Musings from the Threshold

Category Archives: Activities


We have been looking at a family business possibility over the past couple of months that would require a major time-investment from me.  As we pondered and prayed, I realized that to be gone from home more than fourty hours a week, doing school and business elsewhere, would require a whole new level of discipline and intentionality from me.  I started formulating practical plans for different areas of our life that would allow for maintaining a calm family atmosphere and spiritual focus, a tidy and welcoming home, an effective educational experience for our children, and warm, home-cooked meals on a consistent basis.

Last Tuesday, we got a “sorry, but we are not able to give you a business loan at this time” call.  A couple hours after the initial tears and prayers of frustration, I was blindsided by this thought (and it was a good thing I was already prone for a nap)…

What if I lived as intentionally day-by-day **without** this new business as I was planning to be in order to make it work?  What changes would we see in our family relationships, our schooling, our ability to reach out to others?



And yes.

Yes to learning to be more disciplined and intentional with my time, regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen with this business possibility.  Yes to implementing plans that will allow us to use our time more efficiently and work together as a family.  Yes to truly seeking to receive and give grace in the daily moments.

We don’t know for sure that the business opportunity is a solid “no.”  We continue to pray, as do others, that if this is what the Lord has for us, that He will make the path clear.  We are talking with another bank, and we are working toward improving some of the factors that prompted the “no” from the initial bank.  We are trusting the Lord to move us forward in the direction He would have us go.

And in the meantime, I am working on implementing some of my grand ideas for intentional living.

One of my first big projects has been adapting my friend Winter’s 5 Week Menu idea.  I will share more on this later, but I am truly excited about it.  I have a 5 week menu for cool weather planned out, and am working on getting detailed grocery lists made up for each week, all the recipes gathered together and in page protectors, and other tricks to make meals streamlined and simple.

I am hoping to share some of this journey of intentionality with you, so stay tuned!

May Miscellany – In Pictures

I’m going to make a real effort to get some pictures posted from the last few months. I’ve been totally MIA on the blog and once I get so far behind, it’s hard to just make a quick, “Here are a few thoughts…” post.

So here’s the part of May I haven’t yet covered!

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Backtracking… A Visit from the Garness Family!

A few days after we started sleeping at the new place (and with the whole moving process very much still in the works) we were blessed by a visit from our friends Joe and Jaine Garness and their sweet daughter Anne Marie. We got to know Joe when we lived in Missouri, and had not had the blessing of meeting Jaine and little Anne Marie until this visit. It was a delight to pause in the midst of the whirlwind and just enjoy their company!

We went to the Reno County Museum on Tuesday. Most of the Blessings had been there before, but it was the first time for the Garnesses and me. I got a few shots outside, as it was a gorgeous day and they have a neat courtyard, but most of these pictures are from the Oodleplex play area upstairs in the museum.

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Backtracking… Miscellaneous May Moving

We closed on our new home on April 27, but didn’t have our first night here until May 5. We spent the intervening week doing lots of scrubbing, sprinkling of baking soda followed by vacuuming, and packing. Saturday the 5th, we moved beds and essentials and had our first “Pancake Night,” which actually wound up being Pizza Night instead. Nobody complained!

The kids got in some game playing with friends in the evening, but they also put in a huge amount of effort throughout the day:
The next Friday, Jonathan and Dad Smith set up the computer desk in our room (a space necessity):
And some progress pictures after one week in the new house:

This first shot is also a progress pic of the Dr. Who scarf
that Wendy is knitting for Jonathan!


Davey/Dining Room

Buffet (in living room)

Computer desk in our room (obviously, without computers thus far)

Master Bedroom

Temporary computer center

In the master bath

We had our first yard sale of the purging process on Friday and Saturday, May 18 and 19, at Dad and Mom Smith’s. We by no means made out like gangbusters, but it was a good experience overall.
A view of some of our workers Friday evening:

Andrew is not used to getting up at 6.30 on *any* morning, and fell asleep on our bed Saturday morning while everyone was getting ready to go:
A view of some of our “goods”
We had this really good looking guy that kept looking over the tables:
There was a lot of hanging out on the porch going on on Saturday…
We have a large amount of sale stuff waiting in the garage at Dad and Mom Smith’s new place, and are still trying to decide on whether we will do another sale this weekend or wait until fall…

It looks like I stopped taking pictures of the moving/settling process after the yard sale, and currently the new place looks a bit crazy. I guess I’ll have to see just how “real” this blog needs to be about that!

June 1st This-and-That

Happy June 1st!

~ Happy 9th birthday to our darling Victoria Grace!!!  She is such a joy to have in our family, and I love my memories of her arrival nine years ago.

~ Almost done at the old house.  Just have trash and a few boxes to take out this morning, then next week a bit more cleaning, paint in a few spots, yard clean-up, and clearing out the shop.

~ Jonathan’s 20 year class reunion is this weekend – a date for the two of us for tonight’s event at The Anchor Inn, and a family picnic tomorrow (bring your own food).  We’re skipping the keg party tomorrow night.

~ Dropped a shelf on my big toe this morning.  Big pain.  🙂

~ Double birthday party tomorrow night for Stephen and Grace.  Need to make dinner and two birthday cakes.  Might cheat on dinner since they want pizza and time is scarce.

~ Davey and Barak will be home from LTC tomorrow (at least until Sunday… I don’t know yet if they will be staffing next week).  I’m looking forward to seeing them!

~ Kate and Grace will both be campers at Grade School 1 next week, and they are ever so excited.  We need to get clothes ready, get stuff packed, etc.

~ Need to get food together for Katie for camp.  I’m so thankful we’re now only about 4 miles from camp, because each day I will be taking over food for her.  Food allergies are challenging… I’ve looked at the menu and there is not one meal that I can feel comfortable about her eating.  The fact that her eczema is completely non-evident right now is extremely motivating, though!

~ With all of the “to-do’s” involved in the above items, I’d better get off the computer and get busy.  Blessings to you!

Space Perspective – A New Family Adventure

In the next month or so, our family of ten will be moving from this house –

to this house –

We will be moving into a space that Jonathan estimates to be about a third of the space we now inhabit. This is neither an accident nor a disaster, but an intentional choice made with much prayer and thought.

We love our current home. We love the house, the property, the community… it has been more of a blessing than I could recount to live here for the last year. If you look through my pictures over the last year, you get a glimpse of how much we love it here. And I will be honest and admit that the thought of leaving is far from easy.

However, this gorgeous abode runs between 32.5 and 42.5% of our monthly income (our rent is somewhat variable according to how much work we do for our terrific homeowners). That is just way too much for us to be spending on housing, and we have been looking and praying about something different for a while now.

In early-mid March, we looked at three different houses. After much prayer, we made an offer on the mobile above and sat back to see what the Lord would do. Because we have a bankruptcy with a foreclosure on our record, a traditional loan was not an option for us, and we were unsure whether the family would accept our land contract offer (though we had sweetened the deal as much as we could and included a down payment that was almost a third of the asking price). We got word a few days later that they had accepted our offer.

Our closing date is set for April 27th, and we will be moving somewhat gradually through (at least) the first half of May. Our new home is a smidge shy of 1100 sq. feet and sits on an acre and a half. The payment will be about 21% of our monthly income (house payment + taxes and insurance; 4 year term with a goal of having the whole thing paid off in two).

The property is closer to town and in a decidedly more populated area (a disadvantage in our books), but we are glad to have a field across the dirt road from us to the north and only one house between us and more fields on the west. We’ll be less than four miles from Kansas Bible Camp, which is something about which we’re pretty excited. We have plenty of room for a garden, and actually have already started working on that with permission from the current owner.

The big challenge/opportunity with this move is going to be an adjustment in our space perspective. The American idea of how much living space is needed per person is pretty crazy, but it is extremely difficult to get away from that mindset.

I have been longing for years for our family to craft a more simple life together, to weed out the extras that weigh us down and to choose a less encumbered lifestyle. Part of that simpler life is financial freedom, which is one of the biggest reasons we are making this move. Another part of that simpler life is “stuff” freedom, and we will, by sheer necessity, be making great strides in that area as well.

From Merriam Webster
Definition of PARE
transitive verb
1: to trim off an outside, excess, or irregular part of (pare apples) (paring his nails)
2: to diminish or reduce by or as if by paring (pare expenses) (the novel was pared down to 200 pages)

I hope to blog regulary through this process of paring down our “stuff” and simplifying our life. I’d love it if you’d join me as I do!

Still here!

I’ve been a bit distracted from blogging lately…

We’re on our second round of chicken pox currently. Unless Andrew ends up getting them in a third round, we will have lifetime immunity for seven out of eight Blessings. It’s been a doozey, and we were gifted with a stomach bug in the midst of it, but I think we’re going to pull through. Do please pray for Katie, though. She’s just getting started on her case, and I’m thinking there was some basis to the article I read that said that kids with eczema and other skin problems are likely to have thousands of pox as opposed to hundreds. She’s not up yet today, but from the way she looked last night, my mama-heart is very concerned for her.

I started dreaming last year of making available an Advent Wreath resource that folks could download for free, and that project is almost done! I hope to have it available in the next few days. This coming Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, so I’m a bit down to the wire. If you would like to try using an Advent Wreath as a tool for worship this year, consider going ahead and picking up the needed candles while you’re out this week. You’ll need a white candle for the center (I like to use a pillar for this), and four candles for the outer ring (I usually use tapers) – three purple or blue, and one pink or red. What a solemn and estatic joy it is to celebrate His coming!

Our dearly loved dog Juilin died last week. He ran out in the road one too many times, and he did not make it. It was an honor to have him breathe his last with his head resting on my leg. We will miss him. I enjoyed going through our family pictures and picking out some of Juilin. If you like pictures of sweet adorable dogs, you might enjoy looking at them.

Our apples are all canned. I don’t have a final count yet, but hope to post more on our appling with some numbers and pictures. We did six bushels this year and tried some new stuff. I think we all enjoyed it.

And now, I must work on finishing that Advent Wreath book!

Wonderful Merciful Savior

We’ve been busy this week with the chicken pox. Four out of eight of the Blessings have them this round, and we’re hoping there won’t be too many more rounds to finish off the business of building lifetime immunity. We’re doing lots of cuddling around here.

These two don’t have the pox, but they sure look sweet cuddling!

I’m not feeling very wordy, but I’ve found these words to this song resonating this week.

Wonderful, merciful Savior
Precious Redeemer and Friend
Who would have thought that a Lamb
Could rescue the souls of men
Oh you rescue the souls of men

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper
Spirit we long to embrace
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost the way
Oh, we’ve hopelessly lost the way

You are the One that we praise
You are the One we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for

Almighty, infinite Father
Faithfully loving Your own
Here in our weakness You find us
Falling before Your throne
Oh, we’re falling before Your throne

You are the One that we praise
You are the One we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for

Listen here if you’d like

Apple day

We’ve been busy today taking care of various projects around the house. It’s the first weekday the Blessings have had off school since mid-September, and they’ve been a big help.

We worked on getting the venison we were given earlier this week in the freezer at last. We were given one rear haunch and two front haunches, mostly clean. Jonathan boned and cleaned it up some more, then we roasted it. The boys and I got a good bit of it trimmed and pulled/shredded this morning, and when I realized I was wearing out with quite a bit of meat left and other projects still to do, we went ahead and got it all in the freezer… some ready to pull and some still in need of trimming. Whew.

The Blessings put the winter squash we gathered last night onto a shelf in the basement, and did some cleaning around the house in preparation for the arrival of our apples. Because today is apple pickup! I headed out at lunchtime to pick up the six bushels we’d ordered, and threw in an extra 1/4 bushel of a type we hadn’t tried before while I was there. We will get serious about putting them up next week, as we have chiropractic appointments this afternoon and a busy day tomorrow. I’m so excited about canned apples, applesauce, and applebutter, and I think we’ll try dehydrating some as well. Any favorite recipes you’d like to share??

We listened to the Statler brothers through a good bit of the day as we worked (that 30 years 3 CD collection lasts through a lot of projects!). Love the Statlers! My friends the Youngs introduced me to them when I was in high school, and I was thrilled that I got the bonus of marrying into a family that appreciated them as well.

I love to listen to the Statlers sing How Great Thou Art. I got all thrilled and throat-catchy today thinking on
When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
and there proclaim (for eternity!!), my God, how great Thou art!

So, here’s a treat for you (you’ll have to follow the links because WP is not letting me embed them, for some reason)…
The Statlers singing How Great Thou Art in 1971 on a Johnny Cash special
And a more recent version (looks like it’s from The Statler Brothers Show)