December 31, 2009

The Lying Poem

When the doctor placed our first baby boy (then second, then third, then fourth) in my arms I knew. I knew they would grow up. I knew they each would have their own place on the planet, a life, friends, maybe college, a home, a wife, children, a job. I knew they would grow up and leave. I studied their tiny, chubby baby toes, kissed them, wondered at how much joy and love my heart could hold; but somewhere deep inside I ached. Then, with each step they took toward independence my heart was divided:
weaned...walking...talking...potty-trained (no feelings of bittersweetness here-it was party time!)...first sleepover at a friend's house...classes outside the home...driving...a job. You get the idea. It was wonderful to watch it all happen. The best part was watching them loving Jesus more and more as they grew.
But deep in my heart that silly poem resounded:
A daughter's a daughter all of your life, but a son's a son til he takes him a wife
and my heart filled with fear. I didn't want to lose them. We had shared so much of life together. I'd learned more as their teacher than I ever did in school, and it was amazing to see everything through their eyes. I loved being their friend and teacher and mom all at the same time and discovering history, science, great literature, etc. right along side them.

When they hit the teen years I panicked inside. I felt like my spot on the earth was going to be replaced by each boy and I would no longer be needed here. I imagined them trampling me in their hurry to grow up and out. And in some ways that did happen for a time. They had to stretch and push and race ahead to find their own identity. For a time I did feel left behind. Useless.
But now I'm seeing that poem in a whole new light. I feel sorry for whoever wrote it. That person wasn't the mother of my sons. They haven't left me behind. So far they don't see me as someone taking up some of their oxygen. (They might when the time comes to put a bib on me and feed me but for now I'm safe.)
Our sons have moved over and made room for us in their hearts. It actually seems like they want to spend time with us. They call almost every day. They come home as often as they can. We still laugh together, play games together, share meals. They've managed to somehow make my husband and myself still feel like people who are needed and enjoyed. Not only that, but our two oldest sons have blessed us with 2 wonderful daughters. I'm not the lone female anymore and I have 2 new friends! Our sons have not only not left us behind, they've moved over and made room in their hearts for their wives-to-be and their parents.
I wasted so much time worrying about that poem-and I feel like I discredited our sons as well.
I think I wrote a similar post a long time ago-if I did forgive me. I once read something that would apply here: It's amazing how old people can remember stories from long ago but forget how many times they've told them....

December 24, 2009

How He Did It-A Romantic Little Christmas Story

About 2 minutes after my niece received my email telling her #2 was engaged she replied, "Wow! How exciting! How did he propose?!"
Rather than just telling her the story, I thought it might be fun to share it with you too.

#2, although he's only 21, was pretty nearly convinced "she" would never come along. He'd been praying for "her" and wondering about "her" for years. Yes, I said years.
Two weeks into their acquaintance they both knew for certain they were meant for each other. My son drove out to our house one afternoon to tell us the news. Once we stopped laughing we realized he was serious. He'd met "The One."

Anyway-he controlled himself and managed to wait 6 months to propose. He spent the day before he popped the question at home, here, with me. It's a day I will never forget. He'd come home to show me The Ring. I've never seen anyone more excited and nervous about anything.

Actually, he wasn't nervous about asking H. to be his wife. It was The Talk with her father that was giving him the shivers. He tried to put that out of his head while he sat here visiting with me and putting together a little gift for H. that would help his cause.

What he did was this: H.'s favorite color is blue, so, #2 found a box and covered it with blue scrapbook paper. Then he gathered together a huge stack of blue scrapbook papers and cut them into squares that would fit just right into the box. He even clipped one corner of each paper so she could lift them out of the box one by one.
On each square he wrote a different reason why he loves her. As he sat on the couch writing and thinking I watched him. He was so sweet. He put so much thought into each note. This little project took all afternoon-not because he couldn't think of enough reasons to marry this girl, but because of the ring. It sat there, quietly minding its own business, nestled in its little box, waiting for Her. But occasionally that ring would call out my son's name. He'd stop writing, look at the box, pick it up, open it, look at the ring and smile. His heart would stop, he'd take a deep breath, close the box, and continue writing. Even when he didn't pay any attention to the ring's call, he would sometimes stop and just grin at the box. He passed away the afternoon in this manner while I was allowed the sweet privilege of peeking into my grown son's heart.

The next day was a little more nerve wracking for him. It was the day he planned to have "The Talk" with her father. That's enough to make any boy shiver in his boots and I don't think there was too much grinning going on. However he did it.

Then it was on to the next step. Asking H. to be his bride. He had planned on asking her to marry him while they sipped hot chocolate in front of a roaring fire, cuddled up under a Christmas tree. However, he was afraid that, in their excitement, her family wouldn't be able to keep the secret and would tell her about it before he had a chance to ask. So, on to plan B.

That same night, after talking to her father, son #2 found himself sitting in a little coffee shop waiting for H. to get off work. A little Christmas tree twinkled in the corner, and carols were playing over the loudspeaker.

At the same time, my husband, son #3 and I were here, at home, doing our usual who-knows-what. Suddenly the phone rang-it was #2. He wanted to know the names of some of the top romantic songs that had ever been sung. He was sitting in that coffee shop putting together a CD of romantic music to further his cause even more. We googled and reminisced and came up with several titles for the boy, then hung up.

I will tell you here and now I didn't sleep very well that night. I wanted to be a little mouse trailing after my son, watching this biggest moment of his life play out...thankfully he's very open with us and was willing to share The Proposal with us. (After the fact, of course)

So here's what happened: when H. got off work #2 was there to pick her up. She was hungry, tired, and feeling a bit discouraged about life. He was pent up, nervous, and excited-he wanted to pop the question then and there. He wisely decided to control himself and let the poor girl eat and regroup first. When he saw that she was feeling better he popped the CD in, gave her some flowers, the box of little notes, and then started driving around "to look at all the Christmas lights".

As he drove he kept a careful eye on that pile of notes. When she got to the end he planned on that moment to ask her to share his life with him. The Ring was hiding in the pocket of his car door, not only whispering his name, but filling his heart with joy and excitement.

Finally he saw that the stack of notes was getting low-I'm not sure how on earth he planned this part, but #2 found a little pond with Christmas lights glowing all around it. He whipped his car into the parking area near the pond and parked. By this time H. was teary-the box had done its trick and melted her heart. Son leaned over to give her a hug as a tear or two made their way down his cheeks as well.

"H., will you marry me?"
The tears stopped. She sat up. "What did you say? You told me....how did you...."
She was totally surprised. Totally taken off guard...

I do hope you have a wonderful Christmas and Holiday season! May Jesus bless you now and throughout the coming days.

December 14, 2009

You Say Tomato, I Say Tamato...

Lately my inbox has been inundated with emails from people complaining, or rebelling against the removal of the word "Christmas" from advertising, cards, schools, stores, billboards, etc. etc.

At first I was angry and frustrated too. It does make me angry somewhere deep inside when I think about "them" trying to remove Christ from every aspect of our lives. But come on, if it hasn't happened yet, do they really think it ever will?

I realize it's the principle of the thing, but even so, I actually think "they" are hanging themselves by trying to save themselves from admitting there is a God whose birth is being celebrated right now.

In an effort to clarify the meanings of the words "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays", (the latter being the words "they" have for this time of year), I dug out my handy dandy Webster's 1828 Dictionary. Here's what good old Webster had to say about those phrases:

Merry=gay and noisy; jovial; exhilarated to laughter.

Christmas= The festival of the Christian Church observed annually on the 25th day of December, in memory of the birth of Christ....

Happy= fortunate, receiving good from something that falls or comes to one unexpectedly, or by an event that is not within control....

Holiday comes from the 2 words: holy and day

Holy= from the root of heal, hold, whole. Properly, whole, entire or perfect, in a moral sense. Hence, pure in heart, temper or disposition; free from sin and sinful affections. We call a man holy when his heart is more or less sanctified or purified or when his heart is conformed in some degree to the image of God and his life is regulated by the divine precepts.

Day= the whole time or period of one revolution of the earth on its axis, or twenty four hours.


Wow. Looking at it that way is amazing. They are just about the same in meaning. We wouldn't be happy or merry without the birth of Christ, and it's through His birth (and death and resurrection) we are made holy. In some ways I actually prefer "Happy Holidays" to "Merry Christmas", but like I said, it is the principal of the thing that matters here....

December 6, 2009

2010 Just May Be The Most Eventful, Emotional, Joyfilled, Bittersweet Year of My Life

My dh turns 50 this year. Do you realize that means I'll be married to someone who's half a century old? (I know. I'm only one year behind him. You didn't need to point that out.)

Our 3rd son will be graduating from high school (cruelly leaving me with only one tiny student in our little school and adding to my feelings of mid-life crises)

Our first born son will be graduating from college.

Oh! And we'll be adopting 2 daughters via marriage!! Our oldest son is getting married in June and our second oldest son just got engaged last night!

I think after this year most of my posts will fall under the category of "miscellaneous random thoughts of a brain on the edge...."

November 30, 2009

Wow. I can't believe it's been 44 days since I've written anything. 44 days. (I'm surprised there are still any red dots on that FEEDJIT map...)
So what have I been up to? Well, I'll tell you:
listening
laughing
crying
praying
hiking
baking
worrying
surrendering
talking
pondering
hemming
fighting
forgiving
cleaning
teaching
reading
dreaming
planning
enjoying
crafting
learning
decluttering
regretting
cooking
missing
mending
wishing
walking
organizing

How about you? What have you been up to?

September 26, 2009

In My Dreams

I'm a keeper of bees

I'm young enough, and in good enough shape to climb Mt. Everest

I am given the same gift Paul was: 3 years alone with Jesus

I live on a rocky, windswept shore of the ocean somewhere where

or

I live on Prince Edward Island



In my dreams:

My husband and I are able to take a hiking trip through the English countryside, stopping at pubs and cozy little bed & breakfasts whenever the mood strikes us. We really need an extended amount of time together....

We have enough time and money to take our sons and their special-someones on a trip from here to Yellowstone and the Giant Redwood Forest

I have parents. I need them so badly

I live out in the country where I can raise a pig every year or so-this would be for eating, not a pet

I would be able to keep flowers alive outside

After my death, but before I get to heaven, Jesus takes me soaring with Him over all of creation. the earth is such an incredible place and there are so, so many places I want to see before He rolls it all up like a scroll:
Mt. Everest
Galapagos Islands
Machu Picchu
New Zealand
The Black Forest
The Swiss Alps
Madagascar
Banff National Park
The Great Barrier Reef
castles in Scotland
The Italian Alps
etc.
etc.
etc.

my funeral is a Celebration not a mourning. (No comments from you, my sons!)

And I dream that someday:

I'll be brave enough to write a book and attempt to have it published.

I'll live without fear and trust the Lord like He should be trusted

Our walls will be painted happy colors, and we'll have new flooring throughout

My brothers and I will be able to have a "funeral" for my dad. The three of us haven't been all together in one place since my dad died 7 years ago. I would love to laugh and cry and say goodbye to him with my brothers

We have a house with a dining room big enough for all of us to sit in, eat in and share our hearts with one another in, without being scrunched

I'll find a hair style I like

In my dreams

I have a Sam and a Turnbul marching through life alongside me

I have 2 someones at my disposal to help rearrange furniture any time the mood strikes

the scriptures speak to my heart in ways I never imagined

I'm not afraid to stand up in front of a crowd and actually speak

I live remembering that Eternity with Jesus is coming


So, how about you? What are some of your dreams? Pipe or otherwise....

September 24, 2009

Three Little Birds....

I wasn't sure I was going to make it last year when our 2 oldest sons moved out. Watching them pack up and move their stuff out bit by bit was way more difficult than I'd ever imagined. I felt like our family was dying; like a piece of me was dying. I felt like I'd suddenly popped over the hill and was on a slow slide down to "the end".

What on earth is my purpose now? What will I do with my time? Who am I if I'm not a mom to all 4 sons? I knew I was still a wife, but that was only half of me. The other half was being dissected. The mom half. Will they be too busy to come home once in awhile? To call? Will our family lose its closeness? Will they still need me? Is it OK and normal to want them to need me? Did we teach them everything they need to know to live a Good life with God as the center?

To make matters worse, our second son was not only moving out, he was moving into a not-so-safe part of the city to work with inner city kids. Would he be safe down there?

Believe it or not, those are just some of the questions and emotions that ran through me. I was also concerned that I'd made an idol out of my sons and our family. Was it through them that I found my joy? My fulfillment? My purpose? Those things should come from my relationship with Jesus.

Well, a year ago last June we decided to take our two younger sons on a mini-vacation shortly after we'd finished school for the year. We made reservations at a motel about a day's drive away, and took off. It just so happened that the day we pulled out of the driveway was the day our second son ended up moving out. Talk about weird. There we were, driving away, pulling out of our home for a few days, when my boy was loading his car and pulling out for good. I thought my heart would crack and crumble. I wanted to be there for him, to say goodbye. To help if he wanted/needed it. My husband knew better. He thought it would be easier on everyone if he got his weepy wife out of the way!

As we drove I kept tearing up like a leaky hose. Finally # 3 couldn't take it anymore. He reached forward from the backseat of the car and handed me a CD.
"Here mom. Let's listen to this."

I mindlessly popped it into the CD player and heard Bob Marley singing "Three Little Birds". It's over there on my play list if you want to listen to it. It's a "happy" little song with a fun beat. I immediately cheered up. Life looked better and more hopeful. Of course, my husband didn't know what was going through my head-I wasn't talking. I was just listening. Listening to the words, but thinking about The Word.
As I listened and thought my husband suddenly interrupted me: "Why are you listening to that? Do you know what a humanistic worldview that guy has?" And he reached over to turn the CD player off.

"Wait! Could we please listen to it? Listen to those words! 'Three little birds, on my doorstep, singin' sweet songs, of melodies pure and true'...."

Bob Marley may not know a thing about melodies pure and true, but when I heard those words I thought about the bible and the melodies pure and true that resonate from cover to cover.
It was like there was a slide show suddenly running in my head...pictures of my life and how I'd seen God holding onto me, loving me, healing me, teaching me...

While Bob chirped his little tune the Lord was hugging me and reassuring me.
One after another of His promises ran through my heart-

...in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deut. 31:8)

... If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast
. (Ps. 139:8-10)

... your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be
. (Ps. 139:16)

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting
. (Ps.139:23-24)

Bob and his little birdies may not know a thing about anything, but the Lord was able to use even that mindless little song to reassure me that yes, every little thing is gonna be alright.

September 21, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside My Window It is still dark outside. No moon, no stars. Just a black, quiet morning.

I am thinking about weddings, deaths, family reunions, graduations, lesson plans, losing more weight, ironing, bible study tomorrow night, cozy fall evenings and the smell of apple butter simmering in the crockpot, fall crafting with our soon to be 8 year old....need I go on?

I am thankful for oh so many things! First of all, I'm thankful for the Word of God. It reassures me that the Lord is with me, He loves me, and He won't leave me where I sit today. I'm also thankful for an antique rocking chair we found at a garage sale Saturday. According to the man who sold it, it's circa 1900. It's Cherry wood and in mint condition! The chair was in his antique store, but he was quitting the business and just wanted to get rid of everything. He sold the chair to us for 5.00 dollars!

From the kitchen: I need to make granola and bake some cookies. The cookie jar is just about empty!


I am wearing
a huge, comfy dress. I bought it years ago when I was huge, to wear to my niece's wedding. It's so big that now I use it for a nightgown.


I am creating...nothing at present. Hmmm....

I am going to stay home today, do some school, some baking, and some laundry.


I am reading 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John over and over again in preparation for a bible study that starts tomorrow at our church.


I am hoping
to find some time to make a few cards this week and begin the tedious task of organizing and sorting pictures that need to scrapbooked.


I am hearing
a clock tick tocking away, cars driving by and the hum of our computer.

Around the house...dust bunnies need to be ferreted out, a mountain of ironing is calling my name, and the windows need to be washed. Exciting stuff, eh?


One of my favorite things is getting up while it's still dark outside and the house is quiet. It's the only time I get to be alone and think uninterrupted thoughts.


A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Right now I just need to takle my to-do list, but it seems like unexpected things pop up that take priority, so who knows?

This is one of my favorite pictures of our two oldest sons. I wonder where the time has gone?



To read more Daybooks visit Peggy @ The Simple Woman's Daybook. I hope you have a wonderful Monday!

September 17, 2009

Parenting

My husband and I have decided that "parenting" adult children is like riding a rollercoaster. You strap yourself in and hang on for the ride, but they call the shots. You are left alone in your seat to deal with the ups and downs and sidewayses and all the emotions that go along with the ride.

August 20, 2009

36 Dollars

We spent 36$ in order to take our youngest son to the zoo the other day. 36$ for THREE of us.
He enjoyed the seals and the sea lions, but after that he only had eyes for the birds. We practically had to drag him away from the pink flamingos and their best friends, the ducks.
We looked at giraffes. Well, my husband and I did. When we looked down to talk to our son about their long necks and what they were eating, he was gone. He was across the way, looking at an ugly old vulture.
While my husband and I stood and laughed at a teenage baboon digging a hole in the ground with his back legs up over his head, our 7 year old ornithologist was watching the sparrows dart in and out, over and around the baboon.
We took him to see the kimono dragons. SOME of us admired their muscular legs and long claws. We were fascinated by the fact that those dragons can smell their dinner up to 2 miles away. (Sort of like me with chocolate, but that's beside the point.) While we were studying the dragon, my little boy was once again studying the sparrows fluttering around the dragon's lair.
He shuffled his feet and lethargically looked at the elephants, the zebras, and the red pandas. Forget those boring animals. Where are the robins and sparrows?
Finally we took him in to see the desert creatures and meerkats.
"Look Barrett! Look at the size of that tortoise!"
"Yeah, but mom, look at that zebra finch! He has a nest up there in the rocks!"
We tried to interest him in the bearded dragons, the iguana and some of the other lizards whose names I don't recall.

"Look at that quail! Can I have a quail for a pet? OH! That's the kind of finch I saw at the pet store! He's from Australia and costs 100$. Can I get that kind of finch for a pet?"

The meerkats only received a polite nod from his little head. Then he was looking up, looking for the tiny birds that fluttered over our heads.

Finally we decided to sit outside in the shade and cool off. That's when that little guy really came to life. The sparrows! Oh the sparrows! He darted around watching them, following them, laughing at them, and tossing bits of his Cliff Bar out to them. He laughed at a robin hopping along the ground, and chased off a black bird. (He was stealing food from the sparrows.)
There were sparrows everywhere; some of them nearly brushed our shoulders when they came in for a landing. Our son didn't know where to look so he looked everywhere at once. His head bobbed left, then right, then up, then he'd twirl around, trying to watch each and every bird all at the same time.
My favorite part of the day was watching him. However, next time I want to do that, I'm going to spend 36$ on birdseed and throw it and my son out into the back yard.

July 21, 2009

A Break

So, did any of you watch that video? I love that group! (Lost Dogs)

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I'm going to be taking a break from this blog for a bit. There are too many things going on in my mind, my heart, my life, and my extended family. I'm starting to feel like Bilbo: butter scraped over too much bread.

I hope you are enjoying the summer! It's flying by, isn't it?

July 12, 2009

Mother-in-Law Part Deux

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Mother-in-Laws. Specifically, I wanted to know how on earth to be one.
I have a new friend who gave me the best advice yet:

Wear beige and shut-up.

If they're old enough to marry, it's their problem.

(Good advice for simply parenting adult children. Or should I say Un-parenting?)

July 9, 2009

It Just Ain't Fair

If nail polish determined femininity, I'd be a man.

Last week I sat here and contemplated my toes.

I've often thought my toes were Fred Flinstone toes. Wide, fat, and ugly.

I sat here and looked at those Flinstone toes and thought, well, maybe a little nail polish will help them look more feminine. Maybe it would help me feel more feminine. So I went to the store and bought some pink nail polish.

I am not a pink person. I didn't realize it until after I'd polished my toes, but I know it now. I removed the pink nail polish and the next day back to the store I went. This time I thought I'd try a deep burgundy. Maybe that's my color.
Now, the label on the nail polish said "Chocolate Truffle", but it looked like deep burgundy, so I bought it. Guess who was right?
That stuff looked like dark Dove chocolate had melted onto my toe nails. I may love to eat dark Dove chocolate, but to wear it on my toes? I don't think so.

I quickly grabbed the nail polish remover and got rid of the "chocolate look". Then I sat here and contemplated my nail polish and my toes once more. How much more money do I want to waste on this project? I looked at the pink. Nope. The Chocolate Truffle. No way. But then I had a brain storm! Pink and dark chocolate together just may make a deep burgundy!

I got out a paper plate, some Q-tips and both bottles of nail polish. I poured out a little pink liquid onto the plate, then a little pile of chocolate and, like Van Gough, I carefully mixed them together. It worked! I had thee perfect color! So, I painstakingly began to polish my toes. This is when my real problems began.

I am 2 years away from being half a century old and I wear bi-focals. Well, even with my glasses on my toes were so far away I could hardly see where my toe nails ended and my toes began. I slopped that burgundy concoction all over my foot. And, by the time I had 3 toes done I'd run out of thee perfect color and had to mix some more.

So, I poured out a little of each color, blended them together and finished foot #1. Then I noticed two things. the first thing I saw was that 3 toes had one lovely shade of burgundy, the other 2 had a completely different shade. The other thing I noticed was that my toe nails had grown wider and longer. Oh wait. That's just polish. I grabbed the nail polish remover, (luckily I'd thought of buying some when I purchased the nail polish) and a Q-tip and tried to remove the nail polish from the last two toes and the skin around toes #1, 2, and 3.

I bet you can guess what happened and you're right. Even with my bi-focals on I couldn't see very well so I accidentally removed half the polish from toe #2. I now had 2 1/2 toes polished. Back to the drawing board.

I removed all the polish from each toe, and mixed another batch of polish together. This time I made sure to make enough for all ten toes. Then I began the process of trying to polish only the nails on each foot. However, it took so long, because I couldn't see the nails very well, that by the time I was done with 7 digits my little pile of paint had dried up.

So, then. Back to mixing. Then polishing. Then realizing the new color didn't match the other 7 toes. Then removing all of it. Then trying again. Then getting them all done only to remove half the polish off each toe as I tidied up the area around the polished nails. So I had to remove it all and start over again.

This whole adventure took about 90 minutes. When I looked at the clock and realized how much time I'd spent on Femininity I was shocked. I also realized that men have it easy. They have to work hard at not looking masculine.

I have waved the white flag on my battle with nail polish. It's over. I'm now wasting time Googling "Craft Projects Using Nail Polish."

It just ain't fair...

July 7, 2009

Off He Goes

In less than two weeks our third son will be leaving us. He will walk out the door with thoughts of rafting, meeting new friends, caving, and late nights without "The Parents" telling him to get some sleep. He will be just slightly nervous about being so far away from home for the first time in his life, but thrilled about being so far away from home for the first time in his life.
Two weeks later he will come home, exhausted. Thoughtful. Overwhelmed. Prayerful and challenged. Hopefully.

When our oldest son was entering high school, we sat down and made a list of "extra" requirements (things that aren't "legally required" but are "dad & mom" required) in order for him to receive his diploma. Things like:

-know how to change the oil and a flat tire on a car
-be able to do your own laundry
-know how to cook at least a few meals
-be able to sew a button on a shirt
-pay your bills and follow a budget

There are other things on the list, but I'm sure you get the idea. Along with that list, we made it a requirement that he, (and his brothers) must attend a two week Summit conference at least once prior to graduation.

We want our sons to know what they believe and why they believe it. More and more young people are leaving the church and their relationship with Christ once they leave home and we don't want any of our sons to become one of those statistics.

Just the other day the importance of knowing what he believes and why was slammed home to #3. He was at work, plugging along doing his own thing, when one of his fellow employees suddenly asked, "So, do you believe all that Jesus ----?"
"Yes, I do."
"Why?!"

Our oldest son has been in college for the last 4 years and he's run into the same kinds of questions. Some people simply want to argue or defend their "unbeliefs", while others are genuinely searching for answers they can trust. Here are just a few of the questions he's been asked while attending college:

What is a human being? What is our purpose?

What happens to a person when he dies?

How do we know what is right and wrong?

If God is a God of love, why are there so many bad things going on in the world?

Is there a God and what is He like?

How do you know the bible is true?

What if you're wrong?

Is Jesus God and God's Son? How can that be?

Is Satan real?

Is the Bible accurate in all of its teachings?


I must admit my faith is based pretty much on "faith" alone. Our oldest son's faith is a mixture of faith and logic. He can sit and reason with people and answer their toughest, deepest questions with logical, practical facts as well as faith.

If someone were to corner me for a little chat, I would have a dreadful time trying to answer those kinds of questions. Summit does have a one week course for educators and I've toyed with the idea of going once our little guy isn't quite so little. In the meantime we'll send our sons, one at a time...

July 1, 2009

A Grave Mistake

My third pregnancy was a nightmare through and through. I won't bore you with all the details-just know that I spent the first 3 months of that time on the couch. If I so much as moved a muscle I had to run to the bathroom to throw up. I couldn't even keep water down.
Things finally settled down around the beginning of the 4th month. I was able to sit up! Then I was able to stand! After that I began to function again. Cooking, cleaning, and the best part? Being able to interact with my then 5 and 3 year old sons. It felt sooooo good to laugh with them and play and talk to them again. I'd really missed them.
That Thanksgiving Day was wonderful. We were having an unusually warm November-the sun was shining and it was gorgeous outside. So, after dinner we decided to take our little guys for a walk. We were living in an apartment and nearby there was a small cemetery. Somehow that's where our feet led us. My husband was walking through the cemetery, keeping an eye on our 6 year old. He was running around "grave hopping" and reading each and every name and date on every single headstone.
(I should stop here and tell you that our 3 year old son had a slight speech impediment-he couldn't really say his "R's".)

Anyway-while my husband and older son were traipsing around looking at all the tombstones, I was meandering through the cemetary with our 3 year old son, James. I was only half aware of what he was saying; it felt so good to be "up" and "out" again. But, all of a sudden that boy said something that really caught my attention.
We came upon a grave where there was a little cross-it was probably only 12 inches high. James stopped in his tracks and stared at that little cross, a curious exprression on his face. Then he shrugged and said, in his best little Elmer Fudd voice, "Look at dat cwoss Mommy. Jesus wasn't vewy big, was he?"

June 30, 2009

Mother-In-Law

Q: Why do they bury mothers-in-law 18 feet down, when everyone else is buried 6 feet down?
A: Because, deep down, they really are very nice people.


Q: What does a mil call her broom?
A: Basic transportation.


Q: What is the ideal weight for a MIL?
A: About 2.3lbs, including the urn.


The clock fell off the wall. If it was a minute sooner, it would have hit my MIL. That clock was always slow!

Two men were in a pub. One says to his mate, "My MIL is an angel." His friend replies, "You're lucky. Mine is still alive."

(These were all "borrowed" from this link: Mother-in-Law Stories)

What is a mother-in-law? Oh, I know she's your husband's mother, but why does she have to be in your life? Other than free babysitting, what's her purpose? Once you say, "I do" this virtual stranger is forever, until death do you part, a part of your family. You have to share your holidays with her. Your husband. Your children. At some point you may even have to care for her. You may be the one to do her laundry, cook a meal for her, or give her a ride in her wheelchair.

Now that I'm "older", I've been thinking about what it means to be the mother-in-law. I want to make sure my daughters-in-law don't take advantage of that wheelchair ride and dump me in the nearest lake. I asked a young friend of mine what she liked about her mother-in-law and here's what she said:

Here's what a mother in law has been to me:
*someone who takes my child to the zoo, the train museum, and buys him things that I cannot afford for his birthday...in a humble way-- not a show-offy way
*someone who makes sure my son has clothes that fit every season-- but first she made sure she knew what style of clothing I liked for him.
*someone who may not understand my decisions about the way I gave birth, breastfeeding, cosleeping, non-vaccinating, the food I choose, the toys I choose-- but who respects and honors them anyway, and trusts God to give me the wisdom to do what is best for my child
*someone who treats my birthday as special as my husband's
*someone who asks (and seems to care) about my family
*someone who came to my grandpa's funeral and let me hug her really tighly for a really long time afterward while I cried a little bit
*someone who does her best to be cool about it when I do things that are just weird
*someone who doesn't force me to participate in games when I really don't like them, even though games are a very **** thing
*someone who doesn't hog the holidays, but is honest about what matters to her and what doesn't (like, I would really like to see you for Christmas, it would hurt if I didn't, but it doesn't have to be ON Christmas, etc.)
*someone who has a life outside of grandchildren and children with her husband (they started taking ballroom dancing lessons about a year and a half ago and go to dances twice a month-- they didn't want to just sit in front of the tv and grow old like her parents)
*someone whose advice is never given without request, or, if it is, very humbly without the expectation that it will be taken


So, what do you think? Do you have anything to add? Any advice you'd like to share with me? Anything your mother-in-law does that drives you nuts? What does the bible teach about how to be a mother-in-law? What do you love about your MIL?

June 18, 2009

12 Stones

Nope. This isn't another post about my heart rock collection. It's about 12 "invisible" stones I've collected over the past 48 years. Stones I wanted to share with you.

A few months ago I was reading the book of Joshua in my bible. Chapters 3 & 4 describe the eventful day when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River to enter the promised land. The Lord caused the river, (which was at flood stage) to stop flowing so the people of Israel could cross on dry ground.) After all those thousands of people had crossed over, the Lord commanded them to take 12 stones from the middle of the riverbed and pile them up in a place called Gilgal. The 12 stones were to serve as a constant reminder so that, "...all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord."

I've been thinking about that ever since. This last year has been extremely difficult for me. Most of it has been my own doing-it was a constant struggle for me to sit down and read my bible, or pray, or repent....I lost sight of who God is and really wrestled with despair and depression. I neglected to tell myself the Truth about who God is-that He is sovereign. He loves me. He is in control. Instead, I "emptied out" spiritually and emotionally. There was nothing left in me to give to anyone.

OK-back to the stones. This post is about the stones I would pick to remind me that the hand of the Lord is powerful. That He has constantly been intimately involved in my life since the git-go.

I sat down this evening and made a list of 12 specific things the Lord has done that I will never forget. 12 things that only a loving God could've done.

1. He gave me a good beginning. When I was little my family seemed solid and healthy. It appeared that they loved each other-we had laughter, traditions, respect, a safe home. (Apparently I was wrong because my parents divorced when I was 8. However, the memories I acquired when I was little were embedded in my heart. They gave me something to shoot for when I grew up. I knew what a family could be and that's what I've prayed for and, with my husband, what we've worked hard to create.)

2. The bible promises that God will be a father to the fatherless. After my parents divorced I stayed with my mom. Looking back I can see so many instances where the Lord was guiding and protecting me. I had a very tender conscience which kept me on "the straight and narrow" even before I became a Christian. While my brothers got into drugs and promiscuity and the whole "hippy" scene, I wanted something better. Even at the ripe old age of 12 I could see that those things weren't fulfilling them....
I also desired purity. I wanted to save myself for my future husband and be a gift to him. I didn't want to give away any part of me to just any guy who came along.

3. When I was 13 I began contemplating suicide. Long story, but I was a mess. That's when the Lord opened my eyes to who He is and showed me that He loves me. That He wanted to be my father and heal my hurts....

4. Shortly after that I began meeting with an older, wiser mom-type woman once a week for counseling. Like I said, I was a mess. I hated my parents and my step-mother. I hated myself. I was an angry, hurting girl. That woman sat with me week after week for 9 months-she taught me how to pray. How to repent of sin. How to love unconditionally when that was the last thing on earth I wanted to do. She pointed me to scripture and to the Lord for the strength to do those things....

5. After that I entered high school. I joined a great youth group where I had some good bible teaching, a lot of fun, made some good friends and received even more healing. I learned that I could be a likeable person.....

6. The Lord has blessed me with an incredible husband. There are not enough words out there to express the love and appreciation I have for that man. He is my other half. Our sons should be included here-our family is one of the sweetest gifts I've ever received.

7. Our youngest son would be another stone I'd pick. Someday I'll tell you how and why we "ended up" with him, but in my thinking he's a miracle.

8. 7 months after we were married I had an ectopic pregnancy. The doctors I had had no clue what was wrong with me. For an entire month they messed around trying to figure out what was going on with my body. They finally sent me to a specialist-he was the best OBGYN in the country at the time. One of the top surgeons around. If I hadn't seen him and had emergency surgery one of two things could've happened. I could've died. Or, I could've lost the ability to conceive...

9. Hang in there. I'm almost done!
Before my dad died in 2002 the Lord restored our relationship. We became a father and daughter and a lot of healing took place.

10. 5 years ago I went through a really nasty time of rebellion toward the Lord. He loosened my leash, let me wander around in my misery, then brought me back to Him. That's been one of the sweetest stones in my life!

11. He's restored our marriage twice. Once when I didn't see we had any hope at all. I would've left if I'd had anywhere to go and any income to go on. (That was during my "time of rebellion".) The second time wasn't as ugly, but was bad enough that our relationship was just yucky. Only because of prayer, repentance, and forgiveness did we make it through those times.

12. The last stone would be named, "Lessons Learned". Especially as a home school mom. I have felt so inadequate, so fearful, so weary at times over the past 18 years. I've seen His faithfulness over and over again as we've walked this road...

I can't figure out how to end this post. What does one say after writing something like this? Thank you for taking time to read it. That's one thing I'd like to say! I'd also love to hear about your stones if you want to write either a post about them or leave a lengthy comment. It's so good to read about what the Lord has done in other people's lives...it encourages me and gives me hope...

(PS-Big doofus-for some reason I can't leave a comment at your blog. Every time I try I get kicked out of blogger and sent back to the Google home page. Just thought you might like to know.:-) )

June 17, 2009

Boys.

OK-
just in case you don't know it, I am a typical female. I fret about my hair. Worry about my weight. Cry because, "I have nothing to wear!"
There are times when we leave for church and our bed is strewn with discarded outfits because they all. Made. Me. Look. Fat.

See, typical.

Well, this afternoon my 7 year old son and I took my 17 yr. old son in to town to pick up his new glasses. It's a 40 minute drive each way, by the way. That gives us plenty of time for those heart to heart conversations boys so dearly love. Or not.

Today we opted to listen to the radio. My teenage son just happens to love Natalie Grant-when we turned on the radio, low and behold, there she was! Giving her testimony. Did you know she used to be bulimic? Apparently she wrestled with bulimia for over 6 years before the Lord set her free. At the end of her story she talked about statistics. She said that 1 in 10 girls struggles with some sort of eating disorder. She also talked about how very deeply, truly, and unconditionally the Lord loves us- no matter what we look like.

I've always struggled with my "self". Feeling like I'm not loveable. I'm not pretty. I'm not good. My uglies are inside and out and I'm a mess and at times I've been pretty vocal about my insecurities.

So, hoping for at least one tiny moment of "deep and personal" with my teenage son, I turned to him and said, "Alec, what's something boys struggle with? If girls struggle with self-esteem, what kinds of things do boys struggle with?"

From deep in the bowels of my huge van my 7 year old son pipes up, (in an exasperated tone of voice) "Boys struggle with listening to girls talk so much about their struggles."

June 11, 2009

Why?

They say what's in the well comes up in the bucket. Well, my well must be dry. I can't think of a think to write about. Hence, no posts lately.

The only think that comes to mind is the actual act of blogging. Why do we do it?

I started this blog on a whim-didn't put much thought into it at all. I just jumped in. The main reason I did it was because I wanted somewhere to share my faith. I also wanted a place to emote, to talk about home schooling, and to have fun interacting with other bloggers.

Oh! I was also hoping my extended family would read it and it would be a way of sharing our day-to-day mundaneness with them. Almost my entire family lives on the west side of the Mississippi while I live on the east side. I thought a blog might be a way for us to meet in the middle. Ha! They don't read it. My sons don't even read it. The only way I can get my husband to read it is to push him into the computer chair and say, "Hey. I wrote something today! Read it and tell me what you think."

I have one sister-in-law who does read it. I think she dutifully checks my blog every day and sweetly leaves a comment on each and every post. Thank you D!

Please don't think I'm having a pity party. On paper it does sound that way, but I'm not. I've accepted the fact that the people nearest and dearest to my heart don't care about my meanderings and have better things to do. (I may not be having a pity party, but being Italian, I do know how to lay out a good guilt trip! (Just in case one of them does happen by today.) )

I even have one close friend who feels that blogging is almost sinful. She feels that computers, blogs, and email are stealing away the sweetness of "real" friendships. People used to get together and chat over a cup of coffee or meet to teach each other how to sew, bake bread, or fix a limping marriage. Now people can "Google" all those things, and thus lose the joy of actually growing and learning with "real" people.


OK, now that I've wasted 5 minutes of your day, I have a question for you. Why do you blog? If you don't blog, but you jump into cyberspace to read them, why? Do you agree with my friend, that modern society is losing something precious because of new technology? Or, do you think it's possible to participate in both worlds without losing on either end?

June 3, 2009

Plink

Up until a year ago our youngest son had no idea his mommy was "an older" mommy. I was just "Momma" to him. However, thanks to our neighbor, my head, and a librarian, he now knows the truth. His mom is old.

Our neighbor was the first person to open his eyes to this fact. One day last spring my little guy asked me if we could take a walk. "Sure!" I replied and off we went. We were feeling so happy and carefree, enjoying the sunshine and warming temperatures after a long winter. But then, as we walked past our neighbor's house a sudden chill crept down both our backs.

As we strolled past the neighbor's house we noticed she was out doing some yard work, no doubt enjoying the lovely weather herself. My son looked at her and called out, "Hi!"
"Hello!", she replied. Then she looked at me. "So, who is this little guy? Is he your son or your grandson?" She never knew what hit her. No. I'm just kidding.
"He's my son." I replied a bit defensively. I looked down at said son and noticed his face. He looked a bit confused and slightly dismayed, but didn't say a word.

Then, about 6 months later a librarian put more "old mom" ideas into his head. We had spent about an hour at the library and were finally ready to head home. We piled our books on the counter and the librarian began running them through the scanner. She was having a hard time reading the computer screen and she kept fiddling with her glasses. Finally she looked at our son and smiled, "Does your grandma have trouble with her glasses too?"

My head is the last bit of proof he needs...
every afternoon, about 1:00 P.M. I take a nap. I can't help it. I'm plugging along, doing my thing, and suddenly I've had it. I have to sleep. So, I plop down on the couch and within minutes I'm off to dreamland.

Well, shortly after the day at the library I was taking my usual nap. I was warm and cozy and snuggled deep into the cushions of our couch. Just as I drifted off into a nice deep sleep, plink! My eyes flew open as a sharp, needle prick of pain hit my head, then nothing. Silence. My eyes fluttered shut and I once more began to drift off into a deep sleep. Plink! Another pin prick of pain on the top of my head. My eyes flew open but I didn't see anything amiss and I quickly succumbed to sleep once more. Plink! This time I flew up into a sitting position and there stood my son, right near my head. "What on earth are you doing?" I growled.
"I'm plucking your grey hair for you mommy. Then you won't look so old."

June 2, 2009

Beauty & the Beast



The Beast: the weather. About 43 degrees and a steady pouring rain.

Beauty: a little boy sitting on his slide, just waiting for a bird to land on him so he could study it.


(BTW-he sat out there for about 30 minutes, patiently waiting for even one little bird to visit with. Meanie Mom finally made him come in and take a hot bath!)

May 26, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy!

....finishing school, spring cleaning, trading summer for winter clothes, a tiny bit of landscaping around the house, and: camping! The following pictures were taken a week ago when 11 "kids" let my husband and I go camping with them on Lake Michigan. (Some of the people who went are kids, some of them are actually in their teens and twenties. I, however, have reached a certain kind of age where anyone under 32 is a kid. Hence, we went camping with a bunch of "kids".) Other than freezing our gigies, we had a great time!

These pictures were all taken by one of the kids, "Alex". She's the girl on the right. (Thank you so much for the pictures kiddo!) The other two are our two youngest sons.



My two again:


This is my dream home. It belongs to the Coast Guard. It's in a terrible location and they need to find a more stratigic spot for their headquarters. I just need to convince them that that's true....





Our little guy with one of the brave girls who decided to freeze with us:




Apparently we weren't the only creatures strolling the beaches.


The Lord blessed #3 with these unique pinkies. Here he demonstrates one of the many ways they've come in handy:














It was such a freezing, wonderful, exhausting, refreshing, relaxing, strenuous trip.
We pigged out on s'mores, flew kites on the beach, took long walks out to the lighthouses, slept about 3 hours total, did some horizontal rock climbing, fed swans and seagulls, visited a museum, talked a ton, looked for ant lions, watched fishing boats, sail boats and a ship, and spent many hours sitting in front of a campfire....it got down into the 30's at night, and did I mention we were tent camping?

May 13, 2009

Stuff I'm Stewing On

-If hair is "dead matter", why is mine so moody?

-What is my role in my grown sons' lives? Am I still a parent? A friend? What does the bible have to say about it? What do they need from me? What do they want?

-How do you remove hair spray from a door? (Don't ask, and yes, I've tried it.)

-What is a mother-in-law? What is her purpose? What can I do to be a good one?

-What is a gigi? (Growing up my mother always said, "Bundle up! You'll freeze your gigi out there!") (She said this to boys and girls alike so it's something everyone has, and that's all I'm going to say about that.)

-Why is it that the boys are suddenly starving just as I'm finishing up the kitchen every evening?

-Were the two babies we lost our daughters?

-When I was very pregnant with our first son I put my fishing license away for "safe keeping", intending to use it later that summer, after I'd had "the baby". I still haven't found it. Sometimes I wonder where it is.

-When you die, what does it feel like as your spirit leaves your body?

-Why is it that my best post ideas come when I'm in the shower, and then by the time I'm dry and dressed I've forgotten what they were?

May 5, 2009

An Idea Whose Time Has Come. Not.

OK. So my 17 year old son and I have been reading a book called Best Friends For Life by Michael and Judy Phillips. Have you read it? It's the first book I've ever read, in my entire life, that brought on a Panic Attack.

That, however, is my fault; the Phillips had nothing to do with it.

The book was written for parents and their teenage children to read and discuss together before their children hit a marriageable age.

It starts out with statistics. They discuss the staggering number of failed marriages in America today and then go on to present some things you can do with your children to help them not become one of the "marriage failures".

That was all fine and dandy. So far, so good. Nothing to panic about, right?

According to the Phillips, there are 4 ways to obtain a spouse. Dating, courtship, betrothal, or an arranged marriage. They discuss those 4 options in detail and lean heavily on courtship. We've always thought that was perhaps the best way to go and have frequently discussed that option with our sons as they've "aged".

OK-no panic attacks. Yet. The Phillips waited until nearly the end of their book to drop their little bomb shell. And it hit me right between the eyes.

They really feel that a young man or young woman should spend, at the least, one year "courting" the person they're interested in marrying. Doing that gives the young people plenty of time to get to know each other. To see each other in all kinds of circumstances and situations so they know what that person truly is like-a girl would see how that guy treats his parents, handles his money, works at a job, serves at church, etc. and vice-versa. (That's logical, and still no sign of a panic attack...)

Here's where I got hit: they suggest that either after that year, or at some point during that year, the boy and girl switch places. No, I don't mean they start cross dressing. I mean the young lady would go live with "his" parents and he would live with "her" parents. For. One. Full. Year. In doing that they could really get to know each other's families and learn about their lives and how they do things, etc. etc.

I laughed at first. How ridiculous! That's absurd. NO ONE could just drop their life and go live with someone else's parents for a year!

My next reaction was, "Whew! I'm glad my sons would never go for that. Can you imagine how inconvenient it would be to have some strange girl move in with us for a year?!" (B.-you are not strange and you will always be welcome in our home if you ever want/need a place to live!)

It actually took a couple days before my third reaction set it, and that was a Panic Attack.

I started imagining my son's "special someone" moving in with us. The reason the Phillips suggest this is so a girl could learn from her future mother-in-law, (me in this instance) how to cook and clean, how to raise children, prepare lesson plans and teach children, and be a wife. Ignoring the fact that it's her parents' job to teach her most of those things, I imagined me doing it.

It would be like living with a mirror in front of me all the live-long day! She would know everything about me! She would see all the times I ignore the grunge on the windowsills and blog instead. She would see the crumbs I don't "see" under the toaster and the laundry I "forget" to fold. But more than that, she would see all my inside uglies. The times I spend ranting and raving instead of forgiving. Or the times I wander around, feeling very fearful of the things going on all over the planet, rather than turning to the Lord for comfort. I would be training her and what kind of trainer would I be? It would be her job to follow me around and learn from me. I know that's what our kids do, but somehow, after years of living with each other, I think parents and children can develop selective hearing and sight. Our kids learn from us, but the boys can just look at me and think, "Oh, thar she blows. I'm outta here!"
Not so with a stranger shadowing you all day with the specific purpose of learning how to do whatever it is you do.

It was a very, very convicting thing for me to imagine. And I wonder why it's easier for me to picture "her" seeing all my uglies and panic, all the while knowing that the Lord is familiar with all my ways and I can ignore that.....

May 1, 2009

Hearts of Stone

I just wanted to show you some of the rocks my rock collection. These are all "God made", rather than man-made rocks. I started this collection several years ago as I strolled along the shore of Lake Michigan. I found several heart shaped rocks that day and thus began my obsession with heart rocks. Now I look for them everywhere I go and I seem to find them everywhere. My kids, my husband, and my brother have now added to the collection, finding these heart shaped rocks when they're fishing, hiking, hunting or backpacking. A friend of mine even found several hearts made from coral when she visited the ocean.


I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 11:19


My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:26



May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17


As has just been said:
"Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion."
Hebrews 3:15


Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
Matthew 22:37


They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"
Luke 24:32


And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil. 4:7


For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matt. 6:21

April 5, 2009

Ding Dong! The Blubber's Gone! (most of it)

I did it! It's been a long, slooowwww process, but this morning I weighed in and guess what? I weigh what I did on my wedding day way back in 1984!
I took the long, slow lazy way of losing weight-it only took 3 years and 3 months.
(Actually I lost 30 pounds in about 4 months, maintained for 3 years and then lost a little more....)

Now I'm debating more weight loss. It would be fun to weigh 1 pound less than I did 30 years ago, (Yikes! THIRTY YEARS?!) June 2nd when I graduated from hhhigh sssschool. Like I said, I'm debating. I haven't decided yet whether I want to buckle down and do it or not.

Anyway, for me this is a "miracle". I've battled overeating and being overweight my entire life. My prayer is that I'll now be able to apply what I've learned about losing weight to dealing with all the hidden uglies that lurk in my heart.

March 28, 2009

Philosophy? Huh?

In the last 6 weeks I've had several younger women ask me about our home school philosophy and the curriculum we've used. They've also asked me what I did about our sons' different learning styles and how I taught to multiple grade levels at the same time.
Those are all good questions and I wish I would've thought about them 20 years ago! A game plan would've been nice.
However, I didn't really establish a game plan before I began. I just jumped in and did it. Even without "a plan" I count our home school experience a success.
While we never did sit down and come up with a "home school philosophy", we did sit down and establish goals. We had 12 year goals, and we had yearly goals, both for our family and for each of our sons.

We wanted, first and foremost, for our sons to know and love the God of the bible. We wanted them to know what sin is, that we are all sinners, that someone has to pay a price for sin, that Jesus paid that price when He died for our sins, that He loves us, and that eternal life is not just saying a prayer:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

The bible goes on to explain what eternal life is:
"Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." John 17:3

We wanted to help them, in any way we could, to know God the Father and Jesus the Son. We wanted to teach them about repentance, submission, God's faithfulness to us, and His amazing Love for us. We felt that the best way WE could do that was to spend time with them. As much time as possible. We tried to ground them in the bible-to teach them that the bible is the inherent word of God and by being familiar with the bible we do indeed get to know God the Father.

Home schooling allowed us the joy and the freedom to spend as much time as possible with our sons. We did almost everything together as a family. Hiking, picnics, day trips, fishing trips, meals together, camping trips,yard work, house work, etc. etc. We wanted to be friends with our sons and let them know they were/are loved and accepted.
(Just to keep it real, I will tell you that one year I flaked out. I'd had it with boys, messes, noise and sibling rivalry. I got on-line and looked up military boarding schools. I even found one just a few hours away. Perfect! They could come home for holidays, but otherwise I'd be free! free! free! I didn't follow through with that, but boy, for one afternoon the idea was tempting.)

Overall, I'd have to say that other than my husband, our sons are my best friends.
I love having them around. I love talking and laughing with them. I love their humor, and their stories. I love listening to their thoughts about life and their goals. I love their facial expressions and the fact that we know each other so well. One of the sweetest gifts in my life has been the freedom to home school.
I could not imagine putting them on a school bus and watching them drive away each morning. I wanted to learn with them and watch them grow. I wanted to be a part of every discovery they made when they were growing up. I wanted to see the excitement in their eyes when they "got" something.

The best part has been being with them as their faith became their own. Because we were with them so, so much, we were able to watch the Lord work in their hearts almost on a daily basis. We were able to pray with them when they struggled with something, as they were struggling. And I'm not just talking about vague, nebulous things. I'm talking about verbs...algebra...that paper on U.S. history they didn't feel like writing...I'm talking about the anger they felt when their brother was a pill... or when a friend hurt their feelings.

I've written a series of posts about our strong willed son, and the things we learned and the joy we've experienced as he's allowed the Lord to become the Lord in his heart. I firmly believe that would've happened whether we home schooled that boy or not, but being here, at home with him, watching him grow spiritually, has been huge. Words can't describe it. I'm just so thankful I didn't send that boy to military boarding school. I would've missed out on so much. The growth would've occurred but it would've been like watching a slide show instead of a movie. Does that make sense? And being with our other sons as they did school at home was the same way.

Like I said before, we didn't have a "philosophy". We didn't use the Charlotte Mason method, or take the "classical" approach. We didn't "un-school". We simply wanted to be with our sons, to love on them and with them. We wanted them to learn the 3 R's, but more importantly, we wanted them to know they were loved by the Lord and their parents. Please don't even think I'm saying that parents who don't home school do not love their children! Not even close! I think what I'm trying to say is that the whole "philosophy" question is intimidating to me. It makes me feel like I've "missed it" somehow as a home school parent because that's something we never really thought about or discussed...we simply bumbled along hoping and praying our sons would grow into young men who love the Lord....so, in a nutshell, I'd have to say that was our "philosophy".

March 23, 2009

This, That, Either or Neither

I found this little meme... somewhere. I couldn't find the blog again now if my life depended on it.
For each line, I have two choices, and I have to choose which I would prefer. However, being the person that I am, I decided to change the rules a bit and add "either or neither".

1. jog or walk: walk-I walk 17.5 miles a week. I know. I know. That's small potatoes for some people, but for now that's what I do.

2. coffee or tea: flavored coffee (much to my sons' disgust)

3. Pepsi or Coca Cola: Pepsi-especially when I have a migraine. Pepsi usually gets rid of those nasty little headaches for me.

4. flats or heels: flats. Especially nice, flat Nikes.

5. fries or onion rings: fries-I really like them when they're nearly burnt and crispy brown, drenched in juicy red catsup.

6. cats or dogs: either, as long as they come from Toys R Us

7. skim or whole: neither. I love soy milk!

8. small purses or large: neither. I like "medium".

9. van or SUV: a small, nail-polish red 2 door, thank you very much!

10. winter or summer: fall

11. 1 piece bathing suit or 2: Ha! How about cut offs and a sweatshirt?

12. sit down restaurant or fast food: be it ever so humble, home.

13. McDonalds or Burger King: Panera

14. white gold or yellow: shiny goldy gold

15. fish or chicken: chicken, as long as it's dead, de-feathered, cooked and served with some of those nearly burnt french fries.

16. Edward or Jacob: who?

17. pizza or burger: pizza-I have a strong, emotional attachment to Pizza Hut pizza.

18. apple or orange: neither- I need blueberries

19. spend or save: save

20. 1 story or 2 story house: 2, or 3, or 4. I'll take all the exercise I can get running up and down all those stairs.

March 13, 2009

March

First a howling blizzard woke us
Then the rain came down to soak us,
And now before the eye can focus-
Crocus.
Lilja Rogers

March 9, 2009

The Nature of the Beast

A few months ago my oldest son described my spiritual state of being in not-so-glowing terms. I know he didn't mean it the way it sounded, but being the female that I am, it was only natural that I twist his words into something he didn't quite mean and turn them into something that has bothered me ever since. (Which, by the way, proves his point....)

Here's what he said, "Mom, you are like the ocean. At the bottom of the ocean all is calm, quiet, and steady. Unchanging. Dependable. But, when storms hit, the surface is choppy. Confused. Chaotic. It's easily moved. That's how you're relationship with the Lord is. Underneath it all you trust Him and I know nothing will pull you away from Him. You're solid deep down. But when you go through hard things your emotions take over and pull you and push you all over the place."

Well, I've chewed on that description ever since. I'd now like to say something on my behalf. I've been thinking about the ocean, and have come up with these observations:

-You can't bodily move the ocean. Any ocean. They stay put, right where God planted them, no matter how much they storm and rage and fret on the surface.

-You can't drain the ocean.

-The ocean is teaming with life. Some of the creatures are harmful, or scary. Some are lovely. Only about 3% of the ocean has been explored. That means there are probably all kinds of lovely and not-so-lovely things yet to be discovered.

-People respect the ocean, just the way it is. The depths as well as the tumultuous surface.

-God made the ocean to be that way on purpose.

-Most people love the ocean and some spend their whole lives either living on it, or wishing they could be near it. ( Don't go there. I know there's not a waiting list of people outside my door longing to be near me. My point is, most people are at least not repulsed by the ocean.)

-If the surface of the ocean were made of glass, solid and unmovable, it would shatter when the storms hit.

-Jesus walked on the water of a stormy sea and a bit later calmed the raging waters.

That last observation is the sweetest of them all. It's only when I let Jesus walk through the circumstances of my life and submit and trust Him that I become still. I often forget to do that when winds start to blow through my life. And sometimes, I must admit, I enjoy a good storm. I'm a stubborn, mule headed person who wants her way. Even if it's not the easy or best way. I often, and foolishly, don't give up the fight until I'm exhausted.

So, having said all that, let me ask you a question. What animal, vegetable, or mineral are you? If you were an object in nature, rather than a person, what would you be?

March 6, 2009

Friday's Fave 5


It's Friday! I can't believe another week has gone by, nor can I believe we are well into March already!
This has been a good week overall and I'm thankful for so many things. I have no idea how I found this blog, but I'm so glad I did. I really need to focus on the many blessings in my life and Friday's Fave 5 is a fun way to do that. Five of my favorite things this week have been:

1. Coffee! But not really. I've managed to sneak out of the house 3 times this week for coffee with friends! It is so fun to be able to get together with friends and talk until we actually want to go home. It's not very often, especially in a family full of men/boys, that I have the chance to do that.

2. Apologia Science. I love their curriculum! My 7 year old son and I have been using their book Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day this year for science and have been having a blast with it! I'm learning as much as he is and have even started my own nature journal as a result.

3. Philippians 1:6 I've been feeling very discouraged lately with where I'm at spiritually and who I am. I've been praying that the Lord would "revive my heart" and my passion for Him. This morning I decided to read the book of Philippians. It is a book filled with reminders of what our thoughts should be on and where our focus should be. Philippians 1:6 encouraged me because it reminded me that my spiritual growth is not dependent on me or my efforts. Jesus is working in my life (and boy does He have His work cut out for Him) and won't ever quit. In case you're not familiar with what that verse says, here it is:

....being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

4. Good cook books. Yesterday I found a short clip on Youtube by a 93 year woman who had lived through the great depression. She had made a series of videos in which she shared her depression era recipes and how to prepare them. I watched a few and then thought, pffft! I've been cooking like that for years! I'm so thankful for the cookbooks I've collected over the years. I've learned how to feed our family without spending a fortune on groceries-healthy, tasty meals that are even cheerfully consumed by our 7 year old. I wouldn't be able to cook like that on my own. I have to "follow the recipes" or else.

5. Hungry deer. No, I'm not really glad the deer were hungry. I'm just glad they were hungry enough to find our yard and our bird feeders! The other day 6 deer meandered into our back yard and proceeded to consume all the birdseed they could sink their little teeth into. It was so fun to see them standing there in the softly falling snow....I wanted them to "freeze" so I could get out a pencil and sketch a picture. I had to satisfy myself with a photo.

Here's the link again if you'd like to participate in Friday's Fave 5.

February 25, 2009

Birds of a Feather

It's been a quiet week in our house... some reading, a little crafting, and a lot of learning! Our 7 year old son is still fascinated with birds. All day long, nearly everyday, he watches them, reads about them, feeds them, draws pictures of them and wants to listen to them. I was going to start a unit on the weather this week, but he asked me if we could continue our study on birds.

So, now we're making a bird lapbook. If you're not familiar with lapbooks, here are a few links that might help explain what they are and how to make one:

http://www.homeschoolshare.com/Lapbooks_at_HSS.php

http://www.homeschoolshare.com/backyard_birds_lap_n_note.php

Youtube even has some videos with lapbook examples and how to make one. If you have a child that loves to craft or scrapbook, or loves hands-on learning, this would be the way to go!

The other morning my little ornithologist woke up and stumbled into the kitchen. He found me sitting there with my bible, a concordance, and a notebook. He recognized the bible, and the notebook, but had to ask me what a concordance is. I told him it's a book that lists words and then lists all the verses in the bible where that word appears. People use a concordance when they want to study a certain subject in the bible.

He went over to the bookshelf and found another concordance and then got his bible; he sat at the table with me and proceeded to look at a word in the concordance, then try and find all the bible verses listed for that word. He was fascinated with the whole thing and spent about 20 minutes looking at both books.This was wonderful for me-I was able to continue on with my study while he did his.

Well, this afternoon, after a full morning of school work, I went into the kitchen to load the dishwasher and bake some bread. I noticed Barrett (my 7 year old) sitting at the table, again with a concordance and his bible. This time he had a tiny notebook layed out next to the bible on the table and was writing furiously. Wanting to let sleeping dogs lie, I did not ask him what he was up to. I loaded the dishwasher, threw 2 loaves of bread in the oven, de-cluttered the counters and the table, and then went on to straighten the livingroom. He followed me, lugging all 3 books and his pencil to the couch where he continued his study.

Finally, after a long time of sweet silence, he chirped, "Mommy? What other birds are listed in the bible? I wrote the verses about sparrows in my notebook, but I want to write down the verses about other birds too."

I should've known his bible study would have something to do with birds! But as he sat there writing, reading, and thinking, I realized something. That boy is learning so very much right now!

-he's practicing his handwriting
-learning about alphabetizing words ( I had to help him with this a few times)
-learning where the books of the bible are and what their abbreviations are
-learning about birds and what the Lord has to say about them
-practicing spelling
-the Word is being absorbed
-he's taking his first tiny steps into studying the bible

I have a feeling it's going to be very hard to keep one step ahead of this boy.....

February 18, 2009

50 Ways to Love Your Lover

Not really, but that title did grab your attention, didn't it?
Actually this post is about just one way to love your lover. Or a friend. Or your kids. Or your parents. Or your nasty little brother....you get the point.

My husband and I have been married nearly 25 years. That's one quarter of a century! And after that many years of marriage it's become very easy for us to take each other for granted. Being married to my husband for that long is like having a very old, comfortable, cozy favorite pair of shoes. (No lovey, if you're reading this, you are not old. Our marriage just feels that comfortable. Honest.)

Anyway-I wanted to do something special for my husband for Valentine's Day, but I couldn't think of anything unique. It also had to be frugal. I could think of thousands of things that cost money, but I didn't want to spend any. Finally, last week I found this blog post and ran with it.

Just in case you don't pop over there, I'll tell you what I did. I cut out over 50 little hearts from scraps of construction paper and scrapbook paper I had laying around. Then on each one I wrote one thing I love or appreciate about my husband. I scattered them all over the house; my husband had to search high and low to find all of them, but he did.

Some of the things I listed were:
-you keep me in chocolate
-you pray with me in the middle of the night when I can't sleep
-you're willing to rearrange furniture again and again and again....
-you listen to me
-you want to grow in your friendship with the Lord
-you encourage my creative efforts
-you never complain about the strange things I cook
-you let me warm my icy feet on you
-you let me take up more than half the bed
-you forgive me when I hurt you
-you have never lost your temper with me
-you watch chick flicks with me, and seem to even enjoy them

You get the idea. I'm glad I took the time to do this. It meant so much to my husband, but it also blessed me. It helped me slow down and think about, and appreciate, what a wonderful, giving, loving, tenderhearted man I'm stuck with.

Like I said before, this would be something you could do, not only on Valentine's Day for your husband, but maybe as a gift for a friend on her birthday. Or your toady little brother's birthday. Or any old day you feel like blessing someone......

February 5, 2009

An Interview With Mom

I found this idea for a post over at:

http://bloggerfriendschool.com/

Our 16 year old son finished his "interview" first. The second set of answers came from our 7 year old.
I think I'm going to have to have a chat with him......


WHAT DOES MOM ALWAYS SAY TO YOU? You’re eating again?!

WHAT MAKES MOM HAPPY? When I give her a hug. Chocolate Doves.

WHAT MAKES MOM SAD? Grey skies, economy level. When she doesn’t hear from Ben and James for a long time. When we’re sick.

HOW DOES MOM MAKE YOU LAUGH? Dry, Rinella humor with a sarcastic twinge.

HOW OLD IS MOM? Barrett says older than dirt.

HOW TALL IS MOM? A little shorter than me. ;)

WHAT DOES MOM LIKE TO DO? Scrapbook, get outside, go hiking, read and cook.

WHAT IS MOM’S JOB? What doesn’t she do?

WHAT IS MOM’S FAVORITE FOOD? Pizza Hut pizza.

HOW DO YOU KNOW MOM LOVES YOU? Constant care. Hugs. She tells me to that she misses me and to crawl out of my hole. My “hole” as she so endearingly calls it, happens to be my bedroom. Plus, she tells me that she loves me often.



WHAT DOES MOM ALWAYS SAY TO YOU? I love you.

WHAT MAKES MOM HAPPY? Me cuddling.

WHAT MAKES MOM SAD? When Daddy doesn’t bring Chocolate home.

HOW DOES MOM MAKE YOU LAUGH? Tickling.

HOW OLD IS MOM? Older then dirt.

HOW TALL IS MOM? This big *

WHAT DOES MOM LIKE TO DO? Eat chocolate.

WHAT IS MOM’S JOB? She doesn’t have one.

WHAT IS MOM’S FAVORITE FOOD? Chocolate.

HOW DO YOU KNOW MOM LOVES YOU? Don't ask me.
Barrett. January 2009