{yarn along} : unhurried + little pink shrug take 2

Joining Ginny

I know, I know.  It’s kind of a rerun from last week.  But I did get started on a new shrug, which is exciting!  {My model for the sweater was into doing all sorts of crazy faces. If you hadn’t noticed already.} So all that is left on shrug take one is the button.  Something wooden, most likely.  Yesterday I got in a row or two while teaching long division.  And as I knitted and made one left and made one right I was thankful that teaching math comes in small bites.  (Whew.)

I love the feeling that comes when your child has that “Aha! ” moment!  Especially when you have explained the same things for the umpteenth squared time.  He got it.  And I could’ve danced around the room when he began to fly through those problems instead of laboring over each one.  This is just one reason I am so glad we homeschool.  It’s not easy, many days are hard, we are challenged with just the logistics of people in each other’s space for this many hours at a time.  Honestly, I’m challenged with this as much or more than anything.  I said I wouldn’t ever homeschool, (!! Ha! Never say never!) and yet now I can’t imagine anything else.  Well, I can imagine mornings having coffee with other moms and a quieter house.  But I can’t really imagine not having them here with me.

For all of the chaos and arguing, for all the weariness and too-often questioning myself and whether I am doing ok and hopefully not ruining my children, there are relationships being built at our kitchen table. There are memories being made while the forts are being built.  The traditions of stories and tea, (however irregular some of those traditions can be some weeks) are things I hope these little ones never forget.

Which brings me to the book I am reading, The Unhurried Homeschooler by Durenda Wilson.  Oh me, oh my.  This is my new favorite book.  The tag line alone caught my heart and made me exhale.   “A simple, mercifully short book on homeschooling”.  

Aaaahhhhh.

So the other night, I filled my bath with hot-as-I-could-stand and lots of bubbles, sank in, devoured part of it, set the book down, and promptly splashed just enough water out to get my nice, brand new sigh-of-relief-in-the-form-of-a-book nice and wet. Thankfully it’s not ruined, and I picked it up again yesterday.  This book is from a mama who has been there and done that with 8 children. And it, like Teaching from Rest did a year ago, is confirming so many things that God has already brought to my heart. Gentle learning environment. Keeping things simple.

This quote:

The latest trend to “educate early” is in direct opposition to nature. The child’s level of development plays a huge part in their ability to grasp whatever we are trying to teach them. ….If it’s interesting to them, they will learn so much more.   … In fact, studies show that in two or three years, a child can learn everything they need to know for success in high school and college.”


I love this –

“You have a God-given compass inside you when it comes to raising your children…”

Just as a sidenote – this woman has several children who are finished with school,  some who are in college and several whom she is teaching at home still. She speaks of their children who are in high school now being fully engaged with their education because they have had time to explore and discover.

When someone writes from experience, it gives so much meaning to to their words.  And she speaks of listening to her intuition.  Laying self-doubt aside. Being unhurried.  Not despairing over the seasons of making meals, changing diapers, and trying to keep the house falling apart, because children are always, always learning.  It may be that sitting down to read a book is the very best thing for the day. And the most necessary!

Yesterday we managed to get in our read-aloud we hadn’t picked up for awhile, “The Story of the Treasure Seekers” by Edith  and later on when the girls were napping we started our Story of the World we just got, and read about Lewis and Clark. We are also reading Seaman – a story about the dog that travelled on the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  The TruthQuest spiral bound book pictured is what I have been using for our history curriculum. It is excellent and gives chronological book recommendations throughout history, as well as brief overviews that are quite compelling.  Both Story of the World and Seaman are recommended (along with a whole HOST of other options).

It’s a beautiful Wednesday here… shining sun and children racing outside with bananas for a snack and plans to act out the Underground Railroad since Mr. J just devoured “The Drinking Gourd”  (by F.N. Monjo).  It  talks about slavery and a little boy who figures out that his home is a stop on the Underground Railroad, and that slaves are to follow the Drinking Gourd (Big Dipper) north to freedom.

There’s apple pie and more coffee in the coffee pot, if you don’t mind the scattered legos and laundry everywhere, stop in and we’ll knit and chat a bit! = )

Spring Fever

It’s 1:30 and the girls should be down for a nap by now.  But…. 69 degrees.  Need I say more?  Bike riding, voluntary raking up the yard, and he told me he was making an Indian chief hat.  They have been bringing me all manner of flowers found blooming.. and it’s adorable.  Most of the time they come in with clumps of green leafy weeds and these tiny purpley-blue flowers poking out.  Spring’s everywhere.  

We had tea at 11:30 while play dough got formed into hamburgers and pizza slices and tootsie rolls. I read aloud from “Boyhood and Beyond” that just came in the mail the other day, and sighed with an inward joy at how tea and reading out loud makes a day come alive.  It makes it easy to find joy.  I was interrupted often, there are squabbles that broke out, and we didn’t finish the chapter.  But truly.  School was art and sculpting with play dough, listening to a story about telling the truth and making good choices, and tea – (it was declared “TODAY IS THE BEST SCHOOLDAY EVER” when I announced my last minute idea to do so). 

It’s a good reminder to me.  Morning Time in our school has had different flavors… sometimes very short, often not at all because I get too caught up in the importance of completing workbooks… and today we needed to gather back in close again.  Trips are lovely, and yet coming home is a restoring of routine, gathering things and putting away, making our meals and tasting the goodness of how sweet home really is.  

Chicken with seasoning is baking slow in the oven, I’ll probably make some baked rice to go with it.  I had a fresh tangerine from California for lunch, and it just tasted like sunshine. My washer and dryer are humming, and the boys have been folding clothes and sweeping and helping with gusto today. We told them if they were willing to make an extra effort in being cheerful in their regular chores, we would give them extra opportunities to make money with other chores around the house they don’t typically do.  Mr. E is focused on earning money for a red bloodhound (He just read Where the Red Fern Grows and loved it), and Mr. J has decided he wants to earn money to buy a rabbit.  I have no idea if the enthusiasm will last, but it sure is nice in the meantime. 

Our weekend looks busy… both with my sister in law’s bridal shower and helping with food for a viewing and funeral of a sweet man in our church who has battled cancer for the last while.  Life, death, change.   Today is one day filled with moments, and all of the small and mundane make up the life we will one day look back on.  That’s why today I decided that I wanted to pull my children in close to me and teach them truths rather than assign pages.  There is a time for everything, and next week it will be time to pull out the math books again.  But this week, margin and breathing space needed to be first on the schedule.  

We weren’t made to hurry all the time.  Fast-paced living doesn’t give us room to grow, to taste, to truly experience the blessings God heaps. Sunshine.  Tangerines.  Tea. Fresh Laundry. Slowly passing a hot iron and making a shirt crisp.  Breathing thanks for the husband who will wear it. Ice water. Rocking. Story -reading. Noticing the green of the fields and the contrast of spindly and leafless trees eagerly readying for spring.   We need to do these things for our children and for ourselves.  It’s a free extravagance, this slowing down…  

Each moment, a gift itself.  

I think I’ll go make another pot of coffee.  And enjoy every sip. =)

{yarn along} :: little pink shrug + returning home

Joining Ginny                                                                                                                              


I’ve been working on the first of three little pink shrugs that will be worn by my girls and my niece for the upcoming wedding of my brother in law and soon-to-be sister in law. This one is completed except for a wooden button and blocking, and I’m ready to start on the second.  Wedding is in April… and I began this one the end of January. So I’m hoping that the combination of the familiarity of the second time around + about 2 months til the wedding will = getting them done on time.   I’m not overly worried about it, but I know I don’t have any extra wiggle room. The pattern is Miss Daisy, and it’s delightful to make.  I’m using Malabrigo Rios in English Garden, and the color is so girly and sweet it’s just a pleasure to work on.  Truly it’s a quick knit.  I’ve not worked on it constantly at all, and it’s really only taken about 3-4 weeks of sporadic knitting to get this one mostly finished.  They will wear them with little cream dresses that my sister in law is making.. and I was thrilled to be doing the knitting part and to let her do the sewing part.  Sewing is definitely something I’d like to get better at, and do more of… but I’d much rather sit down with my needles and yarn at this point. 

I’m almost finished with A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker.  It’s excellent.  The story line follows a young Bedouin woman who meets Jesus in a life-changing encounter.  I’m looking forward to the next one, A.D. 33.   The other book I’m reading, AWOL on the Appalachian Trail, is a very interesting story about a man who walked the entire Appalachian Trail and journaled his experiences as he went.   It’s a kindle book, and was free, and it’s been a fun, mindless read. I’m not a hiker.  At all.  So I can’t fathom actually doing something like this for fun – I would much rather read about it, thank you very much.   

This morning we are home from a not-quite two week trip to California…. and I am on my 3rd cup of coffee.  It’s an absolute delight to sit in my very own chair, with the sunlight streaming warm onto the familiar quilt wrapped around my feet…  There really is nothing like coming home.  It was such a good trip.  Good to see friends and reconnect… to see my parents and brother and niece… to have the privilege of another few times beside my grandma.  I thought a lot about what home means and how interesting it is that California still feels like home, yet I came home last night and this is home.  I wish that it was possible to gather all of “my people” and have them be in one place.  All the family, all the kindred spirits, all the special people that have known me and that I have known my whole life. 

There is something so comforting about being around people who know your story, your roots, your family.  Who know what you were like when you were little (well, most of the time that’s comforting)….   It can be a challenge in all of life to find that balance between enjoyment of things without gripping onto them too tightly.  Holding loosely onto blessings.  Enjoying them for what they are.  Knowing that change comes, and it’s good to grow and learn. 

Last night we stopped to get a few essentials on our way home from the airport.  It had been a long day – up since 2:30, long flights, tired kids and tired us, a screaming 2 year old on the 2.5 hour drive home from the airport… disconnect and misunderstandings between my husband and I that had went on for too many days.   And as I walked through the familiar aisles of Walmart, a small reminder edged its way into my heart.   

Thank Me.

So I did.  

Small, seemingly insignificant things. 

Thank You that I am walking. 

Thank You for the bread in my shopping cart.  And whipping cream for my coffee in the morning.

Thank you for fresh oranges in our suitcases. 

Thank You that my children aren’t sick anymore.

Thank you for my husband.

Thank you for a safe trip home.

I got in the vehicle and we drove home, and I forgot about thankfulness for a bit while there were still annoyances and a tired 2 year old and a smelly garage from kittens when we got home. 

But then I remembered again. 

Thank you for my bed.

Thank you for the soft cheeks and sweet kisses.

Thank you for the words “Rock me, Mommy”.

Thank you for boyish excitement over being home.

Thank you for renewed friendship.

Thank you for a long-overdue talk with my husband.

It’s always a perspective-shifter.  And I seem to need the reminder on a very regular basis. (Which is possibly -no it IS why it’s a common theme in my blog posting. – Sorry for the redundancy, dear reader.)

It doesn’t automatically make all the yuck go away.  The 2 year old still screams, the communication issues are still there, there are still messes everywhere I look this morning.  But somehow, the light shifts on everything and the mercies and joys are glowing a bit more, rather than being hidden behind a cloud of mundane. 

Today I’m not rushing anything, I’m still savoring the memories of the last few weeks, and I look forward to cooking supper in my own kitchen this evening.  We aren’t doing school because my kidlets need to run and play and build blocks and Legos, and fix eggs and hold kitties. 

It’s good to be home.

of the mercies of the Lord

It’s her favorite song.

For as long as I can remember, and I’m thinking for as long as my dad can remember too.

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever – 

I will sing, I will sing….

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever,

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord.

With my mouth, will I make known  

Thy faithfulness, thy faithfulness

With my mouth, will I make known, 

Thy faithfulness to all generations!

She was wearing green, fuzzy socks. The ones that keep warm the feet that do not walk anymore. The ones that Miss E declared as “pitty socks!”, while running her tiny hand over those old, grandma feet…

She stared at me, and I didn’t know if she knew who I was, those bright and snapping brown eyes, the ones like my own. I thought surely there was a sparkle of recognition, and I leaned down and tried to hold that sweet, clenched hand. Her arms and hands moved involuntarily, all over.  Her eyes wouldn’t stop looking up and around, over the ceiling, across my tribe of sober and not-sure children, who only get a chance to see her once a year.

My youngest wanted to hold her hand, and did so as we sang..

Blonde ringlets framed the sweet 2 year old lips that leaned in to kiss this old cheek that contorted and constantly moved around.

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord, forever…..

Oh, Parkinson’s.  This disease has ravaged her body and mind, and yet…..

and yet.

We began to sing and her voice began to hum the tune of this favorite of hers. We sang Jesus Loves Me, and when we got done, she immediately said: “Oh, that was pretty.”

I will sing.. I will sing…

We sang again our current family favorite – “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and she began to sing the words with us.  It was so beautiful. My sweet grandma’s old voice blended in a harmony that was better than perfectly in tune with my slightly off-key 2 and 4 year old little girls, and  9 and 11 year old boy-voices. We took a few pictures, and sometimes she would focus back in on me, and I told her that it surely wouldn’t be long before she was able to be with Jesus, and walk around without her wheelchair and be able to run and dance and sing and talk with abandon.

With my mouth, will I make known, The faithfulness….

She hummed about His faithfulness to her even as she wasn’t able to get the words out.

To all generations.

Tonight I laid on the floor between my two girlies and the questions began to flow.

“Mommy, will grandma Mildred die? Will she go see Jesus?

And the pretty angels?

Mommy? Does grandma have an ouchy body?

Why will she die?

How will she get up to heaven?

I answered as best I knew how, thinking to myself about singing about His faithfulness to all generations as I spoke truth-words to the next one down. These girls are three generations from a Parkinson’s ridden woman who has endured hard, hard things.  A grievous and untimely death of a husband.  The loss of a daughter in law to cancer.  The death of a second husband.  The slow and agonizing death of a functioning, healthy, hard-working body into paralyzed muscles, shaking hands, and the inability to speak coherent sentences.

And what she has left is the most beautiful thing I have ever heard.

She has so much left.

She sings, in as strong of a voice as she can muster of the faithfulness of her Father to every generation.  Of His mercy.  She sings in her geriatric chair while suffering the indignities of aging that she will sing.

She will sing, yes she will.

Forever.

Of His mercy.

joy choice, joy-reasons.

It’s always a choice. 

That’s just the long and the short of it.

Somehow, it’s easy to forget this truth.  Joy is simply always a choice.   There is always, always, ALWAYS joy to be found in every scenario.  No matter the chaos surrounding, or the grief that wants to overwhelm, or the unknown-ness of future or the wreckage in the world.

I get to choose what I focus on and what expression molds my mouth.  Is it smile? Or is it grimace? And what is it that my children and husband see on a regular basis? What would they say at the end of this day would be the characteristic of my attitude?

We flew on a plane Saturday to California.  The first thing I noticed, the thing I always notice when I come “home”, is the brilliance of the sunshine.  I never used to notice how sunny it is here… I just took it for granted.  And yet, the blinding brightness of the sun gripped me in a beautiful way Saturday afternoon as we taxied into the runway.

My parents picked us up from the airport and I hugged them hello…. I never used to pay attention or truly value their hugs.  But twice or three times a year doesn’t come around nearly often enough, and  I can’t help but be grateful for each hug I experience from my mom and dad.

We went to In ‘n Out for lunch and once again, something about experiencing something not often makes it taste that much better.  Never had a burger and fries tasted so good.

We were tired Saturday from a 4-hour night the night before, and so when at 11 pm that night I heard the unmistakable noise of throwing up from the next room I was less than thrilled.  Then it turned into two children …. then three.  All taking turns while Mr. T.  and  I tag-teamed with washcloths and fresh pajamas for those who needed it, and cleanup.  And yet, somehow, in the middle of the night as he stood holding the littlest who was the most sick of all, I had to give him a kiss and tell him I wouldn’t want to be doing this with anyone else. It was a rough night, lasting until about 6am, when the 2 year old and I mercifully fell asleep on the recliner.

The next day we all stayed home from church, and everyone felt much better.

Yay!

Yesterday I was sick.  Not fun.  But today I sure do appreciate being well.

There are almond blossoms to see here, old friends to renew acquaintances with, fresh laundry all folded, ice water to sip, mint tea that tastes good on a weary stomach, the 4 year old falling asleep during an audiobook, beautiful camellias in my parent’s backyard that now grace the kitchen island and the kitchen windowsill.

There is going back to the old home where I grew up, walking through the backyard and smelling the weeds and bright grass in the spring that is oh-so-familiar.  There is the oranges and their juiciness that rivals any dessert you could spend hours preparing.

There’s my mom’s baking powder biscuits and cheeseburger soup.  There is watching my children make new friends, and meeting a lovely niece for the very first time.

So.  Many.  Things.

Oh my, there have been loads of things to irritate and frustrate.  But truly?  It’s a choice.   I get to choose whether joy or annoyance is my focus.
Today, this moment, I choose JOY.  What do you choose?

Choose joy, then write it down.

Writing it down = experiencing that original joy twice.  And that’s a beautiful thing.

Sunshine, oranges, happy smiles, mint tea….

Jesus, grace, husband-friend, a mom-hug, friendships old and new..

Children, snuggles, audiobooks, Bible verse encouragement from a friend, delving into a good book, bubble baths….

Jesus.  Jesus.  Jesus.  He is the true Joy-Reason.  Amen?

miscellany. and what’s worthy of praise.

Well, I didn’t exactly intend to take a 3 month break from blogging, but it just wasn’t the season to write. It’s been a season of many other things, and my mind has been whirring around since August around with post ideas, but the long and short of it is that it is now January.  January 2017.

A few miscellaneous things…

I want to clean out all the cupboards and closets, and yesterday I completed The Epic Pantry Purge. I’m attempting to ask myself what I want to keep, rather than what I want to get rid of, and it’s a surprisingly simple and helpful exercise. In the process I’ve been aghast at the amount of stuff I’m surrounded with. And the excess.  It’s really no wonder our houses are cluttered.  They sort of can’t help it. A book on decluttering that I’m reading maintains that the only way to fix the problem of a messy house is to get rid of stuff.

 

We had a family picture taken. By a very dear and talented friend. For the purpose of Christmas cards. 5 days before Christmas. To be fair, we had scheduled it several weeks before and it was raining. There aren’t words to describe the hours preceding. I could have written a whole Christmas letter about the utter joy of herding 4 children into nice clothes, finding shoes (they all seemed to disappear?!?), the whoosh of relief that escaped my lungs as we were driving out of our driveway (late, of course) with everyone safely shoed and buckled, and realizing halfway there that the road we were on was closed due to road work… turning around… going a different direction, hoping that we wouldn’t miss the light for pictures, and …yeah.   We arrived, took the pictures, it all went relatively well, and managed to get a few where everyone was at least looking at the camera with mostly pleasant expressions on their faces.  Pictures are worth a thousand words, and let me tell you, in between the pictures was many words.  Of (gentle, of course) encouragement to not stick out tongues. Or make wide-eyed scared faces.  Or perhaps maybe the 4 year old could avoid curling up into a ball or hunching over near whichever person she was standing beside? The important thing was, they actually turned out pretty well.

I got the flash drive, and while looking through them, thought many thoughts about how truly blessed we are, what Christmas looks like now with 4 children and how I used to wonder what a rowdy and laughter-filled holiday would be like.  There was even a good shot of the 2 year old by herself.  Sun glinting off the blonde curls, sweet smile, and yes, life’s good, and problems are temporary and Thanksgiving lasts through Christmas and longer  when you see through eyes that look for blessing.    The 2 year old got ahold of the flash drive within a day and it’s nowhere to be found, but that’s the way it works and I’m pretty sure we can get them from my friend again.  We won’t be sending out Christmas cards this year, but that’s ok too.  Because there’s plenty to be glad about besides whether we accomplished that particular task or not.

 

Speaking of being glad,

I’m listening to two girls play with their babies and sing a happy mixture of Christmas carols and hymns, and they are pretending to pray for devotions in front of the fire in our living room.

There’s baby kitties in the shop again, and they are loved on as much as possible. Miss E says “Niiice kitty, Awww…”  There’s five, and so each are claimed by  except one. They are rocked, petted, snuggled, and adored by all..

There’s a warm home, firewood, new soup recipes (and old favorites!), quilts strewn on the floor, fresh eggs found in the cat food and brought carefully in by Miss A – who always is so proud and excited when she finds one.  There’s new hope, Scripture that comforts when the tears come, and friendships that reflect the love of the One who loads us up daily with all these benefits and more.

Above all, there’s the truth that came to me this morning.. none of His love for me relies on my performance or getting it all right… and I’ve been repeating the truth of “You love me!” on a regular basis for the last few days.   It’s so easy for me to forget the simplicity of the Good News-Gospel.. that He came to save and not condemn.  Save.  Rescue. Sweep me up and off my flesh-feet in the most romantic and blessed Rescue Endeavor ever known.

Praise.  And more praise.

 

 

 

 

 

receiving, not trying.

Good words, these:

“That’s what’s awesome…. because before? It’s “just who I am, I can’t help feeling so discouraged”,  and how do you deal with this thing.  These feelings.  That trial.  The misbehavior. The unkind word.

Now – it’s not about figuring out how to deal with the thing.  It’s  –

“How do I rememember who I am?”

It’s a different war!  You don’t have to figure out how to treat this thing, whatever it is, you have to figure out how to remind yourself that this isn’t you.  And how to PRAISE.  So your concentration moves from trying to deal with all the feelings and trials and problems, and FIXING YOURSELF, to the truth… that you’re fixed.  Praise Him that He already fixed you.   Then it is that He gets the glory, and before… it was man and self that got the glory.

….

This is what I need on the days that I wake up late and I didn’t have any time to sip coffee in quiet before the rucus begins.  This helps me know that I don’t get mad at myself because I didn’t get up any earlier/get mad at kids because they are tired and why didn’t they sleep in more than they did/etc. etc.  — I just simply say Thank you Jesus for a new morning.  Yay!  No mental flogging, no irritations.  Irritation isn’t who I am.  Irritation is who I was before Jesus came to die and save me from it.  Saving me from myself and my natural inclination to anything that isn’t of Him.

This is what I need when faced with big decisions and all I can see are the negatives or the hard of either option.  Because God doesn’t lead or direct us through fear or anxiety or negatives – He leads through calmness. Rest. Through His Word.  When we are awake to the whisper of the Spirit and it moves us to rest in Him and rely on Him for all our needs … the knowing that He has us.  And it’s not even up to us to TRY to understand, because He promises that He will make known to us all the things He wants us to know.   Then it is that we will have a quiet knowing of the path we are to take.

We just need to be in a position of receiving. 

So often my arms have been folded tightly together, trying, trying, trying with all my might to do right. Be right. Feel right. Say it right.  Trying to be excited about what I need to be excited about.  Trying to be joyful.  Trying to not be mad.

And I’m not saying we should be asleep, and slothful.  Oh, no, no. 

Far from it.  What we are is open.  Willing.   Eyes lifted. Heart open.  Ready and willing to receive all that He would give us and all that He is guiding us into. Ready to walk fervently in the path that He lays out before us.  Ready to move into action with purpose and joy when He motivates us by His Spirit to make that call/write that letter/hug that child when you really want to punish/deal with that behavior when you really want to ignore it/say I love you/breathe life and truth into a friend of her beauty and worth in Jesus/smile the smile you used to smile at your husband when he walked in the door from work when you were first married – regardless of all the chaos and misunderstandings that tend to crowd in.  You name it.

You see – trying so hard to get it right all the time will naturally place the focus upon ourselves.  But when we know who we are – no longer orphans, no longer alone – but God is our Daddy, and we are a joint heir with Jesus….  it causes us to come into the inheritance we were meant for.  This inheritance means that we are indwelt with something completely Other than us.  And when we know this in our heart of hearts, the knowledge is transforming.  Our minds get renewed in truth = we are transformed in the way we operate.  Honestly? I’m thinking it’s possible that trying = filthy rags.

It’s not just about a destination that is heaven.  It’s that He’s made us new.  Totally different than the people we were before He started living in us. We aren’t irritated, not ok, frustrated, angry, and hurt all the time anymore.  That’s not us!  And if we feel those things, it’s only a lie that the father of them dangles in front of us to see if we will forget that there was Holy Blood that bought us.  You see how it’s in the renewing of our minds?
It’s in taking captive every.  single. thought.   How?  By measuring it against truth.  Do I feel hurt by something someone says?  It’s not mine if I don’t grab onto the lie.  Because in Jesus, salvation means I don’t have to walk around hurt anymore.  I don’t have to try to not be hurt, I just have to remember who I am – God’s daughter. And if the power that raised Jesus from the grave dwells in me, then being hurt by something someone says is kind of ridiculous.  And He made it possible for me to not live wrecked.

Anymore.

And I didn’t even have to try to be the kind of person Jesus would want to save.  {Whaddya know?!}

I’ll have to admit.  That’s some really amazing grace.

Laugh out loud, joy-bubbling, freedom-flying grace.

Once lost, now found. 

Once blind, now see.

 

 

 

 

a slow end to summer. – or maybe not an end at all.

We didn’t have a start – back day to school this year. In July I began easing us back into a school routine. (Any of you who read regularly will remember that I posted a couple non-posts that were cryptic in their shortness regarding our starting back to school.)

We did a few days of school in July, then started again towards the middle of August,  and I would say that at this point we are about 6-8-ish weeks into the school year.  Which is kind of funny because I really have no idea how far we are. The boys started working on the math books they were doing at the end of last year, and some of the concepts are super easy, so they are breezing through those. If they consistently understand the concepts and get at least one-two lessons completely correct, they are allowed to skip one lesson. A motivation also for them to not be careless.

It’s very easy for me to question, at times, whether my “new and improved” way of homeschooling is good enough.  But after digging in further the past few weeks and beginning to settle into our routine a bit more, I’m slowly gaining confidence.

Collective gasp here — I’m not using an actual science and history curriculum. And at the moment, our language curriculum is a conglomeration of several things, not an actual curriculum.

You see, I feel like I’ve been defining curriculum a little ignorantly for awhile now.  Rather than say I’m not using a curriculum, I should actually say – we’re doing our own curriculum.
Because – curriculum is just the thing you teach, right?  And I’m definitely teaching.  And also – teaching them to learn on their own as well.  Which is totally exciting to see.

When your 10 year old is telling  you about what he has learned about sharks/Paul Revere/Abraham Lincoln, and your 8 year old is telling you what he has learned about blacksmithing — all from the books that are readily available, (ha! if you saw my house…) …and spread everywhere.  Not kidding.  There are books in every room of the house.  Bathroom.  Living room.  Dining room/School Room.  Kitchen – the ones waiting to be put away. Each bedroom. They are EVERYWHERE. Oh! And there are usually some in the vehicle as well, because it would be a crying shame to actually have to be in the car for longer than 15 minutes without something to read.

In the living room occasionally I put away the stacks that have accumulated, and spread out a new “feast” before their eyes.  And they dive in again. Which I just absolutely love to see.

Now that I’ve revealed that shocking truth, that I have not shelled out cash for a prewritten curriculum,  I will tell you what we do.  This week, I told Mr. J, when breakfast chores were finished, to grab a book that was interesting to him, and pick out something to tell us about.  He picked out one of our big books on Animal Wildlife, and found the water buffalo.

So, we read some facts about water buffalo. (Longest measured horns were 13 feet, tip to tip, who’da thunk it?)  Well, while we were reading, one of the boys spotted a bird on the bird feeder that was different than we had seen before.  (Can you imagine my excitement to hear them saying “HEY!! LOOK!! A NEW BIRD!!”  -I know, I know.  It doesn’t sound that exciting.  But they are completely, in a child-like way, awake to the environment and science happening all around them.That is exciting, folks.  Much more so than seeing rote answers on a piece of paper.)

We took a couple pictures, looked it up, and decided it was either a house finch or a purple finch.  We can add it to the list on the board up in our dining room, now.  Ok.  Back to water buffalo.   I had one child read about the water buffalo, then both boys got out their composition notebooks. (Using those for EVERYTHING.  They’re cheap.  They don’t lose pages or come undone like spiral bound.)    For Mr. E, I had him copy about 4 sentences about the water buffalo in cursive in his notebook. All had to be VERY (I’m a stickler) neatly written, only one mistake allowed unless you want to redo it….   And Mr. J had to write two sentences.     So far, we have gotten science under their belt, studying two animals, and then connecting it to English by practicing writing complete sentences with good capitals and punctuation.   For spelling, I do Dictation. A year ago I had heard that word, but didn’t have any idea what it meant.  Basically,  I choose a sentence or two for them to study, pick out words they may have trouble with, study those in particular, writing each one down.  When they are ready, I read the sentence out loud, and they are to write it down with perfect spelling.  If they miss any words, they are then required to write those words several times.  The next day we do the same sentence(s) until they do it perfectly.  Then we go on to another sentence.  I’ve used sentences from the main read-aloud we are doing,  a book they are reading, a Bible verse, a verse from poetry, you name it.

So in the last several weeks we have done lots of different things.  Our read-aloud along with the history we are learning is Johnny Tremain, set in the time period of Paul Revere/John Hancock/American Revolution etc. and it’s about a young boy who is a silversmith apprentice, learning some hard lessons about himself and pride.  They have also been reading biographies about Benjamin Franklin and Paul Revere – and Mr. E is working through writing out “Paul Revere’s Ride” for his copywork each day.

Today I decided to read to them about the history of a hymn.  We read about “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”, its author and the inspiration, and listened to a beautiful accapella version of it online.

I’ve also been having the boys each read from the Bible as we begin our day, with one reading a Psalm and one a Proverb.  Is there any better way to get reading practice?  Sometimes I or they will read a poem on other days.

Each day looks different.  We have identified a snake, several spiders, some birds, a luna moth caterpillar, an eastern newt, among several other things. I bought sketchbooks, which is pretty much where all their drawings go.  In them are drawings of state maps from books we have read, a map of the original 13 colonies, drawings of some of the animals/insects we have identified, drawings of animals we have studied, pictures drawn from books we have read…. and the list goes on.   and it is just so much fun.  One big place to put everything – science, history, etc. And even this far into the year it’s exciting to look back in their composition notebooks and sketchbooks and see how much their drawings show and how much their handwriting has improved.

The goal?  Truth. Goodness. Beauty.  And every day doesn’t look like the ones I described. Some days are an exercise in patience. A battle to get everyone settled.  But it’s ok! Because there isn’t any rule book that says you are supposed to complete every subject every day.  The other day they all had migrated outside and were playing and imagining and building so many wonderful things that I was hard-pressed to ruin something so beautiful.  A day in the week previous found my boys switching tires from bikes and making new creations from some old rusty things that had previously been deemed dump-worthy.  How could I interrupt that?  I want them to learn to use the imagination and creativity that God gave them – whether it be in building a fort, a new bike from something old, or a story about hunting The Big Buck.

After all, there are only so many summers in a child’s life.  And who says that the freedom of summer must be abandoned once September comes?  And the joy of lit-up eyes, the wonder that comes from discovery of wild and furry creatures, naming them and knowing who they are, might be a little taste of the Eden that Adam experienced when God gave him the delight of naming them.    This is a science curriculum couldn’t satisfy me more.

 

 

simple joys.

A fresh tomato, bacon, and avocado sandwich. And the way the juice escapes down your chin when you bite into it.

Popcorn made by Mr. J.  With lots of melted butter and salt.  This is why we like it so well, I’m sure.

The giggle at a silly song sung at naptime.  (I would probably giggle too if someone sang me a song from the top of their head regarding a mouse named Bill who lived in a pink house and ate purple cheese and took a nap every afternoon.  Purple cheese? Seriously. Where does this stuff come from?!)

The way my small girl’s skin is so soft, fresh and warm. And the way it feels for the same small girl’s hand to slip into mine while we walk somewhere.

The taste of ambrosia cantaloupe, (cold from the fridge and picked from our garden), with a sprinkle of salt to highlight it’s decadent sweetness.

The faith of a 4 year old.. “Well, Mommy.. we just need to pray, don’t we?”  And then bows her head in the middle of the Sam’s aisle and proceeds to do just that.

How a glass of cold-brewed coffee can make an afternoon quiet time seem doubly refreshing and bright.

Laundry, nearly finished.

The glory of a bed made, and the way it makes me feel as though many items have been crossed off of a to-do list.

An impromptu supper with a friend, enjoying a grilled hamburger topped with mushrooms and onions.  And cheese.  Lest I forget that creamy, provolone deliciousness that bound all the toppings of this burger together…

 

Knowing that my emotions or my flaws… do not change my position as the daughter of The King.

How transformational it is to deal with all of life starting with Thank You.

Thank You, Jesus,  that You already crushed my sin.

Thank You that You know me.

Thank You that You see me as whole.

Thank You for already giving me all I need in order to parent the children You have given me, and that in each moment, You will provide thoughts, words and discipline strategies for each child and each situation.

Thank You that there isn’t any condemnation in You– not for yelling, not for pushing the snooze on my alarm clock, not for my dirty house and dusty ceiling fans, not for laundry that never gets put away, not for putting my foot in my mouth, not for the weeds in my flowerbeds…. not for all the things I too often condemn myself for.  There isn’t condemnation in You, Jesus, and that is such a relief.

Thank You that my weakness doesn’t mean failure, it means You’re strong.  Which is mind boggling and awesome and makes it so it’s silly to try to depend on me at all.  Obviously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a truth to transform the mundane.

For years I’ve been waiting for The Day. The Day when I wake up, refreshed and mentally, spiritually and emotionally whole . I’ve bought a lot of books (many are very good.) on how to organize, pray better, read better, study better, mother better, wife better, friend better, daughter of God better.

I’ve made resolutions, (many are very good.) had accountability partners, furiously wrote notes from sermons, had a lot of conversations, cried, been depressed, and tried to do it well again and again and again.

None of these things are bad, in and of themselves.  They just miss the point.

The point?
Well. I’m learning some new things lately.

Jesus didn’t just die to save me from my sin.
He didn’t just die so we could be reunited in eternity.

He didn’t just die for me to be baptized, and be blessed for it.

He died to transform me into His image

Notice that He didn’t die so  that I could transform me into His image.

He does the work. He did the work.  The work that He did is finished.

When I accepted Him, He made me pure.  Whole.

Completely complete in Him.

And yes, He had to die because I sinned – but the thing is, He saw my worth and your worth when He hung there.  He never once lost sight of what we look like when we are transformed into His image.  And it isn’t something that we get an accountability partner to make happen –

It simply means that I fall on my face before Him, and ask.

Now.  I’ve been taught all my life about the simplicity of the Gospel.  But I never understood that it was really this simple.

And that my whole self/selfishness/life/everything has to be recognized by me as DEAD.  All dead.  Lifeless.

Let’s just say that I’m pretty sure none of these thoughts are that profound, but I’m just now wrapping my mind around a lot of this. 

What if the problem I have – we have – is that we really don’t understand the depth of the worth that Jesus sees in us?  That we have value Actual VALUE?

He made us to be His image -bearers, walking around on the earth, knowing how much we are worth in Him (mind you, not anything we have done). So that we could in turn help other people know how much they are worth.  and that none of us were created for the destiny we have created for ourselves and bought into as normal of struggle, overwhelm, anger, ISSUES, unkindness, etc.

What if you and I were so completely undone by the magnitude of our worth in Jesus that you couldn’t make me mad?  Yeah, I get all ramped up inside when (like this morning) one child is angry because he has to do a chore, another one is crying because breakfast didn’t happen soon enough to suit her, and PLEASE CAN I HAVE A SHOWER?

I did get a shower.  (It does help one’s perspective.)  And somehow knowing my worth in Jesus calmed me down and helped me breathe “Thank You, Jesus for a sunny day and children who are alive and healthy” while I calmed everyone down beforehand.  Somehow knowing that Jesus values me helped me encourage the one who grouched his way through a chore before breakfast.  Somehow the fact that I got up late and was exhausted from two girls who took 2 hours to go to sleep last night and were up again in the middle of the night with various poddy/drink/mommy needs hasn’t completely derailed my day and I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the fact that….  Jesus actually thinks that I truly matter, and that I get to wake up every morning pure and whole and holy because He totally has me and it’s not my job to fight every battle I face.  

Why do we make complicated this simple grace?

Why don’t we start today with a laugh and a grin, and an adoration-song on our lips for the beautiful grace He’s given us?   Why don’t we notice the sparkling dishes out of the dishwasher, the fresh laundry smell, and the giggle of the girl-child, and let it be a love letter from our Papa?   Because it is – it really is.

He says you’re worth it.  He says you’re still worth it. He says you’re worth it no matter what you’ve done, how you’ve acted, or what you do tomorrow.  Because He’s got that view of what you look like when you fall on your face before Him and say “Jesus, make me like You. Do it all.  Because I can’t do it well any other way.”

The truth is – we don’t have to wait for The Day… it’s already here. He’s already said we are worth more than the world to Him.  And anything or anyplace we come to that is good and right comes directly from His transforming work in our lives.  All the books, all the accountability partners, while good, are nothing in comparision to the Holy Spirit alive and moving and whispering in our hearts.  He is all we need.  He is everything.  And He says we are worth everything to Him.

Let’s let this transform our mundane.