His Great Grace

I remember this photo, this captured moment in time…
April 2010 kids (2)

That year our family grew from four sweet kids to five blessings aged eight and under.
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When our youngest child was born, we were a month or so away from wrapping up our homeschool year with a 2nd grader, kindergartener, preschooler, and toddler.

Yes, we were in the thick of it then– a beautiful mess of sleepless nights, diaper changes, toilet training, beginning reading, meal preparation and cleaning with little helpers wrapped around my feet, singing Bible verses, tears and crying out to God, survival mode, princess dresses, all the fun from this precious group of little kids, the exhaustion, the love, laughter, and hugs!
Chiris and the kids (2)DSC_2686 (2) DSC_1298 (2)
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And, as long and lonely as some of those days felt, I can never forget that this mama was being wrapped in the strong arms of God and His great GRACE.  Grace to say ‘yes’ for reading one more book, grace to keep going on planning and schooling through all the doubts and fears, grace to juggle and be spread thin each day, grace to grow through the reading of His Word, grace to have encouragement sent through a loving husband and friends, grace to share His love with these precious children that He sent to us.

His grace found me in the midst of it all.
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I look back at these photos and I can’t help but get all teary eyed.  Friends with older kids tried to tell me…  They’d say that the kids wouldn’t always be that little and to cherish every moment.  I think it was hard for me to believe.  You know, when I was in the midst of it, the days seemed so long, the nights too short, and it appeared as though those little ones would be at that stage forever.

But, five short years later, as if in the blink of an eye, I can honestly say that those years passed –way –too –fast.

Those tiny eight and six year old little girls… are now young ladies, bright, cheerful, helpers who come alongside their mama, independent learners, middle schoolers (gasp), and rivaling me in height!  That sweet, sun shiny toddler who would run around the school room and steal our hearts (and erasers) is now an upcoming second grader herself – still giggly and in love with her siblings and her Savior.
oiur girls

And, oh, those sweet boys (the once so small baby and the eager preschooler) are now handsome young boys – one preparing to enter kindergarten (how can it be?) and the other one a big 4th grader.  They love to wrestle with each other, build wonderful contraptions from Legos, are adorably goofy, help their mama, and of course argue as only brothers do.
our boys2


The seasons change.  Our kids grow and blossom.  The challenges are different.
But God’s great GRACE and love towards His children never change.

I’m praising Him for all these years – the past, the present, and those yet to come!
I’m still in need of God’s grace and am thankful for His loving arms wrapping me tight.  He is faithful and His Grace still finds me…

  ‘ Your Grace Finds Me
by Matt Redman

It’s there in the newborn cry
It’s there in the light of every sunrise
It’s there in the shadows of this light
Your great grace

It’s there on the mountaintop
It’s there in the everyday and the mundane
There in the sorrow and the dancing
Your great grace
Oh, such grace

From the creation to the cross
Then from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me

It’s there on a wedding day
There in the weeping by the graveside
There in the very breath we breathe
Your great grace

Same for the rich and poor
Same for the saint and for the sinner
Enough for this whole wide world
Your great grace
Oh, such grace

From the creation to the cross
Then from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me

There in the darkest night of the soul
There in the sweetest songs of victory
Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me

Your great grace
Oh, such grace
Your great grace
Oh, such grace

So I’m breathing in Your grace
And I’m breathing out Your praise
I’m breathing in Your grace
Forever I’ll be
Breathing in Your grace
And I’m breathing out Your praise
I’m breathing in Your grace
And I’m breathing out Your praise
Breathing in Your grace
For our God, for our God

Yes, Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me


”I’m breathing in Your grace and I’m breathing out Your praise…”

A Taste of Fall

fall Do you have something that you look forward to all year long?  Maybe it’s an annual vacation, a gathering of friends, or a certain season?

I would have to say that autumn has always been something that I eagerly await each year…the breath taking colors in which God paints the leaves, fall flowers, and plants – hues of orange, red, yellow, and brown,

Autumn Colors   fallwelcome

the refreshing cooler days and the crunch of leaves underfoot, perfect for walks or romping through the woods,


scents of apples, pumpkin, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and of course, the tastes! 

appleorchard pumpkin field


Here is one treat that our family anticipates each fall…                 pumpkin pie homemade pumpkin pie! 

We acquired this recipe several years ago from a friend and are blessed each time we prepare it (usually in advance) and then savor it at special gatherings throughout the season.

Let’s Start!
First, you’ll need to bake your pie pumpkin.

Baking the Pumpkin

1) Take the stem off. 
2) Cut the pie pumpkin in half from top to bottom. 
3) Scoop out all of the seeds and pulp.  You may wish to use a melon scooper.  (If you desire, save the seeds for roasting.)
4) Place the shells cut side down in a 9 by 13 inch baking dish along with approximately 1 inch of water.  Do not cover. 
5) Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or longer. 


6) When you can poke it with a fork and it is soft, your pie pumpkins are ready to be removed from the oven.
7) Carefully remove the pumpkins from the pan and let them cool with the cut side up. 


8) Once cool, scoop out the pumpkin and mash it with a potato masher. 

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Now, for transforming our pumpkin ‘mush’ into delicious filling for a pie!  Make sure you have the following ingredients.   (Please note: 1 1/2 cups of mashed pie pumpkin is needed to make one pie.  It depends on the size of your pie pumpkin, but we typically are able to make 2 pies from each!)

Pumpkin Pie Filling

1 1/2 cups mashed pie pumpkin
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 beaten eggs
2 TBS melted butter
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
3/4 tsp salt

1) Beat all of the ingredients together.  (Yes, it will be soupy.)  
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2) Freeze the pie filling in a gallon freezer bag to save for another time or pour into a pie shell to bake right away.

3) When you are ready to bake a pie, simply thaw a bag of pie filling.  Once thawed, place it in a pie shell. 
4) Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  Then reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake an additional 50-60 minutes. 
(The pie will be done when the top begins to crack and the filling is set and no longer runny and soupy.  It should jiggle a bit like Jell-O, but be firm.)

We have four bags of this yummy ‘taste of fall’ waiting in our freezer…IMG_2624
Well, make that three now. =)
Sometimes it is just too tempting to wait!

When We Forget to Breathe

Sometimes, everyone just needs a ‘Catch Your Breath Day’.  You know, a day where the normal routine is thrown out the window, life slows down, and you can…
B R E A T H E.

(Insert a deep inhale… and exhale here.)

Because, sometimes, we forget to breathe.   Today was one of those days.  After a week of travel, returning home and jumping right back into a normal routine of kids, cleaning, cooking, school, laundry, making a grocery list to restock foods, and a late night at church – the heavy sighs and tears were indicators that I was wound tight before I even slid out from under the covers.

I felt as though I just couldn’t ‘do’ this day. 

Have you been there?   Have you ever had a day that starts and you have to force yourself, with every ounce of strength, to just get up and take the next step?  Well, that was me.  This very morning.


And I had a choice to make…

I could either do the same old routine and push through or start fresh.

I decided to try the latter.

So, the first thing I did was… 
cancel school.

And set up a rotation of sibling time.  Five kids, rotating with siblings to do whatever they wanted (including having alone time during one rotation), for 45 minutes each. 

They loved it! 

And it proved to fan in a wind of pure fresh air, lightening everyone’s spirits. 

Oh, the giggles,
the secretiveness,
the creativity,
the joy of freedom
to choose
how to spend their precious time together!

I witnessed singing and dancing, bracelet making, comic book writing and illustrating, baking (with some assistance from me with the oven), engagement in games, doll playing, reading for pleasure, continuation of a school related project, and acting.

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And me?
Well, I enjoyed the opportunity to savor the sights and sounds of my children being best friends to one another, reminisce and sort through photos from our trip, check five days of the older kids’ school work that had piled up while I was away, clean some bathrooms with the cutest little helper around, and read God’s Word.

In essence, I was… 
fashioning a way to move more slowly,
creating margin when there was none, 
and remembering to take some time to breathe.


psalm 68 35

So thankful to God for giving me strength for each day!


The Top 12 in 2012

hangersAs our family goes through the steps of simplifying our home, packing, and preparing to place our house on the market very soon, my thoughts can sometimes be as jumbled as the entangled pile of hangers on our floor.


So, instead of tackling another closet, cupboard, or box, for the moment, I’ve decided to take a much needed break.  I’m taking a quick look back at the most read blog posts at Joyful Heart and the most visited pages inside Hubbard’s Cupboard in 2012.


Are you ready?  Let’s count down… to the top!


Top 6 Blog Posts from Joyful Heart in 2012

6) Word Family Resources
Lots of printables to use with your budding reader!
Word Family Booklet

5) Our 2012-2013 Curriculum 
We are enjoying Preparing Hearts for His Glory this year!
Historical Read Alouds

4) Child Training Bible (Review)
We still have this.  Although, we have not used it as much as we should.

3) In Mourning
Wow.  This one was so difficult to write and share…and I am still reflecting on it as we continue our homeschool year.  A follow-up post will be coming soon.

2) Character Traits For Kids
Character trait definition and verse printables…
Character Trait Definitions and Verses

1) Utilizing Printable Booklets Without Actually Printing Them
A simple way to save time and money in printing as well as another way of presenting new reading material to our youngest readers..



Top 6 Pages Visited at Hubbard’s Cupboard in 2012

6) Guided Reading

5) Kindergarten

4) ABC Centers

3) Literacy

2) Sight Words
(The Fall, Winter, and Spring Sight Word Booklets all closely followed this.)

1) Printable Booklets

I noticed that a few of my favorite posts and pages from the year didn’t show up.  So, I am including them here.  =)

My Favorite Page at Hubbard’s Cupboard 
Bible Memorization

My Favorite Posts Written in 2012 at Joyful Heart
(other than In Mourning, which is already listed above)
Strength For Summer – a post of gratitude to God for the grace He gives
Take the Bible Stack Challenge  – a visual reminder that God’s Word is for everyone


Blessings to you and yours in the new year! 


Now, where’s that packing tape?

Strength for Summer

DSC_2310 (2)On June 1, my hubby loaded up the car and traveled 15 hours to the University of North Dakota – to spend the entire summer taking linguistics courses that would prepare him to better serve in his new role with Wycliffe Bible Translators

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After photos, hugs, several goodbyes, and waves, I gathered our five children around and cried silent tears as we walked back into the house. This was the day that I had been dreading for months.  Me, alone, with our five kids – I knew that groceries, bedtime, meal prep and clean up, discipline, etc. all fell on me.   I felt weak and incapable, and at the very beginning, somewhat fearful.  

It was a challenging summer – for all of us.

BUT GOD gave us the strength we needed each day to make it through.

As I await for my husband to return, I am flipping through my gratitude journal and reading the 185+ recorded thanks to God that span the time frame he was gone.  Some of the thanks look like this….

  • Friends praying for us and calling to check on me (even on day 1!)
  • Hearing our kids thank and pray to God before bed (our implementation of ‘2 thanks and a prayer’ before bed each night)
  • Grandmas (I think our moms are wonder women.  They swoop in, make the kids happy, magically make the dishes disappear, and relieve this mama’s stress.  They just work without their capes!)
  • Singing songs of God’s faithfulness during worship at church
  • An oldest daughter’s gentle hug when tears come
  • Ms. Becca infusing energy and a highlight to the kids’ weeksDSC_2337 (2)
  • Neighbors and friends being willing to help out with the yard
  • Speaking Truth to myself throughout the day
  • Rare one on one time with each of the kids
  • Time at spray parks and with family friendsDSC_2614 (2)
  • Friends praying for our 4 year old and offering to help when her temp was extremely high
  • Swim lessons and fun with friends at the poolDSC_2589 (2)
  • Cooking lessons with Lynda (for the girls and some of their friends!)DSC_2535 (2)
  • God – my refuge and strength
  • Little buddy and his love for the ‘Flintstone’ car (Yes, even inside the house on this hot, hot, summer day!)
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  • Seeing my husband through Skype, smiling and enjoying the interactions with our kids
  • Sounds of giggles from the kids
  • God’s clear, visual reminder to rely on His strength and not my own
  • Two teens coming over to play with the younger kids so I could sew with the older girlsDSC_2569 (2)
  • Seeing our 4 year old’s face light up as her sisters surprised her with a handmade doll just for herDSC_2583 (2)
  • Knowing that God is always in control
  • Air conditioning (as it hit 104 degrees)
  • Books – LOTS of books from the library to read and some extra motivation from the summer reading programDSC_2353 (3)
  • The girls joyfully helping out with clean up tonight.  It was an encouragement and motivator for me to finish the day well.
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  • Encouragement and direction from another homeschool mom
  • Brushing my daughter’s hair as we talked late at night
  • Feeling God’s hand sustaining me
  • Finally getting the spelling curriculum online with my hubby’s help from far away
  • Children sleeping in (and mommy, too!)
  • The sight and smell of RAIN sent from God
  • A fun, but exhausting backyard Olympics with friendsDSC_2718 (2)
  • Knowing that it was only through Christ’s presence, grace, peace, and strength sustaining me each day that got me through this summer

In Courtney Joseph’s eBook, The Proverbs 31 Woman: One Virtue at a Time, she states

When I take my eyes off of myself and put them on my amazing God – my fears flip to confidence.

Yes!  My fears turned to confidence – not in my own abilities as I am still weak.  However, I saw my fears fade as my confidence grew in Him!  For it is His strength and dignity that clothes my weaknesses.

As I reflect upon this summer, Christ’s grace, presence, and sustaining powerful hand is evident. 

Thank you, Lord.

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