Friday, June 29, 2007

Tales of a Drop-Out

By the way, I did graduate from high school. That's not the kind of dropping out I'm really thinking about today. I am ready to drop out of activities that have been planned for me.

Let me explain. Tonight we have an event at church. It will be fun. The kids will really enjoy it. A lot of people have worked really hard to make it come together. And do I want to go? No.

Why? I'm tired. I've been involved with so much for so long that I just am having trouble caring. No, I still care. So that's not exactly what I mean. Let me explain another way. We had a ministry meeting at church last week. I told my husband we should go. He did not agree that we NEEDED to go, but said I was welcome to go if I wanted to. But the girls were sick and we really did need to just come home after church and rest. We had other things to do that day. But I felt guilty. Guilty, because this was a ministry I worked hard in just a few years ago. How do I just not go? What if I don't go and the conversation turns to things I don't agree with and I'm not there to put in my 2 cents worth? What if I don't go and then I'm out of the loop for the next few months? What if I don't go and people talk about me behind my back because I "didn't care enough to show up"? All these thoughts! They are just panic from doing something I'm not used to--NOT GOING.

All my life I've been there. Whatever it was going on, we were there and we were 20 minutes early to boot. My dad was an Elder. My mom was the church secretary. My parents were coordinators of the preschool department when I was little. We. Were. Always. There. Then I got married and we are still always there. That's OK. I love church. I love our church. It's our family. We work with the youth group. Our girls have friends there. Our friends are there. We want to work for the Lord. This really isn't about church.

It's about my family. I have a wonderful husband and 2 little girls. We have a home. I like our home. I like when we are all together. I'm tired of running. Tired of signing up to volunteer. Tired of bringing food to events. Tired

I want our family to decide for ourselves what we want to do each week. Folks, I have tasted the freedom of homeschooling and I WANT MORE! :) Well, maybe it's just my mood today. Some would say it is selfish, this wanting to just spend time with my family. But I say, this is me learning to say "no" to outside commitments...and learning that is very good.

My husband has been a huge encouragement to me. He's the one who told me it was OK to not teach Bible class. To not volunteer in the nursery. To not sign up for this committee or that function. I was not so sure. How would it get done? Who would do it, if not me?

Guess what? It got done. Someone else took a turn. And it was OK. Really, it was. Besides, he told me he really needed my help in the youth ministry. Hey, isn't that my job anyway, to be his helper? So now I help him. And we work as a team. That, along with taking care of my family and home, is plenty to do.

There is a reason why God put husbands in charge of the family. I'm glad I've finally learned to listen to mine. Because I am "dropping out" of all the things I used to be involved in...I hope I will be a greater blessing to my husband.

A wife of noble character is her husband's crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones. (Proverbs 12:4)

A Quick Thank You

I was just so happy this morning when I saw that I had been given a Thinking Blogger Award! Thank you to Melissa over at From Melissa's Desk for nominating me. What a blessing. I am always in awe of the "funny bloggers" and even though I may be funny enough in person--that's just not what my blog is about. Starting to blog was the best thing I ever did because I had SO much to say! I felt my head unclog when I started. It helps to have a place to sort out all my deep thoughts and crazy ideas. And if one person is encouraged by that--then I am glad. So, getting an award for making people think is a pretty nice thing indeed. Thanks Melissa!
(My 5 tags will have to wait for a bit more quiet around here so I can....well, THINK!)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

With The End Result in Mind...

We met with our first opposition to homeschooling this last week. Me, through an ugly comment left on my blog. My husband, through a conversation with a friend at church. The friend explained all of his reasons for why he thinks it's not good and husband explained the reasons why we think it is. (Interestingly, they were the same arguments!) I read that this would happen. It still surprises me.

Let me say this: we are NOT homeschooling because of academics. Sure, I think it will be good to move at the pace of my children (whether that be slower or faster) and to have more of a say in what they learn. Overall, my daughter was doing fine in school this last year, but there were times I wish she didn't have to do certain things over and over and other times I wish she had more time to grasp a concept before moving on. (Oh, you made an F on that test. OK, time for the next week's lesson...) Even if I were a fan of public schools, I would still see merit in homeschooling.

One of the major reasons we have chosen to do this is that we want to train our children in godly ways. Yes, I think parents can still train their children even if their kids are in school. However, for us, it wasn't working. I don't find the 4 or 5 hours in the afternoons/evenings to be enough time to spend together. Plus, I find the opposing influences to be too great of an obstacle. Here at home we have time to spend on those activities which we feel are the most beneficial to our girls rather than following the school calendar and fixing our family life around whatever time is left over.

What I want is this: 2 young adult women who know how to sew, cook, take care of a house, be responsible, read their Bibles, are devoted to the Lord, prepared for being a wife and mother, feminine, submissive to their father, helpful, gracious, compassionate, hard-working, kind, etc. etc. etc. I could go on all day.

I have slightly high goals in mind.

The point is, I have thought about how I want them to turn out. I have thought about how I do NOT want them to turn out. And the time between now and those 2 young adult ladies seems very short sometimes. Too short to spend my time sending them off to be taught, influenced, and trained by someone else.

So we are homeschooling. And I expect there to be many more people who disagree. Some people will do so quietly, watching all the while to see that our girls will turn out badly. Complete social misfits. Totally unprepared for the "real world." I know there are people waiting for that. I know because I used to say the same thing about homeschoolers. The truth is, my husband and I know several families who have homeschooled and are finished. Their kids are all grown. And they are wonderful. I would be proud to have my children turn out so well. It may not be the common denominator of homeschooling that did it either. Maybe those parents had also thought far into the future about how they wanted their kids to turn out and they might have turned out wonderfully even if they had attended public schools their whole life. Goodness knows there have been some wonderful children come out of public schools. So I don't think it's necessarily homeschooling that automatically turns out great kids. Far from it.

We are devoting our lives to God. Training our children in His ways is part of that. We will pray to God every day to help us as we raise these children for him. Our guidebook will be His Holy Word. We are not perfect, but God is. Our children are not exceptional, but they have been blessed. With God's help only, we expect the end result to be a good one.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What, Wisdom Isn't Enough For You?

So, I've been wondering how to incorporate God's Word into our homeschooling days. I want to make the Bible a huge part of our curriculum because, as I've read over and over, if your kids know everything in the world, but don't know the Lord, what good have you done? (And various other thoughts to that effect.)

After my brainstorm the other day where it all started to come together, I heard about Pictures From Proverbs from Restoring the Years. I was intrigued. Start with Proverbs? I had never thought of that. I'm used to thinking in terms of "Bible stories." Of course I thought we'd read a Proverb every day, but I never thought much about teaching with them.

So with that information rolling around in my head, I then stumbled on this post from A Complete Thought. The article she references was about a father and daughter who lived for 4 years in the forest. The father had homeschooled the girl the entire time using nothing but a Bible and an old set of encyclopedias. I encourage you to read the whole article. What really struck me was how little it really matters what curriculum I use and how much it matters how I approach everything. And also, how wonderful the Bible is!

I once knew a teacher who I really respected because she had so much training in early literacy. She would pull students out of my classroom who could not even read their name and they would come back reading in a few short months. She worked, as I did for a time, with the lowest of the low. I worked for a whole week with one first grader on JUST HIS NAME. But, by golly, he knew it when we got through! You would probably be surprised at how unprepared some children are when they walk into school and the teachers have the total responsibility of getting them on grade level by the end of May. Incredible. BUT THE POINT...(sorry) is that she told me one time, "I can teach children to read. All I need to do it is paper, a marker, and some stickers." For all her training, she knew what it all boiled down to.

I think the same is true of homeschooling. The bells and whistles are wonderful. But if I only had a Bible and some old encyclopedias, would my daughter learn? Of course she would.

The author of the article, Kevin Swanson, talked about using the Bible for instruction. And where did he end up? In Proverbs. Here's what he had to say,

"Immediately, you will discover that an entire book of the Bible, the book of the Proverbs is dedicated to the subject of education. This entire book chronicles a father's training of his son, with the exception of the last chapter - mom's instructions to her son."
Interesting. So now that I have been hit over the head with PROVERBS at least 3 times over the last few days...I'm thinking God must want me to think about starting with Proverbs in our homeschool. What do you think?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Easing Into Homeschooling

I understand the concept of de-schooling as it pertains to giving kids a break from all things school-like. However, when you have a child like mine, who LOVED school, it's not quite as necessary. Still, I thought that the summer would give enough of a break. While there are some things she did not like about school, Sweetheart is pretty much like me: she breaks out in a cold sweat in the school supply aisle.

In fact, she's been asking to start school ever since I told her about it. I told her we would do some lessons this summer-but school doesn't start until August. Enter: the A Beka Art Book! At the private school she attended last year they never touched their art books and since the parents had purchased them, they got sent home at the end of the year. Perfect! I bought the 3 year old version for Little Bit and we were in business. Almost every day we have sat down at the kitchen table with our art books and done a project together. It's easy. It's fun. And they are getting used to me working with both of them at the same time (patience!). Little Bit is learning to follow the directions and that she doesn't do everything her sister does. Sweetheart and I are having a good time together, unlike homework sessions during the school year. I think it's a great way to ease into all this.

I also throw a science, social studies, or Bible lesson in every now and then. We are working on our summer schedule of eating at regular times, doing chores, rest time at the same time each day, etc. By the time school starts the need for a stricter schedule shouldn't come as such a shock. I still have a hard time picturing how all this will work, but these little steps we are taking sure help.

Oh, and being home? It's the best! I can take care of my husband, our children, and our home. Not just in my spare time either. It's my main job! It's so nice to wake up knowing that I will be able to take care of the things that need to be done that day. And my girls have become playmates! I'm not saying they don't ever fight, but I have seen them getting along so much better now that we are all home together during the day. Little Bit walks in the room several times a week and says, "Sissy, we friends?"

I think I like the way the Lord laid out all these plans for the family (husband as the head, wife as the helper and keeper at home, children learning from their parents as they go through the day...). What a difference from our life 4 years ago!!!

Monday, June 25, 2007

It's Starting To Make Sense

I have been trying to get a handle on how to do Bible when we are homeschooling. It's not that I really want a curriculum per se, it's just that I need some guidance. Where do I start? How do I teach a Bible lesson that's appropriate for both a 7 year old and a 3 year old? Do we do an activity or craft with each lesson? Or do we just, you know, read it? How is our "homeschool Bible time" different from that which we would do as a family (like a family devotional)?

Obviously this is new territory for me.

This morning I laid the girls' chorepacks on the table while they were eating breakfast. Sharp as they are, they knew what that meant and the whining commenced. I first pointed out to Sweetheart that Little Bit is actually learning to whine about these from her. First lesson. Then I started letting them know that I could make the chores harder if they liked or would they like to keep them the same as they are now. Threats. And then it hit me...what about God's Word?

So while we ate breakfast I looked up 2 verses and read them aloud. Here they are:

Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. Proverbs 10:4


She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. Proverbs 31:17

I gave a quick explanation of these two verses and answered all of Sweetheart's questions about what certain words meant. That's all. Her attitude changed immediately and she ran off to do her chores. Hmmm.

Now this only works because the Bible means something to her. So, now I understand how God's Word can be used for instruction without any formal preparation at all. I need to use it as we go through the day. I may not always stop and look up the verse. I can send her to look up a verse. I can just tell her "the Bible says..." or I can say, "This reminds me of a Bible story." This will make the Bible a relevant part of her day. Man! I could never do this as well if she were at school all day!

But I still need to get a grasp on how to start our day with Bible learning. The kind where we sit down together and open the Bible. I'm still working on that one, but at least this is all starting to make sense. Anyone have some suggestions for me?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

What I Want

Before we were parents, we used to sit around and discuss different parents/children that we knew. We liked to talk about all the things we would NEVER do when we were parents and how we would have handled a certain situation and what do you think of...? You get the idea.

I think those were important coversations for us to have. It helped us know how the other felt about parenting issues before they ever came up. Learning from others' mistakes also helped us avoid some when we finally became parents. (And also let us eat our words later!)

In fact I still learn a lot from those I see around me. Most of the time, I learn from people who are doing things I DON'T want to do. (Note to self: Do not ever let young one hit me or cuss at me.) But sometimes I see families I want to pay attention to.

A few weeks ago at a restaurant we saw a family eating at a table near us. From what I could tell, it was 2 parents and 2 teens. The teens were talking nicely with their parents, sitting up straight and engaged in coversation with their family. Not at all like other families I've seen where the teens are slumped down in their chair, making no eye contact and the whole family was basically ignoring each other. I pointed this family out to my husband and asked him, "How do you raise kids to be like that when they are teenagers? Because that's how I want our family to look later."

Now, admittedly, the teenage years are a bit far off for us. I've said this before, but I heard the question posed once, "What does an 18 year old disciple of Christ look like?" I think you really have to look ahead in your parenting. If you aim at nothing you'll hit it every time and all that jazz. This applies when they are newborn and you are watching a preschooler pitch a fit. (Now what will I do in that situation?) It also applies when you have young ones and you are looking ahead at the teenage years. (How do we turn out teenagers who act this way and not that way?) Of course we can't MAKE our children turn out the way we picture it. But having a vision of what you are aiming for is vital.

So I find myself looking around for families a little farther down life's road than us. Families that I would like to learn from. Once I have it figured out what I'm looking to achieve, then I have to figure out how to get there.

Let's take dress code for example. If you've been out of your house in the last month you have probably seen all manner of dress that you would deem inapropriate. Maybe, like me, you think "I will never let my daughters dress like that!" But how does that happen? Do I just argue with them about every single thing they want to wear until we reach an agreement and then repeat that behavior until they move out and dress however they want? No. Instead I make the choices for them right now. Things that don't make the cut are not even put in the closet. Looking down the road has caused me to say, "Even though this looks cute on a 3 year old, will this type of outfit still be OK when she is 16?" If the answer is no, then the 3 year old doesn't wear it either. But that's not all. I also have to teach my daughters WHY we dress the way we do. I have to show them in scripture what pleases the Lord in this area. I will pray about it with them. We will discuss attire and how it affects others. I will model appropriate dress for them. See? Getting them where I want them to be when they are teens takes work. And a plan. It doesn't just happen.

That is why the thing I am going to start praying for my daughters (future teens) is wisdom. I have learned some exciting things about wisdom. Do you know how it starts?

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. Psalm 110:10

So first, they must have a healthy fear of the Lord. There's my starting point.

And do you know what comes from wisdom?

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:13

So humility comes from wisdom? I want humble children. Shoot, I want humility myself! I guess I should really start by praying for wisdom for us, the parents! And here's the REALLY good news...

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

Isn't God good?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Homeschool Tips Treat

I learned from Melissa about a Homeschool Tips event over at Pass the Torch. I can't actually participate in this event as we haven't really started homeschooling yet. But any of you who are veterans (meaning you have any experience at all!) please POST YOUR TIPS and then pop over to Pass the Torch and sign up on her Mr. Linky. We rookies really, really need you! Also, don't forget to visit the other links. From what I understand, even if you are a veteran, there is always more to be learned.
I can't wait to go read all the homeschooling goodness and advice!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I Am Blessed

Some days I feel pretty smug about myself. Maybe I paid all the bills early AND had stamps on hand to mail them with. Maybe I thought of a wonderful craft project for my daughters to do and we all enjoyed a great time together at the table working and laughing together. Perhaps I had my husband's clothes all washed, ironed, and ready to wear for the entire week. Or, maybe I had a streak of 4-5 days with great meals cooked.

Sometimes I am on top of things.

But today is not one of those days. Today I am reminded how pitifully short I fall. I am aware of how much grace and forgiveness I need. I am not "Wonder Wife." I am not "Super Mom." Not even close.

I am very thankful to God today that He would care about me. That He would forgive me and offer me grace. I know I don't deserve it. To think that God would send His Son to die for is overwhelming.

To think that my husband would choose me and love me. I am very thankful for him. I have done nothing to deserve such a great husband.

To think that my children want to hug me when they walk through the room. They are precious gifts.

I deserve nothing, but I have been given God's love.

Thank you, Lord, for your love. Thank you for my husband and daughters. They mean the world to me. Please help me to show how much I love them every day. Please help me to be the wife and mother you want me to be. I need your help. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

And Then They Fall Asleep

It was not an extremely good day around here, in spite of the humor in my previous post. It's not a good sign when your husband walks in from work, stops, and says, "What's wrong with everybody?"

I have an earache and this afternoon it was really hurting. Little Bit tried every bit of patience right out of me today. I was completely out of ideas by the time my husband got home. Mr. Technician was here ALL DAY. I didn't have time to go to the grocery store so we had nothing for dinner. I actually asked for prayer tonight during Bible class. For what? For parenting that 3 year old of ours. Some things just call for more prayer than others.

But just now I turned around and there on the couch I saw this:

Now I know this picture doesn't do for you what it does for me because it's my baby. But if you are a mother, you understand. God, in His wisdom, makes room in a mother's heart for moments like this.

No matter how frustrating. No matter how trying. No matter how absolutely crazy she can make me...

I love her so much I can hardly stand it sometimes.

And I can see her asleep at night before I go to bed and know that tomorrow I will wake up ready for a new day with her. I will go to sleep thankful for her. I will be delighted to see her in the morning.

She is my baby and I love her.
And tomorrow is a new day.

The Open Door Policy Is Not Working For Me

Today we are getting a home security system installed in our "new" house. Since my husband's new job requires that he travel some, I decided I would feel better with an alarm. I really can't believe this near 40 year old house has never had one installed. So, the home security technician has been here all day working on that.

I just have to say that I'm very glad that, on a daily basis, other strangers don't have this kind of access to our homelife. I'm pretty sure the girls have remembered to close the bathroom door today. At least that's a first! They have been known to go use the restoom--wide open--with company in the next room.

That's not really the kind of access I was talking about though. This poor guy is getting first-row seats in the house of crazy. Little Bit, who may or may not make it to her 4th birthday depending on how this afternoon goes, has been in rare form. She has pinched, hit, smacked, and wiped boogers on her sister today. That was all in the hour leading up to lunch, by the way. Actually, it's more than just wiping the boogers. It's that she says, "I have a surprise for you, Sissy" and then when Sissy holds out her hand, she is delivered the goods, so to speak.

I know Mr. Technician appreciates all the background noise, too. Specifically, Bear in the Big Blue House singing about going on the potty chair. That's music to motivate someone to hurry up and get the job done if ever there was any. Well, not THAT kind of job--you knew what I meant!

And then there's the gawking. Sweetheart inherited a strong nosy gene from somewhere in the family. If she could get away with putting her head under his arm while he worked--she would. The closer the view, the better. She spent the first few hours this morning following him around like a member of the paparazzi. It's all just fascinating! And of course, she has 20 questions per minute too. I KNOW Mr. Technician has gotten a kick out of my terribly scientific explanations about what he is doing. To his credit, he has not laughed.

"Walkways" are obviously a new concept to my children. The layout of our house is such that you have very few choices about where to step when going through a room. I've asked the girls to not play or lay or sit in the walkways because the man needs room to walk! It's like I'm speaking French to them! Each time I ask them to move out of the walkway they look all around the floor where they are. I assume they are looking for these elusive "walkways" Mommy keeps harping about. Someone really should have color-coded the floor for them, I guess. I don't think we are communicating.

And speaking of communication...because I don't want to argue in front of a total stranger, I have found myself resorting to that silent Mommy language. This is usually reserved for situations when you cannot speak such as church, funeral homes, crowded restaurants, or anytime your child is across the room from you in a large gathering. Most of the talking is done with big eyes, a very tightly drawn mouth, and frantic gesturing. Oh, there also seems to be hissing involved. And they understand perfectly. (I love seeing other moms make these expresssions across the auditorium at church. It's so funny.)

In a few hours he will be through and we can go back to the smooth operation of our daily lives. It's tiring being on your best behavior like this. I could never be a celebrity.

Monday, June 18, 2007

No Bells. No Whistles.

Whenever we used to visit my grandmother's house when I was growing up, we always drove her to church on Sundays. There was a church in town that someone would drive her to most weeks, but if my family was there we all went to the one in the country. She preferred it.
This church was a very simple, white, square-shaped building. You walked up 3 steps, through the double doors, up the center aisle and sat down in a pew. (Avoiding, of course, any pews with fans, Bibles or pillows on the seat, or wooden step-thingies on the floor. Because that would have meant taking someone's usual spot.) Some time after the building had been built, they had added some narrow classrooms on the side of the auditorium. I suspect it used to be a hallway.
I have fond memories of going to that church. The wooden floor creaked. The people were all old and friendly. And the singing was good and loud and off-key. (Hey, it says make a joyful noise unto the Lord--and that they did!) Everyone was always SO glad to see our family visiting and they always asked my dad to lead a prayer while he was there.

It would absolutely make some people cringe to have to attend that church today. There is just so much room for improvement in their worship service! They need help with the singing! A slide projector would do wonders in that room! Their children's classes would just take off if they would add a wing to their building! They just do things the same old way, week after week!

It's true. Their church service was very simple. It did not change. But it was orderly and intended to bring praise and glory to God. Thought was put into each word that was said and the singing was from the heart. Those old folks left that little building on Sunday and lived their lives the same way they lived them while they were inside church. What you saw was what you got.
The memories of that little church came back to me after about a week of mulling over this verse:

This is love for God: to obey his commands. (1 John 5:3a)

The simplicity of that verse just struck me. Those people who faithfully showed up at church services every Sunday for 60 or 70 years and spoke and sang and worshipped together...they were obeying the Lord. They loved Him and they obeyed.
No bells.
No whistles.
Just obedience.
I want my life to be that simple, too.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I Got a Life This Weekend!

Normally, I would not torture anyone by sharing the details of my weekend. I mean, who wants to read a post about how I forgot to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer and had to re-wash them, and then my 3 year old colored on something with a marker (she apparently lacks the gene that allows other children to control that urge), and then I went to the grocery store? Yeah, me either.
But THIS weekend was different! And it's husband cannot stay home. It literally drives him crazy. Since it rained off and on all weekend long, he knew he was in for a very long day at home with us. He went into survival mode and came up with a plan: let's go DO something. Anything.

As a result, we have no menu or food for the upcoming week. The wet clothes are still sitting in the washer. I did not pay bills. BUT-we had a great time!

Here is a picture of Sweetheart and Little Bit outside of an ice cream shop. We went sight-seeing and walking around some historic areas near where we live. Did a little bit of shopping. Visited with a friend. Had my parents over for supper tonight for Father's Day. Basically, we stayed busy. And it was fun.

Now my "new" job begins tomorrow. There will be no dropping off at daycare. There will be chores starting. There will be no working in an office. There will be lots of working at home. There will be no trusting other people with my children. There will be a lot of training going on.

Also, I hope, lots of stories read, hugs given, playing, laughing, and enjoying each other.
Oh, and I also have to re-wash those clothes. And get some food. But it's OK, because we had a great weekend!

And for those who are interested: my daughters attended church this morning in dresses their mom made for them. Do wonders never cease?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Some Eyes On Me

Admittedly, not ALL eyes are on me--I'm not delusional. But I was thinking this morning that I have a kind of new responsibility. As our family is striving to be a godly family, we have made some big changes. Some of these changes: homeschooling, me quitting work to be a homemaker, my girls and I wearing dresses more often even when no one else is, being submissive to my husband...are noticeable. What I mean is, people who know us could be looking at our family.

They may be thinking, "What is up with them lately?" but I feel a sort of responsibility. I want them to see the Lord in our lives. I want them to see the joy that following God can bring (even through hard times). I want them to see that there is something different about us.

Now you may not think we are really exceptional at all. Let me give you some perspective from my part of the world. Several years ago I began watching the specials on TV about the Duggar Family. I was completly amazed by this family! I couldn't figure out why they impressed me so much. Then I realized: everything they do, they have a reason why they do it in scripture. I certainly couldn't say that! We had just sort of been moving through our life with not much thought for what God wanted us to do. Study scripture and then pattern your life after what you learn? Interesting.

There are many, many people watching the Duggars. Especially since they have been on TV so much. Don't you know that some people would just rejoice if they saw a news story about Mrs. Duggar snapping and slapping a few of her kids around in the grocery store? They want to prove that they are just crazy people with too many kids. If they saw the Duggars do something really bad, then that would prove that God does not make a difference in lives.

The point is, ALL of us have a circle of influence. I want those watching us to see the Lord.

Now, we certainly do not have as many folks watching us as the Duggars do, but there are families we know who are watching. We are the only homeschooling family at our church. People will be interested in that. Since I was the church secretary, everyone at church will know that I am staying home to take care of my family. My husband works with our church youth group, so the teens always get to see us and how we relate to one another.

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2

May God be with us as we live our new lives in front of our friends and family. And may He get all the glory.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Rectangles They Can Wear!!!

For those of us who are "sewing challenged" or, as I like to think of myself, "really good at sewing straight lines," I have found the perfect thing!

My friend Jennifer in Georgia told me about pillowcase dresses last year. She said her daughter wore them over her leotard to dance class. They are also good to wear over a swimsuit, etc. I looked them up online and discovered that some people sell these things for over $50 a dress!!! Of course, they are pretty fancy. Naturally, that made me think very hard about selling some to earn money from home--but then I figured out how many of these I would have to pump out every month to make any kind of real contribution to our family finances.

So I decided to try one. I bought the pattern on e-bay for like $5 and downloaded it. Now, you can make them from any fabric, but the pattern suggested using an actual pillowcase for your first one. So I chose a pillowcase with a beautiful band of color around the bottom and here is the result. I haven't trimmed the ribbons to size yet, but I think it's pretty cute. (The bows on the shoulders are navy blue and don't show up in the picture.) All in all, the whole dress cost $1.50. You can't beat that.
I told my sister about my sewing success but told her that I probably could not ever let Little Bit actually WEAR it outside of the house. "Why?" she wanted to know. I explained to her that we used these sheets for years on our bed and every time I looked at them I would just see, you know, my bed.
Then she reminded me that some very famous people have worn drapes: the VonTrapp children (in The Sound of Music) and Scarlett O'Hara. So how bad could bed sheets be?

Good point.

There is some curving to this pattern, but since it ends up in the underarm region--is it really noticeble if it's not perfect? And you already know how I feel about that. And it you're going to wear drapes or sheets around--I think I like Carol Burnett's version the best! Now THAT'S sewing I can do!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Good Housekeeping

One more day and I become a homemaker full time!

Homemakers, in my childhood concept of them, can sew. My mom was a homemaker until I was in 4th grade, and she can sew better than anyone I know. I never even owned a store-bought dress until probably high school. She sewed most all of our clothes and hand-me-downs supplied the rest. Since I was the youngest child in the family AND the youngest cousin, I had NO end of hand-me-downs. I'm not sure they were really so much in style by the time I got to them, but that is another topic.

Now that I am an adult, I know better than to think that everyone can sew. I, for example, although related to one of the world's best seamstresses, can only sew those items which have straight edges. You know, pillows, curtains...basically anything in the shape of a square or rectangle. I also don't share my mom's need for perfection in sewing. If it stays together and the mistakes don't actually show--it's good!

So as far as my daughters are concerned, I let Grandma provide the beautiful clothes. She makes them dresses, shorts, capris, coats, slips, even pajamas. I, on the other hand, provide the curtains.

It's the least I can do.

And since we moved into this house 8 months ago, I have managed to sew curtains for 2 rooms. I have many more plans for square and rectangular shaped objects around here. One is a beautiful duvet cover for Sweetheart's room. It's going to be gorgeous because after all, it's really just a large rectangle that you lay on the bed. I was feeling guilty that I hadn't started on that yet. She's been waiting a long time for her "new" room. But THEN, I clicked over to Everyday Mommy and what do I want to do now?

That's right--decorate my sewing area. Because how can I be expected to sew lovely rectangles for my family in such dreary surroundings as this? Clearly, some decor is needed. Just look at the beautiful rooms my fellow bloggers work in! My sister found some old patterns (in the picture above) that I can frame and hang above my sewing machine. That's a start. Of course, that's after I paint. And organize some more.

And then I PROMISE I'll go back to sewing lovely rectangles for my family. Just like any good homemaker would.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I'm Handing Over the Red Pen

A while back I wrote about the stress of all the changes to our family. Like I said, these are things I prayed for. They are blessings--straight from God. But they are big revisions to the way our family operates! So, my husband is at his new job, daughter is home from school, and in 3 days I quit my job. It's all almost, finally, here.

So, 4 years ago this is what we looked like: we were a 2 full-time working parents, 1 child at the babysitter's house and 1 on the way, church-attending, hobby-pursuing, maybe one day we'll actually put some money in savings, not much thought to what the Lord wants for our lives family.

And now? We are a 1 income, 1 homemaker, 2 children, pay the bills AND put some money in savings, part-time youth ministry, Bible studying, trying to see how God wants us to stand out from the world family.

I am so excited. I am so determined. I am so blessed. I am so full of big plans.

And I am also a little bit scared.

I'm scared because I see families like this, whom I admire very much, and I just don't see us ever being like that. I don't want to be just like them--but there are things about the Maxwells, and many other families I have met online, that I hope do make their way into our family. That's another post entirely. The point is, I don't want to be the family we were 4 years ago, except oh yeah, mom stays home now and so do the kids. I want to be a totally different family than those I see around me in real life.

I think what I'm scared of is that I won't live up to this standard. I feel that for our children to turn out well--a lot is depending on me. For our home to be a comfort and place of rest for my family--a lot is depending on me. Hey folks, it's easier to drop those kids off with someone and go to the office. Trust me! How will I ever accomplish what I want to see in our family? I'm no spiritual giant!

And then...I read this post at The Flourishing Mother. And I read this post that she linked to. Then I read this other post that she linked to. And now I am filled with peace. Peace because I remember that God is the one making the revisions on this family. I'm the one hopping around pointing out families I admire and saying, "Like that, God? Is that what you want?"

I'm thinking it would work better for me to pray. And trust. And spend my whole days walking with God. And let Him be the Reviser. Please read these posts. And may they bless you the way they blessed me today.

I Learned a Lot Yesterday

The carnival at Chilihead's yesterday was interesting. I learned a lot about my fellow bloggers. First of all, most people said they do it because they like to write. Many made their blogs to keep up with friends and family. But I could not believe how many people keep (or kept) their blogs a secret!!! Even from their husbands! That was so funny to me. Why do we feel the need to do this? Whatever the reason, this is way more fun than soap operas. Oh, and I learned that everyone loves comments. I like to leave comments for people, but I really feel that if a post already has 52 comments, what can I possibly add?

I also realized how many cool blogs and folks there were out there. I read a lot of new blogs last night that I had never stumbled across. It is such an encouragement to find fellow Christian moms/wives/homeschoolers/women who have things in common with me. Blogging sure expands your world!

And that was the other thing I learned. Those folks who started blogging way back when--they had no idea anyone in the whole world could read their blog. Several ladies said the first time they got a comment from a stranger it freaked them out! Can you believe how small our worlds used to be? I saw a church website once that had a really nice header:

PODUNK CHURCH 2314 Main Street.

That's all the information I could find on their location. I just cracked up! Main street WHERE? Do you even think they realized that people in China could look them up? It was so funny.
So, blogging has definitely expanded our little postage stamp sized lives.

And I am thankful for all the folks that I have "met."

Sunday, June 10, 2007

It's the Story...of a Lovely Blog...

Thanks to Chilihead for suggesting this topic. It's a big help to have someone select a topic for me on Mondays because trust me, no one wants to read (or sleep through) an explanation of my weekends. Here is my blogging story:

1. How did you start blogging? Someone we knew personally had a blog and we found out it was really easy and free. This was appealing to us. My husband began a blog for his youth ministry first. I wrote a few articles for him, realized I was being TOTALLY stifled by having to stay on the "youth ministry" topics, and felt the need to have my own blog. I have a lot to say!

2. Did you intend to be a blog with a following? I don't think I was really aware that blogs could have "followings." I knew people might read my stuff. However, it is beyond my capabilities of comprehension to understand how some people can write about barfing and get 40 something comments. That is truly amazing to me. I think I could discover the fountain of youth, post a blog about it, and no one would notice. Well, my husband would probably read it.

3. What do you hope to achieve or accomplish with your blog? I hope that I will be an encouragement to other Christian women OR be a person that makes an unsaved person say, "Hmmm. Maybe I should think about this." An ideal reader, in my opinion, would be a young wife--who could maybe learn from where I've already been. That way they wouldn't be having to change their family 13 years in. But hey, whoever reads it, I hope I can encourage them. Have you been successful? I don't think so. I get hits, but the regular readers seem to be my husband and a few other folks. I'm glad I got the site meter or I wouldn't have even known I had an audience. It was kind of encouraging to know someone was reading. But the comments are few and far between. Even so, I like writing. I just pray for God to send people to read if He wants them to. And it's early yet.

4. Has the focus of your blog changed since you started? No. I don't think I've had enough time to get off-track. One day the focus will shift, though.

5. What do you know now that you wish you'd known when you started? How much time this would take out of my life. And that it's really, really enjoyable. Reading other peoples blogs, for a nosy person, is pure eavesdropping heaven!

6. Do you make money with your blog? Sadly, no. Nor do I get free products. I think you have to actually have, you know, readers for those things to happen. And probably a better design, too.

7. Does your immediate or extended family know about your blog? Well, my husband knows. My daughters could really care less what I'm doing on the computer. My extended family does NOT know. I didn't want them to know because I have lived in the same town nearly my whole life and we go to the church where we grew up and I live 3 doors down from my parents, and I JUST WANTED ONE THING IN MY LIFE THAT I DO TO HAVE A DIFFERENT AUDIENCE. For once. So, I have not told them. It's very freeing because I can say what I want to (even though I think about what I post.) No one at church knows either. Admittedly, this cuts down on readers. I am pretty much relying on strangers on the internet to be interested in what I have to say. And I think the day someone I know stumbles on my site, they will be pretty amazed, because no one knows I think about these things. Oh, also it's like living a secret identity because I can't leave comments on some blogs or it could link to mine. I'm like a super-hero, I tell you.

8. I don't have any advice. I'm too new at this. But you should remember to be safe and realize that anyone in the entire world with internet access can read your blog. Leave some mystery.

Now pop over to Chilihead's and read other folks' stories!

Saturday, June 9, 2007


I have been so nervous about how to tell Sweetheart that we will be homeschooling next year. But word travels fast around our little church and I didn't want her to hear, "So, what do you think of your mom being your teacher next year?" from someone and her being totally confused. So today as we were doing an art project at the table, I told her. I don't think she really got it at first. Then the more we talked about it, she suddenly realized what this meant.

"But that means I won't be in Mrs. O's class next year!" (near tears)

I calmly told her that was right. Then I told her that almost none of her last year's classmates were going to be there either. From a group of 6 1st graders, only 3 were returning and she was one of them. So, they will again be a combined class with 1st grade. I reminded her that meant "last year's Kindergarten kids." Suddenly, she wasn't so sad about not being in that class.

Finally, I told her that I would never, ever serve her Frito pie, plums, and milk for lunch. (A common menu item at her school.) She smiled and came to hug me. As I scooped her up and held her, I told her that I was sick of having her be gone from us all day and I wanted to take care of her and feed her lunch, and teach her. I wanted our family to be all together and work and play and learn together. She pulled her head back and just beamed at me.

If someone loving you isn't reason to be happy about this situation, then what is?

So we dreamed together a bit about all the places we could go on our field trips and what kind of projects we could do together. She looked through all her school books that I ordered. And today at Wal-Mart we bought a binder for mommy to keep records in (though I'm not entirely sure what I'll end up putting in there.)

I am very relieved. I know she doesn't TOTALLY have this worked out in her mind. She'll think of some concerns and protests later. When I hear her tell someone else about this, then I'll know she gets it.

As Little Bit sings, "I'm very so happy. I'm very so happy. I've got the love of Jesus in my heart, down in my heart." Well, I'm very so happy, too. Let the homeschooling begin!

Oh, and did I tell you they both asked me to teach a lesson tonight!? They were ready to get started. Reminding them that this was summer did no good. So, I logged on to my favorite trusty Bible lesson site and printed off a quick craft. We sat at the table and did a little devotional while they made their craft. When we were finished, Little Bit said, "Mommy, teach me more about Noah."

I know there will be lots of rocks down this path, but tonight was a lot of encouragement to me.

Friday, June 8, 2007

My Arms Feel Too Short

Our church has been very focused on outreach lately. To define that for you, it means we show God's love to others outside the walls of our church. This can take any form. Maybe you pay for the person's meal behind you in the drive-through. Maybe you help a young mother by holding the door for her. My first question when we started talking about all this at church was, "How is this any different from "Random Acts of Kindness?" So, to let you in on that answer: you have to let them know that you did it to show them God's love. Towards that end, we even had little cards printed up at our church that you could leave behind.

Every week people came and told their stories of blessings they had given to others, which had also blessed them. Every week I sat there and tried to think of something I had done to "outflow" to others. Finally I told someone I had ironed my husband's clothes. "That doesn't count," they joked.

The point of the whole exercise was to reach OUT. To show God's love to OTHERS. To bless those who DON'T KNOW HIM. OK, I get it. Really, I do. But the fact of the matter is, I ironed my husband's clothes that morning when I was really crunched for time and both girls needed my help and I still wasn't ready myself. I stopped and I ironed his clothes because of the love God has put in my heart. I want to bless my husband. I want to help him. So I did it--and even with a smile on my face. Isn't that showing God's love?

Here's my dilema. In the face of a big push at church to outflow to others (passing out water at the park, giving away popsicles at an apartment complex, etc.) where does that leave my family? Maybe it's because I'm not home yet (1 more week of work!) but there is just so much to do around here, that I don't feel like I have much time for out there.

So I feel guilty about that. How can I know our great Lord and Savior and not share Him with others? But on the other hand, how can I leave dirty dishes in the sink and laundry that needs to be put away, to go to church early, have a quick sack supper, and go to the park to pass out water? Where does that leave my family?

What I think is: outflow should happen from my family. It should not be an extra thing for us to do on our calendar. When I take my daughters to the library, and we help a little lost girl find her mommy, they are learning how to show God's love to others. When we stay home and clean up the living room before Daddy comes home so he can relax, they are learning to serve their dad. When they are a little older, our family can do some project that blesses others. I want them to do this.

But I feel that I have a job and a duty here, at home. And it comes first. And when I have shown God's love to my family, they go out into the world and reflect that. I guess you could call it "delayed outflow." But because of dedicating my time and efforts on our family and home--we are going to raise daughters who share God's love at every turn during their lives.

Still, I feel pushed to get out of the house and start sharin' the love...but there are so many opportunities right here at home. What to do?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

More Shampoo Epiphanies

I'm scaring myself. I had this thought in the shower while I was shampooing my hair. I'll get to that in a minute. Vaguely, in the back of my mind, I remembered a post by someone with the phrase, "I can spiritualize anything." After my shampoo ephiphany, I realized I share this same quality. But who said that?

OK, after searching bloggy archives for a few minutes I found it. And it was Clemntine. And it was even about SHAMPOO.

You can get goosebumps now. (or shake your head)

Here is her post. I think it's hilarious that I have found another soul on the internet who does their deep thinking in the shower. Probably because it's one of the only places we are ever alone. And by that I mean that the little people knocking on the door of the bathroom calling for us can't get in. Because I don't know about her house, but I lock the door.

So here was my deep thought...Sweetheart, age 7, was shampooing her hair this evening. I watched her squirt a blob of shampoo out of the bottle into the palm of her hand and it was approximately the size of an apple.
"Whoa. Whoa. That's WAY too much shampoo. You're supposed to use the size of a quarter."
I read her the back of the shampoo bottle and sure enough, that's what it said.

So later when I was in the shower (with the door locked) I thought about that. I never taught her to shampoo her hair. She just learned how by watching me wash her hair and her sister's hair all these years. One day she decided to try it herself. She didn't know how much shampoo to use because I never actually shared that information with her.

So how many other things is she learning from me that I have never instructed her in? I may have very biblical reasons for the things we do or do not do. But have I shared with her from the Bible what those reasons are and where they are found? Then I have not instructed her. And one day she will wonder why she does things the way her mom always did. And she may decide not to do them that way anymore, not even realizing that there is a reason in God's word.

This is not good. So now I have some thinking to do about how to instruct a 7 year old in God's ways. But I'm sure He will help me, if I ask. At some point, we've got to get past the Bible stories, and start really learning. This is new ground for me. And this all goes back to Clemntine's post from the other day. Which is the whole reason I haven't been able to post anything all day--because I have been mulling over that post in my mind.

So blogging not only can be encouraging, but thought-provoking as well. And apparently, so can shampooing your hair!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Today I Am Home

Thankfulness comes at the strangest times.

This morning I was pulling the trash to the curb. As I did, I noticed several cars with women driving, speeding down our street. They looked to be in a terrible hurry. I don't know where they were going, but I can imagine. If you are ever on the road in the mornings, notice how many cars have empty car seats in the back. How many women are rushing off to work this morning who have just dropped their kids off somewhere, hoping that they will be taken care of?

But today I am home.

I am so thankful for this blessing! Today I don't have to wonder what my kids are doing or if they liked what was for lunch or if they are feeling kind of bad and want me, or if someone is making fun of them, or if they got pushed in line, or if they needed something and the teacher didn't I know where they are. They are in bed sleeping. And when they get up, we will go to the library together. I will fix their meals. I will listen to their requests. I will hug them and read to them. I will make sure they are taken care of. I will be a MOM today.

And my husband needs me to take care of a few things. I will make time to do those things for him. Then he will have more time to relax this evening. More time to enjoy his family. More peace to think about work while he's at work (instead of these things that need to be done.) Today I will be a WIFE.

Other people are facing the tasks of being a wife and mother today, but not with joy. Why? I think this is part of the lies we have been fed. Growing up, I was fed the message of "what do you want to be when you grow up?" As if what I WANT is the deciding factor.
After I was grown, I was fed the message of "what are your gifts/talents?" As if God has given me a very specific thing to do that no one else could ever do and that would determine my course in life.

Now I know God has given me talents. There are things I am good at doing. And of course there are things I wanted to do when I grew up. But these have nothing to do with the big picture. When I got married, I became my husband's helper. My love for him makes this task a joy. Knowing that I am doing what God wants me to do makes it a joy, too. My love for my children makes being a mother a joy. Knowing that what I am doing pleases the Lord and is important to my husband makes it a joy, too.

No one EVER told me, growing up, that being a wife and mother was all I needed to worry about. I thought everyone had to spend their time trying to find out what they were "supposed" to be. It isn't about what you want. It isn't about what you have been gifted to do. It's about fulfilling the roles the Lord has already blessed you with. And when you figure that out--there is joy.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Destination: LUBY'S!

Folks, our girls have bad table manners. I am really ashamed to admit that. They do pretty well with other manners, such as saying "please" and "thank you" and "excuse me." But table manners? Well, they are what you would call....lacking.

Regularly at our table someone:

1. breaks into song
2. talks or laughs with food in their mouth
3. uses their hands to eat that which is not considered finger food (such as mashed potatoes!)
4. slumps down in their chair and drags the food to their mouth via the huge gap between themselves and the table, showering crumbs onto the table and into their lap

Now, I know it could be worse. But I really want children who I can take out in public. And, I would like to sweep the kitchen floor less. One of the things my husband is looking forward to about me being home is the expected improvement in table manners. We try to model these things, but I'm not sure the lessons are sinking in. I plan to take a more direct approach called: Mommy will now give you a lesson in good manners at the table. It can be part of our homeschool curriculum. I'm serious about that.

We told the girls that we were going to work on manners this summer. If they learned to use good manners at the table, at the end of the summer we promised we would take them "somewhere fancy" to eat.

"Like Luby's?" Sweetheart wanted to know.

I'm thinking it's time to broaden their horizons just a bit. But honestly, I would settle for good manners at Luby's. That is just about as fancy as we get, after all.

Time to stop listening to the "they're just kids" lie and get busy! We will now raise our expectations at the table. Do you find yourself comparing your children to other people's kids in order to gauge where yours stand? Yeah, me too. But this time I am going to pray about it, make a decision about what we want to expect at their different ages--and go from there. I just think we expect far too little of our children these days. And they are capable of much, much more.

Oh, and NOT eating 2 meals a day at daycare with 25 other children their age should help, too.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Attention: I Am Not A SAHM

My mom has every church directory from our church since the sixties. I like looking at the old black and white pictures and seeing how the old folks at church used to look back when they were young parents. I have always been intrigued by the information on the pages as well. Next to most of the women's names it says, "Occupation: Homemaker." I remember asking my mom what that meant when I was little.

It means much more to me than today's title of "Stay At Home Mom." I know, I know. The SAHM title came about as women returned home from the work-force. So, we are divided into two camps: SAHMS and Working Mothers. Oh, and then you have the WAHMS. And those of us who work part time and stay home part time and don't really know where we fit in. There is even a magazine devoted to working mothers. I hate looking at it. It's all designed to make you not feel guilty about being away from your kids all day. No, it's more than that. It's designed to make you believe that what you are doing is actually GOOD for your kids! They constantly have articles with titles like, "How I Make It All Work," "What Worked For Our Family," or "The Benefits of Daycare." It makes me sick.

I even notice ads these days. You can have an innocent ad for juice and the picture will be of a mom in heels and pants with her briefcase beside her on the floor, lovingly handing a juice box to her toddler on their way out the door in the morning. The ad will say something about how you work hard to give your kids the best of everything (including nutritious juice!). You are such a great mom.

I am NOT getting down on moms who work. I have been one for a long time. I AM sick of the lies that we women are fed. I am sick of the implied messages we recieve all day. I am sick of no one being a homemaker anymore.

When I think of the older ladies at my church when I was growing up, I think of their wonderful homes. Everything was neat and tidy. They cooked and sewed clothes. They worked hard in the garden and put up food in cans. I'm not talking about 1 or 2 women I knew either. These ladies made their homes. They didn't just stay home with kids.

I think that's the difference for me. I don't want to just be a stay at home mom. I used to just stay home in the summers and my house never looked much better than it did during the school year. I just stayed home and nothing got organized. I just stayed home and then when school started my husband was on his own for clothes and food.

I want to be a homemaker. Raising the children is part of that. But so is making this home a great place for my family. I would be proud to have that next to "Occupation."

The Game Boy Has Been Recovered!

Now we don't have to implement Sweetheart's plan of selling $100 worth of Lemonade this summer. Whew!