Monday, October 31, 2011

the bible

this weekend i joined a facebook group that is reading through the bible chronologically in 182 days. i am so excited about this. its only day 2 and i cant wait to read again tomorrow. i am so hungry for Gods word. there are so many neat things about this group. first of all its like having an online bible study. we have a group page and talk and discuss what we read each day. there are so many insightful people. im being challenged to dig deep into Gods word and reread passages i would normally scan over. i am able to have this bible study while still being at home with my family too. i am also getting to talk with people all over the country and world. something else i thought was neat is how many people saw my posts on facebook yesterday and jumped into the group. so many people hungry for Gods word. we can read and reread and learn somthing new everytime. my children are currently studying through genesis in their sunday school classes, so i have enjoyed sitting and asking them what they have learned by reading the passages i am on. in the evenings we read through the bible as a family before we eat dinner. right now we are at genesis 9. so im hoping all this will help me really get genesis into my head. and each reading will reinforce the other. im excited as the days go by and as people finish their days reading ,they post on our group page!

Friday, October 28, 2011

home study time...almost

it is adoption journey update time! it is nice to have something to update finally :) a few months ago i sat down and wrote out a list of goals that i had. it seems we do alot of talking about things we want to do or accomplish but we rarely follow through or we forget. i do not like being that kind of person. so i sat down and wrote out our goals and gave a timeline. of course i know God is the author and just because i write them down doesnt mean its in His timing, but it helps to direct my prayers and give me motivation. one of my goals was to have enough money raised to turn in our home study application by the end of the year. it seems to me that God is going to make this happen right at the time i prayed for. isnt that amazing! isnt that another WOW moment. with alot of hard work, fundraising and saving we are only a few hundred shy of meeting that goal. right now we have an ongoing fundraiser thanks to a friend of mine. her business link is on the side of my blog if you would like to check it out. her ministry is for orphans. and she raises money to help families fund their adoptions and to send money to orphanages to help children get adopted. and in a sense she has been so kind as to adopt our family and help us on our way. i also have a gold party scheduled for november 17th at 6 pm. i thought what a great way to raise money and nobody has to donate any money. they actually leave with money! and just in time for some holiday shopping. i think we may have finally sold our bed...for real this time. this will be a huge help! and of course there is my donation button on the side of my blog as well. im so glad my friend told me about doing that. its been a fundraiser all in itself. once our homestudy application is turned in and if we get aproved...thats when the ball gets rolling and we will be a very busy family! please keep us in your prayers!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

baking days

now that i have gotten back into the groove of making many things homemade i am hoping to have 1 day a week set aside to prepare food for the upcoming week. we did this last sunday and it was great! we made 6 loaves of bread and roasted almonds. it is nice to have things prepared and not have to worry about trying to fit it in during our hectic week. as i get better at it i hope to add more items to the agenda. things like cookies, croutons, "bisquick" mix, breads, chocolate almonds and roasted almonds. i am already seeing the fruit of this labor! not only is it already saving us money but its bonding us as a family when we work like this together and its giving us the reward of eating the labor of our own hands. the whole family is enjoying this!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

daily devotions

getting into a daily devotional routine is something we have struggled with for many years. as the babies kept coming and our family kept growing it seemed we pushed it aside more and more. sometimes it was just too frustrating to try and read over all the noise. but recently i have had a desire and deep love for Gods word. and i want to share this desire with the family! i want them to love Gods word like i do. i want them to grow up in the adminition of the Lord. i want them to have the character of Christ. i want them to be servants. but most of all i want them to be in heaven with me in the end. what better way to accomplish these things than by reading Gods word together. and not just a few short devotions together here and there. Gods word is transforming! a couple of routines we have started in our home is an evening devotion. this happens each night before dinner. daddy reads from the bible. we keep it simple. we started in genesis and read half a chapter to 1 chapter a night. then we have a small discussion. the next routine we started was a bedtime devotional. daddy reads with the boys and mommy reads with the girls. currently daddy and the boys are reading out of the book of john. mommy and the girls are reading an age apropriate book on sex (christian) and also a book on courting. we also look up verses and read them together when teaching oppurtunites come up. if someone in the house is fighting, having a bad attitude or showing bad character. we will look up verses that pertain to those subjects. as i sit here and type my 2 quarreling daughters are reading scripture together about loving one another and putting others before ourselves. and already i can see them calming down :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

ethnic night

we love cooking and baking in our house. anytime the children study something that has to do with food we love to turn it into a homeschool lesson. its such a fun hands on way of learning and experiencing. since savanah has been studying ancient civilizations we have made this into a tradition. anytime she finishes up a unit we celebrate by researching the food they ate and having it for dinner. and it has to be ancient not what they eat for today. for example the jewish eat bagels today but they didnt in ancient judiasm. we try to do this the best we can.sometimes it is hard so we try to find something to represent something they ate. so far we have had ancient egyptian night, ancient china night, and ancient jewish night. most of the foods are very similar. alot of fish, flatbreads, nuts and fruits. i had apples and honey for the first time together last night and it was so yummy! it reminded me of apple cider or a caramel apple. today roger jr. is going to be making indian pudding to go along with his study of colonial america. next up for savanah is ancient greece. i cant wait for that night! maybe for thanksgiving we should plan a traditional pilgrim dinner....hmmmm i feel a lesson brewing :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

operation christmas child

its that time of year again! time to bless a child through operation christmas child. what an inexpensive way to get the whole family involved in james 1:27. operation christmas child has been a tradition in our house for so many years i cant even count. our local christian bookstore gives free boxes away. if you have any old shoe boxes handy you can wrap and use those as well. there are 6 labels to choose from. you can choose a girl 2-4 years old, 4-9 years old, or 10-14 years old. there is a boy label with the same age groups to choose from. after you choose cut out the label and tape it on your box. each year we do one boy box and one girl box. this year we chose a 2-4 year old boy and a 10-14 year old girl. my boys pick out 5 fun things for the boy box and my girls pick out 5 girl things for the girl box. then mommy and daddy pick out the not so fun neccesities like toothbrushes, toothpaste, band aids etc. target has a great dollar section to find fun items. they also have a dollar section full of neccesities. the only other small cost is 7$ they ask that you include to help with shipping. this year my older children are writing letters to put inside the boxes too. i pray they get a letter back! all of the children are hoping our boxes get sent to africa. our boxes are all ready to go. now we just wait for november to drop them off at the local church that is shipping them off.

Friday, October 21, 2011


today my 12 year old daughter started experimenting with old jeans. she has had so much fun this morning converting old jeans into skirts!! and i think she is doing a great job. emily has so many pairs of jeans that she does not wear. she prefers skirts. so savanah is taking these jeans and cutting the leg seams, then adding a peice of fabric to the center and sewing it up. voila! a new skirt! she has only made one and i know they will get cleaner looking as she has more practice. emily is super excited to have some "new" skirts to wear. i think this qualifies as recycled and frugal and homemaking skills. just like the children get a satisfaction out of eating the fruits of their labor, i think they will get the same out of wearing the fruits of their labor.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

busy bee

i love to be a busy mom. filling my days teaching, cleaning, cooking and running the children to their activities. some days i get weary but i cant help but love what i do! it is what God has called me to! investing in my children is never a chore, always a priveledge. once in awhile it is nice to have a day at home to get caught up on the little things that get pushed aside. today is one of those days. my to do list is quickly growing. remember i like to be a busy bee even if it is at home. a few things i would like to accomplish today are baking a few loaves of bread, taking pictures of the kids, getting caught up on folding the laundry, schoolwork, making some shopping lists, and organizing the bills to be paid tomorrow. sound mundane? sound boring? not to me! remember scripture tells us no matter what we are doing, do it for Lord, not for man. with this perspective and attitude our everyday activities can turn into a missionary field.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


this past monday was free homeschool day at the monterey bay aquarium. i want to stop for a second and say how very thankful i am for oppurtunities like that. as a large family on 1 income we do not get to do big things like that very often. when oppurtunities like this arise we need to seize them! but i think this also helps us not to take things for granted. the icing on the cake was daddy being able to come along. i only enjoy these trips when we get to do them as a complete family. the children had a blast. it blesses my heart to observe the children taking it all in. especially the little guys that have never seen anything like this before. its also special to see the middles that are just able to understand it all, enjoying it. i would have to say the shark was the biggest hit for the children. i personally liked the sea horses. what an interesting creation. and hubby and i couldnt help but crack up at the video of the daddy seahorse popping the little babies out of his pouch. i think its safe to say hubby is very glad he is not a seahorse. the weather was beautiful we could not have asked for a nicer day. the drive out there is always nice. the kids get to see farms, and animals, mountains, and then finally the ocean. coming home is not as fun. everyone is tired and grumpy and just wants to be in bed! one thing that still sticks out in my mind is something my friend told me as we were leaving. she asked one of the employees if they noticed anything different on homeschool days than on regular admission days. he said yes, they tone back on the education portion because it is not in line with most of the homeschoolers beliefs. i thought this was very neat. i thought this was very respectful. it is nice that they didnt take the oppurtunity to "educate" our children.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

loaves and fishes

recently i was asked by a friend to recall a time when i was totally wow'd by God. of course there are so many times that its hard to tell one story or another. but i think its good to share these stories. it gives people hope and encouragement. and isnt the bible full of commands to encourage one another daily! " but exhort one another daily while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the decietfullness of sin"hebrews 3:13. i would like to share that some of the biggest wow moments from God is the way he provides. sometimes we can act like the isrealites and forget that God has provided for us in the past and then when tough times come we get upset or anxious about how we are going to get through it. i like to joke around when its grocery shopping time and old mother hubbards cubbards are bare, and say we need a loaves and fishes miracle. but in all seriousness we experience those miracles. we are so blessed to not truelly know what it means to have a bare cubbard. there are times we look and we "think" there is nothing because there isnt a box of cereal or poptarts. something quick and easy to grab. there are times its so close to payday and we have a few days to wait to go grocery shopping and we are stretched to get creative but we never go hungry. God always provides. sometimes we whip up a "gourmet" or thanksgiving like meal and think, "where in the world did this food come from". we look in the cubbards as if they are magic....but no that is what we call one of Gods loaves and fishes miracles around here. sometimes he uses people that have no clue about our situation but just are giving people to share with us. its always just enough, exactly when we need it. and i love to share these stories to encourage others who think its impossible. so i would have to say these are my big wow moments!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


my mom lives in the middle of some orchards and the almonds are falling off the trees right now. a couple weeks ago she sent home a bunch of almonds. the girls and i were trying to figure out what we were going to do with all of them. of course we didnt want them to go bad. well everyone knows chocolate almonds are my favorite thing. i normaly buy the ones from costco but those can get pricey. so i thought it would be a wonderful idea to buy some melting chips and make our own! and that is what we did this afternoon. the girls spent the afternoon shelling the almonds...with daddys pliers :) i melted the chocolate, dipped and set them on plates covered in foil. they are currently hardening in the refridgerator. we used all of the chocolate and have about 6 plates full of almonds. i also have alot of almonds left! i cant wait to pack them up for our trip to monterey tomorrow! maybe i will share ;) so over all i spent about 2.50$ for 6 plates full of chocolate covered almonds!!

Friday, October 14, 2011


when i was pregnant with josiah i went through a nesting faze and started making all things from scratch. although it was alot of work, i really enjoyed it. i felt very little house on the prarie-ish :) for those that know me real well, know that i love that lifestyle!!!

the recipe i use is amish white bread. i found it on . after i made it a few times i thought it would be fun to tweak it and make different flavored bread. i did this by sprinkling with cinnamon and sugar, or garlic and salt before i formed it into a loaf. if i make alot at a time i freeze it. i have not sat down and done the math, but i think this is saving me money lol!!

maybe it is time to get back to my homemade bread and buy less from the store. like the scripture says..."when you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy and it shall be well with you...".

2 cups warm water

2/3 cups of white sugar

1 1/2 TB of yeast

1 1/2 tp salt

1/4 cup veg oil

6 cups flour

1. dissolve sugar in warm water

2. add yeast and stir until creamy

3. add salt and oil into yeast mixture

4. mix flour in 1 cup at a time

5. knead and place in an oiled boil , coat both sides

6. cover with a damp cloth and let rise for an hour

7. knead and divide in half

8. place in breadpans and let rise for half an hour

9. cook on 350

this makes 2 loaves

Thursday, October 13, 2011


sometimes it is hard to put into words the work God is doing in my life, so bear with me. it amazes me the way scripture can speak to me. i can read over a passage one time and the next time i read it and its like a light turns on, and that passage makes total sense to me. or i can be wrestling with something in my life and feel convicted about something in my life and God will confirm by sending me a passage of scripture or a person to share some scripture or God given wisdom with me. all of this makes me feel as if im growing by leaps and bounds and it truelly makes me fall in love with Gods word again and again. even better it makes me hungry for more. here are a few scripture verses that have been really speaking to me and convicting me lately.

deuteronomy 6:5-9 i heard in a sermon once that in the jewish culture they wear bracelets that have Gods word rolled up and tucked into it. and they write Gods words on their doorframes. this verse has never left me after that teaching. verse 7 says we should be talking about Gods word always. " when you sit in your house, when you are walking, when you are laying down and rising up" this just about covers all of it!

the books of timothy and titus are a couple of my favorites. it shows me that God doesnt leave anything out when it comes to the way we should live. these books talk about character, conduct and everyday christian living. a couple passages that i love are,

1 timothy 2:8-15

1 timothy 5:8

titus 2:3-5

romans 6

i could go on and on! i encourage you to read Gods word. take time to read these passages on your own. dig deep. pray before you read and ask God for a soft heart and a teachable spirit.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

birthday fun!

we just had a birthday in the van clan house! or should i say 2 birthdays. monday the twins, levi and benjamin turned 5. for anyone who knew us when they were born, you know what a blessing their lives are!

for those that did not know me, they had a rough start. they were born 5 weeks premature. levi weighed in at 4 pounds 13 ounces and benjamin was 4 pounds 3 ounces. they were born via c section. my first one after 5 natural deliveries. and let me tell you i would rather do it all natural any day compared to that!!! my little guys were not born healthy. they had several breathing issues right off the bat. i was so happy when they were weaned off of all the oxygen and moved into a crib together.

roger and i spent all day everyday at the hospital with them for 3 weeks. we missed our other children so much. we were always home in time to have dinner with them and go to bed. we had breakfast with them and then were off to the hospital. one great blessing from this was all the bonding i got to do with my husband over this. we held our babies, fed our babies, ate all our meals together and took many walks together inbetween feedings.

after 3 weeks they were feeding and gaining weight. they were finally sent home. as soon as they came home we noticed they didnt breath or coordinate their eating right. they would often stop breathing during feeds. the time benjamin turned completely blue and limp, i had to administer cpr and roger called 911. this landed us back into the hospital for a week of observation. they had what was called reflux apnea. this is where the reflux muscles are not developed and the babies airways close during reflux. as if they were drowning.

it was a looooong 6 months before they grew completely out of it. it was a 6 months i will never forget. roger getting laid off was a blessing in disguise. God used so many people in our lives to provide for us and i had someone home to help me take care of our preemies on top of 5 other children. 1 of them only being 11 months older than the twins!

looking back i see God written all over the circumstances. and i now have 2 very healthy rambunctious little boys! i watch them sleep and thank God for them.

so, they have had their birthday dinners at grandpa and grandmas. 1 chose pizza and 1 chose macaroni and cheese. yum! we had our own family dinner at home of pancakes. hopefully this weekend we will be taking them to their birthday movie!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


the theme of this weekends mother daughter retreat was transformed. this was based on the scripture romans 12:2. " and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and exceptable and perfect will of God." what a wonderful, and heart searching verse. are we allowing our minds to be transformed by the word of God or are we conforming to the world? do we seek what pleases God or do we still find pleasure in what the world finds pleasure in?
we took a look at the life of a butterfly. we went into depth the 3 phases of a butterflies life and compared them to the transformation that occurs when we let Gods word convict us. yolanda really went into depth on the things we should be teaching our daughters. what are we feeding our daughters? what example are we being for our daughters?
we took a look at the difference between being a princess and being a daughter of the King. there is a big difference! the worlds view of a princess is someone with an arrogant, selfish, entitlement attitude. we should be teaching our daughters to be daughters of the King. by doing this we teach them biblical character qualities such as patience, self control, and delayed gratification.
yolanda also taught us that we have to model these quaities if we are going to teach them to our daughters. she encouraged us to invest in our daughters things that are eternal. she also encouraged us to ask God to convict us of any area of our life that doesnt line up with scripture. i have been feeling convicted in many areas of my life lately and this weekend was a confirmation of so many things i have been praying about.
i encourage you today to ask God to stir in your heart any areas of your life that need a transformation. its not an easy thing to do, yet nothing feels better!

Monday, October 10, 2011

mother/daughter retreat

what an amazing weekend i had with my girls, friends and other moms and daughters! being out in Gods creation is so refreshing. i enjoyed starting my days off with an early morning devotional hike. saturday we had a great teaching on esther and sundays teaching was on peter. from there we went to breakfast and then chapel every morning. we were led in amazing worship by the sunflowerz. there were "ice breaker" games, and a wonderful teaching by a lady named yolanda.
after chapel we had a flexable schedule. we could go to a seminar, go to crafts or enjoy the outdoor recreation. we did a morning seminar, then headed out to the activities then some crafts and then more activities.
some of the activities were go carts, giant swing, jacobs ladder, leap of faith, rock climbing wall, archery, and the zip line. oh! how the girls loved the zip line. me...not so much. but i did it for my dear friend monic :)
in between all of that lunch was served. dinner was served at 5:30 then we had chapel again. worship and another teaching. after chapel we went back to the mess hall and had an evening snack. they loved to feed us! ive never seen my girls so excited about food! after evening snack the first night they had a game called before and after. anyone could get up and do a before and after skit. saturday night was the talent show. savanah, emily and their friend isabelle participated in that. it was alot of fun!!!
we ended sunday with chapel and brunch. it was a great weekend. we made alot of memories. most important i invested in my girls. i was so excited to come home to my family. theres nothing like your husband and other children running to you as you get out of the car. its pretty amazing :)
yolandas message this weekend was so right on. i want to do a whole blog just on that!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


hubby and i are always dating on a budget. we have our envelope system and in it is a date envelope. but realistically, we have alot of envelopes and sometimes that poor date envelope just doesnt get fed a whole lot. so we are always thinking of things we can do for free or cheap.

one thing we love to do is play tennis. there are a few tennis courts in town that are free. we dont play by the rules but it sure is fun to get out there and whack the ball back and forth. we love anything active and active is usually cheap or free. find some country and take a nice long walk or hike. thats active and gives plenty of time to talk. you could even pack up a picnic instead of going out to eat.
another thing that is low cost is driving up to a lake. there are trails to hike and swimming is fun if the weathers warm. sometimes all you have to do is pay to park. again, pack a picnic lunch or dinner.
christmas shopping is one of our favorite things to do on a date. its not free but if you do the envelope system you get to use the christmas envelope! so you have the fun of spending money but your spending it on others and accomplishing something.
even driving up to old sac or another historic place is fun. you dont have to buy at these places. window shopping is fun and there are alot of things to see that do not cost any money.
so you dont have to have alot of money to make a date nice. just being together makes it a nice time.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

best friends

is your husband your best friend? do you look foward to spending your time with him when he is home from work? or does hubby get whats left over at the end of the day? these can be very hard questions to answer. at the end of a long day caring for many children, schooling them, taking care of the house, running errands....we can feel drained and see our husband as another chore or thing to be taken care of. i know, i have been there.

but thats certainly not what God has in mind for our marriages. ephesians 5:22-33 is the perfect example of what God designed marriage to be. we should love our husbands all the time, not just when they are pleasing to us. love is an action not a feeling. we need to show our love. we need to show our respect. men are different than women. they need to be respected. this is love to them. by showing how much you apreciate their hard work, their leadership, their efforts you show them how much you love them.

most important is time. do we give our husbands our time? or do they come after the kids, the girlfriends, the church activities, the me time?

i love knowing that my husband is getting close to home. i anticipate it. i get excited. and i would rather be with him than anyone else. he is truelly my best friend. i enjoy his company. i enjoy working along side of him around the house. simple things like cooking dinner together can bring such closeness. taking walks with the kids is always a nice thing to do. the kids can ride ahead and give us some moments to talk and hold hands. find the joy in the little moments. when you do even going to the grocery store can be a great experience :)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gods timing

i had some really encouraging words yesterday from a friend. in my flesh i can get very impatient and want things to go at my speed and my timing. in my brain my wheels are constantly spinning and brainstorming ways that i can move this adoption along faster.
yesterday a friend asked how things were going with the adoption and i told her how hard fundraising is and how slow its been. her words were very encouraging and eye opening. she said that by raising our own money for the adoption ( as opposed to taking a loan etc) we really are leaving the timing to God. its really keeping our focus on God and looking for Him in every step and process.
that got me thinking. instead of being discouraged and impatient i need to look at why is it taking so long. God has a reason. He has a perfect child for our family. and we have to wait for the right moment that God wants to bring that child to us. im sure as the process starts rolling we will be amazed at all the details God was working out in His timing. maybe our finances will be in better order, maybe our debt will be paid off or down. there are so many blessings in disguise that we need to focus on instead of complaining.
thank you to everyone that is being so supportive of us. your words of encouragement and your help and support are apreciated more than you willk ever know!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

date night

i love dating my husband. he is my best friend. theres no other person i would rather be with. its so nice to walk and talk and hold hands. i think having date time is so important.

i know when too much time has gone in between our dates i really start to long for a date.

we used to be regular and have a whole day once a month together. but sometimes thats just not realistic. life gets busy and money gets tight.

today was a refreshing time together after months since our last date. holding hands, talking, solving the worlds problems :) i love how roger still holds doors open and walks me to my side of the car. he likes to say, 9 kids later and we still got it. i told him we need to get date t shirts made. it never fails when we are out, we still love to talk to people about our kids. we need to get tshirts made that say happily married with 9 kids or some conversation starter like that.

make sure your hubby is still your boyfriend...:)