All That Thrills My Soul {Sunday Songs}

by Alison on June 8, 2014 · 1 comment


All That Thrills My Soul
Thoro Harris, 1874-1955

Who can cheer the heart like Jesus,
By His presence all divine?
True and tender, pure and precious,
O how blest to call Him mine!

All that thrills my soul is Jesus,
He is more than life to me;
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see.

Love of Christ so freely given,
Grace of God beyond degree,
Mercy higher than the heaven,
Deeper than the deepest sea!

All that thrills my soul is Jesus,
He is more than life to me;
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see.

What a wonderful redemption!
Never can a mortal know
How my sin, tho red like crimson,
Can be whiter than the snow.

All that thrills my soul is Jesus,
He is more than life to me;
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see.

Ev’ry need His hand supplying,
Ev’ry good in Him I see;
On His strength divine relying,
He is all in all to me.

All that thrills my soul is Jesus,
He is more than life to me;
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see.

By the crystal flowing river
With the ransomed I will sing,
And forever and forever
Praise and glorify the King.

All that thrills my soul is Jesus,
He is more than life to me;
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see.

{ 1 comment }

Back Home & Ready For Summer!

by Alison on June 6, 2014 · 1 comment


Time has been doing that flying by thing again. (I mean, seriously, wasn’t she just born?)

We survived all of the planning, and the packing, and the practicing (a lot), and the driving (oh, the driving), it took to get this family of 11 (plus a grandma) down to Louisville, Kentucky for that national archery tournament I mentioned a few weeks back.


We pulled out around 6 am on a Thursday morning, which meant packing the night before, laying out comfy clothes, and pulling 9 kids out of bed by 5:30 am. I feel like I should get some sort of award for that, but apparently it’s just part of motherhood…

We arrived, after several stops for gas and potty breaks, shortly after 10 pm, which looks like 16 hours of traveling, but there is a time zone change in there somewhere so it was just over 15 hours. In a 12 passenger van. With 9 kids, a mom, and a grandma. The checking in at the hotel went smoothly, but the getting-the-kids-settled-down-and-to-sleep part took a while. Hours, actually. It was understandable, they had been confined to one seat, in a van, ALL DAY, and most of them had slept the last few hours of the drive. Did you know that you can’t force 11, 9, 7, 5, 3, and/or 1 year olds to sleep when they’re not tired? Or 13, 14, and/or 20 year olds.

Grandmas, on the other hand, like the experienced mothers they are, can crawl into bed and fall asleep like a pro. :-)

IT Guy actually drove separately, so he could work an extra day before the tournament, and come home a day earlier than us, again to work an extra day. He’s had a lot going on with his business, and we were just blessed that he was able to head down to be with us to support our four shooters at the tournament, and get out to have some touristy family fun!

Jaron and Liberty shot of Friday evening. Grace and Hope shot on Saturday morning. The awards weren’t scheduled until Saturday early evening, so we had the afternoon to hit a tourist attraction. There were two big things on the list, the Louisville Slugger Museum, and the Kentucky Derby Museum. We only had time and money for one, so we put it to a vote. The horse lovers had the overwhelming majority, so we were off to Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby Museum!

I’d like to take a moment to thank the lady in my GPS. I call her Janice (there’s a story in there). That woman has directed me through many an unknown-to-me city, around construction, even avoiding traffic congestion due to accidents. She’s amazing, and I’d be lost without her. Quite literally.

I love modern technology.

Ok, back to our trip. When we pulled up to Churchill Downs, and I saw the bazillion cars parked in what appeared to be dozens of parking lots, the claustrophobic in me almost drove away. IT Guy had driven his car, with a kid or two enjoying some dad-time, and of course he beat me there, so I felt compelled to overcome my intense desire to flee and just find a place to park our ginormous van. {Deep cleansing breath moment}

It was a Saturday, and what we hadn’t considered when deciding to hit the museum, was the fact that racing season had begun. I asked the parking attendant if the museum was really that crowded, and she informed me that there were 11 races that day…! Oi! I mean, fun! Right?

It could have been overwhelming, but sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and decide to enjoy the moment.

The museum was wonderful. If you ever go, the movie presentation is amazing. I’m not kidding. You know how some museums and historic sites have their little movie presentations, and, well, they’re not all that exciting, and you end up regretting even attempting to make a toddler and preschooler sit through it? Yeah, that’s not the case at the Kentucky Derby Museum. Not. At. All. It was, by far, the coolest museum movie we’ve ever seen, and I’ve dragged my brood to many a museum movie.

The screen goes all the way around the room, a long oval, shaped just like a racetrack. As the movie plays, the story moves around the room. The seating is a bunch of these cool little stools, so you can swivel and rotate along, following the visual excitement. My kids were all quiet. They all sat still, well, pretty much. I do have a couple in-constant-motion wigglers, but they were not disruptive at all because they were captivated the entire time.

Seriously, if you’re ever in Louisville, and you have the slightest interest in horse or the history of the Kentucky Derby, this museum is worth it.

Also, if you go on a Saturday during racing season, your tour just might include WATCHING A RACE AT CHURCHILL DOWNS! Yes, yes we did.

The skies decided to open up and dump buckets and buckets of rain just as we were heading out. It was crazy. I mean buckets. IT Guy ran out to get the van and pull it up as close to the doors as he could get, and we made a run for it. In those 10 seconds, we were all completely drenched. Completely. As in, our clothing couldn’t possibly absorb any more water and was actually dripping. I decided that made my life a bit easier that evening, as most of my littles wouldn’t need a run through the tub. I chose not to think about the problem of packing up that wet clothing…

We headed back to our adjoining hotel rooms to enjoy some quality time sitting around watching TV. Yeah, I know, I’m philosophically opposed to letting my kids sit around mindlessly watching TV, but sometimes you just go with easy. Call me lazy, if you want, but remember the part about pulling my 9 children out of bed at 5:30 two days earlier and driving 11 of us across several states over 15 hours? Then the 2 days of shuttling kids back and forth from the hotel to the Expo Center for a national archery tournament with over 10,000 people, despite the claustrophobic tendencies I inherited from my mother? Yeah, that.

We laid out our Sunday clothes, and packed up most of the van Saturday night, and managed a smooth and on-time check-out early enough on Sunday morning to make the drive to Bloomington, Indiana, to join some dear friends for church. The Pembertons are a couple of angels we met during our “radiation vacation” (which was anything but a vacation, it was so much work, and so hard, that thinking back on it now causes some pretty intense anxiety, and quite a few tears.) We were so blessed to be able to spend the day with them, and to spend the night taking over their home and I think nearly every last blanket they own. Karla and Gene have been such a blessing to our family, it did my heart so much good just to spend time with them again. It was fun for my mom to be able to meet the couple that were practically stand-in grandparents for our kids during that time.

It was SO good to see them again, especially under such better circumstances. They were able to see how far Ian has come in his recovery. His speech, though still pretty obviously affected, is so much better. And his walking. Unassisted! He was mostly wheelchair-bound during our time in Indiana nearly 3 years ago. By the end of those 2 months, he was attempting to move about some without the walker, when in the house, but it was a bit precarious, to put it mildly. He’s not only walking now, but he’s doing Tae Kwon Do with us 4-5 days a week!

Monday morning, we once again rose rather early (though not 5:30, thank-you-very-much), made our best attempt at putting the Pemberton’s house back in order, and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast, complete with really good coffee. :-)

We said our good-byes to daddy, as IT Guy headed out on his long drive home, so he could get back to work on Tuesday, and then we piled back in the van (which was beginning to smell like a well-used gym locker room thanks to 4 days of dirty clothes for 11 people…) and headed east to visit the Creation Museum!

That place is pretty amazing.

I’ll just put it out there – yes, I believe in creation, and a young earth. I’m pretty sure that puts me in the minority, but then so does having more than 2.1 children. I’m not going to debate creation and evolution here, so if you disagree, well, I really don’t care. We can still be friends, but we should probably stick to discussing the weather, the Minnesota Twins, and the silly things our kids said and did this week. :-)

The Creation Museum was so well done. Each and every display was so beautifully detailed and life-like. If you’re a Christian who believes in creation, or if you’re not but you’re curious, and you’re ever in the area, go. Take your time, walk through the entire museum, reading, learning, enjoying. It’s just really well done, and I highly recommend it. They’re not even paying me to say that.

I love science museums, I always have, and I just have to say that it was so refreshing to me, as a Christian, so see a museum like that, showing the wonders of creation, and laying out supporting science, most of the time showing side-by-side what evolutionary science says about that topic, being dedicated to giving glory to God. It was a great atmosphere, and I’m so glad my children got to see that.

After the museum, we headed over to spend the night at a friend’s house. An internet friend. Whom I’d never met in real life, though I’ve “known” for something like 7 years. Those ‘friends in the computer’ are REAL people!!

Have I mentioned that I love modern technology?

After “meeting” on a parenting forum, I connected again, and more, on Facebook a while back, with my friend, Heather, a sweet momma of 7 girls. She and her husband, Peter, were so gracious to feed us that evening, and then let us have free reign of their spacious basement, not to mention use of their fabulous laundry room. I dream of having a laundry room like that someday…

Piles of clean laundry helped make the van more tolerable for the long drive home. #justsayin :-)

On Tuesday morning, we once again got everybody up around 5:30, and managed to pull out around 6:15.

It felt good to be headed back to Minnesota!

Another oh-so-long day of driving later, and we were back home, exhausted, and oh-so-ready to sleep in our own beds.

On Wednesday, we jumped right back into our routine with attempting some schoolwork each day, as well as Tae Kwon Do classes, though we did take the rest of the week off of archery practice. :-)


For those of you wondering, both the middle school team (Jaron and Liberty’s team) and the elementary team (Grace and Hope’s team) qualified to shoot at world’s, which is held in Wisconsin this year, in July! Unfortunately, our rural small-town team is a small one, and not enough archers can make it to world’s (thanks to those pesky summer vacations scheduled months in advance), so we don’t have the minimum 12 archers per team, and we will not be able to participate.

It’s disappointing, but what can you do besides use it as a teaching moment? Life is full of disappointments, and we were blessed to be able to participate and go this far.

Now, bring on summer!

{ 1 comment }

Scanxiety, It’s a Thing

by Alison on April 21, 2014 · 4 comments


It doesn’t go away.

It ebbs and flows, but it doesn’t go away.

It’s been 2 years, 8 1/2 months, so scan day is nothing new, and I keep feeling like this should be getting easier. In some ways it does, but then it doesn’t, and it hits me like a sucker punch to the gut. Those are the moments when it’s hard to breathe…

I was standing in the kitchen, looking out the window, watching the younger kids play on the jungle gym, and suddenly it hit. Tomorrow is scan day. My chest felt as tight as my throat, tears welled up in my eyes until there was one too many and they began to spill down my cheeks, and there I was, sniffling and sobbing, a living and breathing bundle of anxiety. I know I should be trusting the Lord, and ultimately I do, but I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have those moments where the worries and the fears just storm in and it all seems so much bigger than I can handle.

That’s where I was yesterday evening.

The what if’s whirled around and around. I’d push one away, and another one would come crashing in.

What if there’s a “new area of concern” in the brain?
Or along the spine?

What if there’s a problem with his ventricles?
Would that mean there’s a problem with his shunt?

Just when I’d think all was quiet and calm in my heart, the worst-case-scenarios would start playing out in my head. The memories of every time we heard “this is extremely rare” and “we don’t really know why this is happening” come back and play out like movies that I can’t control. There is no off button. I can’t even turn down the volume.

My mom-heart worries. He’s my son, and I just want to make this all go away for him. For almost 3 years, I’ve just wanted to make it all go away, to fix it and make it better, but I can’t.

There’s nothing I can do but wait, and keep loving my son with all of my heart.

So, that’s what I’ll do.

It’s scan day today.

We should know more later.

We appreciate your prayers!


Scans are stable, no new enhancements!! Boring, just the way we like them!!

Now we breathe a sigh of relief, and he doesn’t have to go back for 6 months, which will officially be the longest Ian has gone without an MRI in the last 3 years!


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