Thursday, May 29, 2008
Along with his striving for excellence, everyone on campus knows that my husband is a Christian, sincere about his faith. This shows in his approach to life and his strong sense of integrity. He clearly lives a life with Jesus Christ at the core.
Everyone also knows that his family is always a priority as well. He is a caring husband, and committed father. We all know that he loves us more than this 'job,' and that he puts so much into his job out of love and concern for providing for his family.
Congrats, my love! Another award well earned. You never cease to amaze me.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The more I read Scripture the more difficult I find it to isolate one verse for meditation or focus. Most verses rely on their context to teach accurately the Word of God. And the verse(s) that I cling to this week verifies this once again.
Late last week, one of my kids had a particularly grumbly attitude toward her school work. I began with my usual reminder to do things without grumbling and complaining, but realized that this episode required more than a gentle reminder. With the verse from last week weighing on my mind I knew this attitude would easily give the devil opportunity in this child’s life which overflows to the others in our household as well. We set aside the school books and took up residence on our couch to discuss the attitude and the ‘why’ behind it, and the ‘why’ it needed fixing. We talked for quite a while, and while it is sometimes difficult to set aside an attitude quickly, God does transform hearts, in His timing.
We turned to the context of the “complaining” verse – Philippians 2
(bear with me here, while we set up the verse)
Strive for humble unity:
1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Follow that lead:
12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
Need more reasons? --
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life;
And, Paul’s response to their obedience, and my verses for the week:
that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. 17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. 18 For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.
So much of that chapter wrapped up what I want for my children – humble, unified, blameless, obedient, shining lights. And, as I see them grow, even through struggles and working out of their own faith, I desire to rejoice in their victories, God's victories in their lives. I will not have run or worked in vain. Everyday, as I pour myself out as a mother, I look for those times that we can rejoice together. Regardless of the frequency of those unified times of rejoicing, I must remain faithful. I am driven to my knees all the more, that my children will hold fast to the word of life and my days with them will not be in vain.
I always find encouragement from scripture both as a Christian, and as a mother. This chapter reminds me of the depravity of the world around us, the powerful example of Christ, and my need to constantly pour myself out in prayer on behalf of my children. I look forward to years of rejoicing together over their faith and unity in Him. And, for now, that vision keeps me daily diligent to pass along my faith, and encourage them in it as well.
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith,
I joy, and rejoice with you all.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
This time of year we spend loads of time outside. The warm weather draws out children like nailpolish on a sliver, and sometimes as painful. Along with the beautiful weather comes critters of all kinds. We enjoy spontaneous science classes and as much first hand observation as possible.
Also at this time of year we find ourselves with a desperate shortage of bug catchers. So, anything around us becomes a jail cell for the bugs we catch. I don't like my little ones carrying around the glass jars, although they do offer the best observation views.
We found our favorite way to keep and view bugs is with various old plastic containers, with a few modifications. First, we just poked holes in the lid, but then you have to take it off every time you want to see the bug. Then my husband came up with this upgrade to the standard margarine-bug tub:
After cutting away most of the lid we inserted a piece of an old screen from repairing window screens around the house. Just put that on the container, snap the lid back on, and there you have a handy-dandy bug catcher/watcher.
For another great, breath powered catcher, check out this site . . . My parents make a smaller version of this at a camp's nature center every summer. The kids there (and my own) have a blast with it.
Recycling and science go hand in hand that's for sure!
Check out more great Frugal Friday tips here.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Here is more from I Peter 5 -- (with my thoughts)
1The elders (I am not an elder, but some of my responsibilities as Mom are similar) which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
2Feed the flock of God which is among you (definitely a part of my role as Mom, providing spiritual nourishment for my kids), taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly (not doing things because I have to, but because I get to!); not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind (always looking for those teachable moments);
3Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples (to the best of my ability, they should be able to watch my life and know better how to walk in Christ's footsteps) to the flock.
4And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away (such a great promise and reminder of where my treasures lie).
5Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble (not necessarily the down-trodden or the self-defeating, rather the humble -- those that recognize their place in submission to God's vast holiness and perfection).
6Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time (maybe not in this lifetime):
7Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (letting go of those anxieties, trusting in God's sovereignty, resting in his perfect peace).
8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
9Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world (I'm not the only one going through what this day may throw at me).
10But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while (some days it may seem like a long while, but still just a drop in the bucket compared to eternity), make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle (I like that word -- peace, settled) you.
11To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
What great promises and assurances I always uncover when I look at the 'rest' of the message.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
- Other people could manage my schedule better than I do
- If I were just a better parent I would have perfect kids
- I'm the only one facing these struggles
- If I'm walking in obedience things should be easier
We all have our own areas of discouragement, and truth does not usually lay the foundation for these. I was encouraged by a post on The Heart of the Matter that presented a devotional based on a chapter of a book entitled Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe (You can read the whole post here). While we often compare and find ourselves lacking, Satan uses this avenue to keep us from the truth and the freedom we can find in Jesus Christ.
Many lies have knocked on my door recently and I find myself too often inviting them in for an extended visit. I Peter 5:8 reminds us, "Be on the alert, your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."
I need to recognize these lies for what they are, a work of the devil, and remain on the alert to avoid them. When he succeeds in pulling down a Christian mom, he knows much of the household will follow. Sometimes I just want to give in, to wallow in self pity. Giving up takes much less effort than staying vigilant and regaining that lost ground. For all God has done for me, and for the sake of my husband and the five precious blessings He entrusted to us, I must stand my ground. Grounded in, built on, and standing firm in the truth.
your adversary, the devil,
prowls about like a roaring lion,
seeking someone to devour.
Friday, May 16, 2008
I think all people, and most certainly Christians, should at least have some training in public speaking and presenting. I say especially Christians because we bear a great responsibility to share the gospel of Christ with others. While public speaking is only one avenue for this, learning to speak, and speak well, has ramifications outside of speaking to groups. As with all subjects, nothing should be taught to the exclusion of all else, but I see great benefit to learning to speak well, even from a young age.
Speech covers more than just speaking in front of large groups. Communication skills form a critical building block for relationships. How well we express ourselves can alter the jobs people hire us for, our impact in our community, and our ability to pass along our faith even in our own home.
From Playpen to Podium lays out a simple to follow path way from infant interactions to polished preteen speeches. This topic also addresses an area that many homeschoolers lack experience in since they generally belong to a class of one and don't give many group presentations.
This book offers great, simple activities to help your child think about how he speaks and develop a smooth, engaging delivery style, and as they grow, to put together meaningful presentations. While I plan to incorporate specific activities from this book into our homeschool time on a more regular basis, this week we did a simple oral presentation exercise.
Daily we recite Hebrews 11 outloud together, adding a verse each week. This week I used the first couple verses in an oral presentation lesson. Blake, 11 years, had an English assignment that called for giving an oral story and I realized that we needed more focus in this area. He did a great job considering the brief time we spent talking about the actual presenting, but also gave us lots to talk about in future 'class time' on this topic.
To start, I simply had each child recite the verses aloud on their own while standing and everyone else sat. After once through we talked about what each one did right, and where each one could work to improve in the future. We also talked about why I wanted to spend time on this and how this could play an important role in following Christ. Of course, we are just the vessel for the message that God has, but we need to take advantage of opportunities to grow our knowledge and skills for His glory.
My two year old even did well, but got camera shy when I tried to video. So, here is Brooke, 4, presenting the beginning of Hebrews 11 (a little distracted at the end, so with a little prompting . . .) Lots to work on, but home is the best place for that, too.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
After searching for this poem that I vaguely remembered seeing somewhere I found it quoted on two blogs, both by people who don't know where it came from either. So, unfortunately I can't give credit to its author either, but it speaks volumes to me. It also reminds me of my recent thoughts on real life vs. academics, and a post that is still rolling around in my brain regarding relationships with our children. Until I get that 'on paper,' here is someone else's thoughts on the matter:
I Corinthians 13 for Homeschool Moms
Though I teach my children how to multiply, divide, and diagram a sentence, but fail to show them LOVE, I have taught them nothing!
And though I take them on numerous field trips, to swim practice and flute lessons; and though I involve them in every church activity,
but fail to give them LOVE, I profit nothing!
And though I scrub my house relentlessly, run countless errands, and serve three nutritious meals every day but fail to be an example of LOVE, I have done nothing!
LOVE is patient with misspelled words and is kind to young interrupters.
LOVE does not envy the high SAT scores of other Homeschool families. LOVE does not claim to have better teaching methods than anyone else,
is not rude to the fourth telephone caller during a science lesson, does not seek perfectly behaved geniuses, does not turn into a drill sergeant, thinks no evil about friends’ educational choices!
LOVE bears all my children’s challenges, believes all my children are God’s precious gifts, hopes all my children establish permanent relationships with Christ, and endures all things to demonstrate God’s love!
LOVE never fails!
Where there are college degrees, they will fail;
where there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
For we know in part and we teach in part. But when the trials of life come to our children, the history, math, and science will be done away and faith, hope, and love will remain;
I'm sure God is speaking to each one of us with His unique rendition of this for our life and situation, but the underlying theme remains . . . more important than all of the homeschooling and housewife responsibilities is the living out of the love of Christ in our home and toward our children.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
The month of May is typically one of those 'tremor' months for me. So much that needs to get done in addition to the regular everyday demands. This week God called to mind one of my favorite verses, that I so need to meditate on as I head into the next few weeks. Isaiah 33:6 says, "And He will be the stability of your times, A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; The fear of the LORD is his treasure."
I love that reminder that whether we face the greatest storm in our life or the relentless stormy waters of regular daily life He is our stability. God highlighted this verse during a time in my life of particular emotional struggles and reminded me that no matter how unstable my insides seemed, He was rock solid, unwavering, ever faithful. He brings stability. You know that song, "Sometimes He calms the storm, and other times He calms His child." I find the latter more often the case.
This morning in church the Sunday School teacher talked about Paul and Barnabas. He walked us through the story of Paul's stoning that brought him so close to death (how many times did Paul come close to death?) As they dragged him outside the city and left him for dead (Acts 14), God had other plans. No matter how shaky, painful, disastrous, aggravating, or dangerous a circumstance we may go through, we will make it out alive if God still has plans for our life on this earth.
As we struggle through life, often trying to swing things on our own once again, He remains steadfast and in His gentle faithfulness to us brings His wisdom, salvation, and knowledge. Living our lives in awe and reverence to Him can be our only response. When I feel brain dead from all the thinking and planning, His knowledge shines through. When another disagreement erupts between kids that needs refereeing, His wisdom restores order. When my judgmental finger points in my face, His salvation bring peace. He is to be treasured through each and every storm (and sunshine) that this life brings.
No need to worry, judge, defend, compromise, shrink back, or quiver. Just hold on tight. He's got everything under control.
A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge;
The fear of the LORD is his treasure.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Once upon a time in a land not so far away, in the very family and household I belong to, we experienced a night that was anything but a fairy tale. Bedtime went as usual, but not long before I settled in for a restful night’s sleep a cry arose from the far bedroom and the wailing grew as the tiny footsteps crept closer. The hair on my neck tingled as I knew what lay just over the threshold.
The green eyed glowing monster outside my bedroom door? Foot aches. My husband had them as did his mom before him, and so do three of our five children.
It seems each family has its own chronic health issues related to children. Some battle ear infections, some struggle with allergies, others have even more serious challenges in regards to their health. Our challenge attacks mostly at nights.
Poor little Brooke has faced more than her fair share of this plague and would wake me five to six nights a week when in the midst of a growth spurt. We knew the drill, and as the sobbing continued, I armed myself for a counteroffensive.
First, quick dose of children’s Motrin for long lasting impact.
Second, foot massage.
Third, heating pad in microwave to sooth for an hour or so until the Motrin kicked in.
Finally, a prayer and more rubbing until she fell asleep, hopefully for the night, but usually just for 5-6 hours until we did it all again.
This is what we did almost every night. The doctor said it fell into the normal range of things and didn’t give any other recommendations. She didn’t get aches as a result of physical activity or any other regular trigger, so they just fell into the category of growing pains and did not receive any further diagnosis.
As I reached frequently for the medicine bottle I began to read the warnings more often and realizing that I really did not want to keep giving this precious little girl these unpredictable medicines. Liver damage, bleeding stomachs, drug interactions, long term side effects. Hmmm, there must be a better way.
As we started desiring our family to adopt more healthy habits, this issue of foot aches kept coming back to me. Brooke was always a healthy eater. She can plow her way through the vegetable tray at a party or meal like nobody else. She has a healthy, balanced appetite and increasing bananas (potassium -- sometimes a lack of which has been blamed for aches) didn’t help any.
A friend of mine steered me toward the internet and seeking more natural alternatives. I was eager to find something that would alleviate her almost nightly dependence on OTC medication, and hopefully get us all some more sleep as well.
As a result of some research I started rubbing some oil on her feet at bedtime. I used a base of almond oil with a few drops of concentrated Rosewood, Roman Chamomile, and Lavender. We had 5 straight weeks without one night time awakening. The winds of change blew through our house. Now, when illness and aches crop up I look first to the oils and see what we can mix up to cure or sooth whatever we face.
We do still see the green-eyed, foot-ache monster at our door occasionally, but usually it comes when I have fallen out of practice of putting the oil on at night, lulled into complacency by too many smooth nights. My 11 year old son still gets aches now and then and he will go to the oil first now and no longer takes Tylenol.
I have much yet to learn in this large area of ‘alternative’ treatments, but I enjoy using treatments that come more directly from God’s creation than some pharmaceutical conglomerate. Now we are often able to sleep, happily every after . . .
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Eleven years ago we went into the hospital to have everything checked out and determine the best course of action since he was breach and my blood pressure was ridiculously high anytime I did anything more than breath. The doctor said the baby looked good, but with his head solidly stuck under my ribs there would be no hope of his turning. So, we would definitely need to have a c-section.
We asked the next logical question, "when?" And the doctor said, "Surgery will be ready in about 30 minutes. Are you ready?" Gulp. We had no idea all the experiences that lay ahead in the days, month and years to follow. Wouldn't trade them for the world.
Not much more than an hour later we welcomed Blake, boasting a very healthy set of lungs, and quickly dispelling any concern that his unfavorable position the past couple months had caused any damage.
Since that day he has rarely ceased to amaze us.
Happy Birthday, my wood-workin' baseball-lovin' God-fearin' big-brother math-whiz young man!
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
“Blake caught a big fish today!”
“Yeah? What kind of fish?”
“I think it was a TV catfish!”
Umm, you mean a ‘channel’ catfish? (name withheld to protect the innocent)
Today while discussing our upcoming trip to
Brooke commented, “I know what hotels are! That’s where they have beds, right?”
“Yes, sweetie, they have beds.”
“And places to brush your teeth?” Brooke questioned.
“Yes, that too. They have beds and a bathroom.”
Brooke wrapped up her thoughts, “Oh good! Otherwise we might have to go in our pants.”
Thank you, God, even for the bathrooms we so often take for granted.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
- gifts and skills
- a curriculum
- traffic laws
- the 'good' of mankind
- material objects
- good parenting
All of those run shallow compared to where my trust should lie:
"Some boast in chariots and some in horses,
But we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God." -- Psalm 20:7
Isaiah 31:1 says,
"Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help
[reminded me again of looking back to Egypt]
And rely on horses,
And trust in chariots because they are many
And in horsemen because they are very strong,
But they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!"
I stake my claim in Christ alone. In His strength I live, in His strength I become more like Him. Not through my own plans, accomplishments, possessions or relationships, but through seeking Him first and foremost. As Martin Luther said, "Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen." Nothing on this earth can compare.
But we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.
~ Psalm 20:7 ~
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Some years everything comes together. Driven players, motivating and knowledgeable coaches, team chemistry, and encouraging parents. Last year we enjoyed that.
This year is a character building season.
As I watched Blake playing today on a very cold, very rainy day all of the opportunities for learning came in to play. Not learning baseball, but learning life.
Focus and perseverance to pitch with water streaming down the bill of his hat
Leadership and teamwork as he encourages other players with how to play the ball
Diligence and a desire to always do his best while working to stay driven even when down 16-1 (!)
Respect for coaches in all circumstances
Showing Christlikeness with his joy and enthusiasm for life.
The scoreboard doesn't necessarily show all the victories.
Friday, May 2, 2008
Last year I started looking for a program that would allow me to mentor my growing girls on a spiritual and practical level. I wanted some type of Christian Girl Scout experience.
In looking around, I came across a company called American Heritage Girls that looked rather interesting. It is a “nonprofit organization dedicated to the mission of building women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country.” It sounds like a well organized, exciting program. However, as I looked at the expenses involved it would cost at least $75 per student per year without even considering books and uniforms. That falls out of the affordability of most homeschool families I know that might have some interest in joining a club with us. They probably offer a great program, a solid framework to fit into, easy to start up, and lots of support for the coordinator if needed, just not right for my family and situation.
I continued my search.
Then I came across another club, also designed with young Christian girls in mind. The Keepers at Home club developed by the Keepers of the Faith organization. After looking over the materials, objectives, framework and flexibility of the program I knew this was what I was looking for.
I ordered a couple of the handbooks and the director’s guide and began studying the program in earnest. As fall approached I realized that I had stumbled upon a great thing and other homeschool families might want to jump in on this also. I sent an email to my homeschool group expecting one or two other families to begin this journey with. Well, by the time of our first meeting in November we had 9 families with a total of 20 children!
I love the heart of this program, to raise godly girls prepared to be godly keepers at home. I love the flexibility also. We meet only once a month. You could meet once a week, but our schedules are too busy to add something that often. Once a month we get together at my house and have explored decoupage, stenciling, prayer, pets, baking, and letter writing. We begin with a devotional time, then the kids have an opportunity to share any projects they have worked on since our last meeting, and then have the lesson or project time.
We set our club cost at $40 per child for the year including the book and sash. Next year for returning students they will only need $25 for the year to cover all of the projects and activities that we offer. This easily fits in my desire to mentor my girls while keeping a frugal, simple lifestyle. We all look forward to club time each month and have had great opportunities to grow our relationship through crafts and projects with spiritual significance.
There is also a club for boys, Contenders of the Faith, which we are looking to incorporate even more next year for the boys that have joined our group as well. These are great programs that offer a framework and concepts to build into the lives of our children.
And, while the end result is priceless, we don't need to break the bank to get there.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
My 8 year old daughter decided she wanted to try her hand at some poetry today. I have been discussing rhyme and rhythm with my older son as part of his English recently, but I think she has absorbed some through osmosis or something. Here is her original work entitled "The Wind"
I feel the wind as I run through the field
As I feel the summer running by me.
As if I was flying through the air
The breeze riding through my hair.
May 1, 2008
8 years oldI was impressed and had to share. Have I said that I love homeschooling? I love being here for all of these moments.