Monday, January 9, 2012

Giddy Moments

We're finishing our school work for the day, and I find myself giddy!  School is good!  We only let our books rest till the New Year before picking up where we'd left off.  I did manage to cram in some 2nd semester planning between Christmas and New Year's, and while I wish I'd had more, we needed to get busy.

So the reason I'm giddy is not because everything is perfect in our school day.  Far from it!  It's just that we are doing some new things that we love, love, LOVE!  And because I'm a big mouth who doesn't do well in the area of restrained enthusiasm.  I'll just tell ya, I'm happy to share!

First off, in December boy finished off Analytical Grammar (great curriculum!), and his literature guide from Progeny Press, "The Indian in the Cupboard".  We also all but finished our worldview book, "Who Is God? And Can I Really Know Him?"  So, we had a bit of wiggle room in our schedule.  Thinking ahead to cold, dark winter days, I felt the heavier schedule would work more to our advantage, than not, so I plotted it all.  Little did I realize we'd have a January between 45-60 degrees!  Oh well.  Totally NOT complaining! :)

During Christmas, the Lord totally answered a long time prayer about a writing curriculum.  I have purchased no less than four full curriculum for writing over the years, and we've systematically rejected every single one.  It's a LONG story.  Anyway, out of desperation I cried out to the Lord--seriously--and I ended up at The Write Foundation.  With only six lessons in, I can tell you there is light and writing joy at the end of our tunnel!  Such a weight lifted.

Next, I bit the bullet; threw aside the bad memories of two absolutely horrible experiences using two well known Latin programs (that I won't mention) and what do you know?!  Third time's a charm!  Visual Latin has sparked a fire under both my kids!  And me!  And I am--you guessed it--giddy!

So what else.  Typing for both, which they love.  That's new.  Oh!  And boy is also tackling his first full, on his own Bible Study, "Life in the Word", by Sonya Shafer (Simply Charlotte Mason).  This, for me, falls under the category of discipleship, and Biblical Manhood studies, as it is teaching him how to study the Bible for himself.

I see peace in my kids with all that we are doing.  Even adding these things to our anatomy, math, Bible, history, poetry memorization, language arts, music & art studies!  Whew!  Charlotte Mason short lessons.  Such a blessing.  

Okay.  I've gotten it off my chest.  I feel better.  Time for a mini violin recital from daughter and a bit of crochet for fun.

Have you added anything new and exciting to your year?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Giving vs Sacrifice, OR When Giving is Sacrifice, OR What Do You Do With That Pledge Card?

Thinking out loud today.  You see, I'm desperately praying over the pledge card carefully tucked inside my Bible.  So many things going through my heart and mind.  Wanting to give.  Not sure how much to give.  Dealing with past giving.  And lack of past giving.  Fear.  Duty. Excitement.  Love.

Unlike past pledge cards, this time I have no husband to defer to.  The buck stops with me.  Of course, it should have before, too, to some extent, but that's another story.

Now I find myself wondering what the Lord requires of ME.  I see how He has provided abundantly to me.  Not that I'm rolling in the dough, or even finding a balance in my account at the end of each month.  Sometimes finding the money to pay a bill is hard.  Yet over and over, our needs are met.  By God.  Big, Mighty, giving-more-than-I-deserve God.  What do I do with that? 

Oh!  I'm thankful!  Believe me.  I know EXACTly where it's all coming from.  It would totally baffle me if I didn't know I had a faithful God.  Actually, it still baffles me.

But now I have to make a promise, and I'm trying not to be anxious, but I'm gripped by all that God is doing in my church, through the people there, and I'm sitting back with my children, soaking it all in.  And wondering.

"What do you require of me, Lord?"  I know He doesn't need my money what He's given to me to build that building, or buy that land.  I know that many struggle with the "legalities" of tithing.  I never did "before".  Then I spent 12 years married to someone who had different ideas.  Ideas which, by default and subjection, became my own.  And while it's not hard for me to see the lies now, it's a bit harder to shed their affects on my thinking.

Fear?  Sneer.... I don't like fear.  It has crippled enough of my life.  Yet, God used it to bring me to a better relationship with Him, yet it is a constant in Satan's economy.  While I may recognize it, apply Biblical principles in disarming it, and make it powerless in GOD's economy, it is still creepy.  Creeps in here.  Creeps in there. 

So, I want to give.  My kids keep asking if we are going to give.  I keep expecting God to put some magical number on the wall for me.  How much is too much?  What is my "widow's mite"?  Why is this so hard?!!  

The thing that I keep resisting is asking the question, "What can I afford?".  I can't "afford" anything.  That's where the sacrifice will come.  That's where my relationship comes full circle with Him, and I hear that still, small voice say, "Do you trust me?  Do you really trust me?  How much do you trust me?"   

I don't pretend to be good at that.  There is very little about this giving/sacrifice thing that I understand or have practiced faithfully.  I just know He keeps giving to me.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't feel guilty.  I feel amazed.  Unworthy.  Amazed...  

In my head I know there is no right answer.  I get "stewardship", as in spend wisely with a purpose that would be pleasing to the Lord.  I get "example", as in be a good example to little eyes that are watching.  I get "blessing", as in it's more blessed to give, than to receive.  But getting it all to come together is the question of the day.

If God is no author of confusion, and if prayer is a constant, and if His word is the foundation, then if I choose THAT, if I choose HIM, the rest will come.  That I know.  But the choosing...

Part of me says "promise nothing", then anything given will be a boon.  Then the Lord tugs on me again:  "You can trust me!"  But I'm not comfortable "there" yet.  But He wants me to be.  My head says I have nothing left to give, my heart says sacrifice.  

The world says "keep".  The Lord says "give".  Why am I so wretchedly selfish?  I don't want this battle within me!  Yet I know, the battle is the Lord's.

In the end, it will be in hindsight that all the answers are revealed.  God is God, after all!  
 (She smiles knowingly, as she remembers.)  

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A New Advent

Every year I jump on the most recent Advent band wagon.  Sometimes it's good.  Sometimes our best intentions fizzle.  But, I think we've covered them all!  This year, knowing the kids aren't here every night, I wasn't sure what to do.  All afternoon Sunday (1st official day of Advent) I was silently wondering...

I went to my bookshelf, as a book-lover/hoarder is known to do on occasion, and chewed my lower lip for about ten seconds.  I touched the Christmas books, running my fingers across the shelf full and found myself pulling out this book:

Though I've never read this, I've had it for years and have heard wonderful things about it.  It seems to me, there is no better time to read a classic family story than now!  

Advent, as a preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ, is worth celebrating, no matter the method.  We'll also follow along with some Advent scripture readings, lighting our Advent candle ring, singing and praying together. 

What are your plans for celebrating Advent?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

About That Jonah Fella

As I told you recently, the kids and I are going through "Wrong Way, Jonah!" for our Bible time together.  Oh Jonah!  I've read your story many times over the years, but I think I finally get it.  Oh you selfish, gotta have your own way, bitter, angry, head full of knowledge, heart filled with blech, ________(insert name)! 

The reason we don't know what happened to Jonah, is because we don't yet know the full end of our own stories.  Isn't that just like our mighty God to show us our hearts, our human ways, and His much better way and nudge us toward He Who Is Greater?!

(Bicker with your kids much lately?  She asks herself with much sarcasm!)

In His story of Jonah, we see God:  "...for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster." Jonah 4:2b (ESV)  Yet Jonah chooses to suffer.  He KNOWS God.  He KNOWS what is right.  He KNOWS the very nature of his suffering.  And yet.  Yet he chooses to sin, and to suffer for it.  The exact opposite of Job, I might add.  Two pictures God shows us of responding to circumstances. 

Has God shown you what's really in your heart lately?  Is He nudging you to choose better?  Choose wiser?  If He is, it's because He is "a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster." because He loves you.  He loves me.  He keeps showing me His way is better.

Jonah had the answer all along:

"When my life was fainting away, 
I remembered the LORD, 
and my prayer came to you into your holy temple.  

Those who pay regard to vain idols 
forsake their hope of steadfast love.  
But I with the voice of thanksgiving 
will sacrifice to you; 
what I have vowed I will pay. 

Salvation belongs to the LORD!"  Jonah 2:7-9

It can't just be about getting out of the belly of a whale, but about choosing this day whom you will serve.  Lord!  Help me to choose You every moment!

Monday, November 28, 2011


I'm so thankful to report that our family Thanksgiving, with house full of loved ones and thankful hearts abounding, was all I could hope for!

Apart from the wonderful family time, and blessed hearts and lives, this large gathering and all it's logistics has taught me much.  For instance, basic and easy recipes are often the best.  Every recipe I took from a certain magazine I love, was less than great.  Learned my lesson.

The big cooking success was two-fold:  First, turkey in a bag!!!  Let me say it again:  "Turkey in a bag!"  So yummy.  And secondly, having a dear friend by my side to help me keep from losing my mind while minding the last concoctions and timing, to get it all on the table before everyone went to Taco Bell.  Thank you, Colette!

So I've never seen mashed potatoes disappear that fast in my life!  And I've never seen this large family eat dessert 5 minutes after dinner, but they did.  And it wasn't because of lack of dinner, either! 

The truth of the matter is that the long, long (yet wonderful!) Thanksgiving Days of my childhood are no more.  Everyone is older, and everyone had to drive a lot to get here, and to go home.  People are tired and lingering is more difficult.  But, every minute was precious!  We fit it in.  We hugged, laughed, shared...all that good stuff. 

I wonder if each person there was thinking of Thanksgivings past, like I was.  Missing my mom.  Seeing my Aunt in one of her shirts.  Smelling my mother's perfume.  Seeing my brother, whom I couldn't help but hug more than anyone.  Seeing my children soak in the family goodness.  Realizing how everyone is growing older.

So thankful!  Thankful for every detail.  Thankful!  Thankful! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Preparing for Thanksgiving Guests

You may remember that I am having my family for Thanksgiving this year.  I haven't done this in a long time and there is a lot to do!  I've learned a lot about myself through the process of preparing for the day.  While my homeschool mom eyes have been ever-watchful over my sweet daughter and her newly revealed to me learning style, as I've mentioned before, I'm realizing that I share the visual learner brain.  Translation:  lists!  And lots of them.  Piles, pictures from magazines, recipe cards, craft supplies, serving dishes; all where I can but my googly little eyes on them!

This has its good points.  And its bad.  I've realized multiple fancy, shmancy planning printouts are not my friend.  One good ole' blank sheet of paper with columns by category makes me sigh with contentment.  All (on one page) or nothing, people! 

So here's my list(s):

Paint living room and kitchen.
Hang new light fixtures.
Re-install curtain rod and curtains.
 And yes.  I know it was crazy to start a home-improvement project right before a holiday, but I couldn't help myself!  
Clean carpet high-traffic area.
Cleaning the dining chairs (Hello!  Milk spills!)
Thanksgiving/Fall decorations.
Confirm guest list & send directions to our new home.
Finalize menu.
Grocery list.
Grocery shop.

Locate and pull serving dishes.
Get kids' haircuts.

Table service for 21.
Food prep schedule.
Make note of when to pull 24lb turkey from freezer.
Choose outfits for the day.
Empty and charge camera.
Make Thanksgiving napkin rings.
Make centerpieces.
Last minute home cleaning. (Saving till the last minute! ;))

There's probably more.  

Here's my menu, which I'm very excited about and will make you wish you were coming here for Thanksgving too!  (And you'd be welcome!)

24lbs of golden Turkey goodness, cooked to perfection (a girl can dream!) and carved by (hopefully!) my unflappable Uncle Dan. (with dressing by Aunt Janie.)
Sweet Potato Spoon Bread
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Glorious Rolls (Think buttery melt in your mouth, can't eat just two!)
Cranberry Relish
Baked Corn Pudding
Beet, Carrot, and Apple Salad
Lemon Herb Green Beans
Herb Gravy
Pumpkin Pie
Pear Pie
Molasses Bourbon Pecan Pie (unless I can't find bourbon from a friend in which case the optional bourbon will be bourbon.)

Whatdaya think?  Hungry yet?

The things that throw me (list, list list!) are things like remembering to set butter out to soften; getting the turkey outta the freezer on time;  remembering you need serving spoons for all those dishes.  Since I'm not a practiced large crowd, meal provider, filling the salt and pepper shakers is off my typical radar! 

I'm so excited!  Even though we're having our big meal the day after Thanksgiving (That would be Black Friday to some of you!), I will be sharing heaps and oodles of thankfulness with, and for my family!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Night Randomness

Seventy degrees in November rocks!  My doors were open today and it was so nice.  Don't you think it's much more relaxing when the house is open?

I finally got my crochet on for the winter!  I chose the yarn colors for dd8's new afghan and chose this wonderful pattern.  Crocheting makes me smile.  I love crocheting.  Just sayin'.

My furnace went out this week.  Got it fixed pretty quick.  Was mighty thankful it didn't happen when it was really cold out.

My little boy now has bigger feet than mine, as well as being taller than me.  He's twelve!  That whirling sound is life flying by!  And daughter?  Quickly gaining.  I'm good with it.  Healthy, strapping, children.  Thank you Lord.

Church community groups are awesome.  At least mine is.  Love these people!

What a pain in the rear not having a man in the house to move heavy furniture up the stairs.  Did I mention I love my community group?

I'm tired of hearing about pumpkin recipes.  But I'm still craving pumpkin seeds that I haven't gotten around to harvesting from my front porch.  Maybe this week.

We all need haircuts.  Badly.  Haircuts!  Haircuts!  Haircuts!  They pound on the table in joyful anticipation.  NOT!  Now the dentist they would be happy about!  What's with that?!!

My room is a pit.  Why is it always the room that gets the last and least attention?  Every other room is more important.  Yeesh.

Still loving my new yellow living room/kitchen.  Yellow sings sunshine 24/7.  So glad I got it done before Thanksgiving. 

Speaking of Thanksgiving.  Got me a 22lb turkey for nearly half-price.  Got me a bag to cook it in.  Even bought a pan and a baster.  Made room in the freezer.  Barely.  Thinking non-dry turkey thoughts.

Borrowed a library book on my kindle through Amazon!  It was totally cool.  Worked like a charm.