Titus 2:11-13

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I Have Moved to WordPress!

I have moved to WordPress.  Please click here to be redirected.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Needless Fears

As we begin our third week of the new school year, I can say that we are officially back in the swing of things!  Despite my once-a-year fear about how in the world I'm ever going to handle the next school year, our first two weeks have gone amazingly well.

My biggest fear with the approaching of this school year was that I would now be down to just one more year before I would have to add two more kids to the homeschool mix.  I had no idea what homeschooling four children at three different levels would look like, and not feeling at all ready for such a challenge, I fully intended to wait until next year to face it.

That's what I intended, but it's not what happened.

Somehow, instead of teaching just two again this year, I've ended up teaching all four.  Granted, school for my 3-year olds is mostly about them developing better listening and other developmental skills and tolerating an increased level of structure; but, it is education nonetheless... and more than what I thought I could handle.  However, to my initial surprise, I'm handling it well.  The credit sure doesn't go to me, though.  What was I so worried about?!  Of course God would give me the wisdom and grace I need for the moment.  It is only because of Him that this, my most feared year of homeschooling yet, has so far been the best and most fulfilling.  I can say that I truly look forward to the coming weeks with absence of fear, for I know that His grace is sufficient.

Monday, August 13, 2012

You Might be a Homeschooler If...

You might be a homeschooler if...
  1. Your heart beats with rapid excitement as you purchase and prepare school supplies for the new year.
  2. You choose to sharpen old crayons instead of buying new ones because you have to draw the line on new supplies somewhere.
  3. You spend part of Date Night with your husband sitting in Barnes & Noble reading through your new Instructor's Guides.
  4. You have to strategically organize your bookshelves just to make everything fit.
  5. You know as the school year approaches that your house is probably the cleanest it's going to be for the next nine months.
  6. You didn't have to add "clothing," "backpacks," or "gift for teacher" to your shopping list (but you may have purchased the teacher an electronic dictionary...).
  7. You see a useful page in a workbook, and you pull out your handy dandy laminator.
  8. You know what HSLDA and CPI stand for.
  9. Your Kindergartner still takes naps.
  10. Your kids don't "go" to school--they "do" school.

Happy first day of school to us! :-)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Family Pictures 2012

(L to R) Amariah, Angela, Isabel, Abel, Elliana, Travis

(L to R) Elliana, Abel, Isabel, Amariah

Abel Ray, 6 years

Amariah Grace, 5 years

Isabel Hope, 3 years

Elliana Faith, 3 years

(L to R) Elliana and Isabel

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Beautiful Hindsight

My husband and I are in the middle of a three-week Spiritual Gifts class at our church, and boy has it been eye-opening!  I can't help but feel like God is just waiting to nudge me in the direction He has in mind for me, not because of anything I'm learning about myself but because of what I'm learning about Him.  With each assessment or exercise we've done in the process of identifying our spiritual gift(s), one thing has been validated time and again:  God is near, and He always has been.  Despite the times I have felt like I'm just blindly going through the motions, or the times when my belief has been sustained purely by faith and not by sight, God was there.  He hasn't left me.

Do you ever just go back and look at the big picture of your life thus far?  I hadn't really, until recently.  Seven or eight weeks ago I was working on my homework from Beth Moore's James: Mercy Triumphs Bible study.  On this particular day, she asked us to choose a period of time from our own lives that had proved to be very strategic in our journeys toward or with Christ and then to make a timeline of that period of our lives.  She told us that this exercise would "remind [us] how faithful and intentional [our] God has been toward [us]," and she was right.  I was so blessed to see in hindsight the progression of my Christian growth and how it was all because of God being intimately involved in my life every step of the way.

Again today God reminded me of His nearness as I completed some homework for my Spiritual Gifts class.  The exercise was to list my top five to seven most meaningful and positive life experiences and to explain why each one meant so much to me--and then to search for any recurring themes among them. I listed five things that would at first glance seem fairly disconnected.  But as I looked at why these experiences were so meaningful to me, I saw a common thread running through them all.  All five experiences had resulted in a validation of God's nearness.

I am humbled to think that the God of the universe wants to be with me.  I am overwhelmed by the thought of Him knowing me intimately and having specific purposes for my life.  As the Psalmist said, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain" (Psalm 139:6 NIV).

I know full well that taking a Spiritual Gifts class is not necessarily going to bring upon me some grand epiphany that will suddenly alter the course of my life.  But I also know well that this is all part of the beautiful process of walking with God through life.  Slowly, patiently, and purposefully He is molding me into the woman He wants me to be.  The most I can attain to in the meantime is to simply cooperate with Him in the process.

"The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth." (Psalm 145:18)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Kids Say, vol. 15

Amariah:  "My foot fell asleep."
Me:  "That's because you're sitting on it."
Amariah:  "No, it's because it got really comfy."


Earlier this week, the kids all had their first ever routine eye exam.  Isabel was particularly intrigued by a model of an eyeball that was sitting on the desk in the exam room, so I was explaining to her that that is what the eye looks like if you could take it out.  Truly wanting to know, she asked with a hint of excitement, "How do you take your eye out?!"


Amariah, praying during family devotions:  "Dear God, thank You that Mommy and Daddy love each other.  Amen."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I Was a Basket(less) Case

I did something today that I haven't done in six years.  I've known the time was coming; and, while that maybe should have just purely excited me, I've instead had mixed feelings at the thought of its approach.  To say the least, today proved that those mixed feelings were well founded.  That's right.... Shopping without a stroller is kinda nice.  And then again, it's kinda not....

Think back, fellow moms, to when your first child came along.  The only way you could get out of the house with your precious new baby was to take a stroller along, right?!  Suddenly, you had to relearn how to navigate the mall.  Opening doors became a magic feat involving parts of your body that had never before been used for such a task.  And the impossible undertaking of navigating through the aisles of crowded stores without catching tires and knocking garments off racks made you wonder if you really needed to get out of the house all that badly after all.  And then when the second child, complete with a double stroller, came along... forget about it.

But... on the other hand... navigation difficulties aside... you found out there are some perks of shopping with a stroller.... You know that handy little cup holder that made you feel like it was okay to take a drink with you into stores?  And that blessed little basket that held all manner of things including coats and purses and shopping bags and whatever else you didn't want to carry?  Yeah, maybe shopping with a stroller isn't such a bad thing after all....

And that is just where I was at.  After six years of pushing single strollers, double strollers, umbrella strollers, and hating every wheel-twisted moment of it, I sort of fell in love.  I knew that.  What I didn't know (until today) is that I forgot how to shop without one.  Today, I successfully abandoned a shopping bag from one store at the cash register of another; left items I intended to purchase... and my purse... sitting unattended and forgotten in the middle of a third store; and deserted McKenna, Amariah's $100 American Girl doll, in the dressing room of the same.  If not for the honesty of the finders (and my success in creating a fabulous family picture ensemble :-)), I would say my first stroller-less shopping trip in six years was an utter failure.  At least it was just my stuff I couldn't keep track of and not my kids....

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Song in My Heart

My heart is full,
One reason why.
I lift my eyes up to the sky.
He is the source of all that's good.
All of me is understood.
He is everywhere I go.
He is greater than my foe.
He my strength and portion be,
Until His face my eyes do see.

I woke this morning
to another day.
I'm allowed to carry on this way.
He has chosen for me yet to live.
To Him allegiance I do give.
I'm but a wisp, a breath of air.
Sometimes I wonder why I'm here.
Unworthy daughter, though I believe.
But His grace and patience I receive.

This is real.
This is true.
The song in my heart must be shared with you.
The God who made the sky and sea
became a man to die for me.
He knew no sin yet became sin.
Once and for all, over evil did win.
My debt is paid--there is no red,
because of the blood that Jesus shed.

Death is conquered,
Where is its sting?
This is the reason my heart does sing.
It isn't time for me to go;
But when it is, there's one thing I know.
It's in Heaven I'll make my home,
My life's center ever His throne.
The good news is you'll be there, too,
If in this life your heart was made new.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bring on the Books!

Some people say homeschooling requires a lot of patience. I say, homeschooling requires a lot of bookshelves!

Pictured here is all of our new curriculum for the upcoming school year.  Eighty-three books, seven student workbooks, six teacher's manuals, three DVDs, two CD-roms, and two CDs--plus various other supplies--is going to make for one full bookcase... and a lot of excitement! (We love books around here! :-))

Needless to say, I had to do a little rearranging of our bookshelves in order to make room for all of this in my school cupboard; but, I managed to make it all fit nicely and have been enjoying opening the cupboard just to look at it. :-)
This year's curriculum takes up the top three shelves.
Travis and I have always said we'd love to have a home library.  Thanks to Sonlight Curriculum, we certainly are building the children's section!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Words They Hear

We were on vacation last week; and wherever we went, the twins were the talk of the majority of our passersby.  I was struck by how many positive, "They are so cute!" reactions Isabel and Elliana elicited from complete strangers.  I even commented to Travis at one point that the people in Wisconsin seemed more appreciative of children than so many others this mother-of-four has encountered over the past few years.... I have to remind myself of that positive impression as I sit down to write this post which springs from my musings over a couple of the not so positive (although innocent) comments the very existence of our children evoked last week.

I write not because I harbor resentment when a stranger doesn't seem to appreciate my children as much as I do, but because I have observed and experienced firsthand a certain insensitivity in well-meaning people.  And I wonder what age my children will have to be before these outspoken people will realize that my kids have ears and understanding and feelings... and that negative words springing from a sort of anti-children sentiment are hurtful to children.

One of the latest remarks to which I am referring actually came from a child herself.  As my family walked into the room, a pre-teen muttered in a less than positive tone, "Man, that's a lot of kids...."  And from where did she get that sentiment?

The other of the two remarks which have provoked this post was, to me, one of the most hurtful I've heard.  A random stranger was walking near us as we moved from one location to another at a waterpark.  She was commenting on how cute Isabel and Elliana's swimsuits are, to which I replied with a smile in my voice, "Yes, they sure are, and I got to buy two of them!"  Her quick and definitive reply came, "You got to buy two, but I sure wouldn't want twins!"  The smile in my heart faded and a sadness momentarily took its place.  All I could think was, "I sure hope they didn't hear what she just said."  They were walking not two steps ahead of us.


Now, my kids have never indicated that they have noticed or been hurt by such "anti-children" comments; but if they notice and are affected by the positive comments, why wouldn't the same be true for the negative?

Travis and I are continually showing and telling our children how much we love and appreciate and enjoy them; and I suppose I can be comforted to think that that ought to be enough to protect their little hearts from the insensitive words they occasionally hear from strangers.  But still it saddens me that people can be so quick to speak, not considering that "rash words are like sword thrusts" (Proverbs 12:18 ESV)... and that the stab of their anti-children words is into the tender and impressionable hearts of the children in whose hearing they speak.

To my readers and to myself I say, let us take heed to our words--and even more so to our hearts, "for out of the abundance of the heart [the] mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45 ESV).  Words don't come forth without having some effect on the hearer.  If "death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21), then we can be sure that our words--good or bad--are helping to shape the people our children will become.


"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer" (Psalm 19:14).

Friday, June 22, 2012

A New Look

Look who got glasses!  I went to the eye doctor this week for the first time in probably 20 years after noticing some increasing strain/discomfort in my right eye.  As I suspected, I need a slight correction in my right eye for near-sightedness and astigmatism, and an even slighter correction in my left eye for astigmatism.  I've been sporting my new eye wear for all of one day, and my right eye already feels better.  Amazing!  Now, if I can just get over the feeling that I forgot to take my sunglasses off, all will be well.... :-)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Before Them, There was Us

Travis and I have had the best extended weekend.  The NICHE (Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators) Conference was held here in Des Moines on Friday and Saturday, so the kids went to Grandma Tammy and Grandpa Terry's house for a few days.  This was only the second time we've been away from all four kids at once.  As much as we love being with our kids, we were admittedly excited for the little break.  And besides being frightened awake one night at 3:30 a.m. by the sound of our fire alarms going off because of what turned out to be a dead battery, it has been the most perfect of breaks.  Dinners out, late night runs, early morning walks, adult conversations, and two days at a homeschool conference.... Who could ask for more? :-)  Travis said it was kind of like a second honeymoon--and a timely one, too, as we just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary last Monday!

Indeed, it has been a fun few days, but I would have to say that the very best part of our couples weekend has been the opportunity to remember just how it is that we got to this place of being the homeschooling parents of four amazing kids.  Before curriculum and conferences, before toys and tricycles, before diapers and "Da-da"s, there was us.  Had we never fallen in love and chosen to spend the rest of our lives together in God-ordained marriage, there would be no sending kids to Grandma's house, no attending a homeschool conference or purchasing curriculum.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the business of raising kids that we forget why we are in the business in the first place--because we actually like each other and enjoy spending time together and because we chose to be partners and companions for life!

God has given me four beautiful children whom He has equipped me to love and to care for and to educate, but He first gave me His choice of a man to walk alongside me through this life.  As I remember that to a fuller degree than I probably have in a while, I am in total awe of the goodness of God towards me.  I don't deserve to have a faithful husband who deeply loves God and me and our kids, who strives to follow Jesus and to lead his family, who works hard to provide and care for our household; but by God's grace, he is mine.

What a gift.  What a weekend.  What a God....

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Regaining Inspiration

Hello, Blog World!  It feels good to be here.  Though I haven't been able to making blogging a priority over the past several months, I have certainly missed writing.  Some of you so kindly acknowledged that you missed me during my absence, and I very much appreciate that.  It has been important to me that what I write on this blog comes from a place of true inspiration and not merely from an obligation to make an appearance.  For whatever reason, some of that inspiration was missing for the past months, and just as some of you were patiently awaiting my return, so I was patiently awaiting my ability to.  And, finally, here I am, feeling inspired once again. :-)

The past nine months were for me largely dominated by homeschooling.  The beginning of Abel's Kindergarten year brought with it a higher level of time commitment, so much of my energies were focused on my role of teaching.  Blogging wasn't the only thing that temporarily went by the wayside.  So, too, did some of my perfectionist housekeeping ways... by necessity, of course.  I'm not sure that any of us really even noticed the slip in cleanliness until this past week since our summer break began.  With no school to claim my mornings, my house is regaining a more "spic and span" feel... and that feels good to me! :-)

One thing I haven't quite regained, though, is a healthy level of energy.  The past couple months frequently saw Travis and me up into the wee hours of the morning completing projects (we finished our basement early this spring); and now that those projects are all done, my body seems to be begging me to get back to a proper schedule.  In fact, I recently found myself so overwhelmingly in need of sleep that I even became convinced I was pregnant.  (I wasn't.)  But one thing is clear, that I will evidently be always seeking to find that perfect balance between all the things I must do.

It is my prayer for this summer that God will give me that balance--that He will give me wisdom in how I use my time and energy.  I don't want to be here just spinning my wheels to accomplish my own agenda.  I want to remember that my time and my energy, limited as they are, belong to God.  I must use them to advance His purposes.  I must seek His direction for my days.  I must be sensitive to His leading.  And I must be willing to follow.

And the thought of what He might do, my friends... now THAT is inspiring!

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