Friday, December 14, 2007

Collections

 

Collections are a big part of our family life. We can't take a walk without filling our arms and pockets with rocks and sticks. When we bring those rocks home, we arrange them in egg cartons with the other rocks we've collected in past trips. Egg carton are great containers for collections. They have built in slots for organizing and closing the lids allows them to be stacked among other collections. If you use the cardboard cartons, you can label the contents of each cup by writing directly on the carton. We have boxes with egg cartons stored safely away in our attic waiting to be taken out and arranged yet again.




What good is a collection when all we do is store it in the attic, you say? Well, our collections make their appearances regularly in the boys' museums. The boys own the bottom two shelves of a built-in bookshelf in our living room. I cut a large piece of foam-core into two halves and pasted it into the back of the book shelf on each of their shelves. The boys place their current collection in their museum and they can pin hand-made posters, note cards or signs on the foam-core background. We rotate displays regularly so that no one collection is in storage for too long.




As I already mentioned, we have a lot of collections. For a while, our youngest son had a green collection. He collected anything green that would fit in his egg carton. We have lots of rock collections. Some are organized according to where we found them. We have the “Little Buffalo Rock Collection” which we've collected at the nearby state park. We have a green rock collection, all the rocks are a shade of green. Guess who started that collection? We spent a winter with a rock tumbler and now have a nicely sorted collection of polished rocks in one of those egg cartons. We collect fossils, too. Some of our special rocks come from special locations. We try to bring a rock home from every new camp ground or state park we visit. Often we label these rocks with permanent marker listing the location in which we found the rock. This past summer we spent a week in Northern Minnesota. As the boys rose up out of the same lake in which their Daddy had swam as a child, our youngest son was carring two rocks as big as his head. Those rocks proudly sit on our fireplace hearth. We wrote, “Walker Lake, MN July 2007” in black ink on each rock.




We collect stamps. We have a few books that we've picked up at thrift stores and yard sales in which we place our stamps. Our collection began with a free packet from Mystic Stamp Company. From there a missionary friend began funneling all of her foreign stamps to us. We even came across a stamp collecting booth at our homeschool convention last Spring. They allowed each of the boys to fill a sandwich bag with stamps to take home and add to their collection.




I currently have a collection of bird nests in my museum shelf. Each year when my husband and the boys go to deer camp for “work weekend” they clean out the gutters and bring me home a bird nest. I have four on my shelf. There is currently an empty nest on the ledge of our screened-in porch that I need to add to my collection.




We collect coins. The boys each have a book for the state quarters. We picked up a few collection books at a thrift store and have added some nickels and pennies to those. We also have a book for collecting Sacajewea dollars.




Each of the children has a special toy collection. Our oldest is a lego fanatic. Maybe for his next museum display he could build a bunch of things. Our youngest is a softie for every stuffed animal that comes along. And both boys call their large tub of action figures their “collection.”




For my husband, he loves a good baseball hat. He also has a collection of the deer antlers from those taken in Pennsylvania.




For me, I collect various books. I pick up anything by Grace Livingston Hill. My goal is to have one of each of her more-than-90 titles in hard-back and soft-cover. I also love the little hard-back children's books by Beatrix Potter that were published by Frederick Warne and Co. Ever since my dad, at age 62, went back to school to become and EMT and then later was hired by Hershey to work in their first aid department I've been collecting Hershey tins. Bought new, they come filled with Hershey's chocolates. But there are many different themes for the tins and I enjoy this collection, especially since it reminds me of my dad and how proud I am of his accomplishments.




Since it's Christmastime, I have replaced some of my regular collections with my Christmas collections. I have six nativities. One was made by my Uncle who died a few years ago of lukemia. Another belonged to my grandmother at one time. I also have a collection of nested santa dolls that I collected before I was married.




Of all our collections, however, our youngest son has one that I'm sure will surprise you. I just ran across his collection when I was taking inventory of the freezer recently. My son has a crust collection. Yes, you read that correctly, he collects crusts. I don't know how this collection began. But I remember visits to a new restaurant when our little guy would say, “I don't think I have a crust from this place!” And his bread, roll, or pizza crust would be carefully wrapped in a napkin and placed in my purse. When we returned home, the crust was unwrapped and placed in a freezer bag with other crusts from the collection. He even had our neice bring him a bread crust from Brussels, Belgium! It's an unusual collection to be sure. So, in the deep recesses of our freezer there is a large plastic bag marked “crust collection.” It had to be marked so that I don't mistake it for bread I save to make bread crumbs.




Our collections are important. They help us to learn about cataloging and organizing. We learn science and methods of science by looking up proper names for rocks and sticks. We learn about history and managing historical artifacts the way a museum does. Our collections are our treasures. They are our free “prizes” from walks and trips to the local park. When we add to our collections, we are adding to our knowledge. It is a practice that helps us to make learning a lifestyle. So what do you collect?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Favor-pup

I wrote a few months ago about our new puppy, Favor.  He has been a part of our family now since October 6, 2007 and I truly do not know how we have lived without him.  He is such a joy.  He's very loving, very mischievous, and very sweet.  He hates to be left for any amount of time and when you return he cries for several minutes just so you know that he was really lonely.


 


He loves a load of dirty dishes in the dishwasher.  He has even been known to hop onto the open dishwasher door in order to gain easier access to licking the dirty dishes.  But today, we saw him do something he's never done.


 


Since it is Christmas-time we are doing lots of extra baking.  Because of this we run the dishwasher a few times a day.  Today, I opened the dishwasher as soon as it was finished because I needed to unload it and re-load it with more dirty dishes.  As I did, Favor jumped up onto the open dishwasher door.  Of course, the dishwasher was very warm.  To him it must have been quite comfortable.  He took no time at all laying down on the dishwasher door and falling asleep.  I do apologize for the quality of these pictures.  I took them quickly with my cell phone, so they are blurry.  But I'm sure you will get the idea.


 



 



 



 


Sweet dreams little guy!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Web Site Learning...but not as you would expect.

This morning our pastor sent us an email with this web address:


http://www.idodogtricks.com/index_flash.html


For the next 30 minutes my boys were at this site!   At this web address, there is a picture of a little dog.  Under the picture is a line for you to type in commands.  When you enter a command, if the dog understands what you've typed, it will perform the trick.   Why is this learning?  It seems like it's just an enteraining site, right?  Well, first of all the boys were typing.  They were spelling as they tried to think up new commands.  But then, my youngest son typed different words that meant the same thing, i.e. jump and leap.  After doing this he exclaimed, "It's homynyms!"


 


That's real learning and application of what's learned!  Will I log a full credit for language arts today from what they did on this web site?  Probably not.  But what a great way to reinforce what they've learned.  What a fun way to practice their typing and spelling!


 


Learning happens everywhere.  Even when training a virtual dog.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Choose Life

Thursday was Thanksgiving.  We spent a lovely day at my sister's home with my family and a few friends.  We spent the night there and I got up at 0-dark-thirty and went black Friday shopping with my sister's children.  We spent the wee hours of the morning standing in line at Target.  Then standing in line at Kohl's.  I had a wonderful time.  My nephew is now 21 years old and my neice is turning 20.  I love those two children as if they are my very own.  Being able to spend those precious hours with them laughing and listening to them talk about their future plans blessed me beyond measure.  Later that morning as the three of us sat down to breakfast at my favorite place, Cracker Barrel, all I could say as I prayed before eatting was, "Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you."

We spent the better part of the day at my sister's later celebrating my neice's upcoming 20th birthday.  It was another evening with family and very enjoyable.  But then it was time to pack up the boys and our overnight bags and head home to Perry County.  It did not take long after entering our home to find that there was no water.  We weren't getting water in any way throughout the house.  Since God knew that we were going home to no water, He had arranged for us to have two large empty water jugs.  My husband was supposed to take them with him to deer camp the next morning.  Instead, he took them to our friend's home and filled them so that we had water to "flush" the toilet and use to brush our teeth and wash our faces.  While retrieving water at our friend's home, this friend shared that he might have a well-pump.  This left us feeling hopeful when we went to bed Friday night.

On Saturday morning, the men began trying to fix the pump.  Hours later, they called a professional.  It was then that we learned that our pump could not be fixed and would have to be replaced by a different kind of pump that would require the excavation of our yard to find our well.  The friend that had filled our water-jugs and come to help fix the problem then graciously offered their home.  We went there for supper and to have showers, but returned to our home to sleep.

On Sunday, we worshipped at our home church.  It was hymn sing Sunday, and we were blessed by our worship with our church family.  But returning home, my enthusiasm for pretending to be Laura Ingalls Wilder while boiling all our water and not being able to bathe was over.  I wanted a shower and to do our laundry.  It was then that we decided to head to my mother for however many days it would take to repair our ailing water pump.

We spent four days at my mother's.  It was touch-and-go as to getting someone to come and fix our water situation.  This week was deer season, so every plumber and excavator in Perry County, Pennsylvania was in the woods all day on Monday and Tuesday.  But on Tuesday evening, my husband arranged to meet a plumber and a back-hoe operator at our home Wednesday morning.  By 4 PM, there was water, albeit brown water, running through our pipes.

We returned to our home Thursday morning.  We had secured financing in order to pay for the necessary repairs and stopped to pick up the check on our way home from my mother's.  Once home, the water was still a light shade of brown, but after a few hours "flushing" the pipes, we now have running, clear, drinkable, batheable, flushable water.  I've never been so grateful for running water and flushing toilets in my life!

So now, you're thinking, "Great story, Lori Lynn.  And your point?"  Well, here it is.  And please bear with me because, truthfully, I'm still flushing out the meaning in my own heart.   No pun intended.   In Deuteronomy 30:19 it says ,"I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing:  therefore choose life"  It seemed as this most recent trial emerged in our life this week I went from cursing to blessing from moment to moment.

Cursing:  we got home from a lovely Thanksgiving to find no water in our home  Blessing:  friends from church instantly gave us water and offered their help repairing the problem.

Cursing:  our pump could not be fixed as quickly as we had hoped  Blessing:  those same friends opened their home to us and made us feel loved and welcomed.  And then my mother so graciously let us invade her peace and quiet.

Cursing:  getting ready for church, I had to dunk my head in a bucket of cold water in order to fix my hair for church.  Blessing:  church was a wonderful worshipful experience that blessed us immensely.

Cursing:  my husband, who lives for deer season, could not go this year and it was our 11 year old son's first opportunity to hunt deer with his daddy.  Blessing:  while driving home from church, our son said, "I'm just trying to figure out why God didn't want me to go hunting this year.  But I know He has a plan!"  I don't know where that maturity came from, but I praise God for it!

Cursing:  We could not get anyone to come out to fix the pump becuase of deer-hunting season.  Blessing:  My mother suggested calling our insurance company and asking if this might be covered by our homeowner's insurance.  Since our time was not being taken by arranging workers, my husband could take a few hours and focus on coordinating information with our insurance agent.  And the repairs may be covered!

Cursing:  We already have a considerable amount of debt due to poor choices with credit cards.  We are working hard to climb out of that debt.  We had to get a loan to pay for the costly repairs to our well.  Blessing:  We had a loan that would pay for our repair.  If we had taken the same loan which was offered to us over a month before, we would not have had any financing opportunity to pay for this repair.   Even better blessing:  My father called to offer to pay for our repair.  He now knows that we have credit card debt, which is a tough pride-pill for me to swallow, but he is still offering his help.

This verse in Deuteronomy has become so poignant to me through this trial.  I could look at this trail as nothing but a curse, but I am choosing life.  I am choosing the blessing.   This Sunday, our small group will begin studying the first chapter of James.  My friend, the wife of the man who tried to help us repair our broken pump, wrote to me telling me of how inspiring James 1 has been to her as she and her husband study it in preparation for our meeting.  She wrote, "First, we must realize that there is purpose in trials.  Second, there is wisdom in trials.  Third, there is comfort in trials knowing that this life is not all there is."

So the next blessing is the blessing of the insight of Christian sisters.  I have not processed all that this life brings me and certainly not all that this last week has brought, but God continually blesses me.  And I am called by Him to claim the blessing and NOT the curse.  Our life is one of favor.  We are the blessed of the Lord.  Join me in choosing life.  Choose blessing!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Friday Funday Computer Lessons

Every Friday is "Friday Fun Lessons Day".  On Fridays we sometimes do a special lapbook, or take a field trip.  One Friday we spent the entire morning working on an art lesson distributed by Millers Pads and Papers.(http://www.millerpadsandpaper.com/)  But last week, I really had a fun time planning our fun lessons day, so I thought I'd share it with you.  My sons love electronics.  They would spend the entire day jumping from the XBox to the computer if I let them.  So I planned an entire day's-worth of lesson on the PC.


 


We began with math.  Both boys are working on memorizing their times tables so they were required to play Timez Attack for 15 minutes.  We have downloaded the free edition of this game and the graphics are great.  (www.bigbrainz.com)  After their game, I had them each take a timed test here:  www.mrmyers.org/Math_Mania/ttmult.html


 


For history, they played the Thanksgiving WebQuest here:  www.scholastic.com/scholastic_thanksgiving/feast/webquest.htm


 


I gave them some control in the area of Language Arts by telling them to pick two games in the "Word" category on www.funbrain.com/kidscenter.html


 


For the last month we have been playing a map puzzle game on the pc that we downloaded from Owl & Mouse software.  You can download it here:  http://www.yourchildlearns.com/puzzle_us.htm  We play it every day.  It is a great way to learn the locations of the states.  So for geography, we all played the puzzle game.  We each do the puzzle individually and then compare our times with each other.  And, yes, Mommy joins in the game!


 


For art, I told the boys about the splash paintings of Jackson Pollock.  I printed one of his paintings for them to see it.  Then I sent them to www.jacksonpollock.org to make one of their own splash paintings on-line.  We printed them for their art portfolios.


 


Finally we got to science.  We've been studying chemistry lately and I found an element hangman game on http://education.jlab.org/elementhangman/index.html  I told the boys to get their copies of the periodic table and play element hangman.  My youngest son did better at the game than I did!


 


And so, that was our Friday Fun Lessons Day.  We all enjoyed it, and, surprisingly, it did not take me too long to find all of the sites to fill each subject.  For my techno-boys, it was a great day to spend a morning.  Check out some of these sites, maybe you'll find something to make your lessons a fun-day too!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tea

Last year I was at a mom's meeting where a woman was talking to us about healthy nutrition, aromatherapy, and herbals.  She mentioned that she drinks herbal tea instead of water.  Many medical authorities say that we should drink 8 glasses of water a day.  This woman said that since we need that much water, why not give it a vitamin/mineral boost by making the water into herbal tea and drinking that.  Ever since then, I've had a tea jar in the refrigerator.  I have a glass gallon tea jug that has a spout at the bottom.  I make tea in that jug and place it on the top shelf of the refrigerator.  I drink from that for a few days before I need to make more.  Today's tea is blue berry/orange.  I always add 1/2 a cup of honey to sweeten it.  I get the boost from the tea, the water, and the honey.


Here's exactly what I do.  I love Celestial Seasonings teas.  I only drink decaffinated, so that does limit me on my choices.  But Celestial Seasonings has a wonderful selection for different tastes in decaff. tea.  I put anywhere from 8-12 tea bags into the bottom of my glass jar.  Then I add the 1/2 cup of honey.  I fill my tea kettle and bring it to boil on the stove.   Then I pour it over my bags and honey and stir until the honey is dissovled.  I let this sit on my kitchen counter until the water is room temperature.  This allows the tea to steep.  Then, leaving the tea bags in the water, I add a lot of ice and fill to the top with cold water.  I place this in the refrigerator and drink from it for two or three days before needing to fill it again.


When it's time to refill, I empty the bags and begin the process again.  Sometimes I will add fruit slices or a few splashes of fruit juice to the tea while steeping.  My favorites are oranges and lemons.  White grape juice is also wonderful.


This is a great way for me to get the hydration I need, but it's also enjoyable for me!  I love the taste of this tea and it's always icy cold whenever I want it!  Give it a try.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Church funnies

Over the summer we took a drive about 45 minutes north of where we live to walk an outdoor archery course with my husband and son.  My youngest does not shoot, nor do I, but Todd and my oldest son shoot archery competitively in the winter months.  In the summer they shoot outdoor courses at 3-d targets.  Friends of ours came along and we spent a lovely summer evening walking through the woods.  At the end of the course, the people who sponsored it had a bonfire blazing with hot dogs and marshmallows for anyone who was interested.  We stopped for a short while to visit the other shooters who had chosen to sit by the fire.


 


While sitting there, our friend struck-up a conversation with one of the men sitting around the fire.  Since this event was hosted by a Christian man, the subject of church arose.  Our friend asked what church the man and the woman sitting nearby attended.  One replied, "Grace Covenant"  the other replied something like, "Bread of Life"  Then, the man asked my friend what church we all attended.  My friend responded, "Eshcol Brethren in Christ."  The man said, "What's the name of your church?"  "Eshcol" our friend responded.  (Our church is located in the village of Eshcol, hence it's name)


 


The man sat staring at the fire, puzzled.  He said, "Is that in the bible?"  Our friend said, "Well, yes, it is mentioned in the bible.  It's in the old testament."


 


Again the man repeated, "Eshcol.  Eshcol?"  After a few seconds pondering he turned to us and shrugged and just said, "I don't get it!"


 


You see, many of the new churches in our area, and I'm sure in yours, have catchy little names like, "Living Waters Community Church" or "Bread of Life Community Church."  When I grew up, churches were named for the town in which they were located.  I grew up in Highspire First Church of God.  There was also a Highspire United Methodist, Highspire Luteran Church, and Highspire Church of God Anderson.  But they were all called "Highspire."  Now we attend the "Eshcol Brethren in Christ."  This man was used to the new way of naming churches and he just didn't get it when we said our church's name was Eshcol! ...funny


 


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After a trip to Hershey park we stopped at the nearby Sheetz for drinks for the drive home.  While in the parking lot, we ran into a friend from my childhood.  This boy, now man, and I had attended church camp together for years.  Later when Todd and I were first married, we all attended the same church when we lived in the Hershey area.  After exchanging heartfelt hellos with our old friend, he asked where we were all living.  Coincidentally, we are now living in the town in which he was raised which is about an hour's drive from Hershey!  He no longer lives there.  He asked where we were attending church and we told him about the little country church we've attended for the past four years.  He shared that growing up in the same town he knew all about little country churches.  Then my husband said, "Yeah, when Lori plays the offertory it's like name that tune!  She plays four notes and the offering's over!"


...funny

Friday, November 9, 2007

Why we cleaned the basement...

In a previous blog, I wrote to you about how we cleaned our basement one section at a time and now it is a beautiful wide-open space with lots of storage.  When I wrote that blog, I wrote that I would tell you another time why we had to clean the basement.


 


It all started in the middle of the night several weeks ago.   My husband was tired and went to bed early.  Within an hour of our early retiring, our dog, Rosie, started to play.  She would run up and down the hallway outside our bedroom and knock into the closed basement door while playing.  It was so noisy that it awoke my husband.  Because he was so sleepy, he was also short-tempered.  He yelled at Rosie and commanded her to lay down.  Rosie obeyed for a few minutes giving us just enough time fall back to sleep before she began to play again.  After a few hours of this, my husband did what every person does after many trials, he got whiny.  He rolled over to me and said, "OH, I don't know what to do!!!"  So I patted him on his hip and said, "It's ok, honey.  I'll take care of it."  I slipped out of bed, not bothering to put on my glasses, and stepped into our hallway to corral our errant dog.  What I was met with was something fuzzy, laying on the floor with a long tail.  The tail had no fuzz or fur.  It was skin.  Since I wasn't wearing my glasses, all I saw was fuzz and a skin-tail.  I turned on my heel, ran into our bedroom, lept onto the bed and shouted, "There is a RAT in the hall!"


 


Now, I have a history of being afraid of mice.  Our cats bring mice to us quite often since we live very rurally, and I always have the same reaction, "Get that away from me!"  I have no problem with bugs and spiders, but rodents and snakes are a HUGE problem.  My husband knows of my history with rodents, so after I yelled that there was a rat in our hallway, he assumed it was a little mouse brought in by the cats.  He sighed, loudly...quite loudly...a little over-dramatic if I must say so myself.  Anyway, he sighed and said, "I'll take care of it."


 


He DID put on his glasses and stepped into the hallway.  He immediately turned back into the bedroom and closed the door.   Then he announced, "It's a 'possum."  For the past few hours, our dog had been playing with an opossum outside our bedroom door!!!  Well, my first thought was, "We have to move.  We'll wake the boys, pack a few things and go live with my mother.  I'm not living with a 'possum."


 


This was not my husband's first thought, however.  He began to get dressed and put his shoes on his feet.  He was going possum hunting.  When he returned to our hallway, the opossum was no longer there.  He returned to inform me of the possum's location and I informed him that if he did not find and erradicate the possum, he would NOT be returning to our bed!  So again, there was a long, loud sigh and he returned to the hallway.  He found the possum hiding behind our toilet.  The possum was wet from where our dog was playing with it. 


 


Todd slipped a pair of welding gloves that we keep near the fireplace onto his hands and returned to the bathroom to deal with this possum.  He managed to slide the possum into my mop-bucket and hold it down with a plunger.  Now, picture this, my husband is 6 foot-3 inches tall, weighing 300 pounds.  He's a hunter and outdoorsman, so think rugged.  He was wearing a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, and...welder's gloves.  He walked out into our yard and thought, "Now what?"  It was well-past midnight, so it was very dark outside.  He was afraid that if he simply sat the bucket on the ground he would not know for sure that the opossum would be released from his prison.  So he walked to the back of our yard and threw the bucket as far away as possible while running for our door!


 


And so, crisis averted, we returned to our bedroom and a shortened night of sleep.  Why did that require us to clean the basement you ask?  ...just wait.


 


A few days later we were having a murphy's law day.  You know Murphy's Law:  Everything that can go wrong WILL go wrong.  Earlier in the day, my husband called his brother to wish him a happy birthday and got some distressing news.  Then we were moving our boys into the bedroom on the second floor.  I was boxing up toys that we no longer needed to give to good will.  As I was carrying a box down the steps, my foot landed on a lacrosse stick.  I fell down the stairs and my right foot landed at my head!  As I was sliding down the steps, my husband tried to stop my fall by grabbing the box and, instead, pushed it into my face.  I was seeing stars and my ankle was throbbing, so I was shuffled off to our bed.  While laying with my foot elevated, Todd took a call from yet another family member to learn of more distressing family news.  By early evening, we were reeling from the problems this day had presented.  We decided that our best solution would be to go to bed early.  We were only in bed a few minutes when I heard a noise at the basement steps.  I got up, thinking it was one of our cats looking for a bed-time snack, and opened the cellar door.  When I turned on the light, I saw an opossum nearly three-quarters up our steps.  He looked at me, turned around and began descending the basement steps.  Well, I'm a mother of two boys.  I have dealt with many scary situations.  I'm a confident woman who is fully in control of all her faculties...I began screaming, "Possum!  Possum!"  in a high pitch at the top of my lungs!


 


My boys, ages 10 and 9, and my husband rushed to my aid.  Actually, I think that my boys found this all to be a great adventure.  They donned clothes and protective gear.  The welding gloves were again worn, as well as various hats and helmets, a lacrosse stick (the dreaded one that cause my fall earlier that day), a softball bat and the plunger that Mr. Possum had nibbled during his flight in my mop bucket in the back yard.


 


Todd and the boys searched the basement for quite some time and could not find the possum.  They also could not find an escape or entrance route.  This is where the impetous for cleaning the basement came.  Over the next week, we moved every object in the basement.  We swept the floor, threw away many-many garbage bags full of junk, and placed all remaining objects on shelves or in plastic containers.  Our basement has never looked so clean and organized in the nine years in which we've lived here.


 


We never found the possum.  We did figure out that the critter was climbing our steps to eat the cat's food.  We have a kitty door in the door that goes from our hallway into the basement steps.  Up until the possum incident we fed the cats by placing their pan of food at the top of the basement steps each evening.  The cats would then go through the basement kitty door to eat.  Their litter box is also located at the bottom of the basement steps, so they use the kitty-door quite often.  The possum got into our hall to play with our dog, Rosie, but using the kitty door.  Each evening the possum had supper after we fed our cats!  When I discovered him climbing the steps, he was trying to get to his supper! 


 


We have not seen Mr. Possum since that fateful evening, but our basement is still a wide-open cement playground!  And all it took was one...maybe two...little possums!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Eatting the Elephant

Question:  How do you eat an elephant? 


 


Answer:  One bite at a time!


 


For reasons that I will tell you in another blog at another time, it has become drastically necessary that I clean our basement.  We have a large basement, it is the full size of our house.   Although our house is small, the large cinder block and cement basement is sometimes overwhelmingly large.  Again, because our house is small, we lack storage and so many items end up piled in the basement awaiting further action.  Maybe they need repaired, or given away.  Sometimes we are just waiting for a permanent location to arise.  Sometimes, we're just lazy and need to get something out of our sight so that we don't have to think about cleaning, fixing, or putting the item away.  Regardless of the reason, our basement is one of those "pile" locations. 


 


I often find myself putting off a task because it seems too large to me.  I tell myself that I can't possibly clean the basement because I have to educate the children.  That takes the morning and part of the afternoon.  When am I supposed to clean the basement?!?  You see, I must clear an entire day.  Maybe even a weekend to get this basement in order!!  It's an all-day job!  And so, the basement doesn't get cleaned, because I don't have all-day.  Weekdays are filled with lessons, cooking, trips to the library.  Weekends include a football game on Saturdays and, of course, church on Sundays.  So there isn't a day that is wide-open for me to clean the basement.


 


It's funny how God will speak to you when you let him.  For me, when I stop listing my excuses and get quiet, He shows me a way to accomplish things.  Concerning the basement, God gave me a mental image of the basement divided into quadrants.  It is very easy to envision because the steps already divide it in half and there are posts that divide the halves into halves.  I have four sections to my basement.  Why is this important?  I can clean a section at a time.  I can clean a section in a little over an hour, if I don't try to tackle the entire basement at once!  This is do-able!!!  Praise God!


 


And so, last Friday I marched down the basement steps with my two boys, a broom, dust pan, and garbage bag.  We worked until the garbage bag was full and the floor in a quarter of the basement was clean.  This morning, Monday, the boys decided to take a bath after I gave them hair cuts, so off to the second quadrant I marched.  This time, I cleaned the basement and filled the steps with things to be either moved to other parts of the house, or given to charity.  I called the boys and they worked on clearing the steps while I finished up the second quadrant of the basement.


 


An hour later, half of my basement is beautiful!  The floor is swept there is a place for everything.  There are wide-open-spaces in which to walk.  It is a thing of beauty.  As I walked outside to put something into the van which would be taken to the thrift store I looked at our screened-in porch (the boys call it the "screaming" porch) and said, "You're next!"  And I'll tackle it one 3 foot strip at a time, beginning in the front and working daily until I get to the back.


 


Why am I telling you all this?  Because each of us has a basement looming in our future.  There is some project that in our minds seems to large to tackle.  Don't let perfectionism paralyze you!  Take your task to the feet of your Father and ask Him to show you how to accomplish it.  Maybe He'll clear your schedule so that you have an open day to accomplish your task.  Or maybe He'll give you a new and creative way to accomplish your task.  He'll show you that to eat your elephant, you just take one bite at a time! 

Sunday, September 9, 2007

God's Favor

A little over a month ago, we lost our dog.  Frisbee had been our dog for almost 9 years.  He was our first pet.  My youngest son was a 18 months old when we got Frisbee.  So, he can't remember a time when Frisbee was not part of our family.  And suddenly, Frisbee was gone and we were heart broken.   It was so difficult to grieve with my two sons.  And the pain my husband and I felt was also very real.  My husband used to pet Frisbee and say, "I'm going to miss you when you're gone."  And now, he really was gone.  We were all so very sad.


 


Of course, friends and family immediately began looking for a puppy for us.  My mother called with a Brittany (Frisbee's breed) she had found in the paper.  She was ready to go out and buy us a new puppy.  My neice and sister were looking on puppy web sites for us.  I recently learned that one man from church was ready to go to the local shelter and just get us a dog!  When friends and family are grieving, you just want to act to relieve their pain.  That's what our friends and family were doing and we love them for it.


 


But with each offer and phone call, we said, "No.  God's going to provide a puppy.  We'll know it when it happens."  We just had a feeling that God was going to do something to provide a new dog for our family.  A week after Frisbee died, we emailed a friend who had bred her beagle recently.  She was out of puppies, but that began our conversations that  a beagle pup might be a nice fit for us.


 


Fast forward to two weeks ago.  My husband was early for a meeting at work.  While he and some co-workers were waiting for the meeting to begin he said, "Oh, if anyone knows of any puppy litters, my family and I are looking for a puppy.  We just lost our family dog about a month ago."  Someone asked, "What breed are you looking for?"  My husband said, "We were talking about a beagle, but we're open to anything."  One of the women who works for my husband said, "You're kidding.  My boyfriend's friend just had a littler of beagle puppies!" 


 


Later that week, she gave my husband the phone number.  He looked at the three-digit exchange and said, "That's our exchange.  Is this family in Newport?"  This was the first example of seeing God's hand in bringing a puppy to us.  The family lives in the same town we do.  Since my husband works 30 miles from our home and the woman who works for him lives 20 miles away from us, we would not expect this family with the puppies to be from our town. 


 


When my husband called about the puppies, he spoke with the woman for several minutes.  They made arrangements for us to come and look at the puppies.  Of course, this woman knew right where we live which is  just a few miles from them.  When the day arrived for us to meet the puppies, my husband called the owners of the beagles and spoke with the father.  He said that it would not work for us to meet the puppies that day.  Then he said, "Are you the one who lost a dog and has two boys?  Well, I'm not going to charge you for this dog!  Those boys need a dog."  Evidence #2 that this puppy was God's plan for our family.


 


We were feeling God's hand guiding us to this puppy.  He began by puttng the idea of a beagle in our hearts.  Then He prompted my husband to speak about a new puppy at the meeting at work.  He timed it perfectly with his co-workers, and the birth of the puppies.  AND he placed the family in the very town in which we live.


 


Finally, the day arrived that we could meet our puppy and put a collar on him.  We would not be able to take him home yet, but we could call him "ours."  As I was preparing supper for us to eat before we went to meet the puppy, I reflected on how God had brought this puppy into our family.  At the time when Frisbee died, we had endured a series of several trials.  We were weary but trying to remain thankful through our trial.  It amazed me how God was favoring our family in guiding us to this puppy.  And that's when it hit me.  THAT was the name of the puppy..."Favor."   Every time we called him we would remember God's favor to our family.


 


The time came for us to drive to the home where the beagle puppies were born.  As we arrived, I saw the children playing in the yard and I thought, "Those children look familiar."  We walked into the kitchen and the mother said, "Oh good, someone I know!"  She and I had been on many field trips with our county's homeschool support group.  Although we didn't know each other well, we had been on a few trips and outtings together with our children.  God had used so many situations to say, "Here's your puppy."  Knowing the family was the final line in a long string of evidence that God had orchestrated bringing Favor to our family.   In a month, we will bring him home, but for now, there is a little 3-week-old beagle puppy with a tiny blue collar in another home in our town who is living breathing evidence of God's favor on our little family.


 

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

To Coin a Phrase

Since returning from our summer vacation, we have been enduring a time of trial.  To coin a phrase, it has been "one thing on top of another."  We had spent our two-week trip travelling to and from Northern Minnesota to visit family.  Less than one hour after walking into our home we got a phone call from my husband's brother who lives in Minnesota.  My husband's mother was being air lifted to a hospital in North Dakota.  She was having chest pains and the doctor said that time was critical.


 


"Mamaw" was in the hospital for six days.  After two stint procedures she returned to her apartment.  Praise God, there was no more serious damage or any limits placed on her work or lifestyle.  Certainly there will be no more smoking (pray for her to be able to quit after nearly 50 years), and other changes will be made to diet and exercise, perhaps.  But she is able to return to her home and work.


 


Three days after my mother-in-law was sent home from the hospital, our dog had to be taken to the veterinarian's office.  We expected to pick him up the following day after calling the vet. at 2 PM.  When I called the next day I was told  that there was nothing to be done for our "Frisbee."  Our dog was gone.  We had him since moving to this, our first home.  He was a part of our family.  We were all very very sad.  It was the most difficult grief to endure with our young boys.


 


Couple this with other financial issues, strife at church, and household problems and my husband and I began to feel very tried indeed.  We did try to stay intentional.  We gave thanks for all that we had and for our very breath.  We prayed as a family giving thanks.  We upheld each other and encouraged the boys that it was ok to feel sad but not ok to dwell in our sadness.


 


But today, I had a thought that was new to me since our time of trial began.  I have been listing in my mind all that has happened in the past few weeks.  "Mother-in-law had a heart attack."  " Frisbee died."  "Division in our church."  "Surmounting debt."  And as I began an imaginary  conversation in my mind where I listed my trials, I was prompted to change the wording of my list.


 


How much different is it if I say, "Mother-in-law survived a heart attack."  "We have the opportunity to look for a new puppy."  "We have a place in which to worship freely with people who love us." "We are able to pay all of our bills and because of our debt are now having financial conversations we should have had years ago."  It's all about how you coin your phrase. 


 


Last week was bible school at our little country church.  On Monday night, bible school began and some of the regular attenders did not send their children to bible school.  I was offended and depressed because of those who were NOT at bible school.  If you would have asked me how bible school was going on Monday night I would have said, "Eh, okay.  Could be better."  On Thursday night a little seven-year-old girl came up to me after snack time and said, "I want Jesus to live in my heart."  If you would have asked me how bible school was going on Thursday night I would say, as I have ever since, "Amazing!"  Talk about coining a phrase!  Isn't it amazing what a change a few days can bring?  Had I given into my mood and attitude on Monday night, Thursday night's prayer for salvation may have never happened.  I need to turn my thoughts around and be grateful for what I have.  I need to change my negatives into positives while filterning them through a God-light.


 


I'm determined to change my talk.  I want my perspective to be a heavenly one.  So, I will turn my trials to joy with my lips.  I will coin my phrases to give God the glory.  As they say, "It's all in how you look at it."  Well, I'm looking from a whole different angle.  Praise God! 

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Lifestyle of Worship

In a recent email from one of my friends, she was recounting her plans for the weekend.  As with most mothers, and especially with working moms, she had a gazillion errands and projects on which to work, but it was this sentence that caught my eye:


 


Sunday I'll have my traditional morning retreat to my patio with my radio tuned to a jazz
station, a cup of tea and a book.   It's heaven, I tell ya!  


 


Upon reading this, I was jealous.  But then I self-righteously thought, well I CAN'T do that because I'm in church!  But for the past three days, my mind has travelled back to  Joannie's weekly retreat.  I've placed myself  in a white wooden rocker on my girlfriend's brick patio, surrounded  by the flowers that she plants and tends so lovingly.  I imagine the cool of a late Spring or early Summer morning when the sun is not yet high in the sky and the light all around is a pale yellow.  The sky, of course, is bright blue, but not cloudless.  The clouds are perfectly white and dancing around the sky in a fluffy ovals.   And I am sitting in this perfect morning, enjoying everything God has placed around me.  I am in a true place of worship.


 


But instead, I will be in church.   Although we have structured Sunday mornings so that they are not totally frenzied, there is no time for quiet reflection.  Our morning is busy as we prepare for church.  Church is busy as I serve at church and help to instruct our boys in the practice of worship.  But it is not a time of quiet reflection.  I don't take  the time to notice the nature surrounding me, or experience the peace of a summer morning.   I try to be active in worship.  I try to focus on the message being given and the allow the words of the music to teach my soul.  I'm a music person, so I let the music minister to me and lift my spirits.  But it's not a time of quiet where I am just in God's presence, experiencing fellowship with Him in a quiet and personal way.


 


When visitng my sister's church last year, the worship leader had someone read an excerpt form a worhsip book by Matt Redman.  He spoke in the book about how his church had distorted worship and come to a place where they had to strip away all the trappings of what we call "worship".  The instruments and even the music went away.  He wrote that, at first, it was ackward and seemed unnatural.  But as the congregation came into the presence of God on their own, but in the setting of corporate worship, it became such a beautiful experience.  Eventually the music and the instruments returned but everyone had experienced worship in such a real and personal way that it was never the same again.


 


I realized today, as I was imagining myself on my friend's patio once again, that what Joannie experience's every Sunday is true worship.  It is personal.  It is quiet.  It is a time of awe at the creation of The Creator.  In some ways, it is more worshipful than what I do for a few hours on Sunday morning.


 


The Word says, "Do not give up meeting together."  And I certainly am not proposing that I should forgo church all together and go sit on a patio every Sunday morning.  BUT I am planning to incorporate more of what my girlfriend experiences while sitting on her patio while I am sitting in the second row of the right hand side at Eshcol Brethren In Christ Church.  I am going to cease the business of worship and participate in the quiet and the reflection, and the acknowledgment of the beauty around me.  God has shown me true worship, if only in my imaginings.  I plan to pursue it until the experience matches the day dreams.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Multi-Tasking

Late this morning my husband called from work.  He said, "Do you ever have one of those days where you thought you were all caught up and then everyone needs something from you?  And you're trying to work on one thing and someone's asking for something else, and another person is asking for something else?"


 


I said, "Welcome to my world!  Right now I'm pulling together music for Sunday;" (I'm the worship leader at our small-country church, "working with one child on his math, and working with another on his handwriting"  I didn't tell him that I had a load of laundry in the dryer, a chorus printing off the printer, and my email up on the laptop!  He did respond with, "Oh yeah, this is kind of what your day is like every day!"


 


A year or more ago, I was a Flylady follower.  I was in desperate need of routines and order and she helped me to gain SOME of that.  I'm afraid I'll always have a little chaos in our home.  One of her sayings was "There's no such thing as multi-tasking."  When she was doing laundry, she was doing laundry.  When she did dishes, that is all she did.  She didn't give a child their math work, and then begin to unload the dishwasher while answering the child's question.


 


I'm afraid that multi-tasking is REQUIRED of a homeschool mother.  Rarely will a day go as I plan it, and I'm learning to have grace for the interruptions to my schedule.  As Proverbs say, "Many are the plans in a man's heart but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails!"  I want to be about His purpose!  I truly do.  But I also want to accomplish what's  on my to-do list.  Cindy Rushton has had some teachings lately about bringing your organizer and "To Do" list to the feet of God when you are doing your daily devotions.  She says that Rhea Perry has taught her to sit with her open organizer and say, "OK God is all that I have planned ok?  Show me what to change."


 


So, let's begin anew to put our lists before God.  Maybe He is a fan of multi-tasking.  Or maybe He wants you and I to slow down and take  one thing at a time appreciating every activity, even unloading the dishwasher.  As for me, I think I'll stop all this and just focus on the boys for a little while, then maybe a bubble bath and a book are in my future!  Now THAT kind of multi-tasking I can handle!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Need Copywork? Try a Cookbook!

I think I've blogged in the past about one of my favorite thrift stores.  "Abundant Blessings" has a half-price sale on Friday nights that I love to frequent.  This past Friday I picked up a cookbook, among many other things, while shopping at my favorite haunt.


 


I love cook books.  To steal a phrase from my girlfriend, I "read them like novels."  I will buy a cookbook and then sit for the next few evenings and read each and every recipe.


 


This new cookbook was a very interesting read.  It was made by a group from a senior-home and rehabilitation center many years ago.  The cookbook itself is interesting.  The covers are sanded pieces of wall paneling.  The recipes are then typed on colored sheets of thick paper.  The binding is two rings put through the board covers and the paper recipes.  The colored sheets are colored according to the type of recipe, with orange being vegetable dishes, yellow paper main dishes, etc.   On the cover of the recipe book, fabric and felt have been pasted to resemble two little girls facing one another in bonnets.  It is very 1970's in style, but still sweet in it's presentation.  I hope you can get a visual of this book, because it's construction is quite creative and unique.  The book can stand up easel-style to make reading a recipe easier.


 


BUT that's not what I want to tell you about tonight.  As I was reading my new cookbook this weekend, I was struck by many of the quotes, verses, and poems included in the recipe book.  The people organizing the project of making this cookbook asked residents of the home to provide their favorite quotes and bible verses in addition to their recipes.  This particular cookbook is FULL of great quotes and verses.


 


"Like the bee, we should make our industry our amusement."  --Coldsmith


 


"A laugh is worth one hundred groans in any market."  --Charles Lamb


 


"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world."  --John Muir


 


Those are three of the many quotes I found at the bottom of pages of recipes in my new-old cookbook.   Thinking about the many cookbooks I own that have come from church-groups and other organizations, I realized that many are created with various quotes and poems included with the recipes.  What a treasure-trove for copy-work!


 


In the 2007-2008 school year, we are going to set aside all of our penmanship practice and workbooks and focus entirely on copy-work.  Little did I know that I had just purchased a book full of copy-able quotes! 


 


So, go out to the kitchen and pull out that cookbook you have that the church women put together.  Chances are that you will find some great quotes at the bottom of the pages.  Add them to the list of copy-work quotes for next year.

Friday, April 13, 2007

My Great Idea: Oatmeal Bar

Oatmeal is not my sons' favorite breakfast.  It is on the breakfast rotation once every two weeks.  Every time I serve it, my boys run to the breakfast table with hungry bellies and then groan when they see the hot steaming bowls of oatmeal...except today.  Today, God gave me a fabulous idea!


 


This morning when the boys ran to the table, they found my tupperware sectioned server filled with oatmeal "accessories."  As they were oohing and aahing over the items in each section I explained that they could make their oatmeal anyway they wanted.  I had my teapot filled with hot water and covered with the tea cozy for warmth.  The boys selected a packet of oatmeal and added water to their bowl.  Then they chose from sunflower seeds, raisins, apples, bananas, honey, brown sugar, and/or peanut butter to add to their oatmeal.


 


It was the first time I served oatmeal without groans!  I also included a few packets of hot chocolate for them and some mugs to make a warm beverage to go with their warm cereal.  My oldest son said, "Mommy how do you come up with these great ideas?"  My answer?  "God!"

Touring PA

I just wrote up this list of activities we've encountered in PA and I thought I'd post them here for all to peruse!


 


These are locations we've actually visited and enjoyed with websites so that you can plan your visit!


 


If you're in central PA, there are several free places to visit.  In Harrisburg the state museum is free. http://www.statemuseumpa.org/   It's not hands-on, but my guys still enjoy it.  You can also visit our state capitol building right across the street.  It is also free and has a very interesting hands-on orientation room.  The capitol itself is also very interesting, beautiful, and ornate.  http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/toursWelcome.cfm   My guys LOVE to visit the capitol building.


 

In Hershey, PA a ride through Chocolate World is fun and free, there are other features for which you must pay, but just the chocolate world ride is free and there is free parking if all you are doing in Choc. World.  http://www.hersheys.com/chocolateworld/  There is a museum that is a lot of fun, but there is an entry fee required.  However, the fee is small and the museum is pretty cool.  http://www.hersheymuseum.org/

 

In State College, PA you can visit Penn State University.  We have not visited these museums, but plan to soon.  They have a few museums on campus, again, free!

-Palmer Museum of Art:  http://www.psu.edu/dept/palmermuseum/

-Frost Entomological Museum:  http://www.ento.psu.edu/home/frost/

-Penn State All Sports Museum:  http://www.gopsusports.com/Museum/museum.cfm

-Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum:  http://www.ems.psu.edu/museum/

-Pasto Agricultural Museum:  http://pasto.cas.psu.edu/

-Mascaro-Steiniger Turfgrass Museum:  http://turf.cas.psu.edu/museum.cfm

 

If you just need a break from the car, stop at a state park.  The parks we've visited thus far are neatly kept and usually offer trails, play grounds and sometimes lakes and pools.  The swimming pools usually have a fee, but the lakes that have swimming areas are free.  http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/index.aspx  Our two favorites are Col. Denning for the free swimming in the icy cold lake:  http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/StateParks/parks/coloneldenning.aspx  And Little Buffalo, which is near our home, for swimming in the pool in the summer, playing on the parks and fishing in the Fall and Spring, and hiking the trails and exercise trail any time of the year:  http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/Parks/littlebuffalo.aspx  They have lots of activities year-round like a Christmas walk, and an apple butter boil.

 

Pittsburg has TONS of neat museums, but all come at a cost.  We all loved the Carnegie Science Center and the Carnegie Natural History Museum.  (I loved the art museum!)  http://www.carnegiemuseums.org/

 

Of course if you're going to the Eastern side, there's Philadelphia.  There's tons to do there!  Right now, King Tut's collection is being exhibited at the Frankline Institute (this is not free)   http://www.kingtut.org/home  or http://www2.fi.edu/  We really liked the National Constitution Center:  http://www.constitutioncenter.org/ but it came at a cost.  You can also see the liberty bell and tour Independance Hall.  My guys LOVED this tour:  http://www.nps.gov/inde/

 

OH, one more!  Gettysburg!  We spend 3-4 days there every summer there is so much to do and we STILL haven't done it all!


-Eisenhower Farm http://www.nps.gov/gett/


 

In Northern PA, the PA grand canyon is beautiful any time of year. http://www.visittiogapa.com/grandcanyon.html   Right outside of it is the town of Wellsboro which still has gas street lamps. http://www.wellsboropa.com/  It's a slice of Americana.








This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but there's lots to do in PA and much of it is free.  I hope you can find something fun the next time you're through the area.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I'm a Homemaker

I was recently speaking with someone who was complaining about not being recognized for her leadership in a group.  She made the comment, "So what, all I'm good for is cooking and cleaning the house?"  Although I said nothing, I thought "All I want to be good for is cooking and cleaning.  All I want in this world is to make our home."   The only title I want is "homemaker."  I've had other titles.  I've had fancy titles and very responsible titles.  None of them made me feel like I was home.  None of my titles gave me the calm in my spirit that being a wife, mother, and homemaker has given me.  This is God's will for my life.


 


I was listening to a Cindy Rushton seminar recently and she was talking about a time when her children were small.  She was in Sunday school telling her class about how God blessed her days with her children.  She told her Sunday school teacher how each day was full of teachable moments.   After finishing her explanation of her week, her teacher said, "That's great Cindy, but what have you done for God lately?"  I have received comments like this many times.  I've had people question what I know to be God's will for my life in just the same way Mrs. Rushton described.  Once, I told someone that all I wanted was to be home with my children, educating them and taking care of our home.  That person said, "Yes, but is that all GOD wants you to do?"  Somehow, homemaking has become a secondary pursuit that comes AFTER God's true calling in our lives.  Some time in the past 50 years, homemaking has become something you do if you have time, not a calling in one's life.  Many people question a homemaker asking if there is something more that they could be doing.


 


Today, as I was making supper, it hit me.  Just as clearly as anything has ever been, I knew my response to all the questioners.  I know, today, my response to all those who would say that I need to be working for the kingdom outside my home.  And, hopefully, I can communicate this as clearly to you as it was when the Lord first laid it on my heart this afternoon.


 


I make my home so that my husband can go to work.  By keeping our home, he can go and earn a living without worrying that things are being taken care of at home.  By keeping our home, my husband can reach out to those at work.  He can share scriptures with others and speak with conviction about his beliefs because there is no baggage from home that he carries with him to work.  And because he is earning a living outside our home, he is able to give to the kingdom through tithes and offerings.  He can give these tithes and offerings because I have kept his home.  By keeping our home, our boys and my husband can bring friends home with confidence knowing that all will be welcome and a warm meal will be prepared.  By keeping our home, my children will grow in grace each day.  I am here to catch those times when the boys want to talk.  We can be in the word each day together, because I am keeping our home.  By keeping our home, my boys will grow up and reach out to those in their community and at their workplaces.  They will be confident in their faith and secure in their identities because I kept their home.


 


What have I done for the kingdom today?  I've impacted every person with whom my husband has come in contact, because I kept his home.  I've impacted all of my children's friends, because I kept our home.  I'm part of each person to whom my children will witness in the future, because I was faithful to God's call in my life.  When He said, "Keep this home for Me."  I said, "Here I am!"


 


 I read this quote on Mrs. Wilt's website:  http://www.thesparrowsnest.typepad.com/  Martin Luther said, "What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God.  We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow."  He saw the importance of home keeping and elevated the calling to one of Godliness.


 


Several weeks ago, God gave me a verse.  Jesus actually said this about his ministry, but it applies to my life as well:  "This is the will of the Father who sent me, that of all He has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day."  John 6:39.  I wrote this in my journal and wrote, "This is my calling in life!"  and circled it.  God gave me my husband and my two sons.  He gave me a home to keep for them.  I will lose nothing, and will raise it up at the last day.  I will keep their home.


 


I am called to be a home maker.  Would you go to your Pastor and ask him to take a job building highways?  No, you would not because he answered the call to shepherd a flock.  Would you ask an artist to go and be a brick layer?  No, because he is gifted by God as an artist and you don't question that giftedness.  I was given the calling to be a home maker.   So, no, I won't be taking on many other responsibilities outside my home, because this is to where God has called me.  I know this because this is the only job I've ever had that DOESN'T make me say, "Well, this is nice...and I'm good at it, but there has to be something better out there."  When I wake up, I know that I am doing the exact job God made me to do.  I am a wife.  I am a mother.  I am cooking, cleaning, and homeschooling.  I am making the home that God planned for myself, my husband, and my sons.  And through this home, He will do great things. 

Monday, February 19, 2007

Show and Tell

Three weeks ago our oldest son came to me and said, "We need to have show and tell."  My reply was, "Yes!  We do!"  The following Friday, I was the first presenter of our first show-and-tell session.  Our first session did not have a theme.  Each of us brought something that was important to us.  One at a time, we stood in an open area of the living room and told the other two about our special item.


 


I presented my crochet hook case.  The boys were very attentive and even asked me questions about why I selected this item to present for our first show-and-tell.  In turn, each of the boys presented a special item to them.  I asked questions and so did the son who wasn't presenting at the time.  The boys took their presentations very seriously and answered each question thoughtfully.  It was a wonderful time.


 


After our first show-and-tell meeting we brainstormed several topics we could use for each week's show-and-tell.  We wrote those topics on cards and selected the subject for the following week.  The subject chosen was electronics.


 


And so, this past Friday was our electronics presentation.  I showed the boys my ipod.  They had lots of questions and we all pressed buttons.  My eight-year-old showed me features that I didn't know it had!  Our youngest showed us his favorite on-line game.  Our oldest son showed us his favorite Xbox game.  I am not a gamer and usually let Daddy get all excited about the boys electronic games.  But by asking thoughtful questions during show-and-tell and really taking an interest in what they presented I saw something light-up in their eyes.  I saw another chord attach from their heart to mine.  We are close.  I do feel we have the boys hearts, but this opened another connection as I took interest in something about which the boys are so passionate.


 


And so, I have yet another idea for your little homeschool.  Give show-and-tell a try.  Take as much time as your children need to listen to them as they show you pieces of their hearts through things they love.  It will open their hearts toward you and yours to them.   It is also a great way for them to practice public speaking.  Maybe presenting to two or three people is not as intimidating as some presentations, but isn't home education all about preparing in the comfort and safety of your home.  What better place is there to conquer a fear than home? 


 


This Friday, the presentation subject is "Middle Ages."  It is the period of history we've been studying this year, but the boys just received swords from Vision Forum.  They worked for daddy loading wood in order to earn "real" swords.   And so they arrived.  The swords are four feet in length and made of stainless steel!  I'm a little fearful about this presentation, but the boys are incredibly excited!  Pray for me!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ready to Go!

Today was a quiet day and I had a chance to "catch up" on my reading.  I'm trying to read through the entire bible from Genesis to Revelation this year.  I am about two weeks behind even after spending the better part of the morning reading!


 


As I was reading in Exodus about the construction of the temple and all of it's furniture, I thought about how the furniture was ready to move at a moment's notice.  The table of incense, the ark of the covenant, and the table for the show bread were all equipped with a golden ring at each of the four top corners of the pieces of furniture.  Into these rings, long wooden poles were inserted so that when the Lord moved, the pieces could be easily picked up and moved. 


 


God put his cloud over the tabernacle tent during the day.  At night, God represented Himself as a pillar of fire.  In Exodus 40:36, the Lord told Moses that when the cloud moved, the Israelites were to pack up and follow.  When the cloud remained on the tent, everyone stayed in that area.  When the cloud moved, the Israelites moved.  And they were ready.  All the priests needed to do to move the tabernacle furniture was pick them up by the poles and go.  They were ready to move when God said, "Move!"


 


It was upon reading this that I asked myself, "Am I ready to move when God says, 'Move!'?"  I need to be sure not to become too attached to anything of this world.  I need to be ready to throw off all of my stuff and all of my ideas when God says, "Move!"


 


So, are you living life with the poles in the furniture?  Are you ready to go?  If God called you to a mission in Africa, could you throw a few clothes in a bag and go?  Well, thankfully, God gives us more warning than a day to go to Africa!  But what about reaching out to the undesirable neighbor next door?  Can you throw aside your fear of rejection, or your disgust at another's lifestyle, to be a witness and go where God commands?  I have to say, that last example is one  with which I struggle.  I struggle with fear of man.  I struggle with fear of rejection.  But I'm feeling the challenge to dust off my poles.  I'm ready to watch the cloud.  I'm learning that I need to move when God says, "Move!"


 


I was always ready to go for the big things.  Go ahead, God, call me to the mission field.  We'll pack up the boys and go!  Have homeschool, will travel.  Go ahead, God, ask me to pursue foreign adoption.  I've got the poles in the furniture!  OK, God, shall we plant a church?  Do you want me to begin a city-wide women's bible study?  Let's go!  But, although God does occasionally ask big things of us, it is the day to day obedience for which He longs.  He wants us to move when He says, take a meal to the new neighbors.  He wants us to move when He says, wake up a few minutes earlier to spend extra time in prayer, or arrive at church a few minutes early to pray for those directing the service.  It is the, seemingly, little things to which God is more likely to call us.  Are you ready to move?


 


Matthew 24:42 says, "Watch, therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come."  The Israelites watched a pillar of cloud that was God.  We watch the clouds He created for another movement.   We are not watching for the cloud to move, but we're watching for them to part.  When the clouds do part, we will see our precious Savior coming to take us home.  Oh, come Lord Jesus!  I'm so ready to throw off these earthly trappings for His return!


 


But until then, just as the Israelites watched for the cloud to move, I'm watching.  My poles are in the furniture and I'm ready to answer His call.  I just pray that I can be faithful and go when He says, "Go!"

Monday, February 12, 2007

Pantry Treats

On Friday I tackled the daunting task of cleaning my pantry.  I am very blessed to have a small pantry just off the main entrance to our home and kitchen.  This large closet with shelves is located right next to our back door and remains quite cool during the winter months.  I removed everything from the pantry shelves and the pantry floor.  I put all of the food and storage items on the kitchen table, which soon overflowed to the counters and the floor.  Keeping busy hauling dry goods, coolers, and old lunch boxes kept me warm in spite of the below freezing temperatures which permeated our entrance and pantry area.


 


Although it took the better part of my afternoon, in the end I had a lovely, clean, and organized pantry once again.  I did throw away a few items that were "leftovers" from past cooking experiments, but I tried to find a use for almost everything.  One thing I had left at the end of my cleaning jag was a pile of dry cereal ends.  I had four to six bags of cereal with an inch of cereal left in the bag.  I didn't have the heart to throw away cereal when the regular price of it at the market is so high!  That's when I decided to make what will now and forever be known as "pantry-treats."


 


I pulled out my rice krispie treat recipe from my favorite recipe box and proceeded with the recipe.  In my treat recipe I mixed four different types of cereal.  Only one cup of the cereal had a sugar coating, the rest were very plain-types of cereal.  I doubled the traditional rice krispie treat recipe.  I used a little more than 10 cups of cereal, a stick of butter, and a large bag of mini-marshmallows.  After melting the butter and the marshmallows using the microwave and stirring after each minute, I added my conglomeration of cereals.  I poured all this into a 9x13 cake pan and let it sit.


 


We ate our pantry treats as part of a car-picnic on our way to a great thrift store that has a half-price sale on Friday evenings.  My husband thought that the use of different cereals gave the treats a better texture and some added flavor.  I will definitely be using this recipe again to clear out all those left-over cereals!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Book Review: Kingdom's Dawn

We are thoroughly entrenched in our Middle Ages study after being sidetracked by the vikings for months!  As part of the study, we began reading the Kingdom series of books by Chuck Black.  Our first read was "Kingdom's Dawn."


 


Everytime I read a chapter to the boys, they would chant, "Read another chapter!  Read another chapter!"  This book was engaging and full of action for two want-to-be knights.  It was full of valor and bravery, but also a great analogy of biblical truths.


 


Our oldest son picked up on the biblical parallels right away.  As I read the story of Leinad's father's time in a paradise-like castle with his wife, our son said, "Oh, it's like Adam!"


 


This book has inspired our little knights!  They earned $50 for stacking wood this fall and they used it this weekend to order swords from Vision Forum (www.visionforum.com).  Their sword of choice is the William Wallace sword because it looks like the sword that's on the cover of the book.


 


When we finished the book we put it in Daddy's "launch pad."  He came home from work to find it there and we told him that he just had to read this book.  Daddy read it in two days and wanted the next one immediately.


 


Well, we don't have the next book yet and need to take a trip to the bookstore to pick it up!  Today, Daddy said, "Hey I'm ready for that next book.  Where is it?"  We had to remind him that we need to take the 40 minute drive to the book store.


 


So, our next book will be Chuck Black's Kingdom's Hope.  I think we'll pick up Kingdom's Edge while we're there, too!