn.  Then we divide up into our various Bible classes and play times.  For pledges, we say the pledge to the American flag, the pledge to the Christian flag, and the pledge to the Bible.  Even Henry tries to say the words, and the twins know all the pledges just from listening every day.  The kids rotate who gets to hold each flag/Bible, and who prays.

We have done well learning our hymns this year, except for June, July, and August.  With the house purchase, renovation, and move I totally fell off of anything goal related or routine encompassing.  But we started back in September with "Power in the Blood" and now we are learning "Jesus Paid it All."  It's fun to see the delight on my children's faces when we are in church and there is a song chosen for which they know all the words!  I'm very glad I chose to do this, and I plan to continue next year.  I would also like to add teaching the kids the history behind each hymn...so I guess we will be expanding our Morning Time!

We have also started a weekly Bible Club in our home every Friday afternoon.  Our house is just two doors down from the public elementary school, so we invite the kids to pop in for an hour long Bible Club after school.  We have several moms who attend also.  I purchased a few pre-visualized songs for club, because I wanted the larger size.  But I opted to make a couple myself also.  Below there is a link for "Stop and Let Me Tell You."  I laminated them back-to-back, so that you have to flip them, just like the old stop sign version my mom and grandma had.  The kids enjoyed being a part of the flipping and sign holding last week in Bible Club.

Download Power in the Blood - pictures made for coloring in by the kiddos  (Forgot to clear the spell check lines before I made the screen shot)


Download Jesus Paid it All - full color, no coloring needed

Friday, October 6, 2017

Gospel Footprints and Unseen Moments

Last week was one of the busiest, overwhelming weeks in a long time.  I’m still trying to figure out the best schedule/order for homeschooling four kiddos on three grade levels, plus the addition of a precocious two year old who intervenes every 3 minutes.  We hosted a five-day Bible Club for the kids in our neighborhood, and we continued our free-coffee Friday outreach.  Saturday we had Bible Study, and Sunday was a full day at church.  Somewhere in there I need to fit piano lessons, Patch the Pirate Club devotions, art class, and monthly grocery shopping trip.  Not to mention that for the last nearly ten years the biggest place we have lived is 1,000 square feet…now we own a house with twice that plus a basement, porch, garage, and back yard.  (Huge blessing…huge responsibility!)

We really did have a good week in Bible Club, but there was a lot to prepare and do for each day.  On Saturday I was sweeping and mopping the floors in preparation for Bible Study, and I was reflecting on the week.  I thought about 13 different kids, whose footprints I was now removing, that came and heard the Gospel (plus my own four kiddos in attendance).  I was thinking of Gospel songs they learned that would be hummed through the day while they tried to remember all the words and tunes.  I thought of Scripture verses hidden in their hearts in not quite perfect King James English, but which the Holy Spirit can use to draw their hearts out to God.

And even though there was a lot of work involved – before, during, and now after, as I found candy wrappers under the couch and ants on the forgotten chips on the patio – it was a blessing to be a part of something that God is doing here. 

Sometimes {too often} I grumble at my housework.  Because there is a lot of it, and it’s never ending.  But I’m looking back at just shy of three months in this new home, and then considering how many people have passed through our doors and heard the Gospel or been encouraged in the Word of God.  I’m thinking of new neighbors who were an answer to prayer – they have kids!!! – and a family up the street who have the sweetest, friendliest girls.  I’m thinking of a girl at Bible Club today who gave me a hug and said, “Thank you for letting us come learn about God’s Word, and for giving my mom free coffee.”  Then it’s worth the housework.

It’s a bunch of unseen moments.  Even my kids don’t see it most of the time.  It’s a little sweeping here, and a load of laundry there.  It can even be grading that dreaded stack of homeschool papers and filing them away into portfolios.  But they are moments when I can wonder at what God is doing around me and through me. 

I’m reading a book called Unseen by Sara Hagerty.  Each chapter I crack is just what I am needing.  It’s been a few weeks since I last got to read it, but the half chapter I squeezed in tonight was balm for my soul.  I was reminded that I need to train my eyes to see God in the middle minutes, and that “when we cut ourselves off from attending to God in the quiet and the small, we’re cutting ourselves off from soul food.”  And this seemed the perfect description of the crazy that I have been feeling over the last handful of days.  “Cacophony is the soundtrack for my days.  Even the nondescript parts of my day make noise.  There is the constant buzz from the dryer producing piles of laundry that needs to be folded, the squeals and hollers of giddy children, and even the background hum of ocean waves [in my case it’s Nolan’s personal fan] from the white-noise machine in the upstairs bedroom—we often forget to turn it off… Quiet doesn’t just happen.  Ever.  Internal stillness takes practice.  It is the fruit of hiddenness—a life that’s lived looking at God, and life of wonder in Him—and it needs to be cultivated.”

I know that quiet and still moments are best when talking with the Lord.  But I am learning to see Him and talk to Him in the “middle moments” of life, when I’m wiping up muddy footprints or washing dishes or folding dishes.  I’m also learning {albeit ever so slowly} that sometimes I just need to stop working and sit with Him.  Sara says in Unseen that “I was looking at spending time with God as something that happened when all the work of life was complete, not something I could choose right in the middle of barreling through it.”


If you’re looking for a good read, I highly recommend Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World that Loves to be Noticed.  And maybe you can look for some middle moments to behold the wonder of our God.  This week I learned to see the Gospel opportunities in the footprints on my floors.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Whitney's Farm

While Ben replaces the staircase at home, we came to visit Grandma & Grandpa in Pittsfield.  We enjoyed a beautiful fall afternoon at the local pumpkin patch, Whitney's Farm.  All photo credits go to my talented sister-in-law Meredith!

There is a petting farm area.  Elaine loved on the horse a lot!





The boys discovered how to hang upside down...


Bean bag toss


On top of the tractor.


Too many pumpkins...too many kids...too few parental hands!


Oh my!  I love this picture!  He wanted to carry his own pumpkin so badly!


She wanted to pose.  So nice to have a kid that likes to get their picture taken!


He's smiling!



Henry-Man


Not so thrilled with his picture...


Little feet




I love this one!



Elaine and Grandma!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

For me to live is Christ

Elaine and I have been memorizing Philippians this year.  I am behind schedule, and behind Elaine.  But we continue to press on, because hiding God’s Word in our hearts is important.  I have been reminded of that recently because He is using those verses that I am learning to comfort my heart and reassure me as I walk through some uncertain and sad waters.

I lived most of my life just thirty minutes away from my mom’s parents.  Grandma and Grandpa.  They were a part of everything – every birthday dinner, every piano recital.  Everytime I flew to college they came to say goodbye and press a $20 into my hand.  Every Christmas Eve we spent crammed into Grandma’s basement or living room with my crazy extended family singing carols, reading the Christmas story, and opening more presents than should be allowed.

Grandma is not doing well right now.  She went to the ER this week with intense abdominal pain and they found a hole in her small intestine.  They did an emergency surgery to remove part of her small intestine and colon.  The doctor did not expect her to make it out of surgery. But at 2 am I got the text that she had pulled through.

Now she is still in ICU.  Still not doing well.  Things are uncertain, and some family members are traveling home in case they need to say goodbye.

And all this time the Lord keeps giving me Philippians 1:20-24:

Phl 1:20-24 KJV - 20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 21 For to me to live [is] Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

I want Grandma to “abide in the flesh.”  I love her.  But she has lived her life for Christ, and if He chooses to take her now, it will be her gain.  If she were alert I’m sure she would feel verse 23 – wanting to stay here with her family and her husband of 65 years.  But yet she desires to be with her Lord and free from pain.

I love you Grandma.

IMG_2260

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Before and After: Our Fixer Upper Story, part 4

IMG_5003If you missed the other posts, you can find them here:

UPSTAIRS (part 1)

MAIN FLOOR (part 2)

BASEMENT (part 3)

This project was definitely a family affair, but we also had a lot of helpers.  Ben’s parents came to Bronx four weekends in a row.  My parents came from Colorado for a week.  The Jackey boys helped knock out the basement.  Alex spent 4 or 5 days assisting Ben with anything.  Freddy came to paint, and Pastor Dan helped with painting and flooring.  After we moved in, Diane helped us paint the main floor, and the Bickels helped us paint trim.  Here are some misc pictures of the process…

IMG_5132   IMG_5150
Ben and Nolan working on the basement bathroom sink // Kids pulling staples to prep for the new flooring.  They got a penny for every staple they cleaned up!

IMG_5151   IMG_5152
Elaine prepping the floor // Twins scrubbing paint off the steps

IMG_5175  Kids helping with Renovation
Elaine was Pastor Dan’s runner for doing the new floor // The kids also pulled a lot of nails out of the old studs in the basement

Kids helping with Renovation  Kids helping with Renovation
They loved working on the ladder!

Pads for new flooring   Pads for new flooring
When we came home with new flooring in the van, we couldn’t get down our street.  So we parked up a block and carried the pads down the pedestrian steps )which is really 230th St.).  Henry wanted to carry a roll just like the big kids!  But he was slow…so Ben carried Henry carrying the floor pad.

Roof Repair   Stick Removal
My dad did a roof repair for us but Nolan got to help him. // The kids carried lots of sticks out to the trash! 

Bathroom Tiling Renovation   GJJT2989
I cut tiles for the bathroom – new experience for me!  // The kids endured MANY trips to Lowes and Home Depot!

Henry watching concrete repair   IMG_5368
Henry stood guard over the roofers who weren’t doing a fabulous job.  He had his Cheerios close by // Ben redid the radiators!

Moving Day!
This fabulous group loaded or unloaded our moving truck!

IMG_1443
The Happy Hamiltons – New Residents in Kingsbridge, Bronx, New York City

Before and After: Our Fixer Upper Story, part 3

IMG_5003If you missed the other posts, you can find them here:

UPSTAIRS (part 1)

MAIN FLOOR (part 2)





Basement – Before

The basement is long and skinny, and from the front of the house to the back there is an alcove, main room with old kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, and then the furnace/laundry room.  The previous owner’s dog lived in the basement, so we had to rip everything out.  Now there are no walls, and we have poured new concrete.  The bathroom is functional but needs some tile repair.  Ben uses the alcove as his workshop.

We haven’t done much changing, except for the demolition process.  The refinishing will have to be completed a little at a time, as the budget and time allows.  Ben will do most of the work himself, even the drywall mudding.  There was a drop ceiling and we’d like to put in a regular ceiling, so there is a good amount of work to be done.

Before-Pics_thumb   Before-Pics_0001_thumb
Furnace room/laundry room.  We knocked out walls and doorways to make this more open. // Now, on the left, there is a flat platform for both of my machines, and there is a storage freezer where the old washer was.

Before-Pics_0002_thumb3   Before-Pics_0004_thumb
Bathroom and bedroom closet.  There were like five different layers of flooring.

   Before-Pics_0005_thumb   Before-Pics_0006_thumb
Old bedroom and main room.

   Before-Pics_0007_thumb
Right hand corner is an old non-functioning kitchen which we ripped out.

Before-Pics_0008_thumb   Before-Pics_0003_thumb
Basement steps // Basement shower

Basement – Demolition

Three brothers from our church came over and spent two days knocking out everything in the basement.  If you ever need something demolished, I highly recommend them!  They needed very little supervision and did a great job!

Basement Demolition  Basement Demolition
The Jackey Brothers // The Old Kitchen

Basement Demolition   Basement Demolition
They loved the ripping up part…not the sweeping and bagging part!

Basement Demolition   Basement Floor
Before and After New Flooring  

Basement Floor Renovation   Basement Floor Renovation
Cement in the basement floor  

Alex doing Basement flooring   Alex doing Basement flooring
Alex helped with the new floor

Laundry Room RenovationLaundry Room RenovationLaundry Room Renovation
Platform for my washing machine and dryer 

Gas Line for Dryer
Dad helped to connect a new gas line to run over for a gas dryer

Dryer Vent   Dryer Vent-
Breaking through the basement wall to vent the new dryer.  So very thankful for Jim and Sissy and all the work they did to help us.  They spent four weekends in a row in the Bronx, and then took our kids home with them!

Basement – After

Basement After Pics   Basement After Pics
Ben’s tool area. // The brown door in the center of the picture goes to the front patio (garage roof)

Basement After Pics   Basement After Pics
This is the main room (and my garage sale stash) // This is the “bedroom” or middle room in the basement (as you walk from front of house to back of house).  It’s my school books and kids clothing corner.  Eventually we would like to convert the old kitchen area into a storage closet for all of these totes.