29 September 2005

Homeschooling Priorities

I just read an blog entry on Lifetime Learning about Teens Going to College-Revisited. The blogger referenced an article about a 13 and 14 year old brother and sister duo going to UC Berkeley. I think that sometimes media like this tends to put a lot of pressure on homeschooling families. I've discovered that throughout the homeschooling community there are different reasons people choose to homeschool - therefore making goals and priorities in educating our children at home falling on quite a wide scale. When I first started to homeschool, I had never met and couldn't imagine that anyone that was not a Christian would want to homeschool their children. In ten years my world has opened up dramatically - and I have met homeschoolers from all walks of life, with varying lifestyles. It is good. It always challenges me to think about what I am doing, and why I am doing it.

I know some that would be absolutely sick with grief if their children chose not to go to college. Education is security they would say. For me, Jesus is the only sure thing - and my trust is completely and solely in Him. In my heart, I want my children to follow God's plan for their lives, wherever that may lead them - to college, to China, to a husband or wife, to the inner city, into a specific ministry, and most importantly to having a heart that always says "wherever-He-leads-I-will-follow"! How could I ever assume to take His place in their lives??? My goal, my focus, what matters most to me is not my children being math geniuses or knowing how to diagram an intricate sentence, but giving them the necessary tools so that they will have the skills to do whatever He asks them to do.

What are your priorities in homeschooling your children? I would love to hear them!

28 September 2005

I'm the Parent of a Teenager - That Means I'm Insane!

I have a teenage daughter. I love her very much however, at times it feels like we are from different planets. Sometimes she blinks her eyes and says, "I love you, mommy" - translation - I want something. Sometimes she looks at me with an expression that says, "I hate you" - translation I need you to understand me. Sometimes she stomps down the hall, borrows my things and doesn't return them, asks me to buy ugly clothes, wants her hair streaked, her ears pierced, and would like somehow for me to alter the genetic makeup that causes her to have a nose shaped like mine and a chin shaped like her father. Sometimes she cries, and even she will readily admit it is for absolutely no reason! Recently she was really angry with someone, and when we talked it out, and dug a little deeper - I realized she wanted to stay angry at him, because she doesn't want to like him! She will ask me to sacrifice many hours of sleep to sit up and talk a problem out with her - and the very next day accuse me of never doing ANYTHING for her. She will insist I love her brother and sister more than her, that she NEVER gets a front seat in the car, that we never listen to HER music, she doesn't ever go ANYwhere, do ANYthing or see ANYbody - when I feel sometimes like I meet myself coming and going while helping to coordinate the social life and extracurricular activites of her and any number of her friends! She thinks herself in love with someone and talks about him 24/7, and yet rolls her eyes when her brother sings a song he likes for a second time, or I repeat a request for her music to be turned down AGAIN! Most of the time, I would swear we don't speak the same language, and yet there is a communication that goes through to the heart. Last night she came into my bedroom crying and asked to sleep with me. We didn't say too many words. She just cuddled up to me, and I held her as she cried - and I thought to myself that our relationship at it's core is still much like it was when she was a baby. She is still growing and changing - yet even though she thinks herself quite sophisticated and grown up, when things are hard, and the tears start to fall, she still needs me to hold her while she cries!

25 September 2005

Actions and Intentions

Today's sermon really spoke to my heart. I am so thankful for those times when you know the Lord is speaking directly to YOU, and you can hear His voice loud and clear. Today was one of those days. I needed some important reminders.

Deuteronomy 20:19-20 When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees of the field people, that you should besiege them? However, you may cut down trees that you know are not fruit trees and use them to build siege works until the city at war with you falls.

Do not destroy trees - you can eat their fruit.
In the gospels, Jesus compared people to trees. "You can tell by their fruit".
In the battles of life, we start swinging our axes at people.

People can be irritating. Sometimes you'd like to swing the ax.

Every human being has the right to be valued at his very best moment.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all have good moments, and we all have bad moments. Dear Abby has said that 1 in 4 people are dysfunctional. (Personal note: I think I'm the one!)

Porky said this in a sermon years ago - and it really stuck with me. When he said it this morning I could have finished the second half - We judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions. Life would be so much sweeter if we reversed it, and did it the other way around.

Long ago, Porky said he made an agreement, he and the Lord. He felt the Lord told him, "You love 'em and I'll judge 'em." We all have a tendency to judge others. All of us - every single one.

Paul sets the standard of how we should look at one another when he says, "I no longer look at any man after the flesh." Jesus looked at a person's potential. He called Simon, "Peter" - the rock when he was anything but. Jesus saw what he could become.

Tony Campolo tells a story of a student he was speaking to who said, "Jesus never met a prostitute." The young man went on to explain that Jesus saw in everyone that he met, a soul needing salvation. I wish we could look at people that way.

There is a Calvin & Hobbes where Calving sets up a table with a sign saying "$5 for a swift kick in the butt" but he is not getting any customers. He doesn't understand why he has no customers, because "everybody needs what I'm sellin'".
Certainly we all need a swift kick in the butt from time to time - but thankfully that isn't how Jesus reacts to our shortcomings.

There is a story about a girl asking her Grandmother how she and her Grandfather have been happily married for so many years. Grandma said she decided to make a list of the 10 things that were her husbands biggest faults, and everytime he did one of them, she would overlook it. The granddaughter asked what those ten things were, and Grandma replied that she never really got around to making that list. Everytime he did something wrong, she just said to herself, "It's a good thing that was one of the ten things." Longevity in marriage was attained by overlooking the shortcomings of an imperfect spouse. The Bible tells us, it is the glory of a man to overlook an offense.

Jesus looks for good in people. In his encounter with the woman at the well, He did not respond to her the way the Pharisees would have - they would have jumped all over her. She asks Jesus for some of the living water He is speaking of, and He tells her to go and get her husband and come back, to which she replies, "I have no husband." Jesus tells her "You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is quite true." Jesus commended this woman for her truthfulness - he encourages her, and lifts her from her shame.

It's as if Jesus is saying if you can extract the precious from among the vile, then you'll be My spokesman. He asks us to look for the good in people, the qualities worth redeeming in each other.

How do I do that?

1. First, recognize my own corruption. Most people have a hard time seeing their own faults. There is a major hotel chain that just inside the locker room door is hung a large mirror with a sign above telling employees TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT YOURSELF. We need to try to see what others see when they look at us.
Matthew 7:3-5 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the epeck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

2. Secondly, realize your own value - see yourself as God sees you. If you had a $100 bill and crumpled it all up and got it all dirty - it would still have value. And you, even in your struggle against the flesh, and sin have intrinsic value to the Lord. God sees us in our sinfulness and says we've not lost our value.
Carl Barth, theologian, at the end of his life was asked about the most profound truth he's discovered. He said it was this - Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
The tricky part is remembering that God sees everyone around me with the same value, and loves them as well!

Jesus Loves YOU!

24 September 2005

Hectic Ecclectic Saturday

Today has been so far just such a mixture of things - I hardly know where to start. I hardly slept last night for worry about my in-laws. I slept with the television on, which is not the most restful way to sleep. I woke up around 6 am with a start, because we had people coming to see our house - which is still for sale - but I thought they were coming at 9 am - and Travis informed me AFTER I got ready that it was between 10 and 11. I checked my email to find out that Travis' family was fine - expecting some bad storms and wind, but not in any eminent danger. (Thank You Lord!) It was such a nice surprise to have a crisp, cool morning. I love it! A friend called and asked me to run to town with her, so I dropped Kullen off to play with a friend, being that he was the only kid home this morning. We went to Walmart and did some shopping - I got an autumn throw with a design of leaves on it. Then I picked the girls and Kullen up from their various locations - and we all went to try out for the play "Miracle on 34th Street" at the local theater. We were the first ones there so it went pretty quick. I didn't audition for any specific parts - but they had me read for about four different ones. I am not sure if I hope I get a part or not. I would really enjoy it - but it would mean we were committed to being here until the 12th of December. It's kind of complicated. While I waited for al lthe kids to audition, I read through a Susan Branch book called Autumn - with recipes, gift ideas, and seasonal suggestions. It was really interesting. This evening, Kendra is having her sr. high youth group friends over for a while - and I am going with Kaitlyn to my friend Tina's house where the jr. high group is having a "Hillbilly Hangout". We are cooking hot dogs on sticks, backed potatoes in the fire, making smores and playing games - and just hangin' around! What a day! I am sure that I will be sleeping well tonight!

I hope you're having a lovely autumn day too!

23 September 2005

"Scary" Movie

My daughter Kendra added a post to her blog about our going to see the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose and I posted a comment which I want to add here - in case anyone is interested. I have made some choices that other homeschoolers and Christians don't agree with - in order to expose my children to the reality of the world that we live in with the protection and guidance of their parent's wisdom. Just wanted to share - and would like to hear what you think:

This is Kendra's mom - I don't think I could say that I "liked" the movie. It was a sad movie that someone's life could be so crippled by evil at such a very young age - and all of the un-Biblical ways in which they attempted to rid her life of those things. I am not Catholic and I don't know where the pracitce of "exorcism" comes from - I would like to study it further. I think that the movie was educational to watch WITH my kids and discuss the things that happened - not for the thrill factor of a scary movie - which truthfully I could leave alone. The spiritual world, that we can't see with our naked eyes is very real - Satan does want to undo us as believers - just read the book of Job - or think of the instance in the Bible where Jesus tells Peter that Satan desires to sift him like wheat - and where the Word tells us that Satan prowls around like a hungry lion seeking whom he may devour. Those things are a reality - but as believers, those in whom Christ's spirit dwells, we don't have to fear. The lion is really a toothless little kitty-cat with no power to harm us when we confront him in the name of Jesus Christ. This movie was interesting - but I remember watching the Exorcist as a kid- and I was afraid. I was afraid because I did not know the reality of the spiritual realm - and the truth of God that tells us Satan's days are numbered. If he should ever threaten you - remind him that the end of the story is written - and we know who wins! I think that parents who know their teenagers (not for children AT ALL) won't be crippled with fear would find this an excellent movie to view WITH them - and discuss the realities of the spiritual world and the faulty practices of exorcism.
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This is why I love this community so much - in replying to a comment by hippiechyck my thoughts rounded out a little more, and since they have to do with this post - I had to share more of my thinking and insight on this particular issue:
- I have a propensity for legalism - rules seem safe. And yet in doing so I am not using opportunities to train my children to think Biblically about the world around them. I have an uncle and aunt who have eight kids - and only one of them even attends church now after growing up in a legalistic/churchianity environment. They were never taught discernment or given opportunities to safely practice it. It takes thought, and a conscientious communication with the Lord to weigh and measure these things for our lives, and yet - I think it is so dangerous to draw a hard and fast line - with little thinking involved. The evil in the world will only increase - finding new ways all the time to try and intoxicate our children's hearts. If we only teach them to OBEY without teaching them to THINK - they will be lost without our guidance. We only have such a very short time to do this job. I pray I will do it well, in spite of myself.

TEXAS - Prayer Request and a Funny!

We have many family members in Texas right now that we cannot contact by telephone. We are very worried about them. Travis' grandmother is 92 years old, and she is with his parents and aunt, cousin and her three very small children. They are already very tired from being in the car yesterday for 19 hours. My dad just called and said he heard that Lufkin, their hometown was being reported from on CNN and that they are in harms way and should probably be evacuating. We haven't been able to get a phone line to Texas all day. Gas is also in very short supply there. Usually I am glad that I do not have cable - but right know I am only getting bits and pieces of what's happening from others. I will trust in my great big God to protect them. I am asking you to ask Him to take care of them and all the people in danger from this terrible storm tonight.

On a lighter note, one morning this week, Kullen and I were driving Travis to work so that we could have the car for the day. On the way back, on WGTS 91.9, they had an elementary school class saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Having worked with Kullen on that last year, I was coaxing him to say it with me and them. He didn't seem to remember much of it - and so I started in my mommy lecturing way telling him how important it was to know the pledge if you live in America. He is in the backseat, and I was looking at his face in the rearview mirror when he said, "Mom, pretty soon, we won't LIVE in America. We'll live in Texas!" I just cracked up! And I remembered the blinkie that I pasted just above this paragraph!!!! Too funny! I can't wait till he gets to tell Memaw and Papa that one!

22 September 2005

Community Theater

One of the first families I ever met that homeschooled was very involved in the local community theater. I never imagined I would be very good at, or much interested in being on the stage in front of a lot of people. However, I love music. I have been on the worship team at my church for six and a half years now. At first I was extremely nervous. I would literally feel my eyelids twitch, and was sure everyone could see them, my knees would turn to jello, my voice would sometimes crack. Even though my flesh was resistant, I desired to use the voice the Lord gave me to have a ministry in this way - and in obedience, I continued faithfully, until suddenly one day, I realized I was over it.

Last fall, there were auditions for the Christmas play at our local community theater - the Old Opera House for a musical called "Scrooge" - it's basically the story of
A Christmas Carol with music. Everytime a musical came around I had toyed with the idea of auditioning. My kids would say, "Yeah, mom, do it with us. Come on!" I would always talk myself out of it because of the time commitment. There were many, many late nights involved. But, when I took my girls to audition for Scrooge, I was sitting in the room while everyone filled out forms, and being in a rather adventurous mood, I decided to just take a shot and see what happens. A couple days later, I got a call-back, and so did BOTH of my girls. We were so excited. We also got Kullen a part as a small boy extra. We worked on that play from late September until performances which were in mid-December. It was a great time - I know a time we'll never forget. One of the reasons this is on my mind right now is that the Christmas play this year is "Miracle on 34th Street" - and even though it isn't a musical, I would like to work on a play again. The auditions are this weekend - and so since nothing is happening with the sale of our house, I might just give it a try.
Here are some pictures of us in the play:

My big scene in the marketplace with Mr. Scrooge - that's me in the red dress - my daughter, Kendra with the purple skirt (peeking out) and white shawl to the right (my left), and the fourth girl over to the right of her, there is a girl wearing black with an orange scarf and brown bonnet - that is my daughter, Kaitlyn. Mr. Scrooge is here collecting money from all the poor shopkeepers who haven't money to pay him and terrorizing the town!

During rehearsals - I have on the gray sweatshirt and black pants in the center of this picture - and my daughter Kendra is on the right.

Here's the opening scene - a "postcard" if you will - we were frozen in order to make the beginning action scene more dramatic. It was a cool effect. Kendra is on the platform on the left (stage right) and Kaitly in in the front on the right (stage left) and I am just above her on the right platform steps.

This was a wonderful experience - and if you are able - I would HIGHLY recommend participating in community theater in your town. We had such a great time - it was a time I'll never forget! My kids also learned a lot about theater and literature and sharpened a skill that homeschoolers are often weak on - making friends and loving like Jesus loved people that are very different from you.

21 September 2005

Happy Fall Y'all

Tomorrow is the FIRST day of fall. What do you do with your family special to celebrate this awesome season? If you're reading this - consider yourself TAGGED! Tell me what you do to celebrate autumn!

Our family always loves to go to a fall festival called Joshua's Hands, put on by a large homeschooling family with the support of their church. They have games and all kinds of activities - puppet shows, face painting, auction, crafts to make and take, Christian bands, petting zoo, demonstrations of spinning wool, antique show, and my favorite part is the food - homemade beef barley stew, chilli, hot dogs, and apples everywhere! They decorate it really nice and it is such a great fall outdoor activity.

Another tradition we started last year with my friend Tina was "Happy Fall" breakfast together. They come to my house and we have a BIG breakfast. I make a ton of pumpkin pancakes, and sausage with maple syrup and butter - and we have hot spiced apple cider and hot chocolate or coffee to drink. It was such a fun thing to do. Last year we did it rather impromptu - but both of our families loved it so much that we decided to plan it, and invited another family that lives nearby.

Oh yeah, and for anyone interested, here is the Pumpkin Pancake recipe:

Pumpkin Pancakes
2 cups biscuit/baking mix
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 c. pumpkin (canned - NOT pumpkin pie mix)
1 can (12oz) evaporated milk
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla
Maple syrup

Combine dry ingredients in bowl.
Combine wet ingredients separately.
Blend well - and stir into dry ingredients and mix well.
Pour batter by 1/2 cupfuls onto a lightly greased, hot griddle. Turn when bubbles form on top of pancakes. Cook until second side is golden brown.
Serve with syrup.

Sorry for the oversight - originally I left the pumpkin out of the recipe - inadvertently. I apologize for the error! Gosh! I promise the rest of the recipe is here - in the right amounts!!!! We had them today, and they were wonderful!

Never a Dull Moment

I think that sometimes I must be partially insane - when I look at some of the things that happen to me, and then I contrast it with the lives of those around me, who all seem to be having perfectly normal, lovely, uneventful lives - not to say they're BORING - but that things run a natural course, repeatedly without interruption - and my life - well this is a fast moving train, and I never seem to know where it's going. (I am having insomnia tonight - it is 12:39 and I normally can't hold my eyelids open much past 11 - so this may be a weird post I delete in the morning - hopefully before anyone reads it!)

JenIG's post entitled "Weird People are More Creative" got me to thinking the other day - about how many times I have experienced absolutely unusual things - and when I tell the story to others, they just can't believe that really happened. For instance, a friend and I with our five children got lost last March (2004) on the Appalachain trail only miles from our home - but with children who were overly tired that we couldn't carry anymore, we simply could not find our exit. I used the very last of my cell phone battery to talk to my husband who sought help for us, while we cuddled up the seven of us underneath emergency blankets by a felled (is that a word?) tree singing any song that came to our head. AND the rescue party sent out to find us never did - we were found by my friend Christin's husband Dan - whom to this day is my "big hero". He took us back to their cozy log home and gave us hot drinks and a short reprieve before going home. That Sunday at church we were presented with certificates from our Pastor in recognition for our great service in increasing the Intercessory Prayer lives of the members of our congregation (or something like that) - and for worship they thought it would be funny to sing "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?" Here's how clueless I am - I am ON the worship team and didn't get that they chose that song to pick on us! DO OTHER PEOPLE HAVE CRAZY LIVES LIKE THIS??? I don't think so.

Okay so all of this to segue into the story about last night. I had taken my kids and a couple of tag-alongs (as usual) to Christian Skate Night in a neighboring county last night. Like I said, I am not usually up that late - preferring in my older age to be a morning person - whereas in my twenties I used to be a night-owl and a morning person. (I know I'm rambling but bear with me, there is a story here - I think I used the wrong "bear" homonym didn't I?) Okay, so anyway, since we have only one car and were out of bread and milk, I had to stop off at the store on my way home at 10-ish (it isn't easy to get four teenagers moving in the same direction - even though skating ended at 9:30) - and then I had to drop my daughter's friend, Tayva off at her house which is quite a ways away from my own - so we're at around 11ish now - after the store and the friend's house. When we get near town, I remember that my husband and I had showed the kids this big old house we had dreamed of buying before we bought the one that we did, and I thought I would swing in through that neighborhood on the way home so they could show another friend, Devan who lives closer to our house - whom we hadn't dropped off yet. In so doing, I thought I had arrived at the road where I wanted to turn very suddenly, and made a very quick left - even though the direction of our home would have been to continue straight. I drove up an unfamiliar hill rather quickly, and suddenly found that my car went off the end of the road and I was in a grove of trees. It was so strange - and as I was trying to explain it to the kids, even 8 year old Kullen said, "Mommy this isn't where we live." I realized what I had done, and started laughing so hard that I couldn't tell them it wasn't the road I thought it was, but that I did turn left on purpose. It was one of those eyes watering so bad you can't see, sides hurting from laughing so hard, snorting, hysterical "I can't catch my breath" moments. We were all in absolute hysteria! I know the people that lived in that little neighborhood thought there was a demon possed, drug crazed driver who drove up their street, off the end of the road, and now sat, unable to drive in the car screaming - with laughter of course - but who knows if they could tell that!

What is the moral of this little story - life is never dull in our family - but maybe I am the one creating the chaos. I know I am weird, but I promise I am not trying. One of my daughters had a scrolling screensaver not long ago that said something to the effect, "Calling me normal is an insult". They just want to be identified as a part of our family!!! Aw, I'm having a warm fuzzy moment - could that mean I am half-asleep and should go to bed now? Do you think this weird post will help me earn points in JenIG's contest? I wasn't trying - but hey, maybe I'll sneak over there and try not to wake her and ask her to check it out!

19 September 2005

Counting My Blessings

In JenIG's blog, she posted a list of counting her blessings - and has inserted a song into my head about it! But wouldn'tcha know, the Lord knew I needed to stumble on her blog, and change my perspective. I have been discouraged lately - not truly living here and not moved on yet. When I get caught up in discouragement, I forget to see what He is trying to teach me through the struggle. Soon I will be posting my sermon notes from yesterday - which was also a great encouragement. Thank you Lord for always speaking precious words to my heart just when I need to hear them - YOU truly are awesome!

Here is my list of current blessings -
1- Travis - faithful, hard-working husband of an emotionally needy me - he tries his best, and with the Lord's help, our marriage seems to be getting better every day (this is a MIRACLE!) --- AND yesterday he bought me a Caramel MOOlatte at Dairy Queen!!!
2- I will not be discouraged about having only ONE car, but thankful that I have it
3 - Three incredible kids who are the joy of my days - the reason I get up and get going in the morning
4 - Friends to share my life with - to laugh, cry and sort it all out with
5 - Chocolate - and all its medicinal properties
6 - Creation and all its beauty - and how the Lord reveals Himself in new ways through it all the time
7 - A warm bed to sleep in every night next to a husband who loves me - and often with three other people piled all around - they haven't seemed to notice how BIG they are!!
8 - The opportunity I have to have my children at home with me every day - sharing my values, passing on my skills, giving them a rich heritage that is our family
9 - Living in a country where I can be a Christian without fear of persecution - even if it may not always be that way
10- Jesus - the Lover of my soul, my Prince of Peace, my Strong Tower and fortress, my Rock, my Hiding Place, my Redeemer - the whole rest of the list is nothing compared to Him!

Thanks JenIG for remind me to stop and take a look at what really matters the most!

16 September 2005

Kudos to Homeschoolers

Yesterday, my husband was helping a friend at the school where I went when I was in junior high school. When I went to pick him up in the afternoon, there were no students there any more and so he waved for me and the kids to come inside. It was so neat to be able to show the kids around where I used to go to school, and remember that there are good reasons why my husband and I chose to keep them home! It was kind of neat to be in those same hallways twenty years later with my girls who are the same age I was when I went there, and to know how innocent they are of much that went on for me during my years in that school. We walked along - in this very old school building - and much of it is the same as it was when I was a student in the early 80s. There is an elevator where a hallway used to be, and there are some new additions - but I was amazed at how very small the auditorium and lunchroom seem to me now. As we were walking along, we ran into a male teacher - and Travis explained pointing at me, that I went there when I was in jr. high school. So he starts asking questions - when did I go there - and I said a long time ago. And Travis said that we wanted to show our kids where their mom went to school because they don't go to that school - and I just sort of held my breath. I knew what question was coming next. "So where do you guys to go to school?" he asks looking at my girls. Kendra hesitates and for a moment in suspended animation I see her lips move slowly and hear it in slightly warped sound, "We're homeschooled." I shouldn't cringe - I really shouldn't - we are legally within our rights to homeschool our children - I believe in what we're doing but I HATE CONFRONTATION! This guy perks right up and says, "Well then, you're probably smarter than most of the students here!!!" We all laugh, and Travis says, "Remember YOU said it!" It was pretty funny. I just wanted to share it with those of you in the trenches of pioneer homeschooling with me! Endorsement from a public school teacher is nothing short of miraculous!

14 September 2005

Almost Heaven - West Virginia

We live in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. Recently I have taken to really looking around when I go somewhere - not just driving to get somewhere, but really "stopping to smell the flowers" so to speak, and taking in the gorgeous environment around me. We have mountains and rivers, as well as many varities of trees, flowers and birds. I can remember when I first came to West Virginia as a thirteen year old, and hearing the John Denver song on the radio "Almost heaven, West Virginia. Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River......." and I just didn't get it. Now, I do.

Fall is my favorite season here in West Virginia - and I was remembering a beautiful, crisp fall day when Kullen was about a year old. We had gone to the Pumpkin Patch - taken a hayride, picked pumpkins, drank apple cider, gone through the straw maze, heard a story about how pumpkins grow. Our homeschool group was so young - and it was just one of the best field trips I can ever remember having. In those days we had only one car and had a little time to kill before going to pick daddy up from work, so the kids and I stopped off at a little country park. We drank some of the cider that I bought, and ate our apples, threw leaves at each other, and I had my camera hand (as usual!) so I snapped some pictures of my three little blessings. Later I took the pictures and made one of my favorite scrapbook pages ever - here it is ...................... Happy Fall Y'all!!!!!

Much thanks to my mother-in-law for her creative bordering and cut outs on my scrapbook page!!! I love you!

My Boy's Birthday

It is so hard to let our children grow up - and I think that especially applies to the baby of the family. Kullen turned 8 years old yesterday. Monday night we had a birthday party for him at the roller rink - and it was a blast. He thanked his daddy and I over and over again for giving him such a great party.

One thing I think is really neat is that many of the kids who came to the party are teenagers. That is one of the blessings I have found as a homeschool mom is that my children are well socialized, but their companions aren't always their own age. Sometimes they have playmates that are older than they are, and other times they are happy to play with the baby someone brings along. I have also seen them content to sit and talk with an elderly person, asking questions and getting a rich education about life outside of their own little reality.

Yesterday we went to the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore for their Homeschool Day. It is one of Kullen's favorite places, so it seems appropriate that we would spend his birthday there. At lunch time, I just sat for a little while looking at him, thinking how I could hardly tell you where the eight years since he was born have gone. He is such a boy now - and no longer a baby. When I got a moment I grabbed him on my lap and asked him if he was sure he had to turn eight. He said in a sad voice, "Mom, I can't help it!" which made me smile. I whispered to him that we would just tell everyone else that he was eight, but that he could stay seven for just a little longer for me! We made a pinkie promise on it!

I know that one of our jobs is to raise our children to be independent of us one day, but as they each grow older, I am becoming acutely aware of how quickly that day is approaching. Motherhood - although for a lifetime, our children young and living at home is only for a season - with the Lord's help - I am going to spend every day as if that day to release them were tomorrow!

Here is a picture of me and my boy reading together the day before his birthday!!!

12 September 2005

Where Were You on September 11th?

I was quite busy yesterday - funny how Sundays end up that way - and never found any time to sit and quietly reflect on the events of September 11th. It is a shame that things like this are such indelible landmarks of time instead of laughter and joy - but for me, a child of the 70s and 80s, in the same way I remember the day Elvis died, the day President Reagan was shot, the day the space shuttle exploded, and strangely the day Michael Jackson's head caught on fire while filming a Pepsi commercial (I laugh to think that I wouldn't drink Pepsi for years after that!), and many other such happenings - I will NEVER forget the day of September 11th and how it relates to me personally - what I was doing, and the innocence we lost as a country on that terrible day.

My friend Carol and I had rented a beach house from a friend of mine at church in Dewey Beach, Delaware. We both homeschool, and decided we would much prefer the beach after the Labor Day holiday and all the other kids went back to school, so we rented this cozy little getaway for that second week in September.

All summer long there had been an unprecedented number of reports of shark attacks in the news (not that there were necessarily more attacks, but more reports of them on the news) and Carol and I were truthfully a little anxious about letting our kids near the ocean. The morning after we arrived, after leisurely waking and having coffee, and talking a bit about what we would do that day, I took my three children, and Carol's daughter Brenna (ages then 10, 9, 8, and almost 4- Kullen turned 4 that week!) for a walk on the beach. In hindsight the beach was strangely quiet and deserted. I don't remember seeing much of anyone - however, I credited that to our smart planning of coming after school began. The kids were looking at shells and splashing their feet in the water. I looked out for the dolphins we had seen when we were at that same beach in June with my husband for a weekend - and as I did, out on horizon was a ship. This was not a yacht or a boat - but looked like a navy aircraft carrier I had seen once. I know this will sound crazy but my first thought was relief that they had the coast guard out patrolling for sharks - and maybe the kids weren't in any danger getting in the water. Little did I know!!!

I will never forget the first moment the horror or what happened hit my brain. I had come back to the beach house, and we were about to go grab some lunch and groceries. While everyone was getting ready, I called around to a couple of places we found in the phone book of activities we thought the kids might enjoy - putt putt, water slides, and a horseback trail riding place. When I got on the phone with the trail riding company, I thought I was speaking to a mentally ill person. She kept rambling on and on about a cousin she had in New York - saying I may have to go and pick her up - we aren't sure yet - and honestly what I heard was blah, blah, blah - and what I thought was that this woman needed some Ritalin - and all of a sudden when I'm thinking these unkind things about her - how I certainly hope she wouldn't be the one leading the horses with my children on them, etc. etc. she breaks into my thoughts loudly and says, "Oh my God! You don't know do you???" And I said, "Know what?" I don't remember the words she used, but slowly the world started to spin. I don't even remember saying goodbye to her - but got off the phone quickly and told the kids to go outside so Carol and I could talk alone. I have no idea what I said to Carol but told her everything I knew - and we decided somehow we wanted to know more without letting on to the kids what was going on.

I remember trying all that day to call my husband who was working in D.C. - perhaps at the Pentagon - and Carol trying to call her husband. I was so stressed and anxious. We eventually knew the kids had to know. It was a crazy time. We didn't know whether to go home or to stay, and heard eventually that the roads leading in and out were shut down because we were near a military base. (We never cofirmed this.) Both husbands told us to stay put because driving home would take us right back through the Capitol.

We continued on with our vacation fairly normally. One strange thing I remember that happened was that when we took the kids to have the traditional old-tyme photos done, as we sat on the bench outside waiting for our pictures to be printed, eating Thrasher's french fries (with vinegar!!), a guy walked buy with a huge boom box on his shoulders, like the ones everyone carried around in the 80s - and heard a one-liner "....and the Pentagon is in flames....". Carol and I looked over the tops of our children's heads - I'll never forget her facial expression. Something about our country changed that day forever. It was so surreal - like watching a movie unfold slowly before your eyes, but in the end you don't fold your seat up and toss your candy wrapper and walk away. This had marked us forever. Our lives would really and truly never be the same again.

Death is After You - But There IS a Refuge

Deuteronomy 19:1-5
When the Lord your God has destroyed the nations whose land he is giving you, and when you have driven them out and settled in their towns, and houses, then set aside for yourselves three cities centrally located in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess. Build roads to them, and divide them into three parts the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, so that anyone who kills a man may flee there. This is the rule concerning the man who kills another and flees there to save his life - one who kill shis neighbor unintentionally, without malice aforethought. For instance, a man may go into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and as he swings his ax to fell a tree, the head may floy off and hit his neighbor and kill him. That man may flee to one of these cities and save his life.

Accidents happen. Death is after you, but there is a refuge. Down life's road you never know what's over the hill or around the bend. There are times when it seems like difficulty and trials come one right after another. A family in our church is experiencing a time like that - coming home from vacation to find their house flooded, a sewage problem at their business - which happens to be a childcare center - and someone hits the fence, and this week their son's fiance fell 8 stories out of a balcony while trying to help friends move. (Please pray if you're reading this - YES, this means you - because this young woman has many broken bones, much organ damage, swelling on her brain, etc.)

You never know when tragedy or disaster will hit. Hurricane Katrina has been the worst natural disaster in our nation in our lifetime. Why would God allow this? If God is a God of love, why did He allow this? Why did He allow our home to be destroyed? The answer is not easy - we live in a fallen world.

Romans 8:19-22
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not only by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberarted from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

Al Mohler (president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) was quoted as saying : "...the CNN meterologist can explain the hurricane only in terms of barometric pressure and water temperatures. We know however that at its root this natural disaster isn't natural at all. It is creation crying out, 'Adam where are you?'"
(This makes me think of that song with the chorus: "Adam, Adam where are you? Adam, Adam, I love you." I had chills when Porky sang that one!)

"Living in this world is like living in a shipwreck. We find many treasures here, but clearly things are not as they should be." - G.K. Chesterton
(I had to check out his bio - especially since Kendra will be reading Father Brown stories this year! I share it here: Gilbert Keith Chesterton (May 29, 1874June 14, 1936) was an English writer of the early 20th century. Chesterton was known as the "prince of paradox" because he communicated his conservative, often countercultural, ideas in an off-hand, whimsical prose studded with startling formulations. For example: "Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it." Most of Chesterton's works remain in print, including collections of his Father Brown detective stories, and Ignatius Press is presently undertaking the monumental task of republishing his complete works.)

Jesus said things would only get worse. Matthew 24:6-8 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

For all of us - death is at our heels.
In the story of the merchant of Baghdad, the merchant sends his servant to the marketplace, where the servant sees "death". Completely freaked out, he returns to his master, tells him the story and asks for the use of a horse so he can flee to Samaria. The master consents, and heads to the marketplace - where he also sees "death" and asks why he tormented his servant. To which "death" replies that she did not torment him, but was rather surprised to see him there in Baghdad, considering she had an appointment with him that evening in SAMARIA!

The statistic is still accurate - 10 out of 10 people still die. We all have an appointment with death.

God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil - because on the day they eat of it they would surely die. We live in this horrible dicodomy of being made in the image of God, but being stamped with the sin of Adam.

Porky's uncle is visiting, and while on his flight, he sat next to a nurse who had gone to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. While there she was raped by one of the people she had gone to help. The mar of sin is stamped on all of humanity.

Eventually death will chase us down, but there is a city of refuge.
Jesus Christ is our refuge - our strong tower, our fortress, our shelter, our rock, our hiding place. He's our refuge from our sin nature, our bad circumstances, to give us rest, for times of temptation, in times of trouble, in confusion, in weakeness, when we are overwhelmed, and when we feel hopelss.

09 September 2005

It's Happening - Fall is Here!

The evenings have started getting cooler - so we've opened up our windows - and only for the hour around dinner time is it warm enough to want the AC on. It is starting to get dark earlier in the evening, and school has started back up for public school kids and homeschoolers alike. I have been in denial as all these things are happening - because it will be ten times harder to pull away from my little house in the big woods if the trees are covered with fall foliage, but the other day I spotted the first specks of color coming to my trees! (See the picture above!) My house has a full basment, and it puts the rest of the house out of the ground about seven steps in the front, but because of the slope of the land, we are at a second story level in the back - and with the view from every window in this house - you feel like you're in a treehouse! So, when those fall leaves come bursting forth, it just takes your breath away. I remember my grandmother coming to visit us shortly after we moved in during the month of September 1998, and sitting in the rocking chair by my front window, which is a large window seat - and saying that she had never been anywhere more beautiful and peaceful. The only sound through the open windows was the rustling of leaves, and the sound of scampering squirrels. I have always loved fall - but here I have loved it even more. I am going to miss it terribly. My first instinct is to feel like I am undergoing torture, but if we trust the Lord's timing is perfect, maybe allowing me to experience a fall here - at least a part of it - one last time is a gift, and not a curse.

08 September 2005

Words of Wisdom From My Husband

My husband came home from work today - and told me had written something - not sure what to call it a poem or a saying -

Watch your thoughts - they become words
Watch your words - they become actions
Watch your actions - they become habits
Watch your habits - they become your character
Watch your character - it becomes your destiny
Watch your destiny - there's no turning back!

This reminds me of a famous quote I heard once in one of Porky's sermons - but I especially liked the way that he put it, AND the fact that he's writing! And how true it is that many character defects could have prevented had they only been caught in the "thought" stage, and weeded out of our lives!

Dear God - A Little Boy's Prayer

Yesterday Kullen and I were talking about the hurricane. Even though he's only eight years old, he has absorbed a lot about what is going on. I tried to get him to dictate some sentences about it so he could write and draw about them, but everything he said to me was "I hope God ..." so I suggested we write a prayer. Here is what he came up with! It was just such a touching blessing to my heart that I had to share it. Then at the top of the paper (the whole thing wouldn't fit in my scanner) he drew a picture of people loading up a truck with food to help the people who survived the hurricane. I love his loving heart! To me this is the very most important part of homeschooling my kids - getting a chance to help shape their hearts into all that God wants them to be!

07 September 2005

My Little Boy

We went to my friend Carol's house on Monday for a Labor Day cookout - it was lots of fun! The kids were swimming, and playing, while Carol, and her recently widowed friend Barbara and I played cards and talked. At some point, Kullen had come in while we were talking about being teenagers, and my high school boyfriend came up. Kullen of course starts asking questions, as usual in rapid fire. Finally he says, "I'm glad you didn't marry him! I wouldn't have even been born!" (I wonder exactly how much he knows!) Then he tilts his head upward, in a thinking gesture, and a few seconds later says, "No, he wouldn't have anything to do with your pregnancy with me!" It was so funny - and I have no idea what was really going through that little head of his!

Isn't he cute? Here he is with some toast art that he made!!

And just FYI - if you have read my sermon notes before, I didn't have any this week - originally because I was scheduled to work in the nursery with Kaitlyn. However, in that little window of time between Sunday school and church, I noticed Kullen had a toy he wasn't supposed to have brought to church, so I made him go out to the car and put it away. Just a few seconds later, he came running up to me, blood running down his foot, almost hyperventillating to keep from crying. The door had come back and jammed his foot inside of his sandals, and ripped the nail almost all the way OFF of his big toe on his left foot. So instead of working nursery, we went to Urgent Care on the advice of a couple of medical professionals. Yuck!

School started at our little "family school" yesterday, and as we were working on a math lesson, trying to bridge the gap between last spring and now we did some review. They were all things I know that he knows - however here is what it was like: when working on a word problem that ended up with the equation 8 + 9 = 17 --- he writes the 8, scratches his arm, looks at the ceiling fan, then back at his paper, thinks about the problem again and realizes he needs to put a + sign, writes the + sign, lays his pencil down, blows eraser shavings not just away from his paper but across the entire table, looks out the window, makes a comment about the weather, stands up, kisses me, sits back down (when I say SIT DOWN), picks up his pencil and writes the number 9 - at which point I am breathing down his neck. If he puts the pencil down again, it had better be for a very good reason - and by the time he writes the = sign he has to do the computation again to get at the number 17, which is the answer to the problem he figured out when the original word problem was read 20 MINUTES AGO!!!!

Some days he makes me laugh - some days he makes me cry! Ah, homeschooling motherhood!

06 September 2005

The Mall and Why I May Reconsider Hating It

This has been an absolutely crazy weekend. I didn't know whether I was coming or going much of the time. On Saturday, my friend Kathie and I took our girls to the mall to shop for skirts for a contra dance. (FYI - It's much like square dancing - very folky - with live music. It is a very neat community event - with many generations in attendance, and dancing with one another. Our teens just love it!) But here is a well-known fact about me - I HATE THE MALL. So, it was a labor of love, far above and beyond the call of duty.

Why do I hate the mall you ask? First of all, since I typically only enter the mall at Christmas time - there are usually WAY too many people there. Secondly is this phenomenon, my brother has dubbed "the bumbling clown syndrome" wherein said crowds of people walk around aimlessly - headed nowhere- in groups with nobody leading and more or less turn in circles and spread out in such a manner that no other person can get around them. Also, things are too expensive at the mall for our one-income, fixed budget family. And last but not least, the mall encourages my propensity for materialism - a fact established firmly by the fact that I can't stop thinking about how much I want to go back to Victoria's Secret (yes, even if it means going into the Mall again) to get a bottle of the perfume "Love Spell" (and Pumpkin hand lotion from Bath & Body Works!!) that I didn't even know about the day before!!!!!!

But despite my aversion to the mall, and all things related to the mall - I had a lovely time. I was with my girlfriend who I haven't spent time with outside a group for a long time, and my daughter. It was a day of laughter - much trying on of clothes, a day of learning - Kathie and Tayva taught us about lattes and iced coffees, and just a lot of fun having a "girls day". I guess with good friends, and my awesome teenage daughter, even a day at the mall can be fun!

(By the way - after trying on 842 different combinations - the girls ended up getting the EXACT same skirt!!!!)


It has gotten relatively cool in the evenings here - and since we left the windows open all night, it is pretty chilly this morning. (I love it!) But my crazy daughter, Kendra has decided that it is time to start singing Christmas music. She is walking through the house singing "And so I'm offering this simple phrase....." So I would like to send her a message via this blog -

People looking at our house for sale
Keeping it clean is quite a chore
School is starting in just an hour
And someone's knocking at the door
I'm in my pajamas and not awake
The coffee has not yet hit my brain
And if you sing songs about Christmas yet
I think I just might go insane
And so if you sing the Christmas songs -
You'll find yourself grounded in your room
I really don't mean to be a Grinch
But I don't want Christmas to come too soon!!!!!

AAAAHHHHK! I can't even think of Christmas yet - and when I do - I can't bear to think of how different it will be in Texas. Just give me a break!

02 September 2005

Hurricane Pain

I was just watching a woman on the news who met President Bush as she had been scavenging for clothes for her son. She was so overcome that as she tried to speak to the President great sobs were coming from her throat. Most women, having an opportunity to meet the President would put on their best dress – but this woman has been reduced to the level of a catastrophe that is no respector of persons. Survival is all that matters.

Earlier today some things were going through my mind – like what it must be like to sleep on the street? How would it feel to have your children say “Mommy I’m hungry” and have nothing to give them. What must it feel like to be poor, with no resources and nowhere to go when the area you live in is evacuated because a hurricane is coming? I thought about what it must have felt like to live through a category 4 hurricane and listen to the howls lifting houses from their foundations, piling cars in a great heap as the sound of shearing metal and collapsing structures roars all around. I don’t know what it is like not to have clean drinking water, or watch people dying around you for lack of food and medicine. I have wondered what it is like to be completely surrounded by masses of people – all at their breaking point – no homes, no jobs, no food, no money, no hope – completely lacking all the basic essentials of life. Watching people go into diabetic shock and heart failure for lack of insulin and nitro-glycerine – medications easily accessible just days ago. The streets are covered in trash and waste – is this a third world country or our once beautiful Gulf coast?

I watched a Dateline special last night and there was a story of a woman who had handed her two year old child up to a woman on a bus as she was attempting to board. In the melee as others were trying to get on as well, the woman got pushed from the bus doors, and trampled to the ground, and watched helplessly while the bus with her toddler on board drove away – to an unknown destination.

My heart is heavy – my stomach is aching – my mind is spinning – what can we do? I am on my knees. Show Your glory even in this Lord. Help us to walk by faith and not by sight. When nothing makes sense, help us firmly trust in You. When governments fail, and our strength has been diminished, help us know that You are the One that holds all things together.

01 September 2005

What is a Blog?

Until about three months ago, I had never heard this term. Then one day I was on a yahoo group, and someone posted a “check out my blog” link. Wondering what a blog was, and being somewhat interested based on the content of the other posts this person had made, I clicked. I was transfixed! This lady had pictures of her family, and writings from her heart. It was so cool. So then I started searching for blog sites. I tried to get one with blogger – signed up and then basically could NOT figure it out. I really wasn’t wanting something I had to work that hard for in my life at that time. Then, about a month or so ago, I stumbled on another “check out my blog” link that led me to Homeschoolblogger. I signed up for my free account and I got hooked!

Now, I’m not sure what it is about a blog – but not everybody understands it. My husband cringes at the word “blog” which makes me playfully want to say it as much as possible! My girls have caught the bug – and love working on their blogs as well, and so have some of my friends. But others don’t understand it at all. “Why would you want to write stuff about yourself and your family and put it on the internet?” “Who would want to read things that are going on inside of your little head?” “How safe is it to put things out there about yourself?” I think that there are two types of people - those of us who GET blogging – and those who don’t. I have tried to scan other types of blogs – and while they are occasionally interesting, they don’t encourage me and inspire me like those of you who are my buddies here at Homeschoolblogger. We are mainly cut from the same mold – we are mothers, many are wives, a great many are Christian, we are all homemakers – and we have so much to share and learn from each other! The rest of the world who sit at their computer screens, scratching their heads, can keep on scratching, while we are blogging our little hearts out!

Liquid Gold

I think this was supposed to be funny - but with gas rising as much as 53 cents a gallon yesterday in our area - you do start to wonder what you might have to give up in order to put fuel in your vehicle. I mean looking over a budget, you may start to think things like "Gas.... Food.....Gas.....Food - which one should we get this week?" I expect soon we will see men in business suits standing on the street corner with the little computer generated signs saying, "Will Work For Gas". My friends and I, living in a rural area miles from town have taken to making as many trips as we can together and taking turns driving. It's not funny anymore - how high will these gas prices rise??!?