Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Might go without saying

Well, it may be painfully obvious that the tempo of my life has not allowed for much blogging as of late. And yet, I still feel an obligation to get on here and post something now and then. I mentally compose posts multiple times each day, but run out of day before they actually get written.

So, I have decided to let myself off the hook for the time being. I can't imagine just putting this blog out to pasture, but I do need a mental break for a time. I so appreciate each of you that has followed, commented, and read along with what God has been teaching me over the past couple years.

Right now, I need to focus on this school year that is passing too quickly, and my sweet baby that brings more treasure to each day than I thought possible, and re-solidify a daily devotional time.

I'll be back, but it will likely be a few months or more before I commit to blogging on a regular basis once again.

Hug your babies, do something special for your husband, and protect your Bible time (in the opposite order though). I can't wait to share all that God has ahead for me, and maybe even revisit some of what He has already led me through that I have not had time to capture here.

Until then . . .

Thursday, November 4, 2010

30 day challenge -- day 25

Katie is asking me now about my iPod . . .

First, let me say that I do have an MP3 player, but when my husband gave it to me for Christmas a few years back I have to admit that I looked at him with an "I don't really know why you gave me this, but I'm supposed to be surprised and thankful that you picked out this great gift" look.

We're not really in sync when it comes to gifts. He loves technology and I'm clueless about it. I don't even know how to text.

Well, I have grown to love my MP3 player, but not for the reason you might think. I have only listened to songs on it once (when I was in labor with Eli). Instead, I downloaded the Illinois Christian Home Educators conference workshops onto it from my CDs.

There is not much more motivating to me than listening to Voddie Bauchum as I try to keep my heart rate up. When I have time for running I find nothing helps the miles tick away like mentally keeping notes on Jeannie Fulbright's talk on building your home or making science come alive.

I really enjoy music, but most days I really need some encouragement in my homeschooling journey if I have time to get out by myself. So, I opt for encouragement from the experts. Tedd Tripp, Stacy McDonald, Jessica Hulcy, etc. It doesn't get much better than that.

You can get this past year's speakers on the ICHE site. Or, check out Best Christian Conferences for recordings from other area's conferences.

And, if you are looking for more traditional download ideas check out the other readers' suggestions.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mission to India

Our little suitcase bank is bulging. Can't wait to rip it open and count it up at the end of next week.

This Passport to India program is amazing. I have been reliving a mission trip that I took there back in 1989. It has been helpful to add to our discussions from personal experience.

Today and yesterday we talked about persecution. Realizing again what a blessing we have to attend church freely, worship God freely, read the Bible freely. At the same time, we all feel the need to do more for those who don't share these freedoms.

Check out this video that will shake the complacency out of you . . .
What? You haven't been following along with Mission to India? It's not to late to jump in.
Another week of videos yet to come, but the first 8 are all up for viewing on the My Passport to India website.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

30 day challenge -- day 2, or 14

I told you I really wasn't up for a challenge . . .

But, I have returned, two weeks later, to the challenge to blog for 30 days. I have a few days that I want to go pick up, but today Katie is looking for some of our favorite photos.

One of my favorites from recent years came 10,000 feet up in Maui. My amazing man and I got some precious time away almost two years ago now. We enjoyed the sunrise while getting windblown and freezing more than any Chicagoan has a right to in Hawaii.

Not the most flattering picture of either of us, but treasured none the less for all that it reminds me of. Spending a week with my best friend in an amazing setting was too good for words.

Another favorite shows me and my oldest daughter from a little over a year ago as well. Just a casual shot at bed time, but love the genuineness of it and the relationship that we continue to foster.

I have lots more favorites, but my little guy is working on getting himself to sleep, so I need to work away from my regular computer with all my photos. But, lots of my favorites include my treasured family, so if you want to catch a few more, check out my "family pictures" label.

Pictures hold such great memories, capture moments that pass too quickly and might otherwise be forgotten if they were not in freeze frame. A gentle reminder to pull my camera out a little more frequently just to catch the everyday stuff.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Verse of the week -- Romans 8:38,39

Nothing, nothing . . . absolutely nothing!

As I sat in church taking a break from the rush of life, God dropped a verse in my lap that I had read and memorized often. But, as the Word of God is alive, this verse had sprouted new leaves and prompted fresh thoughts.

Roman 8:38,39 says, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I had always looked at the big things in this verse. God is stronger than evil, Satan, rulers, extremes, adversity, etc. Nothing, no matter how huge can separate us from His love.

That's great, and I have clung to that promise in the face of trials before. Right now, though, my struggle is just with life. Plain old living. No death or tragedy. No monster in my dreams or waking hours.

As I pondered these words again, I found my situation there -- LIFE. Yes, life is the opposite extreme of death, but it is also where I am right now. And, where God's love continues to hold me.

God's love will penetrate the daily push of life's challenges, even the little ones that pile up.

Nothing can separate me from Him and His love -- even life.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

~Romans 8:38,39~

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

30 day challenge - intro

I'll admit I'm not really up for a challenge. Right now daily life is exciting enough for me, but this intrigued me, so as long as I can squeeze it in here and there, I'm game.

I came across this through Mama Manuscripts, and it finds its home at Katie's Journey. She set out to challenge people to blog for 30 days and she provides the topic. I doubt I'll hit everyday, but we'll see what we can do.

I'm starting off behind, but here is the day one topic: recent picture and 15 trivia bits (aka interesting facts).

Just me. Wife to one incredible man, "Mommy" to three littles and "Mom" to the three bigger ones. ;) Homeschooler, lover of God, explorer of Scripture, who dreams of one day sleeping full nights on a regular basis.

1. I don't like animals, especially when they try to live with me, and yes that includes my dog.

2. I expected to have two or maybe three kids. My husband had a role in convincing me otherwise.

3. Learning foreign languages is something I enjoy, for the first few days at least. I can speak various phrases in about 10 languages. I especially like to learn how to say, "I don't speak _________" in that language.

4. My siblings and I are all named in alphabetical order. I'm the fifth, so my name naturally starts with "E."

5. My biggest claim to fame is that our fourth child was born in the car four blocks from the hospital. My husband delivered her and then drove us, laughing, the rest of the way to the hospital. (The full story on our 7-11 delivery is also on my blog).

6. We spent a year working at a school in the Bahamas in our early years of marriage. Quite a rich year in terms of experience and faith building.

7. I am not remotely a picky eater. I like pretty much everything except: cranberry sauce (canned or fresh), cherry pie, tapioca pudding, and sloppy joes. And, even those I can eat without a twitch if it means I might offend by passing.

8. My husband knew I was the one for him when I yelled at the car driving 40 mph next to us for directions on our first real date.

9. I've been to about 20 countries.

10. Lived in Illinois my whole life except for one year.

11. Never pierced any part of my body.

12. Enjoy writing, but it is pretty low on the priorities right now.

13. For some weird reason, I enjoy public speaking also. Still get ridiculously nervous over it, but enjoy it nonetheless.

14. Used to think homeschooling was a pretty odd way to raise a child.

15. Currently live in a dorm at a residential school where we used to be house parents, and my in-laws live with us as well.

Enough about me. Hopefully the other topics will prompt some encouragement for you as well.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Verse of the week -- Proverbs 31:29

My routine has been a bit off kilter as of late. This morning I grasped a bit of my old normalcy and enjoyed that treasured tea time with my 11 year old.

Right now we are reading through a chapter at a time of Talks to Girls. Some chapters in this "old-fashioned" book hold only slight relevance, but many have blossomed into quality conversations.

Talks to Girls: Classic Teachings on Virtues & Values

Today blossomed into a whole bouquet. It spoke to her, but it spoke most strongly to me.

Am I just living? Just getting by? I am afraid that is my only goal many days, to simply get through. Enjoy the memories along the way, but no real intentionality or forethought to get all I can from these irreplaceable moments. My vision for the eternal has grown a bit hazy.

This verse from Proverbs 31 came to mind as we read, "Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all." Many have done nobly, I don't know that I even fall in that category right now. But, this one spoken of excels even those doing nobly!

Noble deeds speak to excellence, a high standard. Not just getting by.
Vision, goals. Not just putting out fires.
Praise worthy, role model. Not status quo.

Tennyson said:

Drink deep until the habits of the slave,
The sins of emptiness, gossip , and spite,
And slander die. Better not be at all
Than not be noble.
Letting the days pass without taking hold of the reigns and requiring excellence of them is not worth the time God has loaned me. I clearly needed this reminder to get ahead, get God-surrendered control of my days and make them count. Not for getting by, but for eternity.

I cannot squander this week ahead of me. It won't return. There are no "re-dos." I want to fall among those counted as noble. Better yet, as one that surpasses them all. After all that my God has done for me, He deserves my best in return, each day, each week.

For You, Lord!

"Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all."
~Proverbs 31:29~

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

When God plans the lessons

 With these ant farms for kids, kids watch the ant artists in action as they transform the sand design you created into their own patterns!

My daughter got an ant farm a while back and we finally got around to sending in for the ants. Why did we wait so long? I have no idea.

They arrived, we prepped their "farm" and poured them in. They are quite the center of attention now. Of course, we did have to ponder why they carry the name "ant farm." What are they growing? Or, are they herding cattle? They aren't raising ants, so "ant farm" isn't kind of the wrong name. (Like a children's museum -- is that where you go to look at children? -- Ah well, welcome to our family dinner table discussions).

Interestingly enough, we just decided last week to jump to the insect section of our science book while bugs could still be found outside. And, we subscribe to God's World News and they have an article about insects and reinforce everything we read in science. Love when God plans the lessons, because I could never have orchestrated this so well.

I forgot how good a real life object lesson can be. Nathan cannot stay away from the ants. I get a report every five minutes about what new thing the little guys are up to. Tomorrow we'll break back open the books and put some facts behind our observation. And, of course, I have a pile of books I just picked up from the library on insects, and a DVD too!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Passport to India

We cheated. Started a week early.

Hope you heard and joined, and are getting excited as well.

Each year Sonlight spearheads an effort to raise money for a mission-oriented task. This year we are off to India, passports in hand, sort of.

The package arrived in the mail over the weekend, and I decided to open it today during Bible time. Each child has a passport and we will be learning through videos twice a week starting next week. More about India, more about missions, more about children's Bible clubs.

Every dollar we plunk in the little suitcase is one more child that can attend the club. Well, actually it is TWO more children because Sonlight matches every dollar we send in.

My kids scrambled to their rooms looking for spare change, and some not so spare change. Day one -- $22 in the suitcase. So thankful for their generosity.

Faith says, "That's 22 kids! No, wait, that's 44 kids! Radical!" (Don't know where that term comes from in this day and age, but she was clearly excited. And, yeah, this is pretty radical.)

And, we're not done yet. Six more weeks to add to the box and see where we end up. Will you join us?

Check out the fun introductory video at My Passport to India. My kids got a kick out of that and ran off to find more money to put in the box.

It may be too late to get a welcome kit sent to you, but you can still follow along and get your kids excited about giving to help other kids hear the good news. For more information, check out Sonlight's website.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Verse of the week -- II Corinthians 2:14

My one word description of Motherhood is "constantness." Google the word and aside from the references to physics, it comes up time and again related to motherhood.

Motherhood never quits. Laundry continually accumulates. Kids need to eat on a daily basis. And, eating requires dishwashing, grocery shopping, menu planning, and on and on in a vicious cycle. Homeschooling is a long-term commitment. Character doesn't grow on its own. Moms work around the clock.

It simply never ends, and the rare moment of feeling "caught up" usually is just a passing fad. Sleep merely prolongs the inevitable, another day of demands. And, if you declare a holiday for yourself, it likely just means double, or triple, the work the following day.

Obviously, I enjoy many aspects of mothering as well. The snuggles, the "I wuv oo," the closeness, the discoveries, the relationships, and much more. But, sometimes I get bogged down in the constantness of the work and challenges and forget to consider those aspects.

As I drove to church this weekend, I wallowed in the fact that we would arrive horrifically late once again. Lately that has become the pattern. I am thankful for a church with a long service, otherwise sometimes we would miss half of it. I know this is just a phase with a baby and lots of other insanity, but it still bothers me.

As I fretted, a thought struck me.

One of those God moments. He speak so much more clearly when I come to the end of myself. I bemoaned the constantness of my role, and suddenly realized that the constantness of my life is outmatched by the constantness of God.

Had to be a verse for this, and it ran me over during the service. II Corinthians 2:14 says, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place."

Through me! As I plod through the piles of dirty clothes and the unfolded baskets of clean ones, through the sinks of dishes and the overcooked meal I prepared, through my failures and chores, my successes and moments, God leads. And, He leads not to weariness, but to TRIUMPH!

I savored the last phrase, and especially the last two words. "Every place." Through my role as mom His aroma wafts into each situation. His knowledge overpowers the drudgery like fabric softener from the dryer vent. The steam escaping from a freshly washed load of dishes has nothing on His fragrance that is unignorable.

He's there. He's always there. His Godness outplays the constantness of life every moment. I just need to look. He's leading the way constantly.

Life has some serious competition, or maybe I need to realize that life is no competition in comparison to my God.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.
~II Corinthians 2:14~

Enjoy more ways to Making Your Home Sing

Friday, September 17, 2010

Loving it!

Over the years my teaching methods and curriculum picks have changed based on our kids' ages and other factors. We have definitely acquired some favorites that have helped us enjoy homeschooling and I love sharing and reading about others' favorites. If you enjoy finding what people love and why check out this week's cruise topic (all the links should be posted on Tuesday, September 21) that covers favorite resources.

Sources we loved for a season:

Konos -- One of my all time favorites, but it seemed to become unrealistic when I had more than a couple kids. Konos is a unit study approach and has lots of great book recommendations. It also overflows with hands-on ideas great for the kinesthetic learner, or even just the ordinary kid. I will never forget all we learned constructing our own beaver dam, unforgettable experiences!

Sonlight -- I love the organization of Sonlight. Great books, corresponding questions and background info. Works with an age spread of a few years. Again, once we started having more than a four year age spread I would have needed to add another core, and I barely found time in my day to do one core, so I knew that was not realistic. I love Sonlight, but it doesn't fit our family right now. I do still purchase sporadic things from them, but not the complete cores any more.

Ambleside Online --A free "curriculum." Ambleside Online follows a Charlotte Mason philosophy (short lessons, living books, lots of discussion and time out of doors). I love her approach, and this website that bears the name of Mason's hometown is a wonderful resource. We used it almost exclusively for a couple years, and then, again, I found it a struggle with so many different levels going at once. And, I found that I really like to do things together as a family, so having them all reading all over the place had us more separated than I liked. However, we have AO to thank for introducing us to dozens of amazing books that I might not have read otherwise. Also, a great resource for those on a very tight budget. Much of what they use can be found online for free.

Loving in this season:

All About Spelling -- We met last year, and I wondered immediately where this had been all my homeschooling life. While it is all about spelling, it is also about phonics, hands-on learning, and a great foundation for reading. This is one of those review products that still gets used on a daily basis around here.

Rod and Staff -- Although they offer a complete line of products, we have most appreciated their English curriculum. I tried it one year and the next year I bought the rest. This is the only subject that we use the same company's materials from start (2nd grade) to finish (8th grade). High standards, clear concepts, traditional teaching. No fluff. Love the foundation this has given each of my kids in proper grammar.

Mystery of History -- As much as I love volume 3, I am equally excited to finish it to get another volume to try out. We go through a week every two weeks so we can really spend time on the material and all the great activities, websites, and other resources that this book has to offer. We do this together as a whole school, infant through 8th grade.

Apologia's Exploring Creation -- a new one for us this year and I wish I had not balked at the price for so long. My K-4 students love this book and I also bought the complementing notebook and it is so well put together I am glad I did. It makes teaching the book even more effortless. More than I usually spend on something, but I'm glad I did.
Before Five in a Row -- another new one this year for my little ones. We just finished one book so far, Caps for Sale, and really enjoyed the addition of the activities and conversation starters in BFIAR. We also enjoyed the accompanying lapbooks we found at . . .

Homeschool Share -- While we have enjoyed the lapbooks here the most, Homeschool Share is a wealth of knowledge not to be ignored by any conscientious homeschooler. Especially in the early years, we often pull ideas and activities from this bottomless website.

I have even more to share that we are using and enjoying right now, but those are the big ones, and the rest will have to wait for another post. Until I get that together, be sure to check out what others are saying about their favorite homeschool resources.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Weekly Wrap Up

For the first time in a long time I have a few moments to spare before 11:30 at night.

And, since we near the end of a week, I figured I would wrap up what we have done with our schooling as that consumes many of our waking hours.

Tomorrow we will finish our second official week back at school. I should take a few posts and share about our new schedule, curriculum choices, and other changes we made for the brand new year, but we'll see . . .

Here are some of our highlights so far, in the order they typically appear in our daily routine:

Bible -- we continue to enjoy this book entitled Big Truths for Young Hearts. It tackles really weighty topics (like, why only Jesus can save us from our sins) in bite size chunks using kid-friendly language. It offers many Scripture passages to explore and a couple questions to check kids' comprehension. We also are working on memorizing Proverbs 3, but for some reason I keep forgetting to pull it out and work on it together.

Worship -- Nathan loves this part and won't let us miss it. He says, "Mom can we sing One Way? We have to sing it because it is my favorite and I really want to worship the Lord!" His enthusiasm and sincerity always make me smile and get the rest of us in the mood. We often sing three songs: one hymn, one contemporary worship song, and one kids praise/action song.

Faith (4th grade) -- This year I broke my day down by child so I spend a half hour or so with each one going over work from the day before, teaching new concepts, and assigning new work. Faith is especially enjoying All About Spelling level 2 and doing more independent work in her other subjects.

Blake (8th grade) -- Lots of new stuff this year. More reading, more writing, more math, more work. He's adjusting, but this has been a big challenge, for both of us. I will have to share more about the literature we are using another time -- Literary Analysis.

Paige (6th grade) -- Loving to read on her own. Great memory and perception as we read and discuss our readings. Ready to start Saxon 8/7 after taking the final test in 7/6 this week. She is also teaching Nathan to read which saves me some time and gives them some good time together. He was already over a third of the way through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, so she is just picking it up from there.

Brooke and Nathan (1st and K) -- I find it easier to work with them together since they are fairly close in age and ability. The are both amazing readers compared to my other kids which makes teaching them much easier. We use All About Spelling Level 1 and they have caught on much quicker than I expected. We all love, love, love this curriculum. They have also spent a lot of time typing lately with Talking Fingers. This is a review product right now (reviews are getting posted on my other website, the Chicagoland Homeschool Network), and they are having a great time with it. Wish that was around when my oldest was learning to read.

PE -- This has often fallen by the wayside in previous years, so this year I turned over some of the planning to my son. He comes up with ideas, and I flesh them out and implement them. We take walks, jog a bit, play soccer, and practice Presidential Fitness tests. We all need the activity and having him help in the idea searching has made this a more practical part of our day.

Study time -- I love this time of day. :-) I never had this specifically in our schedule, but now the kids have two times when the older ones need to determine their own course of action and tackle their assignments. This has worked well and gives me time to help little ones, nurse the baby, or pop around to each of the kids to answer questions as needed.

History -- Continuing with Mystery of History 3, which we started part way through last year, we are spending two weeks on each week. This gives us a week to really review and dig into the information. We studied Mary Tudor, Elizabeth I, and John Knox these weeks. We are loosely related to Lady Jane Grey, so of course we needed to learn a bit about the "Nine Day Queen." We took a pretest to see what we already knew. Blake quipped, "So, if the pretest comes before hand, then the protest comes after?"

Science -- Apologia's Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day has given us a great jump into the school year. I splurged and bought their notebooks as well. Zoology, conversations about dinosaurs and extinction. A great year so far for all the kids together.

Nature walk -- Great time of year for this. We found caterpillars, lots of plants and bugs to identify, ripe soybeans (in the farmer's field) an interesting feather, and more. We check it out, talk about it, compare it to other creatures we've seen, and go home and look it up on the computer to find out even more.

Drama club -- we have started a drama club that meets once a month. Our first meeting seemed to go well. Using scripts adapted from Christian Scripts, and ice breakers and games from here, here and here.

In evenings right now we have soccer and AWANA which keeps us plenty busy, but still gives us time together as a family a few nights a week. Busy, but wouldn't have it any other way. Full, blessed, and enjoying my six amazing kids that keep life interesting.

Amazed at how well this year is rolling along already. Even as I type this at 9:00 at night I realize that I will need to tear Brooke and Nathan away from their Language workbooks soon and send them to bed. They love working together and helping each other when they get stuck. I feel like I hardly need to teach them!

That's the way to wrap up a couple good weeks of schooling, more wrap ups at Weird Unsocialized Homeschooling.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Verse of the week -- Psalm 144:1,2

This is not something I normally do, but it happened to me and in spite of me, so I couldn't really help it.

In prepping for the upcoming school year I have tried to spend some extra time in prayer and Scripture reading. As I got going recently I had my Bible open to Psalm 144. I started reading, not really feeling settled in. Suddenly I realized that this was my chapter.

The words started leaping off the page saying, "Build on this, hold on to it."

We start school tomorrow. We have never taken such a break from school and never had such an official start day as this year. I need something to cling to because I feel the weight of all we need to get done this year bearing down on me. Five kids now officially school age, a newborn needing love and snuggles, and anything else that life feels like throwing at us.

I started to read, "1Blessed be the LORD my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight: 2My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me."

Everyday I enter the battle field for my children's minds, for their souls. God's strength sustains me. He teaches me how to master the enemies of laziness, indulgence, and worldliness. I do not face the day alone. And, succeed or fail, He is there again the next day to do it all again.

Through His strong defenses I find the ability to "subdue" my children and help them to thrive, nurtured and protected.

He protects us from the lies and false teaching that have become so prevalent in modern times. He helps me to work so "That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace."

The end result brings happiness, "Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD." What a rich psalm, and though I have never claimed a chapter for a new school year, I don't think it would be a bad habit to start, and I have definitely found the one we will cling to this year. Psalm 144

1Blessed be the LORD my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight: 2My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me.

~Psalm 144:1,2~

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

wfmw -- book reviews

I love a good book. The problem is finding one.

I also love reading good books to my kids, but sometimes we find ourselves knee deep in a great plot, only to discover that it isn't really so great. The main character displays less than honorable character, the relationships take on a physical focus, violence flares, the language needs editing, and I either find myself editing out parts as I read (or fast forwarding the audio CD) for the kids or wrapping up the book early.

Now, there is a solution. The Book Guardians has started a book review website to evaluate books based on 10 key areas that parents might want to be made aware of before reading a book or handing it to their child to read. Another homeschool mom had the great idea for this site, and I'm just one of many working to help out parents looking for a good read for their children.

The site is just getting going, but you will want to return as time goes by and watch the list grow as you look for more great books to unashamedly recommend to your kids.

Handing my kids a book I know I can trust, definitely works for me.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Choosing to find joy

We've had a week, quite a week.

Sometimes you have to choose. Even though I feel like flopping on the floor and crying, I make the choice, the hard choice to find joy. To treasure the little things.

That perfect package of strawberries was just right for dipping in chocolate. So we ate our chocolate strawberries and tossed out the stems.

I could focus on the stems, but they have no value. It does no good to dwell on another day of sick kids and the endless laundry, carpet cleaning, and toilet paper refills in which it results.

Instead, we enjoy the quiet day at home. Not fretting over canceled plans, but instead enjoying the three somewhat healthy ones playing happily together with Legos.

Not dwelling too long on the eleventh birthday spent in bed (poor girl, I do feel for her) :( but looking forward to the celebration that will not be missed, just put off a couple days.

Relishing the warm cake, and laughing over the strip we have to throw out because it melted the candles. (note to self: wait for cake to cool before inserting candles)

Finding joy in the little things . . .

  • the drips of blood from the runny nose came clean, (thank you, Lord!) even though I forgot to wash it right away.
  • the dog couldn't eat all 1000 pieces before we finished getting them into the puzzle.
  • pajamas make life more comfortable, especially mid-afternoon.
  • my husband works close enough to pop in for a minute.
  • a full refrigerator
  • summer fruit
  • a large load washing machine
  • a God who knows when to whisper
  • and, of course, chocolate covered strawberries.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Verse of the week -- Proverbs 10:11, 12

Elementary age kids tend to have a heightened concern for justice. They want life to be fair. They don't want people to get away with things. They perceive many judgment calls as black and white with very little gray.

I can relate.

When someone slips through the cracks, but I get held accountable I feel slighted. "Big" sins cannot go ignored. Sinful people don't deserve blessings. I secretly think karma should exist.

God pulled me aside and whispered these words in my ear from Proverbs 10:11,12, "11The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked. 12Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins."

Love covers all sins.

Sometimes I need to bring more mercy to the "woodshed" and less harsh criticism. When love taints my actions it also soften others' reactions. Hatred definitely has no place there as it only brings negativity and defensiveness.

The story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery came to mind as I contemplated this. I dug out John 8 to reread it for myself. Woman in sin. Stones raised in accusation, but also to test Jesus' response.

Jesus remains quiet. Stoops, waits for the crowd to disperse, some need the quiet point made, "Go ahead, those of you that have not sinned, start the stoning." The older, now wiser and humbled, individuals walk away.

Jesus refuses to condemn. Jesus loves. Was she innocent? no, just forgiven.

He sends her on her way with an encouragement to change her ways. Likely she did.

How would my kids respond if I wrapped each interaction in love, and left the condemnation elsewhere? It isn't always necessary to point fingers. More often than not, they know what they did wrong, and what they deserve.

I can give mercy a little more often than I do. Especially as they grow, a gentle word of non-condemnation will likely accomplish more than a "thrown stone". Even as they wallow in a perspective of extreme justice, they can begin to see a radically new viewpoint, one of mercy and love. Not ignoring the sin, but recognizing it as forgiven, paid for.

God is so good to me. Not forgetting my faults, but taking care of them Himself. I can step in and model the same to my children, and understand God's love a little more in the process.

"11The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked. 12Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins."

~Proverbs 10:11,12~

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Pardon the cobwebs.

I don't quite know what happened.

Summer happened, I suppose.

Baseball, swimming, projects around the house, new baby snuggles, walks and runs, downpours and gusty wind, piles of books to read and listen to, needed naps (sometimes received, sometimes not), changes, growing, late night talks, cleaning out closets, play dates and splash parks, reconnecting.

Busy, flying too fast summer days. Sometimes jam packed and sometimes bursting at the seams with "nothing."

Hopefully soon I'll return to those half written posts I started three weeks ago. Or, maybe summer will trap me in its hold a little longer.

What are you consumed with this summer? Enjoying it or just trying to catch your breath?

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Posted this over on my homeschool network website, but had to include it here as well.

Keeping things light for the summer months? Here is a great video that will tackle Bible time and science all in one, and leave you in awe in the process.

Thanks to Michelle and her daughter for sending this my way.

It will take a few minutes of your time, but will give you a glimpse of how microbiology can show God's work in the details. Teaching my children to trust and obey Christ is an integral part of my homeschool, and to "stumble" on something like this, helps tie it all together.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Blog walk week 2

I have the great privilege of being on the TOS Crew with some phenomenal other homeschool moms. And, because they have blogs, you can get to know them, too. Every now and then I will post 10 blogs from other Crew members. And, I hope you will find a few new friends this way, or maybe rediscover some old ones.

I find that I do not have time to read every blog I would like to, so I often will put one in my Google Reader, and remove it at a later time. Sometimes I find I have forgotten an old favorite. This weekly blog walk is a fun, bite size way to meet a couple hundred other bloggers and find a few new favorites.

Here's this week's 10 hosts:
1. Second Star to the Right and Straight On Till Morning - shares about life and beginning her homeschool journey with four young ones aged 7 months to 7 years.

2. Surviving The Testosterone - I have a special place in my heart for mothers of a handful of boys. Amanda blogs about life with her 3 little men, giving you a glimpse into her real every day life.

3. Family Style School - lots to read about learning and living. Also, check out the homeschool and curriculum links in the sidebar.

4. School Around The Bible -- Amy offers reviews and is embarking on the journey of homeschooling high school!

5. 1628 The Story of The Goebels 5 -- Andria shares some fun ideas and helpful pictures so you can follow along as she homeschools her young ones.

6. Morris Family Madness -- read about Angel's adventures as she homeschools six, she just shared about her homeschool room . . . it looks great!

7. Homeschool Musings -- need some motivation or ideas for organizing your home or homeschool, she's got some goodies!

8. Homeschooling (and then some!) -- learning from the past and looking to the future

9. Heartfelt Homeschooling -- Want to encourage another mom as she faces the big "4-0"

10. following Him home -- Apryl is an amazing photographer, even if you don't have a lot of time to read, enjoy the pictures

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

WFMW -- Summer activity plans

While setting goals gave us some purpose this summer, it still doesn't fill a day.

So, here is some of what we have found to keep a houseful of yunguns entertained, or at least occupied.

Cooking -- We have made things that we don't usually have time for (like soft pretzels) and tried new recipes. This has been a great time for enjoying old favorites and finding some new ones.

The Big Clean -- Spring cleaning doesn't seem to work around here at least for very long. So, summer is a great time to get some more serious cleaning done. We try to tackle one relatively big job each day, but realistically if we hit two a week I'm happy. Scrubbing floors, cleaning out drawers and closets, decluttering -- lots of stuff that doesn't get budgeted into the typical homeschool schedule.

Play dates -- Once or twice a week we have found time to get together with friends. We didn't need to wait for math lessons to be done. We could just pick a day, check the weather forecast, and make some plans. Loving that flexibility.

School -- Yes, we do still do school. Silent reading, Bible time, a few math and writing lessons peppered in here and there. Definitely not a heavy schedule, but enough to make me feel like we are doing something, but not so much that the kids groan (at least very loudly).

VBS -- I have almost considered checking out other area churches' VBS programs because my kids have such a blast at VBS and I know lots of churches really go out of their way to put on a good program for that one week. But, so far we haven't. We did have an over-the-top fun week at our church's High 5 (VBS) a couple weeks ago. The kids are still talking about it. And, I have loads of pictures that I meant to get in a blog post, but it has yet to happen.

Sewing -- My mom left the older four with the summer project of sewing the backing on their quilts. She got the started and gave them all the instruction they need, so now they just need to get bored enough that they get it finished ;)

Crafts -- My daughters absolutely LOVE crafts. So, at least once a week they search their favorite sites for some inspiration (another blog post in the making here). They have made foam flowers, origami, friendship bracelets, and a few other odds and ends of crafts, all from supplies we have around and ideas found on the internet.

Baseball -- Like it or not, this is still taking up our summer. I am thrilled that my son made the All Star team, but it does mean that we still get to "enjoy" baseball a few times each week. He's loving it, and it keeps him outside and active, so I like that, too.

Make your own list -- My kids made a list of other miscellaneous ideas and projects that they wanted to accomplish this summer and when "I'm bored" begins to erupt, we pull out the list. Then, they find enough to keep busy as they build forts, put up the little tent, paint, swim, play with Legos, etc.

With all this to do each week, this summer is almost going too quickly. But, at least that means we are having fun. And that works for me.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Verse of the week -- John 14:27

Peace Panel Giclee Print


The very word seems to calm and dispel anxiety.

The world craves peace. International peace, peace on city streets, peace in homes, peace on a universal and individual level.

Sometimes I mistakenly assess peace based on outward appearances. Words spoken, gestures made, promises vowed, apparent situations. But true peace is in the heart. God-given calm.

The world can only promise peace based on some mistaken, temporal, external standard. God's peace is wholly other as He promises in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

I find His peace when I stop striving for world-based standards. His peace comes from His consistency. Peace needs a stable foundation, not a handshake with fingers crossed or mumbled exceptions. Peace must be eternal and unconditional to be true peace.

The peace that God gives does not in any way rely on us either. Its depth of power comes from His depth of stability. He does not need anything from us to be any more of who He is.

Peace from others or from the world is often contingent peace. It is not true peace because it is punctured with "ifs." We will have peace if we have financial security. We will find peace if we succeed in business. We will discover peace if our house looks like a magazine cover. Peace will come if we are physically fit.

Fortunately, God is not a God of "ifs" He is a God of "just because." Just because He is who He is and has already accomplished it all.

He is patient just because, not if we try harder.

He is loving just because, not if we seem worth loving.

He gives peace just because, not if we have muster up enough faith on our own.

That's true peace.

Thank you, God, for your amazing peace that passes understanding, that fills every crevice left by our doubt, that walks through every valley and faces every challenge with us. A peace not dependent on us, but completely wrapped up and explained in Your character. Thank you, Lord. ~Amen

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
~John 14:27~

Enjoy other's verses as they Walk with Jesus.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

random ramblings

My mind is nothing if it is not random these days, so I had to jump on this opportunity:

What color are your socks right now? White with green toes and heels. Mostly hidden though in my gym shoes.

What are you listening to right now? the whoosh of the air conditioner, and random household noises -- opening and closing doors, murmurings of conversation, and I think I hear a baby stirring, so I better hurry.

What was the last thing you ate? Teriyaki chicken and potatoes

Can you drive a stick? Yes! I learned on stick, and have one story that I wish to forget from those days (involving my first and only accident, albeit a small one).

Last person you spoke to on the phone? A fellow Chicago area homeschooler, one I have been friends with since our college days.

How old are you today? 37 (it sounds older each time I say it)

What is your favorite sport to watch on TV? Any that my husband or son are watching. I don't like watching for the sake of watching, but just for the time spent on something that interests them.

What is your favorite drink? Water. I hardly ever drink anything else, but I do like a good vanilla cream soda now and then.

Have you ever dyed your hair? Oh yes, once upon a time. I played the role of Anne of Green Gables in a high school project and had red hair for the occasion.

Favorite food? Just about anything ethnically interesting

What is the last movie you watched? Tooth Fairy. Not the best movie I've seen, but not the worst either.

Favorite day of the year? Christmas, and all the days leading up to it.

How do you vent anger? Breathe, breathe . . . and quoting Scripture -- a soft answer turns away wrath.

What was your favorite toy as a child? A little people tree house that popped open and shut and was oh so cool.

Favorite Season? Definitely fall. I love the beauty of the season and the cooling off after an often too hot summer.

Cherries or Blueberries? Cherries as long as they are fresh. If they are canned, frozen, or in a pie I'll take blueberries definitely.

Living situation? Hmm, full? Right now we have our six younguns and my MIL and FIL living with us. Enjoying the extra family time this affords.

When was the last time you cried? Toy Story 3, any one else? I could not believe I was bawling over a kid's movie!

What is on the floor of your closet right now? well, I don't have a closet, so I guess nothing.

What are you most afraid of? small animals and rodents, even dead ones for some reason

Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers? Swiss cheese, and mushrooms and onions if they are available

Favorite dog breed? I should say yellow lab since that's what we have, but more honestly I would have to say none. I am an animal tolerator.

Favorite day of the week? Thursday. We get a jump start on the weekend with pizza and a movie.

How many states have you lived in? just one -- Illinois. I have also lived in the Bahamas, but when I have been stateside, Illinois is always home

Diamonds or pearls?Pearls. I'm not big on diamonds. Even my engagement ring is a sapphire.

What is your favorite flower? Just about any. I love bold colors in flowers and love the smell of roses.

Did you get an H1N1 vaccine? No.

I saw this on Amy's blog who got it from Marsha, who got it from Meredith, who got it from Melissa... will you be the next?

Let me know if you join the fun!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

1/4 horse?

So, I saw this sign by the side of the road the other day.

And, I couldn't help but think -- "1/4" horses?

It could mean this Quarter Horse:

quarter horse

Or, maybe this 1/4 horse (I think I'd prefer a 1/4 cow . . .):

Or maybe the sign meant this:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Link love

I have read many great blog posts lately, and have written none. Typing one handed (while nursing) seems to scatter my thoughts.

But, I did want to share some treasures I have found elsewhere . . .

I really needed the reminder at Generation Cedar to deposit into my kids' love accounts. They need me to intentionally love them, which I don't do often enough and can't do too often.

Also, as I enter my second year on the TOS Crew, it is time to meet some new bloggy friends. Here are the first 10 of the 250 + on the Crew.

1. Alane Reaping a Harvest
2. Alexis Pink & Orange Coffee
3. Alina Live, Laugh, Learn!
4. Amanda Mrs. Mandy's Musings
5. Amber The Fantastic Five
6. Ambers Refined Metals Academy
7. Amy Just A Moment in Time
8. Angela Providence Farm
9. Angela My Journey
10. Angie Petra School

Some great homeschool moms from around the country, and you'll find some international ones as the year goes on.

Also loved this simple idea for jazzing up simple paperclips to use as book marks. Practical way tto add a little beauty to that pile on my night stand.

Five J's offers some helpful words for newer homeschoolers. The post also includes links to a number of other posts she has written on the topic of homeschooling.

I often enjoy Amy's beautiful posts and glimpses into her family's life as missionaries in Peru. This post from a couple weeks ago on worship is a perfect example of the powerful quotes she digs up and the artistic way she frames them.

Many more great words to learn from, but these are a sampling of what I have been digesting lately.

A newer website that I need more time to explore . . . Raising homemakers. Check it out, too.

Anyone else have a favorite link to share? Feel free to share the love for a bloggy friend.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

School of hard knocks

If you found yourself a fly on the wall in our home you might pity my kids.

Lately I have heard repeatedly . . .

It's the hard-knock life for us
It's the hard-knock life for us
No one cares for you a smidge
When your in an orphanage
It's the hard-knock life

The emotion that Nathan spits out the words as he sings is worthy of Broadway. But, you can still see that smile lurking, cant you?

Okay, maybe Nathan has just been watching Annie too much.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

WFMW -- Summer goals

Beating the summer blues part one.

Summer has already lasted a little too long. And, really it has yet to begin.

Since Eli's birth kicked off our summer break a little earlier than usual, we have already felt the sting of the summer doldrums.

Last week I felt so energetic that we decided to take our structureless days and give them some direction. We decided to set goals.

Every now and then I feel the need to reset my habits. And, in evaluating my kids' habits, I realized they could benefit from the same. We countered this the easy way, by setting individual goals and sharing them so we can encourage each other to reach them.

I told the kids to each set one goal for each of four categories and gave them some ideas to start with:

Nutrition -- Eating more vegetables than required, not eating sweets, skipping seconds, drinking enough water, etc.

Exercise -- doing sit ups everyday, running around the lake twice, riding the bike for 20 minutes, etc.

Spiritual -- Praying every morning, Reading the Bible everyday, memorizing a verse

Chores or time management -- Doing chores without being asked, getting ready for bed on time, Reading a book each day.

After we each compiled our lists we also came up with rewards for accomplishing them. This was a little more challenging. If I had told my kids they could have sweets for each reward met we would have had an easy time. But, rewarding healthy goals with unhealthy food or habits is not what we are going for.

Some of their rewards: watching a video while exercising, Silly Bands, money, and computer time.

We have enjoyed this method so far and look forward to continuing it through the summer and beyond. It is sometimes hard to be consistent, but it is great to all be in this together and to have some motivation to keep trying even when you struggle.

Any other ideas for rewards? My kids are definitely looking for some other options in that department. The sillybands work, but only for now . . .

The goals in general though, have definitely worked for us!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Super Star Speech -- rewind

We had an amazing thing happen this past week. My son learned a new word, well lots of new words. All because he learned a new sound.

You may remember that a couple months ago I reviewed a product for the TOS Crew called Super Star Speech. I was quite impressed with the product as it helped me pinpoint the areas in my four year old's speech that still needed attention.

This inexpensive book helped me narrow it down to really one tongue formation that needed some work. So, we got to work. For the last couple months, off and on, I have been casually teaching my son to properly form these sounds. Speech therapy is not an overnight accomplishment, but it does still have lightbulb moments.

Super Star Speech gave me the tools and knowledge that I needed to attack this problem, and it was then just a matter of time.

Last week as I changed little Eli's diaper, Nathan was jabbering away as usual. In response to a question I said the word "trick" and Nathan looked carefully at my mouth as I made that last sound. Suddenly his tongue went to work as it had so many times before, but suddenly, instead of "t" or a strange hissing sound, he made the "k" sound!

Anyone that has struggled or had a child struggle with speech can appreciate the thrill of that moment.

I got excited, "That was it, Nathan! That was the sound we have been trying for."

He did it again, and again, some better than others. Then he tried the "g" sound, and also had some success.

Grandma came over and Nathan ran up to show off his new found skill. Now we need to work on blending that sound into the words it fits with. She used to be "Dramma," but now she is suddenly "G--ramma." He always has to pause after making that new sound, but he's getting it.

So, the proof is in the pudding as they say (who knows why . . . ) I knew I loved this program in looking it over, but now we have seen success by implementing the strategies and information presented in this book.

I simply cannot recommend it enough. If you or someone you love needs an experienced guide to help in speech therapy, you absolutely must check out Deborah Lott's Super Star Speech. I wrote her a gushy email and she responded right away with a thank you. She just wants to help. So, I don't know which I appreciated more, the materials, or the lady behind them. Both are amazing.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Verse of the week -- John 16:33

Mama said there'll be days like this,
There'll be days like this Mama said.

Great words of wisdom from the Shirelles.


Life is often chock full of "those days." Days of discouragement, disappointment, failures, doubt, demands, and other overwhelming emotions and experiences.

This past week as I struggled through a day with a fussy baby, too much undone housework to mention, and a schedule full of happenings outside of my control, God gently reminded me of His perspective and control even when I felt lost.

John 16:33 provides great reassurance when it says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

This verse came to mind, but only starting with the "trouble" part. As I went back to look at the full verse I realized that God has prepared me for the trouble this day will bring. Not only does He know what we will experience, He gives us what we need to make it through.

Peace. Not peace like the world gives, but His peace, perfect peace. Eternal peace grounded in truth, not empty promises. Peace in Him, not apart from Him, and not in a clean house or an easy child or a rosy prognosis.

God has overcome the world. He is over and above the pain and troubles we will face. Even though much difficulty lies yet ahead, his conquering has already taken place. It's already confirmed.

No matter what comes, He wins. And, if He wins, and we are walking in Him, we win, too.

Kinda makes you feel like you can take on the world. Or at least that endless pile of dirty laundry or that child continually in need of correction.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
~John 16:33~

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Making time for God

works for me wednesday at we are that family

In my verse of the week post I mentioned the struggle of balancing the immediate demands of our day with the truly important need to get into God's Word. He says He stands knocking, but so often we can't hear it, or don't feel we have time to respond to his call in between housework, homeschooling, cooking, and other activities that beg for our attention.

Each new season we must reestablish the importance of time alone with God in our daily schedule. How do we find time where there is none? I have found some helpful ways to keep God at the forefront of my thoughts and make sure that my priorities stay intact, or at least return there without too long of a hiatus.

Keep it Concrete. When my brain is frazzled from lack of sleep, a busy schedule, or a temporary crisis, I struggle to put coherent thoughts together. I don't want my prayer and Bible reading to fizzle during those days when I need it most. During these times I have found concrete tools helpful. Devotional guides (like My Utmost for His Highest, Our Daily Bread, or Today in the Word), reading schedules, and prayer lists are invaluable. I use a prayer calendar so I remember daily to pray for each member of my family, missionaries, church leaders, our nation's leaders, and other timely needs. Without a written guide I would be left to wander through my muddled thoughts and probably spend most of the time praying about my sorry mental state, and likely end up throwing a pity party.

Make it Visible. God's Word can encourage throughout our day, but only if we see it. Post Scripture verses around your house. Leave a New Testament or memory verse card or booklet on the counter, or in the bathroom. Change your screen saver on your computer to some godly encouragement. Even your cell phone can encourage your thinking with a carefully chosen background or ring tone. Verses on the dash board, sticky notes on the bathroom mirror, any where you can squeeze in God's promises -- do it!

Chop, chop. No, I don't mean to hurry more than you are already, I mean to actually chop it up. If I could get up at 4 a.m. and spend two hours of uninterrupted time with God that would be wonderful, but it is simply not realistic. So, I chop it up. Right now I spend quite a bit of time each day nursing, and much of that time is also spent in Bible reading and prayer. With my devotional guide, Bible, and prayer calendar right by where I nurse, I can get a few minutes in each time I sit there. It's definitely broken up, but it also helps me spend a lot more time than I ever would if I had to do it all at once.

Make room. Having a place that contains your Bible, a devotional book, a journal, a prayer calendar, and any other items you find essential during your time with God will help you use those snippets of time. I don't want to waste those rare moments searching for the necessary supplies. Having it all together and easily accessible means I can make the most of those scattered moments throughout the day.

Many other ideas may help at this point that often come up when confronting the challenge of establishing a daily quiet time: find an accountability partner, choose the time of day that works best for you, journal your prayers and thoughts, set goals, have a check off sheet, don't get discouraged when you miss a day, but rather jump back into it as soon as possible.

Finding time for Bible reading and prayer challenges even seasoned Christians, but we can't neglect it simply because it is difficult. Satan would love that attitude.

I love that God wants to walk with me throughout each day, and when I respond to Him, my day becomes one of worship. Not perfectly so, but increasingly one that glorifies Him.

I pray that some of these tips will work for you as they have Worked For Me.

Verse of the week -- Revelation 3:20

Yes, my precious little boy occasionally looks like this.

You've likely heard the expression "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." A sometimes annoying truth, that those that complain the loudest end up with the most attention, deserving or not.

This week, I realized that my own priorities often fall to this idiomatic truth. Much of a mother's day doesn't flow based on true priorities, but rather by the need of the moment. Who's crying? Who's hurt? Who's hungry? What will cause greater damage if unchecked? Where is the spill that can't be ignored?

Obviously, spilled milk is not as important as paying the bills, but if we don't clean that dripping mess now it will get worse and eventually stink. Some things simply can't wait.

Unfortunately, God can.

He doesn't cry audibly for my attention.
He won't run out of clean socks if I don't attend to it.
He doesn't bark and whine at the door if I ignore Him too long.
He doesn't give me a deadline.
He won't ignore me later if I ignore Him now.
He won't starve.

Put simply -- He doesn't need me.

But, Revelation 3:20 says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me."

My world is so filled with noises demanding my attention that sometimes I overlook that most important sound . . . the gentle knocking, the still small voice. And, in so doing I miss out on the accompanying reward and relationship.

He may not suffer from my neglect of our relationship, but I do.

Spiritually speaking, I will increase in sorrow if I neglect Him.
I will run out of patience.
I will get whiny and discontent.
I will confuse my priorities.
I will grow callous.
I will starve.

I need Him.

He waits patiently, ignoring the truth of the expression that seems to dominate my day. Finally, I realize anew that what I thought could wait, must remain first.

I need to go answer that gentle knocking, but in a couple days I will share a bit of how I have found it possible to answer the important call first. We know it is necessary, but how?

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
~Revelation 3:20~

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Despite the fact that our school year has ended and the kids' teacher is on maternity "leave," the learning continues . . .

Character building -- Does this ever end? Most days I end up on the learning side of these lessons as well. Learning and relearning to put others first, seeking out Scriptures to grow our Christlikeness, finding God in the moment, intentionally placing God in our day, speaking gentle words. We spent quite a bit of time in Ephesians 4 this week and continue to strive to speak grace, build others up, and consider what is appropriate for the moment.

A fun trip to the playground uncovers a pond filled with tadpoles. Back home, we jump on the internet. What do they eat, how long will their growth take, how big will they get, what kind are they? Science and PE, covered.

Money from grandparents (a handful each from the penny jar -- big hands are actually a disadvantage here because they don't fit in the jar so easily). Learning stewardship, giving, saving, percentages. Math, covered.

Summer reading program at the library. Books devoured, recorded, discussed, shared. Reading, handwriting, narration, covered.

News from missionaries. Maps, background information, prayers. Geography, history, covered.

Birth certificate. Genealogies, family history, roots, research tools, connections. Making history personal. Lady Jane Grey is in our family line, anyone famous in yours?

And, life skills -- cooking, cleaning, manners, photography, baby care, growing sense of humor, sports, grocery shopping, pet care, covered.

I guess I should clarify when I say we are taking a few weeks off. We're just un-intentional-schooling for a little while.

Do you find learning sneaks its way into your day whether you plan it or think you have time for it or not?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Two weeks full of treasure

I know eventually I need to get back to the real world, but for now we get to sit and enjoy.

Our week wraps around this precious little guy. Sometimes life events call us to take a break from our normal routine and enjoy those special events. I am so grateful that we completed our regular school year so we can really cherish this time without that hanging over us. These days pass too quickly, and each one comes packed full of everyday treasures so easily missed through half open, sleep-deprived eyes.

Snuggled up times of nursing.

Tiny fingers wrapped around mine.

Living crib mobiles.

Newborn squeaks.

Quivery smiles.

Not enough baby to go around.

Stillness and calm like no other.

Cheeks as soft as air.

Cringing at the sound of a fresh diaper getting filled back up.

Shirts that looked so small a month ago are really too big.

Feet the size of my thumb.

Lots of pictures to capture each moment.

Changing everyday.

New normal.

Sweetness personified.

Two weeks already explored, treasured, enjoyed, and past.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

God-centered birth

Having given birth half a dozen times now, I have some different experiences to pull from. And, this time as the birth approached I again found myself wanting to be as prepared as possible to manage labor.

I practiced relaxing.

I read and reread Husband Coached Childbirth.

I discussed expectations and scenarios with my doctor, and my husband.

I dreaded the unknown, and feared the known. I knew it would be painful, but I also knew I could do it. But, not in my own strength.

Through all these preparations it became clear that I had left out an important element in prior labors. I forgot to spend much time focusing on the Creator of Life. I knew He had created my body to accomplish this, and I reveled in the marvel of the natural process of birth, knowing He had enabled me to participate in this.

This time, I set out to intentionally rely and focus on God and His strength to support me through this labor.

Here's how I accomplished that, and maybe some of these ideas will help someone else have a God-centered birth.

Preparation -- First, I went through the Psalms and other Scripture passages that brought me comfort. I made a HUGE list. This offered me hope and strength throughout pregnancy as well as in expectancy for the birth. Here are just a few:
  • Isaiah 12:2, "Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation."
  • 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."
  • Psalm 3:3-5, "But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. 4 To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. 5 I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me."
  • Psalm 46:1,2, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea"
  • Psalm 125:1,2, "Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.

And that's just some of them. I came up with about 40 passages that fed me when I felt faint.

Record -- Then we took some of these and my kids read them as my husband recorded them. So my children were speaking Scripture into my thoughts. As I heard God's promises, I was also reminded of His past blessings in and through the lives of our other children. You could also have friends or other family members record verses for you, and in this way bring a host of support along with you while you labor.

Worship -- In addition to the Scripture recordings I also chose some special songs that spoke to me powerfully and reminded me of God's presence with me. My friend Leah that blogs at Cheerio Days first got me thinking along these lines and I have her to thank for some of these music suggestions. I'm sure you can come up with your own, but some songs I found fitting for this time include:
  • I Will Rise -- Chris Tomlin
  • I Will Lift my Eyes -- Bebo Norman
  • How He Loves ; Only You-- David Crowder Band
  • Sometimes by Step -- Rich Mullins
  • Above All
  • Every Time I Breathe -- Big Daddy Weave
  • You are My King (amazing love)
  • Your Grace is Sufficient -- Shane and Shane
  • The Greatness of our God -- One Sonic Society

Practice -- If you manage to get this done before labor {wink}, this can be a great tool to prepare yourself. Record it all on your MP3 player or on a CD, and take some time to relax and focus on God's goodness each day.

Focus -- I cannot tell you what a blessing and reassurance it was to have this tool to keep my thoughts focused on the One who has more strength than I can ever need. The One with peace that passes understanding.

I have to admit that in the final minutes when the doctor was telling me not to push (yeah, right . . .) my resolve crumbled and I shifted my focus to the immediate rather than the Eternal, but for most of the time these preparations and recordings carried me through another amazing birth experience. It really did work for me.