Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Playing in my car today...

I had to share this. The lyrics are amazing, and so appropriate for this beautiful season. Listen closely. Blessings to you, friends!

Note:  Before viewing please pause the music player at the bottom of the page.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Somehow we seem to have skipped Winter.

I am holding my breath because the "official" ok-to-plant-gardens date is April 15 in our neck of the woods, so I know things could turn and get cold...even frozen...overnight.

But here we are at the end of February and it was 72 degrees.


We all got ready for the school day and I took a look outside.

Oh my word was it ever sunny and beautiful!

So I did what any sane woman with five active children would do...

"Y'all want to go to the river and look for critters?"

"YEAH!!!"  came the resounding answer.

We gathered paper bags, jars, and a fish net and headed out.  Five excited kids happy to be walking away from math books and going down to explore Creation.

What better way to learn than to BE?  Right there, where all of creation sings praise to Him?  The river waters rushed happily as the children hunted for shells and leaves.

They bent low to examine the world along the river's edge.  They climbed branches, arching over the water, daring the branch to bend and dip their feet in the gently gurgling current below...and exclaiming in mock horror when they did just that.

Interesting rocks beckoned and a water spider danced across the surface of a puddle which held a handful of minnows, ripe for the catching.

DJ crouched and waited until he nabbed one in his net.

Oh, the boyish boost hunting and gathering brings!  He suddenly grew a foot, walking tall and proud to show off his catch.  He put it in a jar half-full of murky water and admired it for an hour.  The little ones ran ahead, stopping when confronted with a bright dandelion or tiny purple wildflower.
Drew discovered an earthworm and wound it all through his meaty little fingers in delight.
Mari exclaimed over every single discovery, delighting even in the trash that was trapped in the brush.  (I had to explain the difference!)
Gracie picked wildflowers and gathered colorful shells, excited to have dandelions to feed her guinea pig.  Katie chattered as only a 10 year old can and playfully helped the younger ones find treasures.  She soon charged ahead to read the historical monuments along the path, marveling that battles once took place under her feet and imagining what it would have been like to see the Union coming over that hill...

Oh yes, this is my favorite part of homeschooling.
The spontaneity, the realization that learning occurs in the most surprising places, and the chance to watch my children run, together, down a path lined with wild daffodils and dappled sunshine.

I watched with misty eyes as my children delighted in the smallest details of Creation.  They laughed and loved and gasped and played and got utterly and completely filthy.  They skipped with arms entwined and played hide and seek as I watched, determining to stop time right now and just be all here.  I closed my eyes for a  moment and lifted my face. He is so gracious to call us to this life.  That He would give me these moments, these long days of watching them grow and learn...
Their laughter is my reward.  
Their curiosity is my teacher.  
Their sense of awe and wonder is sweet worship.  

 For these gifts, Lord, I praise you.  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Daddy's Boy

It was time for a haircut.

The little curls had become traps for leaves, grass, dirt...and Daddy said it was time to break out the clippers.

I was upstairs in the school room.   Daddy came up with a grin, clippers in hand.

"He says he wants to be bald like me."

I looked at him with eyes wide...

"NO, the last time you did that he looked like he had cancer.  His scalp will be lighter than the rest of his body. Leave him SOME hair please."

"Ok."  He turned to go back downstairs but I caught the twinkle in his eye.

I officially had no say in what was about to happen.  None, nada, zip.

Happy chatter and laughter drifted from the bathroom where Daddy was trimming the boys.  Sweet Drew, so ebony and beautiful.  A perfect contrast in complexion to his milky white  so very Caucasian  have I mentioned he has Irish blood?  father.  He came out with his white teeth glowing against the brown of his newly clean face.

He now sported a fade.  He was SO proud of it.  Squeaky bald around the sides and just enough hair on top to cover his scalp with neat edges all around.

He looked positively tribal.

I told him he looked awesome.

The next morning, Drew and I left the house early.  The last basketball game of the season.  He was keyed up with excitement and anticipation.  As we gathered our things to get out of the car he said with a knowing smile,
"When all the kids see my hair, they're gonna say I look just like my Daddy."

I stifled a giggle and said, "They sure will, sweet boy." every way that matters.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sweet Games

She can't say her "R's".


She talks a  mile a minute, talking to her Daddy as he joins her, her little sister, and little brother in a game of Pentago.

Pentago is a two-player game.

Her Daddy has that special tone in his voice.  The one he reserves for his littlest ones.  The kind depth that comes when they make his heart soft.

It makes my heart soft.

They ditch the two-player game that doesn't work so well with four and change course, to the checkers game from Cracker Barrel.

Apparently the girls don't realize it is also a two-player game, but Drew does.  He grabs a football and he tosses it to his Daddy while the girls "play" checkers.

The girls make me laugh.  The blind leading the blind.

Drew pants with exertion as he throws the football, "forty one!  He's comin' to the end zone!  forty one!  And then he WON...jumped on the couch and touchdown!  Yeah!"

I restrain myself from worrying about the lamp.  The game will be over quickly and that is why I buy cheap lamps, anyway.

We are about to settle down and read our Lenten devotional any minute.  My heart sings with gratitude at the happy voices filling my home tonight.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Crafty Me

Less time on the computer has left more time for things that enrich my soul.
Writing for I imagine you have noticed by the sudden daily posts.

I also had time to do a bit of crafting with my big girl.  Something I haven't done in a LONG time.  
I broke out this...
my old faithful glue gun.  
TWENTY years old, to be exact!

I purchased two grapevine wreaths at Hobby Lobby for $2.50 apiece, and an armload of faux flowers.  
Have I mentioned that my initial plan was to purchase premade wreaths?  At least, until I saw the price tag...$99 EACH.  I nearly choked.  But instead I got creative, and this is the result. 

 I made both wreaths for less than $40...that is $20 EACH...a savings of $160!  

After hanging my handiwork, I strolled around my yard and admired the daffodils...blooming a month early.

 It was 75 degrees today...crazy warm for this time of year.  
It won't be that warm tomorrow, though, so we spent the whole afternoon outside.  
My kids need a bath.  My camera was happy.
  Do you see the cross in the picture above?  If you go to your local Hobby Lobby or you can join the movement to help bring focus back onto the true meaning of Easter. 
We can remind our friends and neighbors of a very important fact.  Easter is fun, bunnies and eggs are cute, but without the Resurrection, there is no life.    
You are supposed to place the cross, plain side facing the street, until Easter.  But on Easter morning, we will all turn that cross around and let the message be proclaimed boldly...
"He is risen!  It is finished!"


After my creative juices were satisfied, I went back into the craft room where Katie sat.  She was finishing up her second pair of flip-flops that she had decided to make for her little sisters.  I love her generous heart.

 She is a textbook example of a child whose love language is the giving and receiving of gifts.  The expression on her face as she worked was beautiful.  Peaceful.

After all of our creativity, all that was left on my craft table was this...
It was a good day.  A productive day.  I am so thankful for the blessing of these long hours with my children.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

So it begins.
This season of beauty from ashes.
The intense reflection upon the sacrifice, the suffering.

I began my morning in Isaiah.  Chapter 54.

"Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor, because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband."

Other than the fact that I (thankfully!) have a husband...and a wonderful one at that...this verse is me.  I am that woman.  I am that blessed one whose home is filled with little trees I did not plant, fruit that I was given straight from the hand of God.

Sing...burst into song...shout for joy!  For far greater is His plan, more wonderful are the things He had in store...things for which I did not dare ask, yet He gave so abundantly.

Five children.  Five given to a woman who years ago begged for just one.
Five little candles were lit tonight.  Five voices sang the Doxology as they were lit and we read of Joseph, Jesus' earthly adoptive father.  The man who welcomed the son of God as his very own and loved him til he died.
I wonder: When Jesus returned to Heaven, Joseph was already there...waiting.  What was that reunion like, on the other side of the veil?

"All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children's peace."

I landed on this verse, verse thirteen, and sighed.  Relief.  It is God who teaches their hearts.  It is their heavenly Father who ultimately raises my boys into men and my girls into women.  They are His, and I?  Well, I am but a tool in His hand.  Often broken, sometimes rusty...but in His hand, nonetheless.

We always begin our school day with a story from the Jesus Storybook Bible.  Today we finished our second time through.  And the last page, oh that last page...I read it with a lump in my throat and then the tears.  They refused to be dammed and they spilled over as I choked out the final words to His story, the invitation to come, be filled, be who we were created to be.  My little ones looked at me wide-eyed and my big kids just asked, point blank, "Why are you crying?"

"These are happy tears," I said.  "Because of this, right here, I know that I don't have to worry about you.  If you have Jesus in your heart, then you are safe in God's hand and I can trust Him.  These are happy tears."

Gracie, my bleeding heart, laid her head on my shoulder with a sweet smile.  The two youngest gave me a hug, though they really had no idea what I was talking about much less why it made me dissolve in a puddle of tears.  The oldest two?  Well, this was a bit much for the tweens and they both gave each other one of those looks, the raised eyebrows communicating volumes regarding mom's emotional stability or the lack thereof.  But I know they heard.  And I pray they will remember when the hard times come and they don't know what to do...I pray they will remember that awkward moment when mom cried because she trusted God with their lives and then choose to trust Him, too.  He has a way of using these moments as stones of remembrance in our lives and bringing them up at the most absolutely perfect time.

"All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children's peace."

I, for one, am counting on it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


You know those Sunday mornings, when all is not well?
The kids are fighting, Mom and Dad are losing their patience, and then get into an argument in the car?
Those Sunday mornings when you are tempted to just forget it and stay home because no one is feeling exactly worshipful?

But then you get to church against all odds and, boy, are you glad you did.  The sermon seemed to be directed squarely at you, the worship was anointed even more than usual, and you leave feeling like you have nearly touched the face of God.

Let me just say that, after today, I am assuming this Lenten season is going to be awesome.
And I mean A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

As I prepared to log off of Facebook and begin this admittedly unusual fast, the tension level in my home skyrocketed.  It didn't help that I still wasn't feeling great after yesterday's experience, so my patience level was not at it's highest.  Add to that a rough morning where attitudes went south and my temper shot straight up and, well, let's just say I lost several mom-of-the-year points today.


I sat my babies down this afternoon and reminded them that I DO love them so.  Oh, how I love them.  I talked and explained and hopefully took advantage of a teachable moment.  But tonight a certain African went to bed early and I have been trying to oh-so-patiently get the next two in bed without an argument.
Because there have been a lot of arguments today.

I have logged out of Facebook and can already feel the conflict.  I seriously cannot believe how I am feeling.
Is this an attack?  I have to think it is.  God knows my heart, the longing for intimacy and fresh encounters with Him.  And I believe the enemy knows as well and would like nothing more than to see me fall flat on my face.

But, by the grace of God, I will not fall because the very reason I have decided to observe this season is to draw closer to the One who defeated sin and death and ROSE from the grave.  He bore the very sin that plagued me today.  He washes me white as snow.  And He calls me to draw close, to be still and know that HE is God...not my schedule, not the state of clean (or unclean) throughout my home, not textbooks or paperwork, and certainly not Facebook.  He wants to be the first person I see in the morning and the last I see at night.  He wants me to stop and look Him full in the face throughout the day and be filled so that I can, in turn, fill these little hearts and minds that look to me for their training and loving.

Yes, Lord.  I am ready.

Priorities, and the lack thereof.

Yesterday I came down with what I now think was a case of food poisoning.  (We had been out of town over the weekend and I had eaten something different than the's the only explanation)
Oh.  My.

I was talking with my sweet Sister-in-law when, suddenly, I had to get off the phone and pronto.

It was not pretty.

After the worst was over, I managed to crawl into my bed and call for Katie and DJ...because dinner was in the oven.

Now, let me give you a wee bit of sweet DJ is the lover of all things electronic.  I will not be surprised if the boy grows up to work for Apple.  Keeping his eyes off a screen and on good books are high priorities throughout my day.

So they come into my room, shocked to see a pale and clammy mom in the place of the healthy one that was chatting on the phone in the kitchen just 20 minutes earlier.  I told them what happened and explained how they needed to check dinner to see if it was done...stir the potatoes and make sure they were soft, check the cornbread and take it out when the top looks brown, etc. because I obviously did not need to be cooking, much less SERVING food with what had just happened.  I was praying with all of my might that it was not a virus that was about to sweep through my entire family.

Oh please, God, no.

I asked if they understood what they needed to do.

DJ looks up from his I-touch and asks "Ok, but can you put in your password first so I can update this app?"

I sat up despite my lurching insides and said "Are you kidding me?"

He suddenly snapped into attention and said...", sorry."

Can I update this app?


Monday, February 20, 2012

Arise, O you sleeper, Awake...

I have never observed Lent.
Since my salvation at the age of twenty-one, I have known of the season. But, being that we are Protestants by tradition, non-denominational to be specific, Lenten traditions have always been of the "Hm, that sounds very  nice.  I'm glad you enjoy it" category in my mind.
This year, though, I am drawn.  I am sure it has to do with this need that the Lord has stirred within me for hard stops...for choosing to look and see and feel and not just react to whatever is happening during any given moment of my day.
Last week, I was rearranging a few objects on a bookshelf.  I ran across books...bound copies of my blog posts (from this and a previous blog).  I opened them and began turning the pages and stood in awe of the stories God has given my family.
I realized something hard.  I have been robbed.
Actually, I have robbed myself.

I have "sold" my stories to Facebook, allowed them to be condensed into short status updates and enjoyed the instant feedback of my friends, but those stories are gone as soon as the time line pushes them off of my wall.

Where are the details of the past three years?  Where are the short stories that have crossed my heart and blessed my soul?  They are gone.  How will my children remember if I don't keep a record for them?  Since my conversion to Facebook my blog posts have been few and far between.  I am going to regret it if I don't change it now.

So for my first observation of Lent, I am fasting from Facebook.   No status updates, no I-phone app, no messages.  I am going to prayerfully dive back into writing and recording this beautiful journey that is my walk with God and His work in my family.  It is going to be hard because I have become quite addicted accustomed to checking my news feed and enjoying comments when I crank out something cute or witty.
But the fact that I was holding my breath as I typed the previous paragraph confirms to me that it will be a good decision.

I am going to write.  I am going to create.  I am going to focus and worship the One who is worthy.  Oh yes, I am going to take a step back and find yet another way to be still and know...

So, if you are a "real life" friend, please contact me by phone...or email.  I am unstalling the Facebook app Tuesday at sundown.

I can hardly wait to see what beauty, what revelation this Easter season will hold.
He makes all things new...

Friday, February 17, 2012


It's funny, in a way, how things change as we age.  I spent my teen years obliviously filling my head with your typical 80's top 40 hits.  You know what I mean...Lonely Like the Wolf, Open Arms,  I Love Rock and Roll, and The Tide is High to name just a few.
Then my 20's came and a bit of maturity...mostly because Jesus took hold of me and showed me music (among many other things!) that filled my soul and still made me want to get my groove on.  (DC Talk anyone?)  Not that I didn't still enjoy a good top 40 hit or great hip-hop groove, but I think I was becoming more selective.
Enter my 30's.  I was a grownup, I had kids, and I love to dance with those kids!  So my pursuit of mommish-coolness took me into the realm of Toby Mac and the with a capital F and great messages to boot.
Now I am nearing...
How do I say this delicately?
Now the next decade of my life is quickly approaching.

And I find my tastes mellowing more...I find my heart seeking quiet in ways it has not in the past.  The Lord has given me a desire for long moments of basking in His presence, thinking of Him and pondering Him and longing for Him in ways that often take me by surprise.  Music that has existed and even been in my home (thanks to my dear husband and his apparently more mature taste in music...except for his KISS collection...but I digress) has surfaced and oh, how I appreciate the songwriting and the truth put to music in ways I never have before.  Maybe it is because parenting has entered a new phase (pre-teen to be exact...Lord, be near!) or because our marriage is becoming rich in years, but I find that after dancing around the kitchen to Lecrae, Shonlock, or even to my great chagrin   to my daughter's delight   against my will  Justin Bieber or the "clean" versions of whatever is the latest hip-hop hit (Yes, that would be the new phase of parenting I mentioned) I need music that is quiet, introspective and even...
here we go...

My kids are appalled.
My husband loves it.
My soul is nurtured.

Andrew Peterson, Jason Gray, Fernando Ortega, and others like them (Andrew Peterson is my favorite, hands-down.  The man can weave a story and make me want to fall to my knees in awe of my Creator-God like no one else) truly change the atmosphere of my home when their music is drifting freely through my kitchen.
Isaiah 30:15...In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.

This verse has taken on rich meaning of late.  So many things have come together, homeschooling being a very large part of it, that allow me...allow take those holy breaks and rest, be quiet, be still.

Whether it is music or books, I find I feel Him more in the busyness when I have given him my times of quiet.  I am less likely to feel distance in chaos when my day has started in order.  

It is incredible, really.  And I could easily lament that it took me so long to realize how precious meditation and quiet are as a discipline, but I choose to be thankful to realize it now.  And I hope to help my children see the value while they are young so they can have that security, that sacred pause to their day, that reminds them that He is, indeed, always near.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Halted by grace...

Our school days sometimes get interrupted.
Not by visitors or ringing phones,
not by barking dogs or illness,
though those things do often interrupt.

Sometimes, though, our days get interrupted by grace.

So I changed from plan A to plan "let's listen to what God wants to say to us today" and we sat in a heap of arms and legs and blankets and prayed, a morning prayer from this faithful friend, and we read...
and read...
and read.

Psalm 93 became a sweet assignment.  Let's copy it.  Who can finish neat and first?

And they did.

Gracie looked at her completed work and smiled.
"Read it to me?"  I requested.
And she did.

My daughter, the first one taught to read by her mother, read the Word of God with just a few needed hints.
She smiled.
I held back a tear as I said to my proud girl...
"You can read the Bible.  Gracie, do you know that there are millions and millions of grownups all over the world who can't do what you just did because they don't know how to read?  You are seven years old and you can read the Bible!"

She grinned as the wheels turned in her pretty little head.
"Mommy, I think I am going to find a comfy spot and read it some more."

A few minutes later, naptime was upon us...or at least it was upon Mari and Drew.  I sent them upstairs to prepare.  I gave them ample time then followed them up to be sure they were ready to be tucked in.  I was walking briskly, thinking of all I needed to do as soon as they were asleep.  I rounded the corner and had my mouth open to speak when I was stopped in my tracks.

Halted by grace.

For there they sat...on Mari's bed.  Their backs were to me so they had no idea I was watching them.  Gracie had her Bible open on her knees, with her right arm around her little sister.  Drew was leaning against Mari, leaning in close so he could see for himself.  Gracie was reading Psalm 93 to her siblings, intently, intentionally, lovingly with her pigtails bouncing and joy on her face.

I held my breath and Katie came...
she saw what I saw and she stopped.  She leaned into me as I leaned into the doorframe and took in the holy sight.

I took a mental snapshot and vowed to never, ever take this moment for granted.

Now she sits in the kitchen, reading 1 Thessalonians because she can.  I am overcome.