12.15.2008

Heads-up for homeschool moms

I had the funniest dream last night.  I was at a homeschool conference and had paid $15 to attend some kind of unspecified special session.  We were all seated in an auditorium when the presenter and two helpers instructed us to all put on our coats.  There was a flurry of activity as we obeyed.  Then on the floor at the bottom of either side of the stage the helpers turned on two tall black smokestack-looking machines, which hummed and puffed out some kind of mist.  The presenter told us all to lay down as best we could in our seats, snuggling down in our coat-blankets, that the mist was going to help us all go to sleep. 


By now I was thinking this was all pretty weird, so I was fighting the effects of the sleep-mist, looking around and trying to figure out what was going on.  The rest of the gals in the auditorium started passing out poppies-of-Oz style.  I struggled to stay awake, on my guard, while most of the alloted session-hour went by.  I was getting pretty mad by now at the false advertising and waste of our money. 


At the end, the presenter woke the audience and said,"Okay, ladies, this is what this was all about.  Most of you moms never get enough sleep so we thought we would build a nap into your day. You may go now."


Ha!  So either I was really tired...or you need to go and get a nap!! 

12.09.2008

A glorious way to start a day...

Shoveling!


We had a good snow last night so I was out early to clear the driveway and sidewalk.  For some reason, this morning it was breathtaking.  The sun was starting to peek out, touching shades of gold and pink over the treetops and sending sparkles glittering everywhere.  Once again I was struck at how snow beautifies everything--each little twig, dry grassblade, fence post are draped and softened by the white blanket. 


And I was reminded anew of the funny 'revelation' that the snow brings:  tracks of animals here and there telling of their secret lives we don't normally see--stray cats, dogs, skunks, rabbits, squirrels, perhaps even red foxes.


It was good to breathe crisp, fresh air, good to have legs and arms that work, strength to meet the need, eyes to see the masterpiece the Lord had painted this morning.  Good to be alive!

12.05.2008

Christmas season encouragement

Well, we're already knee-deep into Christmas and feeling the pressure.  How about you?  So many extra activities, extra planning, extra fun, extra money to spend, and still with our already-full schedule to do it in.  I'm working a bit ahead this year as we're visiting relatives for the holidays and I need to get everything done early--which, while the prospect is utterly delightful, the time between now and then is really crammed.


BUT!...I had the neatest encouragement from the Word this morning and wanted to share it with you.  Hope it lifts your day.


Proverbs 2:5-7 says, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil.  It will be health to your flesh and strength to your bones."  A very familiar and beloved passage.


However, here's a great insight.  The word direct in the Hebrew (yashar) means "to make straight and right."   By casting my care in childlike trust on the Lord, He will straighten out...my day, my plans, my responsibilities, my interruptions, my failures--all of it.  Those are just words of life to me!


Also, note the double idea "don't trust your own understanding" and "don't be wise in your own eyes."  I admit that when I struggle with frustration or disappointment, it's usually because I had A PLAN, not necessarily God's.  Sometimes it's hard to understand His wisdom when I'm in the middle of something, but if He says I need to trust Him with all my heart, then I am really free from having to make everything work out.  What a relief.


And hey, did you notice the fringe benefits?  Health!  Strength!  I'll gladly take that. 


May your paths be especially made "straight and right" today!

11.30.2008

Love and wholeness


I have been struck afresh at how fascinating it is that a dog can love us.  Our puppy's abject devotion is so freely given--where does she get it?  She is a creation of God and thus is part of the Kingdom of Love, designed to both give and receive love.  When we love her back in the ways she needs it--food, affection, recognition, praise, play and interaction--her happiness and contentment knows no bounds.  Her angst and tension disappear and with her cup full, she's off to chew a bone, take a nap, whatever.


It's an amazing thought to follow through.  How different are we?  Not at all.  We were designed by Love to be loved and give love, which gives both us and others the wholeness we need.  Giving love, in all its forms and manifestations, really, is our fundamental purpose in life.  We give a smile, an encouraging word, we meet a need, listen (truly listen!), or share a gift and so are giving a piece of the daily wholeness someone else needs.  Isn't this what our wonderful Lord does for us all day, every day?  Expressions of His love to bring us wholeness and life.


It's a sobering thought to realize that every angry word, act of impatience or selfishness, or withholding of what another needs is actually breaking the Law of Love--and not participating with God's intent for every being he made.


Ouch.  All this from my puppy.  And yet what a different cast this can put on my day if I will embrace it and do it!

11.29.2008

Snow!

Well, our first snow appeared last night, just in time for some holiday fun.  SweetPea had a ball sledding with friends and came home bubbling with the excitement of wet and fun and hot chocolate.  It was hilarious to watch the puppy explore the new white world outside--gingerly stepping one paw at a time in the fluff, then suddenly tearing around the whole yard in circles as fast as she could, panting, pausing to eat it or roll in it, then off again.  We forget that so many experiences are 'firsts' for her.


We had such a great day yesterday...had a walk with Hubby in the crisp, storm-coming air, then the three of us spent hours in front of the fireplace wrapping Christmas presents and watching The Sound of Music.  Holidays are often so busy that it was wonderful to just be together and savor the moments.


And I'm praising the Lord for sending my laptop back to me fixed and in perfect running order!  Wow, I feel like I have my wings back.


It's been a beautiful long weekend in which I am Thanks-giving.


11.23.2008

A new look

Well, I've been fussing with my blog and experimenting with the HTML stuff--certainly a learning experience!  It's still not the way I want it but an improvement I think.  For my regular readers, bear with me...it might go through a few more morphs before I'm done!


 

11.13.2008

Catching up

Well, it's been too long since I posted but honestly, I do have some great excuses!  Start with a dragged-out cold, add an unusual number of outside activities, throw in some early panic that Christmas is closer than you think, and for a grand finale, pour a mug of hot tea all over your open, running laptop and voila!--there you have a recipe for Neglect the Blog.  (Really, I didn't pour the tea on purpose, you know--I tripped and the tea did the rest.  )  Anyway, said computer is on it's way to a hospital in Texas where I hope they will be able to doctor it up and send it home well.  (Oh, Lord, please!)

In the midst of our jam-packed schedule, we have been able to stay steadily at school, SweetPea and I, albeit not as thoroughly as I would wish.  I was getting frustrated at the big bite Saxon math was taking out of our day, sometimes as much as two hours, so I made the executive decision to limit math to one hour a day during our busy times--just work at whatever and not necessarily try to complete a lesson a day.  I've been amazed at how it's helped us get other stuff done.  (Now why didn't I think of this sooner?!  By the time we finish high school I'll have all this stuff figured out.)

So here's what we're working on this week, besides math:
    - overview of our solar system, starting with the sun; I'm having her do a diagram/fact sheet for each heavenly body
    - Reading Detective (literary analysis)  
    - Keys to Good Language for grammar review
    - Wordly Wise for vocabulary study
    - poetry analysis and writing a couple of them
    - ROME! - Genevieve Foster's "Augustus Caesar's World," "Beyond the Desert Gate" read-aloud, "Eagle of the Ninth" read-aloud (this one is really well-written), "The Bronze Bow" reader
    - mini-report on Hadrian's Wall
    - I hope to work in a couple of art lessons on ancient Rome
    - SweetPea is also working on a fun piano composition called "Menagerie," a suite of vignettes of African animals on the savannah, really expressive and fun.

I have to put in a plug for Sonlight here--this is the most amazing curriculum.  It's all we've ever used and I am utterly sold on using literature for history rather than textbooks.  What a way to learn, benefitting from someone's thorough research and digging deep into cause & effect, etc.  It's our best part of the day and I am incredibly thankful to be getting the education I didn't get the first time around!

Here in Colorado we're having a really mild fall, not even snow yet except in the mountains.  We've loved the long display of colors and are finally tackling the last rake-up.  It's been wonderful to enjoy the sunshine and gentle temps this long.  Hubby told me today that we're near to setting a record for such a late snowfall--set back in the 1930s!

And oh, joy...gas is down to $1.97 a gallon today!

Well, 'nuf for now.  God bless your day!

10.18.2008

A homeschool guilt bites the dust

I don't know about you, but homeschooling has brought with it an assortment of guilts, big and little, subtle and not-so-subtle.  You know...I'm not doing enough--academics, foreign language, sports, hospitality, housecleaning, correspondence, keeping up with friendships, yardwork--whatever.


Well, the Lord showed me how to be free of one of them today!  A guilt I carry nearly daily is that of not having enough time in His Word.  No matter how I try, my quiet time seems so often sabotaged by the urgent and it's so hard to get it back before bedtime.  Sound familiar?  Probably one of the more effective tactics of the enemy since it's so critical to our life on every level.


This morning He reminded me about the manna in the wilderness.  The more obvious analogy to us today is that of their need to gather it every morning; so do we, yes.  But remember when He said that he that gathered much didn't have more than enough and he that gathered little had plenty?  It all evened out by His hand of balance.  So I saw that even when I only have time to gather a little (a few minutes?  a verse or two?), He can and will meet my need for spiritual sustenance--and that without guilt.  He knows what my responsibilities are and He is well able to make it be just what I need.


It is for freedom Christ set us free!

10.05.2008

A picture of faithfulness

Last night we attended a 50th anniversary celebration of a dear pastor and his wife.  Family and friends shared some great stories and honored them with thanks for so many years of faithfulness to the Lord and His causes.  Some particular thoughts really spoke to my heart and challenged me afresh in my own walk with the Lord and His call on my life:


- As a couple, they are known for loving people, for taking them just as they are and loving them into the kingdom.  Practical, sacrificial love.


- In tandem with that is their ability to build relationships.  Everyone is important to them, everyone has value and is highly esteemed.


- They are known for nurturing people into their own ministries, pushing them out of the ministry nest and helping them succeed.  They've spoken vision and confidence and the Word into countless peoples' lives, which is truly Jesus' mandate to us to go and "make disciples." 


- They are people of astonishing vision, working in nearly 200 countries to plant churches, travelling several times a year overseas to minister--and they plan on another good twenty years to reach the world for Christ.


- They are some of the most hospitable people I've ever known.  Their home is a place of welcome to young and old alike, Bible studies and meetings, parties and showers--and for fifty years!  In this day of societal disconnect, I find this quality one of the most significant ministries possible.  Homeschooling demands have eroded this priority in my own life, but before the Lord I want to boost it back up where it belongs!


- They had many kids and grandkids there celebrating with them, all of them serving the Lord in some capacity and growing into their own ministries.  What a testimony!  They had an adopted daughter and granddaughter from China, and many in both generations were or are homeschooled.


- I also loved the thoughts they shared about marriage, confessing that though they are complete opposites, they worked from an inviolable commitment to each other before the Lord and obedience to His Word, and have tried to always give each other grace in the difficult moments.


One of the women who spoke of the wife's influence on her own life said, "There aren't too many people in this world whom you could say you wanted to be like.  But I can say of B. - I want to be like her."  I agreed with her, and went home thanking the Lord for people like this couple who go before us and show us how it's done.  May the Lord help me, help us all, to be faithful to His call and commands!



9.17.2008

Homeschooling an only

Every so often SweetPea and I have to have a pep talk about her being an only child--this week was one of those times.  She would love a sibling and since that's just not a probability, we have to go back to the basics--God has defined our family as it is and how do we live richly and with contentment within that definition?


I can't blame her.  It's often a lonely road and we are challenged to bring about that balance she wants.  We live in a neighborhood with no kids she can play with and puppies don't talk, P.E. is really boring (like how exciting is jump-rope?), we have to be careful not to be too demanding on friends and not to feel pushed to do too many outside activities to compensate.  All cousins and extended family live in another state.  Her mom has to be mom and teacher and friend and playmate, and when you're the whole student body, there's just not a lot of room for mess-up!


I've often told her she is having a unique opportunity to become good friends with herself.  People often live lives filled with so much activity and other people that if ever they are faced with significant aloneness, they are at a loss.  So I encourage her to write and develop all kinds of creativity...and to get to know Jesus, who is her best Friend.


I've grown to trust the Lord's leadership in her life, too.  Since her life is appointed as it is, He is arranging experiences for her that are tailor-made to teach her what she'll need to live a successful life.  For example, I keenly miss the lessons she would learn about unselfishness and care of others that she would have if she had brothers and sisters.  But she is learning these same things in friendships, both by experience and by observation.  And she'll certainly learn such things when it's her turn to be a mom, won't she?!


When it comes to homeschooling, I do feel pressure to "do it right" this first time around since it's my only time time around!  I'm working on that.  Part of me would love to just take a whole year and do all the fun and unschooling-sort-of stuff Right Brain whispers to me.  Alas, Left Brain usually shakes such nonsense out of me and we press on.  BUT, SweetPea told me just the other day that she is really enjoying all of school this year so I have no plans to rock the boat.


God is good!  I'm thankful He didn't leave me out of this fabulous journey of homeschooling.  One kid or many, I think it's one of the most exciting things going on the planet.



 

9.10.2008

God's tender mercies

I've been thinking much in recent months about the very great and faithful mercies of the Lord.  I've had so many situations that were just beyond me to handle...to have strength for my day after a poor night's sleep, to juggle the full schedule, to make a decision, or even be faithful in the daily requirements.  And yet, just at the point of need, I have seen His glorious mercy so evident in some tender and very personal way.


Today was one of those days.  Two days ago, the Puppy (see previous post!) got an allergic reaction to some medication and was SICK.  A trip to the vet, a trip to the store for medicine, and all the interruptions to tend to her needs did in whatever semblance of order to our school for two days.  This, after two weeks of disrupted home life just training and tending to her.  Aack!  I was over the top.  (Did I mention the word 'stressed'?)


But today--what a different story.  God's mercies covered us like a soothing blanket.  Puppy was better, I figured out a way to successfully (and quietly!) give her kennel time while we did school, I got dinner done on time--and my daughter even said she loved math!  Out of the ditch and back on the road.


So I was reminded once again, He "will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear, but will with the temptation give you a way of escape."  What a thoughtful, loving, ever-faithful and merciful Savior.  Thank You, Jesus!

9.03.2008

Timeline idea

I wanted to share a neat idea for a timeline that we're using this year in our history studies.  It's actually a composite of several I'd read about.  It requires the continuous-feed computer printer paper--you know, the kind none of us uses anymore!  Don't tear it apart, just tear off the strip with the holes and count out a page for every hundred years from 5000 or 6000 B.C. to now (a good idea is to use only one page for the early couple of millenia--we don't have much of a record of history then).  I split my timeline into two sections at 1 A.D. just for ease of handling.


Then draw a continuous timeline about halfway down through all the pages and label the 100 year marks.  I also made 50-year marks.  Write the B.C./A.D. year at the top corner on each side of each page.


The kids can add timeline dates either vertically or horizontally and color-code them using colored pencils for different categories--political, births and deaths, religious or scientific events, civilizations, etc.  They can draw pictures, paste in graphics, use stickers, whatever.


You can then keep it in a manila pocket folder.  The great thing is, they only have to have it opened to a double spread at any one time, but can stretch it out for the "big view" anytime.  It's working great for us and I envision this as something that can be used and kept for years.


Happy timelining!


 


9.02.2008

A puppy in our midst

Life has taken on a new dimension at our house in the form of an adorable black lab/terrier mix puppy named Sadie!  And...I had forgotten that an 11-week-old unhousebroken puppy is very like having a baby in the house!  Our week has been defined by chew toys, trips out to the yard, kennel training, manners training, quick-let's-get-some-school-done-while-she-sleeps sessions, and a lot of hilarious laughter.  God loves puppies!


We had to put down our 14-year-old border collie mix last Christmas (yeah, rotten timing) and it's taken me quite a while to feel I could take on a dog again.  Times have changed for me; when he was a puppy I had oodles of time to play and train and carry on.  But now I am a homeschooling mom who just can't take on more 'stuff.'  So I prayed for the Lord's mercy on our dog choice--a smart one, low maintenance, not a barker, quiet and adaptable.  We've got it all in Sadie and then some...quick learner, wants to obey, and as loving as can be.  So I feel I'm walking that mercy I asked for, and loving her to pieces.


(Can puppy training count for school?!?)


 

8.21.2008

Overwhelmed?

I've talked with several homeschool-mom friends in recent days, and one thing particularly stands out to me...they are STRESSED OUT.  To be honest, I feel the same way.  The causes are many for us:  maybe a too-busy summer with no time to fill up our empty wells, lots of outside commitments that drain off our extra time and leave us with no margin, illness, guests and vacations, etc.  Then suddenly it's school time again and we find ourselves poorly prepared and overwhelmed.


Sound familiar?  For some reason this year seems especially so.  I think we need to remember that we have an enemy out to do us in any way he can.  I'm having to start each day putting on my spiritual armor, casting my care on Jesus, declaring His Lordship over every part of my life, and looking to Him to order my hours and minutes.


If you're feeling this way, I want to pray for you.  There's power in agreement!


Heavenly Father, we thank You that we can bring our empty, exhausted, and overwhelmed lives to You for refreshing and help.  I pray for my sisters in Christ right now who need Your help and touch.  Your Word declares that we are equipped and anointed to do Your will, that Jesus is our Peace, our Wisdom, our Victory, our very Life.  We ask for understanding and revelation for each day...for wisdom in decision-making and prioritizing...for patience with our children...for joy in the journey.


We praise you for this wonderful privilege of homeschooling.  Help us to keep our focus on the big picture--making disciples for the Lord.  Help us to keep our minds renewed in Your Word, and to see the little blessings you send our way each day.  Thank You for Your incredible promises and help us to take them by faith, expecting to see their manifestation right now, today.


You are SO GOOD and we love You!  In Jesus' Name, Amen.


Have a blessed day!

8.13.2008

Summer's end


We've been back to school for a week now, but I must confess it's been slow going for both of us. Summer ease has spoiled us for a disciplined routine--we're too quick to give in to the lure of a break for any reason! It'll come, I know, I'm just loathe to let go of the simplicity of sunshine and play.


Don't you love August? Red, juicy tomatoes and perfectly ripe melons, peaches that drip with each bite. The din of crickets at night. Flowers exploding with color everywhere you look. Gardens that are finally yielding the fruit of your hard labors. Green, green, green. Thank You, Lord!


Our studies this year, 7th grade for SweetPea, include Sonlight's Core 6, Saxon 8/7 math, Apologia General Science, and some fun add-ons. I'm pleasantly surprised with Saxon. We've done Singapore and Horizons and had heard a fair bit of negative press about Saxon. However, we're finding that the explanations are solid and clear, daily problem set varied, and good review presented. Even the drill seems good for her this year as a prep for Algebra next, so I'm pleased. Best of all, she loves it! This from my non-math girl.


So...by God's grace, I'm expecting a good year. He is so faithful.


8.11.2008

By Way of Introduction


Hello!  Thanks for stopping by to visit!  I have finally gotten my blog going after letting the idea simmer on the back burner for a while, so let me introduce myself.


           


I’m mom to a precious 12-year-old daughter, a miracle child given to us by the Lord when it seemed like it couldn’t or wouldn’t happen.  I’m wife to a wonderful, godly man who shares my passion for the Lord and His Word and is the dearest friend one could have.  When I’m not homeschooling or tending to the other million things we gals fill our time with, I love to read, spend time with friends over tea (jasmine green tea, to be specific!), be outdoors gardening or hiking or biking or camping; I also enjoy writing, nature journaling, cooking and trying new recipes, sewing, and crafts.  Fortunately, my daughter is a kindred spirit, so most of these things are extra-fun because she does them with me.


 


We’ve homeschooled from the beginning, happily using Sonlight as our curriculum (read: love all those fabulous books!).  Hubby is a vital part of all we do, adding a wonderful dimension to everything from P.E. to car maintenance.  We’re part of a great support group and I can’t imagine homeschooling with it!


 


My hope is to share all sorts of things here—homeschooling tips I’ve learned, riches and encouragement from the Word, even nutrition information and recipes that have become vital to our family through some health challenges in recent years.


 


So please come back again.  God bless you today!