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Showing posts from 2009

Christmas joy

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Whew!  I think the rush of Christmas is over for another year...at least I'll be able to say that when I get my Christmas cards done!  It's the one thing that I just couldn't squeak in, but I'm hopeful it will happen before New Year's.
We had a lovely, lovely Christmas.  It was just the three of us this year, but memorable and sweet.  And yes, we even had a white one!  It was fun to have no schedule and just savor the crackling fire, good tea and good food, play games, and explore our presents.  I got well into Sarah Palin's new biography (well-written!) and worked on our yearly Christmas puzzle.  After a busy month of teas, parties, and special events, it was good to enjoy God's Peace.  I've just been overwhelmed the past few days pondering on the goodness of the Lord to us, how incredible it is to be the object of His love and care.  The Incarnation is still the most staggering thought, the best "Good News" we could ever have received.
Christm…

Some Christmas reads

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This week we've read aloud "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever"--what a fun book!  We laughed and cried with it, and said to each other how well written it was.  Very good message of how the church has portrayed Christianity, not always in the most clear or welcoming light.  I'm glad for the fresh reminder of Christ's unconditional love.
I remembered we have a very old copy of "The Christmas Carol," annotated for school studies way back when, so we're going to read this aloud as a family in the next couple of weeks.  Who doesn't know this story by heart--with all the many spin-offs we've seen or heard?  But there's just nothing like pure Dickens.  I subscribe to The Writer magazine, and in the most recent issue, one article pointed out how excellent Dickens was at characterization.  So we'll piggyback some writing study along with our Christmas enjoyment.
(Ever the homeschoolers, right?   )

Today

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Cold, cold, cold!  Right now it's 6 degrees outside our breakfast nook window, headed for a high of 17.  For those of you who live far away in warmer climes, enjoy it!  We're actually enjoying this wintery weather, though I would like it a tad warmer.
Today is the only day this week we don't have to be somewhere outside of the house, so we get to homeschool all day.  Yay!  So much going on this time of year that it's a treat to be home for a whole day...
- SweetPea's got both math and science tests, as well as editing a story she's submitting to Vision Forum's story contest.  She and I are also planning a Christmas tea for some of our friends next week, so we're finalizing our plans for that.  Seemed like a good year to do this for us, with some good experience in all that hospitality entails.  And she's mad at work on a piano composition she has to have ready for her teacher in a couple of weeks.  It's a duet, which is harder to write.
- We're…

Changing churches

This is one of those things I really dislike--finding a new church.  It's like moving; you leave behind old friends and connections, have to go through the whole adjustment to a new body and how they do things, try to find the right classes for everyone, and forge new relationships.  Sometimes the reasons for leaving a church are unpleasant or hurtful, leaving you aching and cautious.  And inevitably you leave behind some good things that can make you wonder if you did the right thing.
Well, we've moved on to a new church without all that!  It's been an amazing experience, peaceful and full of blessing.  For several years we've gone to a very large church, a wonderful one, but this last year it was becoming obvious that things were changing for us, not the least of which was SweetPea.  She found she really disliked the youth culture/youth group and got involved as a Sunday School helper instead.  While that's good experience, we were concerned at the lack of spiritu…

Form follows function

One of the interesting things I've observed about our daughter growing up is how her changing stages affect the functionality of our home.  Just when I have the rooms of the house organized, and furniture set to meet needs in each room, and shelves, drawers, and closets in good order, I wake up one morning and realize that "we" have moved on and need a whole new 'functionality.'
So today I'm looking in our schoolroom--which only a few months ago was 'set' for the next five years (ha!)--and I realize that SweetPea is hardly ever in here!  With a new desk in her room, that is where she chooses to do school.  Or curled up on the couch.  Or sprawled on the floor somewhere.
I suddenly notice that bins of crayons and markers, stacks of construction paper, math manipulatives, and other elementary-years stuff, won't probably be needed anytime soon.  (Do high schoolers still color?)
Which means that maybe I can put away some of these irrelevant items and move…

A visitor, a play week, and a good book

A fun week on the way...no school!  One of those privileges of homeschooling.  We started school early in August to be able to take some time off during the year, this week being one of them.  My beloved aunt, who is like a big sister to me, is coming to visit from AZ and we're gonna play.
I'm looking forward to endless cups of tea and some rollicking laughter.  I don't know if it's our chemistry or what, but my aunt and I can laugh till we're crying.  I'm due for some of that!  She is one of the neatest people I know and one of my all-time heroes.  (She was The Agent that introduced my beloved Hubby to me!)  She had a long career in missions, serving in South and Central America, retired now, but still full of the joy and zeal of the Lord.  I'm glad SweetPea is going to have the chance to just soak her up this week and glean some treasures.
And wouldn't you know it...we're welcoming her with SNOW!  We're due for some tomorrow and more later in th…

And fall danced...

Funny the small drama that played out around me on my walk yesterday. The wind, though not cold, blew and blustered around me in fits and gusts, no rhyme or reason to its direction. It blew and drove clouds of gold, red, and brown leaves about my feet, rattling and dancing and scuttling and swirling across the road in front of me. Trees bent to its invisible force, releasing their burden of colored leaves in showers about me, looking for all the world like flocks of birds scattering in wild array across the crystal blue Colorado sky.
The scene sparkled with action and color and aliveness. Neighbors raked and tried to keep up with the piles-in-the-making, and in the distance I could hear the drums of a high school marching band practicing for a game...homecoming, maybe? How good to be able to walk and smell and hear and see all the richness about me.  How good to see the Lord's hand everywhere.  He loves fall, too.
A wonderful time of year!

Fall fell...

...literally!  We've had a few days of very cold weather, freezing temps at night, and a lot of our leaves have simply fallen off en masse, without the beautiful golds or oranges.  Just a dead, blah, greenish-brown.  For those trees that didn't succumb to the cold, I'm hoping for a few weeks of Indian summer now so we can have some color to enjoy.
Had a fun visit from my sis and her husband this weekend, and though we had to bundle up against the chilly temps, it was cozy with a fire in the fireplace, an old movie, and some fun hanging out.  We don't have any of our families living nearby so it's always quite a treat when any of them visit.
My brother-in-law put me onto a free Bible software program, E-Sword.  In case you've never heard of it--wow.  It's amazing!  You can download it here.  Most of the resources are free:  Bibles, dictionaries, commentaries, graphics, etc., though some require purchase.  It has some great functionality, though; definitely wor…

A lovely weekend

This was one of those 'satisfying' weekends.  We took a drive through the mountains to see the fall colors, marvelling again at the stupendous scope of God's handiwork.  Smells, vistas, reds, yellows, oranges...wow.  Amazing and utterly refreshing.
Come fall two things always happen to me...I want to cook and I want to sew.  So I had a happy afternoon doing both.  Made Swedish meatballs and creamed potatoes for last night's dinner, (recipe for the meatballs is on my Healthy Living blog), and sewed up a couple of little fleece dog jackets for Sadie the dog.  She's a short-hair and gets cold so easily.  Fleece was easy--doesn't need hemming and I just sewed velcro on for closures.  Fun.
We're well into another of Genevieve Foster's great history books in our school studies, George Washington's World.  We just love these books!  Sonlight's Core 6 had two of them, Augustus Ceasar's World, and Colombus and Sons, and we have yet to read Abraham Lin…

Need some strength?

In case you're tired and feeling like you can't pull it together for another week, here's good news!  In the Great Exchange, the Lord gives us His strength for our weakness.  I'm drinking at this well today!
"The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace."  Ps. 29:11
"Your God has commanded your strength; strengthen, O God, what You have done for us."  Ps. 68:28
"Let the weak say, 'I am strong.'"  Joel 3:10
"...the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold."  Neh. 8:10 (Amplified)
"As for God, His way is perfect...It is God Who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect."   Ps. 18:30, 32
"Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart.  Wait, I say, on the Lord."  Ps. 27:14
"He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength--causing it to multiply and making it abound...those who wait for th…

A lesson from the leaves

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It's a cold, drizzly, gray day here, with snow falling in the high country.  Seems like summer was just in its fullness and yet here's the evidence that fall is really upon us!
I looked out the kitchen window this morning and saw that our aspen trees are edged with gold.  Their changing is so subtle, a bit every day, and yet within a few weeks they are transformed into a mass of brilliant gold.  It reminded me of something I've been pondering recently--the concept that most things with God follow the Law of Progression.  We want quick change, immediate answers, instant fruit, but that's just not how He's set it up.
Whether it the need for healing in our bodies, or character issues that cause us to stumble, the building of a business or the discipling of a new believer...it's all progression.  We homeschooling moms are doing this everyday, building precept upon precept, line upon line, academic and spiritual, until one day we see that "it came to pass." …

Character curriculum for young ladies

For the past couple of years we have been using a wonderful character curriculum I wanted to share with you.  Some of you may already be involved with this.  It's called "Bright Lights," developed by Sarah Mally who has also authored "Before You Meet Prince Charming" and "Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends."  This is actually a program that is conducted in home studies with groups of young ladies ages 10-14, and Sarah offers conferences as well to provide further training and encouragement.  You can read more about it at their website.
We attempted to do it as a group but it didn't work, so SweetPea and I have been doing it as part of our morning devotions.  I highly recommend the studies!  Sarah writes in a very conversational manner and includes lots of testimonionals from girls who have learned something valuable from their Bright Lights studies that has changed them.
The program is written in sets, each centered around a theme such as &quo…

A great first week

We had a really wonderful first week back at school, better than my expectations--all thanks to the Lord!  We're both really happy with our new schedule, liking our studies, and I think overall, really grateful for the balance the Lord has brought to our homeschooling life.  It's something I've been working at for a couple of years.  I know we'll have our ups and downs in the course of the year, but with a strong start, I'm encouraged and hopeful that we're on the Lord's track.
This year, Sweet Pea's 8th grade year, we're doing Sonlight's Core 7, the second half of a two-year world history adventure picking up at the late Renaissance.  The King's Fifth by Scott O'Dell is a captivating adventure that takes place in northern Mexico during Coronado's explorations (quite a look at the devastation the Spaniards' "gold fever" caused to the indigenous peoples).  And our read-aloud, A Murder for Her Majesty is giving us a very a…

Back to school!

We had a wonderful first day back at our homeschool today, thanks be to the Lord.  While we were both sad to have summer 'officially' ended, we both said it was good to be on a schedule and in a routine again.  And who can deny the thrill that comes with a new set of books and the prospect of new learning spread before you like a feast?
This school year brings us some changes as well, chief among them being SweetPea's desire for more independent learning.  So we're trying out a new schedule...and after one day, we like it!  We're up early and doing our 'together' work in the morning, then the rest of the day she's on her own.  Since we do Sonlight, I used the Instructor Guide page to add all the other studies--science, math, and out-and-about stuff for the week, made a copy for her, and she can govern her time to get it all done as she chooses.  She was a happy camper today, and I'm praising the Lord!
One of my summer goals was to look at our weekly s…

Jesus is winning!

We had a neat church service today.  Our pastor is just back from an evangelism conference in Hong Kong with 3,000 Christian world leaders in attendance.  It was thrilling to hear some of his report:
-  There were representatives from 100 countries there.  Of the 3,000 attendees, 1100 were from China!  What does that tell you?
-  God's work in India is accelerating in spite of the terrible persecution there.  In 2001, 2% of the population were baptized believers; in 2005, 7%; and now it's from 10%-12%.  Yay, Lord!
-  In China, the number of believers has multiplied 100 times in the last 60 years.  10% of the population is now Christian, meaning 160 million.  And this is largely through the underground church movement.
- The really ASTONISHING statement was the consensus of these leaders is that with the exponential growth of the spread of the gospel throughout the world, it is possible for every person on the planet to have heard the gospel within the next 10 years!!  According to…

I love the Sabbath

A wonderful rainy, thundery day here with tons of rain.  Wow, how we need it and how good of God to lavish this gift on us.  Second storm in 24 hours so surely our trees and growing things will explode with happy growth this week.  Good to have a legitimate excuse to nap, read, sip hot tea and soak in the refreshing, inside and out.
It's been a whirlwind few weeks here finishing up the end-of-year activities...a very fun Field Day with our support group, a mini-writer's conference for SweetPea and a couple of her friends, piano recital and Piano Guild for her, a few days' at-home vacation time with Hubby, and all the daily stuff.  Yet to come in the next couple of weeks are the push to finish Sonlight Core 6, SweetPea's biennial testing, switching out winter for summer clothes (you should see my mountain of ironing!), a wedding, and the fun prospect of a visit from a folks for a couple of weeks.  And of course, the yard work looms; I've hardly begun raking, much les…

All things bright and beautiful

I've been basking in the incredible joys of spring these past few days.  It's finally been both warm and sunny so we've been able to really enjoy our back yard.  And as with every year, I forget how astonishingly colorful the whole scene is, like Dorothy stepping out of the house that just landed in OZ.
The blessings of the week...
- lilacs bursting into bloom, dispensing their heady fragrance
- roly-polys, spiders, and flies doing their bug thing
- the sound of lawn mowers buzzing around the neighborhood
- smells of flowers, warm soil, fresh-cut grass
- gaudy splashes of pure flower color everywhere
- dirt under your fingernails you can't get clean
- a puppy crazy with spring excitement
- flip-flops and bare feet (too sensitive from a winter entombed)
- first sunburns
- first BBQ's, picnic lunches
- dinner on the patio to soak it all in
- green, green, green, green
- happy, happy, happy birds
- the end of school and schedule pressure, the prospect of lazy, free days stretching …

Why I like old movies

There are a lot of reasons, of course--nostalgia for a simpler, more virtuous time, quality stories, moral uprightness, wonderful actors.
But watching the original "Father of the Bride" with Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor last night for Friday Night Family Night, I was struck again with one of the very significant changes that has taken place in children and their relationship to their parents in our culture.
Throughout the movie, "Kay" was respectful and loving to her parents, trying to submit to their wisdom and keep the peace, quick to forgive and not hold a grudge, very connected relationally to them, especially her father.  No sassy talk or backtalk, no rebellious overtones in everything, no implications that her parents were the get-a-life dummies to be tolerated.  Even the young fiance showed the same basic respect and honor for his elders.
I've seen this in so many other old movies.  Two wonderful kid movies that come to mind are "Flicka" wit…

A great reading list

In trying to find some "screened" reading material for SweetPea, I remembered this wonderful resource I'd printed out some time ago.  It's put out by the Classical Education Support Group, called "1000 Good Books" and you can link to it here.  You may have heard of it.  If not, check it out--it's listed by age group (elementary through high school), anthologies, poetry, holiday reading, and classic literature.  Wonderful!

Sadness and peace

It's been an unsettling kind of week, the kind that drives you to the Word to get your bearings again.  A friend from our Sunday School class suddenly passed away a few days ago leaving a widow in very difficult circumstances.  A dear gal from our extended family lost her battle with cancer yesterday, which came as quite a shock as we all felt she was on the mend.  My older aunt fell and broke her arm.  And just listening to the news is enough to show that trouble is washing over this old planet on a scale we've never imagined.
But God!  To know that these two dear ones are now in His presence, free from suffering and receiving their "well done's" is really incredible.  And to be assured that for all the other trouble, God is lovingly and purposefully working out His plans.  Fear not!  Peace be still!  Rejoice!  These are not just abstract platitudes but bedrock assurances that in belonging to Him, we are free to have no fear, free to be at peace, and free to rejo…

Some R & R

Well, spring break is nearly done here and it's been a great week.  We've been so schedule-driven in recent months that it's been wonderful to just...do nothing!  While it makes me a bit nervous to be so unproductive, I recognize the need for rest and space to just be.
The weather was mostly cold and snowy on and off all week so we didn't get a lot of outdoor time.  But SweetPea finished reading the 8-book "Anne of Green Gables series" she's been on for a few weeks and we watched the movies to go with it--what a fun story.  In fact, she and a friend are going to reinact three funny scenes from it for a teen public speaking class she's a part of.
I don't even know what I did!  I think a lot of reading and thinking and keeping up with the basics of home and cooking.  I think we're both ready to get back to our school life now.
A school observation:  In the early part of our Sonlight Core 6 history studies this year we read D'Aulaires Greek Myth…

A wise woman

I've been challenged this morning in I Samuel 25, the story of David and Abigail, another wonderful picture of doing things God's way.
We see David, who is still living in the wilderness, hiding from Saul, sending messengers to Nabal requesting food for his men.  He reminds Nabal how respectful and helpful he and his men had been to to Nabal's sheepshearers before.  Nabal scorns him and refuses aid, acting according to the meaning of his name, "Fool."
Here is where David gets off track.  Normally, he seeks God in every situation and then obeys--"Shall I attack?  Shall I pursue?"  The Lord always gives him specific instructions and perfect victory is the result.  But here, David's mind of the flesh takes over and he reacts in anger, even making a rash vow to kill every male in Nabal's household.
Enter Abigail, Nabal's wife (her name means "source of joy").  She is declared in the Word as a "woman of good understanding," and s…

A call to PRAISE!

Some wonderful thoughts from Psalm 107 this morning...
"Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!  For His mercy endures forever.  Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy."
We are redeemed--"set free by avenging or repaying" according to Strong's.  It foreshadows the full work of Jesus' work on the cross for us.  But look at the fullness of our redemption:  we're redeemed from...being lost, hungry, thirsty, faint and longing... redeemed from affliction and distress caused by our own rebellion and rejection of God...redeemed from foolishness and sickness and sin...redeemed from trouble without and fear within...redeemed from poverty and lack, barrenness and loss and sorrow!
And what does He do for us in our redemption?  We are delivered from our destructions, led by the right way, established and satisfied, our chains broken and bars of iron cut in two, saved out of our distresses and healed of our sicknesses …

Spring fever

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I'm so glad it's spring break time at our house because we're dealing with a major case of spring fever!  The whole natural world around us is waking up early this year and it's nigh unto impossible to stay inside.  I can't wait to wrap my hands around a rake and start snipping with the pruning shears.  SweetPea and I spent a lazy morning today planning our gardens and some kind of "fort" project for her.
Let's see...how about a quick update on our lives...
...We're moving steadily through Sonlight's Core 6 and will probably finish it by the end of May.  I've really loved the in-depth study of world history this time around (we did an intro in Cores 1 & 2) and have really gotten a better picture of how things connected in the Roman and Medieval civilizations.  We loved "Master Cornhill" as a read-aloud and for the first time I really understand the Plague and the great fire of London.
...SweetPea is doing pretty well with Saxon …

A writer's checklist

In working on the third rewrite for a homeschooling article this past week, I learned (or re-learned!) an important lesson, one that I'm going to make sure I teach my daughter...that of really organizing your thoughts before you begin writing.
Sounds pretty elementary, I know.  Most language arts or writing programs we use in the homeschooling community teach this.  But I've seen again in my own writing that while you may think you know where you're going with a piece, you can quickly find yourself in a mucky swamp of words, not sure where you're headed or how to get out of the mud.
So I'm going to use a master checklist something like this from now on, both for myself and for my daughter's assignments.  I want to make sure this analysis will include both pre-writing and post-writing editing.
1.  In a sentence or two, state clearly what you are trying to communicate to the reader.  (A "nutgraph" for your writers out there.)  Narrow it down as far as poss…

The birds are back!

And that only means one thing...no matter what they say...SPRING is coming!
I cleaned out the bird feeder outside our kitchen window yesterday and we've had the funnest time getting reacquainted with our bird family...pretty orange-breasted finches, squawky blue jays, robins, chicadees, juncos, flickers, and sparrows.  The finches are busy searching out their old nest sites in the ivy by the window, fussing and funny in their efforts.
No matter what craziness is going on in the world, the simple sweetness of the birds and the order of their lives rest my heart in the knowledge that 'God's in His heaven and all's right with the world.'

Control vs. authority

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I don't know about you, but what I'm seeing in the news about all this governmental regulation over everything from the economy to our kids causes me alarm.  I know Bible prophecy tells us these kinds of things are coming, that we're looking at end-times stuff, but wow, doesn't it seem to be escalating at an astonishing rate?  On a German news site, my husband saw where at an economic meeting in Switzerland of world leaders, the German chancellor proposed a global economic unification.  Right out of the pages of the Bible.
I've been thinking about control.  If you look at the whole picture of what sin ushered into the world, it seems that control is at the bottom of it.  Satan wanted control.  Countries and tribes and leaders wanted control of one another and their people.  Husbands and wives want to control each other.  Parents want to control their children.  Children want to control their parents.  I want to control my life.  And on it goes.  The root is pride an…

Trusting

It's a cold and snowy January day here, quite a switch from the record-setting 70s earlier in the week.  God is good to give us those little reprieves though; it reminds me of one of the things I like about winter...spring is next! 
Our pastor gave a very good sermon today on trusting God.  Timely, of course, with all that's going on in the world and our country.  He laid the familiar foundation about why we can trust God--"assured reliance" on His character, ability, strength, truth, faithfulness, and so on.  A wonderful reminder of Who it is we love and follow.
But what really struck me was the second part of the sermon, "Can God trust me?"  He asked, Can God trust your opinion of Him?  This touches so deeply on an issue we all struggle with, I think.  What do we really think about God when someone we love suffers or our prayers don't get answered or tragedy strikes?  A right conception of God is crucial to life and without it we're destined for do…

A prayer friend

Of the many things I'm thankful for--and that's a lot!--I'm so very thankful for a special friend God brought into my life early on in my homeschool journey.  She's a kindred spirit in the truest sense, and the Lord has grown a precious friendship between us through the years.
One of the greatest things we share besides our love of the Lord and His Word is prayer.  Every Sunday that we're able, we have a phone prayer time over our coming week.  We pray over our schools and kids, our husbands and schedules and stresses.  Even just the freedom to talk out our needs and concerns helps to unburden our hearts or clarify our thinking and faith.
And wow, what a difference it makes in my week!   Not only does God answer prayer! but as the week unfolds it is no end encouraging to know that she's praying for me about whatever specific needs I have.  We have gone through many deep waters together...illness and serious health concerns, job layoff, support group crises, spiri…

This 'n that

It feels good to back to our routine!  I guess we all function better that way around here.  The weather is mild enough to be out and walking regularly with sunshine to lift the winter doldrums.
School this week looks like this...
- The waning years of the Roman Empire, the invasion of the Huns (we're using both the Usborne Encyclopedia of History and the Kingfisher History Encylopedia--they compliment each other very well)
- Very interesting read-aloud on St. Patrick called "Flame Over Tara," excellent description of early life and Christianity in Ireland (I don't think I'll ever view St. Patrick's Day quite the same)
- Planet study and Moody videos on our galaxy and space
- Newspaper journalism/analysis and writing practice
- Oral presentation prep for our support group class on (I can't give away the topic lest any class participants might be reading this!)
Not to mention...SweetPea's practice and rehearsal for a special spring piano concert on Baroque mu…

Back to school, back to Life

Happy 2009! 
We're back from our 2-week Christmas vacation with our families in Arizona--wow, what a wonderful time.  It was heart-satisfying on all counts, one of those "appointed" times when you know the Lord has had a hand in all the little stuff.  Weather was good, we stayed healthy, and most of all, our cups were filled with great family time and wonderful memories.  Thank You, Jesus!  You are the Giver of all good things.
I came home with a pressure cooker and an eagerness to cook again, something that has waned in recent months.  Yay for fresh inspiration!  I've tried a couple of recipes and I think it's going to be a boon for time savings.  Any great tips to share???
SweetPea surprised us just before Christmas by announcing that she had made the (momentous) decision to quit a horse program she's been in for three years.  This is a mounted drill group that takes a pretty big chunk of time and commitment to be in it.  We'd both been feeling the stress…