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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Praying Through

As the year draws to a close and the new begins, I have several things I am praying for and praying through. First, the biggies:

1. How can I be a better Mom?

2. How can I be a better Wife?

3. How can I be a better Worship Leader?

4. How can I be a better Homeschool Group Director?

These are the topics that I often view first as they are my "places of influence." These areas require most of my time, thought, and energy during any given day or week.

Then there are the matters that are more private, I'm less likely to share with others. I suppose we could call it the fine print. Questions like these are roaming through my heart and mind, and they're questions I really want answers to, such as: Should I still be leading worship, am I to focus solely and only on teaching my children, Why do I struggle with the bed bug of procrastination that bites me over and over again, and all of the other questions I have, the nitty-gritty "wonderings" that seem to nip at my heals that just keep ....nipping. And, by the way, this is only a sampling of the questions that turn to prayers as I go about my way.

Father in Heaven, Maker and Knower of my days, I ask that Your purposes be fulfilled in my life. I see even now how many of my wonderings fade more easily as my heart and eyes are fixed upon You. While I have these over-arching questions, and yes, even the fine-print ones, I pray I will love You more and love You most. Let that prayer be my beginning point. Thank you Lord that you are a Father who cares and who concerns Himself with the things that also matter to me. Father, if there is anything in me that will accomplish Your purposes, leave it there and sharpen it. If there's anything I'm doing or anything in me that prohibits Your Kingdom purposes and ways, then please remove those things. Make the vision clear, O Lord, for this next year. Make it clear and plain to me, who at times is hard of sight and hearing.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Something New

This is not just a picture of a Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar. It's God's reply to a young boy who said to me the morning of our adventure, "I never see anything beautiful. You always are the one who sees the beautiful things."

Off we went, our family of four, on a hike up the creek. It was the tail-end of an annual 5 day camping trip to our favorite spot. I had packed two PBJ sandwiches, two turkey sandwiches, and apples. Danny grabbed a bag of chips on the way out of the camper. We found a sitting spot and lunched. We watched a slew of ants haul off one very large potato chip. During our resting and sliding off of slippery rocks time, Daniel found this little fella who will one day become a swallowtail butterfly. Can you believe this little critter?

We were fascinated by him , truly. When he was still, you could see something pulsing through a vein that went down the center of his body. He moved so quietly and undeterred. When we wanted to investigate his belly we took a stick and touched him. He grabbed onto the stick and tucked his head inside his body. His beautiful blue markings made it look like he had eyes over all his body. When he began to relax and was ready to continue his journey, his head popped out again. The color in this photo we found on the internet is more orange than the one we saw. Ours had a more rusty color. The reason we don't have a picture is because of my history with water and technology. The two have become one a number of times, and it's never been a positive thing! So, because I have yet to invest in a waterproof cover, we have to make do. But, trust me, this is the fella we spotted.

Lord, thank you for displaying something none of us had ever seen before. It was so easy for you to do. Thank you for showing us your beautiful creation. Thank you for doing this wonder for my son.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Love IT!

What I'm really trying to say is that I like THIS: My Father's World guidebook that came with our geography study called,"Exploring Countries and Cultures."
This handy, dandy little guidebook serves the purpose of both guide AND planner. While ECC is a cultural geography program it schedules in and includes the following subjects: Bible, Geography, and Science. It also has recommendations for Language Arts & Read Alouds. The part I r e a l l y like is where it leaves a blank space for Math, Spelling, English, Reading, Foreign Language, etc. Enter: my planner for this year! What I do is take the rectangular blank, draw a diagonal line across it, and then fill in what my family is using for those subjects. I have two children, so this method works well for me.

In MFW guidebooks, each day is its own column. At the beginning of the week I fill in the lesson numbers with brief descriptions for the subjects that are not already assigned by My Father's World. I also write the number of the school day we're doing for the week. So, for this week, the days are numbered 16 through 20. When each subject is completed, I whip out my handy-dandy yellow highlighter and highlight items as they are completed. It feels so good at the end of the day to see all of the yellow marks on my planner/guidebook. I also keep a little notebook and write down assignments from Geography that may need to be carried over to the next day or week.

Why is this so exciting to me? Well, it's like this. I know I am not the most organized cubby on the shelf, but I am enjoying watching the Lord help me improve. It's fun to make progress! Ultimately, we all benefit.

Note: The frequent use of the word "handy-dandy" is a mark of how much I LOVE one of my homeschooling tools. Truly, a sign of affection!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

When I tucked Daniel in tonight he said he was sad. "What are you sad about, honey?" "I'm sad about Uncle Gus," he stated. My brother, Daniel's Uncle Gus, died when he was 28 years old. He was a young Montana rancher with a wife and a son. He was pure hard work, and tender hearted toward the Lord. Daniel would've loved him. So, as I rubbed son's back, we talked quietly. He'd ask the questions, and I'd provide the best answers I knew. We agreed that it would be so nice to see Uncle Gus in Heaven.

So, the prayers began. Being the momma that I am, I prayed quiet, but I prayed long. I am a momma afterall, and there's much to pray about. There's a little boy, nearly nine now, who needs blessing, who needs instruction, who needs to know that his Mother and Father will always pray for Him.

The breathing became quieter on the pillow next to her, and she was honored, once again, with the privilege of ushering her son into a night's rest at the sound of his mother's voice as she prayed, prayed to a Father of her own, giving thanks, and trusting Him for her own son's future. Unknown to her, but very well known to Him. Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Ministry of Worship

In my search for a really good recording of "All That Thrills My Soul Is Jesus", I came across this song. This couple ministered to me, and I just had to share it with you.

By the way, while I'm typing this, God's thunder is resounding outside.I'm loving it!!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Homeschooling & Daily Living on Vacation?

We're heading out in a matter of days now to Georgia to visit Danny's family. Whenever we travel, I always pack more clothes than I need, more books than I could read in a life time, and take along more food than any sensible person should snack on during normal travel. This particular trip is unique because we'll be gone for almost 6 weeks. This is an official experiment to see if we'd like to do this annually. Danny is a pilot, so he'll commute in and out of Atlanta. HELP!!! Somebody. Anybody?

I decided to put together a daily plan for the children. Nothing like a clear set of guidelines to live by. Remember, the lines are our friends! Here's hoping for a plan for them and sanity for me. Each child will have a laminated card that looks like this:






Mark set a little too high? Perhaps, but I don't think I can handle that much time away with zero structure. We'll be staying with family members, and knowing their lifestyles and ways vary from what may be our normal, this could go from being an apple to an elephant; one clearly being easier to eat than the other! Even as our plans for this initial trip are being re-shaped daily (another post for another time) I suspect even this plan will reshape itself as we go along. I wonder if the children will go for this???

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Beautiful Georgia

Beautiful Georgia. You were made by the Father in Heaven. God has plans for you. This is the verse we pray for you: " He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season, and it's leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. " Psalm 1:3

Here is the State Song: "Georgia on My Mind." Other facts are listed below the video.

Other facts about Georgia:

State Bird: Brown Thrasher
State Tree: Live Oak
State Flower: Cherokee Rose
State Vegetable: Vidalia Onion
State Wildflower: Azalea

When Danny and I got married, I had live Azalea bushes brought in as our only plants. I wanted pure white flowers. They were blooming during April. Until today, I did not know that the Azalea was Georgia's state wildflower. Danny is from Georgia! This is another sweet confirmation from my Father that Danny is the only Georgia boy for me!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Silly Songs with Momma

" Bathmat, Jelly Dollars!!! Dollars!!! Bathmat Jelly Dollars!!!! Jelly Dollars, Jelly, Jelly, Dollars." Bathmat Jelly Dollars!!!" And so it went. We sang with our best opera voices. Will you remember this? Why did we make this silly song? All of this just to remember my grocery list! What a friend you are to keep me entertained with all of this fun! I love you, my son.

This is tonight's entry from "My Son..." , the private blog I have set up as my online journal for Daniel. I have one for Bethany called, "The PrincessPapers." I thought tonight's entry from "My Son..." would be fun to share. We needed 3 things from Walmart so we made up this silly song. Dollars? No, they cannot be purchased at Wallyworld, but you can ask for dollar bills in change so that said children's allowances can be paid in

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Georgia History Week of 5/9/11

This week in Exploring Georgia we plan to cover lessons #4 through #7. We'll be learning about the Symbols of Georgia (did you know that Georgia has had 5 state flags?), the location, size, and weather of Georgia, and the land and waters of Georgia.

Our projects this week are: a salt-dough map of the state of Georgia. There are a few different methods for making salt dough maps, and since this project will be the first I've made, I decided I would check out a few different resources on the how-to's of salt dough map making. Some suggest letting the dough dry before painting. In this video they take another approach.
The video teaches you to roll out the dough and then put the map on top and cut out the dough accordingly. I like that approach better than putting the dough on the map and spreading it out.

Here is a blogpost from Teacups in the Garden on another method. I like the way she teaches labeling the map.

The other project we'll tackle is charting the weather for the various portions of the state of Georgia. Just this week, Bethany's Saxon Math lesson was on graphing, so this will be the perfect project to reinforce a useful skill.

I am enjoying Notgrass Company's Exploring Georgia. Their lessons are practical, doable, and Biblical. What a wonderful introduction to a state that holds so much of the Wright Family's history.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Exploring Georgia

Today we begin our study of the state of Georgia, called Exploring Georgia, by Notgrass Company. Exploring Georgia is a state study comprised of 75 lessons that include a Teacher's Manual and a spiral-bound Student Notebook. The notebooks are page after page of matching, coloring pages, map excercises, places for copywork, writing excercises about all things Georgia! See, we're headed to Georgia for about a month toward the end of May, and I couldn't think of anything more fun than finding a curriculum to help us make the most of our time there.

The beauty of homeschooling is that nothing has to be wasted.It reminds me of being a Christian in that Christ intends and desires to teach us through all of our experiences.
Today's lesson was essentially the reading of a long list of words describing Georgia: its features, landmarks, well-known businesses and people, and the like. The children are taking their knowledge and putting it to work doing a word search. I love word searches. THEY love word searches. There's something about looking for these specific words that will help them remember some of the facts about Georgia.

Our scripture for the day is Psalm 24:1, "The earth is the Lords, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it."
This week we'll finish: Lesson 2 "The People of Georgia" (Genesis 1:27) and Lesson 3 "Meet Four Georgia Families" (Psalm 68:6).

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Beauty of a List

Lists. Lists are mental bookshelves. Lists give one a sense of accomplishment. Lists are filing cabinets. Lists are my friend! I began the day making a list of homeschooling projects that need to be completed for this year. Here is what is on that list:

Complete our Science Notebooks from our Chemistry Co-Op
Compile our 2010-2011 Portfolios
Finish that one last meeting for our Chemistry Co-Op
Mind you, this is but a partial list, but it was motivating and mentally helpful for me to put down what I know needs finishing at this point.

Then I started on a second list. It is a combo of family things/homeschooling items that we accomplished this last year. I like this list better because it's longer. In the context of a relocation that occured over the summer and into the fall, it helps me feel that our year was not a total loss. (I have a homeschooling planner that I keep as well that I frequently look back on for the same reason. It's easy to feel like things are just half-done, and that can be so discouraging.) Looking at the full part of the glass is a lot more fun, and it takes the punch out the enemy as the Lord reminds me: "Kathy, this has been a good year. You've done well." I want my Heavenly Father's approval more than anything, and these are some of the things He's reminded me of:

Field Trips to the following:

Tandy Leather Factor
Capitol Museum in Phoenix
Herpetological Society
Play: "Prince and the Pauper"
Out of Africa Wildlife Park
Ostrich Farm

We began using our local library on a regular basis.

Bethany took two co-op classes through a local co-op: History of Arizona, and Intro. to Literature: Chronicles of Narnia. This was really good for her. Instruction from others is a good thing, and she met some children that were not in our Homeschooling group.

Roller Skating Lessons:
We live a 1/2 mile from a really good roller rink. I signed us up for roller skating lessons, and the children are loving it. They even learned how to skate backwards!

Here are some more things we did that are significant for various reasons:

We planted a garden.

Bethany taught herself how to weave.

The children participated in a Soccer League & a Field Hockey League.

We had a science co-op with another family in our homeschooling group. Chemistry is fun!

We went to a play, "Robin Hood," as a family. We talked about how live performances are more fun and challenging to the actors.

We went on our annual family camping trip with Mary Lee: nothing like really good traditions

We added in a great Art curriclum this year.

We participated in our homeschooling group's art show with our own projects.

Bethany went to a sleep over. She also had a friend spend the night recently.

Bethany taught herself how to roller blade.

Big friends and Little friends: our much larger yard and more centrally located home added to our desire and ability to host big and little people for fun times throughout the year. Socialization in homeschooling: the least of our problems!

Ordered our Exploring Georgia curriculum to help us enjoy and make the most of our extended stay in the Atlanta area this summer. On your mark, adventure set, go!
This list is far from exhaustive but marks a few things we've done and are doing. It really has been a good year!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Resurrection Sunday

I love combining worship and art. I'm so glad that death couldn't keep Him.
Lord, give to me a bigger view of You, the Victor over sin, death, and the grave. May I follow that Christ, being You, with eternity in sight. I want to run to win.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sneak Peek

I feel like the richest woman in the world. Not only do I get to be a wife, mom, and teacher (Yes, I'm a homeschooling fanatic!), but I also have the privilege of being a worship leader. I can say that God has had His hand on me from day one,through every carefree and happy childhood day and every trial and triumph of adult life, its obstacles and seeming impossibilities. There is simply NO WAY I could do anything, anything, without His favor and life in me. Weeks such as this prove that over and over again.

I thought I'd provide a link to the Worship Team Blog for Covenant of Grace, my home fellowship. In case you want a small peek into a part of my next few days, you'll get a pretty good idea of what's happening. When you get there, click on the link to Easter 2011. Then....
to the videos and listen to all of them or atleast the first one, Stay Amazed.

If you don't feel like following the link, and that's cool, then listen here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On Bethany's 11th Birthday

My little lovely, age 11. Lovely's little brother with a glimmer in his eyes.

Bethany's decided her smile looks pretty this way. I agree. Daniel looks like he's up to something. I agree.

This is after we went to Denny's for Bethany's birthday lunch. Bethany is thinking that she enjoys being eleven. Daniel's thinking about dessert!

Danny and I are so blessed.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Organizing Organization

I love organizing. I love organization. Knowing that, think it not odd that I would be drawn to this. Just Mommies, a website for Moms and Moms to be, has a page dedicated to helping in the area of organization, and in fact, you can print off month by month, a plan to help with the daily, weekly, and monthly/seasonal needs of a home. Here is the planner page for the month of APRIL. Now, wanting organization and keeping organization are two different things. I so admire of those for whom this is not overwhelming. It simply comes naturally to them. I desire it, but follow-through dogs me day in and day out. Sometimes I don't know where to start. When that happens I make a list, and onto the planner or sticky note it goes.

Just Mommies plan doesn't have to be done item by item, but it atleast provides a structure I think I can live with for the long haul. So, to the printer I'm going. This can be printed and posted, or printed and 3-hole punched and put in a binder. Since I like office supplies, I think I'll 3-hole punch it.Or, you can always save it on your favorites bar and bring it up at the beginning of the day for your "assignment." Even if only 50% of the items on the calendar are completed, atleast 50% are done! If you're curious, need extra help like me, or just want to pass this on to someone else, then have at it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Praying for the World

A couple of weeks ago I had an idea that we would take a country, lay hands on that country name on the globe, and pray for them. We finally remembered to do that today. My country was Venezuela, Daniel chose Columbia (right next to Venezuela), and Bethany chose China. She said her strategy is to go from the biggest to the smallest country. So, China it is.

It was really a special time. We didn't pray long, and we mainly prayed for the saved and the lost of the country. That is the most important thing to pray about for anyone. We also prayed for provision for the people, we prayed against corruption, we prayed that they would see the One True God, and we also prayed for "the faithful", as Daniel put it.

We love the world the Lord made, and I am confident He has heard our prayers. I look forward to the day when Jesus Christ shows us the results!
This is how we began our time with the Lord today.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sweet Jesus

A song for the weary, a song for the thankful. A song for both. Lord, may today be Your day in a true and pure way. We desire to bring undivided hearts to Your sanctuary. We surrender. You know best.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tug of War

There's a little tug of war that goes on in me almost non-stop. One moment I'm tugged like this, "You can do it. That work book on planets is really interesting. Just pick it up, divide the number of lessons out at two per week, and just begin. The children will like it. It's okay if it's not in the curriculum you bought this year. Use what you have." Then the other side gives it a yank, "You've wasted so much time. Start fresh in the Fall. Maybe you'll really know what you want to do by then. Maybe you'll have it all mapped out. Maybe you'll have it all together." Yielding to that particular side I can tell you that maybe will never come, and then more time gets wasted because I didn't pick up that book and just get after it.

Then there's the whole topic of purchased, but un-used or partially used curriculum. I wonder how long I could go and actually use what I have; no, not the stuff that really won't work, but the ones I've started and haven't finished. Then to add to the dilemma, I do more curriculum research and find another kind of curriculum or approach to lesson plans (which has happened in the last 48 hours) that I love. Impressive, huh.

Part of this can be explained by my new found love for learning. I am enjoying exploring what is out there. I am so thrilled that we have this great opportunity and calling to homeschool. Danny and I have even joked that someday I may just do something in the world of homeschooling consulting once my own are grown. But what about the balance? There has to be a balance found between the time spent "looking" and researching, and really getting down to the nitty-gritty, hard-core part of teaching. The greatest satisfaction is sure to come by applying consistency and commitment to teaching. I can trust God for the results.

Lord, help me to seek your face as wife and mother, instructor and mentor. I love this beautiful world of homeschooling. I love the many ways learning happens. I love the varied approaches of Classical, Charlotte Mason, Eclectic, and the like. Please teach and instruct me, your student Kathy, in how I can be a better manager of the many resources at my fingertips here in my own home. I also ask that You help me redeem any hours that I have wasted. You blessed me with two precious jewels, and I want nothing more than to please You.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How To Home School Today | The 16 Greatest Mistakes Homeschool Moms Make

This is one of the best articles I've seen on homeschooling, so I'm passing it on. I'll be printing this one out and putting it in my binder ASAP!

How To Home School Today | The 16 Greatest Mistakes Homeschool Moms Make

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Menu Minuet

You'll notice I didn't say Monday Menu Minuet Moment!

Tuna Casserole


Breakfast for Dinner: Pancakes & Sausage

The thrill of the grill: Steak & Potatoes

Chicken Enchiladas

Taco Salad

Chili Dogs

And that wraps it up for Menu Minuet.

My New Do!

It's here. It's a techno up-do! I am so thrilled with the results of my new blog header from Simply Yours. Their service was amazing, and the results are equally so! Thank you, Hilary!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Unveiling

Looking forward to this:

I'm always on the look for the freebie blogger templates of which there are many. I decided to go for it and pay for it, but not too much. I'm looking at it like a fresh coat of paint! I should get my download code in about 48 hours. Can't wait. Can you say, "Experiment. Hope it works." I trust it will.

For your own fresh coat of paint, go here.

Great Defender

Feeling vulnerable or unprotected? No more, my friend. You have Christ if indeed you do know Him. Romans 8:31 says, "If God be for us, then who can be against us." This is the same God who "works all things together for our good, to those that love Him, and are called according to His purpose." I find it wonderful that Romans 8:31 is tagged onto the passage we are all so familiar with in Romans 8:28. Be encouraged, strengthed, and at rest in the sovereign hand of the Father.

Leann's beautiful music here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I am going to make a list for you to read. What is on this list are the victories I have had so far today. I love how Jesus takes a day that Satan wants to use to overwhelm and discourage us, and He turns it into a victory day.

1. We had school.
While we're not quite done, we're doing it. We're doing it! Am I rejoicing? Yes, because I know that this is our calling and the enemy of my soul has been trying to intercept God's plan with his, and we're not falling for it.

2. I made the menu for the rest of the day.
What? You mean you don't have your menu planned for the MONTH? Yep, I do not have the menu planned for the month. No I don't, and I was overwhelmed by even that. One of the lines in the song of my mind was, "Let me....overwhelm you!...." Remember the song, ""Let Me Entertain You"....same tune, just different words.

3. I got to speak the word, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" over my son while he was doing school.
He is an excellent reader, speller by nature, but cannot stand getting a handle on the dictionary. His English assignment was dictionary work. I said that word over him and by the time I was done he was laughing! : ) I loved it.

4. I got to pray for my husband over the phone.
I saved this one for last because it's where my victory came in. I was able to pray over him and bless him by blessing the choices he's made for our family eventhough he feels most of them have failed. No, I choose to bless. I'm not being an ostrich, but I am simply blessing Him as being created by God with the mind of Christ. When I prayed for him (not for myself) is when I began to have the release into the victories of the day that the Lord already had planned.

I am practically embarassed to even list these things that I've struggled with today. I can live with that. Maybe someone else can relate to this. I'm just thrilled to get to experience God's strength even in doing the simplest and most ordinary of tasks. To God be the glory.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Favorite Childhood Memory

Today I told my children about one of my favorite childhood memories. In fact, I tried to demonstrate it.

My Dad is an identical twin to an identical red-headed fella who looked....just like him. Having a twin for a Dad was cool, but at times it was confusing. When they both had on their sunglasses, well, it was any man's guess on who was who. Or any child's guess!

The twins, as they were called by some, were both gifted athletes, and played college-level sports. I'm sure they had their favorite sports, but in my view there was nothing they couldn't conquer. They both excelled in football. Their love for the sport continued off the field and beyond their college days.

One of the things I remember so well was, after an evening meal it was not uncommon for my Dad and my Uncle to run down the lane of our house, across the highway, into another pasture area (we lived on a ranch about 10 miles from town, and my Uncle lived on the property as well), and all the while they were running they would be passing the football back and forth, back and forth, talking the whole time, running the whole time. Wow, their stamina! I don't recall anything that was ever said, but I remember trying to tag along as far as our feet would carry us for as long as possible. I even remember trying this on dry-crusted over mud/dirt with no shoes! This was their time. I'm not sure how often it happened, but I can say it left a permenant record in the joy of my childhood memory bank. So, today, I made my effort to instill the memory and the skill into my children out in our backyard.

Out we went, football in hand, and I demonstrated. I wonder if Dad and Uncle Don had lots of holes to dodge then like I did today? 'Course, that's what backyards are for; digging, running, kicking soccer balls, making memories. The children loved it. They have a fascination with Danny's and my childhood, and it was fun to dust off one of the many highlights of my own and give it a whirl. They plan on practicing! I'll have to check in with our Grandkids someday, (yes....out there, waaaay out there) and see if it took!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Making a Difference

It made a difference when I said, "Yes," to my son's request to peel a potato when I really felt like saying no. It made a difference when I kissed him on top of the head and said, "Thank you for being my blessing today." It made a difference when I sang along to the Children's Hymn CD while he and I worked side by side. It is making a difference when I have my daughter agree to do a very thorough cleaning of our bathroom weekly for the month of March to pay for the hamster bedding we had to purchase today. She is paying for it by her labor. I don't want to give her everything. She appreciates it more when she works for it. Not only that, but she wants to pay me with her work. I want to reinforce her God-given conscience.

Every now and then the Lord turns my face and my heart toward a "mother moment in action" and reminds me that it is making an eternal difference. Whether I'm building or reinforcing, the smallest to the most significant action as a mother makes a difference. How do you see your daily tasks?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

You Desire

We pray and sing over our children each night. Still. While I doubt that the nubby now much slimmer from being loved Teddy Bear will not be at Daniel's side when he is a more grown young man, I hope I'll be somewhere in the vicinity at night, still singing and praying over my son. My daughter too. The scriptures we pray and the songs we sing over them are the same each night. What isn't the same is the prayer I pray over them. Because it's our routine, though, it is easy to go into autopilot, even in prayer. But tonight I began to contemplate my own mortality, silently of course, as I was by Daniel's side ready to pray. Interesting is that it changed the way I prayed. It brought a clearer focus in my praying, and I prayed something like this:

Lord, You desire than Daniel would love you with all his heart, soul, mind, and
strength. You desire that he would not lean on his own understanding, but that in all his ways he would acknowledge you and you will direct his paths. You desire that he would walk in wisdom. You would desire that he would be a man of prayer. You would desire that he would love Your Word.
I'm sure there were more "You desire's", and then I added:

What You desire for him is Your best. This is not a list of don'ts and
cant's but Your very best that You have in

As a mother who will not live forever in a mortal body I know the day will come when I will part with this earthy life and enter into eternity with Christ. I don't want to pray in auto pilot mode over my children. I want to hear the present word on His heart. And then I want to pray just that.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

For the Love of Reading

Danny and I feel so blessed in that our children are readers. They devour books. They typically will take a book with them wherever we happen to go in case they have a few spare moments. We have always preferred to buy our books as the children will read them over and over again. Multiple times. We have also included reading aloud as part of our family time on a regular basis. Our criteria: must be excellent and enjoyable for the whole family. Our love for reading has always reflected itself in our curriculum choices. We prefer the literature-rich selctions we find in Beautiful Feet Publishers, our favorite history curriculum, as well as the collection of books offered by Sonlight Publishing, another great curriculum choice.

Recently, we've begun to frequent our local library. Bethany is taking a literature class that requires her to write a report each month, and so off to the library we've gone to see what we could find. Not only have we found what we needed, but we've found some things that we wanted. We recently discovered the Freddy book series, by Walter Brooks. These great books are just fun and funny to read. The Freddy book series consists of 26 books that are centered around talking animals with the main star being Freddy, the pig. Freddy is the consumate pig-he does it all: he oversleeps, overeats, and overreacts. Mr. Brooks wrote his series over the course of about thirty years, from 1927-1958, at which point they were then published. Daniel may be the greatest Freddy fan the library has seen in years!

Bethany is interested in the American Girl series, although tonight she checked out Book One of the Elsie Dinsmore series. We love the Elsie stories, and have two volumes of the Elsie books on Audio CD. She and Daniel both have read the entire Narnia series a number of times. She also loves biographies and books about other countries. Danny and I often wonder what the Lord is going to do with the love that she has for His wide-world.

Tonight, I checked out "Carry On, Mr. Bowditch." This book was a winner of the 1956 Newberry Medal. It's included in many History curriculums I've looked at since we've been homeschooling, so I can't wait to dig in.

There's something satisfying about going to the library. I don't begrudge those who neglect the gift of a good book; I admit, a nice heavy dose of HGTV would do my soul some good every now and then. Somehow, though, I grieve almost when I think about the missed opportunity that can be found only in books; imagining characters, their accents, imagining where they may have lived, what life was like in their era. And then there's the vocabulary of those early times. Oh, there's so much to discover!

As I write, the house is almost completely silent. Other than the sound of the kitty's crunch crunch at her food bowl, you'll hear the swoosh of the turning of another page as two of the cutest faces in the world are stuck behind their book of choice. And so goes the end of another day for our homeschooling family.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rod and Staff Comfort

On my list for the homeschooler with preschoolers: THIS from Rod and Staff Publishers. A set of 4 books from Rod and Staff Books, for only $9.00, looks like one of the sweetest introductions to official learning I've seen in a long time. Capturing the lightbulb moments shouldn't be missed and won't be with Rod and Staff's thoughtful curriculum. Because I know where Rod and Staff is heading with their instruction methods, because they are a tried and true Publisher of Christian Curriculum, because I wish I had a little one to bless with their methods, I don't hesitate to recommend this set of books. Take a peak. I'd love about a dozen more little people so I could take a running start at the preschool years again. Curriculum doesn't have to be expensive to be good. This is written proof!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Rear-View Mirror

"One day this week when I was having a horrible no good very bad day (Monday) Bethany wanted to read me Proverbs 31. I passed. Daniel wanted to read me Lamentations. I almost took him up on it!"

So, walk with me. With my hopes set higher than you can imagine I began the week in school. We dove headlong into math. However, right behind the math book was the transluscent mile-high will of a 10 year-old girl in response to the reality that she would not, after all, get to spend the entire morning, stretched out in comfort of her own bed with the Princess and the Pea mile-high mattress, reading. My very own offspring! The apple that didn't fall far from her father's tree (and I chuckle, of course!). A daughter with an iron-clad will. While I know it will serve her well throughout her life, it IS a force to be reckoned with, and wreck, we did! (Why is it that some days resistance feels like failure? What a tricky disguise!)

After I took my heap of a body and threw it on my bed and boo-hooed (not proud of it, but it's true), I called my sweet heart, the one who just'd traveled cross-country to Georgia to paint, vacuum, fix windows, and work with sheet rock on a rental. Oh, and I'll spare the details but suffice it to say, he was overjoyed. Not really. "How hard can it be?" he asked. Worse than hard. Try near impossible. With my head in my hands, truly, and in tears but able to text friends for prayer, wisdom came knocking at the bedroom door. "Mom, we didn't start our day in the Word and in prayer." Oh. She's done it again. I can't tell you how many times I've been flattened by the wisdom of these innocent children of mine. Lord, don't you know how humbling this is? Again? I righted my ship and went out to the living room, except that now it's ME in a bit of a sulk. My children go for their Bibles. I have mine, and we proceed to Scene 2: (see my quote at the top of the page.)

Tonight, when I was replying to Gina, of Journaling Gina, I kind of replayed the scene from Monday in my mind's eye. Gina was writing about Proverbs 31, and I couldn't help but recall the lack of desire I had to read that passage. Bethany had suggested it as a way to get us back on course. I just wasn't up for it. Oh, there are times when the Word is almost like rocks in my shoe, or fingers on the chalkboard of my own weak soul, or...the faithful wounds of truth spoken from my own child, perhaps. I am learning. Ever learning. I am humbled. I look back in the rear-view mirror of this week now, and I am thankful that Christ has not left me to myself. His mercies are new every morning. He sees me as what I'll become though He sees right through who I am in my worst of moments. Proverbs 31? In His time. In His time.

This morning, about ten minutes before 9:00, my son, still in early morning slumber called out to me from his bed, "Mom, would you please play the piano?" "Yes," I said. I had signed up for a prayer time from nine until ten this morning for our church's monthly day of 24 hour prayer- a first Thursday of the month assignment. Knowing that time was coming, I sat down at the piano and begin to sing something that began while I was taking a shower. "Let everything that has breath-praise the Lord, praise the Lord..." and it continued, and I played and played and played.

Then Daniel came to me and said, "Mom, it is impossible for anyone to do what you do." The voice of my Lord was coming through my child in that moment. Each one of us is fearfully and wonderfully made. My song to the Lord is Christ expressing Himself through me in a way that no one else can. Or should. A seemingly silent snowflake falls. A song is lifted up to Heaven. Each one is unique and carries the thumbprint of it's Creator. Let everything, everything....that has breath praise the Lord.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Saxon Math Teacher

A happy math teacher may seem to be an oxymoron to all of the unhappy math teachers out there. Math not being my strong point, I was, for a long time, just struggling with being a math teacher, happy or not. The happy adjective has been added to my job description because I am/we are realizing the fruit of a faith-choice in our math curriculum. We're using Saxon Math specifically Math 5/4 for Bethany, our 5th grader. Most know about Saxon's grade designations. Math 5/4 is for the average fourth grader or a 5th grader needing remediation.

I sat down today and made a list of how many different math curriculums we've used for Bethany. Between figuring out one that she could learn from and one that I could teach, it took awhile to find a good fit. Even after we found Saxon it still took awhile. She had gotten a bit spoiled from Horizons colorful approach to its workbooks. (Our son is happily using Horizons, I might add.) The problem I have with Horizons is that it doesn't really teach the why's of math. It teaches the how's. But if math doesn't come naturally to you....all the more reason to know the why's. It doesn't come naturally to Bethany, but interestingly, she says it's her favorite subject. The fun part of that is that she knows she will need math in farming, and truth be told, that's her present motivation. My Dad is a farmer/rancher, and so I find her love for math downright charming.

Saxon is not only giving Bethany a good foundation in math (early geometry and algebra) by teaching the hows and whys of math, it is also teaching her how to learn. It's teaching her to exhaust all avenues for understanding the concept before asking the teacher. In every question of the mixed practice section is a number that refers the student back to the lesson or lessons where the concept used was introduced. Bethany looks at the number, for example, lesson #21, turns back to that lesson to understand the problem that involves the terms perpendicular, right angles, intersecting, etc. When she came to me today, she had already on her own taken that important step of trying to read and research what she had already learned about the concept.

Another plus to Saxon is something I consider an important transition in education, a.k.a. a necessary evil, and that is, you don't work out of a workbook. All of the math problems are to be written out on paper (graph paper is best), and you have to show your work. Try explaining that to someone who knows the answer and doesn't think you should have to show your work. High school math requires it of you, so the student benefits by starting now! It's been an important tool in understanding accuracy in writing, transcribing problems etc. In summary, nothing but benefits in choosing Saxon math.

I am so thrilled to see these steps of maturity in Bethany's study skills and learning habits. Thanking the Lord for how He has led us in this triumphant procession across miles and miles of other math curriculum pages. Progress. Satisfaction. Foundation strengthening. Saxon. Peace at last for a math teacher in the works!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Stone Soup Cleaning 101

Stone soup. You know the story. The soldiers come into town hungry and tired. They ask for something to eat, but no one has anything. So the soldiers find a big pot, add some stones and water, and it begins to boil. They wait. One by one, the town peasants bring onions, then potatoes, carrots, and you can see where this is going. Eventually their hunger is satisfied. I LOVED the story of stone soup when I was growing up. I could just see it, and, I think I could smell it too!

It all began on Saturday morning when I spotted my bargain bag of 3lb/$1 oranges. They were looking slightly shriveled as they lay in their netted bag, a bit dimpled. While on the official hunt for the official fruit bowl (which I find), I discover its contents to be a handful of much older clementines, two sweet potatoes, and one still nice and firm red onion. Knowing that my onions and potatoes are supposed to go in my orchard basket in the pantry, I open the pantry door. I spot my orchard basket, pull it out, and proceed to empty it of one bad onion, dried onion peel, a handful of Ritz crackers (cracker, anyone?), and oh, I think a twisty-tie or two. Now, not only is this becoming personal, (I just wanted to put away my oranges!), I conclude that this haphazard method of organization (oxymoron!) isn't doing anyone any favors. I can do better. And so begins the clean. One clean shelf begets another clean shelf, and that clean shelf begets another, and then another, and the next thing I know, contents of honey containers are combined, all snacks are happily packed away in the official snack box, and I could go on and on.

There's just something about things being in their place. We are a busy family in our own way. Though we don't have as many outside activities as most families, we have a lot going on that can contribute to a much needed dose of stone soup cleaning: homeschooling, worship leading, homeschool support group leadership, fun with friends, more fun with friends, Danny's ever-changing flight schedule, the mandatory doctor's appointments: it can get disorderly p r e t t y fast around here. Today just seemed to be the day to do something about it, and I couldn't be happier with the results. And to think this story began because I wanted to put away a bag of oranges!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Socks Blessed Off

"Dear Jesus,

Thank you for this food, thank you for my Mommy, thank you that she's homeschooling me, thank you that she is a Christian, thank you that she's raising me in the Lord, thank you for this food, and help Daddy to get back safe from work when he has to go, and thank you for this food. In Jesus name, Amen."
Brunch-time prayer of Thanksgiving by son as he and his sister play toys in her room. I love the heavy emphasis on being thankful for the food! Brunch was served atop a cardboard box table while they played. My own personal socks have been blessed right off. Blessing one: this prayer. Blessing two: having a family to serve. Blessing three: knowing it will count for eternity. At this rate, my socks may not go back on for some time. I would love to hear about your top three for today!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Making Curriculum Work for You

I'm posting a link from Chris at Wierd, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. This is one of the most clear-cut pieces on How to use your curriculum, and not let your curriculum use you that I've read in a while.

It's almost nine in the morning, I'm still in my jammies, and we haven't started our homeschooling yet. Yesterday, Bethany and I cracked the first book at 7 in the morning. Today, it will probably be 9 a.m. Hubby had to get up at 3:30 to fly, and honestly, I feel like I used to feel when the children were infants and I was doing that middle of the night feeding, and attempting to function, and....I'm sure you know the feeling. So, as I sit in my red and white striped jammies and a cup of very good coffee in hand, I am at rest in my homeschooling mama's heart. A Saxon math book awaits, and behind it First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, and shall we not forget as well, Apologia Biblical Worldview Curriculum. And about that copywork! On the heels of reading this inspiring post, I'll enjoy X'ing out every other math problem, and doing a 20 minute language lesson instead of a 30 minute lesson. I plan on starting with the fun "experiements" that are in our Bible Curriculum today. (You wouldn't believe how quiet it is in my house right now!) Now, click on the link and hop on board a really inspiring article. I'm due for a coffee warm-up!

Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers: Making Curriculum Work for You

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Where Most People Don't Go On Vacation

Bethany had always said she wanted to live in the Antarctic. She's doing a project on Antarctica for her literature class (we haven't made the connection yet, but we think the teacher knows what she's doing. This is for one of two co-op classes she's taking). This video is one of the things I came across while looking for some informative websites. Watch this:

It's not uncommon for children to want to be a policeman, no, a fireman, wait, a Doctor, and ...well, you get the idea. In our house it revolves around moving, and where they want to live. Antarctica was tops on Bethany's list, then it became Pennsylvania where she would be an Amish person. Once we explained how difficult it was to break in to their tight knit communities, she decided to strike out on her own and move to Wyoming. Some would say that's like Antarctica. Now that Israel is at the top of her list, Antarctica makes a nice safe project for her to write about.

Favorite quote : "Difficulties are just things to overcome." from Sir Ernest Shackleton, the English Explorer of Irish descent who became fascinated with the South Pole. He made several expeditions in an attempt to cross the Continent of Antarctica. Although he did not accomplish that goal in particular, the story of his attempts are nothing short of inspirational. This is a short clip featuring a documentary called Endurance. I hope to watch it in its entirety someday. Video from everywhere!

Favorite thought
: I probably won't have to travel to Antarctica to visit my future grandchildren.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thought Provoking

I just returned from attending the Memorial Service of a very special friend's Father. My friend, Kristi, blogs here. (This is Kristi on the right, with her papa, and her other sister to the left.)

I have to tell you that Kristi and I met at a local Mall. We were total strangers about 6 years ago when we went with our children to the mall that neither of us frequented. While taking a respite in the play area with our respective children, we met (by divine appointment), and became instant friends, so much so that we shuttled our children up the elevator to the food court(she only had two at the time, but now has four blessings!), and had lunch together. The best part about meeting Kristi was not just meeting a new friend, but meeting a sister in the Lord.

Over these last few years we've gotten together many many times with our families, shared meals, been to their family get-togethers, and have become just that, family. They always were so quick to include us in birthday parties for their children, and in fact, hosted my own surprise party when I turned forty-five. So, today, it was not a hard decision to make in deciding to travel an hour and 1/2 north to honor the life and memory of Larry William Price. He went home to be with Jesus on Christmas Eve.

Today, I learned a lot. I learned a lot about Mr. Price, and I learned more about my dear friend, Kristi.I learned that the apple truly does not fall far from the tree. Five minutes of reading Kristi's blog will reveal wit and humor that apparently has come right down the pipeline, atleast as far up as her Dad anyway. As a young man, Larry once feined being blind, cane, sunglasses and all, in order to get in free to a movie, a drive in, with friends. Pretty funny. Pretty clever. After all, he shouldn't have to pay if he can't see. On a different side, I also learned that Kristi's mother and father invited a family of six to live with them when Kristi and her sister were small. This was a family in between homes, (they worked for a rescue mission) and needed a place to stay. The Price family embraced them and welcomed them just like Kristi and her family did with us. I realized that Kristi's gift of welcoming was modeled by her mother and father. One of the most profound moments to me was when his childhood friend, an individual who confessed with his own words that he was not a person of faith, shared with us this: what and who everyone was saying Larry was in their lives; lover of God, lover of family, faithful to his wife, faithful to his church, honest, hard-working, humble,was who he was when those people were not around. When the walls were down, his friend testified, Larry was the same. There was no difference. There was no double standard, no hypocricy. I cannot think of a summary any better than that of what our lives ought to be to the world around us. My prayer is now that this man would come to know the Saviour of his soul. I hope it will come soon for him.

Mr. Price was a well-respected Nuclear Engineer. He was the first to receive a degree in Nuclear Engineering from Arizona State University. He was at the top in his field, in his faith, and in his family. Today he is with the Lord. Today, I love his daughter even more. I'm going to spend quite a bit more time thinking about everything I saw and heard today.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Today's Grace

Today I am giving myself the grace to clean and tidy up. We've all been a little punky with colds lately, and things are not where they need to be. I have the next two weeks of lesson plans in the planner, but today, it waits. (Note: Generally I don't discard school plans to clean unless things are in such disarry that I can't function.) Tonight, the Homeschool Leadership meeting is at our house, and will be for the remainder of the semester. Danny and I are co-directors with another couple, the McAffees. Since we moved end of September, our fall meetings were at their house. Now it's our turn. (Oh, to erase all doubt, this is a picture from the computer. Couldn't find a recent "clean" picture of our house....)

A couple of years ago I heard the phrase that as homemakers, our goal is "to bless and not impress." I have adopted that for myself. I can get pretty pushy and bossy when I am under pressure, and my gentle spirit can bark out the orders with the best of 'em. Time becomes like a hammer when I have a deadline, and the closer I get to the deadline, the harder I hammer. I have three eye-witnesses. Oh, four. Yes Lord, you know it all! Great, so you bless the guests by having things in order, but you karate chop your family to accomplish it. Not so good. So, while I have grace to clean, and I am convinced I do, I need the Holy Spirit to follow me around like a dust mop and make sure I'm not scattering seeds of discord in the process.

God, thank you for the grace to clean. I am leaning on You and trusting
that You will coach the pushy Mom in me to become more like you. Oh, this is
your way of cleaning and transforming me? I get it!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Beginning Again

If you're looking for a wide selection of Through the Bible reading plans, check out this website. I actually have one that I printed out from last year that I will continue to use. No, I didn't make it through the Bible last year. Fortunately, God's mercies are new, truly they are, every day. With that in mind, perhaps I'll begin again in my efforts.

One of the things I wanted was a place to click off my reading online so I could see my progress. To the tune of $14 I can do this, but....must I? I think I'll settle for the paper version.

The website I have provided the link to has some AMAZING Bible reading plans, perhaps the most variety I've seen. I especially liked that they had one for new Christians. So please go and check it out. Someone will be encouraged and strengthened because of your efforts.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

One of the best parts about Homeschooling is my own renewed love for learning. I have a new found love for History, Science, and dare I say Math. I already loved Language Arts and anything related to that topic. (Deep inside is a frustrated journalist, architect and geologist, all areas that have interested me over the years.) We also include the Bible. When I look at the list of all the subjects I am interested in there is not a one that is not somehow addressed in the Bible. Yes, even journalism. Enter: Apologia Biblical Worldview Curriculum, Volume 1. This is our Bible curriculum.
For a number of years I would buy a really good Bible Story book, and that met our needs. I am seeing with Daniel that he still has a great need to go over those again. I want them to know the hallmark/anchor stories of God's word. They'll recall them over the years at different times just as I have done. However, Bethany's needs are changing somewhat, so I began to look for a good Bibilical Worldview curriculum. I think I've found it. Two weeks into volume one and my own life is being challenged.

We've been studying how to build our lives upon the rock, and conversely, what to do if we want to build our lives upon the sand. Thank you, but NO, to that. I have "sand moments" as I'll call them, and I much prefer the rock. Romans 12:2 is one the feature verses for the beginning of our study. The more I think about it, the more I like it and want to let it be my mirror verse for the year, the one I stare into to see how it's going, so to speak.

"Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God."

As we were working our way through this together I had my own little lightbulb moment. I began to think about the difference between being conformed and being transformed. Conformed is a shaping that comes from an external source, either through something or someone, that we allow. It could be an outside pressure or perhaps a worldly mindset that we've embraced. Transformed, though it may have external components, begins in the interior of the heart and mind. It is a work of God. I cannot transform myself. I can allow myself to be conformed, pressured and shaped, by others and other influences, but only God can bring real transformation.

This year I am praying for transformation. Transformation for myself, our finances, my health and how I take care of my body. I can see how every area of my life is due for an overhaul. A transformation. A work of God. I can see how this verse is like a lifeguard for my heart.

Has God given you anything for this next year? Oh I have more to share, but this is long enough probably. Father in Heaven, have Your way in our lives this year. Help us to surrender all that we are and desire to Your will. Thank you for another year. May we bring glory to Your great name.