"Zest"fully Clean

June 30, 2010

Aubree was playing in the bathtub with her toys. I turned around to do something, (I was still in the same room with her) and within minutes I heard her crying. She had gotten soap in her eyes trying to wash her hair. Her eyes were burning and she was frightened. So I took away the soap, washed out her eyes, hands, and hair, scooped her up and wrapped her in a towel and held her close to me until she felt better.

How many times have we done basically the same thing? How many times have we done something that we were warned (by God) not to do and we found ourselves alone, in pain, and frightened? We quickly realize that we've messed up and call out to our Heavenly Father to rescue us. And faithfully, He rushes to us, cleans up our mess, and holds us close in His comforting arms until we feel better.

My kids often struggle with our rules. They don't always understand and appreciate that we make rules for their benefit. They get caught up in their (human) selfish desires and don't see the bigger picture. Often, they interpret a rule as something "to make them miserable". (They are confusing the rules with the punishment. LOL) Do we do the same thing when it comes to God's rules for us? Do we not see the bigger picture and decide to put our selfish desires above His perfect desires for us? It is easy to say- "Oh well, I don't see the harm in it. It's not going to hurt anyone." But, God knows all. He is omniscient. Why is it so hard for us to trust His perfect knowledge?

Like my kids, I struggle with this daily. The lure of sin is incredibly overpowering at times, and our imperfect flesh can be weak. It becomes more than easy to justify breaking the rules. We can talk ourselves into a heap of trouble before we know it- again! But, we should be constantly trying to learn from each failure, we should be growing with each experience that God rescues us from, and we should become stronger in our faith daily, and our heart should yearn to seek His approval. Imagine, if you will, how would you feel if your children tried their absolute best every day to do the things that you want for them to do and to refrain from those things that you've warned against?..... (I'm giving you a minute to wrap your mind around that thought, okay fantasy.) ..... What would your relationship be like? ..... (Take another minute)..... How would it be different than when you are constantly in discipline mode? Don't you want to have a relationship like that with God? How awesome it would be to sit in His favor daily!

Lord, I come to You on my knees with my head bent low and my heart heavy. Please forgive me for giving in to my own wishes and going against what You desire for me. Forgive me for thinking that I can ignore Your rules. Forgive me for being that example to my kids. Please fill me with Your grace, mercy, and love. My heart desires to do Your will and to teach my children by doing. In Jesus' most wonderful name I pray. Amen.


The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

June 29, 2010

I was talking with my 81 year old grandmother the other day. I love to hear stories from long ago. Times were so much simpler (and harder) back then. There was no air conditioning. You didn't stay in the house either. You were lucky to have screens on your windows to be able to sleep at night without the mosquitoes eating you alive! You couldn't turn on the news at 10pm and see what the weather man had to say. You watched the sky and noticed the subtle changes to predict what was coming. You shared the one newspaper that came out weekly. You shared an old rag (or the newspaper) in the outhouse with the whole family! (YUCK) Have you ever thought of toilet paper as a luxury item? You worked in the field day in and day out-if everyone didn't work then no one ate. There were no trips to Wal-Mart. There was NO Wal-Mart! There was no candy, no toys. The money you had went to basic survival. You played with sticks and dirt and whatever else you found in nature.

We take so much for granted. We are rushing here and rushing there. Wasting money on things we can't even recall. Things we think we have to have were things that were only dreamed of when my grandmother was a girl. (Sharing a rag? Really? Ugh!) Can you imagine what ladies did once a month? I won't ever ask her! I don't want to know. I wonder what the houses smelled like? You know they didn't have perfumed cleaners and candles. There were no dishwashers or automatic washing machines. You scrubbed your clothes on a wash board and hung them on the line to dry. What would my kids think of not having video games or satellite? Or toys? And the clothes they had were made by momma. Shoes? HaHa. What do you think happened when someone got sick? Cancer? Think of someone you know who has taken advantage of modern medical technology. How do you think their life would be different without that treatment? You didn't run to the grocery store to pick up something "quick" to make for dinner. You made your own bread, milked your own cows, picked your own eggs, grew (and ate) your own vegetables. No frozen pizza. My kids would be appalled! Forget McDonald's. Dating was quite different then too. You didn't go to movies or clubbing or wherever kids go these days. (I have been out of the dating scene for almost 20 years now!) You certainly acted like a lady (or a gentleman) in fear of what would happen to you if you didn't! How do you think discipline worked back then? You got spanked just like your friends' got spanked. You didn't call 9-1-1 or Child Protection. Your parents were child protection! That's why you got spanked! You didn't have to lock your house and set your alarm system. No body had anything to steal.

But, people knew what was important. Family. Friends. Health. Hard work. They were happy for favorable weather and good harvests. They enjoyed each other's company. The kids were the entertainment. I wonder what my great-great grandparents would think if they suddenly came back to life to see the world today? Cell phones, computers, internet and satellite, fast cars and faster women?

I thank God for modern conveniences! I love my Honda Odyssey and my Air Conditioning! I am grateful for a washer and dryer and dishwasher and vacuum cleaner and running (hot) water. I just wish that some of the important things wouldn't have gotten lost in the race for more . Waking daily to the stillness of the morning. Welcoming the sun setting in the sky every evening. The whole family gathered around the supper table each night. Being present without the distractions and stresses of our modern life. I want to try to give my kids some of what this world seems to be missing today all the while taking advantage of the many advances we have seen since my grandmother's childhood. I feel so unbelievably blessed to be able to slow down and not have to conform to a schedule set by society. We can make our own schedule and learn at our own pace. I want to make a deliberate effort to use this incredible gift of time that I've been given to make precious memories with those I love to pass on to generations to come! And I hope our legacy is one of love and family.


A Future and A Hope

June 28, 2010

"For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

If you have known me for a while, you probably know that this is my favorite Bible verse. Throughout my life I have endured many different challenges and trials. But, this verse always offers me comfort, peace, promise, and hope.

So what does this mean exactly?
"For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord." No matter what you are facing in your life you can rest assured that God saw it coming. It is not a surprise to Him. He is not caught off guard and does not need a "plan B" because He has allowed this into your life.

"They are plans for good and not for evil,..." This is God telling you that He loves you and He has a desire for all things good for you. He wants more for you, not less. He wants you to be in a better place, not worse off. He wants you to know that He is using this difficulty to help you, not to hurt you.

"...to give you a future and a hope." He does not want you to worry. He can see past this moment even though you cannot. Once you travel through this difficult part of the pathway of your life, you will end up in a place He desires for you. He does not wish for you to be destroyed and hurt by what you are facing. He wants you to be strengthened and for you to grow.

Whenever I am faced with something in my life that is scary and that I cannot see a way out, I always remember this verse and take comfort in knowing that God is the author of my life. He saw it coming, He allowed it to happen, He will see me safely through wherever He takes me. I just have to remember to trust Him and know that everything I must endure along the way is a lesson I need to learn in order to get to closer to Him. And closer to Him is always better than where you are now!


"Home" Schooling 101

June 27, 2010

So far, my homeschooling blog has not contained anything relating to "schooling" in the traditional sense. So, today, I figured I would throw out a few tips to those of you with young children. Now, you may or may not be a "homeschooler". Your child may not even be old enough to go to school, but, here are a few ideas I have come across to make teaching your child simple skills fun!

For math you can write number words on index cards and have your child put the correct amount of stickers on each card. Also, I have purchased several dice. You can use these dice in many ways. You can teach the concept of addition by having your child identify the dots and add up each dice. You can even have him adding more than two dice as he gets a little older and better skilled. You can also use the dice to illustrate place value. Once die with two dots and one die with six dots can illustrate 26. I even bought Extra Large dice that are about 5" square! Dominoes can be used in a similar way. We also use candy or dry cereal very often in math! When we're done with a lesson he enjoys eating his work. Another manipulative I like for math is colored "popsicle" sticks. You can buy them very inexpensive. Group them together in bundles of 10 with a rubber band to teach place value and adding by 10's, etc. I also found magnetic wooden numbers and math symbols (+, -. x, -/-). I am certain Brant will like to answer math problems on the fridge much better than the traditional paper and pencil method.

For spelling words I bought a metal cookie sheet and Brant can spell out his words in flour on the cookie sheet. You can use shaving cream too. Another fun way to spell out words is to use different color markers for each letter to make "rainbow" words. I also have purchased the magnetic wooden letter for the fridge for him to spell out his words too. Another fun way to teach spelling words is to have him unscramble his spelling words. Other fun ways to teach spelling words are: have your child write them with fancy letters, make a word search puzzle, let him write spelling words on construction paper with glue and put on glitter, yarn, dry beans or pasta, let him type his spelling words on the computer using his favorite fonts and print them out, let him paint them onto butcher paper, let him spell his words with play-doh, spell words using pipe cleaners, finger paint them.

To bring out a love of writing in your child you can begin a "journal". You start the first entry and try to give you child ideas for his own entry... ie write about your favorite vacation as a child and include as many details as possible. Have you child write and journal entry and return it to you so you can make another journal entry and return it to your child... so on and so forth. You may just discover some very interesting things about your child and grow your relationship in a special direction in this process. I have also found that "story starters" are wonderful tools! Here are a few ideas to get your child started: *Imagine you opened your own restaurant. Explain what the restaurant look like, who works there, and what you serve. *Imagine you woke up and saw a dinosaur in your back yard. Describe what you see and do. *If you could cook any meal for your family, what would you make? Describe the meal and tell how you would make it. *If you could have lunch with any famous person, who would it be? What would you talk about? *If you could have any animal for a pet, what would it be? Describe the pet and tell how you would take care of it. *Write a story titled, "My Journey on a Pirate Ship". You and your friends can star in the story. *Imagine you were a wonderful painter and your parents would let you paint anything you wanted on your bedroom walls. What would you paint? Describe what it looks like. *Describe some ways a person your age could earn money. *Invent a new kind of sandwich. Tell what's on it and how you would make it. *Describe your favorite season. Tell what kinds of things you like to do during that season. *If you could be on any television game show, what would it be? Describe what happens when you're on the show. *Which superpower would you most like to have? Describe what you would do with your powers.

There are many ways we all can teach our children. How creative can you get? I would LOVE to hear your tips and ideas for teaching kids of any and all ages! Feel encouraged to leave a comment- and who knows- your ideas may end up on a future blog.


Celebrate (by Tammy Stelly)

June 26, 2010

In honor of my best friend: by Tammy Stelly (FindingTheSONlight)

Birthdays are a
celebration of life. Some people let birthdays pass without any celebration at all. The idea of growing older isn't something that they want to be reminded of. I've come to know recently, that every day that we are on this earth breathing, is a reason to celebrate. We have been given God breathed life! That's enough to shout about. The word birth means, "the beginning of existence". The word existence means, "our living". That means the day of our birth is a celebration of our existence, our living! Our existence was calculated and planned out by THE ultimate creator of all...God. We were molded in His very hands. How can we not celebrate the day that He chose to introduce His most magnificient creation to the world? Our birthdays are a celebration of God!

Today we celebrate the existence, and the living, of a very special person in my life...Dana Calverette. I will not reveal her age, in fear of never being allowed back into her house. I will just say, that it is somewhere between 36 and 38. (But, that is only an estimate. Age may vary depending on how she feels after her morning cup of joe..wink, wink) Dana's life and existence is a great celebration for me. Because, I know, that when God molded her delicately and perfectly in His hands, He knew the special day that He would introduce her to me, and that she would become a celebration in my life. Dana is one of the most honest people I have ever met. She causes me to reach down deep inside of myself, and see who I really am and who I am capable of being. Dana has listened to me cry on several occasions, fussed at me a time or two, and laughed with me all the rest. She is a devoted wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, homemaker, teacher,
prayer warrior, and her latest accomplishment...writer. I am so proud of her. She always, always approaches each new task in her life with determination and confidence. And on those mornings, where she isn't feeling quite that spunky...she is quick to drop to her knees to seek God's guidance. She is one of the best listeners, and her advice should be sold by the bucket full. She is wise beyond her years, always making sure to never preach about something she hasn't already tried herself.

Here are a few things about Dana that I think are pretty awesome!!

She has an amazing singing voice (angelic), but is too humble to admit it.

She gave my son his middle name...Jobe (Thank you!)

She had her four beautiful kids completely natural...COMPLETELY!!

She is an amazing cook! (I love her German potatoes recipe)

She is the best "coffee buddy" on the planet (besides our husbands of course)

She is a very talented photographer.

She can wear any hairstyle and always looks amazing (makes me a little sick..lol)

Her favorite shopping buddy is "Clarence" (wink,wink) She has the ability to smell a bargain from a mile away!

She gives the best hugs! (smiley face)

Dana is a true blessing in my life and the life of others...I don't even think she realizes how much. I hope this sums it up for her. Celebrate with me today! Celebrate her life and her existence! Happy Birthday my beautiful friend! You are forever a
part of my heart, my life, my existence. I love you!

A little celebratory music: please turn up the volume, click on the link below and join in on the Celebration!!

True Treasure

June 25, 2010

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal" (Matthew 6:19-20)

I worked as a Travel Consultant in an office until 6 days before Karli was born. Then I worked as a Travel Consultant from home until about 2 months before Drake was born. It was nice to have the extra money, but, I felt like I could not do either of my "jobs" the way I wanted to. I wanted to give them both my 100% and I just physically couldn't. So, my kids won and I became a full-time SAHM. As a result, over the years our budget has changed. Recently, things for us, just like for many others, have gotten "tighter" with the failing economy. I can tell you, though, God has absolutely been faithful. There have been times where I thought, "okay, I know You've done it before, but I just do NOT see how You are gonna pull this off Lord." Well, needless to say, He has never let me down or let us go without anything we have ever needed! Praise God. He is Good!

As a result, my kids know that we have a budget. We only have so much money and bills and food come first. There have been times when they have wanted to go eat out or go somewhere "fun" and it just simply was not in our budget and we had to say no. I hope through this they are learning the all-important lesson of you cannot spend what you do not have.

They are also learning something more important. They are learning how valuable those things are that don't cost money. Most of the time they would much rather sit around in the living room just visiting with Freddie and me. Other times we will all go out into the garden and pull grass and pick cucumbers or peppers or berries. They love to watch movies with us or play PS3/Wii together. After all, isn't that what really matters? When was the last time you sat around the funeral home and said, "I remember that dress she bought me. It was so beautiful. I loved that dress." I imagine the conversation was more along the lines of "I remember when we went to such and such and she did this and we laughed so hard we cried. I loved the times we spent together." At the end of it all, it is not the presents that mattered, but the presence.

So, when we die what do we want to have when we get to heaven? Things that we must leave behind that turn into no-things as soon as we arrive, or a relationship with our Heavenly Father that will only blossom and become more real and beautiful? I know what I want. I want to spend my time here growing towards my God so when I do get to heaven He knows who I am and recognizes me from our time spent together while I was here on earth. More than anything else, I want this for my kids too. I want to teach them here on earth how to have a relationship with God that is just as real as their relationships with Freddie and me. That way, when they get to heaven God will smile with pleasure and delight when He sees them again!


The (Wo)Man in the Mirror

June 24, 2010

Last night I was watching Aubree play without her knowing it. She was so cute. She was bringing her baby to "pee-pee" on the potty. "Now let me wipe you" she'd say. "Okay, you sit here. It's my turn". There are many times when I have seen her put her babies in "time out". "Why is your baby in time out?" I ask. "She was fussing at Drakie and she was yelling at him and she wasn't being very nice and her has to sit in time out." she replies. Often I have had a mirror held up to my face by my children. It is very heartwarming when they are being sweet and gentle, kind and loving. When they are being ugly, rude and angry it is humbling.

I have to remember that my kids are constantly learning. They soak it all in. All- not just the good stuff that we WANT them to learn. I have a great privilege to be home with my children every day, homeschooling them, but it is just as much a responsibility. I must be careful to be ever mindful of my every action and re-action! I must lead by example of how they are to treat one another. Do they hear me gossiping or do they hear me talk kindly about others? Am I respectful to my husband or do I speak to him badly? Do I speak to them with respect or am I quick to yell at them in frustration and impatience? Do they see me being lazy or doing my chores with a happy heart? Do they see me helping others? Do I display tolerance? Am I loving? Am I a good friend? Am I honest? I cannot expect them to be any of these things if I am not.

Father, please forgive me when I have failed to serve as You have commanded. There have been times when I have overlooked someone else's feelings for my own. I am guilty of not being the best that I can be. I pray that You will fill me with Your Grace and Mercy. I want to be a good example for my children. I rely upon You totally. In Jesus' most wonderful name I pray. Amen.


My Sister's Birthday

June 23, 2010

Tomorrow is my sister's birthday. For two days we will be the same age. It has been fun throughout our life to be the same age for those two days. It's not common. I think we're what you would call "Irish twins".

I want to wish my sister a Happy Birthday and dedicate this entry to her.

I cannot remember a time in my life when I didn't have her. She's always been a part of my life. My earliest memories are of us playing babies. Now, we didn't need baby dolls- she was small enough to be the baby doll and I carried her around like a proud Momma! I do recall sometimes being frustrated that she couldn't carry me around and let me have a turn at being the baby. But, this is life. We spent pretty much all of our time together, playing. I had a built in best friend and playmate. Once I hid her from Momma on the record player. It was on a sliding shelf and I sat her on the turntable and slid it closed and it took a LONG time before Momma finally found her! Another time we also took a "spin" in the dryer! I don't know if I'm brave enough to tell stories from after we started driving. Once, we "snuck" out of the house, but never left the backyard! I also remember "protecting" her. I can remember when she was in Kindergarten and I was in 1st grade some of her friends came to me at recess to tell me that she was crying and needed me. I came to her rescue and soothed her until it was time to go back to class. We shared alot in our lives growing up~ toys, clothes, friends, a bedroom. We also had our differences. Our personalities were, and still are, very different. I am more outgoing/outspoken. Okay, loud. She has always been more quiet and reserved. I was more of the "leader" and she was more of the "follower". I tended to be the one to get into more trouble, because I couldn't keep my mouth shut. (I know, this is surprising. But, it's true.) She was the one who clung to Momma, while I was eager to get out of the door and test my independence. We've had our share of fights, mostly as teenagers. I do remember visiting "fist city" with her a time or two. After the fight I would have to promise to clean her room for a week to keep her from telling on me. We didn't always see eye to eye, but we did always love each other.

We grew up and moved on. She had a baby first. I have gone to her for advice more than once. She is a great Momma. I admire how respectful she is of her children. She is always careful to never embarrass them. That is no easy task. She seems so sure of herself in her parenting. She seems very fair and never too lenient or too strict. When I come to her for advice, she always knows what to say and can back it up with a bible verse or two.

She is also a good wife. She takes care of her family well, even when she is so tired that she can barely hold her eyes open without toothpicks. I have never heard her disrespect her husband and is always supportive of him, no matter what sacrifices she has to make of herself.

She is a good daughter, too. There have been times when I have not been so polite to my parents. But she is careful not to cross any lines with them, whether they deserve it or not. She is also a good daughter to her Heavenly Father. She holds herself to a high standard and has a character rivaled by few.

She is a good sister. We don't get to spend a whole lot of time together, but I always enjoy our talks. The only thing is I wish they would happen more often. Maybe one day she will be able to quit her job and we can talk everyday again. When I think back on my childhood I usually think of the times when we were two pre-schoolers having the time of our lives. There are some good memories from my past and she is in all of them!

So, even though life has brought us in two different directions, we will always have a bond from simpler times. When our days were carefree and our biggest worry was not spilling the water from the tea pot onto the floor or who was gonna be Ken and who was gonna be Barbie. (I always had to be Ken, by the way.)

I hope that my children are making these memories. That is one of the reasons that I LOVE homeschooling them so much. We get to spend most of our time together. I love to see their unique bonds, their friendships. I pray that they will grow up and remain close to each other. I want them to be able to call each other for advice the way my sister and I do. I never underestimate the value of time. It really is precious and something that many of us take for granted.

I wish you many more birthdays, opportunities throughout the years to make memories so that one day you can look back on a life well lived. I love you. Happy Birthday, Pam!


My Journey on Learning How to Discipline without Guilt

June 22, 2010

Oh, the joys of homeschooling. Today was library day. I love library day. Especially when I can also check out books. A good friend of mine offered to keep Aubree today so we could go to the library. Yay! I was able to check out 7 books of my own- I have already read one in its entirety. ("I Just Want You to Know" by Kate Gosselin) I've also checked out "Cosbyology" by Bill Cosby, "Rock This" by Chris Rock (don't ask), "Silent Witness" (The Untold Story of Terri Schiavo's Death) by Mark Fuhrman, "Gianna" (Aborted and Lived to Tell About It) by Jessica Shaver, "Madea's Uninhibited Commentaries on Love and Life" (there you go judging me again) by Tyler Perry, and probably the one I am most interested in reading next "I'm not Mad, I just Hate you!" (A New Understanding of Mother-Daughter Conflict) by Roni Choen-Sandler, PhD.

Please don't get me wrong. Karli and I don't have a "war" going on. She just has "tween" attitude. I feel so unprepared to deal with this in a healthy manner- like I'm driving blind. So, I want to do my research on how to discipline without guilt and self-doubt. I am always trying to learn ways to relate to and interact with my children that will not have them lying on some strangers couch at 25 years old confessing how "their mother screwed them up". (Maybe a little dramatic, but a fear of mine nonetheless.) I say that I am unprepared because my relationship with my own mother leaves me desiring more from my relationship with my daughters (and sons, too). It's not that we have a terrible relationship, my mother and I. It's just not exactly what I hope to have with my own girls. There are things that I would want from my mother that she is unable (or unwilling, or whatever the case may be) to give.

I want my kids to know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that they are my number one priority in life. I want everything for them that they cannot even dream for themselves. I want them to be more than I am. Better than me. This is a difficult time for me because I don't want Karli (or any of the kids, but I am dealing with these issues with her right now) to grow up with resentment towards me because of something I've done or didn't do. I hate having to discipline them. I know I have to because God tells me so. He has trusted me to guide them. I just pray that I am doing right by Him and them. I don't want to be too overbearing, but I also don't want to make the mistake of not enough "guidance" and "enforcement". I want her to know that I hear her voice. That I understand where she is right now. I, too, at her age did not understand the purpose of "rules". I thought it was just my parents being mean. I wish I could get her to know in her heart of hearts that there are so many things she doesn't know right now with her limited experience and time on this earth, and I can see a bigger picture and have more wisdom than she does. I wish she would just close her eyes and trust me in complete surrender. You know, the way God wants us to surrender our will to Him, because He is so much more wise than we are. He is all-knowing. He has a bigger desire for us than we have for ourselves. He loves us completely and perfectly in way we cannot even comprehend.

It is a slippery slope and I am getting bumped and bruised along the way. I don't KNOW all of the answers. I am simply doing the best I know how. When she is hurting it hurts my heart. Remember when you were a kid and your parents would say "this is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you"? I used to say to myself "Yeah right. That sounds good, but it just cannot be true." Well, I get it, now. Is God hurting because I am not able (or willing or whatever the case may be) to give Him more? Does my disobedience hurt Him more than it hurts me?

So, I am gonna buckle in for the long haul. I am gonna seek God's guidance. I am gonna pray like never before. I am gonna ask for advice from my girlfriends who have traveled this road before me and lived to tell about it, and ended up with a daughter who has become her goodest friend to boot! I'm probably gonna blog about it some more. I am gonna read what I can from the so called "experts". I am gonna love my kids like crazy and hurt when they hurt and try to make it better. I am gonna take this journey day by day, hour by hour if I have to. And in the end, I hope my kids cherish everything I have done for them and know that it has all been done in love. After all, I have some really wonderful kids. They are so precious and beautiful and awesome. I love them beyond comprehension. And I want to learn how to be the best Mommy that I can possibly be- for them!

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
Psalm 19:6-8


"Social" Studies

June 21, 2010

One of the "subjects" we all teach our children is "social interaction". Whether we make a conscious effort at it or not, our kids are constantly learning this from us. How do you treat other people? Is your philosophy one of "he wasn't nice to me so I won't be nice to him" or are you quick to look past others' actions and seek their intention and possible private struggles?

A few years ago, when Karli was still in public school, she came to me and shared how this person was not being very nice to the other kids. This made it very easy for the other kids to not be so nice to the offender. I shared a story with my daughter that I hope will impact her and stay with her for the rest of her life. When I was a little girl, there was someone several years older than me who would absolutely TORTURE me! Most of this torture was on the bus ride home. It was almost unbearable for my little 9 year old self to withstand. I carried that fear and pain with me for a very, very, very long time. But, I grew up. I got married. I got on with my life. One day, I ran into this girl. She came up to me (this was probably about 15 years after the "torture") and began crying and asking for my forgiveness for the way she treated me. She offered an explanation (not an excuse) for her behavior. She was being badly abused at home and I was her outlet. I explained to Karli that when others are unkind we should try to look past that specific action and consider that maybe there are circumstances in their lives that we are unaware of that are unbearable to them and their actions are simply a survival skill.

I am not saying that everyone who is unkind or unjust to you is in a secret crisis, but, you never know what happens behind closed doors. Our job as humans, Christians, children of God, is to love. We are not to attach conditions or stipulations to that love. We are to love freely without expectation and hesitation. Isn't that how God loves us? None of us deserve the love Jesus showed for us on the cross that lonely day when he went through excruciating pain, humiliation and eventually death. He was perfect. He died because you (and I) are not. Shouldn't we strive to be better than we are? We should not put conditions on who or how we love.

We also need to strive to not be the person who is unkind to others. When we are having a bad day it is more than easy to take it out on an innocent bystander. Usually someone you love very much. Using the same principal of not knowing where the "receiver" of your actions is in their personal life, you never know how your inconsideration of their feelings will impact them. What if they are struggling with self value and your action becomes a "validation" of sorts that their worth is less than what it really is?

It seems so simple. Be kind. But it is one of the hardest things we can do. I am guilty of reacting without thinking~ and then regretting it later. I allow myself to get angry (hurt) without considering the others' point of view. I take out my frustrations on innocent bystanders that I love very much. BUT- I want to do better. I want to be better. I want my kids to learn better! If you think about it, being bitter, unkind, and angry hurts you more than it does anyone else.

Father, I come to you today asking for Your forgiveness for all the times I have been unkind to others. I ask that you fill my heart with Your love and Your grace. Help me to look more at intention rather than action. Help me to be a good teacher to my children by example. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.


Father's Day Edition

June 19, 2010

Tomorrow is Father's Day. I am going to focus today on my husband and not my own dad, mostly because I, like most of you, am at a point in my life where being the parent is center stage. I hope you will indulge me.

Mother's have very hard jobs. We are usually the ones in the trenches when the kids get sick, when they fight, when they're bored, when they're annoyed or hungry or tired. But, let's not forget about what dad's do either. Sometimes, we need to search beyond the obvious and look at the big picture. How does "dad" live his life day to day?

Freddie does not sit with a textbook and teach "math"... but he teaches our kids lessons that are just as, if not more important.

He is always up at night with me when one of our kids is sick. He doesn't have to be. He just does it out of concern for his child. Our kids see that a father/man should be compassionate and nurturing.

If the kids are giving me a run for my money, one phone call to him is all it takes to get them back on track! They know that they are always accountable to someone and discipline is swift. They are learning that every action has a consequence- either good or bad, but it comes directly from the choices they make.

He gets up every day without ever complaining and goes to work~ and works HARD for us. We have never had to go without something we needed. When a hurricane tore the roof off of our house, he never broke down- he jumped in with both feet and began rebuilding our lives right away. He would work a full day and then come home and work like a dog until the wee hours of the morning! He takes his job as provider and protector very seriously and does his job well. We all feel safer when he's home. And I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that he would lay down his life for any one of us without a second thought. He is teaching our kids about hard work by requiring them to do chores around the house. Our kids know that a man/father/husband should be giving and strong and hardworking. They know that he should put his family first and do whatever it takes to make sure his family is taken care of.

He is a good example of what a husband should be, not only for our sons, but for our daughters too! He has never layed a hand on me, even though I would have deserved it a couple of times. He teaches our kids that they are to respect me, not only as their mother, but as his wife! Freddie and I rarely fight, but, our kids have seen us disagree. We don't believe in "knock down, drag out" fighting in front of our kids, but we want them to see that even though we don't always get along we still are committed to each other and we still love each other. They see that relationships take compromise. They see that sometimes you have to say "I'm sorry" and that sometimes you must exercise tolerance. They know that just because you have an argument you don't stop loving and respecting the other person. They are learning how to resolve conflicts.

I love how he is patient with our kids when he teaches them things. He will let Brant take 20 minutes to unscrew a screw that would take him literally 20 seconds to unscrew. He has been bringing them hunting since they were 2 years old! Both of my boys have taken a deer. He talks to them like they are people and not "kids". He will watch the same movies with them over and over and he will watch them play PS3 or Wii for hours! He treats our girls like the princesses they are and I am so jealous that they can be "daddy's little girls" (I'm not jealous of their relationship with him, just that I never had that relationship with my own dad.) He loves spending time with them and they know it. They are learning that the gift of oneself is truly important.

He teaches our kids by example. He is honestly one of, if not the most unselfish person I have ever met. When Freddie is your friend you are blessed because he is a good friend- loyal and giving. Even when it is difficult, he treats others in a way that he would like to be treated, (knowing he may not be given the same concession) simply because it is the right thing to do. He does not have many sciptures memorized, but I can tell you he is very sure of how God wants us to live and treat each other and he does his best daily to follow that guide. This is probably the most important way that he teaches our kids. They are learning that the right thing is not always the easy thing- but it is ALWAYS worth it in the end.

Freddie has a confidence about himself that I cannot fathom. He knows his worth~ to himself, to us, to his family, to his friends, and to God. He is humble all the while exuding confidence. I see this quality developing in my kids. They are learning that no one is better than them, but they are not better than anyone else.

I am not saying that he is perfect. He makes mistakes. We all do. But, let's all try to sit back and look at what our kids' Dad does day to day and give him due credit. It may not be in the obvious, overt displays of "teaching", but he is crucial to their learning and growing on so many levels. We cannot do this daunting job of parenting on our own. Let's thank Dad for being a great husband and example for our kids. Let's acknowledge that our jobs would be so much more difficult if not for the daily sacrifices and efforts and displays of love, patience, and respect of our husbands!

Happy Father's Day!


Spiritual Gifts

June 18, 2010

Isn't it amazing how God works? My mom has been doing a women's Bible study about discovering your spiritual gifts and she has been sharing with me, trying to guess what my spiritual gifts are. Well, today, I was reading my daily devotion from a homeschool curriculum publisher and the topic was about .... dut duh da duh... " spiritual gifts".

This has me thinking about what gifts God has given each one of my children. Karli is 11 years old. However, she is much older than that. She is very responsible and trustworthy. Since she has been very little she has loved rules, knowing what they are and, for the most part, following them Structure is her friend. She shows signs of being a good "mother". She has helped me in taking care of her brothers and looking out for them to make sure they're safe since they were born. She also cares for her dog the same way. I can count on her. She is dependable. Drake is smart. That is the first word that comes to my mind when I think of him. Intellectual. He also enjoys comedy. He loves to laugh and loves to make others laugh. His dream in life is to win big on America's Funniest Home Videos! Drake likes to make his own decisions. He does not like to be "bullied" as he calls it. I have to be careful in my discipline techniques with him. He has a huge heart that can easily be broken. Brant is a very hard worker. Lazy is just not in his vocabulary. If his dad or I are doing work he wants to be right there helping out. He is a good team player. Always eager to lend a hand. He has a soft heart and is full of compassion for everyone. He is a very good hunter and can outshoot pretty much every one of his friends and siblings. Aubree is still little, but she is alot like Karli in her behavior and is very smart like Drake. So we will see how her personality/gifts unfold. She already has her daddy in the palm of her hand like no one else in this world.

I have a desire to help my children recognize their gifts and grow them in the way the Lord desires. As a homeschooling parent, I have a rare gift that allows me to spend more time with my kids. I pray that I will not squander this gift away and use it to it's fullest potential.

Not only is it important for my kids' to develop their gifts, but I should also take a look at how I can be of service to God. I don't have to sit in church every Sunday to be a good Christian. Sitting in church does not make me any more of a Christian than sitting in an oven makes me a biscuit. What makes me a Christian is my heart. I love the Lord. My heart desires to do His will. My heart reminds me to be kind to others, to ask for forgiveness when I fail, to seek to do more. I want to share what God has done for me and can do for everyone. He is faithful. So I want to be faithful. I want to be of service in a way that has been specially designed for me by the hand of God. I believe part of it is through my children. I also believe that homeschooling serves a role in the design of my service. I also think that God uses me through the friendships that I have.

I challenge you today to look at your life and try to discover your God given gifts and seek to use them for the glory of God in some way. If you have a gift of cooking then cook a meal for someone who would really be blessed and deliver it to them. If you have a gift with kids then offer to babysit for a friend who really needs a break. You get the idea.

Father, I want to glorify You with my life and discover the joy in serving You. Please, reveal those gifts You've given me and empower me with the Holy Spirit to use them for Your glory. In Jesus' name, Amen.


My First Blog.

June 17, 2010

This seems strange. I'm writing a blog. I'm not exactly sure where this is taking me, but, my intention is to chronicle our day to day as a homeschooling family.

I guess I should start with a little background. I am a born-again Christian. I have been married to my husband for almost 18 years now. We met in high school and started our relationship as very good friends. Obviously it grew... and here we are, 4 kids later. We had trouble getting pregnant for our oldest daughter. We spent years, alot of money, more doctor visits than I can remember, and unnumbered tears. And it was worth everything. She is an amazing person. She is so mature and responsible. She has confidence in herself I can only wish I had at her age. Our oldest son was born almost exactly 2 years later. He is very smart and has a bit of a comical side to him. He loves laughing and making others laugh. His vocabulary rivals most adults. Our next son was born 2 years later and is a sly little guy. He is somewhat of an instigator and has a hard time refraining from touching his siblings. He is a very hard worker! Our youngest was born 4-1/2 years later. She is the queen. Has been since birth. She is sweet, funny and into everything. She plays very well by herself and I am amazed daily at how smart she is. My husband is simply AMAZING. He is my hero. I admire so much about him. He is a hard worker and one of the most unselfish people I have ever met. He is a good friend and an amazing spouse. Along with our kids, he is absolutely the best thing that ever happened to me. I want to grow very old with that man.

My kids did start public school. Karli completed 3rd grade, Drake completed 2nd grade and Brant completed Pre-K. I pulled them out in March of their 4th, 2nd, and K years respectively. Brant was having some trouble we'll say. He wasn't learning how to read and was at risk of not advancing to 1st grade. Freddie was adamant that he was not going to repeat Kindergarten and indicated that he wanted me to homeschool before we held him back. I did not want him to advance to 1st grade if he was not ready to do so. This is what started the whole process. I began to consider it. Previously, I would have never dreamed that I would have the ability on any level to homeschool my kids. But, God began to work on me. On a Monday in March of 2009 I knew that God wanted me to homeschool my kids. By that Wednesday, God said- "no, you don't understand- I mean you are to homeschool them NOW". That Friday was their last day of public school. It was a scary decision made with lots of prayer and research. But when God tells you to do something, you do it. I found curriculum for the two older kids on CD for the computer and I found an "open and go" curriculum for Brant. We (Brant & I) took that first year slow and he did not learn how to read no matter how hard I tried. I continued to research and ask questions until I found a program to teach him how to read online. It has been amazing to see him flourish. The child who had NO confidence in his abilities is now learning how to read and is bringing me books to read to me! We have begun our 2nd year of homeschooling. Karli is in 6th grade, Drake is in the 4th and Brant is in 1st grade. They are doing really well. The older two will continue with the same curriculum they were using before and I have changed what I am using for Brant.

Homeschooling may not be for every family. It works wonderfully for us. I hope I never offend anyone who chooses to send their kids to public school. I certainly do not think that it's the worst thing you can do to your child. I just was so frustrated with our experiences over the years, and God dealt with my heart, and I had the opportunity as a SAHM to be able to homeschool. People always tell me "I would never have the patience to teach my own children". To that I say "don't underestimate your ability". You would be surprised at what you and your kids can accomplish. My kids love being homeschooled. And you know what? They are SO much closer than ever before. They are "best friends" of sorts. They still have other friends, but they have an unbreakable bond. Do they drive me crazy? Sometimes. Absolutely. But, they would whether or not I was homeschooling. Are there downsides to it? Yep. I would LOVE to be able to go shopping without them. They are not the most fun shoppers. But, our lifestyle makes up for that. My kids play outside- and hard! My yard is always messy because they are constantly digging, building, and who knows what else. We can sleep a little late and go to bed a little late. We can go visiting or go to the library on a weekday. We can take a fieldtrip whenever we want to. We can meet Daddy for lunch and make our own schedule. It's a different life. A little bit slower paced than most. We are enjoying this time!

I hope you will enjoy with me where this journey will take us!