Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Marathon of Goodness and Grace

I feel like I've run a marathon since last Friday afternoon. I took a slow deep breath knowing I wouldn't get another one until tonight. I didn't plan it that way of course, it just evolved. But we made it. Yeah!!! It all started that afternoon when I had to drive down to the hospital to get copies of CT scans for the new specialist I'm going to see tomorrow. We then stopped over at my brother's house for a few minutes before heading off to Claire's and Starbucks so the girls could have fun spending some of their Christmas gift cards. Knowing that I would need a lot from them the next couple days, I thought it would be good to give them some fun too! We pretty much had Claire's to ourselves, it was a great time for all.

The next day, Saturday morning, we woke up at 5:30 and were on the road by 6am to go pick up the papers for our route. The weather was almost 60 degrees warmer than the last two weekends. (-30 vs 30 above) Miracle had her head out the window enjoying the sunshine! lol But we had to stop delivering papers before we were finished, to drive into town and get the van fixed. What was supposed to be a quick one hour rear brake job.....took well more than two hours. Thankfully, we always bring games and I packed a lunch for us to eat too. Our church's car care ministry for single parents/elderly is such a blessing. It may take a while but it's worth it! Then we went back to finish the papers and then home to do our weekend chores. Yeah fun!! LOL I had to make sure the house was clean because I had surprise guests arriving the next day. (Isn't it frustrating when you're home just long enough to mess it up??)
Sunday morning we rose early again so that the girls could go to a friends house.....and me....well I got to go to the dentist. I know that doesn't sound like fun, but really....it's such an answer to prayer. This was without a doubt the best experience I've ever had at the dentist. He was so kind and gentle. And funny too! I've known that I needed to replace my crowns from 20+ years ago, but my ins. doesn't cover them, and I haven't had the cash. So I've waited and prayed. This was God's provision. Thank you Lord!!
We got home in the afternoon just in time to sit down and relax.....before the doorbell rang. A couple weeks ago, prior to all the last minute scheduling that happened, I had arranged a surprise for Pillar. She has a very good friend that she hasn't seen in a long time! I wish I could have figured out how to get a pic of her when she answered the door. She was truly speechless and a bit in shock! It was a heart warming moment to see the look of pure joy on her face! While the girls visited and got caught up on the latest greatest, her mom and I got to talk too. It was a lovely afternoon. And to top it all off, the lasagna I served for dinner just happened to be their favorite! I love it when God orchestrates every detail like that!
As soon as our company left that night, we were back in the van with bags packed, and on the road again. Mrs. H, who I've mentioned before, needed some help at her mom's house. Thankfully, the roads were clear and it was a quick two hour trip down. It's so hard for me to watch her suffer as her mom continues to receive bad reports from the doctors. I wish there was a way I could make this journey less painful. For now, this is how we can minister to her.
The kids had so much fun. And because all the kids were happy and well taken care of.....Mrs. H and I could knock out a lot of things on her mom's to do list. I wish we could have done more, but at least we could help a little.
Here they are sitting in the "couch" out in the snow fort.
Their home sits on 25 acres of beautiful forested land. The kids spent much of the day exploring and finding treasures. They also went sledding down their VERY long driveway. There's a little clip at the end. You can't see her, but a dog jumped on the sled with the girls half way down the hill!
We arrived back home Monday night about 8:30, although it felt more like midnight. The girls were so tired that two of them crawled straight into bed fully clothed and were actually SNORING when I went in to tuck them in! LOL I found them in the exact same position the next morning! Gee, ya think we all were a little tired???
And that brings us to today. We had to get up bright and early because a construction crew was supposed to show up at 7am to do weatherization improvements to my house. They didn't end up starting until after 10am. Bummer. But that's alright. We had a great day and I have some great energy saving improvements now. They blew insulation into my attic, replaced a broken window, put smoke detectors in each bedroom, carbon monoxide detectors too, weather stripping on doors, new dryer vent, and a bunch of other stuff! What a blessing. My energy assistance company randomly selected me for weatherization more than a year ago.....completely free of charge! It's taken a while to complete, but it's going to save me so much money. Thank you Lord for picking me!
This afternoon while the guys were working, Rosebud and I made these cute chocolate octopus cookies.
And while we were doing that, Pillar and Miracle were outside playing and taking pictures of all the cool winter sights in our yard for an American Girl contest. I think they took almost 100 pics between them, but this one was my favorite!

I hope your weekend wasn't quite as busy as mine, but regardless....Have a great week!! God Bless You!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Inside Olympics

Today we were talking about the history of the Winter Olympics and so we decided to have our own "inside" Olympics. I don't know how much more we "learned" but we sure did have FUN! We did 5 events just like the early pentathlon. We had the long jump, and 63" was the winning jump. For the running event we had a race to see who could crawl the fastest across the living room floor. Get ready......set.......GO!
For the javelin throw we threw toothpicks as far as we could. For the discus we flicked pennies across the room. And for wrestling we arm wrestled. We really had a great time!

As for our challenge this week? Well.....have you ever prayed for patience? Watch out! You're sure to have PLENTY of opportunities to practice! lol We, I, have had LOTS of opportunities to exercise self control and not raise our voice. Boy is our flesh screaming! But that's good. We need to die to self so that HE can live through us!! Thank you Lord for teaching us to be more like you.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Delightful Place

I looked up the word Eden, the first home, in the Hebrew. It means delight, pleasures. So God intended our homes to be delightful places. How then can we make our home a more delightful place for our husband, for our children? How can we make our home have a more delightful atmosphere? A place where everyone wants to be. A place where everyone loves to be. This should be our prayer.

I have been meditating on these things lately and then my sister in law wrote this wonderful article here that inspired me to create a challenge for my family....starting with me, of course! There are a few bad attitudes, negative behaviors that have subtly crept in. They're ugly, selfish, and sinful. And I've declared war on anything that robs my home of God's very best! The first one we are attacking this year as a family is raising our voices at each other. Sometimes it's out of frustration. I know I've been guilty of this when certain children do not focus during school. It's a tone of voice that we use. And that tone is anything but patient, kind and understanding. Sometimes it's from anger. Angry that a mistake has been made that (in our opinion) shouldn't have happened. These are just a couple of our issues.

So I have created a simple chart and it hangs on our bulletin board. We get a tick mark each time we raise our voice because we are not walking in love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

We will be graded at the end of each day as well as at the end of the week. There are rewards for positive change as God Himself is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him! Whoever gets the fewest tick marks earns a special reward at the end of each day. But whoever does the best all week gets the Grand Prize! Something all three are VERY excited about!! (And I might add that none of the prizes cost me anything!)

Well, I'm happy to report to you that on our first day of accountability two of us received 2 marks each, and two of us received 1 mark each. I thought that was tremendous! And not only that but I heard the most wonderful conversation in the kitchen tonight. It made this mama's heart happy!

Pillar is our resident pizza maker. It's such a blessing to me when she's in charge of a meal. Well, tonight on her own accord, she was teaching her youngest sister to make them with her. It was the sweetest thing to watch. Pillar was so kind, and patient, and a loving teacher. I was so proud!
First Pillar demonstrated how to knead the bread and gave very clear directions. A+ dear!
Then Rosebud gave it a try. She doesn't do anything half way. She is very determined to get it right!
She was surprised at how difficult it got after a few minutes of kneading! lol
But not to worry.....she still was having FUN!!
Pillar made a BBQ chicken pizza and Rosebud made a pepperoni pizza. Look how hard she's concentrating. They were having so much fun together.
Aren't they great looking pizza's? I thought Rosebud did terrific for her first time. And I was completely impressed once again, by Pillar's patient teaching. Good job honey!
Home can be such a powerful place. I want my home to be a place where the girl's gifts will flourish. A peaceful, quiet, resting place. A place of fun, feasting, and fellowship too! We have a choice to make. God's shown us the way. I choose His Ways!! How about you?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Teachable Moment

One day this week during BTS we read Proverbs 7. This is what verse 11 says in several different translations.

She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home (NIV)

She is boisterous and rebellious, Her feet do not remain at home (NAS)

Brazen and brash she was, restless and roaming, never at home (Message)

She is turbulent and willful; her feet stay not in her house (Amplified)

She was the brash, rebellious type, never content to stay at home (New Living)

She was loud and rebellious, Her feet would not stay at home (NKJ)
Now I do realize that that in context, this is talking about an adulterous woman. But in light of teaching the girls what type of woman this really was, I attempted to explain and describe some of these attributes. What is brash, boisterous, and brazen? What does a rebellious woman look like? How does she act? This is what we DO NOT want to become!! We spent two days talking about this one scripture and what it meant.

Well, last night after church the girls really wanted to go out to dinner for something special. According to them it's been F~O~R~E~V~E~R since we ate out! lol So with some of their Christmas money each one helped pay for a dinner out at a restaurant of their own choosing. When we sat down at our table the first thing we noticed was that the 3 girls/older teens sitting near us were VERY loud. They DID NOT act like ladies at all. It was impossible NOT to listen to their conversation as I'm sure they were disturbing everyone around them. This verse popped immediately into my mind. It was the BEST teachable moment. I had a live model of exactly what we had talked about earlier! My girls were shocked at their conversation and behavior which was very loud, rebellious, restless, and definitely not content to stay at home! I could hardly believe what I was hearing. It was as if it was scripted just to give me a teachable moment! Yeah God.....THANKS!!!
They left shortly after we arrived so our evening wasn't ruined at all. But especially since the girls had spent their own money to have this "special" night out, their hearts were very receptive to the lessons learned here. Was their behavior loving or selfish? Why? Did it effect anyone else besides themselves? Did the way they spoke and acted bring glory to God? Why? Do you see what a gold mine of opportunity this was for me??? I was THRILLED!!!
Thank you Lord for helping me teach the girls how to become maidens of virtue, ladies that are pleasing to you! I so appreciate your help as their father!!
(I'm sorry about the formatting. I don't understand why it does that sometimes. I really didn't type it like that!!)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Our Week in Review

I'd say our first week back was a SUCCESS! By the time 6am Monday morning rolled around, I was ready! All my menus were planned for the week, school was planned out, the house was clean, and we were all ready to go! It's such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment for me when I'm organized and my house runs smoothly. I just love being a mother!! Did you know there is a difference between loving your children and loving Motherhood?? Well, there is! But that's for another post!

We love games around here. They're great family fun, character building, as well as a great way to learn. Some of our favorites are 10 Days in the USA (Geography) and Take it Easy (Math and Strategy) which I might add Rosebud is the raining champ.....and nobody is going easy on her! My friend who introduced us to the game and is VERY good at it scored 208, Rosebud scored a 191. Amazing for an 8 year old! Rummikub (Math), and The Global Puzzle (World Geography) are fun too. Pillar and I also have an on going contest of Extreme Rummy. The first person to 500 wins. I haven't lost a game yet! But she's getting better and better all the time. lol There's so many wonderful card games to be had. Speed is definitely a family favorite too, especially with Miracle. She's got the fastest hands! And Rosebud LOVES puzzles. She's been a natural at them since she was young. She received this new 300 piece one for Christmas. Notice the theme here??? What you can't see are the cowgirl boots she is wearing!! She was a happy little cowgirl!
One morning she asked me if she could fix breakfast. Sure! So she made cheesy scrambled eggs with ham, clementines, and toast. Yum! It was delicious!! She set the table and lit a candle too. So sweet!!
This week we did our global puzzle again. I like to do it once every quarter or so. It's a fantastic way to learn world geography. The pieces are actually shaped like individual countries. But because the puzzle is so large, it usually takes us a couple days to complete. And so we couldn't use our kitchen table for school on Friday. So.......we got out a blanket and did school "picnic style" on the living room floor! I wish I had a pic. The girls loved it!
Today we had to do our paper route in sub zero temps again. -20's windchill. Brrrrrrrrr!! I can't tell you how proud I am of the girls. They work together, have great attitudes, and don't complain. We make a great team!! This was a cute little guy we stumbled upon while delivering papers today. Isn't he cute?
Of course we had to stop and get a pic!
Overall, it was a very successful week. I even got in a long phone call with my little brother whom God used to give me some much needed wisdom and guidance. I love it when God does that! He is so faithful!
PS...I added a few of the games on the side bar for those of you interested in them.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A New Year's Heart

Do you ever have so much going on in your head that you don't even know where to start talking?? That's the way I feel now. God is speaking to my heart.....and I am thinking about it ALL THE TIME! I have learned so much about God's heart, His very nature this year. I am more grateful than ever for the privilege of knowing Him, loving Him, and being loved BY Him!

In years past I have set detailed goals with attainable marks to reach and I still think goals are very necessary for success in any area. But this year my goals are much simpler. I want, no I NEED to know Him more! Without Him....I am nothing. Without Him I will not be the mother that my children need. Without Him I will not have the divine wisdom I need to make wise financial decisions. Without Him I will not know how to lead my family in a way that pleases Him. Without Him......I can do nothing. So I humble myself and seek His face this year in a way that I never have before. With more fervor and tenacity....as if my very life depended on it. Thank you Lord for wooing me, for loving me this much!! My expectation is in YOU!!

And for my friends and family that have asked what we did over the holidays....here are a few random pics and thoughts. We were blessed with a BUNCH of chicken thighs. The girls took all the skins off so we could make dinners for freezing. We made 8 chicken teriyaki dinners and 4 honey glazed chicken meals. Two of our favorites! Now Miracle would have you think this is a gross job..... But really she enjoys it. There is much laughter at the kitchen sink as she squishes the meat between her hands and rips/cuts off all the skin. She enjoys making meatloaf too. For being such a "girly girl", she doesn't mind getting her hands dirty in the kitchen at all! LOL And notice Pillar is wearing her new apron that she won!
Our New Years celebration went something like this. First we took down all our Christmas decorations and put them away. Then we made a most delicious dinner together. After that we watched a couple really cute Christmas movies together. (Christmas Angel and The Lost and Found Family) The girls like to have a slumber party upstairs in the living room, including me on the couch! Let me just tell you this is a labor of love because our couch IS NOT comfortable. About 10:30pm someone noticed I had taken up residence on the couch. Last year I fell asleep on them, so this year they were determined NOT to let that happen again! The next thing I knew, there was a diet coke in my face! lol I got up and we played games and had a lot of fun. Now can I just say that even at the ages of 12, 11 and 8.....I still love to watch them sleep. They're just so sweet! (It's actually dark in this pic but the flash lit up the room.)
We went to a birthday party on the first. We were supposed to go sledding but the negative temps kept us inside. My girls weren't too upset as our friends had received a Wii for Christmas! I'm not sure who had more fun though....all the girls or their dad who was "helping" them! lol Miracle and birthday girl number one who turned 11.
Rosebud and birthday girl number 2 who turned 7. So sweet! Check out all that chocolate!
I also got a paper route this week. Yeah!! I had actually looked for one before, but there were no openings. And then...all of a sudden....after more than 12 years....the man who delivers my very own neighborhood paper.....quit! It's just the local papers that are delivered once every Saturday. It's a perfect job for us because we can all do it together and it doesn't interfere with homeschooling! Yeah God!! I'm so thankful for His provision.
As for the last couple days....well, I have no pictures. The girls have been fighting symptoms in their bodies. Yuck!! One sounds like a seal barking, and another one can't keep anything down. It's been a long time since they felt like this. No fun at all. So there's been lots of cuddling and resting and laying low so to speak. But since it's been 20 below outside.....I don't mind staying inside where it's nice and warm! Tomorrow we resume our normal homeschool schedule and I can hardly wait! As much as we need breaks.....I love school!!
Happy New Year!!