Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Remembering Thankfulness

Words for Wednesdays

154. Faces with smiles
155. Candy Milk Straws
156. Leftovers
157. Drawers full of clean clothes

That is where I left off on my thankful list, many months ago. If you haven't read Ann Voskamp's book 1000 Gifts, make it a goal to pick it up before the end of the year. It will change how you see your life.

While reading her blog today, I was reminded so clearly about the need for thankfulness in our daily routine.While dialoging about bucket lists, she reminds us, "Because the way to really live is not to try to fill your life up — but to spill your life out."


"When your cup’s already full of the blessings of God, you don’t need a bucket list.
You’re ready to pour your bucket right out."

So true!

Read the blog, then read the book. You'll be thankful you did. The background music alone is worth the trip to her blog. :)

So now I dust off my journal and add--

158. Ann Voskamp
159. Two arms to carry both a bike and scooter home on our long walk/ride.
160. The scent of pumpkin bread in the oven my daughter made.
161. Food for the week.
162. A basket full of fresh produce.


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Monday, August 27, 2012

Learning to Let Go

Mommy Mondays

Have you noticed how College dorms are starting to look like fashionable mini-apartments? Maybe it's just that Facebook has opened this phase of life up to me in new ways.

I'm grieving with parents who post: "Many tears were shed as we drove away." One sweet teen set-up a beautiful table with candles and a family favorite board game on her last night at home. Talk about tugging at the heart.

My oldest is already wearing my socks. In a few years we'll be hauling all of her belongings in the back of our truck.

How do I learn to let go? 

This idea of letting go expands beyond my children. One man at church whose daughter just left for China said, "I think life is full of hellos and goodbyes." 

As God moves the pieces of my life, I feel like He's asking me, "If everything changes, am I enough?" Does He have 'permission' to arrange them differently than I've planned?


Have you heard Francesca Battistelli's song "I'm Letting Go" yet? I love her music & lyrics:

I'm letting go
Of the life I planned for me
And my dreams
I'm losing control
Of my destiny
It feels like I'm falling and that's what it's like to believe
So I'm letting go

Letting go means living with opened hands, open to whatever He gives or brings...  or removes.

Too often I live with one hand mostly open, and the other hand is scurrying around, trying to place everything just so, just as I want it.

From Ephesians 4, into my open hands He also wants to remove:


And then to add:


God, I want my hands to be open. Ready to receive. Ready to lose. Ready to go or stay. Jump or stand still. I can rest assured that You are in control, and You have a good and perfect will for me and those I love. I do not need to be the orchestrator of my life. You are more than capable. Help me in the process.

What does this look like in your life?

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will."
Romans 12:2

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:31-32

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

When Mommy/Teacher Gets Sick

Teacher Tuesdays

I recently shared pictures of our first few days of school. I even created a plan for what I'd do if I struggled with various moods during the year. I neglected to plan for sick days.

Last week, I had some sort of allergy-headache-bowling ball for a brain-kind of day. When my kids were little, we could enjoy a bag (or three) of popcorn and PBS Kids. But that's not an option when "the show must go on" and little minds still need to wrestle through school.

How did I cope?

Well, for starters, during preschool time, while studying the letter B, my boys and I laid down and watched a couple of Blues Clues episodes as I prayed for the ibuprofen to kick in.

Our laundry didn't get finished in one day as I'd have liked.

The dishes remained in the sink. I was thankful the kids had something to eat, even though it came out of a jar and a can.

Daily chores weren't checked, meaning they weren't done.

And for our history reading, my throat was too sore, so I had my 11 year old read for us.

These days happen to all of us. Unfortunately, we don't get sick days. But we can cope. Navigate. Alter the course a little bit.

The dishes can be done another day. The laundry isn't going anywhere. An extra movie in the afternoon while I rest on the couch will not hurt their brains.

It sure does make us thankful for the healthy days, though, right? And early bedtimes?

Question: How do you handle sick-days as a mom? Any tips?
"He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young."
Isaiah 40:11

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cleaning Up Messes

Mommy Mondays

Do you know how sticky little two year olds can get? 

At a dessert social following our church's prayer service last night, my niece's mouth displayed remnants of vanilla frosting, and her hands bore the evidence of a red velvet cupcake. I'm pretty sure the crumbs of a bag of chips salted the ensemble. Her dad handed her a diaper wipe.

It was a beautiful evening, with the sun just beginning to set and the warm breeze of a lingering summer in the air. People were chatting in various groups, and children chased each other around the newly erected playset.

I glanced at my niece, surprised to find her using her wipe to clean up someone's spilt lemonade on the pavement. It made me laugh.

As my brother knelt down and explained that she doesn't need to clean the ground, we saw that while she had selflessly attempted to use her own wipe on someone else's mess,

she was still a mess herself.

I said to my brother, "Isn't this what God must think when we try to clean up other people's messes?"

It's a modern-day log in our own eye but trying to remove our brother's speck.

What situations are in my circle of influence, that I can speak truth into and be a light in? Oh God, give me wisdom in these!

And what circumstances are outside of my control? What messes do I need to trust that God will clean up Himself?

He says to me:

"Don't worry, Becky, I've got all of that under my perfect control.
Now here's a diaper wipe. Start cleaning your face."

Lesson noted.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

How We Home School

Foto Fridays

(Or Saturday, you know, whatever...)

I'm often asked, "How do you get it all done?" when talking about the different ages of the kids and home schooling. To satisfy the curious and encourage the faint hearted, here's a post in pictures of what our home school looked like in the first week. Let me know if I can answer any questions!! :)

8:00 AM 

We start each day at 8 AM with our Bible time. We're still working through the Psalms with Draw to Learn the Psalms. We're on Psalm 113! Woo-hoo! The home-stretch.

A few years ago, I had a really hard time fitting Bible into our day. A friend encouraged me to make it the number 1 priority. Now, it's just habit. The kids expect it. It took work to get here, but the habit has been established.

8:30 AM  

After Bible, I have a preschool time with my youngest. We are starting a letter of the week curriculum using a combination of books on my shelf. I haven't done preschool for years, and this is a lot of fun. I forgot how much I enjoyed those early years. Resources: ABC I Believe, A is for Adam, Alpha Tales Letter Books, My ABC Bible Verses, & Scripture Memory Songs.

9:00 AM

After preschool, I move to my first grader. His work includes handwriting, math, poetry, and reading out loud to me both books and sight words. He also does the fun preschool activities that I'm doing with Kevin. It really doesn't take more than 30 minutes with him.

During this time, my preschooler watches a LeapFrog video. :)

9:30 AM

For fun, I bought him the 1st Grade Jump Start game. He loves it! He's learning and having fun.

7:00 AM - 10:30 AM

My girls are very diligent, starting their school work even before breakfast. I don't know where they get it. Probably their daddy, who used to get up at  5AM and take care of his horses. I was the girl running out to catch the bus because I slept in until the last moment. Regardless, they're early-risers and get started on their seat work quickly.

They each have a check list for the week of what they must accomplish each day. On the computer, my sixth grader does Grammar Key, Teaching Textbooks for math, Typing Instructor for Kids, and sometimes they read their book on the Kindle for PC.

Other daily seatwork includes Wonder Devotional Bible reading, copywork, math worksheets, practice of Bible verses, practice their dance, read alone book and/or report, writing lessons with Writing Strands, and spelling with Spelling Wisdom.


After Bible, Preschool, & First Grade Time, I take about 30 minutes my 4th & 6th graders individually to do a few subjects with them and check their work. Sometimes they haven't finished, and they complete the rest after lunch.

10:30-11:30 AM

After checking the girls' work, we all get together again for history and science. We're using Mystery of History this year, and so far so good! We will be starting BJU Science 5 in 2 weeks. After our lesson, we snuggle on the couch for our read aloud. If it's getting late, we'll do this after lunch. This week, we read The Magician's Nephew. Needless to say, they were begging me to read it all day! Gotta love the Narnia Series!

Laundry still needs to get done! I do it all in one day. Lights, Whites, Darks, & Towels. This week, we paused whatever we were doing to fold and put away each load together. Usually, we do it all in the evening before bed.

Chores! We have three bunnies now, and it's 100% the children's responsibility. This, along with house keeping responsibilities, is on their chore list.

When the weather's warm, I try and get outside for lunch. On this day above, we hiked through the corn field to a tree in the middle where it's cleared out and has shade. During lunch, we review our Bible Memorization. It was in this corn field that we decided to rap our passage.

After we've finished, we play outside!

This year, I want to actually PLAY all those board games we have in our cabinet. I'm putting on the schedule "board games" to play in the afternoon or early evening. This way, it's a constant reminder of something fun to do with them. I know it seems bad that I need to remind myself to play with them, but my brain often goes other places.

So there you have it! Our first week of school, and that's about what our year will look like, except that our Co-Op will start in September.

Happy Learning!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Connect

Five Minute Friday

Lisa Jo Baker has started 5 Minute Fridays, where friends each write for 5 minutes on the same word. No editing. No pressure. Just writing. It sounded fun, so I'm going to try it, along with my Foto Friday post. Thankfully, I'm a pretty fast typer. :)

The word:  Connect

When I first think of Connect, I think of connecting to the internet. I'm reminded of when I had to click a little telephone icon on my dad's computer in our stuffy office and wait as I heard the dial tone of the modem. What a great sound when the computer was finally online! AOL was just a baby, and I loved connecting via chat with all these "aged" college kids I was meeting in this new connected world. The Gaming Zone allowed me to play Spades with people in France. And that first month, I raked up a $90 phone bill!

Connecting online was still innocent and fun. My parents didn't worry about who I was chatting with and cyber stalkers. The idea didn't even cross our minds. When someone posted on that black screen, "M/18/Indiana" that meant he really was an 18 year old guy from Indiana. Who would lie on the internet?

Oh, how times then quickly changed.

As a mom, I joined a message board called "Moms Online" that connected women who were all due with a baby the same month. My daughter is now 11, and though the group of women has moved through various online message board websites, we've all settled into Facebook. It's not as easy to connect as a group there, but I still feel warm inside when I think of my friend Dena's house projects or my friend Maureen's soccer teams that she coaches.

Even that board, however, was filled with dishonesty. A woman named Navy was with us for a few years, and then we found out that she was actually a college girl writing a paper! My, how we all felt so betrayed! How dare she lie to us?

So I suppose the internet allows us to have a shield around us, thinking no one will find out.

How else do we use the internet to connect? Email is by far a technology that seems so ingrained into our lifestyle that it's hard to imagine a civilization without it. Facebook. Twitter. Blogging. Goodreads.

I'm on all of them.

And how connected do I feel?

Well, I see it more as a hobby. Though I'm connected to people who I ordinarily wouldn't be, like the women on my May Baby Board, for the most part, it's a nice way to share photos and funny moments with people you might not ordinarily talk to.

But if I'm your friend. If I know you in person. If we share life together. Then I want to share life together. I know it's hard with our kids and home schooling and responsibilities and jobs and ministry. I know it's not always convenient. I know it's not easy. But a personal email means more than a generic facebook post. A phone call does more than a text. And a cup of coffee is like magic.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lamplighter Ebook Sale

Words for Wednesdays

Books that change your life are hard to find. Especially when they were written a hundred or more years ago, and have since gone out of print!

If you have spoken to me for 5 minutes about books, I'm sure you've heard me rave about Lamplighter Publishing. They take out of print should-be classics and reprint them with beautiful leather covers. I love my little collection!

The books are life-changers. Right now, the e-book versions are 50% off! ($4.99) I could hardly wait to add a few to my virtual shelf. Although I adore the look and feel of the real books, I can't pass up a good deal, and in the end, reading it on my computer with Kindle for PC or holding it in my hands - I'm still getting a chance to read it!

If you buy only one family-aged Lamplighter book, I recommend Teddy's Button. Our entire family fell in love with the little boy and his adventures to fight his giant. It goes so well with our church's current sermon series about Killing Sin that I'm going to make it our bedtime reading.

I had to do some jumping around to have these .mobi files appear in my Kindle Cloud, but it worked using these instructions:

Moving .mobi docs to the cloud.

Have you been hooked on Lamplighter books yet? What's your favorite?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rapping the Bible

Teacher Tuesdays

Have you ever tried rapping the Bible?

We started school this week, and for scripture memory, we picked up where we left off last year in Matthew 5:21-22. I have a long-term goal to learn all of Matthew 5, 6, &7. It's going to take awhile!

To change it up, we decided to rap this short section. Below, you'll see the humerous result. Hey, whatever works, right? Many thanks to my 7 year old son who video taped about a dozen mess-ups!

What fun things are you thinking of doing this year to hide God's word in the hearts of your children?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bratwurst & Apples

Mommy Mondays

Don't we all need quick meals, especially when the school year starts? When I don't have the time or desire for the grill, I love pan frying these bratwursts. Most of my kids don't care for the apple/onion topping, but that means there's more for me!

Bratwurst & Apples
Apple, Diced
Onion, Diced
Garlic or Garlic Powder
Olive Oil

- Place 2 TBS Olive Oil in Pan, heat it up.
- Add brats.
- Add Apples & Onions on top of Brats & Sprinkle with a little garlic.
- Pan Fry each of the 4 sides of the brats, covered, for 5 minutes each.
- Serve on toasted buns or by itself as a dish. I served with baked cabbage slices.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pallet Gardening: Fail

Foto Fridays

I wish I were a gardener. There's something elegant about putting on gloves and sitting outside in the warm air, tending little plants to life, and then enjoying the fruitful produce.

When we moved into our new home in December, I eagerly began planning a giant garden, hoping my husband would catch the dream. I dropped hints about a greenhouse that Costco was selling - could he make me one? -- checking out books from the library about green house gardening and other plant varieties.

He remained mysteriously quiet about the whole thing.

(He's a VERY wise man!) 

I have a history. I've tried gardening in all 4 previous houses, and he usually ended up mowing them down. They became a haven for weeds. His yard was immaculate, so all the weeds ended up running to my garden for safety.

The one year that I had my daughters plan AND plant the garden, it did well, but later became infested by ants and the produce was ruined. The next year, I didn't touch it, and a dozen tomato plants grew wild - God did a better job of gardening than I did.

So my husband didn't exactly offer any input into my most recent gardening dreams.

Knowing I couldn't possibly dig a garden up by myself, I found pallet gardens online. That was it! So easy... you just spread gardening material down, place a pallet on the ground, fill it with dirt, and plant the vegetables! How hard can that be? No weeds!

For a few weeks, the garden was a success.

And then it stopped raining.

The problem with pallet gardens is that they act like container plants. The only water they get is the water that's given to them. And since I wasn't exactly faithful with my watering, they didn't faithfully grow.

We had a handful of tomatoes, and I occasionally remembered to pick an herb for dinner, but for the most part, it was a waste of time and money.

God has gifted us each individually to do the work He wants for us. Therefore, I'm free to say this carefully planned confession: 

I do not want to can my food.  I do not care about using fresh herbs. I do not like pets of any kind. I flee away from activities that produce adrenaline. I don't know how to bake nor do I care to learn. I don't like reading Thomas the Train books out loud. I do not recycle. I don't enjoy artsy films. I do not dust. I don't fold all of my clothes before I put them in the drawers. I don't like Candy Land, and I cheat so the kids don't go all the way back to the beginning.

And finally:

I do not garden.

And that's ok.

What's in your confession?

For we are God’s workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do. 
Ephesians 2:10

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

And the Word Came with Power

Words for Wednesdays

A shy girl stranded all alone amidst a tribe of headhunters in the Philippines.

Action movie? No. Amazing biography.

The story of Joanne Shetler's life as written in And the Word Came with Power fills you with awe about our amazing God and His Word. As a missionary with Wycliffe to the Balangao people in the Philippines, she witnessed events that inspire us even now.

According to the Wycliffe website, about 350 million people today still do not have any Scripture in their language. How many Bibles do I have on my shelves, not to mention on my kids' shelves? Then add in my iphone with its ever-ready translations and commentaries - we are so rich!

I read this book out loud to my kids, and they begged me to keep reading. "Just one more chapter, mom. Please!"

I'd recommend putting it on your "must read" list. This isn't a dry biography. It's a challenging adventure we were privileged to step into.

"And beside, I've never quite figured out just how to bring God glory. But I have learned to surrender my dreams to him. And he has made the reality of living according to his plan even better than my greatest dreams." -- Joanne Shetler, page 164