Sunday, December 30, 2007

Something Is Wrong

It's not a sudden realization, usually. Oh there very well may be a moment that you can trace back in your memory as being THE moment that it hit you, but more often than not, I'll wager a bet that it happens much more slowly. If it's anything like our experience, it's like waking up slowly--little by little you think on it in the back of your mind until it makes it's way into your consciousness.

Something is wrong.

For us it all began 2 years ago. I saw the problem, but thought it was just one islolated little problem. I dealt with it by going to one isolated little doctor and then put it out of my head. It's fine.

And the problem went away. So, sure enough, I was right. The doctor was right. No big deal.

If it had come back in the same way as it showed up that first time, I would have caught on. At least I'd like to think I would have caught on. But it didn't--it came back in new and different ways. And when you are with someone all the time you really just look past little things like this and don't even see them. It wasn't that I thought something was wrong but pushed that thought WAY in the back of my head rather than think it...that would be called denial. And I wasn't in denial--I just honestly had not thought about it or put it all together. Not until S made that comment in the living room that night.

"Little Bit is SUCH a nervous kid."

What? What are you talking about? She is not nervous! She's one of the most laid back children I've ever known! (Don't you remember how floppy she was as a baby? She would just lay there and smile and you could just flop her legs all around and she didn't care. She didn't even bother to try walking until she was 14 months old! She was just so content to sit there--I used to joke about how unmotivated she was! I have never taken care of such an easy-going baby!)

"Watch her, Brenda."

That was in June. I think it was the vocal tic that really caught our attention. She kept clearing her throat or kind of half coughing. Over and over. But didn't we just finish a round of medicine? She shouldn't be having sinus drainage. So, we made the decision to visit the doctor. Just to make sure that it was indeed something physical.

I told the doctor while he was looking her over that if there wasn't a physical reason for this, that it was just one more thing to add to the list of things we had been noticing. He finished his exam and said, "What else have you been noticing?"

And my heart just fell into my stomach. I really, really wanted to hear him say that it was sinus drainage, but he didn't. Instead he gave me the name of some neurologists "just to rule out Tourette's." But I think what he meant was "to confirm Tourette's." And that appointment is still in our future. So I honestly can't say it's Tourette's Syndrome. But if it isn't--I'll be VERY, very surprised.

So I'll be writing about this some and I just wanted you to know that. Not writing about this is clogging my brain up because it's part of our life right now. Besides, I think I have read the bulk majority of information on TS that is available on the web and there is precious little non-technical stuff to read. And what I really want is to read about a real person--a real child with these concerns. That would be helpful and encouraging in a way. So maybe I can be that help and encouragement to someone else. We'll see. As usual, I have a lot to say! :) And in the meantime, your prayers would be appreciated.

Thanks!

Friday, December 28, 2007

We Stepped Back in Time

I was wrapping a Christmas present in newspaper (for padding) over the holidays and came across an article about our town. It seems there are some old houses that belonged to some of the founding members of our community that are available for touring. The houses contain real articles and everyday things circa 1900. I told the girls we were going to go see them and they were grasping to understand how old they were.

"That's 99 years before you were born, Sweetheart."

"Wow! How old was Grandma and Grandpa?"

"They weren't born. They are only in their 70's."

"Oh."

My parents came along with us and it was SO interesting. The first thing we saw was an old-fashioned lawn mower leaning against the tree. I was going to be all informative and teach Sweetheart all about the olden days.

"I bet you can't guess what this is."

"Oh, it's a lawn mower. Papa Bear uses one of those in the Berenstain Bears."



(Score: 0)

She also already knew all about the water pump at the "sink", the old iron stove, and lots of other things--all from books. I guess reading is really good for you. (Kidding--I knew that.) Little Bit was most impressed with a children's room upstairs. It contained a child-sized bed and wardrobe along with dollhouses, doll beds and other toys of that day. Oh, how she wanted to play! I looked over at one point and she had her doll (our constant companion Fiona), laid in one of the antique beds. Thankfully, the tour guide was very relaxed and didn't mind.

Mom and I were impressed by how UNCLUTTERED every room was. It all looked so simple. Sigh. Guess I will do some work on my house this holiday. The fewer things you have in a room, the more you are able to notice the beautiful things that are there. Time to scale down what we have in our little house.

And speaking of Little Houses---Sweetheart recieved season one of Little House on the Prairie for a Christmas gift, along with Little House paper dolls. We have had so much fun watching an episode every evening. The whole family is wrapped up in it. They just don't make TV like that anymore. I had been waiting until she was old enough to read the Little House chapter books, but then discovered these little treasures at the library. They are an easy reading level for her and as soon as she read a few of them she was in love with the Ingalls family.

There is a lot to be learned from those olden days, folks! Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Perspective That Will Stay With You

The dishes are piled up in the kitchen, the laundry has taken over, there is junk in every room that needs to be dealt with. I am overwhelmed by our house this week. I'm glad Christmas is over and we can put away the decorations and reclaim our house. I've had nagging headaches all week and am trying really hard not to be grumpy with the girls. Holiday stress, right?

But what I don't have is unopened presents under the tree.

My friend Jennifer e-mailed me just before Christmas about a couple she and her husband knew from college. Here is a part of her e-mail...

Steve & Elizabeth went to college with us. On their way to church last Sunday, a truck pulling a drilling rig weaved off the road and over-corrected into their lane and rolled over their car. It killed their two kids, Tanner (9) and Brooklyn (3). Steve was in critical condition and Elizabeth in stable condition. I can only imagine how their hearts hurt and the questions they're asking and the anger and grief they feel and dealing with it all with all their children's presents under the tree that won't be opened by bright smiling faces tomorrow morning. Please pray for them.

I don't have unopened presents under the tree. I don't have two rooms full of children's things that now sit unused. Can I really get annoyed when my children ask me to get up and help them with something? Isn't it instead a blessing that I have them to take care of?

I have to say my heart has been very heavy for this family. I fell asleep thinking about them and praying for them on Christmas Eve. They do not cease to be a family because their children are gone, but what a shift to undergo overnight. I do not know this family. I do not know if their marriage is strong enough for this. I don't know anyone who is strong enough to go through this without the Lord. Please pray for them if you have a minute.

And hug your family today.


*Edited to add: I know there is a lot of stuff to read on the internet and you can't believe every prayer request you hear about...I just wanted to add this link to kind of verify. This is the news story about the crash. Thanks!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Am Alone!

Husband took the girls shopping this morning. I am all alone in the house.


I can't remember the last time this happened.


What do I do now???

:)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More Than Just Tanta Clot

We have really enjoyed Santa at our house. He brings lots of fun and anticipation. Three year old Sweetheart was missing QUITE a few of her speech sounds, so his name was what you see in the title. I kind of miss ol' Tanta Clot. He made me think of blood thinners. Little Bit hasn't had much love for Ho Ho (her name for him). This year she announced she would sit in Mrs. Claus' lap, however. Hey, whatever...as long as you are smiling. I have a few years with no Ho Ho pictures with Little Bit because I'm not going to force a screaming child to sit for pictures. So sad. Plus, we get our pictures for free from my sister's bank and last year Little Bit announced: "Sissy can go get her picture made and I will wait with Aunt Terri in her office. And we will close the door."

So there.

And, just for effect, I will include the pic from the library last week. We kind of didn't know the Claus' would be at storytime or I would have put more thought into their outfits--even the doll has on hand-me-downs!


I have always fought that familiar battle with families who have invited Santa into their Christmas celebrations: How to properly emphasize Jesus' birth and de-emphasize everything else. Well, we have our Christmas fun but we really spend a lot of time talking about baby Jesus as well. I was concerned how I've been doing so I had Sweetheart write in her journal the other day, "Why is Jesus more important than Santa Claus?"

Her answer: Because he is the savior. He died on the cross for all of us and on Christmas he was born and he did that because he loved us.

Good job, baby! Little Bit is four this year and is just now getting the story of his birth and can even tell lots of it back to us. What a wonderful Bible class teacher she must have. Ahem. It's exciting to see her learning it.

This month for Bible I had Sweetheart make a time line of the events in Luke. We went much deeper with the story than in years past. We started with the geneology in Matthew and then looked up the Old Testament prophesy that said the savior would come from the family of David. She was very impressed. She had never heard the part about Simeon either.

Inspired by Jess at Making Home, I dove into the section of the story where Joseph is visited by the angel. I was trying to explain why Joseph was probably hesistant about the whole situation. I went on about how it takes a man and a woman to make a baby, (she nodded) and about what Joseph probably thought when Mary showed up pregnant and what everyone would think about them and why he might have been afraid, etc. After my riveting speech I asked Sweetheart if she had any questions.

Yes.

Ok.

How long do you think it took them to get to Bethlehem?

OK Jess. You can't teach those who aren't curious! I gave it a good try. :)

Anyway, it's really fun to see them learning and growing. And it's REALLY fun getting to be the one to teach them. Even though today is our last day of "school" for the holidays, Bible will continue. You just can't take a break from some things!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Looking Back One Year

I know it isn't even Christmas yet, and here I am already looking forward to the new year. But, before we look forward...I couldn't help but marvel at how our lives have changed this last year.

Last Christmas was our first Christmas at this house. We had moved three doors down from my parents in September and the girls were newly 7 and 3 years old. S was working at the same job he had had since Sweetheart was very young. I was working part-time as our church secretary. While I was at work, Little Bit went to day care at our church and Sweetheart was in our private school's first grade. S was also working as our church's "part-time" youth minister. And I had never read a blog. :)

Earlier I had read a book on homeschooling that completely changed my mind about the topic. I was a reformed thinker! In 2007 the Lord dropped a new job in S's lap that allowed me to quit work. He began his new job in May and I quit on June 15. Wow! Have I really been home with the girls for 6 months???!!! Needless to say, this opened the door for us to become a family who educates our children at home. What. A. Switch.

Due in part to some needs within our family (not ready to talk about that one just yet), S quit serving as youth minister this last fall. The extra time our family has had together has been great, although his new job does keep him busy.

So let's see...changes of jobs, changes of houses, changes of education, and changes of caregivers. And LOTS of changes in my heart. Lots.

I'd say it's been a really neat year. As promised, God has directed our paths. I could have never imagined a year ago where and how we would be now. I'll point to this verse in Ephesians 3:20-21...

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (italics mine!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's All About Family: Staying In

When we first got married I suppose I "set up housekeeping". I hung some pictures on the wall, made a pretty display on the bar of the kitchen in our apartment, and planted some flowers on our patio. I enjoyed "decorating" our home. I got us set up to live there, that's for sure. I decided where the extra sheets would be kept and where the glasses would go in the kitchen. But I don't think I ever really understood what it meant to set up housekeeping or to establish our household. And why should I have? I wasn't going to be there all that much anyway.

I think things would have been a LOT different if I had planned from day one to be a homemaker. I remember wishing that it was still the expected norm. I remember thinking that after Sweetheart was born as well. I wished everyone just expected me to stay home and the thought of returning to work would horrify them. Then I would have no choice. Yep, you heard me right. I didn't WANT all these choices that we have! I would read stories of couples from back in the 50's or 60's where they had to scrape to get by, but never was it a thought that the wife would get a job outside the home! Man, I longed for those days.

But that isn't how things were for us when we married in 1993. I had a job--a good one--and S. was in the Navy. What would I do all day since we didn't have kids? So of course I worked. And I enjoyed my job. And we got used to home being a pit stop.

We ate out all the time. We went out for entertainment. If we had the whole day ahead of us we always asked the same questions, "Where do you want to go today? What do you want to go do?" Staying home was like punishment. Who wanted to do that? You stay home when you are sick, or the weather is really bad, or you have a lot of chores to do. So....basically staying home is a big ol' drag!!!

Having children really didn't change our feelings on being home much. We did find ourselves at home more often because of nap schedules and bedtimes, but other than that we still really weren't there that much. I remember we moved into our 2nd house in February. We got up and left the house by 6:30am and returned in time for dinner. On weekends we went places or did chores. It was 3 full months before school was out and I found myself home during the days. Do you know what I discovered? Our backyard was GORGEOUS in the mornings!!!! I had never seen the backyard or heard the birds singing because we were never ever home.

Have you lived that way? Over the last year I have discovered the joy and beauty of staying home with my family. It did take some adjustment for both me and the girls...but we are content at home now. We have our fun right here within these walls. We eat our meals here. (Mostly--I do love eating out. Sigh.) When Sweetheart was little she would spend the first month of the summers (when I was off) asking each morning, "Where are we going today Mama?" She just didn't know what to do when I said, "nowhere." Every day of her little life she was either headed to the sitters or Grandma's house or on errands. But we have learned how to be home now.

We still go places--but we go as a family. It's not just about the physical place we call home, but about our family being the center of our world. We enjoy doing things together and we don't feel the NEED to have plans made and people around us all the time. If our family were stranded somewhere, we would be fine. Our home is where our family is. No longer do I expect to live in one place my whole life. Our little family can pick up and go anywhere the Lord leads because we have learned how to be happy with each other's company. Where we call home really isn't the issue.

This really isn't a revolutionary concept. I understand that. Farm families from years past survived and thrived with just each other for miles around. I read a blog recently of a woman who said they used to live 2 hours from any town. That made her think twice before hopping in the car for just anything! Everything is just so convienient for us--no wonder we run around too much. I think we need to start living like we are in the middle of nowhere and see if that finds us home and content more often!

For our family, learning to stay home and put family at the center of our world has just been another revision God has made. So how about your family? Do you enjoy staying in together or go more than you'd like? Here are some thoughts from Rev. Miller from over 100 years ago:

Secluded by the world, sheltered by it's own roof, containing in itself the sources of happiness and not dependent upon the outside world for it's gladness and joy, it matters little whether it be day or night, whether it be calm or stormy, without. The true home has a peace that is not broken by earth's tempests. It's love is a fountain of blessing that does not waste in summer weather, and it's happiness and blessing in household life are simply incalculable. All that is needed is that each member faithfully do his own part.

--from the book Homemaking by J.R. Miller

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's All About Family

When I named this blog, I had my own family in mind. It is a blog (mostly) about how our family is being revised by God every day. But I can't get my mind off of the family--as a concept. Not just my own family, but families in general. Some of the things that have been popping up for me over and over:

*fewer people choosing marriage
*the definition of marriage being questioned challenged
*divorce rates
*living together instead of marrying
*blended families
*delaying marriage/family
*role reversal within the marriage
*the expectations of society for the family to follow
*the return of the daughters (what a concept!)
*how Christian families look so much like the world

It's not hard to hear about some of these things....they turn up in the media all the time. It seems to me that Satan has been working over-time to destroy the family. And I do believe that family was one of God's best ideas ever.

I had no idea about how it all worked when we got married. I did understand the man/woman part. I wanted to have children (just not then). I knew we would live in a home. That was about my understanding of it all. Needless to say, there was no scripture in my head about any of it. My expectations of marriage/family/homelife came straight from society and a handful of good Christian examples that I knew, including my parents.

Never did I think that our family could be different. Never did I question the course before us. It really makes me wonder about families such as the Harris family. They started homeschooling back in the early 80's as a part of a greater vision they had for their family. How did it ever occur to them to have a different vision? What made them think they could do things so differently? And better yet, why did that not occur to me?

Slowly, slowly God has shown me some things I needed to know. I now understand about His protection offered through the family. I now understand about submitting to my husband as to the Lord. These are basics, folks--but I only understood them within the last few years. How sad. But how glad I am that I do understand them now!

So the revisions to our family continue. I am pondering a lot of things right now about the family. I'll be sharing some of those things in the days to come. It's a pretty big topic.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

This Story is Not For the Tenderhearted

In Little Bit's Bible class this morning (3 and 4 year olds) we learned about how Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem and there was no room for them. Their ever-devoted Bible class teacher stayed up late last night lovingly covering 6 small cardboard boxes and drawing doors and windows on them. Then I gathered up vintage Little People figures from Mom's house and a plastic donkey. Each child was given a box at circle time with directions to answer, "No Room" when Mary and Joseph came knocking.


The children were mesmerized as I walked Joseph alongside Mary on the plastic donkey from house to house asking each child, "May we stay here?" Each child dutifully replied, "No Room" in turn. The little 4 year old visitor sitting next to me was the last one to go. It seems that watching Mary and Joseph fact that much rejection (they HAD been all the way around the circle) was just too much for her tender heart. When "Joseph" looked up at her and asked, "May we stay here?" She, with much emotion aimed right at that 2" high figure, answered, "YES!"


I really hated to tell her the "right" answer. I liked her solution better, too.


He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— John 1:10-12

Friday, December 7, 2007

Anyone Can Cook This!

I've posted this recipe before, so I apologize. I just wanted to throw my wonderful, gourmet, oft-requested recipe in the ring for BooMama's Souptacular.

Seriously, this recipe is one of my most requested. (YES, people have requested my recipes, which never fails to amuse me.) Why? Because you can keep the ingredients in your pantry for those nights when you have absolutely no time to cook anything. You can make it without meat, so there is no thinking ahead or "Shoot! I forgot to get the meat out of the freezer this morning!" regret. This one was a really big hit among my co-workers when I worked full-time. I have literally had people call my house around 5:00pm asking about "my soup" because they had no time to do anything else for supper and remembered that I had this little winner up my sleeve.

Enough talking--thanks to my Aunt Lou for this recipe, although she did not write it.


Soup for a Group (otherwise known as 1-2-3 Soup)

3 cans your favorite brand Minestrone soup (I use Campbell's Select)
2 cans tomatoes (I use 1 can plain diced tomatoes and 1 can of Ro-Tel Milder because I HATE those big blobs of stewed tomatoes in my soup)
1 can Ranch Style Beans

Heat and serve. I am not kidding. Did I tell you it's easy? It tastes SO good, too. You can brown 1 pound of meat and toss it in too if you are way ahead of yourself that day.

Now head over to BooMama's place and get real recipes for real soup from real cooks. But keep this one up your sleeve just in case you need it!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Obviously, I've Been Holding Them Back

I normally read my daily blogs when the girls are otherwise engaged in something. Or asleep. But this morning I was sitting on the couch right in the middle of some good reading when they wandered in and declared they were hungry. So, being the great mom that I am, I declared that today Sweetheart was in charge of breakfast!

There. Crisis averted. Now I can finish what I am reading.

Sometimes the least-thought out plans are the best. Sweetheart was amazed!!! "I AM???? I'M IN CHARGE OF BREAKFAST?" "Wow. I've never been in charge of breakfast before. Mommy, I can't believe I can fix breakfast for me and Little Bit!" Little Bit, on the other hand burst into tears. It seems she wanted to be in charge of breakfast. So, I promised her that tomorrow she could be in charge.

Little Bit ran to get their aprons while Sweetheart went over to the refrigerator and looked up at the menu to see what was supposed to be for breakfast today. Oh, nice try honey. That's last week's menu. Mommy hasn't exactly made one for this week. But, I'm really glad she knew where to look (usually).

Sweetheart made frozen waffles for Little Bit like a pro. She got Pop-Tarts for herself. Not the most gourmet first try, but she was very proud of herself. And judging from their excitement over this task, I think I will be making a breakfast cookbook with ideas for easy, nutritious meal ideas that 4 and 8 year olds can make together. Complete with pictures.

So, I'm kind of glad I was lazy this morning so I could find out that my girls were ready to take on this new task (at least some of the time).

And yesterday, Little Bit had a lot of questions about when she grows up.
LB: When I'm a mommy, I still want to drink orange juice.
Me: You can.
LB: I can? How will I get orange juice?
Me: You will go buy it at the store.
LB: I get to pay???
Me: Yes, you will go to the store, pay for the juice, and drive home.
LB: Sweetheart!!! When we are mommies we can pay! And buy whatever we want at the store!!!!

I'm glad the thought of all these new responsibilities is so exciting for them!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Dear New Mom of the 6 Month Old, (OK, to myself 7 years ago)

I know you can't even BEGIN to imagine what parenting a toddler, or preschooler, or GASP! an elementary-aged student will be like. Frankly, when those sizes of children come around, you just kind of wish they wouldn't get so close to the baby. They are so big, and unruly, and full of germs. While your baby is so clean and sweet and doesn't go anywhere yet! (And you are glad, aren't you?) She is so dependent on you and every single day is so sweet. I know you are enjoying folding the laundry while she is content to sit in the middle of the pile of clothes and play. When you pay the bills, she sits in her high chair at the table with you and plays with the calculator. She takes long naps. Parenting is just so enjoyable!

And the closet? It's still half-full of baby shower gifts. Oh! I know you can't wait to see her wearing all those sweet outfits! Dressing her is so much fun. At the same time you are just a bit sad to see all that she has already out-grown. It seems to be going so fast!

Everything is still such a joy. How could you ever tire of bathing her? Of washing her clothes? Of boiling her toys? (THAT'S another topic!) Will you ever become one of those moms who constantly complains that her kids are driving her crazy? HOW?

May I just tell you this? When God made babies start out so small and helpless and sweet and dependent...He knew what He was doing. By the time she gets to be one of those big kids that you can't even picture--well, you are already so totally in love with her that you needn't worry. You are already hooked. And you will be more confident by then. You will work hard at learning to be a parent of whatever age child you have. And you will enjoy every new stage.

Oh, and another thing. In case you haven't figured this one out yet (I think you are probably starting to by now). The type of parent you are and the kind of life you give her will not be all that shapes her personality. She will soon be breaking out in personality that will have you asking, "Now where did she get THAT?" Yeah, they kind of come with personalities built in. You don't have as much control over that as you thought you did before she came along.

And the baths? They will get old. At some point you may even find yourself kneeling beside the tub, more wet than she, calculating just how many times you have done this task. And the number will be astronomical. Don't worry. The day will come when you realize you can walk away from the tub. She will get old enough to bathe herself one day. (But there will be a LOT of baths before then.) And the clothes? I know you can't believe this, but one day you will be just really happy that what she is wearing is clean and somewhat matches. And yes, you will even be fine if it is a hand-me-down. Trust me.

Enjoy her, new mom. These days are precious. BUT, don't dread her growing up because there is so much to look forward to. And when she is 8 and you are dreading the teen years? Tell yourself this again.

Love,

Yourself as a slightly more experienced parent



Friday, November 30, 2007

I've Been Waiting for the Weekend

I wanted to do this meme as soon as I saw it at Rachel's place. Here's the explanation she gave:

"This is a meme with picture answers. The plan is to google (image) your answer and then pick one of the pictures from the first page of results."

Sounds fun, right? I may change just a few questions because I don't feel like telling everyone where I live exactly. I have enough to deal with what with the papparazzi and all.

I am so funny.

1. What age will you be at your next birthday?










2. Where would you like to travel?









3. Where is your favorite place?









4. What are your favorite pasttimes?













5. What is your favorite food?






6. What is usually on your TV?









7. What is your favorite color?









8. Where do you live?










9. What is the name of a past pet?










10. What is your current pet's name?








11. What is your best friend's nickname?







12. What is your nickname?









13. What is your first name?















14. What is a bad habit you have?








15. What was your first job?









16. What was your favorite job?








17. What is your grandmother's name?














18. What was your college major?







Fun, huh? I had to wait until tonight because inserting all those pictures was TORTURE. But it was fun and what else do I have to do on a Friday night?
Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

When I Just Don't Get It

I just love those disciples of Jesus. They were so lost sometimes. I can just see them standing there, hearing Jesus' teaching or watching his actions, inwardly scratching their heads and wondering what on earth it meant. Whenever they got him alone, they would ask, "Explain this to us..." They were still figuring things out after he rose from the dead.

If the men who walked so closely with Jesus during his ministry didn't understand things sometimes, it makes me feel just a bit better. Sure, more things have been revealed these days and I do have the entirety of scripture before me....but still.

Matthew 16: 5-12 tells a story about a time when the disicples just didn't get it. Jesus warned them about "the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." They talked among themselves (can't you just see them kind of huddling up?) and decided Jesus was talking about how they had not brought any bread with them.

Bread? Jesus explains things to them, but you can hear the exasperation in his voice..."How is it you don't understand..."

Eek. I should understand WAY more than I do. I grew up in church. We own shelves of Bibles. How is it that I don't understand more?

How is it that I grew up not questioning more things? How is it that I made major decisions (marriage, birth control, jobs, etc.) without really digging into scripture? Heck, without even conslulting it? It isn't that I didn't think something like birth control was important...it's just that I never thought about it. Not once. I did what everyone else did.

I saw a mom rushing in from her medical job (she was wearing scrubs) today to pick up her baby from the daycare at our church. It was 5:00 and you can bet she hadn't seen her son since before breakfast that morning. And I was angry.

Not at her. She probably has to work. I am angry that so many of us just do what is expected and never even think there could be another way. Or that God is powerful enough to provide another way. Don't we think He WANTS us to follow His will? Then won't He make a way? Why do we just blindly follow the path laid out before us, shrug and say, "what can I do?"

Why don't we get it? Why don't I get it? I want to be bolder. I want to question everything. I want to ask God, "what do I do?" I am very tired of the path I have been on. It isn't about making all the right decisions. It's about knowing God. It's about understanding His word.

He promises:

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

I should have asked sooner. But don't you just love that word "generously"? He won't just get me enough for me to get by, or to improve on where I am. He will give it generously! So sometimes when I'm feeling all smug because I understand a section of scripture...then I read an entire paragraph on Pyromaniacs and understand NONE of the words (and they are in English) or an entire section of scripture and then say, "HUH?" And I realize I am not quite where I want to be.

Like I said, I should have maybe asked for this wisdom sooner. But I am no where near where I used to be. God indeed gives generously to all without finding fault. So even if you feel like you are spending most of your time scratching your head...there is hope.

That much I know.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Don't Expect This Too Often

I am going to tell you about a book I am reading. Why can you not expect this too often from me? Because I am not one of those blogs with a sidebar entitled "What's On My Nightstand." True, I do have a book list down there, but I flip back and forth between those books so much that the same ones just might stay there all year.

The thing is, I grew up reading in bed at night. At my childhood home, it was imperative that everyone have a lamp on their nightstand. My parents, sisters, all of us read something before we went to sleep. I continued that in college and thankfully, my roommate read her Bible every night so the light didn't bother her.

And then I got married. S didn't seem to mind at first. Then, while I was reading, I would hear a little noise. It sounded kind of like "phew." What was that? I looked over at my dear husband, whose eyes were closed, and saw that he was pretending to "blow out" the light on my nightstand.

He is just so funny, ya'll. Needless to say, he wanted me to read in the living room but everyone who reads in bed knows that is just no good. The point is to read until you are sleepy and then just roll over and go to sleep. (After blowing out the light!) And, as I have pointed out to him several times, it's dark if you close your eyes. He just doesn't see things my way.

So, it's taking me a while to get through this book. But not just because of not reading at night. It's because I keep having to re-read sections. My mind cannot absorb it all.

The book is Homemaking by J.R. Miller. (There's the pic right off of Amazon for you.) If you have read it, then you already know. If you have not, this post is for you. This book would be a great read for any Christian: husband, wife, older child, etc. It isn't about being a homemaker as we think of today. The title is decieving.

This book is about what a Christian home is all about. There is a chapter for wives, a chapter for husbands, one for children and lots of other topics about the workings of a Christian family. Or at least how the author believes God intended it to be. I have to say I have seen nothing to disagree with yet. In fact, I have spent most of the time thinking two things:

1. Wow. I never even thought about that before! and
2. Man! I wish I read this before I got married!!!!!

My daughters will read through this book with me before they are married, that much I know. I am so in awe of some of the sections, and the writing is so beautiful and rich (I have never read writing like this) that I am reading and re-reading sections over and over to really let my mind absorb what is being said. Every single thing I have read has been completely relevant to my life today. Why is that incredible? Because the book was first published in 1882. How can this book be about MY life if it was written 111 years before I got married?

Because God is unchanging, folks. So don't let the old picture on the cover fool you. I also thought, "Is this going to be one of those books that encourages us all to go back to Victorian times?" It's not. Don't worry. It's not. It will encourage you to go back to God's word and to re-think your own marriage and family and home life.

If that interests you, I strongly encourage you to read this book. There you go...the one and only book review this blog has ever done.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Keepin' It Real: I Am Quite the Chef!

This post from Anna made me reminisce about my early days as a cook. And I use that term VERY loosely. Although her post was serious (and I really enjoyed it) I couldn't help but remember with humor how I got my start.

What was my first clue that I was not a master chef? It was the unfortunate spaghetti incident of 1990.

My roommate and I decided to cook spaghetti for a bunch of friends of ours. We filled the pot with water, dumped the pasta in, and it was only a few minutes later that we smelled something odd coming from the kitchen. Quick, call dad! What? You're supposed to let the water boil before you throw in the pasta?

Oh.

And then there was the cornbread. My other roommate made the most awesome cornbread with sugar in it. The cornbread I grew up eating was not sweet. I LOVED her cornbread. So, one day while I was mixing up some cornbread batter before supper, I called out to her, "How much sugar do I add?"

She, thinking I was mixing up a pitcher of iced tea, answered back, "1 cup!" And so I added one cup to the cornbread batter.

What I pulled out of the oven a few minutes later can only be described as caramelized corn-blobs. They were truly something to behold. My roommate took my picture with them and oh how I wish I could post it. However, pictures from college are safely up in the attic and I don't do attics. I believe after a few minutes of chiseling the decision was made to toss the entire muffin pan as the two had become one for all time.

Those were my humble beginnings. But tonight? Tonight I got three compliments from my family on my "wonderful supper." And what did I serve?

Why bacon, scrambled eggs, and canned biscuits.

I know you are in awe of my culinary skills. And now it's your turn. Help us keep it real in the blogosphere: what is your best (or worst) cooking disaster? Do share!

***Edited to add: ACTUALLY, I am an award-winning cook. My casserole won first place at a church event and don't think I didn't display that little certificate on my refrigerator for at least 3 years because I did. And referred to it often. :)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Might Regret This Later

I haven't been Little Bit's Bible class teacher since she was in the babies class at church. So, she doesn't remember me ever teaching her. I taught Sweetheart when she was 2, 4, and for her whole 1st grade year. So, I feel that it is Little Bit's turn to have Mommy for a teacher. The kids who are Little Bit's age at church are just so different from Sweetheart's peers. And, the class is a mixture of 3 and 4 year olds. Very young 3 and 4 year olds. With a lot of boys.

I just might regret this decision.

It's just that I feel there is room for improvement in her Bible class. I don't think the expectations are high enough. So, instead of complaining...I'm teaching.

I feel responsible for my daughters' spiritual development. I cannot trust others to do it for me. I truly wish I could be in both daughters' Bible classes, but I haven't figured out how to be in 2 places at once. All I can do is make sure we do what we need to at home and treat Bible class as a bonus. And ask a lot of questions when class is over.

I will be resurrecting Squirmy the Worm for this class. I got the idea for Squirmy from one of my favorite sites, Danielle's Place. Squirmy was part of the Fruit of the Spirit lessons I taught Sweetheart's class her 4 year old year. He is made from a striped sock. I stood in our kitchen hot gluing him together one day while then 4 year old Sweetheart watched. That night in Bible class as I "talked" to Squirmy in front of an extremely attentive audience, Sweetheart looked up at me with eyes of wonder and asked, "Mommy, is he REAL?"

Puppets are magical!

I have to rearrange the classroom and redecorate it this week. It's been exactly the same for a little over a year. I'd like to get everything ready this week and send the message to my little friends that things are going to be different now.

Re-reading an old post about all this made me wonder if I'm crazy for volunteering for this, though.

But here I go anyway. Because I love my daughter.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Did You Feel the Earth Shift?

Yep. That was because I, ME, I actually bought and wrapped Christmas presents today. IN NOVEMBER.

Folks, this has never happened.

I will be just as curious as the girls come Christmas morning to find out what's in all those packages.

'Cause there is no way I will remember by then.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Cooking Progression

When we were first married, I was asked to bring a dessert to my husband's family holiday get together. S's cousin got married the same summer we did and his wife was also asked to bring a dessert. We were 22 and 19, respectively. I guess it could have been worse--they could have asked us to bring bread.

As I recall, his aunt's words were, "You can just pick up something sweet from the store if you like, honey."

And yes. I WAS insulted. I was no Rachael Ray, but I could fix a dessert for heaven's sake!!! As I recall, I spent hours searching for just the right recipe. There was no way I was going to show up with lame slice and bake sugar cookies on a plate or something. I made a jello poke cake (white cake w/red and green jello). It was splendid.

Each year I whipped myself into frenzy fixing more and more complicated desserts to impress the family. I even tackled these babies one year (not mine pictured). I was loads of fun the morning before that party, let me tell you.
A few years later, cousin's wife and I were asked to bring a vegetable. I told S, "OOOH! Guess who has been asked to bring a vegetable!" His blank stare told me he just didn't get it. There is a progression of holiday dinner expectations for a new wife. You start off bringing dessert (or heaven forbid, rolls) and as you age you are responsible for more and more and more until one day you wake up and realize YOU...you are in charge of the turkey!
Thankfully, that day has not come for me yet. I know some ladies who live far away from their families take this on at a much younger age. For now, my aunts' and parent's generation still take care of the big meat dishes and the dressing. We younger ones all bring vegetables, desserts, and yes, rolls.
I'm pretty happy where I am, to tell you the truth. And even though I'm in no hurry to get there, I still look forward to the day when all the younger family members will gather at our house and I will dole out the food bringing responsibilities to the new wives. Just thinking about S. and I being a PawPaw and Granny cracks me up to no end.
Whether you are on the dessert-bringing or turkey-cooking end of the family progression... enjoy the blessing of Thanksgiving with your loved ones!
See you in a few days!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Kids Can't Handle It?


Several years ago, I watched a special on TV called "The Making of Sesame Street" or "Behind the Scenes of Sesame Street" or something to that effect. I thought it was absolutely fascinating. There aren't too many things that my children and I both grew up with. This is one of them.

I used to tape Sesame Street for Sweetheart because we left the house too early for her to watch it at home in the mornings back when I was working. When Little Bit was small and Sweetheart was getting ready for Kindergarten each morning, we also watched it. I was glad she didn't feel "too big" to watch such a show. And, after all, it was good for her little sister.

Now I don't think there is any magic to the show. I think it is good. I understand that at the time it was created, it was way ahead of the game. Innovative. Fresh. I really enjoy finding out more about the beginnings of Sesame Street.

So this article was a hoot to me! It seems the original episodes are being released on DVD--for ADULTS ONLY!!! Seriously, they contain warnings for children. It seems that preschoolers in the year 2007 cannot handle Sesame Street as it orginally aired. Now I really, really want to see them!
Is this the same thing as fairy tales having happy endings? You know in the orginal version, the wolf ATE the pigs at each house, right? And that hunter who happened by Red Riding Hood's grandma's house? He SHOT the wolf. Dead. I just think it's ironic--when the world was supposedly a "safer" place to be, children knew harsh truths. Now that we cannot even let our children run out to the car to get something by themselves, we have protected them from all things mean, harsh, and even grouchy.

Very ironic, isn't it?

Monday, November 19, 2007

This Is About As Far Back As I Can Go

Thirty years ago? (This meme has been fun, by the way. You can also read about 10 years ago or 20 Years Ago if you like.)

Thirty years ago I was in first grade. My teacher's name was Miss Manuel and she had braces on her teeth. I remember her being nice. I went to Mrs. Fuller's class for reading and language arts. Our elementary school was all trendy back then and "open concept." I remember liking that as a child, but I don't think it was all that cool for the teachers. I went back to my elementary school my senior year of high school for an observation day. (I was in the future teacher's club and we could go observe one day in lieu of school.) I didn't even recognize the place because they had put walls up everywhere.

Our library was called the I.M.C. I believe that stood for "Instructional Media Center." I LOVED LOVED LOVED library day. We had whistle chairs we could sit in and I remember feeling so cramped that I could only check out one book. Later, when I was a teacher our students weren't even allowed to take books home! I remember catching a girl slipping her book in her backpack one day at dismissal time. Her eyes got huge when she knew I had seen her but I just winked. How can you say, "You may not read at home." Especially knowing that most of my students didn't really have books at their houses?

Anyway...the one thing I really, really remember about first grade was we made a 3-D map of our neighborhood for open house. Everyone saved their milk carton and covered it with constuction paper to make their house. Mine was yellow. Then we had to go over to the map on the floor and find our street to place the house in the right spot. Our school was made out of a shoebox. I totally did that activity with my 3rd graders. We invited the mayor of the little town I taught in to come see our work and he informed us we had city hall in the wrong place. Oops.

I had two big sisters, learned to roller skate that year, and loved school. But, first grade is not what it once was! The things I did in first grade my daughter pretty well covered in preschool and kindergarten. Also, every day on the playground was "boys chase girls day." I hated that!

Well, I have found it frightening that I can recall anything from 30 years ago--because that sounds like a really long time ago. My next posts will have to be more uplifting and youthful because now I feel just a bit old.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

More Nostalgia--Twenty Years Ago

If I thought ten years ago sounded like a long time ago...you should see me trying to remember 1987! I was a junior in high school. That was the same year that I started dating my husband, S. We had gone out one time our sophomore year of high school but it was totally a trick. He kind of said something along the lines of, "I was just wondering if you would be interested in going to see Christmas lights with some friends next weekend." To me, it sounded like a group of people were going to do something fun. We had known each other our whole lives--I probably figured the "friends" would be people we both knew. Then on Wednesday of that week he called me to confirm. As I hung up I think I said something like, "Uh oh. I think this is a date."

My mom was amused as I recall. My sisters were up in arms. We were not allowed to date in our house until we were 16. At the time of that first date, I was 2 weeks away from my 16th birthday. All week they kept referring to my "group outing." Since it couldn't possibly be a date.

"What are you going to wear to your group outing?" "What time is this group outing supposed to take place?" Sisters. And, as it turned out, it was a double date with his best friend and fiance'!!!!! He totally tricked me.

But that was in 1986. Soon S. and I would be dating full time. And we have been together ever since.

I also decided what I was going to major in and which college I would attend during the course of that year. I don't remember if I prayed about any of that. Or considered any alternatives. Or studied my Bible. I just did what I was supposed to do...finish high school, decide on a college, get a degree, and then a job. And THEN, I could get married. Yep. That was the plan.

So...dating, public high school, going away to college, getting a degree, deciding on a career, and delaying marriage until a "reasonable" age. All things I have been seriously thinking about my daughters NOT doing. Hmmm.

Life is ironic, isn't it?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ah, Nostalgia--Ten Years Ago

Katherine at Raising Five tagged me for this very fun meme. You can read hers here. She was all fancy-like and included pictures along with her post. While I would like to offer you the same high level of technology, our version of cut and paste around here literally involves scissors and glue. I'm kidding. I just don't have a scanner.

And because I have a short attention span on weekends, I am breaking this one up.

So, what was I doing 10 years ago???

Let's see. That was the year that I moved from teaching 3rd and 4th grade to teaching 1st grade. I was scared to death! But, I ended up LOVING 1st graders. I was also going through training for Reading Recovery. The classes lasted until 7:00 or 8:00 pm, but what did I have to do?

We lived in our first house. It was built in the 1950's and I really liked it. I just didn't like waking up to new graffiti on the business that our house was behind. Oh, and the Gang Task Force car parked outside of our house. Other than that, it was really nice. Lots of nice, retired people on our block.

If I remember correctly, that was the year that those sweet little retired people were NO HELP AT ALL! I came home from summer school at noon one day to find our gate was open. Great! Someone let our dog out! I was so relieved to see her waiting at the front door for me. When we got inside I noticed the back door was wide open and realized our house had been robbed. Where was our security of having all these people home during the day who went out and picked up sticks out of their yard several times a day watching our house? Later our across-the-street neighbor, the one who always brought us vegetables from his garden, told us he saw our dog running around the front of the house barking and trying to get in all the windows.

Um, do you usually see our dog doing that? Could we maybe call the police next time?

We were also trying to have children that year after being married for 4 years. In just one year we would be pregnant with Sweetheart. So I guess 1997 was just about our last year of being childless. I had no idea the joys before us! No idea. Why didn't we start sooner?

I spent every Thursday night that year parked in front of the television. I watched Friends, Seinfeld, ER, what else? The whole time I graded papers too. Every Thursday night. I think I pretty much only got up for restroom breaks.

Man, my life 10 years ago seems like a lifetime away!

Next time, just for my friend Kathy who loves it when I do "to be continued" posts, I will tell you about "20 Years Ago." Isn't nostalgia wonderful?

Friday, November 16, 2007

All's Well That Ends Well...

Through a series of unfortunate events, our girls are getting a play room. It's a good thing, I just wish it had come about in a different way. It seems a family member was in need and we cleaned out a room for them. And now they aren't coming. It's um, happened before so we knew better than to move the girls' rooms around this time. BOY am I glad we didn't.

The first room when you walk in our house is off to the right. At first it was a home office/junk room. Then, I made it into a classroom. Now it's completely cleaned out. (We homeschool at the kitchen table anyway, so no loss.) So we sound like this, "Mom, where's the tape?" "It's in the offii...classroo...the FRONT ROOM!" We had purchased louvered doors because there is no door on this extra-wide doorway. We are still going to install them because I don't expect a play room to stay all that nice and it IS the first room you see when you walk in our house.

I'm looking forward to gettting the big things out of their rooms. Little Bit has an entire "home center" set up in her room! Through gifts and give aways, we own a small table and chairs, a baby highchair, a play kitchen, an ironing board, and a crib. Whew!!!! And Sweetheart, who has handed most of that down to her sister, has a big dollhouse. Getting those things out of their rooms will make a big difference in how clean their rooms stay.

I hope.

So this weekend finds us rearranging our house. Again.

But it's going to be really great when we finally get done. And, I find that when the toys are in a more central location there is much less "that's mine!" and a whole lot more sharing.

And that's a good thing.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Learning As I Go

Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit, I didn't know there were only 8 planets in our solar system these days! Man, where have I been? Did you know Pluto has been kicked out? Yeah, you probably did. I guess this is what they mean by learning alongside your children.

Sweetheart wanted to study space this week (well, actually last week but that was the week Mommy stayed in bed every day). Talk about winging it! If it weren't for the internet what would I do? The space knowledge left over in my head is very sketchy and wouldn't have added much to her concepts, I'm afraid.

I'm also winging it through Thanksgiving. Little Bit has almost no concept of what Thanksgiving is all about (whether you mean the historical first one, or the concept of being thankful) so with her I'm starting from scratch. Sweetheart surely heard the historical part of Thanksgiving during her 3 years in school, but she doesn't really act like it. Yeah, they probably skipped over that like everything else. It was time for worksheet #34, probably.

I just love homeschooling. I suppose if our public school experience had been different, we would have never ended up where we are. I realize that not all schools are evil and horrible. And maybe if her private school was still open, she would still be there. But I do believe that the Lord directs our paths. It's especially obvious when you find yourself in a place you never dreamed of, doing things you never even wanted to do--and loving it!

I wonder what else God has planned for us to do that I now consider myself unqualified for? Hmmm.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Looking For The Right Hook


I read a great line last night in a book. I'm not going to quote it directly, but it basically said, "He had no hook to hang that thought on."

I love that!!! No hook to hang that thought on. I've been there, have you? The first time I heard someone wonder out loud if the church should be running a food pantry and clothing ministry I felt this way.

What do you mean? Of COURSE the church should feed the hungry and clothe the naked, etc. Haven't you read this passage?

But then my friend wondered aloud if that passage meant the church (as an organization) should coordinate and fund those efforts, or if the members of the church (in their personal lives) should do that. Oh. Hmm. Never thought about it.

After that, I had a new hook. It was called "Things the Church Should Do vs. Things I Should Do." I didn't have many thoughts to hang on that hook at first, but over the years I have hung other thoughts there. More topics have come to my attention than just the food pantry debate.

If I were discussing this subject with someone who had never thought about these things, they probably wouldn't have much to contribute to the conversation except knee-jerk thoughts (like I did) or confusion. Because, after all, they have nowhere to hang the thought. Other folks, who had themselves thought through such topics, would have more to share and probably new stuff for me to think about. Or at least hang up until I could get to it.

This is my concern with adult Bible classes that don't study the Bible. I've been to them in several different churches. Perhaps they are studying a book. Or perhaps they are studying a topic but the participants don't know exactly what part of the Bible they will be talking about that day. If you come to class that unprepared, what can you possibly contribute to the discussion?

Two things: a knee-jerk reaction to the question or a thought-out answer from one of your many hooks. Oh, you can also add in emotions and personal experiences. None of these are bad in and of themselves (well, except maybe that first one), but they don't lend themselves to much study of God's word.

So someone brought up the topic of why men aren't in church these days in our class this last Sunday. It was met with a bunch of blank stares (no hook--they had no hook!) and some emotional knee-jerk reactions ("That's not true!!!!") But there was no discussion. No one else in the room had anything to add to that topic, because it had never been thought about. Plus, hard topics are not really popular.

Isn't it just easier to say, "We are going to be studying this passage next Sunday. Please read and study it this week."? At least that way everyone in class would be on more level ground when they begin the discussion.

Sigh. Wouldn't that be nice?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Better Than a Post About Germs...

...is Elle's post at A Complete Thought. (Did you see how I copied her? I'm so clever.) Seriously, go read it now. It's good. Click here.

I'm Returning To My Former Ways

When I was a new mom I was hilarious. I see other new moms and I just have to smile. One of my friends at church recently dropped her newborn's pacifier and reached into her diaper bag, deftly grabbing a snack sized baggie with a sterile pacifier inside. I was like that.

At the hospital when Sweetheart was born my college roommate came to visit along with her husband (also a friend from college) and their 2 year old. Their little girl saw Sweetheart's pacifier and wanted hers. As we talked, her father pulled it out of his pocket, picked a piece of fuzz off of it, and handed it to her. They must have seen our horrified looks. We all cracked up laughing. Then they told us the progression we would soon follow when baby's pacifier was dropped.

Stage 1: Run to retrieve a sterile one.

Stage 2: Run it under REALLY hot water.

Stage 3: Run it under water.

Stage 4: Swish it around in your ice tea glass.

Stage 5: Pick off the fuzz and let them have it.

Oh I'm kidding. I would never contaminate my ice tea like that. It's just that we DO relax as we go.

But I'm returning to my former ways. Well, at least some of them. After 2 days of stomach bug, I got to thinking "Where could I have picked this up?" And then the disgusting VERY FUN pizza place we visited on Saturday came to mind. Why we didn't leave is beyond me. The place is huge and makes Chuck E. Cheese look like a local hardware store. This pizza place was converted from an old super WalMart. It's BIG. And it's only been open for 6 months! But it was so nasty on Saturday. If only I had been carrying a baggie of Clorox wipes like I used to have in the diaper bag.

We now have paper towels in the bathrooms instead of handtowels and I will be packing some Clorox products in my purse. No more relaxing about germs.

We have a birthday party this weekend people!!!! My baby is going to be 4 years old!

Gotta go detox the rest of the house.

Monday, November 5, 2007

In Praise of the Husband

My husband, to be exact. I am so thankful for him.

I had the opportunity to tell someone this weekend that we don't fight at our house. Have we never had a disagreement or made each other mad? Of course we have, but we don't just fight around here. In some homes there is a lot of yelling, cussing, storming off, slamming doors, and worse. I am thankful for a husband who does not fight. Our home is peaceful.

I am thankful for a husband who comes home and takes the little one into the other room for a talk about her behavior that day (when I called him at the end of my rope!) and she listened. Because Daddy doesn't yell and means every word he says. It is so nice to be on a team when it comes to parenting!

I am thankful for a husband who asks me before he makes big decisions. It's his call, but he asks and wants to know what I think. That's nice.

I am thankful for a husband who works hard. I've told you before, he has worked up to 3 jobs at a time! I know there are times at past jobs he wanted to tell someone off and walk away. He said if he had been single he would have. But he thought of us and kept working. He is a good provider and I am thankful for that. We can rely on him.

I am thankful for a husband who I can ask questions about the Bible to. And he'll study and answer them and discuss them with me. I truly believe some women would be farther along in their spiritual walk if they had a husband to ask when they got home. So, I am thankful for his spiritual leadership.

I can trust him. He takes care of us. He is loving. Hmmm. Sounds a whole lot like someone else I know.

I just know a lot of women who don't have this protection of a man who follows the Lord. And I know one whose wonderful, godly husband recently died. And I am just very, very thankful for the husband I have been blessed with.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Lookin' For Success in All The Wrong Places

When I first became a teacher around 14 years ago I was determined to be good at my job. I was fresh out of college and had all kinds of ideas for my classroom. I know KNOW I was not a perfect teacher (even years later), but I really enjoyed it and put a lot of energy and time into teaching. When I won the "Rookie of the Year" award for our school I was understandably proud.

What do you suppose things would be like today if I had put that much time and energy into my home? I'm not just talking about housework here either. (Seeing as how we had a tiny one bedroom apartment that if I got really serious took me all of 30 minutes to clean!) We did have sort of an odd start to our marriage with S. being stationed in California and me being in Texas for the first 6 months. I wanted to go to California with him so much but there was a real possibility his ship would leave for up to 6 months I would have been left alone in a state where I knew no one and more than likely would not have had a job either. Come to think of it, I kind of wish I had gone now. I can't believe we decided on being apart. It did give sort of a strange start to our marriage. So, 6 months later he came home and I was overjoyed. But was being "successful" at being his wife one of my goals?

Um, no. I spent more time than I care to recall at school working on stuff. I was career-minded, let me tell you. I was just a dedicated teacher and I had two other teacher friends who were newly married with no kids and we all just stayed late working on things for our classrooms. I was always home before S. was, but still---didn't I have anything to do at home?

Apparently not. At least I couldn't think of anything. My concept of being a wife was so non-existent. I didn't become a "wife" we had become a "married couple." So, I expected us to cook dinner together, do the shopping together, do everything together and enjoy it! I had no idea that men and women had different roles! No idea.

I remember reading about a friend of the author's in this book who said something about how she intended to be succesful at being her husband's wife! What if I had been determined to be a great wife for my husband from the beginning? I think things would be very different today.

I was so ingrained with lies in my thinking that it wasn't even funny. And we went to church every single Sunday and I heard nothing to counter what I was believing either. We have to teach our children the truth of God's word in ALL areas...or the world will teach it's truth instead. And the effects can go on for years.

We are fine now. I am finally understanding how this whole marriage and family and Christian household thing is supposed to work. I highly recommend reading the book Homemaking. It's not about keeping house, by the way, but about the Christian household in general. I have been completely amazed as I read that it is all applicable today even though it was written over 100 years ago. It's freaky. I guess the truths of God don't change?

I wish I could go back in time about 14 years and start over with my new understanding. (I wouldn't mind having my old figure back either!!!) But since that's not possible, I will just have to start where I am. I think this is what it means to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, by the way! And it's very good.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Looking Ahead Just a Bit

When I had a preschooler and a baby just a few years ago...this stuff could not have seemed farther in the future. But now that Sweetheart is a big 8 years old and Little Bit will be 4 next week...well, our family is changing a bit.

I've been thinking about having the talk about the body and all that involves with Sweetheart. It's not necessary yet, but it will come up VERY soon. Am I ready? Do I even know how to handle such a topic? It's going to open up a can of other topics too as she will surely begin to doubt her former theory that babies just spontaneously grow inside married women's tummies. She knows God makes them. She knows God opened and closed wombs in the Bible. She knows how they come out. It's just that she doesn't yet know that it, um, takes 2 to tango.

I read about this book earlier in the week. I want to see it in person, but it looks promising. I'm not even sure I want to use a book for this kind of stuff. I honestly don't know how people approach this stuff. A lot of my friends that I visit with often have children younger than mine. I do know that I want this information to come from us at home. And in a truthful, godly way.

And that led me to thinking about all the "rules" of our house in the future. When will they be allowed to shave? To wear make-up? To babysit? To go on "group outings" with mixed company? How will we handle the whole dating/not-dating/courtship/too much to even think about scene? I have to think about these things NOW. I cannot wait until they are upon us. (And yes, ALL of this will be discussed first and foremost with my husband. I'm just thinking out loud here.)

Can you tell I'm a little nervous? And I'm also a little miffed that I need to think about some of this right now. She's 8 for crying out loud!!!! Do girls really start shaving at age 9? Do they really wear make-up at 10? Do they really start liking boys and thinking about that all the time at 11? Is this what I want for my girls? Is there another way? Or am I kidding myself?
I mean, do I HAVE to have a tween? Or even a teenager for that matter? Didn't I read somewhere that "teenager" is a relatively new term? Back in the olden days you went from girlhood to young lady. Why can't we have that at our house? I need to read up more on that.

I'm not talking about forcing them to stay young and innocent and naive. I'm just talking about not accepting the world's standards (as usual-I'm second guessing everything lately!) or even the way other Christian families at my church handle things. I want to please the Lord in this area and study what His word has to say. I don't even know where to begin.

OK, my bloggy friends with older girls. I need some help here. Resources? Advice? Thoughts? You can comment or e-mail me!
Thanks so much. I'm done fretting now.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Family That Plays Together...

S. has been playing golf seriously for a bit over a year. This is a relatively new sport in our household, although it's the sport I grew up with. Walk through our living room any evening and chances are the Golf Channel will be on. (At my Dad's house too!)

S. grew up playing football. He was 5 when he started and his mom had photo albums full of all the times he was in the paper growing up. He was quite good, apparently. He played football until his junior year of high school when he switched to basketball. That's when we started dating. We played basketball on dates, I watched him play basketball. He was quite good.

He never played baseball in his life but when he joined the church softball team one year, he had very little trouble picking up the game. Sports just seem to come easy to him. And that's why golf is giving him a little bit of grief. You see, he isn't in the percentage he wants to be.

What? Let me fill you in on my husband's percentage theory.

See, S. grew up fishing. His step-dad would take him salt water fishing on the piers all the time growing up. He also had 2 best friends who fished all the time with him. Come to think of it, when we weren't playing or watching basketball while dating, we were probably fishing. But that's a post for another day! Anyway, when it comes to fishing he just plain knows what he's doing. Whenever some tourist comes down to the pier with a way too big rod and reel and a shiny new tackle box you can just see S. shaking his head inside. So sad. Poor old 90 percenter. You see, 90% of the people don't know what they are doing when it comes to fishing. And the other 10% do. Can you guess which group S. believes he belongs to?

But he's been frustrated about golf. I finally figured out why.

"You're a 90 percenter when it comes to golf aren't you? And it's killing you!" He had to admit it was true. He cracks me up.


It probably doesn't help that he takes Sweetheart with him to the driving range with her new pink junior golf clubs and watches her hit an entire large bucket of balls straight as an arrow.

And she might not even appear to think about what she is doing. And it's also been reported she might twirl around in a circle after she swings just for fun. And yet? Her balls go straight every time.

That might add to the frustration, don't you think?

And the priceless part was the way she picked up a Golf Digest when they got home and sat down to peruse it, serious as she could be.
Happiness is not knowing what percentage you are in!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Waking Up in the Mission Field

My husband and I have always talked about being missionaries one day. When we were in high school we had the opportunity to see one of the Mercy Ships. That night we talked about how one day we would be missionaries together. S's mom had always told him that she thought he was destined for such a thing. Fine with me. I was just excited he included me in those plans! Ah, young love.

We still bring up the subject now and then. We have put off thinking about the whole thing whenever I was pregnant. We have decided to wait until they were older. We have thought about short-term mission work we could do with the kids. We know missionaries. We know former missionaries. We know people who grew up in missionary families. It's still in our plans for one day in the future.

When we bought our first house 2 years into marriage, I dreamt of raising our family there. We did end up moving into a nicer and newer house when I was pregnant with Sweetheart. So, then I pictured having teenagers in that house. I pictured hanging their graduation pictures on the wall at that house. I pictured them coming home from college to that house. I was set. We had a house and we would raise our family and gather belongings and everything would be great and comfortable.

Flash forward 7 years and find me packing again to move into this slightly smaller, much older house. I could care less what our house is like as long as I can make it into a nice home for my family. After all, one day we may be living in a hut in Africa!!! And? I will make that hut a wonderful home for my family. Being a homemaker doesn't mean buying a house and living the American dream. Being a homemaker means I can make a home for my family no matter where we find ourselves.

In line with that kind of thinking, I worked hard to downsize our belongings when we moved here. We can't just live and keep collecting stuff that we have to move and pack and take care of the rest of our lives! We need to be ready to serve the Lord. How can we be ready to go do His will if we are tied down to a house and stuff and debt, etc? Good thoughts. (In fact I think after living here 1 year it is time to de-clutter again!) I am absolutely convinced that going to do God's will is going to be an exciting time in our lives!

But what about when God says, "Stay"?

So we find ourselves in a mission field right now. Where we live, where we work, where we attend church---we are being called to serve. Right now. It isn't foreign. It isn't all that exotic. It isn't far away. Can this really be missionary work?

But we find ourselves in a position where we know some people who go to church but are not disciples. Some people who have heard the name of the Lord, but whose lives have not been changed or transformed. And some people that we would actually not choose to have our children spend time with. And in those respects, this is exactly like missionary work.

So my home....this home...for however long we live here, must be ready to serve the Lord. I must be ready to have people over. I must be ready to cook meals. I must be ready to share what we have. I must be ready for...things I cannot even imagine. I really can't.

Because I don't know what this "local missionary" thing looks like. But it sure feels nice to know we have the opportunity to serve the Lord RIGHT NOW and not sometime in the FUTURE. Instead of planning and dreaming of what might happen one day, we find ourselves here...right now.

May God use this family for His glory.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

In Training...

Raising these daughters of ours is an on-going process. We are out of the diapers stage. We are all self-feeding (just working on the manners part). Everyone, for the most part, sleeps through the night. When I look back to just a few years ago it is amazing how independent everyone has become.

But I am not NEARLY finished raising them. They are very young and need guidance and constant watching. We have been involved with a homeschool play group this year and I have been SO impressed with the children's behavior. It is a very mixed group with children ranging from 1 month old to 18 years old. The first week we were there, the two oldest children arranged games for the other kids to play. I watched in amazement as older children stopped and helped younger ones tie shoes, as they all stopped playing to see if my daughter was OK when she fell, and just generally took care of each other. All the teenagers were involved with what the other children were doing, instead of hanging around the adults or sulking around in the corner that they even had to be there. MUCH different than what I'm used to seeing! I complimented one of the moms and she was quick to say, "Oh, our kids can be like any others. Just wait and see!"

Well, a few weeks later I am still impressed. However, last week a whole bunch of children were playing outside unsupervised. Sweetheart had been instructed, "Stay inside the fenced area." I went out and couldn't find her. When I finally did, I saw that they were pulling limbs off of trees and having a big "girls against boys war." It wasn't anything big, but they were all in areas they probably weren't supposed to be in, climbing on things they shouldn't be climbing on, hitting harder than they should have been, and tearing up young trees that did not belong to them. Supervised...none of that would have happened. I know it could have been much worse, but it just made me think that unsupervised, all children can start down wrong paths.

I'm not just homeschooling. I'm not just staying home with my kids. I'm not just keeping house. Every minute that they are awake I am training them. As a Christian, I understand the concept of training. The Bible talks about it. I have read excellent material on it. I am learning how to do it better every day. And it's not too hard to find examples of poor training if you look around.

This morning I watched a clip on the Duggar family. You can see the clip at A Wise Woman Builds Her House. Meredith Vieira of The Today Show is interviewing the Duggars in New York when she asks their oldest son, Joshua, a question. He gives his mom credit for training them well. "Training?" Meredith Vieira stammers. At the end of the interview, she compliments them saying, "You have trained them well."

The concept of training is strange to the world. I have heard all the "what do you think they are, dogs?" comments before. But the effect of good, godly training are obvious and it's hard to deny that it's good. Very good. All the years of training your children will pay off with the good fruit their lives produce.

And how can you train them if you are not with them? Just a question.

So, I will log off now because mine are awake. Have a great day!

Monday, October 22, 2007

October Has Been So Much Fun!!!!

We started the month off by going to "the trailer." When we tore my grandmother's house down several years after she died, my parents bought a 2 bedroom trailer and parked it right where my Nanny's house had been. My aunts and cousins live in the same town and I have always greatly enjoyed going to visit. Now, even though they don't have grandparents who live out of town, my girls get the pleasure of visiting this same small town and staying at "the trailer." (When they tell people where we are going, we feel very classy. Why didn't we start off calling it "their country home"?)
The week we were up there, we happened to be studying cowboys. My parents added so much to our school fun! We made stick horses for the girls one afternoon and then my dad was in there making gauntlets and spurs and all sorts of things for them. Here are some shots of our cowboy cookout one night.


My mom and Sweetheart enjoying hamburgers and baked beans.


And Little Bit enjoying her cowboy supper.



While we were there, my cousin called and asked if the girls would enjoy helping her feed some baby goats. Would they?


Sweetheart loved every minute of this. Little Bit was a bit more unsure of these unpredictable baby goats. And there were dogs. And rusty things. And dirt. So naturally she was a bit uncomfortable. Have I mentioned she likes order and cleanliness?

And when we got home it was homeschool day at a local very fun museum type place. The tickets were cheap and we had a great time! Here are the girls enjoying our picnic. YES, that is a retention ditch behind them. There was a nice picnic area, but it was very far from our car and S wasn't there to carry the cooler and I saw other famlies doing this right by the parking lot, so we just followed suit.

Then we went on a little tram ride they offered. I wanted to capture the moment so I took a picture of the girls. Hey, wait a minute! I'm not going to be in any of these pictures. Sweetheart, will you take a picture of Little Bit and me?

Thanks!





Oh, now Little Bit wants to take one. OK--do you see Mommy and Sissy in that little screen? You do? OK, push the button!





And then a very kind girl behind us offered to take our picture.






Later, Sweetheart officially became a Brownie!


Last weekend, we attended a local pumpkin patch/fun type thing at a church nearby. Here is Grandma and the girls.

So far, this has been a really fun month! I never would have guessed how much time there would be to do fun things and still learn (maybe more than if they were in school!). I am a huge fan of homeschooling now. It feels like we are finally a family and our house is really a home instead of just a pit stop where we land each night.