Family, a Flood, a Fire, and Frenzy

Our family has been through a lot in the past year. I have had much trouble with my health and am currently struggling. Rick had surgery on a torn rotator cuff. The three oldest, my Momma and I made a 2 week missions trip to Missouri. And the kids have all grown!
Devin is 3 1/2 weeks from his 17th birthday. He is a Sr and has picked his college~Blessed Hope Baptist College in Benton, Arkansas. He still plays basketball, only the homeschool team is now the Camp FAith Warriors. He is nearly 6'.
Sierra is 4 weeks from her 15th birthday. She is a sophomore. She is still a cheerleader for the Camp FAith Warriors. She is beautiful both inside and outside. Sierra is Mommas right hand and helps keep the house running smoothly.
Mackenzie is 2 months from 13 and is in 8th grade. SHe has passed both Sierra and I in height and is a beautiful young lady. She is good with the little kids, keeping them entertained while Sierra and I do the hard work.
Tanner is 10 1/2 and in 7th grade. He comes to my chin and will soon catch me, I think. He looks forward to being able to play basketball! He was allowed to start mowing this summer to help Devin and loved it. He is a sweet boy and a total daredevil with NO fear.
Keegan is 8 1/2 and in 4th grade. He grew a lot and is now in a size 10! He is still as adorable as he was as a baby...and still as poky. He must be prodded along even for things he wants to do.He is a cuddler and that dimpled grin just melts your heart.
Skyler is 6 and in 1st grade. Her curls have made it almost to her waist when wet and she finally has bangs! She learned to read this past year and is very excited to improve this year. She still wants to be "as big as Keegan" and is doing a good job of catching him as she now wears a size 10 also. She too likes to cuddle and spend time talking.
Kaden is 3 months away from his 4th birthday and is a big boy when it is to his advantage and a little when it is to his advantage. He moved to a twin size bed 4 months ago. He thinks he can and should do everything the "guys" do. He spends hours a day sitting on my lap talking, reading, snuggling, telling stories, giggling, etc...and I enjoy every second because I know this phase passes much too fast and he won't want to spend so much time with me. I will miss having little ones under foot all the time and so I cherish the moments now.

In the wee morning hours of Sunday morning on August 6, our street flooded and became a chest deep river with a very strong current. My husband got home from work at 1am by back roads and woke me so we could decide whether we should get the kids out as the water was already to our front door and nearing our back door. I decided to record it before we made a decision, and as I recorded a car came floating by. A few minutes later, another care came and this one stopped in front of our house. They called for help and my husband went in search of roap. What he fond is cheap clothes line stuff I got from the dollar store for camping to tie down our load. We tied one end to the corner of our fence which was nearly under water and then my husband took the other end to the van stranded in the water. He tied it on, and we eventually got 4 people out of the van and onto dry ground. As we were working, 2 more vehicles came through and so we moved to those vehicles and helped 3 more people to dry ground. By this time, the water had risen to the point that our car was under water up to the seats and it was on our back porch. we ended up losing our furnace and all our ductwork, we must replace all floors, most floor joists, some walls, most trim, lots of furniture, all carpeting and linoleum, plus lots of items out of our garage and our sandbox. But it ccould have been worse

As we were cleaning up from the flood, our sump pump died. We bought a new one, but it still wouldn't drain the water.I went to the breaker box and noticed we had a breaker off so I flipped it. It started the sump pump!!! It also started the furnace. :( Rick yelled and told me to turn the furnace off. Uuummm...its August. The furnace IS off! But I went in to make sure. He figured that getting wet confused it and said he would keep an eye on it. I have been sick, so I pu the 2 youngest down for a nap and I went to bed. An hour later Rick comes in and yells "get up the furnace is on fire!" I wake the little kids up, gather up the rest of the kids, and have Devin drive them all to my sisters so that I know they are all safe while Rick and a friend work to get the fire out and unhook the funace.

We have spent the last week in a frenzy of activity~cleaning, tossing, scrubbing, trying to save things, crying over things that can't be saved. We have emptied the entire garage which was used as a storage facility for 4 families to make room for our things. We have taken out the furnace and all the duct work. We have ripped up every carpet in the house. We have packed up 2 complete rooms and carried them up to the garage. We have scrubbed 4 inches of mud off the floors. We have emptied about a million buckets from the dehumidifiers. We have taken 3 truckloads to the salvation army. We have taken 4 truckloads to the dump.We have been shopping to buy a furnace, duct, and wood. We have baked cookies and pepperoni rolls to thank the coal miners my husband works with for the money they gave to help us. And we are nowhere near done.

This week, we must pack up the rest of the house, buy the rest of the supplies we need, have food made and ready....because Saturday a group of friends and family will be coming for a work day.

Please pray for us. Pray for our health as we live in this house and breathe in this nastiness 24 hours a day. Please pray for our safety as we our living in a construction zone with bare floors, walls, lumber piles everywhere, junk pile outside, etc. Please pray for our spirits to stay up as this can be depressing. Please pray for our finances. Please pray for strength to get the job done. Thank you and have a wonderful day!!!



Apparently, I blinked!
Devin is nearing 16 and driving. He will be a Jr this fall. Where did the time go? He likes a girl and spends all his free time texting. He still loves basketball, but not sure if there will be a team for him next year. He is taller than me and still growing. He is hardworking, dependable, sweet, considerate, and 100% awesome! His favorite subjects are still history and science and he HATED Spanish. He finally got the xbox hes been wanting, and hardly ever touches it. He does love his phone and his ipod.
Sierra is 3 1/2 months from 14 and will be a freshman. She still likes the same boy shes liked for over a year and has still never talked to him. Moms ok with that! She got that hairstyle and makeup she was wanting and is unbelievably beautiful. She is sweet, gentle, loving, and helpful 98% of the time. The rest of the time...watch out cause shes tough! She loves to read, talk, cheer, and spend time with friends.
Mackenzie is 4 months from 12 and will be in 7th grade. She is still a little bit of tomboy, but she is also so very pretty. She is following in her sisters footsteps and loves nothing more than a good book. She is a little flirt and thinks most boys are cute. Good thing Daddy has a nice new gun! :) She is tenderhearted, loving, a joy to be around, sweet and sassy, and willing to pout if she thinks it will help her get her way.
Tanner turned 9 in February and will be in 6th grade this fall. This year in school, he did a full year of 4th and 1/2 year of 6th. There's just no holding him back. He is brilliant. He loves every subject and enjoys school as long as he doesn't have to sit still too long. He is still very active and never slows down. I never expected to have to say things like you cant hang upside down off the back of the couch, you cant jump off the top bunk, you cant do flips in the kitchen, and you cant climb the tree in the backyard to get on the roof so many, many times! But he makes up for it with the snuggles at the end of a long day, those sweet little grins when you ask for a kiss, holding a hand when you go for a walk. He is a sweetheart.
Keegan is 7 :( and will be in 3rd grade. He finally grew! He now wears a size 7/8 and has a little belly. He still has that cute dimpled smile and eyes that can just melt your heart. He likes math and playing and tolerates the other subjects. He enjoys being a big brother and bossing Skyler and Kaden around. He is a joy.
Skyler just turned 5 and is growing so fast. She will be in K this year. She enjoys visits with Mamaw and Papaw and other Mommy and other Daddy. She loved preschool and cant wait until she learns to read. Her lifelong goal is to be as big as Keegan. She wants to be in charge which doesn't often happen. She is a snuggler and loves to draw.
Kaden is 2 1/2 and unfortunately we are still working on potty training. He is a wild man that keeps everyone on their toes from morning till night. He is also the sweetest little monster you'd ever hope to meet. He is a mockingbird and repeats everything he hears which is good lesson for Momma that CRAP is NOT an ok word to say!
My RA is still much better. Only 2 bad flares this year. Having a small flare now, but nothing too bad. God is good and I am still able to be up and active and enjoy my kids. Well, I've rambled enough for now. Time to go tape my eyes open! lol


Real Men

My Pastor preached a sermon on August 5 with the Title of "The Measure of a Man". He started by asking what makes a man and quickly ruled out all of the obvious answers. It is not his muscles, his appearance, his height, his shoe size, his level of education, his job. So what makes a man a real man?

A real man is spirit filled. He is in touch with God and on fire for the Lord. He is willing to say Thy will be done. He follows God's leading without complaint or thought of himself and his wants.

A real man is a servant. He is willing to put others first. He is willing to help out when he is needed. He volunteers instead of waiting to be asked. He cares about the details. He does things instead of talking about them.

A real man is a soldier. He doesn't run from problems. He runs right toward the fight and gets things done. He leads his family, his work mates, his class. He jumps right in with no fear. He's not a wimp.

Why do I share this? Because God wants men! America needs men! Our churches need men! Our families need men! But we are not raising men. We are not raising girls who look for men. We must make the effort to teach our boys how to be men. We must teach our girls what traits to look for in a mate. We must prepare the next generation. If we don't teach our children, who will?!?!?

My prayer for my family is that I would support my husband in being a real man, that we would prayerfully teach our 4 boys how to be real men , and that we would teach our three girls what to look for to find a real man. My prayer for each person reading this is that you, too, will raise real men and girls searching for real men so that America will return to her roots!


Growing and Changes

Here we are again, over half way through the year. August first has come and gone and soon we will officially start school. Life has changed drastically here since my last post. We now have custody of my great niece and great nephew. Seven kids, two adults, and a springer spaniel in a 700 square foot house is definitely never boring!

This summer has been a time of growth, in more ways than one. My family size grew from 7 to 9. My two oldest children grew as tall as me and the next two aren't far behind. My girls feet grew into the same size shoe as me. My Keegan grew out of his size fours! Kaden is growing into potty training. But the most important growth has been spiritual.

Our teen group had three trips this year- a week long youth conference, a week at the Wilds christian camp, and a weekend at a prayer advance. This has changed the hearts and lives of two "good" kids. They discovered a concept that is so great, so life changing, that I had to share it. They don't want to be good!

All these years, I have been so proud of having good kids and of being a good christian. In one short testimony, that was ruined for me forever. They introduced me to the concept that being a good christian does not mean you are a godly christian. I know, it sounds simple. But, it has changed the very structure of our family! Why would I want "good" kids if I can have godly kids? Why would I want to be a "good christian" that follows all the rules and does what I should, if I can be a godly christian?

Apparently, my Pastor has also been touched by what is going on, because his sermons have gone from great to phenomenal. We have had sermon after sermon that breaks the heart and opens it to the Spirit. Now, we are finishing a week of Day Camp/VBS where many have been saved and we are having fun and fellowship in the Lord. As a result of all of this going on, the Longwell's have made some changes.

We canceled our cable. We gave away our tv. We reimplemented family devotions that got canceled when Daddy started the evening shift. We limited Wii to Wii Fit and that only a half hour a day on a 19" tv. We spend more time together, more time praying, more time with God, more time serving God and others, more time HAPPY!!!

And guess what? WE DON'T EVEN MISS IT!!! Sometimes, in the evening, I wish for a little "boob tube" distraction. But I pick up my Bible or a good book about christian character or I pray for my kids. We read together. We go on walks. We talk about what is going on in each others lives. We tell our children our hopes and dreams for them and what we expect of them. We have time and no distractions so we LISTEN to each other. They are growing in a close personal relationship with God as their "Daddy" and it thrills my heart!


My New Years Resolution

I can't believe another year has come and gone. We are already 3 days into 2009. My New Years Resolution this year is that I will try to not blink!! It seems that every time I do blink, time has flown by and my babies are much older.
Devin is now 14 and half way through the 9th grade. The braces are about to come off and soon he will grow into those huge feet. Girls are no longer icky and to be avoided at all costs. Where did my baby go? I vividly recall that day when I first got to look into those baby blue eyes and the look he gave me as if to say " I'm not a girl and you don't even mind it!" I remember his first step, first day of preschool, the day he got baptised. It seems like it just happened, but it was so long ago.
Sierra is 12 and in 7th. I don't know for sure when it happened, but she is beautiful! I guess I didn't see it because everyone says she looks just like me and I am not beautiful. But on Christmas Sunday, my little girl was a drop dead gorgeous young lady who turned heads all day. How did that happen? When did that happen? And now she wants a new hairstyle and to wear makeup like the other girls in church. I want her to always be my little girl.
Mackenzie is 10 and in 5th grade. She is still a little girl sometimes and sometimes I get a glimpse into my future when she flips her hair over her shoulder and flirts or when she shows some attitude or pushes the rules. She is my outspoken one, my people pleaser. She could easily be influenced to worldly ways, shows, music. I must pray more and work harder on training her to do right no matter what. Don't get me wrong, she's a good girl. She is kind, respectful, obedient, helpful, considerate. All of my kids are great and I get daily compliments on what wonderful kids they are. And Mackenzie has dedicated her life to God and she meant it. But I am her momma and so I worry. I want the best and I know how easily a mistake can happen and how those mistakes can forever alter your life.
Tanner is almost 8 and in 3rd grade. He is a handful and a bundle of energy, but also the sweetest, most caring and tender little boy you could ever meet. He is known as the little preacher or "the future" narrator/pastor/missionary/etc. He has a heart for God that is so very visible. He is still a brilliant child, and yet not really a little boy any more. He is now a handsome young man and growing so big.
After losing Colton and then almost losing Tanner, I struggle with letting go of my two "little" ones. I know that I must, but it is so hard to even let go a little. I know the pain of burying a child. I know the pain of hearing "There's nothing we can do." I know the fear, the heartache, the depression, the regrets, the could have beens. And I am afraid. I know I need to trust God and let go. I work on it daily because my boys are not about to be held back. They have plans to do big things and I can watch with pride from the sidelines, but not run along behind in case they scrape their toes.
And my sweet little Keegan is nearly 6. He still looks like a 4 year old, and I'm OK with that! He's dainty and petite and the most beautiful child I have ever seen. He is also a little spitfire who can hold his own against the older 4. He and Tanner are strong willed, and I pray daily for God to control them in every step, thought, deed. But even Keegan is growing up. My sweet baby is now a little boy and if I blink, I know he will make the progression to big boy, young man, young adult, adult. I know time will march on and even my last born, my bonus baby, will grow up and that saddens me.
And so, I resolve, that this year, I WILL NOT BLINK! I will hold on to every moment with each of my children and cherish it, for it is a moment that I can never get back, never relive. Time will march forward as it has always done and I must choose to either fight it every step of the way and miss the small details because I am so busy fighting a certainty, or I can embrace it and go with it and enjoy each stage, each new discovery, each and every minute of everyday. And later, when its over and done, then and only then, I can blink. And cry. And eventually find the joy that comes from knowing that I was there for everything.
My kids never had to miss me because I was there and available. They never had to face the world alone and be afraid, because I was their greatest cheerleader standing on the sideline. They never lacked self confidence because I spent my days telling them that God made them just the way they are and He loves them and so do I. They never got into trouble like other kids, because I taught them to use the Bible as the guideline for every moment of their lives. They never have to worry about pain and letting go because I taught them to never blink. To enjoy every moment, good or bad, happy or sad, whether they feel good or not, whether they need to work, or go to the store, or take care of a sick baby or an aging parent, whether they feel like there is no hope or if they are on top of the world...JUST DON"T BLINK! Life only happens once, live it to the fullest.


A new baby in the family

On November 14(no, she wouldn't wait~I asked!), my niece Jessica gave birth to her third child (1st daughter!)Jade Elizabeth. She weighed 8 lbs and was 20 1/2 in long. She is a replica of big brother Harley as a baby. At 6 weeks, she has already made it to a whopping 11 lbs. No dainty girls in this family!

Christmas at Mom's

This year the Longwell's once again had Christmas at Grandma's because our place is so tiny. We arrived at 7 to open gifts from each other and help make breakfast. Everyone else came at 8:30 to enjoy the food Mom and I had prepared! Then, the true craziness began. 31 people in my momma's house with a tree and presents and coats and things from home they had to bring and food and drinks and games and baking and cooking and on and on. Chaos, but wonderful chaos. It was a lot of fun, but a bit
sad. It doesn't get any easier to look at Dad's empty chair no matter how much time goes by.

But anyway, even though times are tight, we had a wonderful Christmas and my children (and everyone else) got too much and ate too much. We laughed and shared and celebrated the birth of our Savior. We had two new folks at Mom's for the fist time this year~Rick's mom, Gail, and Kim's boyfriend, Roger. I know they suffered a bit of culture shock, but both survived!

Everyone buys gifts for the kids (like they need
that many!), but for the adults we do a chinese
gift exchange. Always entertaining to see what others brought and to fight for the items you want!


My other babies

Skyler Alexis was born to Ashley in April 2005. She is convinced she is the younger sister to "her guys" and loves to spend the night with "nana and poppy". She is a miniature Ashley in looks and deeds. Kaden Isaac Joseph joined us in November. He is just now getting to know and enjoy spending time with us.


About Keegan - Kindergarten

Keegan Montgomery was born in January 2003, the day before my birthday. Because he is my last, he is still my baby. At age five, he loves nothing more than to snuggle with Momma and read. Keegan is a very energetic boy who thinks that his adorable dimpled grin will keep him out of trouble. He loves playing with his brothers and sisters,and being a "big brother" to Skyler and Kaden(who are really his cousins). As the youngest, he doesn't usually get opportunity to do much for himself. It's quicker and easier for the big guys to tie his shoes for him than to teach him how to tie his shoes. But we are working on making him grow up, at least a little!

About Tanner - Second Grade

Tanner Marcus was born in February 2001. He is in the second grade and enjoys every subject, especially math! He is a very smart boy, and skipped kindergarten. He should have skipped 2nd, but momma was not ready to have a 6 year old in 3rd grade. Tanner is all boy and very rambunctious. If he's not running full speed ahead, he must be asleep! He IS as ornery as his picture looks, but he's just as sweet. He is a great big brother and a great tormentor, depending on his mood. Tanner is looking forward to going to camp this year for the first time.

About Mackenzie - 4th Grade

Mackenzie Joann was born October 1998. She is in the fourth grade and her favorite subject is history. She has also been a cheerleader for the past two seasons. Mackenzie is a bit of a tomboy and a bit of a wild thing. She is the one who will push the rule as far as possible, then smile sweetly in innocence. Mackenzie is a big help, if she is made to be. If left on her own, she'd much rather play and let Sierra do the work. She does, however, love helping with the babies and I don't know what I would do without her on the weekends. Mackenzie dedicated her life to Jesus her first year at camp and is excited to learn what God has in store for her future.

My Cheerleaders

About Sierra - 6th Grade

Sierra Jordan was born in September 1996. She is the oldest girl, and as such is a "momma hen" to the little ones. Sierra is in the sixth grade and her favorite subject is reading. She has been a cheerleader for the homeschool basketball team for the past two years, and was head cheerleader this past season. She loves to help and is a VERY quiet and shy girl. She is the spitting image of her mother in actions and looks, unfortunately. Sierra has a very tender heart and a sincere desire to serve God. If she ever decides boys aren't totally disgusting, she want's to have 4 kids!

The Longwell Crew

Christmas 2006

Devin -8th Grade

Longwell Crew

Hello and welcome. My name is Jeannette and my husband Rick and I have 7 kids- Devin age 14, Sierra age 12, Mackenzie age 10, Tanner age 8, Keegan age 6, Skyler age 4, and Kaden 21 months . We homeschool and hope you enjoy this glimpse into our lives.