Thursday, January 30, 2014


I really like that word...uncomfortable. It speaks of real life and real love. It speaks of courage and triumpth of spirit.

Did you know that with wrinkles comes wisdom? I say this because it's taken me decades to realize how beautiful uncomfortable is.

I'm uncomfortable when my 12-year-old throws up twice before midnight (yes, he did). I silently ponder how long it will take the whole family to catch the tummy virus and get better. How many many hours of laundry and disinfecting and worrying about dehydration?

But then I stop and here for him, now. Stop pondering and disinfecting the floor and hug him already!

I'm uncomfortable when my 7-year-old displays the worst sportsmanship and competitiveness, for the tenth time in a week...and this is typical for her. What to do? How to heal the brokenness that makes her covet winning and despise losing?

I'm uncomfortable when someone calls and talks and talks, never giving me a moment to speak - even to cut in and say I have to go because my five year old needs wiped.

I'm uncomfortable when the van battery keeps going dead - just when we wanted to replace our clothes dryer and our garbage disposal.

I'm uncomfortable when the neighbor girl comes over, almost 12, and asks if she can stay to dinner and sleep over sometime, because she just loves being with us. (Yes to dinner, no to sleep over. Why, she asks.)

I'm uncomfortable when the neighbor boy comes over and acts like a bully...I want to shoo him home for good, rather than be understanding of his hard life of poverty and instability.

I'm uncomfortable when some people have a hole I just can't fill, and I have to say no.

We can chase after comfort and ease. It has an allure that's hard to resist. Sleek and tidy, you know?

But I'm learning that the more we chase comfort and ease, the further we get from God.

For God gets messy and he likes messy. He likes to meet us in the dirt and the tears and the angst. He likes it when we throw up our hands in despair and don't know what to do. Because then we'll listen to Him.

When I got married I never fathomed that the happy couple posing for wedding pictures would one day, 17 months later, be in the maternity ward delivering a baby who had already passed away, and that in the next months I would want to meet my Maker, rather than wait for this or that thing I just had to do before death. My innocence was gone.

When I finally held a living baby all my own 15 months later, I never fathomed that in less than a decade he would be diagnosed with serious problems that would bring me to my knees daily.

I had a baby at age 42, and despite a difficult pregnancy and an emergency C-section - the umbilical cord wrapped around her twice and knotted - she came out alive and healthy. Afterwards, could I fathom that 2.5 years later they would tell me she had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis...that every time I saw her misshapen, swollen knees, I would want to cry?

Not a day goes by that I'm not uncomfortable for some reason, whether physical, mental, or spiritual. But now, all these years later, I don't want to meet my Maker until my work here is done. Take my life and let me labor for you here, my King. My Jesus.

It has taken so long for me to feel that, much less utter it in prayer.

Not a day goes by that I don't thank the Lord for His gracious blessings...mainly for the five messy blessings sharing my heart and home. I thank Him for the hard and the messy because they refine me and redeem my wrinkles and sags with a gentle and quiet spirit. The more I suffer, I more I give thanks. The more I give thanks, the more I perceive I have.

Messy is beautiful. Tidy is sterile. Uncomfortable is really living.

Uncomfortable is taking God at His Word and believing that when we lose our life, we gain it.

I've been talking to you about abject poverty this week and I know that's uncomfortable. I've asked you to sponsor a child and I know that's uncomfortable too. It's uncomfortable for me, doing the asking. But I push through and do it because I know the other side. I know the letters you'll write and receive and the love that'll swell in you - love you thought you could only feel for your own blood children.

We can't get to glorious unless we've known discomfort and walked through it - unless we've followed His lead. His discomfort on the Cross led to the ultimate Glory.

And when we do the hard, uncomfortable work of love in His name - we magnify his Glory. We magnify the beauty of the Cross...we tell its story. We live the Gospel.

Please embrace uncomfortable and live the Gospel today. Say yes? Provide Hope and Jesus, for just $38 a month? Thank you. Thank you for reading, my friends. Thank you for loving in Jesus' name.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Meet My "Adopted" Daughter

This is Sheila, my new sponsor daughter from Uganda! I'm over the moon already! She lives with only a grandmother, so I have to assume that maybe her parents were killed in Uganda's recent war-torn past.

Many people gravitate toward the youngest faces when choosing a sponsor child, thus, older children wait longer. Who wants that for these youths, who yearn for hope and love as much as little ones do? They're at a very vulnerable time in these, their teen years.

Sheila needs more love and encouragement than a hard-working, impoverished grandmother can provide alone. Sheila needs us...our prayers, letters, and gifts, and a sponsorship that allows her to take advantage of all that Compassion provides.

Why did we take this ridiculous-for-our-paycheck move?

I read all the Compassion posts last night and estimated the number of readers reached by this Ugandan trip. Jeff Goins has a very large audience, so between all of the bloggers, the reading audience this week is well over 200,000 readers. And yet, so few children were sponsored as of bed time last night. Even this morning, the total is only 66 children.

This is the first trip in which Compassion has posted a goal: 400 children. This is the first trip in which Compassion is tracking the number of new sponsorships arising from a blogging trip.

Why so few children sponsored? Over 200,000 readers, most having a lot more than an extra $38 a month, and yet, so few decisions for sponsorship?

I believe fear is the block. Fear of a lower standard of living. Fear of not having enough. Fear of the unstable economy. Fear comes in many forms.

"What are you waiting for?" God clearly asked me.

Has God blessed us for already sponsoring someone? Yes, emphatically. We sponsor Nelson, age 9, from El Salvador, and we write to Divya (India) and Raphael (Burkina Faso) in correspondent relationships. Has sponsorship hurt us or our children? On the contrary, from the first click, it's been joy. The joy of clicking "sponsor me" is akin to the joy of baptism. Really. That euphoric feeling, God sent, stays with you to continually bless, as you bless.

Has anything even remotely scary come from it? Just the opposite. Beauty and blessing.

Is my God bigger than the economy? Is he bigger than my troubles? Does he care how many outfits I own, or if I have a broken lamp shade cheapening my living room these last three years? Is he bigger than my bank account? He is confined by totals on a spread sheet? Does anything confine what God can and will do, when we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness?

He does what is best for my spiritual growth and I love that about Him. He does what is best for the Kingdom and I really love that about Him. Nearly 17 years ago he entered my heart; I was graciously gifted with His peace and the down payment on my eternal inheritance - the Holy Spirit.

The fact that he doesn't care about my broken lamp shade? I love that about Him, too.

Sponsor your own "adopted" son or daughter here.

Ask yourself, is my God BIG enough?

More about my precious Sheila: 

Birthday: May 02, 1999
Age: 14
Gender: Female
Region: Africa
Country: Uganda
Program: Murambo Child Development Center

Personal and Family Information:
Sheila lives with her grandmother. At home, duties include carrying water, gathering firewood and teaching others. Her grandmother is sometimes employed as a laborer.

As part of Compassion's ministry, Sheila participates in church activities, Bible class and youth group. She is also in high school where her performance is average. Volleyball, singing and telling stories are her favorite activities.

Please remember Sheila in your prayers. Your love and support will help her to receive the assistance she needs to grow and develop.

FYI: Prior to my clicking "Sponsor me", Sheila was registered, but not sponsored. Compassion gives benefits to children even before they are sponsored (school fees, immunizations, crisis intervention), but regular attendance at a Compassion Child Development Center can only come with sponsorship. The most change in a child's life comes from sponsorship and our letters, but Compassion blesses in Jesus' name as soon as the registration process is completed.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Something Beautiful, In Jesus' Name

Compassion International, one of the most successful child-rescue missions on earth, has reached Uganda with its trip bloggers. For the next five days, they will share stories of hope in Jesus

Compassion's work is not just about feeding and ensuring schooling and medical care for children in abject poverty. They do something much greater. They teach Jesus, who births Hope. Hope heals. 

Hope and poverty can't exist together, for poverty is the absence of hope.

These trips are never exploitative of anyone. They are not designed to make us feel guilty, but to make us seeSee what, you wonder? Read along with me, and see if you can't answer this question yourself by Friday.

I will share the highlights with you, and yes, I will ask you to sponsor a child in Uganda for $38 a month. But don't do it because you feel guilty for being richer than these children. You aren't richer. Do it because Jesus asks you to, and because for you, the spiritual blessings that come from this new relationship are greater than the financial sacrifice. Each year, the money we give to this organization, and to these children in birthday gifts and family gifts (gifts are extra, not required) comes back to us with dividends. Spiritual dividends, as well as financial. I promise you, it is win win, all the way, for everyone involved.

And the letters you will receive from your precious child? They will be imprinted on your heart forever, whether simple or newsy. You will treasure every letter.
Walk to House
Compassion International Photo, Uganda Blogger Trip, 2014

Here are some quotes from today's posts:

Jeff Goins
Poverty, as I understand it, is more than your economic situation or a lack of resources. It’s a mindset.

That feeling of utter helplessness, of being stuck in a situation from which you cannot escape — that’s what it means to be poor.

There are people in this world who lack basic necessities, who need legitimate help, but that in itself is not poverty. Poverty is an attitude that crushes your spirit.

And as I sit down with this family, I do not see poverty. I see possibility.

The children looked back at me on that page and in that moment, unplanned and undecided, I did something completely counter-intuitive. I forced myself to focus on the one I was least naturally drawn to.

It was a ten year old boy named Otwii Paul. His face seemed harsh, his gaze unreadable, his jaw set against the world.

I hope it’s okay I’m about to say this, but it’s the truth about my first impression of him.

At first glance he looked a little bit like a bully.

I closed the laptop, uncertain.

Later, on day one of the trip, after she meets Otwii Paul, Emily writes:

As Wess speaks, he keeps his hands on Otwii Paul’s shoulders, and then the director of the Compassion Center, the same soft-spoken woman as before says the words I will never forget:

“Otwii Paul is our spiritual leader.”

What? The boy with the scowly face and the unreadable expression? The boy who I thought, based on his photo, I was least likely to connect with? This boy was the spiritual leader of this group of over 200 kids?

I wanted to know what she meant by that, how she knows that, what he does to make her say that. About five minutes later, I find out. Read the rest of Emily Freeman's post here, at Chatting at the Sky.

Read all the blogger trip posts here.

Sponsor a child in Uganda, taking only 10 minutes of your time, here. The sponsorship goal for this trip is 400 children. Currently, 23 have been sponsored. Won't you be hope for child number 24?

otwii paul
Compassion International Photo, Ugandan Blogger Trip, 2014

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Homeschool and Mother's Journal Jan 24

In My Life This Week:

I write this in my teddy bear flannel pajamas (recent thrift store find), with two blankets over my shoulders. It be cold in these parts! But no frozen pipes this week, thank goodness.

On Tuesday I got a call from an elderly church friend who had essentially been kicked out of a small group Bible study. My friend is an excessive talker, and she also suffers from low self-esteem, due to having had an abusive father. The poor self-image causes her to seek attention inappropriately, so right away I could imagine the weekly scene at Bible study.

I think we all seek attention when we feel inadequate -- mostly unconsciously -- to falsely build ourselves up in other's eyes, but for some people, this is a constant state. More Bible and more prayer and more singing praises to the Lord helps, but for some people, the hole is just so deep.

The leaders had to have a meeting with her, after consulting church elders for counsel. In a not-very-pleasant-meeting (but still loving) they asked her to either leave, or stop monopolizing the study. This meeting was initiated after two gentlemen said they would stop coming as long as my friend kept attending. The leaders had to make a tough decision as caretakers of the whole group.

For approximately five hours after her heartbreaking phone call with me, describing her trouble, I prayed and mulled it over (she felt rejected, but didn't really comprehend the issue at hand). What does the Body of Christ do with difficult people? I have encountered my share of these people, and my feeling is that God chooses not to heal many of them, for whatever reason.

Maybe, just maybe, they exist in our churches to increase our long-suffering capabilities? Difficult people are as much a part of the sin curse as cancer is. Sometimes there is healing, sometimes not. We cannot ignore these people and pretend they don't exist. We cannot have the mindset that they're someone else's problem (this is not to say that I fault the decision the leaders made).

After prayer, deliberation, and soul searching, my thoughts were thus: Why can't she and her husband come here for a Bible study? We do a neighborhood Bible study for children on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays, ending at 5:30 PM. The house is already clean, so rather than holding an adult Bible study on another day (necessitating another exhausting day of cleaning), how about doing two in one day? I could take over the teaching of the children's study, and my husband could teach the adult study. We could serve a casual dinner and enjoy fellowship, and then have study.

My friend is a dear person in so many ways, and I do love her. I see the heart behind the hurting, needy little girl (the abused little girl is now 69 years old).

Don't get me wrong -- I roll my eyes at her 40 minute phone calls. Those phone calls drive me crazy, but the Bible teaches us to be long-suffering when there are trials in our lives -- sometimes those trials are in the form of difficult people who seem to have a hole that can't be filled (Christian or not).

I contacted the other Bible study leaders, who happen to be very godly people whom I adore, the husband also being an elder. I asked if it would be stepping on the church leadership's toes for us to minister to this couple in a smaller, more intimate Bible study, where the excessive talking would be less of a problem. Fantastic, they said. The perfect solution.

So, a new community was birthed for us and I feel God will bless it (my husband immediately agreed). I also invited my widow friend, who teaches us knitting, and her two adult twin daughters, who happen to be coming for dinner tomorrow for more fellowship and knitting.

The knitting, by the way, didn't go well for us after the first lesson last month. Our work was so tight we couldn't get our needles under the stitches without tearing apart the yarn. I thought it was the cheap Red Heart yarn, but my friend thought no, because she also uses this brand. So, another lesson is necessary, which promises to be another great time of fellowship.

I put in notice for my Birth - Kinder Children's Ministry Coordinator job at church. There are enough volunteers now, and I will recruit more subs, and then step down from the position at the end of May. It has been wonderful in many ways, but a challenge for a mother who still has young children at home. At times I had to leave my youngest with Daddy at home when she was ill, while I went to church. She always cries if I leave the house while she's down and out, and that breaks my heart. I've always been the one to stay home with the sick ones, and I value being available to my children when they need me.

Of course, I love those babies, so I will still enjoy two Sundays a month in the nursery, and the fifth Sunday I'll teach the preschooler class (Beth's class). Both of these jobs are a joy -- I'm glad I don't have to give up any of the children I've bonded with these months.

Peter had a shocking, but telling reaction when I told him about my notice. "But Mommy, I don't want you to step down. I want you to be important in the church."

Oh, my. How did such pride arise over this? ( I am so not important in the church -- maybe just to a few babies :))

Parenting is so hard, but it's in these teachable moments that a large part of the discipleship get done. I told him we don't do things for the Body of Christ to exalt ourselves, but to humble ourselves as servants, doing God's work. If we have a more visible helper job, we remain humble, or else we dilute the good we do.

We humans are always messing things up with our deceitful pride. When we least expect it, it's there. Heaven help us.

In Our Homeschool This Week:

Oh, my. Around the World in Eighty Days is an exciting book! I started it on Wednesday during speech therapy and arthritis therapy, and then stayed up until 3AM that morning finishing it. Written in 1873, it's just a great story, encompassing much of the globe, and highly unpredictable. I recommend it on a rainy day, a snowy day -- on any day, for you, my friends. I love the different literary devices the author uses to make it a masterpiece. Jules Verne's other famous works are: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1869), Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), The Mysterious Island (1875),


Jules Verne Biography excerpt, found here: A true inventor and visionary, Jules Verne set ideas and wrote about many important inventions, conveniences and explorations we experience today. He predicted the use of hydrogen as an energy source as well as future technologies such as submarines, airplanes, helicopters and skyscrapers. He also wrote about ways of travelling to and exploring the north, south poles and the moon.

Peter is halfway through the book and mesmerized the whole time he's reading. Paul isn't as far along, but he's excited about this book because he loves maps. He will undoubtedly produce a map of the main character's travels.

I don't write much about the boys' non-fiction selections, but they have assigned readers (which I detail here), and assigned history readers, (sometimes non-fiction, sometimes fiction), and some World Book DVD ROM country research, as part of each segment of the Eastern Hemisphere we travel through this year. A few books are thrown in just because they're great books, but not necessary about the Eastern Hemisphere, such as The Hobbit, which they will read this year.

I read some nice selections from the library this week, mostly for my girls, ages 5 and 7.

Raising Yoder's Barn, by Jane Yolen

Raising Yoder's Barn

Publisher Synopsis: This powerful and triumphant story is told by a young Amish boy whose family's barn is destroyed in a huge fire. The Amish community comes together to build a new barn, bringing tools, wood, dozens of workers, and food to feed them all. Jane Yolen's lyrical prose and Bernie Fuchs's illuminating oil paintings deftly capture the spirit of an Amish barn raising.

Jane Yolen's prose is beautiful, and I love the way this book celebrates family, togetherness, hardwork, and sharing one another's burdens. A wonderful story, beautifully told. Ms. Nolan has written over 200 books!


Coming On Home Soon, by Jacqueline Woodson

Coming on Home Soon

Publisher Synopsis:
Ada Ruth's mama must go away to Chicago to work, leaving Ada Ruth and Grandma behind. It's war time, and women are needed to fill the men's jobs. As winter sets in, Ada Ruth and her grandma keep up their daily routine, missing Mama all the time. They find strength in each other, and a stray kitten even arrives one day to keep them company, but nothing can fill the hole Mama left. Every day they wait, watching for the letter that says Mama will be coming on home soon. Set during World War II, Coming On Home Soon has a timeless quality that will appeal to all who wait and hope.
A 2005 Caldecott Honor Book

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library, by Barb Rosenstock

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library

Publisher Synopsis: As soon as Thomas Jefferson learned to read, he found his passion: books, books, and more books! Before, during, and after the American Revolution, Jefferson collected thousands of books on hundreds of subjects. In fact, his massive collection eventually helped rebuild the Library of Congress—now the largest library in the world. Barb Rosenstock’s rhythmic words and John O’Brien’s whimsical illustrations capture Jefferson’s passion for the written word as well as little-known details about book collecting. Author and artist worked closely with experts to create the first picture book on Jefferson’s love of reading, writing, and books. An author’s note, bibliography, and source notes for quotations are also included.

This book charmed me! The illustrations, the words, everything. What a treasure, and what a strong message about the value of books.

The Other Side, by Jacqueline Woodson

    The Other Side  

Publisher Synopsis: Clover's mom says it isn't safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Anna lives. But the two girls strike up a friendship, and get around the grown-ups' rules by sitting on top of the fence together.
With the addition of a brand-new author's note, this special edition celebrates the tenth anniversary of this classic book. As always, Woodson moves readers with her lyrical narrative, and E. B. Lewis's amazing talent shines in his gorgeous watercolor illustrations.
Two girls, one white and one black, gradually get to know each other as they sit on the fence that divides their town.

We continued this week listening to Farmer Boy on audiobook. I keep falling in love with this story over and over, and I'm still caught up with the folding of laundry! (All done while we listen to two chapters together). My son Peter so wants to be a farmer! The fire in his soul for farming kindled anew by listening to this -- a story that about 2 or 3 years ago cemented his desire to be a farmer.

Beth is starting to sound out words in her journal each morning, writing one sentence usually, as we do 10-minute quick write. I am so excited about this progress, and about her desire to write along with the big kids. She still needs a great deal of help printing lower case letters, but her capitals are coming along nicely.

We finished 1 Kings during daily Devotions, and started 2 Kings, reading about Elijah and Elisha. They're great stories of faith!

Homeschooling Advice to Share:

For a few years I wrote a daily schedule that seemed forced, rather than natural. This semester I'm observing and building a natural flow of learning segments that makes it easy to stay on track. Everything fits together with our energy levels, our motivation, our natural family rhythm.

First, work on getting your morning working like a charm. Observe how different sequences work for you or against you, and then slowly add one more thing to your successful line-up, seeing how it fits. If you rarely stay on track, it's a poor sequence you're dealing with, possibly.

The things you dread most in the school line-up? Consider getting them out of the way fast, so you won't end up neglecting that aspect of their education, feeling guilty in the process.

My Favorite Thing This Week:

I worked out to a wonderful DVD on Tuesday and Thursday, entitled "Get Moving Mix" (recent thrift store find). It's fun and I look forward to it. For the first time in a long time, I'm back into fitness, and I'm grateful to have finally found something that works for me. My body needs some good toning, and I want to lose about 6 pounds, and fight stress along the way. The teacher is about my age, which is a good thing at age 47 -- not to have some young thing staring you in the face. She has a sweet personality, too.

After a few months I may need something more challenging, but this is a great beginning after three relatively sedentary years (except for housework and some hikes in the woods).

Gratitude List:

~ A new community for my family to enjoy (in the form of a Bible study).

~ Being with my children everyday, to enjoy them, disciple them, homeschool them.

~ The dryer, I discovered, screeches less loudly when I only put in half a load -- that was such a relief today.

~ Farmer Boy

~ Library books

~ Kids who get excited about going to the library, still.

~ Great Classic Literature, like Around the World in Eighty Days -- books that never lose their appeal.

~ The furnace working hard in these frigid temperatures, and keeping up for the most part.

~ Community in general -- what a wonderful thing.

~ A steadfast husband.

~ Boys growing in responsibility.

~ Beth, my five year old, who still cuddles like she's one. Praise God for that young lady, who charms my socks off.

I'm Praying:

For healing of Beth's Juvenile Rhematoid Arthritis. It's not giving her trouble in terms of serious pain or diminished activity, but she's quite swollen in both knees and in her left ankle, which worries me. The methotrexate is not fighting the swelling, which means her joints will eventually get damaged, and she'll need joint replacement surgery, if it persists. Plus, there is always the risk of a stomach ulcer from the anti-inflammatories, which she will be on indefinitely. Sigh. This disease has really been bothering me lately.

I'm also praying for the two families who will join us for Bible study, and that I'll be able to find just the right study booklet, or book.

How can I pray for you, friend? How was your week?

Quote to Share:

Romans 5:3-5 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.   

So You Call Yourself A Homeschooler?

Friday, January 24, 2014

My Paul's Fictional Story: Charlie

Oh, but this blog is sorely neglected. There's always something else that needs to be done lately. Writing blows off steam for me, so I really miss it.

I did want to jump on here quickly and write out my Paul's fictional story. He's been writing it in ten-minute increments of time during our morning Quick Writes. I think it's worthy of sharing because it highlights the benefit of assigning copious amounts of reading texts, whether fiction or non-fiction. Over time, widely-read students begin to use "book language" when they speak and write, transforming them into articulate speakers and solid writers.

Paul, age 10, is working 18 months to 2 years ahead in school (which is why I can school him with his older brother), but he'll be the first to tell you that he doesn't like reading. He'd much rather study maps, design maps, design original card games, play board games or card games, or study almanacs and history time lines. He's a nerd, but not a book-loving nerd. Nevertheless, the books he whines about are benefiting him enormously.


Once upon a time there was a boy named Charlie. He had a mom and a dad, and a best friend, Tike, but no brothers or sisters. He had just moved to New York, near Albany.

It was a warm summer day, June 9th. Tike and Charlie were going swimming.

"Last one there is a rotten egg," said Tike.

Despite being ten, one year younger than Charlie, Tike was faster.

They plunged into the deep, cool lake. And of course, Tike was a better swimmer. They challenged each other to see who could swim faster across the half-mile lake.

"I don't like this idea," said Charlie, after thinking about it more.

"It will be fine," said the younger Tike.

So, Tike and Charlie started across. By the time they were halfway across the lake, Charlie turned back.

"I don't think this is going well. What if we start drowning?", said Charlie, partly because he was losing.

"I'll win without you," said Tike.

"Fine", said Charlie.

Tike was almost across when Charlie called to him, "Watch it. There are rocks over there."

But Tike didn't hear him.

Tike was excited when he made it across. "I won! I won!", he sang.

"Whoo", said Tike soon after that, slipping and falling face-down on a rock.

When Tike didn't come back, Charlie walked to the other side of the lake.

"Tike! Tike!," he called.

Charlie finally found Tike, lying unconscious on a rock. He called for help.

"Help! Help!"

When Tike woke up, he was in a bed in the hospital. And, of course, his mom was next to him.

"Are you alright? Are you?", said his mom.

"Yes, I'm fine", said Tike. "But why am I in the hospital?"

"Well", said Charlie. "I'll tell you my story."

"We were racing across the lake", started Charlie. "I turned back, but Tike kept going. When he was almost across, I reminded him of the rocks. I guess he didn't hear me, because I found him lying on a rock, unconscious."

"After that, I got your mom and we took you to the hospital," he said to Tike.

He hasn't finished this story yet, but I'm so tickled by it.

Tell me about your own children? What are they doing that is inspiring you lately, or affirming your methods? Parenting is hard, and we really need to celebrate when our efforts bring fruit. (Or rather, when God blesses our efforts and allows them to grow fruit.)


Monday, January 20, 2014

Baked Potato Soup

For the love of soup, here's that recipe I've been wanting to share.

Baked Potato Soup


- 6 large russets (4 pounds) peeled and cubed

- 1 large onion, chopped

- 3 (14 oz) cans chicken broth with roasted garlic. Or add four cloves garlic, halved, then remove before mashing. I don't mess with trying to get garlic halves out of the soup. I just add 1 tsp. jarred refrigerated garlic to the soup, and leave it in.

- 1/4 c. butter

- 2 tsp. salt

- 1 tsp. pepper

- 1 cup milk (I use 1% milk, but any type would be fine I'm sure.)

- 1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar (we use colby jack cheese)

- 3 T fresh parsley (or use 1 to 1 1/2 T dried parsley)

- 8 oz sour cream (I use light sour cream.)

- 4 bacon slices (I put this on the side, as I don't personally want the calories from bacon)


- Put first six ingredients in large soup pot (potatoes, onion, chicken broth, butter, salt, pepper). Cook until potatoes are tender.

- Turn off burner. Mash mixture until potatoes are coarsely chopped and soup is slightly thickened. Stir in milk, cheese, and parsley. Wait about 3 minutes to add the sour cream, to avoid separation.

- Sprinkle with bacon and extra cheese, if desired.

This soup is so yummy. Enjoy!

Spring Tips {Welcome Home Wednesday Homemaking Link Up on Raising Arrows}

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Homeschool and Mother's Journal Jan 19

This is a personal blog. None of the links are affiliate.

In my life this week:

We had a productive school week, as well as the first OCD therapy appointment for our son, Peter, age 12. Unfortunately he was assigned an intern, probably because of our inferior health insurance. I have to keep a close watch because poor therapy can make OCD worse.

We had nearly 3 days this week without an Internet connection. Fortunately it was AT&T's problem so no charge to us. My boys follow college basketball scores via the Internet, so their disappointment was the worst it got here with no Internet. I couldn't blog, of course, but that just meant a little extra sleep for a couple days.

We found out that my father-in-law wants to give each of our four children enough money to pay for three years at our local state college (current tuition and fees, living at home). College costs rise 5% a year, so it will cover less by the time they reach college age. We had to do some research on 529 college savings plans--which was difficult with the Internet down--but we did learn you have to apply through your state. You also have to watch how much money is given in gifts to your children per year, to avoid incurring tax costs.

We're still in shock because we didn't know father-in-law had amassed such a savings. (It's all for the kids, though, so ironically, we still have to suffer through a dryer that screeches loudly with each load of clothes. Oh, how we dread each load of laundry now! Tax refund coming in about 5 weeks, though, thank goodness.)

My father-in-law worked in a paper factory and made little money, but he saved every penny, being about as frugal as anyone you've ever met, and he did as many side jobs as he could for extra income (he liked to tinker with broken things). I tried to emphasize to the children how grateful they needed to be for their grandfather's sacrifice, but I don't think they have the maturity to understand completely. Their grandfather is a man who doesn't even use his oven because the microwave is cheaper to use. His wife, my husband's mother, died in a car accident 39 years ago, and he never remarried, so I suppose that made it easier for him to save. When she was alive, he didn't even let her buy tea, because it wasn't a necessity.

God works in such amazing ways, doesn't he? In some ways my father-in-law is a mean, unforgiving tyrant (though a Christian, strangely enough), but through him, God has blessed my children. The problem is, father-in-law doesn't have any desire to leave anything for his daughter or her adult son, so that leaves us in a very awkward situation. His desire is just to bless the next generation, not this one, so that leaves my sister-in-law's 30-something son out of the "inheritance" loop, which stresses me and saddens me. My sister-in-law and father-in-law are in a feud of sorts, which I pray resolves before his death (he's 91 years old now). They're both extremely stubborn, not even realizing how alike they are.

Last bit of news this week is that Peter is now the proud owner of a baby corn snake. He wanted a dog for his birthday, but thankfully, he settled on a snake. A dog would compete with our food budget for sure ( not because we're frugal--just strapped).

In our homeschool this week:

The boys, ages 10 and 12, continue in their Sonlight Eastern Hemisphere studies, this week reading Breaking Stalin's Nose, a 2012 Newbery Honor book. This is a riveting, important book about the stark contrast between a free society and a dictatorship. It's a must-read for all upper elementary students and beyond. The author, a former Russian citizen, left Russia for American when he was 27 years old, now residing in California.
Grade Level Equivalent 4, Lexile Measure 670
Publisher Synopsis: Sasha Zaichik has known the laws of the Soviet Young Pioneers since the age of six:
The Young Pioneer is devoted to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism.

A Young Pioneer is a reliable comrade and always acts according to conscience.
A Young Pioneer has a right to criticize shortcomings.

But now that it is finally time to join the Young Pioneers, the day Sasha has awaited for so long, everything seems to go awry. He breaks a classmate's glasses with a snowball. He accidentally damages a bust of Stalin in the school hallway.  And worst of all, his father, the best Communist he knows, was arrested just last night.
This moving story of a ten-year-old boy's world shattering is masterful in its simplicity, powerful in its message, and heartbreaking in its plausibility.
Breaking Stalin's Nose is a short novel which an adult can read in two or three hours. The boys followed it up by starting Around the World in Eighty Days.

Grade Level Equivalent 8.5, no Lexile Measure available
Publisher SynopsisOne ill-fated evening at the Reform Club, Phileas Fogg rashly bets his companions £20,000 that he can travel around the entire globe in just eighty days - and he is determined not to lose. Breaking the well-establised routine of his daily life, the reserved Englishman immediately sets off for Dover, accompanied by his hot-blooded French manservant Passepartout. Travelling by train, steamship, sailing boat, sledge and even elephant, they must overcome storms, kidnappings, natural disasters, Sioux attacks and the dogged Inspector Fix of Scotland Yard - who believes that Fogg has robbed the Bank of England - to win the extraordinary wager. Around the World in Eighty Days gripped audiences on its publication and remains hugely popular, combining exploration, adventure and a thrilling race against time.

Other homeschooling news: We began listening to audio books right after lunch, starting with Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. They're more expensive than books, but we don't plan on buying any (just using the titles from our local library). Not only is the reading voice outstanding, as one might expect, compared to my own, but listening to it is very relaxing for all of us, and allows me to fold laundry, keeping up for the first time ever! Two chapters a day is all I need to fold all the laundry and put it away. 

The children draw, or just sit and relax while we listen, though I don't allow them to talk or play games. I've read Farmer Boy a couple times, but somehow I missed how much this boy loves food! Much time is spent on describing in detail all the wonderful, homemade food Almanzo's mother and sisters prepared. I find the book such a treasure in so many ways, as do the children. Peter read it a couple years ago, but Paul never has. 

Another thing that struck me is how obedient children were in these bygone days. They didn't speak at the table at all, for one thing (not that this is a necessary discipline, but it demonstrates respect for elders). In church, they weren't to speak or move at all. Again, even if one doesn't think these particular disciplines are important, it's a excellent thing for children to hear or read books in which children honored God and parents, in ways one rarely sees today. 

I read some endearing picture books this week, including The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman, which has become a favorite of us all (we read it at least once daily now). Ms. Hoberman is a master of rhyme--delicious, delightful rhyme that will put anyone, adult or young'un, in a swell mood.

The Seven Silly Eaters
Publisher OverviewPeter wants only milk, Lucy won't settle for anything but homemade lemonade, and Jack is stuck on applesauce. Each new addition to the Peters household brings a new demand for a special meal.
What's a mother to do? Even though Mrs. Peters picks, peels, strains, scrapes, poaches, fries, and kneads, the requests for special foods keep coming. It isn't until her birthday arrives that a present from her children solves the problem with a hilarious surprise that pleases everyone.
Seven fussy eaters find a way to surprise their mother.
Another gem from Mary Ann Hoberman is Whose Garden Is It?

Whose Garden Is It?
Publisher Overview: The gardener says the garden belongs to him. But the woodchuck insists that it's his. And so do the rabbit, the butterfly, the squash bug, and the bumblebee. Even the tiny seeds and whistling weeds think the garden just couldn't grow without them. As they stroll through the exquisite plants and flowers, Mrs. McGee and her child listen and wonder: Whose garden is it?
Children's book luminaries Mary Ann Hoberman and Jane Dyer reveal the secrets of a glorious garden in this beautiful and poetic rhyming read-aloud.
When Mrs. McGee walks through a garden wondering whose it is, all of the plants and animals as well as the sun and the gardener claim it as their own.
For a little taste of history, we read The Buffalo Storm by Katherine Applegate, a social studies title I recommend for your younger elementary students.
The Buffalo Storm
Publisher Overview: Hallie isn't afraid of anything—that is, anything but storms, which she braves along with her grandmother, huddled beneath a special quilt. When her family decides to join a wagon train and go west, leaving her grandmother—and everything Hallie has ever known—behind, Hallie knows she will have to be braver than she's ever been before. Then one day on the trail she witnesses the wildest, most glorious storm imaginable. How can she be afraid of anything after that?
Lyrical text from an exceptional writer is paired with gorgeous, jewel-like paintings in this evocative story of westward expansion.

Mom's Favorite Thing This Week:

I thoroughly enjoyed every time "Shake" came on the Christian radio station, courtesy of the band Mercy Me. My lively children turn the volume way up, dancing and shaking themselves into a frenzy every time, and they're even memorizing the lyrics a little more each time. Makes my heart smile (and sometimes I even shake with them!).

I am still in shock about the education fund news from my father-in-law, but I'm also praising God and marveling at His mysterious ways. Husband was not treated well all these years by his father, but somehow, that mistreatment is being redeemed some in this blessing for our children. Life is so very short, and in so many ways it can be wasted. Makes me realize all the more that so many of our daily decisions become part of our legacy. If we want our legacy to leave behind a pleasing aroma, if you will, we have to live intentionally, clinging to the Lord for wisdom, grace, and the will and strength to choose love, always.

Children's Favorite Thing This Week:

~ They enjoyed meeting the new corn snake and preparing his (or her?) habitat.
~ They enjoyed each time their favorite song came on.
~ They enjoyed big, fluffy snowflakes.
~ They enjoyed each time the dryer finished a cycle. :)
~ They enjoyed all the books we read together (and alone) this week.

Things I'm Working On:

For three weeks now we've had an obedience chart on the fridge, with a column for each child's check marks, which they earn every time they obey immediately, without arguing or getting distracted. I don't have time to go to the chart each time, but when I see them obey right away, I tell them to give themselves a check, which thrills them. Seeing someone else get a check makes the slow-to-obey ones more motivated to turn over a new leaf and respond to commands promptly. 

Each Sunday if they've done reasonably well, we give them $1 to save, or they can choose a small pack of candy at the dollar store on the way home from church. So far, they have all chosen the candy, but eventually they'll start saving, I pray. 

It's just your average bribery technique, abhorred by some parents, but it's making them more aware of their duty to obey, and it helps me see at a glance who has the most trouble obeying, allowing me to follow up with prayer for them. Mary obeys most commands quickly, as does Paul, but Peter and Beth need more work in this area. Some weeks, those two have only been allowed to eat half a package of candy.

I don't allow them to eat their reward all in one day, of course. It's gone by the third day, usually, and they then start counting how many days there are until Sunday.

Gratitude List

~ God's provision

~ For the living, Holy Word of God, guaranteed to comfort and grow us.

~ My cousin kindly coming over to take out our broken dishwasher, which began to fill with water, probably due to our need for a new garbage disposal. It was a stinky problem--one I'm grateful to have resolved. The disposal itself is working well enough for us to wait until tax refund time for replacement. 

~ For heartwarming, precious books to cuddle and read together.

~ For finding a delightful way to keep up with the laundry and keep the couch clear of its clutter.

~ For a kind lady at church to whom we gave cookies at Christmastime. She gave the container back to me this morning, filled with Valentine chocolates and heart candy. Is that not the sweetest gesture? The kids and I decided to call it the "love tin", to be passed back and forth, filled with goodies, between two families. This older woman lives alone and I think such an exchange would tickle her, as well.

~ I finally get to go to the thrift store tomorrow night, between 7 PM and 9PM, to find some needed clothes for myself and for the girls. And jeans for Peter, who suddenly began putting holes in them again, at age 12. The girls have grown so much taller! Usually I can keep up by monthly trips to thrift stores, but we've been busy lately and I've neglected this. My hours at the thrift store are really my only break, and I do so enjoy it!

What is blessing you this week, friends?

Quotes to share:

Deuteronomy 4:10 How on the day that you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, the Lord said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.’

“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” (Charles Swindoll)

“We all leave footprints in the sand, the question is, will we be a big heal, or a great soul.” (Anonymous)

So You Call Yourself A Homeschooler?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How to Study the Bible (and Why)

In order to study the Bible effectively--or study it at all for that matter--we need motivation. First, we have to love God. Really love Him...more than ourselves.

Ooh, ouch. You mean if I'm not studying the Bible, I love myself more than God? Well, yes, that's what I mean...unless you have a colicky baby and there's no relief right now. Life is like that at times, but those seasons are short, thankfully.

I love you, Lord. Help me study your Word. Help me glorify you with my time.

Motivations for Studying the Word:

~ To express your love for God.

~ To be with the One you love.

~ To glorify God by your changed heart and life. A changed heart comes from absorbing and applying the Word, via the Holy Spirit's work in you as you study.

~ To spread the Gospel effectively. We are called to share our faith. It isn't just a good idea, but a command.

~ To ensure a solid foundation of lasting faith in your children. Only God can save someone, true. But any faith your children leave home with will falter and water down quickly, and they will go the way of the world, if they don't have solid Bible study and prayer practices in place. Bathe them in the Word and in prayer, and by your modeling, show them how to bathe themselves in the Word. We. must. get. this. right.

~ To experience the peace and joy so often talked about among Christians. That peace and joy? It isn't automatic; rather, it's a direct result of our time with the Lord. No devotional time = no peace and joy.

~ To finish the race well...and even leave a legacy. Jesus will have such an embrace for us when we get to Heaven. Think on that. Don't we want to do Him (our Father) proud? And our legacy: Our life message of devotion to God will remain with our family for generations. We may very well be their inspiration, as they share stories about how much mom or grandma loved the Lord and how that played out in her everyday life. Let's leave behind an amazingly strong message about loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind. Wanting to leave a legacy isn't about ego. It's believing that life is a gift from God...not to be wasted in worldly pursuits. A wasted life is a slap in the face to our gracious, loving God. We must seek to honor Him.

How to Study the Bible:

This is, of course, a huge topic. There are so many ways, with many books and articles to help us. Here, I offer basics.

1. Choose a time and say it's God's time...then don't mess with God's time. I'm a night person, so my time is after the kids go to bed and the kitchen is clean. If you only open the Bible in church on Sunday, then start with a goal of 3 study days a week. Then the next week, study for 4 days, and so on, until you're studying 7 days a week. It will grow on you, believe me.

2. Gather your tools and keep them together:

~ Your Bible -There are many translations of the Bible, but not all are best for study time. Try American Standard Version, or New American Standard Version, or King James Version, or New King James Version. These versions point us to the most literal meanings, but any version you presently have will do fine for now. Comparing translations will also help solidify meanings for us. Reading online, it's easy to see many versions at once.

~ You need a concordance, and a Bible dictionary. Both are found in one book if you obtain  “Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance” ($25.49 at You can use the online version here. Below I've pasted a product description of this book from

  • Strong's numbering system for word studies in Greek and Hebrew
  • Goodrick-Kohlenberger numbers in the dictionary indexes
  • Up-to-date Hebrew and Greek dictionaries
  • Nave's Topical Bible Reference System
  • Cross-references to places and names used in Bible translations besides the KJV
  • Word counts of every word in the Bible
  • Fast-Tab locators help you find your place quickly and easily
  • Smythe-sewn binding that opens fully, lays flat, and lasts longer
  • Maps
  • Words of Christ highlighted in red
  • Clear, easy to read type
  • Comprehensive guidance for using The Strongest Strong

  • ~ You need a journal - Record the major themes of the chapter, the major passages to memorize, and what principles you can apply to your life.

    3. Read a whole book, rather than skipping around daily.

    God deserves a solid Bible study time from us. Pick one book and resolve to learn it thoroughly, before moving on to another book. Pretend that by the end of your study, you have to give an overview of the book to a sixth grade class.

    Start with a who, what, where, when introduction for each book you read, which you can find in many study Bibles, or by searching online for "introduction to the Book of James".

    Read the book several times before moving on. The first two times, read it through without intensive study, to get an overview of major themes. In subsequent readings, look up words and try to understand them fully. Keep notes in your journal.

    If you already know the Bible fairly well, you might want to do some topical studies for a change. For example, study love, or faith, or marriage, etc.

    4. Start and end every session in prayer. Remember that every time you open the Bible, the Holy Spirit is right there. He opens your heart and helps you understand. He makes it personal for you...for the place you're at in your Christian walk. Always start in prayer, thanking God for His Word, and asking Him to nourish you and give you clear understanding. When you are done, thank God for this time with Him, and ask Him to help you remember and apply what you learned.

    God bless you as you study and grow more in love with Him!

    Welcome Home Wednesdays

    Sharing also with We are That Family WFMW

    Friday, January 10, 2014

    Homeschool and Mother's Journal Jan 10

    In My Life This Week:

    It was a really great, productive week, outside of the usual unpleasantness of things breaking--like my husband's car breaking down for the second time in 7 days, and some house pipes temporarily freezing, and the dryer screeching louder than last week. The dishwasher that broke last April or May, now fills up with water for some reason, probably having to do with a drain problem somewhere.

    How do I avoid crying when more than one thing breaks in a week? Bible and books. The more life gets rough, with no immediate answers, the more I soak up Scripture and good stories. If you have your children gathered close, and you have a good story to share, what could be wrong?

    I remember reading that a large homeschooling family who writes Christian material professionally, doesn't encourage their children to read a lot of literature because it can be a waste of time.

    A waste of time? I was shocked.

    Well...we do sit down when we read. We don't generally fold laundry or cook or clean at the same time, so yes, I can see how one could read the day away and not wipe any faces or make any oatmeal or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or sweep any floors or teach any lessons.

    A book lovin' mother must exercise restraint, for sure. It's hard, let me tell you, especially when Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is in your heart and lap. I'm reading this to myself at night, and to the kids after lunch each day.

    Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
    SynopsisWhen Rebecca comes from the chaotic family farm to live with her spinster aunts in Riverboro, strict Miranda and gentle Jane don't know how to cope with a wild and zestful ten-year-old -- nor she with them. But Rebecca is the most likeable, energetic, enthusiastic girl anyone ever met. And Riverboro is never the same again either! Lexile 1190, Grade Equivalent 8.9

    But really? Books...a waste of time? Life this side of heaven is hard. We need outstanding books to provide joy, escape, and perspective. A timeless book reminds us that we are not the only suffering souls that ever lived, and that courage and honorable character are choices.

    In Our Homeschool This Week:

    The boys, ages 10 and 12, still enjoy Writing With Ease, by Susan Wise Bauer, and also morning quick writes. They continue to read Water Sky from their Sonlight Core F curriculum, and are almost through Usborne's Complete Book of the Human Body, and Almost 12 (a very good Christian book about puberty). They have some non-fiction reading about China to finish up, and some World Book DVD ROM research to finish up about China, before moving on to a study of Russia.




    We continue to read through 1 Kings with the accompanying commentary in my study Bible, during morning devotions, and the boys also read it on their own later.

    The girls, ages 5 and 7, enjoyed many books with Mommy this week (boys listened too), and are moving right along in their studies. I'm seeing more maturity and ability to buckle down and work hard. Mary's reading fluency improved this week, and Beth's handwriting looks better, too.

    Several of the library books I'm about to share are social-studies themed in one way or another. I purchased a Sonlight science curriculum for the girls, but for social studies we use library books and our own non-fiction library.

    Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek, by Deborah Hopkinson, whose author page at Scholastic is here.

    Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall, Thin Tale (Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend)

    Overview: This ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Book and Booklist Editors' Choice is an ingenious historical fiction picture book about the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It’s a tale of two boys who get themselves into more trouble than bear cubs in a candy store.
    The year is 1816. Abe is only seven years old, and his pal, Austin, is ten. Abe and Austin decide to journey down to Knob Creek. The water looks scary and deep, and Austin points out that they don’t know how to swim. Nevertheless, they decide to traverse it. I won’t tell you what happens, but let’s just say that our country wouldn’t be the same if Austin hadn’t been there to help his friend.
    My Mary told me this Lincoln story is one of her favorites, and my son Paul said the author has a fantastic writing style, a view I most certainly agree with.
    Fannie in the Kitchen, by Deborah Hopkinson 
    Yes, this week I checked out several Hopkinson titles. She's definitely one of my favorite children's authors.
    Fannie in the Kitchen
    Publisher Overview
    Marcia is unhappy when Mama hires a mother's helper named Fannie Farmer. However, as Fannie shows Marcia how to spot a rotten egg, choose the best melon, and flip a griddle cake at the precise moment, Marcia finds joy and comfort in Fannie's kitchen.
    It's so heartwarming the way Fannie teaches this young girl how to bake and cook, just as her mother welcomes a new baby and is over-the-moon happy and preoccupied with her precious bundle of joy. We enjoyed every minute of this charming tale, and cheered for little Marcia with her new-found confidence!
    Knit Your Bit, A World War 1 Story, by Deborah Hopkinson
    Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story
    Publisher Overview: Mikey’s dad has left home to fight overseas during World War I, and Mikey wants to do something BIG to help. When his teacher suggests that the class participate in a knitting bee in Central Park to knit clothing for the troops, Mikey and his friends roll their eyes—knitting is for girls! But when the girls turn it into a competition, the boys just have to meet the challenge.
    Based on a real “Knit-In” event at Central Park in 1918, Knit Your Bit shows readers that making a lasting contribution is as easy as trying something new! 
    This story is exciting, charming, and informative, with plenty of historical details. A friend from church came last weekend and taught us how to knit, and I wanted to read this to the boys so they would feel confident in their desire to learn to knit. Whether they will actually take it up for good, I can't say, but at least Paul enjoys it (saying it's so relaxing). Any handicraft, whether it's knitting, woodworking, painting, or drawing, is very good for kids. We have to intentionally resist the electronics craze and get them working with their hands. Far better for the brain!
    Next we move on to three Patricia Polacco books, whose Scholastic author page is here
    Betty Doll
    Publisher OverviewWhenever Mary Ellen needed Betty Doll, she was there. Betty Doll saw her through happy and sad times, thunderstorms and parties, weddings and births. Now, when Mary Ellen’s daughter Trisha needs Betty Doll most, she rediscovers the sweet old doll, along with a letter written by her mother before she died. This touching story is a reminder of the power of a mother’s love and the joy of life’s precious moments.
    I suffered from leaky eyes all week, reading to the kids. All these stories are just precious and I didn't get to the end of one of them without crying.
    The Art of Miss Chew
    Publisher's Weekly ReviewAs she did in Thank You, Mr. Falker and The Junkyard Wonders, Polacco pays homage to an influential teacher from her childhood—in this case, two of them. Trisha’s homeroom teacher, Mr. Donovan, who has “a laugh that sounded like bells ringing,” realizes that Trisha needs extra time to finish (and thereby pass) tests. He also recognizes her artistic talent and arranges for Trisha to join Miss Chew’s high school art class. The girl immediately feels at home under the tutelage of Miss Chew, who is of Chinese descent and whose grace and warmth emanate from Polacco’s vibrant portraits (Miss Chew is often seen in brightly patterned dresses and paint-spattered smocks, arms spread wide). Emotionally and artistically, Trisha connects with the woman, who emphasizes the need “to see” rather than merely look at one’s subject; Miss Chew also pinpoints the cause of Trisha’s reading troubles, though a one-note villain of a substitute teacher threatens Trisha’s progress. The joy of artistic creation and the value of teachers who are willing to look outside the box come through clearly in the first-person narrative and Polacco’s fluid illustrations.
    The Butterfly
    Publisher Overview

    Ever since the Nazis marched into Monique's small French village, terrorizing it, nothing surprises her, until the night Monique encounters 'the little ghost' sitting at the end of her bed. She turns out to be a girl named Sevrine, who has been hiding from the Nazis in Monique's basement. Playing after dark, the two become friends, until, in a terrifying moment, they are discovered, sending both of their families into a nighttime flight.

    During the Nazi occupation of France, Monique's mother hides a Jewish family in her basement and tries to help them escape to freedom.
    Our Favorite Things This Week:
    I've enjoyed cuddling with children and books, and my quiet time reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm at night. I continue to enjoy John Piper's Advent book Good News of Great Joy. John Piper is a phenomenal theologian.
    The children enjoyed baking snicker doodles and soft ginger snaps, and the boys rather liked the excitement of pipes freezing on us for the first time in our 8.5 years in Ohio. I, however, panicked, before checking the Internet for solutions. Only 3 faucets were affected; we used a space heater to heat up a closet that houses pipes.
    They drew while I read aloud after lunch each day, and they're mighty proud of their creations.
    I'm Grateful For:
    ~ lots and lots of grace
    ~ our practice of dedicating the day to the Lord each morning during devotions. We also ask for control over our tongues as we dwell and learn and play together, which really helps us remember to be kind to each other as we go about our day.
    ~ good friends
    ~ the power of prayer
    ~ siblings being best friends (even if they don't realize it)
    ~ getting lost in stories and verses
    ~ a very kind, helpful mechanic who even comes to our home when we need him (husband's car is 25 years old!)
    ~ Beth making strides in speech therapy this week

    ~ letters from Compassion kids
    ~ Paul's headaches have not returned!
    ~ Peter turning 12 this weekend (I've been doing this 12 years already? Blows my mind how fast it's gone.)
    ~ no matter how many things break, my spirit is always whole and healthy in Him
    Quotes to Share:
    Matthew 4:4 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
    “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!” 
    J.R.R. Tolkien
    “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” 
    ― C.S. Lewis
    “Oh! Do not attack me with your watch. A watch is always too fast or too slow. I cannot be dictated to by a watch.” 
    ― Jane AustenMansfield Park
    “Medicine is my lawful wife, and literature is my mistress. When I get fed up with one, I spend the night with the other” 
    ― Anton Chekhov
    So You Call Yourself A Homeschooler?