Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Planning ahead

Our school year is nearing the beginning.  Books are in place, pencils are sharpened, and my brain is beginning to focus in once again on the routine of our soon-to-arrive homeschool mornings.  The chaos of summer is getting tiresome.  Kids just need structure, especially when there are five of them and their creative juices have nowhere productive to flow!

We have had two months of late bedtimes and later mornings, friends coming and going and sleepovers and too much TV.  Swimming and fishing and biking and eating whenever.  Laxity and maybe even a bit of slothfulness.

It was a welcome break that has run its course.

This will be our third year of homeschooling and I am amazed at how much I look forward to it.  I will admit, I am a little nervous as the two five year olds will officially be completely in the mix.  I thought I would be able to teach them together, but it has become apparent that doing so would be a disaster.
Because they are totally different in how they learn.

Mari is reading short words already.  She can't wait to learn more.  She will be fluent in no time.  Math?  Well, it frustrates her.  She will need a lot of help understanding the vocabulary of math, mostly due to her only speaking English for a year and a half.  Her fine motor skills have come so far, though, and her handwriting is going to be freakishly neat...just like DJ's.  She will happily spend an hour copying and tracing words on a worksheet.
Drew already loves math.  He "gets" sorting, matching, adding, etc. but struggles with sounding out words. He hasn't made that developmental leap from sounding out letters to connecting them smoothly into a word. He is obviously a tactile learner.  He needs to touch and feel it in order to make sense of it.  He has the scrawly handwriting you would expect in a boy whose gross motor skills are beyond his years.

The hardest part is the competition between them.  Mari still struggles with manipulative and attention-seeking behaviors.  She and Drew generally get along beautifully and play together for hours with barely a cross word between them.  But her negative behaviors manifest when I am teaching them.  How?  It means she stands over Drew's shoulder (or comments from across the room) and rejoices in his struggles.  It is an attempt to feel big and grown-up, but it hurts him.  So I have to teach them separately.  I know why she does this and I understand it and she is healing more each day, but I have to limit the opportunities she has to exercise power over her brother.  So....

I am back to the fact that it is God who called us to homeschool.  He knew what was best for the hearts of my children and He also uses times like this to remind me that I dare not attempt to teach  my children in my own power.

I will fail.

But with Him, I can do all things.

I will be breaking out the planners tonight and making those lists...books to read, lessons to complete, stories to write, when and how and where to do all these things.  I will attempt to bring sweet order out of the happy summer chaos without sucking the joy out of these beautiful days that God has given us.

Because homeschooling, for us, is about teaching them in the Lord.

It is about being there for all the moments. learning and living together in the sweet community of family.

It is about discovering everything we possibly can about God and His creation and the works created by His creation...together.

He is the source.  He is the Creator of everything and everything is created for Him.  If we "do school" for our own sakes or to compete with other educational methods then we miss the point.  But if we do it for Him and for His glory, then He will be sure we complete all that He deems necessary and bless us with sweet memories and priceless moments.

So it is with great humility and prayerful caution that I begin planning for this year...

Lord, bless us with love and patience, unity and flexibility.
Help my children to learn well and love the process and, most of all, help us to love each other fiercely and selflessly.
Give me eyes to see their hearts and the needs of their young spirits.
May I teach them diligently and not waver from the calling you have placed upon us.
And may we laugh...a lot.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I try not to overuse the word "awesome" as it really is one that only applies to God.

Awesome...eliciting awe.  I mean, really, who else but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is worthy of our awe?

So I carefully tell you that this past weekend was just plain...well...

The singing...the stories...the God-ordained moments that happened within an audience of over 100 was all just so much.  So like Him.

We raised over $5000 for a Ugandan school that cares for 1400 children.  Do you know how far $5000 can go in Africa?  My sweet friend, M, shared the story of how God brought them their daughter from this very school.  I nearly cried as her daughter gazed up at her mama with happy eyes.  How drastically her life has changed.

My husband shared the story of our first trip to Ethiopia and how God used Andrew's songs to encourage and reassure him when he had to leave me alone unexpectedly to straighten things out with the court.  He got through it without crying, but his shaky voice betrayed his emotion.  I love him so.

Two women sat together (one from here, one from Alaska!) and found out they were both going to be in Alaska in August...and arranged to have lunch in Alaska!

Children were sponsored, which means that they were delivered out of poverty into hope.  Hearts were touched literally all over the world just because of this one night.  So like God.

Meeting my favorite singer was a day that I will never forget.  I do not engage in idolatry, do not worship those whom I admire.  But there are those who are inspiring, who have gifts that I dream of developing one day, those who reflect the Lord in how they use those gifts.  Andrew Peterson is one of them.  

Music moves me.  Good words move me.  Poetry and lyrics and great books move me.  People capable of creating those things...
well, they move me.

His music is the soundtrack to my life.  He finds ways to put into words what I find myself bringing before God.  Marriage, God's word, kids, grace, the struggle to remember who I am and Whose I am...somehow he lays it down into a melody that sticks with me and God uses it.  So to meet him and his sweet little girl and  his (very amazing) piano player, Ben Shive, was an incredible honor and I just hope I didn't weird him out.


The music of Sunday night filled the room and filled us up.  Friends who only came because they knew us are now fans.  People heard about Jesus and love and struggle and victory on Sunday night.  It was awesome.

Andrew Peterson said something that stuck with me.  God is creative.  He created us in His image, which includes giving us the ability to create as well.  It may look different in each of us...painting, writing, music, cooking, etc...but every time we create something that did not exist before it is like a window into Heaven.

I love that thought.

So, though I know Andrew Peterson and Ben Shive may never read this, I want to say thank you for the tenth time.  :)  Only eternity knows the extent of how God is using your gifts, and I pray I will use mine just as well for His glory.

And now I leave you with this:

Love.  This.  Song.  So much.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Just got back from the concert and can I just share that I did not...
DID NOT cry when I met AP?  I am so stinking proud of myself.

And after an evening of incredible music and coffee and conversation I am just plain old inspired.

I am anxious to sit down with my journal and pen and write.  Poetry, prose, whatever.  But just to create and enjoy and be.

I love how creativity inspires creativity.  Art inspires art.

I just wish I could sing like that.  Sigh.  Maybe in Heaven I will have that gift. Until then, I'll just pretend in the shower.


Saturday, July 21, 2012


Must catch up.

Must write.

Must find time.

Maybe tomorrow.

Awesome things are happening.

So much to share.

But sleep beckons and my house is full of mi familia (pardon my espanol)...6 adults, 7 kids, 3 dogs, 2 guinea pigs, and a hermit crab.

Oh...and 9 fish.

There is this concert, the brainchild of my amazing hubby, that will raise thousands of dollars for a Ugandan school that saves the lives of hundreds of sweet angels.  It is being held in a local coffee shop.

It is tomorrow.

I have made the list of ticket sales...three times.

I will get to meet my most favoritest singer and songwriter of all time.


And I pray I won't be weird because I really want to be normal and just tell him how much his music blesses me and my family and maybe even chit-chat without dissolving into the BUC* (can I get a witness???) and melting into a puddle of tears.

I will hopefully get back into the writing habit soon.  So many stories beg to be told, but the time has just flown this summer and I really want to be careful.  Sleep is so important in these active days and staying up till all hours to write, as tempting as it may be, really is not smart.  I am already a coffee addict...don't want to push it to espresso!

So tomorrow will be the culmination of our summer plans..blessing orphans, worshiping God, and good coffee all at the same time may throw me over the edge of happy delirium!

*BUC-Big Ugly Cry.  The cry that results in red swollen face, puffy eyelids, and snot and tears mingled mercilessly.  The cry that robs one of credibility when one attempts to sound, you know, normal and the voice comes out in a hoarse, choking squawk.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Birthday Sweets

She decided that she wanted something different this year.

Not a party, per se.  But an outing.

"Let's go the the mall and shop and have frozen yogurt instead of birthday cake."

My brain whirled and whizzed as I realized the grown-up-ness of it all.

4 friends and a shopping date.  What happened to tea parties and Chuck E. Cheese?  What happened to bows in her hair and lacy dresses and princess cakes?

She is 11.


A month at camp grew her and she is growing still.  Growing fast and sweet and so much fun to be around.

I don't worry about her teen years so much.  She is an open book, talking incessantly and ever-present at my side.  She is wisely cautious...usually...and sees the world in black and white, right and wrong.  She is a terrible liar and for that I am very thankful.

Sass?  Oh yes, it is there.  We work on that...that tone.  But she relents and apologizes and really means it again.

Oh, how I love her.

So we will celebrate and I will marvel that those are the same big brown eyes I gazed into when surrounded by baby chub.  I will watch her try on those clothes with her giggling friends and remember buttoning her onesie after a diaper change. She will hold my hand still as we cross a parking lot and I will remember holding her on my chest and watching her grin with milk dribbling down her chin.  She will ask for a soda and I will remember keeping her upright for 30 minutes after every bottle hoping that she would keep that formula down.

She didn't.

We will eat frozen yogurt with candies galore and I will remember her first birthday cake, the one I made with purple flowers on top and basketweave on the sides and I was so proud of myself.  I love these days with her and, as much as I sometimes miss those sweet, simple baby years, I wouldn't trade the memories we make today for the world.  Climbing in bed with her tonight and reminding her that she is loved forever no matter what and that we are so very proud of her, tickling her 11 times as she screamed and laughed and kissing her cheek as I said good night...these are sweet days as well.

So happy birthday to my sweet, precious girl.  You are delight to us, and the apple of His eye.  You are loved beyond measure and His plans for you are surely wonderful, for He has gifted you so.  May your prayers spoken today be answered and this year be the best year ever, just as you requested!


Anyone out there?

I guess I can only blame the lack of writing on extreme busyness and maybe just a bit of brain fry.

It has been HOT here.  So hot.  Oppressively hot.  We have spent days at the pool, the lake, and any place else we can find to get relief.  The a/c has been working overtime and I really can't believe there haven't been brown outs or something in these parts.

It has been hot.

The kids are suffering from lack-of-structure-itis and today I actually used the words "duct tape" in the same sentence as "their mouths" to my hubby.

No I would never, but this mama's patience level plummeted and methinks we need a vacation from summer vacation.

I have been on an organizing/purging binge the last few days and I'm sure it is directly related to the hours spent looking for those goggles or that bottle of insect repellent that I was sure was in that know, behind the rock tumbling supplies (forgot we had those!) and the 8 rolls of film (yes, FILM!) that never got developed and I've been saying for four years that I must find out what is on them and yet there they sit behind the spray can of leather conditioner for my hubby's old baseball glove.


I compose blog posts in my head while driving and then forget them when I get home because I, too, am suffering from lack-of-structure-itis and it is wearing me plum out.

I just want to ditch the laundry and the closet cleaning and hole up in front of the TV with a good movie and my babes piled up in blankets and popcorn passed all around.  I can struggle with extremes in seasons like this and finding that middle...where the house is acceptable because what you can't see won't hurt you and we are vegging out this afternoon even if the disposal stinks and if the floor doesn't get swept before the friends arrive it is OK because they all have their shoes on, a battle.

Finding that healthy middle is always a battle.

But He is good.  He reigns me in when I am tempted to wig out (shameless 80's reference there) and He is so patient.  He gently reminds me that it's all for Him, anyway, and if He tells me to be still when the sink is full it is because being still is more important to Him in that moment and I need to just do it.

Just do it.

Let Him fill me, let Him illuminate that next path and pour into me all that He wants me to pass on to my children.  Because without Him filling my cup to overflowing I have absolutely nothing of worth to offer them.

Just do it.