September 2010


Chocolate for breakfast…

Hot coffee while everyone is asleep…

A sweet smelling baby in my bed…

My favorite, cozy sweater wrapped around me…

A crisp fall morning…

Maybe Mondays aren’t so bad after all.

Enjoy your week, be encouraged, and appreciate the small gifts that exist in each day.  Gratefulness is contentedness.

LOL!  So I was perusing a blog this morning and I ran across this post…  Forcing me to read it, the title was nothing short of an attention grabber.  So I read it.  Can’t say I was particularly happy about it.  First I never have PMS… This comes from having nine babies in 14 years and nursing all of them.  Alas, the post was about being sober.  Sigh.  I try to read quickly over that part of Titus.  I have an awful time with it.  I’m not any more thrilled with that particular verse now that I know what it means.

The Bible and PMS

I must give the author credit.  Guts?  She’s got ’em.  My oldest beloved blessing was reading along with me and she giggled.  I knew what she was reading.  I looked that young lady right in the eye and said, “I REFUSE to ask your Daddy what habits I should be working on.”

Sigh.  We all know I will later.  If he’s quick on his feet, he’ll know it’s dangerous ground and change the subject.  Sadly he’s been working a lot lately… He might just give me an answer.  Oh dear.

Let me preface this:  We buy into the hype!  We get all fuzzy and warm and tickled by the idea of curriculum that will solve “that” problem for us, whatever that might be.  And there’s nothing better than one more Bible curriculum, what say ye one, what say ye all?  Here! Here!

And after all, it’s BIBLE so we can TOTALLY justify yet one more purchase of yet one more book, right?

And this would be true… IF:

IF it would inspire us to spend more time reading God’s Word.
IF it WERE God’s word.
IF we didn’t use it as a replacement for time spent reading God’s word.
IF it didn’t end up STEALING time spent reading God’s word.

Dunno about you, but my time tends to get cut short.  And so what happens is we spend time on a great Bible curriculum and might never quite make it to actually digging into the actual Bible.

Uh Oh.  Are there any alarm bells ringing truth right now?  If so, then know I sympathize.

Recently a sweet mama asked for opinions on Bible curriculum on a forum.  I’m actually not anti-Bible curriculum.  I’m not!   I’m just the voice crying, “Don’t let yourself get distracted from what counts!”  Love ya!

The Post:

I’m just going to toss this out there… :thumbsup:  And it is meant to ENCOURAGE not to discourage.

Use a curriculum.  Use any curriculum.  Use no curriculum.

*BUT* make sure your children are seeing you open up your Bible and read the word of the Almighty GOD to them.

Because there is not ONE curriculum out there more effective than that.

And, as a fellow Christian, I LOVE to be sidetracked and distracted by one more bible study, one more good “Christian” book, one more lovely Christian author.  There isn’t anything bad about any of them… Well, unless of course the time you put into them takes away from time spent in the Word.

So, the catch 22 here is this:
If you will not DETRACT from your study of the Bible, then please, find and use whatever curriculum you’d like.
But, when all is said and done, if it’s not DRIVING you to your Bible and your children aren’t seeing you pick up your Bible & read to them from your actual Bible, toss it, sell it, give it away, or burn it. 🙂

At the end of the day a book is just a book.  The Bible is the Living Word of Our Lord.  You can never go wrong by picking up the Bible, opening it at random, and reading aloud to your children.  Period.

Recently we were driving down the road when we saw a zippy little car next to us.  It was a car for a housecleaning service and it had the motto printed all over the car…  “Because you have better things to do.”

Really this post is the culmination of a lot of irritants and realizations in my life.  Because we have better things to do with our time… Hmmm…

We, as a people, have so much STUFF.  We have stuff so we buy stuff to organize our stuff.  We “outgrow” our homes because we have more stuff than we have space.  Listen to me now:  Stuff, all stuff, takes maintenance.  That isn’t necessarily bad.  Some stuff is WORTH maintaining.  And I don’t mean cost effective.  I mean that it has value (remarkably different than cost) in our lives to such a point that it is worth the time & effort to maintain it.  If it has no value or worth to your daily life WHY ARE YOU WASTING TIME & ENERGY MAINTAINING IT?

Seriously.

Let me provide you with a few examples.  If you have more than one set of sheets for each bed, or if you are insane, like most of my immediate family and require 3-5 sets of sheets per bed, this is crazy.  Take them off, wash them, put them on.  This whole maintenance thing of take off the sheets, go through the laundry closet, get out the new set, do the laundry, fold up the other set, organize them in the closet is NUTS!  Wash ’em, put them back on the bed.

We have recently had the remarkable experience of moving from a glorified 2 bedroom home to a much larger home.  The old farmhouse we were in had one bathroom, one bathtub, one toilet, and two upstairs bedrooms.  Okay, one bedroom upstairs and a moderately sized, square hall a.k.a the boys’ room.  We had a little office off the living room for our room.  When I say little I mean little… We had a bed, an upright dresser, and enough room to walk around the end of the bed if we walked sideways.   Frankly, I thought it was cozy.  Honestly?  I really liked it.  Because the bedrooms were small we weren’t tempted to “store” things in them i.e., use them as storage facilities to maintain things of no value.  There was only one bathroom.  Sure, that meant sometimes you waited in line.  It also meant there was ONE bathroom to clean.  We are currently renting a home that has three bathrooms.  I would NOT have been so excited if someone had explained to me I was going to need to clean all three of them.

I am *not* complaining.  I like this house.  Maybe not the house exactly, but certainly the acreage and the space and the trees.  I love the neighbors and the community.  But, I’m telling you folks, we have not set up our LIVES to accomplish our goals.

The old farmhouse was built quite a while ago.  It had a very small living room and a huge eat in kitchen.  It was a “cooking” kitchen – meant to prepare meals in with everyone lending a hand.   This current, modern kitchen is cute.  It’s definitely large and bright and I like that.   But it’s certainly set up more for entertaining with separate areas off of the kitchen.   It’s not meant for family togetherness.  There is so much space that everyone spreads out, goes their own way.

We re-evaluated a couple of things this weekend, rearranged some areas.  Our television has made its’ way up to our bedroom.  And as I rearranged the family room I realized we had set up the entire room to focus around the television.  For a family that insisted we continuously TRY to cut down “screen” time, we had certainly set ourselves up for failure.  What do you want to do?  Oh, I don’t know…  And the television beckons from EVERY angle of the room.  Interesting.

Time.  None of us ever has enough, do we?  We spend time maintaining things that have no value.  It could be actual things… It could be doing laundry when we could simply cut down on our clothes.  It amazes me how I complain about not having enough time, but yet I don’t want to do anything difficult or uncomfortable like give up internet or things of that nature.

Earlier this week a friend sent me a letter.  I didn’t find the TIME to write her back.
Last month Abigail took a scissors to my comforter.  I couldn’t find the TIME to repair it.
Elizabeth has given me two shirts and a skirt to repair – I hadn’t found the TIME to sew them.
The garden has run to weeds…  I haven’t made the TIME to keep it up.

Look at those four things.  They’re relatively important.  And yet they’ve shifted down my list of priorities below “entertainment” certainly as blogging, Facebook, and screen time has misplaced them.   I can’t say I spend a crazy amount of time on the internet, but certainly more than absolutely necessary.

Recently I gave up the internet for a short while.  We had it put on vacation… It was a bet with my sister, I lost.  During that period, I became acutely aware how dependent I am on immediate gratification.  And how impatient it makes me.

Letter writing?  No time – send an email.   Can’t keep a garden – not enough time?  Pick up veggies at the market.  Stitching a shirt?  Bah, she has more in the closet.    Ripped comforter?  No time!

Tonight I sat and stitched the two shirts, the skirt, and the comforter by hand.  It took a good deal of time, about two hours.   For two hours I was still, moved slowly, was quiet, and just concentrated on my task at hand.  There was much peace and a good deal of satisfaction to be gained from that.  The same is true with a letter written to a friend or a loved one, vegetables grown by your own hand, a new skirt given to a daughter, or something gifted made by hand.   These things take time.  They develop patience, sweetness, perseverance.

How we complain that the world moves too quickly, that there are not enough hours in the day, that children grow up too quickly….  And yet we constantly set ourselves up for failure.  *WE* are the ones tearing down our own homes, brick by brick, rather than building them up.

I humbly pray that we not live our lives in THEORY, sitting idly by the internet as real life takes place around us, without us truly PRESENT.

Go.  Be PRESENT.   Interact.  Do not numb yourselves with a screen or a book today.  Do hard things.  Do things that take TIME.  Be still.   And be grateful.

Yesterday sucked.

There, I’m just going to put it out there.  😉  It did.  I felt discouraged every inch of the entire day and I really just chose to feel sorry for myself.  Everything did NOT go according to plan yesterday.  Now, should I have expected that?  Yes.  It’s September.  Isn’t that national homeschool mom discouragement month?  You know, where all of your best laid plans get a little crumpled and rough around the edges?  LOL.

I don’t know if the move, the chaos, the medical stress, etc has just caught up with me or if it was that it was the first overcast day in the season of rain I’m dreading in the Pacific Northwest. 😉  I’m a sunshine girl, so the rain yesterday is indicative of a long, wet, overcast season.

Yesterday I was feeling discouraged.  I’m certain that friends praying for me certainly helped.  You have to love friends who will just pray for you.  Really.  There are days when they could say all the right things and it wouldn’t help.  They mean well, but it sometimes goes in one ear and out the other.  Prayer on the other hand goes in God’s ear, and it never goes to waste.

So, last night, a beloved friend sent me an email I apparently had sent her a while ago.

Today a woman posted on the Woodshed board about not having any likeminded friends. About being alone and it being so hard not having someone who can encourage you, and remind you of what you are and why you’re here. Someone to say, “Hey we’re here to point to God.” We’ve been back in Iowa and I’m back in my hometown and there are so many expectations of who I should be. I should be cute and sporty and dressing a certain way and acting a certain way and I can be “a little” religious but it has to be in a very non-obtrusive way. You know it’s cool to be about God as long as you don’t take it too far. And I think I’ve done a good job of watering down my saltiness. Lucky me… my kids know the “right” kids and they wear the “right” tennis shoes, so I get to sit by the “right” moms during ball games. Lucky me. The funny thing is, luck doesn’t feel so good. It looks good. It just doesn’t feel so good. I’ve been so all about me lately, wrapped up in appearances that I’!
ve forgotten that it was never about me. It was always about Him. And I’ve stopped pointing.
I don’t know how to get back on track from here. I have lots of acquaintances, but no real friends, and honestly, I don’t think that’s what I need right now. I would have said I need a good church, but the same trap of keeping up appearances is VERY OBVIOUSLY there… if not more than here. Sometimes I ask God, can’t I compromise? Why do you ask me to be so different? Why birth control? Why that conviction? It’s so damn hard some days. Why other things? I’m grateful for the convictions and for my salvation. It’s funny how we expect if something is RIGHT then it should be EASY.
But back to what I was saying. This woman posted about no in real life friends. And I was reminded of myself, alone in a desert (literally), apart from any other Christians for the hardest walk of my life…. He carried me through. And then He sent us friends.

Here’s a copy of my post.

Mama,

I want to tell you some about my time alone in the hopes that God will use it to encourage you as well.

In 2000 my dh joined the US Army. While he was gone, I was saved. He came home to an entirely different wife and we had to move from our hometown in Iowa to California. Talk about culture shock. We knew no one. Things were later complicated by a very hard pregnancy and in 2001 our daughter was born 14 weeks premature and after living almost two weeks, died. I was lonely. I was distraught. I needed a Christian woman as I was just a baby Christian and here I was facing this mountain.
It was hard to see then why I was without IRL friends (except for my dh whom I adore and am very, very grateful for) or family. Now, I see it. God sent me in the desert to grow me. It’s never a comfortable thing, this growing and changing. You’re pulled and stretched and contorted into something and someone that wasn’t before. The Bible was the only Christian words I heard other than MOMYS. I didn’t even belong to a Christian forum then. God kept me alone at this time.

Strangely enough, when the really hard times were past… when I had been at my lowest with only Him to carry me through… and they were gone and I was back “on my feet” finally He sent me a like minded friend. We met because I looked down and saw a cloth diaper on her baby. As we got to know one another (and I asked her several questions) we were surprised we had so much in common I think.
In 2001 she had a boy… and I had Elizabeth.
Two years later she had a boy and I had Rebecca.
One year later I had Tim and shortly after that she had her little girl.
Last year we had Abigail and she had another boy. God setting up courting? LOL.
All I can say is that these friends, these people God sent into our lives of that I have NO doubt, were priceless. They could not have been replaced by dozens of others. Over the years I’ve amassed just a couple of truly very dear friends. I do not have a ton of friends. But neither are they a dime a dozen. Truly they are women God has sent to me. Truly they help me to make good choices. They build me up. They tell me when I’ve been snappy to my kids, or have a bad attitude towards my dh. I could never say, “Ugh, can you believe he said that?” to these friends. They would stop me short and remind me of my responsibilities to myself, my family, and Christ.
Don’t fear your time alone. Embrace it. Looking back now I can see God was changing me, molding me in ways I could not have grown if I had had someone to lean on other than Him. I do not belittle my dh at all, however, the only Christian influences I had at that time were those of MOMYS digest and my Bible. How grateful I am to Him that He was enough when life was hardest. And what an amazing testimony He has given me to His greatness. He was not only able to send me a friend, but He matched her up so we would have a pregnancy buddy to commiserate with for four pregnancies.
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.

I hope this blesses you as I did not read your original post and only read the first one I came to and felt led to write you my story about not having IRL friends. I hope it is applicable to you.

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My friends, my sisters in Christ, they are worth more to me than rubies.  I have many aquaintances.  I have a huge extended family.  I am very grateful for all of them.  But the few women who are my closest friends, they are the ones who pray for me when I am discouraged.  And I am the one who actively prays for them.  We are in the joy and the hurt together.  May you have a few, special, very beloved women in your life like this.  I am so incredibly blessed.  Two of them, from our time in the Army,  I have not seen in over six years.  I talk to them weekly, at least.

Pray for your sisters in Christ, that they be encouraged this day.

Pray for your sisters in Christ, that they have the strength to continue their walk.

Pray for your sisters in Christ, that they actively love their children and their husbands with the love of Christ, a sacrificial love.

Pray for your sisters in Christ, that their picture of themselves be with God’s eyes.

Pray for your sisters in Christ, that they see their children as blessings of God.

Pray for your sisters in Christ, that they have  a spirit of thankfulness.

May you be blessed on this day.

I love sorting things.   You take a big pile of “stuff” and sort through, putting each into a neater, smaller, sub-divided pile.   I’m beginning to learn that I like my life more organized than I ever would have thought.  I like bringing order to the chaos!  Don’t get me wrong, I like chaos, but a little order never hurt. 😛

So, I was sorting through previous posts today.  Okay, it wasn’t really sorting so much as it was looking for Daniella’s weights so I could put them in her baby book.  Is that cheating?  I actually think the fact that I’m filling out the ninth baby’s book gets credit, doesn’t it?  At any rate, I realized I hadn’t told my secret.

So I re-purchased Tapestry of Grace.  And, might I add, let this be a lesson to all of you!   After selling the curriculum, I decided to start planning my own, like the good ‘ole days when Ana was a little girl.  I remember loving planning her curriculum.  And it took less than one week to remember why I stopped doing all the planning by myself.  It’s work!  It’s a lot of work.  And the idea of coordinating the littles to match Ana and Christian is overwhelming.  So, it took one week to admit it was a mistake, one week to decide whether I wanted print or digital, and another week to purchase.  That’s right, three weeks.  It took me three weeks to correct my mistake.

We did end up ordering the print with the digital option.  I have found out I am not a digital person, but I do like printing directly from my computer.  That said, I need to have the print copy in my hands.  Thank goodness for my husband who said I wouldn’t like just the digital version.  He was so right.  It’s nice having someone who “gets” me.  Better yet, it’s really nice to have someone who doesn’t say, “I told you so.”  LOL.

I have Marcia’s Writing Aids and I additionally purchased WWE and Meaningful Composition because I wanted to look at them.  I’m withholding reviews for right now, but after beginning to watch the IEW CDs, I honestly think I won’t be using either WWE or Meaningful Composition.  I AM keeping Writing Aids.  It’s an amazing resource.  Some day I’d like to meet Marcia Sommerville.  I’d like to thank the woman who put together Tapestry personally.   The deeper I dig, the more amazed I am at the amount of effort she poured into such a resource.

And for your morning dose of encouragment, the pep talk.

Good morning fellow homeschooling moms.  It is September.  It is the “official” month of homeschooling.  In this month you will begin to put to work all of that curriculum that looked so incredibly perfect in the catalog or online.  As you are *not* a perfect teacher and your children are less than perfect students, some of this curriculum is going to fall short of the intended purpose.  Also, you are going to doubt your sanity.  You are going to ask yourself, “What was I thinking?”  Often the question is, “Can I really do this?” or better worded, “Why did I think I could pull this off?”

Let me run you back through the last several years….  EVERY September, and several other months as well, you’ve asked yourself these questions.  You’ve probably been on a break recently.  And during that break you re-evaluated what you were using, what worked, what didn’t.  You sought other moms’ opinions on curriculum and probably did a little, or a lot, of research on your own.  During this break I’m certain you waxed philosophical about the finer points of educational method.  In your head or Excel, you created the perfect schedule.  You somehow saw your day moving so much smoother than it is in real life.

There is a reason for this.  It is because in your head the baby did not throw up, the two year old was potty trained, the three year old didn’t get diarrhea.  The five year old DID actually learn to sit still and the six year old was a compliant child who was happy all the time.  In your head, the eight year old was just as interested in history as arts and crafts time. 😛  The eleven year old never wanted to play video games in your daydreams.  Your fourteen year old certainly was not at odds with your literature suggestions and she didn’t come up with a “better suggestion” and request to study a different time period.  These things simply did not take place during your quiet time dreaming.

And, so, in response to this shocking little wake-up call, let us remember there was, usually, a great deal of thought poured into the curriculum you chose.  No, it is not perfect, but then again, neither is that “other” curriculum you’re eyeing right now.  Yes, I know!  It’s FUN to get new curriculum in the mail.  It’s a blast to open a box and smell the new book smell.  It won’t be any more enjoyable to implement the new curriculum either, lol.

I do not say this to discourage you from trying something new!  I only want to help you prevent the constant cycle of, “Buy it, Try it, Sell it, Seek Something New.”  There should be an acronym for that, right?

Let’s go over the golden rule of homeschooling:

There is no perfect curriculum.  There is only curriculum that will inspire and encourage you to use it consistently.

Almost anything will work to educate your children if you are willing to consistently apply effort to use it.  And no “perfect” curriculum under the sun will work, no matter how great it is, no matter how many awards it has won, if you never apply it in real life.   We cannot, and should not, live life in theory.  We must live life in practice.

And so, I tell you, enjoy September!  The best things in life are those we work hard for.  Often the enjoyment of something comes from the hard work and effort we’ve poured into it.  Just because something is hard does not make it not worthwhile… Often it is just the opposite.

Yes, you can do this.  No, you are not crazy.  Yes, the children are imperfect.  God created you for this.  He gave these specific children to you.  And He chose to give YOU to those children.  You are not a perfect wife, a perfect teacher, or a perfect mother.  But you were God’s choice for this particular family.  It is September.  You will have doubts.  Remind yourself of this for the next twenty-eight days and don’t lose your joy because you can do this!