Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Safe in our Father's arms

Where do you put your trust? Do you trust that you'll have that job until you're ready to get a new one? Do you trust that your spouse will never hurt you, betray you, or even leave you? Do you trust that your kids will behave a certain way because you've raised them to? What happens when (not if, but when) some or all of these things fall apart?
There is one place we can put our trust. There is only one who will never leave, betray, hurt, or disappoint us. Only one thing is certain. Only one thing remains constant. In a fast paced, hustle and bustle world, full of ups and downs, there is only one thing we can trust will be a safe place for us to dwell secure. In Christ.
Does this mean we shouldn't trust each other? Does this mean we shouldn't relax and trust that our finances will be taken care of? Does it mean we shouldn't even bother raising our kids in a way that would please God? By no means! It means the opposite. Because of our faith in Christ, we can do all these things, and more! What an awesome feeling! No matter the circumstances or conditions we find ourselves in, we dwell secure! "On Christ the solid rock, we stand"

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

"And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock." Matthew 7:25

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Song of Hope

I had to share this video I found on YouTube that was created for Jeremy Camp's song, Beyond Measure. I cannot listen to this song enough. There are few songs I feel more, and on my run this morning, I almost broke into tears over it once more.
Truly, I have been given so much more than I could ever deserve. I can be so petty, so rapped up in the day to day, not giving thought to the absolute magnitude of the greatness of the God I serve. The God that calls me His child cares for every part of my life and graciously, gently breaks my will to bring me back to His. I am SO THANKFUL for his mercy. The mercy that is new every morning brings hope "beyond measure".
Without God, there is no hope in this life. I pray everyone reading this could feel this hope, too. Let us all be thankful today and everyday, despite our circumstances, trials, and discomforts. The God of all creation is mindful of us!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Not Quite the Vacation We Expected

God is good. Even through the storms, God is good. Steven lost his job the day before his hard-earned two week vacation. With four kids to care for, I could easily lose my mind. God is good, though. He is steady. He holds us in His hand. He never leaves us. He gives us brothers and sisters in Christ who bless us with the gospel played out in real life. I am thankful.

We took a day to play amidst the job search. I'm so thankful our home town has a "beach".

Juliet is fearless in the water. That is both good and bad. Let's just say she keeps us on our toes at the beach. I only had one running through the water like a lifeguard moment, so I think that's an improvement.

Jaysen is the opposite. He is mister caution when it comes to, well, most everything. It's funny how those two look so alike, yet they're so vastly different.

Margot and I had some quality time in the shade. Don't you just love those feet? I do.

Oh, and I'm taking a much needed one week break from Facebook. It's been wonderful. It's funny how being "unconnected" has made me feel so much more connected. (to my family, anyway)

with much love, Lara

Monday, May 30, 2011

How do people keep up with these things?

My blog is appropriately titled, for sure! I know there are different seasons in life. There are seasons when blogging, for instance, will be more possible. Then, there are seasons when life is so busy, we can barely check all of our emails. My life has been a little more like the latter lately. Sorry friends who were counting on some blogs. Oh, what's that? You didn't miss them? My wonderfully written and oh so captivating blogs?? Ha! I've continued my running, friends, on days that sleep and conditions provide me that opportunity. It has been good for my body and soul. It's given me contemplative, prayerful time, all while burning extra calories I've been storing (for a rainy day, I guess ;)) I'm up to four miles at a comfortable pace, and that makes me happy. The marathoner in me wants that number to be more like eight or ten, though. Alas, I must remember: seasons, seasons. :) We've been finishing up the "school year". Our learning will continue this summer with grammar, math, and PLENTY of summer reading. Jaysen will be starting kindergarten in the fall. He is more than ready, if you ask me. My heart has found much encouragement in the book, "Large Family Logistics" by Kim Brenneman. I recommend this to any mother who wants to better her keeping of her household, whatever the size of her family. The tips, encouragement, and biblical truths she shares are a blessing. Oh, and be ready to feel some conviction, too. Is it just me who feels conviction when studying the ways of the Proverbs 31 woman? I'm thankful for the spurring on towards good deeds. I'm looking forward to laid back summer days and watching these little ones, who've been entrusted to my care, grow. I want to cherish all the little things in the days to come, as I'm reminded so often how fast the seasons change. Lord, help me to not miss a thing! Talk to you soon, friends.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hot Spot #4...dun dun dun

Hot Spot #4 was revealed this morning! It is yet another one I have a leg up on. The spot is the refrigerator/pantry. Thanks to my dear friend Misty hiring me some cleaning assistance last week, I was able to tackle my fridge! Woohoo!! :) This week I will dive into the deep, dark cabinet that houses our dry foods. Oh my! This should be fun...join in with me, won't ya? I will update with the before and after pictures this Friday.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Household Chore Scavenger Hunt

Sierra had a brilliant idea she shared with me last night. She suggested I post a chore for her to perform in a certain location, then post another where she'll complete that one, and so on. I immediately thought it was a great, fun idea for the kids! I also thought they could find a little "treasure" at the end. Perhaps the treasure could be a certificate for a special privilege or a kind note, or something that would mean a lot to that particular child. I thought I would share as some of you may be looking for a fun system for household chores for your children. I like anything that teaches children that the tasks God requires of us can be something we delight in rather than drudgery.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hot Spot #3 Revealed! Tackling Tiny Town :)

Hot Spot #3 was revealed today! The 3rd challenge is kid's toys and clothes. I have already done this recently to prepare for our garage sale we had Saturday. There is never an end to the kids' clutter though, so I will probably get in there and do a little more this week. This will probably be a good week for us to catch up on our paper clutter we failed to finish last week! :) Hope everyone is joining in and organizing their homes. It feels great to let it all go. ;)

The more I ponder it, the more I realize there is MUCH work to still be done in the kids' rooms. I'm excited! I love projects that involve the kids. They get just as enthusiastic as I do, and Sierra already loves to give her toys away.
I love this quote from Simple Mom: This comes from the famous quote from 19th century architect William Morris — “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hot Spot #2: FAIL!

Well, I didn't get it done this week. The paper mess required Steven's help, and my focus was on the house and preparing for the garage sale we are having on Saturday. And honestly, I'm still behind on all of that! I knew going into this challenge that keeping on top of it was going to be just that: a challenge. Hopefully I'll have more success with Hot Spot #3 and can share that with all of you. :)
I still plan on conquering the paper mess, just not in their set time line. My husband and I are currently attending a Dave Ramsey course and will be making a budget tonight, so organization in this area will hopefully be coming!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Homeschool and the "Unpackaged" Curriculum

So, it's that time of year again. It's the time when I inevitably re-assess our home school: what is working, needs improvement, or what may need to be thrown out altogether. I've been starting to get into a more comfortable groove now. I feel as though I am starting to get a handle on what is comfortable and works best for all of us.
I have really enjoyed My Father's World this year. It is a great "package" curriculum. However, I think I'm starting to have my eyes opened to what so many more experienced mothers have lovingly shared with me in their experience with building their own personalized curriculum. They've explained how they piece together subjects from different curricula and publishers according to what works best for both them and their children.
I love the freedom in that. Isn't that one of the greatest benefits to the blessing of being able to educate your own child? We know them better than anyone and can work closely with them to assure the best possible education for them. The book fair will be crucial to me this year, I believe. I plan to take Sierra with me to allow her to peruse the endless sea of resources. I'm going to observe closely what interests her and those will be the things I will offer to her for the coming year. We will still use the same math, spelling, and Language Arts because they've been working beautifully, but we will customize the rest.
One of my biggest changes will be a more in-depth Bible Study every morning. Since this is the most important part of our family's curriculum, I desire to find something solid, scriptural, and challenging. I'm so thankful that Sierra comprehends so many spiritual concepts and Biblical truths and want to give her something that will grow her desire to know and glorify her creator.
The thing I like most about piecing together my own curriculum is the schedule. Lately, especially, I'm seeing how nice it will be to create my very own schedule that fits our family. I'm excited for the year to come and all that God has in store for me as a mother, nurturer, and teacher to these beautiful gifts He's entrusted to me!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Running Thoughts

On my run this morning on our treadmill, my mind wandered back to less than one year ago when I completed those beastly 26.2 miles at the Big D Marathon in Dallas. It was April 11th, my 27th birthday, and I was just weaning my 12 1/2 month baby. I never realized until just this morning just how amazing it is that God brought me so far (literally, :)) so fast. As I labored through my "modest" 2 miles this morning at a pace of 5.4 mph (really nothing to scoff at), I thought how I ran that 26.2 miles at a rate of 6.0 mph. That could have discouraged me on this morning's run, but for the fact that I knew it took hard work and LOTS of painful, hard, taxing workouts to get there. It only encourages me to know that in only a short year after having a baby, my marathon goal was accomplished. It can be done!

I'd like to share with you my musical findings, this morning, as well. I've found the perfect running soundtrack! Haha!

  • beginning: Needtobreathe; fun, great beat/acoustics/harmonies to motivate and get you started
  • middle, bulk of the run: Lecrae; great beat to pace and solid words/lyrics to ponder. (gets that bass pumpin')
  • end: Shane and Shane; relaxing, worshipful, great time to praise and thank God all the way home and great for controlling tired breathing and muscles ;)
That's it. Give it a try and let me know what you think. :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hot Spot #2 Revealed and I'm Terrified!

Hot spot numero dos was revealed and I really just want to pretend I didn't see it, to be quite honest! How did she know that was one of my biggest problem areas? I suppose because it's most everyone's problem area. If I had my way, I'd just go through and trash ALL papers, but alas they are important (a lot of them, anyway). Unfortunately, I'll have to wait til the evenings to tackle most of this week's project because Steven handles the finances of our family and knows best how he'd like it organized. We may have a mutiny on our hands if I toss or re-arrange things without his knowledge! I think I'll just stick to home school/kids' papers, magazines, junk mail, coupons and the like for now. Anyone else feeling sick to their stomach over this one?

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Simple Mom Decluttering Project:Hot Spot #1-My Wardrobe/Closet

Please forgive the overkill of before and after pictures! I have an interesting closet and the only way to really photograph it is to piece it up....so here goes! :)

Before: These pictures are scary...I know! :)


Steven's side....I was able to organize his stuff, too! Yay!

And now, the new and improved closet:

I wish I had taken a picture of the floor! You can walk in there now!! This was a much needed project. With a newborn baby and little ones, I really had to work it around their schedule, but really I got most of it done during their playtime on Wednesday. That was after I did laundry Monday, and hardly anything Tuesday as Margot wanted to be held a lot.

Here is my pile to be donated:

Here is my pile to be sold in a hopefully near garage sale:

Here is the maternity clothes I cleared out for storage:

I also had two filled trash bags that went out to garbage! Whew! Much better! :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March 8th, 1999: The Day I Said Goodbye to my Dad

It was 12 years ago today. My dad lost his battle with brain cancer. I think of him so often. Raising my kids, I often find my thoughts drifting, thinking what it would be like for my dad to meet them. I wonder what things he would approve of, if we would've grown closer, or drifted farther apart.
I know it's silly to think in "what if's", but I still do it. I think often of how I desired to be closer to my daddy growing up. It brings me such joy to see my kids with their daddy, and observe the close bond they are forming. Losing my dad at fifteen has taught me so much. The biggest lesson I've learned is to cherish every loved one every moment I have.

I'll leave you now with some fond memories of my dad:

  • He was incredibly smart. We referred to him as the "human encyclopedia".
  • He was strong, brave, a man's man.
  • He served our country proudly for 21 years in the U.S. Navy (submariner)
  • He was pretty funny...though I didn't like to admit it. He loved to tell puns and they were pretty good, I must admit. :)
  • He LOVED to fish, and loved to include us in that.
  • He could polish off a half gallon of Blue Bell Ice Cream in a single sitting! (that must be where I get it)
  • One time he snapped at me pretty harshly and later told me how much he loved me, and that he felt like he was hard on me a lot because I reminded him of himself as a kid.
  • He loved Christmas time and became almost giddy (a word I would RAREly use to describe my dad!)
  • He had big ideas and always dreamed out loud about building cool things (such as a train going down to the river, through the woods in our back yard)
  • He hated killing snakes but did it more than once for us girls when we asked him to!
  • He loved animals.
  • He was an experimental chef, which was often very scary, since we were his guinea pigs! He made excellent breakfast, though, and even to this day I hardly accept cereal as sufficient in the mornings.
  • He was always early everywhere he went.
One of my last memories of him was when he was dropping me off at my mom's house before church one morning and he told me I looked beautiful. He even sang "you are so beautiful to me". I cherished it. I would've been embarrassed, however, he was very sick and I knew it. It's amazing how differently we look at things when we're faced with loss. You really do never fully know what you have until it's gone.

I love you and miss you, Daddy.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Simple Mom Decluttering Project

So, I've basically been doing this all the past week. I'm going to keep the momentum going, though, and continue in the simplifying of our home! Come on friends, click the button and join in! It feels so nice to get rid of the clutter and take more stock and care in people than things. Stay tuned for my before and after pictures next Monday and Friday, and I'll be looking for yours ;)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March 1st at the Hoefelmann Home

We are enjoying a lovely first day of March here in small town Texas. This is Jaysen's "focused" look. :)

This is how Sierra eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

This is how Juliet eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Mmm...looks delicious, doesn't it? :)

And this is my sweet, wide-eyed, little one month old, Margot. :)

Lovely day :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

On the Road Again

Well, I did it. I went for my first postpartum run yesterday. I use the term "run" loosely. It was really more of a slow jog, my biggest struggle being my hip and muscle function. It always feels rather awkward those first couple of runs after baby. My legs feel a lot like lead and it seems odd and difficult to get them moving the way they had not so very long ago again. I managed to "labor" through about 3 miles on this old road seen here (<---) til I returned home.
I wrote previously about how much I loved to run. I do need to clarify that I love to run only once I'm past the stage of hating it! There was nothing to love yesterday, really. The view was lovely, but unfortunately I didn't even have any tunes to distract me, because my Ipod Nano was out of juice. It does take a while and some persistence to get to the point where running is enjoyable. "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9) That applies to running, I do believe.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ready to Run

So, this was the state of my running just about 2 weeks before we learned we were expecting our 4th child! I trained hard and completed my 1st marathon! It was 26.2 miles of adventure which I'll save for another blog entry. The race was on my 27th birthday. How cool is that?
Anyway, I continued my beloved sport all the way until about the 21st week of my pregnancy with Margot. The miles became slower and shorter til at last I felt I could jog no more. I've packed on an extra 20 pounds, so just as with my previous postpartum runs, I am anticipating a slow start. I will be doing well to even get in a mile, most likely. However, I cannot wait! I'm so excited to get back to one of my all time favorite activities.
Why do I love it so much?
It's one of the few times and places I have time to myself. It's an excellent time of refreshment for me. When I'm out on a run, I think, reflect, and pray more deeply than any other place. (minus the shower)
It energizes me. Days when I've gotten a run in during the wee morning hours go much more smoothly than the days I haven't. I feel refreshed and full of vigor.
It relaxes me. Much of the tension I have is released after a good long run. Exercise is such a great way to relieve stress.
It helps me to eat healthier. I crave healthier foods after a good run. In fact, if I eat a lot of "junk" before say an evening workout, I have a hard time not thinking about those choices and feeling sick. I actually start craving fresh, healthy foods while out on my long runs.
It is just plain fun. I love running in different locations and mapping them out. There is nothing like watching God's beautiful creation "waking up" in the morning. Races are a blast as well, sharing in the joy with hundreds or even thousands of people who love to run too.
Bonus: You sure do shed those extra pounds that are weighing you down, too.

Saturday is the big day! It's the day I have allowed myself to re-enter the running world. I'll let you know how it goes. ;)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Margot: A Story of Natural Childbirth

It was unseasonably warm that winter day, the 28th of January. I expressed to my loving husband, Steven, my need for him to be around that day. I was physically and emotionally drained waking up on the 12th day past my "due" date after yet another night of tossing, turning, contracting, and wondering if all of the false labor would ever turn into the real thing. He was so kind to do much of his work from home that day so I could relax. I enjoyed an afternoon outside watching my energetic kids playing happily with one another. My contractions were regular, far apart, and nothing too uncomfortable. I basked in the sunshine, checking facebook messages from caring friends and family.
Steven went back to his office to finish up some things there, and the kids and I went back inside for nap time. I checked my phone and had a message from my midwife, Melody, suggesting I lay on my left side and do kick counts for 30 minutes. I was to lie down and count how many times the baby was kicking. It was refreshing to feel that she indeed was kicking, and more times even than I was looking for! Another development was my contractions. They were really picking up in intensity as I was just lying there. I didn't take them very seriously because they often did that in recent days, especially when I laid down to rest. I got up after a while to call Steven to check on his status at work. I was starting to wonder if tonight would after all be "the" night.
My husband came back home around 6 o'clock and I felt the need to lay down once again on my side while he was talking to me. All of a sudden, I had an intense contraction that was much deeper than the earlier ones. I was nearing the end of it when it happened. I felt an unmistakable pop inside myself and exclaimed, "My water broke!"
I quickly rolled off of the couch to my hands and knees and urged Steven to please get me some towels quickly. He ran and grabbed all he could find and we stuffed them underneath me. I then crawled over to the tile entryway nearby. Although my contractions were still relatively far apart, I felt the need to get to the birth center soon because my previous labors had gone fairly fast after my water was broken. I made my way to our bathroom to get cleaned up and called my mother to let her know I would be needing her to head to the birth center soon to help with our older children. We all then rushed here and there for a bit, anxiously, grabbing last minute things and getting the kids and myself ready to go.
We all piled in the minivan and set off on our 30 minute journey to the birth center. We had not eaten dinner yet, so we made a "quick" stop at a Sonic drive-in that was on the way. I say "quick" because it turned out to be anything but. We pulled in to the spot. It took a while to gather our thoughts and orders, and when it came time to pay, we had a dysfunctional credit card machine. It was a Friday night, so it was busy, and the payment process dragged on for what seemed like forever. Finally a manager came out to help and witnessed one of my "best" contractions yet. He said, "whoa! You look like you're about to pop!"
We replied almost in unison, "she/I already did!"
He said, "Oh, man! You need to get her to the hospital! Hold on. I'll get you taken care of!" I've never seen a Sonic employee run so fast!
It got all cleared up and we were finally on our way again. I relaxed the whole way; timing, looking at the beautiful night sky, and praying to my Lord to protect my sweet baby and myself in the moments to come. I prayed that it would be quick, but more importantly that He would preserve the healthy life He had created in me.
We arrived at the Birth Center around 7:30 or 8 o'clock. The amazing crew of midwives and students checked me right away in the upstairs exam room and I was a good 5 or 6 centimeters dilated. I wasn't even fully effaced like I had been with my previous labors. I expressed concern over that and they told me I didn't even need to be fully effaced to deliver. That was a relief.
We hiked back downstairs to visit and walk around a bit through these earlier contractions. I spent my time listening to my Itunes with them, talking, laughing, and even dancing! It all must have helped because when we went back upstairs to continue labor my contractions were now 1 to 2 minutes apart and very intense. I was brought into the beautiful, relaxing, lavender colored birthing room where I stood, rocked, and swayed through contractions.
More importantly, I prayed through contractions. I praised and thanked God for the miracle he was working in me. I thanked him for creating my body to give birth, and asked that He would give me the strength to endure the pain I was and would soon be feeling. I prayed for my little girl and her safety.
My back labor was intensifying thanks to baby who decided she wanted to come out face up! The amazing birth team jumped in to help. Melody and Rosetta both put counter pressure on my hips which was a huge relief to my back. Anyone who has felt back labor could probably attest to a feeling almost as if your back is breaking! It was intense, but God continued to answer my prayers and carried me through. My sweet husband held my hand the whole way through as my darling 7 year old, Sierra, looked on with awe and wonder. My sister and best friend, Katie, was in the background the whole time taking beautiful photos (seen here) of the whole experience.
We checked again and this time I was a nine! I made a trip to the bathroom with the help of my husband and felt tremendous pressure "bearing down" on me. The pain became so intense when I returned to the room that I begged to lay down for a minute. They instructed me to lay on my left side, so I did. The moment I laid down I had an almost unbearable contraction and informed them that I needed to push.
So I started pushing as they rolled me onto my back and out popped her beautifully formed head! Another contraction came and I pushed once more with all my strength and she was here and on my chest! It took a moment to realize she was there, in my arms! I held her and cried out for joy and looked into my 7 year old's tear-filled eyes as she told me at the bedside, "Mommy, these are tears of joy! I've never had tears of joy before!"
It was beautiful.
We named her Margot Elizabeth. Margot means pearl, and she is a precious pearl and we pray she will keep her way pure. Elizabeth means "devoted or consecrated to God". We pray she will indeed be just that.