Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Thanksgiving Day 2011

Merry Christmas from my family and I.
May your days be filled with peace and joy
due to the baby boy that was
"born so that man no more may die."

-- Kathleen

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Rambling Randomness



This nativity set was a gift from my folks to Kip& I on our first Christmas as a married couple. It sits upon the piano. Baby Jesus and the manager live out all Advent long. Some (such as my sister) are adamant that Jesus be placed in the manager on Christmas day. It seems like something that I would feel strongly about it, but I never have. In our set Jesus is attached to the manager, so we have just always set them out when we set it up.

On the Day of Decorating the House for Christmas we begin by hauling the boxes out of the attic, turning on Russ Taff's Christmas CD, and donning Santa hats. Then the work of transformation begins. And if I have remembered, the family will drink eggnog to boost their energy.




The kids decided to repeat their house decorating performance of last year and do it by themselves again. Hubby was engaged in a sewing machine project. So, I immersed myself in the taking of many photos -- on our new digital camera.

Assistant Mom directs the youngest and prepares the ornaments to be hung.

I was glad to be taking lots of photos for I needed a job to do. Next year, I do think I will get in on the ornament hanging at least since I miss reflecting on the ornaments and the stories associated with them.

We've hung our stockings on our bookshelves because we don't have a chimney.

We put our advent wreath together and have lit it and have sung Christmas carols. (This is a tradition that I felt empowered to begin due to the blog post on Like Mother, Like Daugher HERE and also on The Simple Wife HERE.) Begin, start. Do something. It is often better than nothing and better than never getting around to it. As I heard at a recent organizational seminar "Sooner is better than perfect." And I did it that year...when I read about...not necessarily at the beginning of the season.

The tree before it has been fluffed or decorated.

It doesn't have to be perfect but do it. Make a decision. Go for it. I think I often get caught in the trap of making special holiday memories for the other adult's in my life that I think are critiquing (but no one is -- who has time for that in all the holiday busyness?!) and I tend to forget about the desires of my children -- wanting a happy mama, the wonder of the season with creating some anticipation. So it is not the most perfect Advent wreath but it is a tradition we have begun to do. (Interested in the first year that I did that? Read HERE.)

Our advent wreath a few years ago.
The base looks the same; we just have different colored candles this year
(always with one different).
We lit them during dinner and do our other Advent things after dinner
during Storytime with Daddy (when we're home).

We have an wooden advent calendar that we use each year. And now I see that my children really do know the details of the Christmas story. The repetition of a deeply layered story helps us peel it back each year. And as we read the The Living Word that is active to divide between our soul and spirit, each of our hearts can have something freshly revealed each season, each day -- if we are able to quiet ourselves and allow ourselves to hear it.

I love this plate my sister gave me a few years ago.
And in an unprecedented design move for me
I bought this stand for a Thanksgiving plaque that I bought.
And now, behold, it also holds our Santa plate!

And so it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas again around our house. It was a lot easier again this year because we have a 6, 10, 12 and 13 year old. They are all here. They like being here and contributing and helping and giving their strength to our home. And I benefit. It is a beautiful thing. So different from the years of all babies and toddlers all of the time (which were beautiful, too, in their way, just more physically demanding.) We have been here for awhile now. But, we are still adjusting to this new place of young men and women at our house (with youngest still full of energy, wonder, antics and loudness to keep us not so wondering where we are in this loud and sticky life.)

We have even purchased a few gifts, I have the Christmas photo for the letters ready, the envelopes purchases. I have started on most things. Done something on most of the Christmas lists. I have sent off my Christmas wish lists to others. I am ahead of where I usually am at this time of year, but without an exploding sense of "I need to get this!" And that makes me a little nervous, actually.

Because it is December 9th and we do need to ship gifts. And we are far from having all the gifts purchased and wrapped. Far from having Christmas cookies baked, much less frosted, and other special seasonal treats prepared. Next week is crazy busy with lots of festivities which really begin with a full, fun day tomorrow.And at least one -- if not two events -- starting on Wednesday through next Sunday. (I do love the parties and events, though, it is certainly part of the spirit of the season for me.)

This week seemed peaceful enough. Yet, I don't know that I have accomplished enough of the to-do lists to navigate next week without feeling overwhelmed.


Favorite ornaments that also look like the figurines in little advent sets that
a dear woman from church gave to me on the birth of the third child.
They each love to take their own set of figures to play with each year.
Since we pack them up with the Christmas stuff, it helps them to be more special.
Each child puts them in their own box that they decorate how they want.
(Each child has been through more than one box and the child that is into wood-working has made his own stable out of wood.)
Thankfully I found a fourth set after the child was born at Hobby Lobby six years ago.
I haven't seen them since but also haven't searched for them either.



But I would rather choose peace. Choose to walk peacefully through the potentially chaos of events. I cannot go back and do more preparations for the days ahead. I can only walk in this moment. And as a friend often reminds me, Do the next right thing.

So I will sign off this blog post and hit publish (because sooner is better than perfect.) And attend to the needs of the children.

And a special welcome to the Company Girl Coffee folks -- I have missed you!

May we all navigate this season with peace with the Prince of Peace as our guide who came that He may abide with us all of the time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

'Tis the Season to be Thankful

May the weekend be stuffed full of counting every good and perfect gift.

Here is a small sampling of things I am thankful for.


I am thankful for chickens that recently came to visit. Some of our best friends came to visit. They came with chickens. How fun to have chickens in my house! Since I am a suburbia dweller for all the days of my life and I am not well-acquainted with animals, this was my first time to host poultry in my home. How about you? When is the last time you had chickens in your house?


I am thankful for a table that is worn with memories, including a dinner for two this summer while the children were away. I am thankful for the aunt and uncle who keep the kids for a week, creating special memories for the cousins.


I am thankful for fun, summertime memories with the 6 of us. Over ten days of travel, beautiful sunshine, family, and friends, culminating in the celebration of the wedding of good friends.



This is my favorite picture of the year. We went tubing this summer and it started at the K&K tubing company. How fun since those are our initials and we have delighted in being K&K for 18 years and it was close to our actual anniversary on this day. It is also a favorite picture because this day of renting tubes and floating down a river in Minnesota set off a chain reaction here in Tennessee when we told some good friends about it. Soon we were equipped with our own tubes and floating down a river in Tennessee. What a great way to cool off during a hot summer.



I am thankful for these four children: their creativity, their imagination in creating costumes, their playful spirits, and their loving hearts. It has been a mighty privilege to be their momma. I am a better person for being a mom. I am so thankful that God granted this desire. He does not grant all desires equally in the same quantity to the same people. I am so thankful for the ones He has granted to me.


I have a thankful heart.


How about you? What are you thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What's baking at my house this week


This is what is on my plate this week -- quite literally-- the baking of a pirate cake. We're hosting a Pirate Themed Birthday party for the youngest who is turning six and who is having his first friend party.

I encouraged the party to be a Pirate Theme just so I could make this cake -- for the third time. Third time is the charm -- right!?! Last year I convinced him not to have a pirate cake. This year, I persuaded him to have a pirate cake. What's up with that?

It started when he was turning three. I had asked him what kind of cake that he wanted after we'd been through the bakery aisle at the grocery store. We'd oohed and aahed over the neat looking cakes.

So when asked what kind of cake he wanted, he answered, "A pirate cake."

I meant chocolate or vanilla. He meant a pirate cake.

I didn't want to buy the cake due my frugal tendencies. Instead, I set out to learn how to make a pirate cake. It didn't look that hard. And it wasn't; but, as usual, I didn't give myself a lot of time to experiment with such a project.

I baked it. I built it. We ate it.

Then his four year old birthday approached.

"What kind of cake would you like?" asked his mommy.

"A pirate cake, " he replied.

Since I didn't keep anything that I had used to make it, I had to search again for directions on the internet although this time I could also look at my pictures. It went okay.

When the five year old birthday came around. I convinced him to choose another cake; perhaps by not giving him the option of a pirate cake. (I don't really remember since that was a year ago.) I didn't want to be locked into baking a pirate cake for the next 10 years.

But I guessed I missed making it since I convinced him to go with a Pirate Theme just so I could make this cake!

Since making a cake for the third time may not be stressful enough (even though I will probably need to look up directions again. I don't know, of course, since it is only Tuesday and the party is Saturday), we're going to make our own pinata for the very first time. This will help just in case things won't be stressful enough getting ready for the kid party on Saturday. Tee-hee. Right now, it sounds fun and creative. Hopefully it remains so, especially with an inspired 13 year old around that can spearhead the pinata project while I bake the pirate cake again.

It should be a fun week!

But if you'd like to give some pinata-making tips, they are quite welcome.


So....what's baking at your house this week?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Scrapbooking & Contentment

Putting together a photo order so that we can each scrapbook!

This past weekend I went scrapbooking. I dusted off my tools and my pictures. I hauled my gear an hour away from my home. I set up my stuff on a table and focused on getting child number three's baby book finished. And now she has photos of herself in a dedicated book from birth until one year old, just one month after her ten year old birthday. Woo-hoo!

I was in the midst of kind-hearted women. We ate when we wanted to, slept if we wanted to, and all of us worked on our albums. There was chit-chat about our pictures and the memories that they hold. There were movies and music and working on our albums.

And here in this atmosphere of kindness, I still felt pressure. It certainly wasn't coming from anyone else. We didn't even spend much time looking at each other's stuff; we were busily focused on our own projects.

And yet, we glance. I saw the seemingly large stacks of page layouts they were getting done. The amazing amount of craft and beauty. My pages were much more simple. I worked much more slowly.

And I found myself needing to remind myself that I was making the book for my daughter. And she would love the album. She has been waiting for the album for a long time. She won't look at anyone else's album. Only this one that I created for her.

Why is so hard not to get caught up in comparing myself to others? Wanting these other scrapbookers, most of whom I do not know, to come and be impressed with my pages?

Isn't it fascinating that I needed to remind myself who I was making the album for? There was no external pressure about this. I sure seem to fight a lot of internal pressure. Where does it come from? And why so strongly?

As I thought, "I'm making this my daughter. She will love it.", I began to be content. I remembered my focus, my calling.

And truly I was right. My daughter loved the album. Actually the whole family delighted in the album, these pictures of welcoming sweet number three to our family.

Those other scrapbooks that made me feel pressure, they've faded but not the women that created them. I remember their friendly faces. Their encouraging words. Their adamant invitation that I join them at their monthly crops. I remember their kindness.

The stacks of more work that "they" seemed to get done went by the wayside when the oldest said, "Wow, it looks like you accomplished a lot."

May this internal, ridiculous pressure go away once and for all!

Surely, I will yet learn the secret of contentment.

...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances...I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation...Philippians 4:11, 12

How about you?
Can you relate to feeling inward pressure that is not really there externally?Or do you just think I am crazy? Do you have some secrets to share about learning to be content?


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Secret of the Heron


It was the last day of summer. It was sunny with a few scattered clouds and little wind. The smells of river-water, sun & mud wafted through the air -- outdoor fresh with a hint of fish. The bugs were cricketing with a buzz, buzz and a cheep, cheep.

We sat on the hard rocks. We began to sketch nature observations into our new journals. Great and silent across the river sat the patient fisher bird. Our heron friend that we often see at this bend in the river stood in the water. Waiting.

We took turns gazing at him through the new pair of binoculars the thirteen year old received for his birthday. We could see the heron's open mouth and the detail of his gray-blue feathers.

I saw splashes and bubbles. There must be fish nearby. I hoped to see the heron make a catch, if only we waited long enough.

There was a bright blue sky. Above the green-leafed trees with their faint yellow-rimmed edges, the jet roared. Its explosive sound interrupted the serenity and quiet beauty of our "secluded" spot. It was then that I also noticed the cars thundering over the cement, metal bridge a half-mile away.

The contrast of the images jarred me. But it didn't jar the heron, or the birds, or the bugs.

The heron stood just as focused on finding a fish for its dinner. The birds chirped just the same. The bugs kept on buzzing away.

They didn't even flinch.

Yet, I was interrupted. I heard the jet. I heard the cars.

The noise reminded me that I belong to a culture of to-do lists, of places to go, and of accomplishments to achieve. But I didn't want to be reminded just yet about the world to which I would soon return. The to-do lists that are never finished were left back on the kitchen counter for a reason!

I longed to package this moment and bring the peace back into my "real" life.

What was the secret of the heron? How could it be undisturbed by all the noise? Was it numb to it? Or was it focused on its calling: its need for dinner tonight?

Then, I realized that the jet was not disturbed by the heron either. It didn't even know the heron was there. But the bird didn't care if it was noticed by the jet. The jet wasn't striving to be noticed by the heron. Each was focused on its own purpose.

The jet sure would look silly wading in the river to catch a fish. Likewise, not even one person on the jet could climb upon the heron to get to their destination.

I must begin to realize that it is just as silly for me to try to pursue someone else's calling as it is for a jet to wade for fish!

My calling is to be here in this moment with my children. I need to climb over the rocks and down to the water's edge far away from my respectable to-do list and into this moment. Oh, I shall need to return to the many listed responsibilities. . . but for this moment I need to collect shells and to throw stones in the river, and simply let God's creation soak deep down into our souls.

No, I am not transforming the world with technology or amazing speeches. I am not making headlines or any kind of monetary contribution to society or even to our small household. But. . . I am making a difference in the lives of these four children. And this is my calling here and now in this short season while they roost here with us.

And that, my friends, is the secret of the heron: Know your calling. Your unflinching, undisturbed calling that keeps you fishing for dinner in the midst of a jet-roaring world.

Have you found your focus, your calling in life?
If so, has it helped you to maintain peace in the midst of chaos?

Linking up with Jen at Finding Heaven today.



Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thirteen

For the day my first born turned thirteen 2 1/2 weeks ago


Thirteen years.

Thirteen is an unlucky number, or so they say,

But not for me

Because thirteen years ago today

My dream came true

I became a mom


Thirteen years from now

I will be a mom whose children are all grown

How dare they come and

Change my heart, my home, my life

And fly away so soon


Yet that is their calling

And my calling too

To help them become

Who they are called to be

And in the process

It changes me

Changing diapers, making meals

Teaching fractions and phonics

To say please and thank you, too

Reading books and saying prayers

Tickles and laughter and outbursts of tempers

Theirs and mine


And I am changed

Holding their hands, holding their hearts

As they change

To become who they are called

To be


And in the process

It changes me


Thirteen

* * * * * * * * * * * *

How about you?

Has a recent milestone made you reflect upon your life?

And/or what advice do you have for us

for these upcoming teenage years?

* * * * * * * * ** * * *

p.s. Linking up with Company Girls at Home Sanctuary. Check it out HERE.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Someone is Ten Today


Happy Birthday, Sweet Ten-Year Old.

Ten Years Ago today you entered our home and our hearts have never been the same. You loved to be held then and that hasn't changed, o giver of many hugs.

Sweet, funny, loveable, and creative you are.

Your beautiful blonde, platinum hair makes you distinctly different from your mother and your sister, which is appropriate because you are unique. Yet, there is a family resemblance with your Aunt Kay.

Your longing to be home with all of us helps us to stay home more and enjoy one another. I love getting to know you. I love your logical mind, your merciful heart, your creative hands, your silly sense of humor, and your spiritual sensitivity. I love how you engage adults in conversation, you have a special way with them. .

You are our pearl dedicated to God. So thankful for you.

Happy Tenth Birthday.

Love, Mommy

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Finding a New Groove

One of the groove busters: our MN vacation.
Here are the kids 0n Paul Bunyan's lap in Northern Minnesota
.

Somewhere along the way, I lost my schooling groove and my blogging groove. I am looking for them. If you find them --or any of my other good grooves, will you return them to me?

Ahhh, if it could only be that easy.

It's always harder to restart than it is to keep going, isn't it? So, why do I have such trouble remembering that? Sometimes it's a circumstance: a vacation, a sick child, a broken car, or some other time-consuming event. Then my feelings take advantage: I don't feel like it.

Another pic from our groove-busting, memory-filled vacation.

It is just like when I am running along and then... bam... there I am walking. I didn't decide to walk. But I am walking none-the-less. It is best if I take three quick steps as soon as I notice I'm walking or I may walk a long way. And so it is with my habits, I need to take quick action or it may be a long time before I'm grooving again.

Unfortunately, I did not take quick action and so I find myself today in need of lots of gumption to find the grooves of schooling and blogging.

One of the easier grooves to re-establish has been running. It hasn't been as long since I was in the groove as it has been with the others. Also, my oldest is running with me. He woke me up yesterday when I didn't hear my alarm.

So there is that, too: fresh enthusiasm from another. Always very helpful to get over a hump of inertia.

And in the running together, I have passed on a couple of tid-bits: watch your form and it's a mental game. Now, at first they were for him. But, I have found that I need to apply this mental game advice to my every day life.

Our family at our dear friends' wedding.

Most of us can get up and run -- even if it is not your method of getting a work-out. But the big part of learning to run (and a great benefit of running) is to teach your mind to direct and not your body. Decide beforehand how long you will run and how you will run. The work-outs can be slow and easy with no walking or fast and hard run with short walking breaks.

The type of run doesn't matter as much as training the body to do what your mind says and not what it feels like.

And isn't that great advice for tackling the daily details? Determine in advance what you will do in spite of what you feel like doing.

And so, I determined in advance that we will do math this week even though it is birthday week at our house (three birthdays, seven days). We will set our alarms and begin our routines. And instead of reading lots of blogs this morning, I am writing my own blog post. I need to re-establish the blogging groove somehow. Here it is.


Cute, aren't they?
At the end of our three-day camping trip in Northern Minnesota.


What are you determining to do in spite of how you feel?
Are you in a good groove?
Or, are you like me and beginning again?


P.S. Welcome to the Company Girls...I've been gone awhile...thanks for checking in on me...and for my other readers click HERE to get to know some other folks...

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Plan for the upcoming 2011-2012 School Year


Hello! Welcome to all and especially to those hopping on over from the the Not-Back-To-School Blog Hop at Heart of the Matter.

Today's post will be focusing on curriculum.

Since I home-school multiple ages, I try to do as many subjects together as possible. That includes science, history, Bible, and read-alouds. Also, I adhere to a learning lifestyle that includes many books that we read aloud together, looking up questions as they come up, observing wild life around us. But I do recognize that there are some academic skills that we'll not master if we don't take the time to intentionally pursue them.

So the following list is mainly for our in-the-seat work.

Bible
Our main text is The Story Bible by Catherine Vos. We read aloud. Then the kids take turns telling me what they remember, also called narration in the Charlotte Mason method.

AWANA handbooks: they each take ownership of memory verses and projects. I'll need to help the Kindergartener since he'll be learing to read. I have one who graduated out of the program after achieving the Timothy Award. So my seventh grader & I will be memorizing whole chapters of the Bible together. This will be incentive for me to memorize Scripture.

Sunday school class, VBS, and life lessons as they come up.

Math--
In order to create a fun atmosphere in regards to math we have these resources around.
I Hate Mathematics

Math for Smarty Pants
Games for Learning Math by Peggy Kaye

Muggins, Math-It, Yahtzee & many other games
Math-U-See blocks, legos
Dice, coins, chips, fraction wheels, rulers

Making Math Meaningful by David Quine for the K, 5 & 6th grader
Life of Fred for the 7th grader


Language
English From the Roots Up, Vol. I by Lundquist
Emma Serl's Language Lessons (Both Primary & Intermediate depending on which student)
Four days a week prompts to write in a composition book.
Learning Spelling Through Copy Work

History
Our main text is V. Hillyer's A Child's Story of the World. We read a chapter and then the children draw a picture and write about it. As they get older, I'm requiring more be written. We emphasize using our best handwriting and applying grammar rules.


We're entering the Roman phase as we read chronologically. I hope to read some of Genieve Foster's Caesar Augustus World. I also look up books that will fit in this time period, using different book lists that I can find including a Carole Joy Seid book list, Valerie Bendt's Unit Study book. I also use Honey for a Child's Heart, Books Children Love, and the Read Aloud Handbook to find good books to read, not just for history but also for science and for fun. I love looking for new good books to read.

I will also check out a book or two from the library about crafts & projects we can do. We also have a global puzzle, spend time looking at maps, too.

Science
Considering God's Creation: We have several units left that I would like to cover: animal classification, weather, and some others. There are other resources listed in each unit that I use to supplement.

The Periodic Table for Elementary Students.

Nature Walks & Observations in a field trip notebook

Art
Artistic Pursuits by Brenda & Dan Ellis
Creating Books with Children
by Valerie Bendt (oh.. to finish this project! it is up first!)

I also try to have lots of art supplies on-hand.


Kindergarten
Alphaphonics by Samuel Blumenfeld. I have taught the other three with this book. When we complete this book, they can get a library card of their own. (The local library will give you one when they are born. When we started the phonics program with the first born, none of them had cards and I thought this would be a wonderful incentive and directly related to reading! They loved not being restricted to the number of books because we had to share my card.)

Bob Books for practice of reading

Sparks handbook

Five In A Row Vol. I by Jane Lambert

Handwriting Without Tears

Making Math Meaningful-Kindergarten


Seventh Grader

Fix-Its by Pamela White, an IEW product. The student fixes grammar mistakes.

Other miscellaneous grammar workbooks that I picked up here & there. I still need to fill in the remainder of his grammar curriculum. This will be a focus while I'm hopping to other blogs.

Starting Points by Cornerstone Curriculum. I plan to do this over the course of two years. The program begins to teach how to discern worldviews and how they impact literature and history. In addition to the syllabus, the seventh grader will be reading: How to Read Slowly by James Sire, the Chronicles of Narnia, The Deadliest Monster, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, Know What You Believe by Paul Little. This curriculum is to begin to teach Biblical world view thinking.



Other thoughts
In this post I am listing curriculum, if you click on a colored words it will take you to a website about that product. I tried to link to the writer of the product if I could. This is just for information. I haven't received anything to do this.

I appreciated when I began all the help that other home schoolers gave me. Still, when I need to focus on a new area, I'm thankful for the trading of resources & blog hops like this one.

If you would take the time -- which I'm assuming most of us don't have -- and clicked on my post from last year, you would notice we are using many of the same curriculum. We're in a groove right now that seems to be working -- and if it's working let's not fix it. The newest additions are for the oldest (a seventh grader) and the youngest (a kindergartener).

May we all have either a great School year no matter where we are educating our children!

Not Back to School Blog Hop

When do your children go back to school? Some folks around here go back today, which seems way too early for a girl who always started the day after Labor Day. Did you look forward to going back to school as a child or were you terrified? Or tell us your plans for the upcoming school year.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Year Ago

Our house

A year ago, I was taking a cold shower wondering if we would have to sell the house. I was wondering not because the hot water heater was broken but because my husband was unemployed. It just so happened that the water heater broke two days before he was notified of his lay-off.

A year ago, I was also wondering if we would go into full-time vocational ministry. We had talked on & off through the years about it, especially if something cataclysmic happened. This seemed cataclysmic to me.

A year ago, I was wondering if we would move to Minnesota where all of my family lives.

A year ago, I was wondering how long our savings would last. Would it be enough?

Now, I know the answers to those questions: no, we didn't go into full-time ministry, move to Minnesota, see a zero balance in our bank account, or even try to sell the house.

But last summer, no one could tell me what would happen to us. They could only tell me their stories. Alike but different. No one knew the answers to those questions except One. And He wasn't talking.

My head wanted answers. He knew what my heart needed: the day-by-day practice of trusting Him and of seeing Him work in the big and the little things.

the hydrangeas in our front yard

Eight boxes of food were given to us the same day we had three extra children at our house. They stayed for five days. God gave to us so that we could give to others. My husband and oldest son "just happened" to wait a long time and then be given free doughnuts the first Saturday after the lay-off.

God didn't work in mysterious ways. He worked through a friend showing up at my door with groceries for a nice dinner. She came on a day that I was particularly discouraged. Another friend gave us a gift certificate for a restaurant and an offer for free babysitting. God gave to us abundantly.

Others gave us money. At different times. In different amounts. Because "we love you." All those gifts of money were the reason we didn't see the zero balance in our bank account. We were humbly loved. How sweet it is.

We canceled two trips up north to see family. Through the contrast of ease of travel to then not being able to travel, I saw how sure it was that God swept me up to Minneapolis at just the right time to be there -- at my brother-in-law's side when he took his last breath. He battled cancer for three and a half years. I live nine hundred miles away. Yet, God took me there at that moment. I was able to be with my sister for a week and half just after he died. How thankful I am that I was able to do something and be there when I live 900 miles away. And just as sure as he swept me there and back to Tennessee, I was unable to travel at all for 13 months.

Two canceled trips. He showed me that He is in control when I'm not paying attention (such as the ease to get to Minnesota just six weeks before) and when I am disappointed about rearranged plans. We canceled the enrollment of my oldest two in a writing class. Instead, we hosted a sign language class at our house, which became a treasured memory from last school year. His plan is better than mine.

Peace came through trusting Him. It did not come through answers or even a job. Yes, I was happy and relieved when my husband was offered a job six months later. But relief is not the same as peace.

The tree house that we built last summer and fall.

Today, I am thankful for my husband's job. I am thankful we were able to get back to Minnesota to visit family after a 13 month hiatus. I am thankful for a tree house that we built because of a canceled trip. I am thankful for more ways that God provided than I can list here. I am even thankful for the disappointments and the loss for I have gained something greater than any loss I felt.

"What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord..." Philippians 3:8

I am thankful for the lessons learned while we were sailing on the Sea of Saturdays.

May I continue to walk in peace and not relief.

May I continue to know the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus,

Humbly yours,

Kathleen

Welcome Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood from Jen @ Finding Heaven. Link on over there to find more inspiration of God at work.

Do you have a story to tell about looking back and seeing the hand of God work in your life? I would love to hear how God works through you, too.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

For those who were wondering...


...and for those who weren't... the picture in the post prior to this was located in Wisconsin. Congratulations go to the grandma in Vancouver who guessed correctly due to the mouse and cheese! For some reason the upper Midwest loves to make tall statues of various items. And for some reason we love to taking pictures by them.

One day if scan my old photos into the computer, I would have quite a number of photos in front of different statues. Whew! Aren't you glad I haven't put all my photos on the computer?!?

O, Happy Day!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Then & Now

A quick hello to blog land. We've continued to gallivant around. But in the process I have set my screen saver to be the pictures that I have loaded onto the computer. So we all find ourselves sitting down and looking at our most recent pictures. (I started loading in the middle of 2009.)

Here is a little observation about time flying.

Last summer


This summer


The picture is shot at the same location somewhere on our travels. Does anyone know where we are? Do you have a guess at the state? Do you have a tradition of taking photos at the same place or way each year?

Have a happy day!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Home Again

Well, well, well. Last time I blogged, I hadn't blogged in three weeks. Now it has been longer than that. We have just arrived home from a 3,000 mile road trip! Whew!

My husband and I attended an Appleseed weekend while the kids visited cousins for a week in Chicago. Then, we all traveled onto Minneapolis where we celebrated a 6 year old birthday, reminisced with high school friends, hugged family, watched my nephew play baseball, rode a Ferris wheel, had a water fight, ate lots of food, enjoyed blue skies with puffy white clouds.

Then we traveled to Northern Minnesota where we camped on an island for three days, drank purple cows, took our picture with Paul Bunyan. For our next stop we drove a little further west to participate in a wedding: a matron of honor, two junior flowermaids, a singer/guitar player, a ring bearer and a reader. We all had a job. We tubed down a river, rehearsed, met some new friends and celebrated with dear friends and danced the night away.

We have managed to arrive home with less tears than expected and lots of sweat! It sure is hot out there (especially when the fan on the van stops blowing!) and we sure are glad to be home!

There were many more memories....hope to post some pictures soon and some new thoughts that are brewing.

Hope y'all are keeping cool in this heat!

With joy, Kathleen

p.s. Welcome Coffee Company sisters....if you're not one...check 'em out HERE.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Here and There *

*This post has been edited to add a few photos and captions.

Three weeks it has been since I blogged. I have not abandoned nor forsaken the blog. In my three week blogging absence, we have been living life. I will highlight a few of our adventures.

We picked five gallons of strawberries. They were the best tasting strawberries I have ever eaten in my life. We ate a lot of fresh strawberries. I have some puree in the freezer to make into homemade strawberry jelly, hopefully soon.

Our feasting table

We had a Greek feast to celebrate the end of our school year. We hosted some Olympics: we ran around the house 10 times, did the long jump, threw a discus (a frisbee) and a javelin (a Nerf sword), raced chariots (bikes) and thumb wrestled. The oldest prepared the games for the night. The girls prepped the table and helped get dinner on the table. The youngest helped mama secure the goods for the feast at the store. And hubby made leaf wreaths for each of us that we put on our heads after completing the Olympics.

On feast nights, dinner always follows Ken Wojack's** First Rule of Cooking: Make 'Em Wait (because everything tastes better when you're hungry.) We enjoyed tasting Greek feta cheese that was actually from Greece. I was surprised how much all the kids loved it. We also had kalamata olives (which none of the children liked), pita bread, hummus, cucumbers, rotisserie chicken, and baklava. We had each child stand up as we praised what they did this year. I imagined having certificates to give them but instead we simply verbally praised them. The five year old seemed to glow especially bright as he stood up. He is so excited to be in Kindergarten next fall and especially Sparks in AWANA.

"Yes! School is out!"

Though we had the end of the year banquet, we are still 'finishing' school this week. We are logging some math hours and putting the finishing touches on our human body unit, history notebook, field trip notebook, and assembling books they wrote and illustrated this year.

I have started leading a women's Bible study on Colossians with my Teacher's Lounge (TL for short) friends. This is the third time that I have essentially have written the Bible study (two for this group and one time for another group). Love, love, love this writing and leading of Bible studies. Two of some of my top favorite things in life: leading Bible studies and being with these homeschooling friends woven together by God. Though I have many friends that homeschool and many dear friends in life, I am thankful for nearby friends that homeschool, that pursue the Lord, and laugh a lot, too.

I spent one day scrapbooking and completed 11 pages. Sweet number three is now 9 months old in her baby scrapbook (and only 9 years old in life!) Feels good to have made some progress. When I actually return to scrapbooking, it is so good for my soul to reflect on all the good in my life. My hand-written journal processes life. It includes good things, too, but, there is something about seeing photos of laughing children, of me holding my babies, of the older three with huge smiles and all crammed onto hubby's lap that seeps deep into my soul causing it to resonate with gratefulness. I need to put scrapbooking back into my regular routine somehow!

We re-started the garden. Thanks to my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, we can actually see green peppers, beans, and flowers where vegetables will be.

We've been hiking and made friends with Flit, the Butterfly. We went to a Memorial Day service. We made fleischkeuckle and visited with a brother-in-law and sister-in-law that were in-town. We've been to a $1 summer movie. And we've been staying home! It seems I could have had more time to blog lately with a freer schedule but I've been decompressing from our usual fast-paced spring that included the adjustment of two new jobs --one for hubby and one for me. (Mine was part-time and is done for the summer. Thankfully hubby's is on-going!). Also, we're still transitioning from the spring school schedule to the summer schedule which hasn't really seemed to settle in, yet. Before we know it, it will be time to start up school again.

So here's to hanging onto these fleeting moments of life while I can. Hope everyone has a joyful day.
Joyfully,
--Kathleen

Joining the girls for Company Coffee at Home Sanctuary. Click HERE to read more entries.

** My husband learned the first rule of cooking years ago when we were vacationing with my parents for a long weekend in Arizona. He taught my husband how to make omelets and this was the first rule of cooking that he shared with my hubby. I don't know if my dad remembers saying it but we have quoted it often since that time.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A persistent pink petunia

In the potted plants on my patio there lives a persistent pink petunia. It insists on growing and blooming without any assistance from me, a newbie gardener.

I purchased a bunch of flowers late this spring. I potted them. I arranged them all nice and neat and pretty. I placed the pots along the fence where I park the van. Each time I would enter and leave the drive way, I enjoyed the pretty flowers.

Soon I noticed one pot with a pink petunia in it. I thought, "How pretty" and "My how it has grown." Then, I realized that I didn't purchase any pink petunias this year! This one must have grown from last summer's crop.

There were two pots which I didn't use but didn't take the time to empty out last year's dirt. Besides, one of them had some kind of white flowers growing in it. So I set them aside to deal with later-- which turned out to be not at all.

But the code of the seed planted in the dirt worked in spite of me. Now when all the other petunias have died away and there are only vincas left in the pots, there is a pretty pink petunia with several flowers on its stem.

I benefit not only from the beauty of the flower but also from the message of persistence. It follows the code placed inside of it by the Lord. He who began a good work inside the seed of the flower has also begun a good work inside of me that He will complete -- even in spite of me -- if He needs to.

I see it every time I get in and out of my car -- the pretty pink persistent petunia. Thank you Lord.

Inspired from the pages of my journal dated September 4, 2008
and also from Philippians 1:6

Also linking up with Jen at Finding Heaven for the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood. Check it out for more inpsiration.

* * * *

Have you ever been inspired by a lesson in nature?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

On Fathers Reading to Childern

I read recently that seventy percent of all incarcerated inmates enter prison illiterate.

A long time ago, I heard a scenario described on the radio. A card company donated Mother's Day cards to a prison. The inmates could chose a card and mail it off to their mom. This idea went over much better than anticipated. If I remember correctly, the card company made at least two more deliveries of cards because there was so much interest.

They were a bit stunned at the interest but they were also spurred on. Since the Mother's Day cards were such a hit, the company decided to provide cards for Father's Day as well.

But...not a single inmate sent a card to their father for free.

Not just a lot less interest. No one mailed a card on Father's Day. This speaks volumes.

How much of the world could be changed by a father taking the time to read to his children?

A simple, almost daily act could change a child's life. Reading to children inspires a desire to read, exposes to new ideas, provides a time for touch, connection, and a way to say that the child is important.

The father of my children (just for the record -- he is also my husband) reads to them most every day. Even the twelve-year-old boy who dreams of adventures and moving out on his own, and who can read 20 books in a few days, loves to be read to by his father (and his mother, too).

I knew it was a gift how much their father loves them.

But perhaps it is an even greater gift than I realized that the highlight of our day is daddy reading aloud to the children.

* * * *
What about you? Do you think it could change the world to have fathers read most every day to their children?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Mother

My Mother

My mother and father with my four children. Jan 2011

My mother is a family woman.
My mother works hard.
My mother likes to laugh.
She knits, she bowls, she golfs.
She is organized, plans, and is always on time. She never procrastinates.
She keeps a neat, orderly home.
One of her favorite things is to have all her children -- including in-laws & grandchildren -- around her. Family is important to my mother. She spoke that to me. She modeled that for me.

Though my procrastination and struggle to be on-time was/is hard on her (I'm still trying...), I did catch the importance of family.

One of my favorite things is to be with family.

Happy Mother's Day to you and yours. For some this day is a struggle, click on this link, if you need encouragement for the day.

For what are you thankful in your mother?

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Tension in the Becoming


I'm linking up with Five Minute On Fridays where we throw caution (editing, revising, and worrying) to the winds and just write for five minutes. Without wondering if it’s just right or not.


Today's Prompt: If I knew I could, I would....

GO:

If I knew I could, I would get up earlier than my children every day. I would run 2-5 miles. I would have my own time reading the Bible and praying. Then, I would start breakfast. I would greet each child as they awoke with a smile and a hug. They would feel great because their mama had started the day before them.

I would have had enough rest so that my temper would stay hidden inside of me forever. I would always be patient, always be kind. I would always be looking into every teachable moment and do it with grace. When they fuss and yell, I would always respond in the responsible manner never stooping to act like their age.

I would look them in the eye. They would always know that they are truly the most important people in my life. Never a doubt. I would still be fun and yet be on task for our duties for the day. I would embrace the moment always.

As I listen to my list, I hear myself sound like a perfect woman -- a perfect mama. For them, I wish I could be perfect so that they would have only good and no harm from me. But, alas, I am not perfect. And God calls me to delight in my weaknesses and in my insults for His power is perfected in weakness. (II Corinthians 12:9-10). And as they watch me walk out my imperfect life perhaps that is what gives them the most hope because they, too, will have to learn to walk their imperfect lives, too.

STOP


Welcome to those who have come to visit from Five Minutes on Fridays. And Hello to Friday's Company Girls at Rachel Anne's Home Sanctuary.

How about you? What would you do if you knew you could?

You can answer in your thoughts, the comments, or in a blog post and link up with the Five Minute on Friday folks.

It looks beautiful here after a week of storms, it is nice to see the sun. I'm off soon to pick up my runner's packet for the Country Music Half Marathon today. Woo-hoo. Hopefully the weather will be nice for the race tomorrow.

Have a wonderful Friday.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Unto the Hills by Billy Graham

"Discouragement stems from disbelief." Billy Graham describes some situations of how it looks when we are just not trusting God when we're in difficult circumstances. As he described some scenarios, I agreed wholeheartedly. I thought, "Yes, I totally see that in my friend. She just needs to believe God!"

And then, I got discouraged. I was feeling down and out as I wiped off the counter. Into my mind popped, "Discouragement stems from disbelief." Wow. The thought hit me like a ton of bricks when it was aimed at me. I couldn't see what I wasn't believing God for. I don't remember what I was discouraged about now but I sure remember the conviction that came when this little thought popped into my head.

It wasn't apparent to me what I wasn't trusting God for in my own situation but it sure was easy to see it in someone else. So, I asked the Lord to show me where I wasn't trusting Him. "Help me in my unbelief."

This is just one example of how I am enjoying the devotional Unto the Hills by Billy Graham that has been re-released for a new generation of believers. The tone is calm, steady and soothing even though at times it is convicting. The format starts with a Bible verse written in full at the top. There is an anecdote or some thoughts on the subject, many times with additional Bible verses in the main text. Each day's entry concludes with a prayer. I have particularly enjoyed the prayers at the end of each entry.

As an interesting aside, I actually like to look up the verses in my own Bible rather than having them printed out for me. I look them up and write them down in a notebook. Often, I will read and write some of the surrounding verses as well. I usually do this before I read the entry for the day. Often I am encouraged by something that the author has to say but I do enjoy the direct time with God, too.

I highly recommend this devotional to others, especially for those seeking a guide for daily Bible readings.

* * * *
How about you? Have you ever used this devotional or another that you would recommend to others?

* * * *
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
* * * *
I am also linking up with Jen at Finding Heaven for the weekly Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood.
Welcome if you are visiting from there.
If you're not visiting from there you should click on over and visit them.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He has risen, just as He said



"The angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples. " Matthew 28: 5-7a

Happy Easter to you and yours.

Joyfully,
Kathleen

Monday, April 18, 2011

The release program has begun


A few weeks ago, the oldest rode his bike to the store to buy 1/4 inch rope. The release program has begun. His cheeks were glowing. He was so excited to have ventured forth. Found his way -- back and forth.

As a mom the what-ifs creep in: what-if someone snatched him. What if he got injured? What if he got lost? What if a dog attacked him? Was it the right decision to let him go?

But yet, I, too am in danger every time I venture forth: what if someone snatched me, what if a dog bit me? What if I was in an accident? I, too, venture forth in a myriad of horrible possibilities every day. Usually they don't happen.

When I voice my fear or what I've done to other moms, we share the most, worst awful horrible story that has ever happened to us or our neighbor or that we have read about. And that feeds my fear.

But, truly, one day he needs to live on his own and be the protector of the weak. Oh, I know he is young. But I also know that when I was his age, I biked and biked and biked all over. I loved the exhilaration. It was good for my imagination, my exercise, my sense of direction, my independence.

And so it is good for his imagination, his exercise, his sense of direction, his independence.

We are beginning the release. After all, we are raising adults not children.

How about any of you? Do you have any release tips from your own parenting or your own growing up years? I am all ears!



Jen @ Finding Heaven for Soli Deo Sisterhood. Come and join the encouragement.
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