Thursday, May 28, 2009


I've struggled with homeschooling so much over the last few years...from not knowing where to begin to battling others' comments to comparing and being compared to public school kids to wondering if what we were doing was working. I just have to share good news! Emma just returned from her visit to school and her future teacher shared with me that she was able to keep up with second and third grade students just fine! In fact, she wondered if second grade material would be challenging enough for her or if we might want to just skip ahead a grade or two! I told her Charlie and I would pray about that and talk with her over the summer, but I was sure we didn't want her to "skip grades." Maybe just work ahead...
But, it was encouraging to hear that after much struggle it hasn't been in vain and contrary to popular opinion and the competitive spirit of other mothers, my child is doing above average. Not only that, we as her parents have been given great wisdom from the Lord concerning her education, learning style and spiritual gifts. I heard that gentle reminder from the Holy Spirit all year long and it sustained me. I'm just thankful for the audible...

Thank You, Lord for the encouragement today. Bless Emma and bless her teacher and classmates next year. And thank You for showing me how great You truly are and what You have been doing behind the scenes. Thank You for pulling it all together into one big picture for me today. I needed that and I know You know that, too. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Firsts and Lasts

Emma is at school today.
Even re-reading that sentence gives me a lump in the back of my throat. After lots of prayer and discussion, Charlie and I have chosen to enroll her in our church's small, private Christian school this Fall. So, today she is having a visiting day to meet her teacher and see what a day at school is like--though the end-of-school spirit was palpable when we drove up! She seems so mature and grown-up at home, but she looked so small and vulnerable as I was walking away. It took all my energy not to scoop her up and smother her with hugs and kisses. I was guessing that even in a small, safe, Christian environment that wasn't quite the right response:)
I've given a lot of thought to what sort of schedule we will have to adhere to in the Fall and this morning I decided to try it out. This is what I've discovered after only one morning:
1. Get up earlier--both me and the kids.
2. Go to bed earlier--both me and the kids.
3. Make sure there is gas in the van the night before.
4. Pray, pray, pray.

Emma was really excited when we told her about school. She is bright and eager to learn and I have every confidence that she will do exceptionally well next year. Still, it was hard to watch my "baby" settle in for learning somewhere other than home. I've really spent a lot of time praying that God will help me trust His leading. This is the right decision for her and for all of us. It's just hard to let go.

But, I am excited about the possibility of focusing more intently on Ruthie's studies next year and so is she. At first, she was put out that she wouldn't be at school as well, but when I explained that she would have my undivided attention all week long, she lit up. I know she's been craving "mommy time" for awhile now. She's been working on a list of things she'd like to do next year. Many of them are things Emma does now, but she's beginning to come up with her own ideas:
1. Type the grocery list each week.
2. Learn to make bread.
3. Walk the dog.
4. Read a chapter book.
5. Learn all the books of the Bible.
6. Study Esther.
7. Dance.
8. Do harder math.
9. Write letter to people in our family.
10. Go to the zoo....a lot!
I think we can accommodate all those items and then some!

Anyway, today is about firsts and lasts and while I am feeling a little sentimental about this summer being our last one with all the kids in home school, I am so excited about all the firsts the future holds as well. We're trusting in the Lord with all our hearts and trying very hard not to lean on our own understanding, acknowledging Him in all our ways as best we can, knowing He is directing our paths. (Proverbs 3)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why We Need The Light...

Our power went out Sunday night. Word on the street was that a foil balloon got caught in some power lines a few streets over causing sparks to fly. But, that's the word from a nine year old...the same nine year old who may or may not believe Spider Man is an actual career choice.


We had a house full of little people--a few extras tossed into our usual gang for an impromptu sleepover--and no power. So, we sent them out to the backyard to launch their latest, greatest imaginary play. If you live near me, I'm sure you could hear the ruckus several blocks away. Charlie took our Crab-Boy for a walk to try to soothe his aching gums and ears while I attempted to clean up from a very busy weekend. It was twilight so I knew the light was fading. I also knew that with extra people in the house, some degree of cleanliness was required.

First, I opened all the curtains and doors to capture as much light as possible and then decided to work from the darkest areas to the lightest, picking up and putting away as quickly as I could manage. Though I was interrupted here and there with requests for drinks and the need to steer the girls' play-acting in a different direction (No, there are no vampire bats in the neighborhood and please stop including that as part of your story-line--you're scaring your sisters!), I managed to get quite a bit done...or so I thought.

The power finally came back on just as I had lit all the candles and was calling the kids in to get ready for bed. We turned on lights and the result of my efforts was apparent. Though obvious things we in their proper places--toys in bins and baskets, laundry in the hamper, dishes in the dishwasher--the tables and counters I had wiped down were streaky and still dirty and I had missed several items lurking in once dark corners of the house. The house was only half clean and therefore appeared to still be all dirty.

It got me thinking about how important light illuminates our surroundings. Not only that but it drives away the mystery of darkness. Basically, you can't hide in the light.

And Jesus said He is the Light of the world...hmmm.

It's a good example to think through. As believers, we probably all know folks who are living in darkness. Even if they don't agree. It's so important that we keep perspective. Just like my housekeeping efforts, God doesn't want us to try to clean ourselves up in fading light, missing obvious filth and sin. He wants to illumine our souls--to show us the absolute ridiculousness of our situation. He wants us to understand that we, in our own efforts and under our own power, cannot possibly make ourselves clean. And then He gets to work cleansing us completely. There are no streaky counter tops or missed clutter. Our lives take on a shine and an orderliness that is impossible without Jesus Christ.

Since our powerless hours Sunday evening I've been thinking a lot about why Jesus calls Himself the Light of the world. And about how dark our world is becoming. It's twilight, I think. The Light is fading in our culture and God is calling us to let Him shine brightly through us to a lost and hurting world. It's challenging. Part of me wants to hunker down and stay blind to the world around me. It's a scary place full of scary ideals and sinful behavior. It's getting worse and worse each year. But, I think about how life changing it was to have the Light of God's love shine into the darkness of my own soul and how grateful I am that others were willing to be used in such a way that I came to understand how valuable I am to God and what lengths He will go to rescue me. And I want to be in that Light, working to make a bright place for others.

Light of the world, shine through me and in me. Make me useful for Your kingdom. Be glorified in all I do and say today and everyday. In Your name, Amen.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Storing and Freezing Bacon

We like bacon...maybe love bacon. But, in an effort to be a smidge more healthful we try to limit our consumption of our favorite salty, crispy breakfast meat. Last time we visited my grandparents, my grandfather showed off his latest, greatest culinary feat (boy, he is getting handy in the kitchen!). He showed me their stash of ready-to-go freezer bacon and I loved it! So, when our favorite brand of bacon went on sale recently, I stocked up and got to work.I started by prepping a large baking sheet with a very light coat of non-stick spray. I then took each individual piece of bacon and wrapped it around two of my fingers, forming a cutie little swirl. I then placed the swirls on the baking sheet, being careful to place them close together but not touching.

Once the sheet was full, I placed it in the freezer for about an hour. Then I placed the swirls in a freezer bag and--voila! I have 3 pounds of bacon prepared in individual portion sizes. Now, when we want a little taste of bacon but don't want to overdo it, we simply remove however many swirls we want and enjoy!
Thanks to Tammy for hosting Kitchen Tip Tuesdays! And thanks to PaPa for the great idea!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Real Birds and Bees Moment

We took the kids to this dairy farm today and had a great time. Their ice cream was unbelievable. Guess it was the 21% butter fat...anyway...

We were able to see a calf being born and the kids were super excited about that event. They all agreed that was their favorite part of the day. I was surprised at how patient they were, waiting for the cow to push the baby out. One of the vets had to help her along a bit as this was her first calf and it can be a pretty lengthy process. Sounds vaguely familiar...

As I was tucking them into bed, Emma mentioned that it was "weird" to see a calf coming out of a cow bottom. I was exhausted and I told her that I had a lot more to tell her about all of that, but not tonight. Part of my plan in seeing the live birth was to begin a rather lengthy process of explaining the birds and the bees to her...a process I am imagining we will be careful, thorough and prayerful to explain. Olivia though, was not assured by my answer. "But, how exactly did that calf get in there? And where was the daddy cow?" Her three year old brain is full of questions...we may have to get into the Reader's Digest condensed version of this issue for her! But I love how her mind works and that she is always thinking about something and trying to figure things out.

It was a great day, but very tiring so off to bed I go. Even if sleep doesn't come right away, just resting this weary body will be awesome.

Thanks, Lord, for another memorable day together as a family. Thank You for the miracle of both and life and our hope in You. Give us wisdom as we guide our children in Your truth. Give me rest tonight. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Crazy Cousins

Growing Things

Both son and garden are growing, growing...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Super Heroes

We have my niece with us for five days. Currently, we have a 7, almost 6, 3.5, 2.5, and 8 month old tearing around the house. They came up with the idea of forming a super hero club. They've commandeered a giant box for the club house and several of my dish towels have become capes. When their "Hero Phone" lights up (a little gold trophy), they turn into Purple Rain, Green Sparkle, Pink Sparkle, Strawberry Blossom, and--this is where it gets too cute--Samuel becomes Super Pooper and Penny (our dog) becomes Nickel. It's just too fun to watch them playing and using nothing but a box, some towels and brilliant imaginations.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

In His Presence

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

-Matthew 11:28 NKJV

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

-Romans 8:26 NKJV

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

-Ephesians 6:18 NKJV

Several weeks ago, I was at a prayer meeting. It was pretty routine—we spent some time catching up, talking about current events, and asking about each others’ day. Then we went about the business of prayer.

Our Pastor opened up the prayer meeting as usual, asking that the Lord would lead us in our prayers, and that we would pray in accordance to His will, and then there was silence. For a while, we just waited for whatever came to mind that needed to be lifted up in prayer.

Most nights, something would come to mind for me. But on this particular night, as I waited, I found nothing but rest. It was good to just be still before the Lord and experience His peace and presence. In the stillness, He was literally there; and for the rest of the meeting, it was clear I was to rest and enjoy His presence. The Holy Spirit would utter what I could not express.

I left the prayer meeting that night realizing it had been months... perhaps, even years since I had really rested and enjoyed the presence of the Lord without saying a word.

Oftentimes, we tend to begin and end our prayers without ever being quiet before the Lord. Our minds race and our thoughts drift. We grope for words and try to express ourselves, and hope for the best.

But one of the primary purposes of prayer is to just be with the Lord—to wait with Him and allow Him to give us rest… to let Him restore us and reaffirm that we are His. Thank you, Lord, for wanting to do that.