Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Oh. My. Goodness.


Oh. my.

The last four hours have been over the top. I sit here typing with the hope that in writing out my stress I will feel lighter--enough to fall asleep eventually--and that God will impart some wisdom and bring verses to mind that will soothe my mothering soul.

I had it in my mind today that I would do all the teacher-directed schooling tasks early and then devote the rest of the day, until dinner prep, to finishing up the spring clothing switch. The Goodwill bags have been gotten into so often by my four year old that they had gaping holes and needed to be gone through again, lest she put something in there I still needed.

Then I had to put the finishing touches on a hand-me-down box of clothes for a family of six at the AWANA church, as well as wash seven loads of clothes because I'd gotten behind and didn't want to leave anything out of the hand-me-down box that might be useful for this family.

My clothing switch dragged on and on because spring couldn't decide if it really wanted to arrive. Temps kept flip flopping so I had to keep sweatshirts and sweaters in the closets and drawers, prolonging the process.

Today I decided all the short-sleeved shirts and shorts were going in, and if we freeze, we freeze. Keeping a bare minimum of warm clothing around, I told myself I just couldn't take seeing clothes everywhere another day.

The truth is we have too many clothes, but our large yard doesn't drain well so mud is part of the landscape...especially in the spring and fall. It isn't unusual for the kids to have two changes a day, or more for the little one, so multiple outfits are a must.

And then there were the three letters I was working on with Bible coloring sheets for our Compassion children. I usually write them online every 14 days, which is quite convenient, but once a month I try to send something to color, or a drawing lesson copied from art books.

Peter had plans today too. He got four subjects done and then set about making bee traps. He cut used water bottles in half and put apple slices in them. Then he made two homemade ant farms. In the afternoon, Lexie--his partner in all things bug and snake and frog--got home from school and helped him with his nature-observing schemes.

A neighbor, working in her yard, suddenly screamed, startling the kids.

They all went to the chain-link fence, concerned.

"Oh, just a snake", she assured, rather embarrassed.

Lexie jumped over the fence, telling her, "I'll get it!"

We just had a garter snake around for four days...something Peter caught in our backyard. Surprisingly, it was tame as could be and all the neighbor kids enjoyed it. It seemed to revel in the attention, I tell you.

Naturally, they assumed every garter snake was like their Skippy, whom Peter had to let go.

Without going into more detail, let me just say that the snake bit Peter as he and Lexie tried to remove it from the neighbor's yard. It was nearing dinnertime by now and I had to stop everything and research what to do.

On top of that, Lexie wouldn't leave the snake alone. I envisioned her getting bit as well and her grandparents knocking on my door and shouting at me.

Not that Peter cared in the least about getting bit, since it didn't hurt much and he knew garter snakes to be harmless. But he also knew by my rather-stressed countenance that I wasn't convinced we could treat it like a scratch.

Lexie continued to pursue the snake alone, despite my warnings out the back window that her mother probably wouldn't like her snake-hunting ways.

She can be maddening; she doesn't listen well and she gets as obsessed as Peter does--perhaps even more so.
As I applied first aid, in the kitchen, to Peter's bite, Lexie managed to catch the snake and put it in one of our empty tanks. I was not happy with the neighbor, who in no way tried to stop Lexie, even after Peter suffered a bite. She just stood there, at a distance, much amused by the whole thing, still hoping to do her gardening without the garter as company.

I finally convinced Lexie to go home, telling her Peter was in for the night...for snake-bite observation. (And tomorrow he'll need a tetanus booster). Sensing I wasn't letting her in no matter how much she pressed, she told me she would come and get her snake tomorrow, to put it in her sanctuary.

Yes, she comes up with things like that all the time. Amusing, endearing and maddening all at the same time.

I read some more and decided Peter was in no imminent danger, and by this time dinner prep was late.

Meanwhile, another crisis of a different kind. The 2010 World Book Encyclopedia DVD ROM I bought for school gave Paul fits about loading on the new Windows 7 computer we bought. (Windows XP is far easier to load software onto). Paul was working on this project during the whole snake fiasco and he'd gotten as far as he could because the same error message kept coming up.

Turns out it loaded quickly onto our 10-year-old XP computer...the same one that is making groaning sounds and is about to die. It even outlasted our 7-year-old computer, which died last month.

I began to make dinner, not believing how stressful the day had been.

Then the children broke the playroom blinds. They won't keep their hands off the blinds............!

So now, as I type, I'm hoping for a release of some sort. Children can be so difficult, stubborn, destructive, annoying.


When I discovered the broken blinds, I flipped out, telling them I was out of anything resembling patience and Daddy would have to take care of them for the rest of the night.

I. was. done.

I wanted to drive anywhere that wasn't here...away from this laundry and this snake bite and these neighborhood kids and these blinds and these worthless computers. I love my children and they are my life...but tonight I didn't want anything to do with them.

Until I spent time, hands busy in the soapy sink, washing dishes and contemplating mothering.

Husband got home at seven and took over with the kiddos...after letting the snake go. (I'll hear it from that Lexie girl tomorrow.)

Meanwhile, back in my suds I spoke to my Father.

Oh, Lord. This is so hard. This mothering. How do I do it well? How do I do it gently? How do I do it skillfully? Lovingly? Will they ever listen and keep their hands off things that break easily? Will they always be so destructive and maddening?

He didn't answer exactly.

But my heart did melt. That was something. My mind and soul filled with love again, and once again I wanted everything to do with these four curious, beautiful, maddening children.

I don't know what tomorrow will bring exactly, but I doubt it will be any more relaxing than today, what with the usual whining and terror about immunizations (Mary needs them too).

I'm looking for a renewal of patience, humor, calmness. What Scripture is needed most right now, Lord?

Matthew 19:26
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

 Psalm 51:10
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

2 Chronicles 15:4
But in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them.

Lamentations 3:25
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;

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."

Psalm 57:1
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.

And your day, dear reader friend, went far smoother I hope?

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Need Strength?

Isaiah 40:28-31 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Monday, April 29, 2013

When A Mother Worries

Do you worry, dear reader friend? If so than sit with me a spell and let's work this out, spiritually speaking?

I've written several posts over the years about parents worrying over their children. They were written by necessity as I processed things in my own life. At times I'm gripped with fear about my sons' futures, and less often, about my daughters' futures.

Sons have to support families and in this recession-gripped economy it's becoming harder to make ends meet. Everywhere I see struggle, and even in traditionally safe fields, like education, it's becoming harder to secure permanent employment. A relative of mine earned a teaching credential 18 months ago and still struggles to get by on low-pay, high-hour positions while waiting for an open permanent position. She's not in a position to pack up and move to a state that boasts ample opportunities for teachers.

And this person has no mental or physical handicaps.

My older son has a few handicaps and my younger son has changed much in the past year. Always happy-go-lucky and independent in the past, he's become depressive at times and quite needy. It could be a lot of things, including that depression runs in both sides of the family.

As much as my heart has ached at this change in him, I still considered him fully job capable, until more recently when giddiness began to alternate with the depressive episodes. I haven't and won't say anything to him about what's happening to his personality, until he expresses a desire to know why he's so different.

Maybe it's hormones or that at about age 9, children began to notice the brokenness in the world and lose their child-like innocence. Having one's eyes opened to the sin condition and all that it entails, is depressing.

Growing up can be painful.

I feel that assigning a medical or psychological label to a child or an adult is counterproductive...unless they start to blame themselves for their struggles. When that point comes, it's kinder to educate them about the possibilities. Undiagnosed conditions can lead to powerful failure complexes.

My son has a cousin on both sides of the family with bipolar, which is characterized by depressive episodes alternating with giddy, euphoric, hyperactive episodes. When my son's giddiness comes I can't help but wonder about bipolar. And immediately, I panic and walk around in a daze, wondering how this can possibly be happening to us.

I haven't mentioned it to the pediatrician and I probably won't for a while. Right now I'm observing and praying and supporting, without revealing anything.

Two sons with very serious conditions? Conditions that are annoying for all and hard to live around? Why are we so cursed and will my sons find jobs that work with these issues? And will they blame God and will their faith weaken, as they try to make it in a very competitive world?

Their own father is also affected by depression and other difficulties and his work life has been profoundly impacted and we struggle. The spiritual benefits of the struggling have been great, so I'm not complaining. If God is going to make me more like Him, I'm happy to give him free reign over my circumstances. He knows what He's doing, yes?

Yes, yes and yes.

But do I want constant struggle for my sons and their wives and children...if they even get married? I don't know. That seems to go against natural parental feeling, though I know that every person struggles with something and I can't protect my children from the human condition.

But can you imagine why I want to run down the street sometimes, screaming: I can't believe this is happening!

My sons will probably have at least one child of their own similarly affected, because that's the way genes work; mental conditions are highly heritable.

I have a friend who has a son with severe OCD and a brother with schizophrenia. She grew up with this brother and saw him struggle as a child and adult. He only survives financially because of a subsidized apartment and disability benefits. While I don't begrudge him for this help, I certainly don't want that for my sons, and my friend feels the same about her own son. She wonders, will he be able to hold down a well-paying job, despite the five medications and the OCD that won't let up?

I have another friend whose 18-year-old daughter has ADHD, severe depression, cutting episodes, and anorexia nervosa. She tells me just waking her daughter up in the morning sucks the life out of her, it's so stressful.

What my friends and I need constant reminders of, and maybe you too, reader friend, if you worry about your children, is this:

Isaiah 55:8
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

We worry whether our children will make it as adults...if they will be capable of caring for themselves as well as others. Will they know the joy of having a family? Will their spouse despise them for their difficulties, or will the spouse shower their lives with grace, reflecting Him? Will the spouse say I've had enough and leave, bringing the shame of divorce?

Our task as Christian mothers is to take each such thought and continually throw it in the garbage. These are not the Lord's thoughts. He doesn't see it our way...thinking about whether our children will experience success or not.

For what is success to the Lord? Another soul saved. Another moment of Glory revealed.

Scripture tells us how the Lord's glory shines. Through our weaknesses. 2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

For over 2000 years the world has been without the benefit of Jesus walking the earth, doing miracles and bringing people to himself personally.

He's been bringing people to himself spiritually, by revealing his existence and power through our weaknesses. We can tell someone about Jesus and sometimes that is enough, but more powerful is when our circumstances, our testimony, tells others about Jesus.

In the middle of the night last night when the worry and sadness felt paralyzing, He taught me anew. Your problem, dear woman, is your thoughts. Not your sons' difficulties.

Yes, yes, yes...of course. It's my way of seeing my circumstances and problems, not the circumstances or problems themselves.

Your sons' weaknesses are my opportunity to shine, He teaches.

Rejoice in that, can you, He asks me? Can you give me your life so fully that you learn to rejoice over My plans, even when they thrwart your human reasoning?

When we get to the end of ourselves, when we get to a despair that is so crippling we have to literally crawl to the throne of grace, we become useful. Yes, useful. God was working all the time to get us there, asking us to trust Him implicitly.

My sons? Their difficulties mean they will be more willing to crawl to that throne of grace over and over. When we view it that way, when we view it as the Lord does, are handicaps a weakness or a strength?

I'll leave you to ponder that.

And I pray that we all, as Christian mothers, crawl to the throne of grace readily so God can use us mightily in our children's lives.

Giving Thanks Today:

Thank you, Lord, for these blessings and graces:

~ For a husband who joyfully gives his time to each child.

~ For children who listen to my thoughts about the Lord.

~ For growing faith...trials don't allow faith to grow stagnant, thank the Lord.

~ For other mothers who share my burdens and understand.

~ For the throne of grace, always available, always beckoning.

~ For a Heavenly Father who gently pulls me back into his embrace and wisdom, even in the middle of the night. 

~ For my 4-year-old daughter's endearing ways. I love age 4!

~ For sunshine.

~ For tulips coloring my world and fresh new leaves on the trees and brilliant green grass all around.

~ For my Mary's love and sweetness.

~ For my boys' bravery, trying to find their way in a confusing world.

~ For my boys' desire to have their friends come to faith.

~ For the sprinklings of grace that happen many times a day.

~ For that harmless snake from our backyard, bringing so much joy to my Peter. He marveled at the way that snake wrapped around his hand, as though an old friend.

~ For my son Paul's love of maps and geography and art. Relaxation for him is drawing up a new map or reading statistics about each state's characteristics. I thank the Lord my boy has passions that can still pull him away from darkness.

What are you thankful for today, my friend?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Let's Talk Blogs

Let's talk blogs, shall we?

I have a number of blogs on my sidebar but I keep up with just a fraction. Around here there are too many children and too much laundry to do otherwise.

On a side note, loin cloths like they wear in the jungle seem awfully appealing right now. How long would it take to wash six loin cloths per day? And due to the humidity, they sleep on hammocks not on bedding.


But this is Ohio not the Amazon so I'll get back on topic now.

My friends' and fellow homeschooler blogs are the first I read; I get to the others only a few times a month.

If you're a blog lover you know the different types out there and you probably have specific reasons for keeping up with each one, even if it's just to see how a particular family fares.

And you probably have specific things that turn you off for good, too. One of those for me are numerous buttons asking me to follow on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram...ad nauseam. Sometimes those appear before any content and the blog has to be very good otherwise to get me past this.

The ads used to bother me but this growing number of follow buttons really annoy. As if we need yet another distraction...

I dislike the aggressive tactics, reasoning that God is perfectly capable of bringing an audience to a blog, if He so desires, no matter what the marketing experts may teach at blog conferences.

Book publishers demand a social media following nowadays to boost their profit margins, so bloggers-who-hope-to-be-print-authors are thinking ahead with these buttons, no doubt.

I guess I'm not ambitious enough to get on board, but I do have enough in my head to put in a book some day. Hopefully by then things will have changed, since it will be years before my children's growth stages will allow me to write a book

And too, I believe as with pastors and actors, writers have the skill or talent either to appeal to large audiences or smaller ones. God can change that, but can audience-begging buttons?

Granted, some people use blogging to run online businesses and I get that. I know the various social mediums spread information like wildfires, usually without overhead costs.

Today I want to warn all of us about the Perfectly Produced blog. I use the word produce because that's what they do for major motion pictures. They decide on the impression they're after and the director does take after take until it's just right.

The Perfectly Produced blog can be about any topic, but the aim is to present perfection. For example, one sees a nice, orderly, perfectly clean house. No laundry anywhere. The children are perfect geniuses without any issues. The mother does it all, perfectly. The husband is never mentioned other than to announce his perfect job...as though the husband's worth lay in just that: his job.

Because these blogs never waver from their image, they deceive us, either knowingly or blindly. Read them for what you can glean, but always keep in mind...perfection doesn't exist.

Behind the production scene are real people. Broken people in need of daily redemption and daily grace. The brokenness might be in the relationships, in the bodies, in the neurotransmitters, in the alcohol or drug abuse, in the finances or in the heart. But it's surely there...a well-kept secret.

Certainly there are mini-cultures and families who feel it's inappropriate to share any brokenness. To do so is in poor taste, in their opinion. On the West Coast real life is shared more readily than on the more-reserved Midwestern and Eastern parts of our country. I moved from California to Ohio in August 2005, and I'm still learning the emotional landscape here.

People in Ohio have more roots; they move less and they chase possessions less. They're friendly and often down-to-earth, but they like to suffer privately or with just their families.

These differences are acceptable and cultural. I don't see the reserved person as hiding something so much as reserving it for a few.

But the Perfectly Produced blog? It's deception. Read it at your own risk and don't let it rob you of your contentment or your gratitude. And consider this: your problems may be small potatoes next to their secrets.

Balance your perfectly-produced blog reading with blogs that present real life showered in grace.

Grace is beautiful, real, and attainable.

Pray for it, celebrate it, advertise it. It allows the real star to shine...Jesus Christ our Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:5
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  

Philippians 2:10
So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.         

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Journal, April 26

In my life this week…

I've been somewhat anxious, waiting for the rheumatology check-up this week for my 4-year-old daughter, Beth, who suffers from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

But no worries; the doctor was pleased with her joints' appearance--enough to refrain from raising the methotrexate dose, much to this Momma's relief.

I also obtained a referral to an ENT to evaluate the size of Beth's tonsils and discuss removing them, per the speech therapist's recommendation. Although, of course, we will pray about this and study the data before agreeing to surgery, no matter what the ENT determines. It's no fun to struggle to breathe, but I think she's so used to it she doesn't know any better.

Finally, we helped the neighbor kids get to school again. They had colds but had to go to school because this area started standardized testing. The district has good scores and they take this very seriously...something I gathered from the neighbor boy's stress level. Anyway, my oldest came down with the cold and has asthma with it for the first time in a long time.

It's always something fun and relaxing...or not.

In our homeschool this week…

1.  This week Peter and I finished reading Bruchko, the Sonlight-assigned reader I mentioned last week. Paul is just beginning it and I think it will have to become a read aloud for him. He's 9.5 years old and the missionary books are a bit heavy for him to process on his own.

About Bruchko I can only say...I'll never be the same. The book taught me so much about God's power and provision in our daily walk--power most of us never tap into. I've written rather lengthy comments about how the book affected me, so if you're short on time you might want to skim or skip. The book is riveting and awesome and every Christian would love it.

On his deathbed a number of times--with no missionary organization behind him and no coworker or steady cash flow--Bruce needed the Lord desperately while trying to help a stone-age Indian tribe in South America...a tribe that routinely killed anyone who came near them.

As the Lord provided time and again and supernaturally made His presence known, sustaining Bruce through terrible loneliness, boredom, and recurring illness, Bruce became willing to die for Christ. He reached Paul the Apostle's point in life, in which he could say..."To live is Christ, to die is gain." (My words, not Bruce's).

It wasn't that Bruce (Bruchko) wanted death, just that he was willing to be led to it for Christ's sake.

As I read the last pages through a flood of tears, I walked away with this conviction: Unless we do something completely, utterly brave for God, we won't know or experience God the way Bruce has for the last fifty years in the jungle.

He's 71 years old now, still living among the Motilone, whom he met at about age 20. All the Motilones accepted Jesus not long after Bruce arrived, but they don't have traditional worship ideas. For example, they don't go to church on Sundays. Church is community and they do it everyday, all day. Two strong reminders came to me as I read:  Church is community, not a building. Church is an attitude, not a destination.

They read the translated Bible (Bruce's work) nightly in groups and all members regularly tell what they think the passage meant, and how it applies to their life. Bruce never tried to convert them to any certain lifestyle, other than walking in the footsteps of Jesus, letting Him cover their iniquities with his blood. Their entire way of relating to each other changed, almost overnight, after they began to walk in Jesus' path. Prior to this they had no concern for anyone outside their own family unit.

It's when we have no insurance policies and no backup plan that we truly need God on a daily basis. Sure, when we get sick or a loved one is in pain, we need Him terribly and rejoice that He's always there to help us. But for Bruce, God's presence was needed hourly. He endured prolonged loneliness for one, and tomorrow was always an unknown. A tiger or a snake or hepatitis could take his life, or worse (like warring guerrilla factions).

Even what Bruce would do with his time each day was an unknown. He didn't walk into that jungle with a plan; just a God-given desire to share Christ with the Motilone Indians. Each day God pointed the way and Bruce had to pray, listen clearly, and wait for God's timing. 

As I soaked up the details about his early days in South America outside the jungle, and then in the jungle, even before he met up with the Motilone, it struck me that God purposely beat Bruce down. It was as though the Lord wanted to get rid of all that was Bruce Olson, and fill this empty cavity of a man up with just Christ.

Does that sound familiar, some days? Each one of my children have their separate problems, and my husband and me have our personal trials as well. Sometimes I can't believe how hard it is and I wonder, it is this hard for everyone, but in different ways? Are we all being beaten down, so that we'll dump ourselves out and finally fill up with Him?

When I read the Bible as a whole and think of all its heros, I'm inclined to say that yes...life is supposed to be hard. We are supposed to get to the end of our ropes and then monkey jump onto Jesus' rope and stay there, clinging to Him like a parasite...living off His love, His blood, His power, His wisdom, His provision.

In the Western world, with our insurance policies and our retirement plans and endless safety nets, we forget that life is meant to be uncertain. Because in Christ we have all the certainty we need. All other plans and policies fail to bring true peace of soul.

As I said, I'll never be the same. It's doubtful I'll ever live in the jungle, but I want to remember what Bruce endured and I want to live his courage, live his passion for the Gospel.

 Bruchko   -     
        By: Bruce Olson

Buy here: Christianbook.com:

Other school things...Last week I wrote about Susan Wise Bauer's Writing With Ease. We still enjoy it very much and I did end up purchasing Level 4, putting Level 3 on the shelf for my girls to grow into. The boys were used to a page and a half of dictation and we needed to get back to that volume. Level 4 will work fine.

I do tweak it, having the boys write out every narration after giving it to me orally. Also, I don't have the boys try to memorize the passage I will be dictating. They just read through it once before I begin dictating.

As I guessed, the boys have expressed a desire to check out some of the books used in the dictations and narrations. Susan Bauer worked hard to choose intriguing passages that would hook children while exposing them to the best writing models.

 Writing with Ease Level 3 Workbook   -     
        By: Susan Wise Bauer

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

Don't hesitate to write a behavior contract if a child becomes increasingly combative. I have one child with ADHD/OCD and it seems when the OCD is calm, the ADHD isn't and vice versa. Right now things are tough with the impulsivity and the difficulty delaying gratification.

I have written, again extensively, about sample behavior contracts, so if you're short on time, skim or skip again.

When a child is frequently needing consequences it's difficult to keep up with what you've said you're going to do, especially with a houseful of kids distracting you. Take out the confusion and guess work by writing out a contract listing his responsibilities, his consequences, and his weekly incentives (privileges).

For example, we've had success with the following for our son Peter, age 11. Let me first say that too much time on his hands isn't good (bugs others incessantly if he isn't busy), and too little free time isn't good either. He needs structure imposed on him, but with plenty of outdoor time worked in:


~ 90 minutes of birdwatching and nature time alone with Daddy, twice monthly. (My husband works 54 hours per week so this is not easy, but worth it--they both need it. Our son is at one with nature and always has been.

~ Mommy reads aloud (on top of the time Daddy reads nightly).

~ Go to frog pond (drainage ditch across our small quiet street, with quite a sampling of pond life).

~ Ride bike around short block

~ Computer time 24 minutes daily

~ Keep pond animal for observation for one week.

~ 50 cents allowance per week.

Responsibilities (Many of these are on a check-off sheet on the wall)

~ Clean up after hamster daily; clean cage on Tuesdays; feed daily

~ Clean room and make bed daily before 1st recess

~ Obey parents in the Lord

~ Put away your folded clothes

~ Read Bible before 1st recess daily

~ Read 2 books to sisters Mon. - Fri.

~ Come in by 6 PM daily; no arguing, shower before dinner

~ Refrain from badgering Mommy or siblings

~ Get a calm activity when your temper flares (such as hold your hamster or read a bird or nature book)

~ Vacuum living room every Saturday

~ Sweep every Friday

~ Take out recycling on Thurs.

~ Check off all subjects and chores on weekly school chart for parent perusal

Consequences for misbehavior or disobedience:

I keep track of this by using numbered index cards in a pocket on the wall (numbers 1 - 9). When he misbehaves he changes the top card, revealing the next number. It may sound like something from a Kinder class, but it keeps them accountable and Mom in the know, even with a houseful. He wouldn't lie about what card he's on--mainly because his OCD wouldn't allow him to lie--but if you have a chronic fibber you may have to turn the cards yourself.

I leave food out of the picture, and I make sure all consequences, except for the nature trip with Daddy, are paid on the same day. No carry overs to the next day. Impulsive and strong-willed children benefit from a clean slate every day (and don't we all have that in Christ?).

Think about your child's likes and dislikes and come up with privileges and consequences that will really make an impression. Writing them out and posting them will help you refrain from doubling consequences in anger, or threatening things that aren't practical, or that end up punishing the other kids as well.

If your child has a bad temper and things get ugly quickly, a timeout in their room will lower their adrenaline and yours too. I endeavor to keep quiet during the timeouts even if he doesn't. Lecturing in anger only makes my kids tune me out.

I let him take a book with him and he always comes out calmer. My goal is not so much to punish, but to redirect and allow him time to hear the Holy Spirit and ask Him for calmness.

Step 1 - 20 minutes in room
Step 2 - 20 more minutes in room
Step 3 - Lose 12 minutes computer
Step 4 - Lose Mommy reads aloud (Daddy will still always read aloud at night)
Step 5 - Lose frog pond for the day
Step 6 - Lose bike for the day
Step 7 - Lose pond animal you've been observing
Step 8 - Lose $.25 allowance
Step 9 - Lose nature time with Daddy

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

AWANA is drawing to a close so we added a library storytime/craft/movement class for the girls on Tuesdays. One perk for me is that it helps me pick out books from the shelves without having to watch the girls' whereabouts constantly.

My favorite thing this week was…

Hearing that my 4-year-old daughter didn't need a stronger dose of her chemo drug. And that she won't have to have her blood drawn every 6 weeks anymore--just every 3 months. What a relief! She was getting feisty during those blood draws and my stress level stayed high the entire day afterwards.

My kiddos favorite thing this week was…

Playing in the rain and getting thoroughly muddy. I was not amused because the laundry load has been through the roof. Last Sunday I spent seven hours on laundry (partly due to the spring clothing switch). The 7 hours was in addition to doing a few loads every day.

Things I’m working on…

Laundry and the clothing switch. Haven't I written that three weeks running? I just need a good chunk of time to finish it!

I’m cooking…

chicken-noodle soup, gingerbread pancakes, spaghetti, cheesy eggs, roast chicken

I’m grateful for…

...the examples Jesus gave us in the Gospels, and of missionaries and others who demonstrate how to give one's life to Christ. What is Lordship? What does it look like to do this daily? I love reading examples of this, on top of my Bible reading.

I’m praying for…

...my friend's daughter, another friend's son, the neighbor children, my children's ailments, my headaches, our sanity

Have a blessed week! If you got to the bottom I have to say thank you...a bit long-winded I am for sure. I guess this is a stress reliever. :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

More Grateful, More Content

The motor signaled its demise; for 4 days we heard a loud, annoying, grind-screech sound.

And alas, as of tonight, the dishwasher is dead, 7.5 years after we bought it.

Will I ever blog again other than the middle of the night, once I'm washing dishes three times a day?

We shall see....

Late tonight, as I soaped, rinsed and shined the chicken-noodle soup bowls, along with the glasses and pans and silver we used for dinner, I knew we wouldn't replace the dishwasher.

When we bought it seven and a half years ago, we were different people...regular first-world people. We didn't know about Compassion International and we didn't dearly love three extra children:

Divya (India, age 9.5, correspondent child)


Nelson (El Salvador, age 8, sponsor child)


Raphael (Burkina Faso, age 13.5, correspondent child)

Once you fall in love with a child from the third world, your heart is wrecked and your eyes opened. No longer can you get in your vehicle, drive to Sears, and buy a luxury item. Not unless you can send the same amount of money to your Compassion children, and still afford the dishwasher.

Everything concerning finances gets filtered through your new lens...your third-world, least-of-these lens.

But this change doesn't occur overnight. It takes time, prayer and letter writing to develop a love such as this... when you truly feel like your Compassion children are part of your family.

I believe God divinely chooses your sponsor children with as much insight and love as he chooses your biological children. As we raise our children the process itself is part of our discipleship in Christ. Parent and child idiosyncrasies and flaws and gifts mingle just right, sharpening us in Him.

The same is true of sponsoring children. The experience itself disciples you and with each letter written, with each prayer uttered, with each rejoicing of heart, with each passing month you contribute to their care, you become more like Jesus.

And as you become more like Jesus, what happens to your contentment?

It skyrockets and suddenly, you don't need that GPS, that dishwasher, that fancy phone, that designer purse, that Olive Garden meal.

The amount of luxury money we spend is directly related to our contentment level. The less content we are, the more we buy.

And our contentment is directly related to our sense of gratitude. The less grateful we are, the more we think we deserve.

To be more grateful and more content, sponsor a child today.

Who wouldn't want to be more like Jesus?

Wondering if you can afford the $38 a month required to sponsor a child? Consider this verse about your daily needs:

Matthew 6:33  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 25:40 "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'

Never again will you go to your mailbox with the same what-bill-will-it-be-today attitude. Once you get into the website and hit "sponsor a child", you'll always look forward to a letter from your precious child.

And who will meet you at the mailbox?

Jesus himself, disguised as the least of these.  I guarantee it.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Does My Child Feel Loved?

Last week I asked for prayer for my friend's daughter regarding anorexia and depression. If you've remembered Chelsea this week, I thank you.

After hearing a little more about her condition last week, I came home from church feeling desperate to help. I didn't feel completely confident that my friend understood the gravity of the situation...that 20% of sufferers die from this disease, and that most will battle it for the rest of their lives, fighting daily to drown Satan's voice.

I came home and just sat in a chair, feeling extremely anxious. I don't just listen to people's problems. I feel them. Sometimes this tendency drives my husband crazy.

I remembered Emily's book, Chasing Silhouettes, and immediately ordered it, thinking as soon as it came, I would call my friend and take it straight over.


But my plans were foiled by my husband's dead car battery. He had to take the van and so instead, I started reading the book.

What a treasure of life-giving information for every parent. As much as I wanted the book in my friend's hand ASAP, I'm grateful God spoiled my plans and allowed me to read it first instead. I'll be honest...it was frightening. A true wake up call for every parent.

Here is what I learned:

Love, Love, Love

When parents have a keen interest or distraction--business, gardening, reading, sewing, exercising, scrap-booking, writing, painting, whatever--they have to be very careful not to put the interest above their children's needs. When we're stressed we can resort to escapism. Satan wants us to escape, whereas God wants to heal and renew us.

When we're not accessible our children feel unloved. Period. It doesn't matter how much we think we love them...love is expressed through putting others first. Be careful of saying to your child too often: "Just a second, Honey, I just need to finish this e-mail...finishing getting these flowers into the ground...finish contacting these clients...finish this scrapbooking page."

Emily, who almost died twice from this disease--once at age 13, and again as a married woman at age 26--felt, above all, unloved. Her first battle lasted 4 years, and her relapse lasted 3 years. This disease works slowly and steadily and in the end, the patient must choose life or death, literally.

Pick Your Battles

Secondly, Emily felt controlled. Her battle started at the age of 9 years old. She couldn't choose her food or her clothes or her friends. She couldn't watch TV or play with Barbies. As a pastor's child, she led a tightly controlled life. Slowly starving herself over the course of 4 years started as an act of rebellion. She loved the feeling of control; no one could make her eat. The more they tried, the stronger the disease became.

Over time the disease consumed her and she became the disease--a mere shadow of the girl God created. She nearly destroyed herself and her family but she didn't care; she thought she looked beautiful in her skeletal state. It's shocking how Satan can deceive us.

Many of us have a picky eater in our house and this book reminds usnever let mealtime become a battleground.

Don't force a child to eat a certain amount. Give healthy choices and let them choose their portions and what they'll dish up for themselves. Don't be overly restrictive with sweets and don't label some foods good and some bad. Eat intuitively, modeling balance. God gives food as a gift.

Especially vulnerable are strong-willed, sensitive children who may be people-pleasing perfectionists. Be especially careful in not allowing food to become a battleground with this child. Kids learn early that their food intact can give them power over mom and dad.

I heard a pastor say once, in regard to parenting: "Only say no when you can't say yes." Provide every child with a reasonable amount of control over negotiable things.

Mind Your Words

I've always secretly thought that larger-boned people were fortunate in that they could gain a little weight and it didn't show. Small-boned people, like myself, have to be more careful. But right away as I read this book, I learned not to talk or think in terms of bone size or body frame at all.  Many girls want to have small bones. They want a "petite" label, even if God had other ideas when he created them.

Men don't care about bone size, but girls/women may. Affirm your child just the way God created her, without using labels.

If you become concerned about weight gain in a child, never nag about or mention the gain. Just provide healthy choices. Even after recovery, innocent words about weight gain, or even, "You are looking healthy" can become a trigger for relapse.

Affirm your child in more than just physical ways. It's good to say she's beautiful, but also acknowledge her painting gift or her helping gift or her teaching gift. Notice her, know her, and affirm her always.

Refrain from making any negative comments about your own body size or looks. Be grateful and comfortable in your own skin, for you've been fearfully and wonderfully made.

Pray For Healing Of Your Own Heart

The ideal mother, if she exists at all, is one who recognizes her worth in Jesus Christ. If you have past, unhealed wounds, they will affect your parenting. Pray that God heals you in your deepest hurting places so you can love unconditionally. A redeemed person loves others without fear. A hurting person seeks to protect herself, living selfishly without even realizing it.

I highly recommend Emily's book for all parents, especially if you have daughters. It can halt the mother-daughter thing in its tracks before it becomes destructive and dangerous, and it can prevent father-daughter dysfunction as well.

That said, it's important to remember that anorexia is never the parents' fault: a child chooses not to eat. And in the end, the child must choose to get well. She must choose life and love. Treatment plans go no where if a child doesn't want to recover.

Affirming our children is prevention...not just with our words, but our actions. We must make time for each child, learning their love language and prayerfully seeking to meet their needs consistently.

Studies show that there may be a genetic predisposition to this condition, but the disease itself is almost always triggered by excessive environmental stress. Emily's was probably triggered by the death of a beloved grandma figure.

I close today with this thought...one I've shared several times:

Parenting is a prayer.

Never stop praying, for we are flawed and we need our Heavenly Father's divine intervention. His grace showers us, eclipsing our brokenness.

I will present the book quietly tomorrow at church and I pray it's read that same day. Please pray with me?

Giving Thanks Today

Thank you, Father, for these blessings and graces:

~ For Emily's brave book reminding me to be an accessible mother, no matter my stress level.

~ For the transforming power of prayer. I don't have to be perfect; I just have to be on my knees.

~ For my husband's love for and devotion to our children.

~ For one of our Bible Study children praying aloud for the first time.

~ For the strength to say I'm sorry.

~ For pain that grows into wisdom, that helps others.

~ For redemption by the blood of the lamb

~ For four children, wild and beautiful.

~ For leaves unfurling on our trees. Praise God for color.

~ For sunshine, even if there was a little snow mixed in this morning.

~ For exciting homeschool curriculum on my bookshelves

~ For the wisdom to look for the beautiful.

What's beautiful in your life today, my friend?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Journal, 4/19/13

In my life this week…

It's all good....or mostly. My Mary fell sick with a stomach bug on Tuesday morning. This will be the third time she's come down with an intestinal virus and the rest of us have not contracted it; twice it involved a fever so food poisoning is unlikely.

Sometimes I wonder if childhood illnesses aren't God's design for a particular child to get extra attention? I do know I've held my Mary much these past couple days, praying over her heart and her life and her body.

In our homeschool this week…

1.  Peter is reading Bruchko, a missionary story of incredible emotional and spiritual impact. My boys, and later my girls, will never be the same for having read it.

 Bruchko   -     
        By: Bruce Olson

Synopsis info. from Christianbook.com:

Publisher's Description

What happens when a nineteen-year-old boy leaves home and heads into the jungles to evangelize a murderous tribe of South American Indians? For Bruce Olson, it meant capture, disease, terror, loneliness, and torture. But what he discovered by trial and error has revolutionized the world of missions.

Bruchko, which has sold more than 300,000 copies worldwide, has been called "more fantastic and harrowing than anything Hollywood could concoct." Living with the Motilone Indians since 1961, Olson won the friendship of four presidents of Colombia and has made appearances before the United Nations because of his efforts.

Bruchko includes the story of his 1988 kidnapping by communist guerrillas and the nine months of captivity that followed. This revised version of Olson’s story will amaze you and remind you that simple faith in Christ can make anything possible. "[Bruchko is] an all-time missionary classic. Bruce Olson is a modern missionary hero who has modeled for us in our time the reaching of the unreached tribes." —Loren Cunningham Co-founder, Youth With A Mission

 2. Another homeschool mentionable is a writing book the boys started with me called Writing With Ease by Susan Wise Bauer. You probably recognize Susan as the author of the widely-read Story of the World history series. She also runs The Well-Trained Mind website, alone with her friend, Jessie Wise, who also writes curriculum. Together they run Peace Hill Press, a curriculum publishing company, but take my advice and buy their products from Christianbook.com (far cheaper I came to find out).

First, read the sample pages provided on the Peace Hill Press site (for all their products). Many pages are available to peruse for free and you'll know exactly what you're getting when you buy the product.

 Writing with Ease Level 3 Workbook   -     
        By: Susan Wise Bauer

Writing With Ease is followed by Writing With Skill for students 6th grade and higher. Although if you haven't done much dictation in the past with your child, I recommend acquiring a lower book first. If necessary just double up on the assignments. The passages are all good literature and they won't be babyish by any means if you buy a lower grade level.

Narration assignments are also included and those take practice, which is another reason to start lower if you haven't used this method. Orally retelling a story is a skill that comes with practice. The unpracticed student often doesn't know where to start and frustration sets in. Pray through the frustration and stick with it, understanding that this, along with dictation, is a tried-and-true method lost in the world of public schooling.

The more students we added to the one-room schoolhouse model of old, the more we lost in efficiency. Older students helped younger ones one-on-one...when we lost that, we lost much. An eighth-grade education from the old, one-room schoolhouse was years above what the nation can provide for today's eighth grader.

Getting back to the featured resource...Tear-out lined paper is included in the Writing With Ease workbooks for student use, but we strictly use journal books here. I hate loose papers running around; putting them in notebooks isn't the best solution, since over time the loose-leaf binder holes don't hold up. Journal books become a priceless piece of history for you and your child...a true slice of life and proof that progress comes with hard work and diligence, over time.

Walmart (online) sells elementary journal books with varying line sizes, with a space for pictures included for 2nd grade and under.

 Publisher Synopsis:
Take the guesswork out of teaching writing! Used along with the core text, Writing With Ease, this workbook provides every dictation assignment, comprehension question, and reading passage that you'll need for a full year of study.
Using passages and sentences from classic children's literature, Workbook: Level 4 allows young writers to practice their skills while absorbing the style and grace of great authors. Charming illustrations by Jeff West add a visual element that will spark your child's imagination.

Writing With Ease and Workbook: Level 4 are the only materials you'll need to provide your student with a complete year of writing instruction.

I'm very impressed with this resource and along with me, the boys look forward to it each day. How many writing programs can you say that about? Ha! We've been through our share and I expect most homeschooling families would say the same.

There are good things about every program, but what strikes me about this one in particular is the meticulous nature the author used as she conceived and developed it. But don't relate that word meticulous with hard-to-use. Quite the opposite is true! A college writing and literature instructor, Susan was appalled at the essays her students turned in. She wanted change for our nation's young people and this program is her educational vision, realized.

While it's based on the philosophies you read about from Charlotte Mason, Ruth Beechick and Sonlight, it's better organized and as I said, meticulously thought out....each lesson having specific objectives. Think "open and go". Every thing you need is right there in the workbook for each level. You don't need to buy the core text unless you want to learn more about the theory or have alternate passages to choose from.

I incorrectly bought level 3 before I saw a grade-level label (level 3 is designed for 3rd grade). Level 4 covers grades 4-5 (my boys are 3rd and 5th currently but the 3rd grader is advanced). What I'm doing is going through 2 lessons a day and we'll start Level 4 when it feels like they're no longer learning from this one.

Each day brings a new treat in this workbook, in terms of the literature piece involved, and we love that here. In fact, one huge perk is that your student will learn about great literary works as you use this resource. Only the best of the best literature is included. I've even come across a mini-lesson on the different rhythms of poetry (something sadly lacking in my own education).

My boys, whom I school together, have been doing dictation of high-quality literature passages for over a year as part of the novel-support materials Sonlight provides...Sonlight being a Ruth Beechick-loving company. I've seen the dictation method work wonders for their writing, grammar and spelling.

Possibly, the only reason you don't see dictation in the public schools is that it's not a method conducive to large groups.  Believe me, I know that of which I speak; I used to dictate spelling words every week to first graders, all of whom wrote at their own speed.

If you peruse the Well-Trained Mind website, just please, forget about Jessie's baby-scheduling ideas, which this nursing-advocate mother finds objectionable. To ensure a good milk supply don't schedule your baby. Every mother has a unique milk-storage capacity, so not every baby can go the same amount of time between feedings. And baby's needs change frequently too. Be in tune to your baby and pray much for God's grace and divine assistance.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

Has spring fever arrived at your house? Trying schooling from 11:00 AM to 2 or 3ish, depending on your workload. The kids will be out of the sun when its rays are most damaging and their eager hearts won't be distracted so much by the beautiful day.

Don't forget the nature walks...something people from non-snow climates can do anytime, but a real treat for us Ohioans.

Unless you rise very early, try doing the schooling first, then the chores. The children can tidy their rooms while you prepare breakfast, but save the bulk of your chores for after the teacher-directed learning segments. You'll avoid getting distracted by the desire for neatness and cleanliness--a desire that can take you straight up to dinner prep if you're not careful.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Last night was the AWANA car derby, something which, you might remember, we embarrassed ourselves at last year. Previously we knew nothing about derby cars or how seriously people take these races. This year we arrived well prepared, with the help of our artist friend Dean, who has helped with many AWANA derbies. The cars were impressive to say the least, but I find it a shame that so little of the work is actually done by the children. That was the case across the board. Even Paul himself said, "Mommy, did I really deserve a trophy? Dean helped with the painting."

Pictures to follow, but Paul won 1st Place in design and 2nd Place in speed. Peter won 2nd Place in design. Dean also prepared our neighbor boy's car, who goes to AWANA with us, because the child took little interest in it. It was equally impressive but didn't win anything (design awards are up to a panel of judges, and who knows what impresses them). The neighbor boy took it hard and I pray his disappointment is short-lived and that his parents (non-Christians) do not assume any favoritism.

What we learned last year, and continue learning, is that disappointment is a catalyst for effort and progress. It hurts now, but reaps benefits later.

My favorite thing this week was…

..loving on Mary while she ailed. She's better today, eating all but dairy and fat.

My kiddos favorite thing this week was…

...the AWANA derby and using their new Adventure Bibles in their studies this week.

NIV Adventure Bible, Italian Duo-Tone, Electric blue/Ocean blue  -     
        By: Lawrence O. Richards

Things I’m working on…

Still working on the spring clothing switch and walking in His grace.

I’m cooking…

Taco bake, baked ziti, crockpot ham and potatoes, tacos, roast chicken

I’m grateful for…

the Lord's wisdom. As I look around I'm astounded at what a gift biblical wisdom is. It goes without saying, but we live with so much more peace when we avail ourselves of it daily...nothing else compares.

I'm also grateful that we've held our ground in not filling up our weeks with extra-curricular activities. AWANA night is the only night we can't have a family dinner. The dinner hour has anchored and bonded families for generations and our sports-obsessed society has given it up...to the detriment of our nation's young people. They've lost any moral compass, as evidenced by young girls and boys getting into serious trouble in high school. The news has been so hard to read lately. So heartbreaking watching our young people chase after all the wrong things..

You can't raise a child in the time it takes to drive him from one activity to another, and I pray the recent tragedies drive that home. We need to concentrate not so much on those pitching or dribbling or scrambling skills, but on living-with-intregrity skills. This requires strong family bonds and loving relationships between parents and children. A child's sense of belonging needs to come from family, not from peers or teachers or coaches. To earn a child's respect and trust and pass on legacy values, spend time with her. The bond of love created by family time is invaluable and irreplaceable. Kids don't know it, but they want and need their families more than their friends or activities.

Children don't know what they need...that's why we call them children.

I'm grateful the Bible keeps me legacy-minded. Not following what everyone else does can be hard and awkward at times, but when we train ourselves to ask, "Will this soccer season matter even 5 years from now?" and compare that to the foundation laid through the family-dinner hour night after night, it becomes a far easier choice. More and more sports are taking away weekend family time as well...even church. Recently one of Peter's Sunday school teachers left class early to go to a sports-team event with his son...leaving his wife to finish the class. I'm not sure I understand what he thinks he's teaching his son...but so often the church resembles the world.

I’m praying for…

...the Church and America, my friend's daughter, and my own little Beth's arthritic joints and swollen tonsils. The 0.3 milliliters/once week of chemo drug worked to lower the swelling and give her back her strength and agility, but lately I'm seeing some swelling again in the same three joints,  particularly the right knee which has always been her worst. If it continues they might raise her dose of methotrexate, which might lead to nausea problems from my injecting it into applesauce instead of subcutaneously. Please God...spare us a weekly injection into a screaming four-year-old's skin. I beg of you....

The enlarged tonsils are affecting speech and Beth's speech teacher recommends I push to have them taken out. They've been enlarged since December, causing snoring and labored breathing. Her doctor tells me it isn't related to the methotrexate (chemo drug to suppress the immune system) but she started that drug in December as well. Lots to pray about...

Having a blessed weekend, friends. I wish you a nice two days with lots of sunshine and fun.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Multitude Monday: Frolicking With Father

Sometimes, when there's disorder or chronic illness in the home, the sheer weight of life can take your breathe away, leaving you wondering: how do unbelievers face the day? How do they find hope and joy and hold on to it for dear life?

Me, I have the Father. He is Hope and Joy. He grasps my hand softly and takes me frolicking in the heavenly realm. He teaches me to rise above my circumstances and drink of a new hope...a hope to come.

I wouldn't want it any other way. If the weight of life didn't wear on me, there would be no frolicking with my Father.

Giving Thanks Today:

Thank you, Father, for these graces and blessings:

~ For the cardinal gracing the bare brown branches, reminding of color to come.

~ For little Beth calling me into the bathroom during church-morning prep, "Mommy, come wipe me. I had a poooopy!" I couldn't believe the size of the thing and I said, "My goodness. That is a big poopy for such a little girl."  And that little girl looked up at me, all dimpled and four-eyed, with a beaming proud smile: "Thank you", she responded.

~ For my Peter working so expertly, gently, with the nursery babies and toddlers...and enjoying every minute.

~ For the associate pastor and his wife, finally with child and beaming with joy. They may have had prior heartache because they waited until 20 weeks to announce it. (Although when she quit dying her hair I had an inkling and privately rejoiced.)

~ For my Mary growing in gentleness and self-control; she sets my heart all a flutter.

~ After hearing bad news about a friend's daughter, I felt sad on Sunday. Then later when cuddled next to my husband, I rejoiced that I had him to share my burdens. "I'm so glad I have you for a life partner", I whispered, not knowing if he was still awake.  Surprisingly, he whispered back, voice heavy with sleep, "We'll always be together." Praise the Lord!

~ I'm officially an e-bay idiot. I won an auction for my girls' science program. Novice that I am, I rejoiced and paid immediately. Then the seller contacted me and reminded me, after seeing my Ohio address, that it was advertised as local pick-up...In Maryland...and was I possibly visiting Maryland just then, or was it an oversight?  My bubble deflated and I decided that homeschoolclassifieds is a lot simpler. The blessing is: the seller, being a Christian, is sweetly dealing with me, even stating that it's in great shape and she wants me to have it.  She's mailing it to me and I'm paypaling her the postage.

~ My boys, who follow my curriculum hunts closely, have been watching the e-bay e-mails, finding themselves intrigued by the whole thing. Yesterday during their playtime I heard them setting up an auction and having a bidding war over playroom toys. I always have to chuckle at their made-up games. They find a way to involve their sisters and I'm reminded again that children don't need toys...just their imaginations. They have the most fun not with Lincoln Logs or race cars or dolls, but with the schemes they make up.

~ Another sweet, loving letter from our Divya from India. Compassion children have to write three letters per year to their sponsors, but they can choose to write more. Thankfully, our Divya chooses to write fairly often. Her words and her heart, recorded on the page, make the love swell up in me and I long to be able to visit her some day. It's a miracle we're praying for. Click here to sponsor a child and have your heart wrecked forever...in the best way.

~ For the exquisitely painted children's book We Played Marbles, an historical fiction picture book about two boys who play on the high dirt mounds that used to be old Fort Craig, from the Civil War. "With poetic text and striking oil illustrations, Tres Seymour and Dan Andreason create a beautiful, haunting story that will touch readers of all ages."

Indeed. I was quietly awed by this book.

We Played Marbles

~ For an especially nice Children's Bible Study this last Saturday about Joseph's special robe and his brother's jealousy, and about how God takes something meant for evil and uses it for good. Bible stories build our faith and they're worth learning over and over again...even for us old folks. They reveal the heart of God and remind us that we also are the Josephs, the Jonahs, the Rahabs, the Leahs, the Sarahs, the Abrahams and Queen Esthers. That we are the ten lepers and the woman at the well. That God loves us too, no less than the Bible greats. And that He's ever so much involved in our daily lives and pain...and that He has a plan.  A plan never sounded so beautiful as when you hide in your heart and head, the plans recorded in the Bible; they will awe you.

What's beautiful in your life today, my friend?

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Prayer Request (friend's daughter)

I can't give details but my friend's 18-year-old daughter, who suffers from anorexia and depression, is much worse. I feel so helpless right now! It's such a serious situation and it seems only God can help.

I can and will pass along Emily Wierenga's Christian book on helping a loved one battling an eating disorder. I read all 35 reviews of this book and it sounds like every mother with daughters should read it...before food and weight become a battleground.

Though, really, this disease isn't about food, but about control. Emily's book is very Christian-centered and includes the perspectives of Emily's family members as well as professional advice. Every chapter ends with a prayer.

Please pray for a better mother-daughter relationship for my friend and her daughter, and for grace, strength, and healing?  All involved are intensely stressed. Thank you! It helps to know that others might be praying.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Journal, April 12, 2013

Early Life, William Henri Colchester Mollett

In my life this week...

I continue to peruse homeschool classifieds and e-bay for used homeschool curriculum. I'm waiting on an e-bay auction for the girls' science curriculum.

I'd like the six-week summer break and the rest of this year to pre-read the boys' books for next year. They'll be studying the Eastern Hemisphere with Sonlight during 2013-14.

We've also begun the spring clothing switch in earnest. Suffice it to say...the living room is a mess as I work on washing and hanging all the extra clothes, and as I record what we need from thrift stores and pile up what we can pass on to church friends or to Freecycle.

In our homeschool this week...

The boys are reading In Search of the Source and marveling at the thought of a people in the highland jungles of Papua New Guinea eating beetles, grubs, cobras and bats. Fascinating, eye-opening book on many fronts. The translator and his wife, Neil and Carol Anderson, spent over two decades in this remote jungle area, translating the Bible into a previously unwritten language.

Praise God for this precious couple! God cares about every single soul and sometimes He has Believers endure the unbelievable to get the gospel out. Think that Bible Study you host or teach is a lot of trouble? Sometimes I'm put out by the commitment to provide a Children's Bible Study every Saturday afternoon. Read this book and renew your commitment to the Great Commission and your passion for God's Word.
Sonlight synopsis: "A translator struggles to help a tribal people understand what the Bible says. Fascinating, thought-provoking, and often funny, these are the stories of a culture's first encounter with God's Word."

The other neat thing this week is the opportune check out of a DVD series called Liberty's Kids. It's a reenactment of the American Revolution and the events leading up to it. In cartoon format with engaging characters--including such greats as Ben Franklin, George Washington, and Paul Revere--the kids find it riveting. Very high quality and we're all reviewing our history. Even my six-year-old daughter finds it fascinating! A great find at the library (five total hours). I believe you can watch the episodes online here.

Helpful Homeschool Tips or Advice to Share...

Christian Homeschooling is a call from the Lord. As such, trust God to guide your steps. Commit yourself to praying for your homeschool and walk in peace as you pass on a love for learning. And remember this...their hearts first, academics second.

Things I'm Working On...

...In my heart: A neighbor family of six here often needs help and I'm working on helping without feeling irritated by the inconvenience. The husband is nearly six months without a job and the mother works a low-wage job (not even full-time). Intermittently, they need gas money, help with transportation to the local schools when their van is down, etc. They even come fairly often for milk and sugar. The other morning our plans were upset by a sudden request to take them to two different schools. The brakes are out on their Dodge van.

So often people don't want to give their time. It's easier to give money and call it done, patting ourselves on the back. The other morning I felt so inconvenienced, wondering ultimately...wouldn't it be easier to just give them $200, rather than taking them to school until they have the money on their own? But then I thought...can we really afford to part with $200 after all the homeschool costs recently? And why am I so against giving my time? As I ride with those kids I could pray for them and maybe something that God allows to come out of my mouth might encourage them as they endure hardship after hardship.

They don't come to our Children's Bible study and we don't know why, but we do take the 9-year-old boy to AWANA each Wed. And lately, a tiny local Baptist church has a van that arrives to pick up their kids for Sunday worship. This particular church goes door-to-door in our neighborhood frequently, looking for new Sunday worship guests. Shame on me for feeling irritated when God is obviously working on these kids' hearts....

I'm grateful for...

Every single day of being with my children all day long. What a privilege. Even when the four year old gets into the spring clothes, tries them on and leaves them strewn all over, in every room. Sigh....

Something I am ogling or have my eye on...

I'm too busy to ogle anything! But I guess I could mention this review of the Writer's Jungle from the Simple Homeschool site. Sounds like an interesting, motivating book for every homeschool family, if you can afford it. Here is the creator's website. Here is Cathy Duffy's review of the product.

Bless you, dear friends, and have a wonderful weekend!


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

When You Have Questions: Walking in Peace

Psalm 119:125 I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies!        

Psalm 119:144 Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live.

I ordered a used copy in good condition of Understood Betsy, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher.

It's one of the greats in American Literature and I wanted to own a copy...an unabridged copy. When classics are published by curriculum companies--Bob Jones University Press or maybe Sonlight--they're often abridged. This isn't always clear to the buyer. Not all abridged copies are labled as such, clearly enough. 

According to Webster...To abridge is to shorten without sacrificing overall sense. In literary terms, an abridged book is one that has been condensed, but is relatively the same in content.

When I read something, especially a classic, I want it in the author's original words, thank you very much.

Anyway, the used, unabridged copy I received was in awful condition, after being sold to me as a copy in good used condition. For the first time I had to file a complaint with Amazon about their affilitate.

Books classified as "good used condition" are usually quite nice and often look new. They refunded me half my purchase price, and now, as I look for another original text copy, I find that Amazon's site is slow as a snail for some reason, which has been typical lately.

I have time to share a thought and scripture.

As I wrote before, homeschool curriculum can be expensive. I'm nearly done puchasing what we need for the upcoming school year, and what we needed to finish this one.

And several hundred dollars went out the window, which makes me nervous.

Oh, spending money never used to make me nervous, but God has changed me. He's shown me that He is enough...that spending is a distraction Satan uses to set our minds on the worldly, instead of on the spiritual. Self-denial sends us crying for God, who truly satisfies. Self-indulgence sends us crying for more things, which never satisfy. They're a mirage, leaving deceived people continually chasing the next mirage.

I need the homeschool materials, but to be truly thrifty, I could use the library and own no more books, or use what's available. Yes, it would be difficult to chase down exactly what we need through interlibrary loan, but it's possible. I just don't want the extra stress.

And I consider this: Books don't just sit on a shelf if you love words....they're read again and again. I personally remember three readings of Little Women before I finished the eighth grade, as well as Jane Erye and other Charlotte Bronte novels.

These good books I'm gathering will be read...to more than just my own children. I may provide daycare once my husband retires (he's eight years my senior). And once my children are gone, I'll reread them myself and maybe even sit down and write one of my own, God willing.

And I will certainly read them to my grandchildren again and again.

As I wait for the Amazon website to roll forward, I have two verses to share.

I don't know for certain God wants me spending so much on curriculum. It's not written about directly in the Bible, like so many daily questions we contemplate.

But the beauty is...we need not live in confusion. We can ask for wisdom and indeed, we're encouraged to do so.

As I peruse used curriculum, I can pray for wisdom...for the best prices, for the best products, for the best people to do business with. God will have me wait sometimes, and other times go forward with a purchase. His influence is there for my good, if I ask for it.

If I desire His wisdom and defer to it, instead of living in my own, I can walk in peace. If I'm filling my life with Him, and not with things, I can walk in peace.

Life isn't black and white, but the Holy Spirit will direct our path...especially if we understand that our hearts are deceitful. They can't be trusted, but He can.

Psalm 119:125 I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies!

Psalm 119:144 Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live

Monday, April 8, 2013

Multitude Monday: The Lens by Which We See

In the middle of the night, she blessed me.

He blessed me.

I'd gotten up, remembering that the wet towels needed a dryer. 

Out she comes, my sleepy-headed Beth struggling in the dark, too tired for words. When she found me, she simply put up her arms and I knew what she wanted.

I brought her to bed with me; as I adjusted the covers, her body squirmed and experimented, trying to nuzzle as close as possible.

She arranged herself just right, driven by the desire to fully enter into my essense. She wanted to be utterly connected until we felt like one. Until she felt wholly warmed, wholly protected, wholly blessed by my love.

No hesititation exists in her, for she fully trusts my arms and my heart. She's never been turned away.

It's like that with our Heavenly Father too. He's never turned us away and we can wholly trust him. We can nuzzle in close, until we are one. Until we feel wholly warmed, wholly protected, wholly blessed by His love.

And yet, do we look for Him in the dark?

So often we look at the clock and wonder if we'll possibly find the time to read our Bibles. And to pray. There aren't enough hours in the day, we lament.

Here's what I imagine God thinks of that:

"How will you raise your children? How will you do your daily work? How will you wake up and keep going, and go to bed and face the next day? How will you face tomorrow?"

He wants us to remember: "All for My glory. Everything you do, every day, is for my glory. I am your reason for waking up and taking your next breath. It's all about Me. So how can you not find the time? I am the lens you see through, the strength you live in, the food you need to consume. Without me, you're dead."

Cuddle up. Snuggle in. Squirm as close to Him as possible, until you are one in Spirit. Until you don't know where He ends and you begin.

Psalm 16:2 I said to the Lord, "Thou art my Lord; I have no good besides Thee."
Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; In Thy presence is fullness of joy; In
Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.

Giving Thanks Today:

~ For my sweet Beth, who reminds me to pursue Him with my whole heart.

~ For my husband, who says I'm beautiful and seems to see the 47-year-old me from the same lens he used when I was 33...taut and toned and minimally-lined, with maybe two white hairs gracing my whole head. Bless his 54-year-old, tender heart.

~ For the Bible being His essense and being so easy to enter into; always accessible.

~ For my friend's OCD son passing his nursing final. He needed a 78% and he got it, exactly. It was as if God said, "Yes, your brain goes wild during exams, but my grace is sufficient for you. He started his preceptorship (practicum) and is loving each 12-hour nursing shift. Praise the Lord!

~ For 18-year-old Chelsea's depression improving.

~ For my 71-year-old uncle making it through a stroke, still alive and able to walk and talk, abeit with a walker for now.

~ Spending time on the couch a few times a day with my girls, a stack of books on my lap to read.

~ My Mary memorizing all her favorites and "reading" them back to me. How a child can memorize every precise word of a book always amazes me. I don't think I could do it...but she can, even with complicated plots.

~ For Mary giving us such spiritually mature answers during dinner-time conversations. I recently asked her what she loved best about being a child of God. Her answer immediately brought tears of gratitude.

~ That gratitude is the answer for so many daily human ailments. Gratitude is simple, yes? Just look for the beauty and acknowledge it before God, thanking Him.

What's beautiful in your world today, my friend?