Friday, May 29, 2009

Do you see the evil or the good?

Last night at Bible study, we were discussing the fall and why it's important to see both the goodness and the evilness of man and this world. I thought the reason we need to see both is so that we will have humility about who we are and who God is.

If we only see the goodness of man and God, and don't see the evil in the world, then we will forget God and lose sight of Christ and think we don't need God.

If we only see the worst of man and this world, we will lose hope and forget the beauty and grace of God.

I shared the passage that I posted yesterday and it was particularly relevant to what we were talking about.

Many days I get so mired down in the struggles of my days that I don't enjoy my life and my kids. I have been consciously trying to focus on enjoying them and seeing the blessings that they are--I need to look for the goodness because I have to fight getting overwhelmed by the worst of this world.

I also shared that I am thankful for the joy my kids have. I am continually amazed by it. It is a gift from the Lord and I think it will help them cope with other things that they will have to deal with in their lives. Sami--her exuberance and joy will help her tackle the tough things that make her want to throw in the towel. Autumn--her joy will help her get through the times when her feelings get hurt deeply because she is so sensitive. And Eli, I suspect because depression runs in the male side of my family, his joy will help balance his struggle with sadness later in his life. I thank God every day for that joy and wonder in amazement at it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Seeing beauty

I was reading a new book this morning called The 7 Hardest Things God asks a Woman to Do by Kathie Reimer and Lisa Whittle. I've been reading Let Go by Sheila Walsh and haven't finished it, but it was in my girls room this morning and they were asleep when it was time for me to do my devotions =)

Anyways, there was a short snippet that I particularly enjoyed because it is something I feel strongly about. One of the authors shares a story about driving through the industrial part of town that's pretty run down. In the midst of this, her mother (very old at the time) remarks about a beautiful tree that she sees in the midst of the junkyard. The older woman was right--it was indeed beautiful amidst everything around it.

The story made me think about whether or not I see God's beauty and his blessings and hope amidst the things that can make me feel like everything is yucky. I try to focus on these things and not get mired down in the yuckiness. I particularly liked how the author said it this way about her mom, "That one sentence (the comment about the tree) expressed the heart of who she was and always had been: a lovely lady who lived each day in the constant awareness of the Lord's presence and his magnificent handiwork all around her. Sometimes we need to focus on Jesus because of the stormy, threatening, frightening times we face. At other times we need our eyes to be fixed on the beauty of Jesus because of all the debris in our lives, all the junk, all the "Stuff" that commands our attention."

I thought those were wise words. =)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In N Out

I miss it. And I miss LA. I know a lot of people would think I'm crazy for that, but I do. It's where I grew up. There's a longing in my heart to go see the places that I have enjoyed in my life and a growing fear that I won't get to see them again. There are places and people that mean a lot to me--that when I think about I miss quite a lot. I know my husband thinks I'm crazy for missing LA--he's not a city person, but rather a country boy. But, I do. I haven't been back in 7 years. I have always been thankful to be wherever God has put me and generally very content, but there's a little piece of me that still misses the places I have loved.

The place that we all grow up in has a very special place of comfort in our hearts, I think. It holds many memories of security and familiarity--even if it changes over the years. It is the place of our first roots. The things, people, and places that remain still hold those memories. I am thankful to the Lord every day for the experiences he has given me and the places he has allowed me to live and the people he has brought into my life =)

Monday, May 25, 2009

My Fast

I fasted from surfing and television for 5 days. I didn't blog or read any blogs for 8 days. And I didn't check facebook for 6 or 7 days (I'm not sure which). One thing that I hadn't realized was how much I need the internet and computer for. I didn't surf (looking just to look rather than going on the internet because I had to do something), I think, until Friday or watch anything. I did fudge a little bit though if I had a purpose (like looking up some dietary information for a friend). I used the computer only for things I had to do. It made me so aware of how much I look to my computer and the internet for!

On Friday afternoon, I was so upset with our puppy that all I wanted to do was go downstairs turn on the television and give my brain and heart a break! Now that says something doesn't it? I called a friend and talked first instead. She challenged me to think about whether or not I would feel guilty. I had work to do and so I went downstairs and listened to focus on the family on the internet while I got some picking up and sorting done of my homeschool materials. I think I also watched the season finale of NCIS online.

I didn't feel guilty. But, I felt like I had learned a huge lesson. The computer and television both have their place--a very limited place. In my selfishness, I can get caught up reading, learning, or watching something and put off my children's needs or my other responsibilities for a few minutes or more. That isn't okay. I need to stop doing that. My children need to know that they are far more important than anything I have to do on the computer. Even if it is something I have to do--it can be done during their nap in the afternoon or after they go to bed or before they wake--not while they are awake.

What did come back in line was having my devotions first thing every morning. I'm just not very good at sitting down and reading God's Word if I don't do it in the morning before the kids wake up. I need to always remember this.

Sometimes we have to give up something completely--a permanent fast. I think I will have to fast again soon. I think God still has more to teach me about this. But, it is amazing how strong a yearning can be when you can't have something. A good friend of mine who I hadn't seen in 4 years came to visit us yesterday. She can no longer eat any dairy or refined sugar. That has made a huge (!) impact on her diet. No more cheese, chocolate, sweets, yogurt, milk, etc. I love sweets. And even while she was here, the realization that I couldn't have a cookie or a piece of chocolate ate at me--I honestly longed for it! I had no idea it had such a hold over me! I know I'm being very honest in this admission. I don't think I'm alone in feeling this way =) I snuck a Hershey's kiss on Sunday! How horrible! That I feel guilty for--that I couldn't go a day without chocolate! I remember when I was pregnant with Autumn and I had to give up chocolate, tomatoes, oranges and orange juice, beans, cabbage, and broccoli for 9 months. It was amazing how God took away all of my desire for those things! But, I know it isn't always so easy. I think I might need to pray about fasting from that =)

In truth, anything that I give more importance to than I ought--that I think I need and don't can become an idol. I don't want to worship anyone or anything but God! This week I was reading in Matthew about seeing the log in my own eye before I point out the speck in another's eye. I think that's worthy of much contemplation =)

Speaking of priorities, I have taken a break from life tonight and taken some time to be by myself--watching the end of a movie and letting go of some things, but now it is time to go to sleep! Time to get back on track!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fasting and Idols

I've never fasted from food because my blood sugars go out of whack easily even though I'm not hypoglycemic or diabetic. But, this week, I'm going to fast from something else--the television and technology--this computer. I've decided that I'm only going to check my email twice a day and do essential things on the computer. No facebook, no blogging, no shopping (unless I have to order something, but no looking in the process). My desire to fast comes from the feeling that I need to identify the idols in my life.

Romans 1:25 "...who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."

from Tim Keller's study on Galatians "...idols are not sinful things, but good and basic things elevated into being ultimate things"

"An idol is anything in our lives that occupies the place that should be occupied by God alone." D.M. Lloyd-Jones, in Life in God: Studies in 1 John

"...acts as if God could not make him happy without the addition of something else."
Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God

"Has something or someone besides Jesus the Christ taken title to your heart's functional trust, preoccupation, loyalty, service, fear and delight?...the Lordship question: who or what "rules my behavior, the Lord or an idol?"
David Powlison, "Idols of the Heart and Vanity Fair"

My husband made a comment that made me think about the role this computer (the internet specifically) and television have in diverting my attention from the Lord. I have not had good quiet times or consistent Bible Study times in a long time since I finished working through the Parent's Handbook for Shepherding a Child's Heart. Television and the internet aren't inherantly bad, but when they take away from me sitting with the Lord each day, it isn't a good thing.

So, I've decided to fast for a week. I'm not sure what God is going to show me this week, but I will soon find out! =)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Curriculum for next year

I'm finally done choosing my curriculum for next year. We finish up school at the end of this week. Yay!! I tested Autumn and she has a 1st grade, 4th quarter reading level/instructional 2nd grade reading level. I think she understands about half of the kindergarten math so we will continue on with that in the fall. Other than that, she is ready to start first grade material in all the other subjects. Really, she wouldn't be starting school in the public school until next year, so she isn't behind in her math. At the beginning of the year, I read a great article that made me realize how important it was to give her time until she was ready.

Anyways =) these are my choices for next year:
Math: Singapore Math Earlybird B and Primary Mathematics Standards Ed. 1A
Reading: Harcourt Trophies Gr. 1
Phonics: Phonics Pathways and Explode the Code (which also takes care of spelling)
Handwriting: Letter Workbooks and Write from the Start
Writing: First Semester: The Writing Spot
Second Semester: Write One and Writing with Ease Bk 1
Grammar: First Language Lessons
Science: Harcourt Science
Social Studies: Harcourt Social Studies: About My World
Health: Harcourt Health and Fitness Gr. 1
History: Second semester: We'll start with the Story of the World Vol.1

Art: Adventures in Art by Laura Chapman Gr. 1

Music: We're going to try violin lessons with a friend
P.E.: Dance and a homeschool PE program nearby

I think that covers it! For the Harcourt subjects, I bought everything used and will be able to copy and use it later for Eli and Sami. I found that I needed the Student book and Activity book for Health and Social Studies. I bought the Tchrs Ed because they were cheap, but next year if I can't find them affordably I won't buy them. I will also buy the assessment guide for that subject next year if I can find it. For Reading, I bought the student books (5 of them), the practice books, the reading anthology, and the tchrs editions. Again I'm glad for the tchrs editions, but I don't think I'll buy them if they're too expensive. And then with the science, I bought the student book, lab manual, reading homework book, and teacher's editions.

I just really liked the Harcourt books. They have so much color and the questions and activities are all in the books. So, if I didn't have the teacher's manuals, we could definitely still get by.

It is really a relief to know that I'm done choosing books!

Horizons Math and Singapore Math

I finally came to a solution with my math dilemma for Autumn's curriculum. Alpha Omega called as a sales call and I ordered Horizons Math through them. I had looked at it before in the homeschool store, but it's so hard to really look when you have 3 little kids with you =) So, it arrived and I had felt peace about it so I thought, "this must be it".

But, it wasn't. My husband is a natural teacher.

You write: Teach the clock. He can do it!

I can't. How? How do you teach the clock I want to know? How do I explain the hands and the concept of time? Questions bounce around in my head!

So, Horizons said, "Teach the clock." Nope, not the curriculum for me. But, thankfully, there is a 30 day moneyback guarantee, so I'm going to mail it back next week.

But, that made me feel like I was back at square one! I have been so puzzled about math. I've felt good about the other things I've done with the kids. I'd only had to switch from The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Reading to 100 Easy Lessons last year during PreK.

I went back to my Singapore Math and the website. I know that I am frugal and I struggled with the idea of spending $150 on K math, so I had only bought the textbooks (which are really more of a workbook). What I realized this week was that was a mistake. I needed the activity books and teacher's guide and extra practice book. And for K, they don't have a homeschool guide so the teacher's guides are $46 plus $12 for the resource cards. Singapore Math (all grades) is divided into 2 books. I was able to teach through the first one fine, so I just ordered the additional activity workbook to go along with it. But, I ordered the teacher's guide and cards for the second. It was $94 more for me to complete my set. But, it was the right choice. I like the books, I like the samples of the guide. They're straight forward and easy to understand.

I'm thankful that 1st grade only cost $109. After K, Singapore Math has done a great thing and written Homeschool Teacher's Guides (just not for K!) that only cost $16 instead of the $46 for the regular teacher's manual. That's a big savings.

My husband was puzzled that I was so worried about this. But, I found that math in the older grades makes perfect sense to me. I struggle with the progression in the younger grades and I want to make sure I explain things properly. Yet, I don't have a ton of time to learn a new method of teaching Math and I am not an entirely conceptual thinker when it comes to math. I found that as I looked at teacher's manuals, either they gave too much info or too little (like teach the clock). Singapore Math was the only one that really clicked for me.

All this searching has given me more appreciation for why there are so many different homeschool math options. We all have different personalities and different bents when it comes to teaching. What a blessing it is that there are different options.

Monday, May 11, 2009


There are times when my husband and I will disagree and he will be upset that something seems like a burden to me. The same can be true from my end. I hate to ask him to do something I need him to if I know it will be a burden.

But, here's the thought I had. Or rather a few of them. I force myself to still ask because I know it's important for him to do what I need him to and I know it's good for him to help me =) When my husband says something like that to me about what he sees as a burden to me, I explain to him that yes, indeed it does feel like a burden at times (whatever it may be), but that doesn't mean I don't want to or need to do whatever it is. Out of love I want to do whatever it is. Sometimes that will be easy for me --to accept that responsibility and take it on with joy. Other times, God is going to use it in my heart and I will be like my puppy Molly who wants to walk but doesn't want to heel, but needs to--

I think it's okay for something to be a burden sometimes to someone else. It's a lesson for both parties involved.

good quote

I read a quote by Oswald Chambers this morning about how when we fear God, we fear nothing else. But, when we don't fear God, we fear everything else.

I thought that was a very good point.

Mother's Day

Yesterday, I was determined that my children would semi coordinate in their clothes and their hair would be done and we might even get to church on time. But, my mother's day reminded me of just what motherhood is--challenging, fun, frustrating, patience stretching, and loving all at the same time.

On Saturday, a woman had made a comment to me about a knot being in the back of Sami's hair. Indeed there was a large knot--which meant Sami's hair was too long and she needed a hair cut.

So, Sunday morning at 7 am I cut Eli's hair as he was eating in his high chair and then I thought I'd do Sami's. Why did I add that stress right then into my life? No idea. But, I did. I gave up after a few minutes and left half of her hair to be cut a little later (which I did about 20 minutes later when breakfast had started cooking). I did a super quickie hair cut and it seemed pretty even, thank goodness.

But, then there was the dressing and putting on the clothes. Autumn saying, But I don't want to wear that--that's not my favorite. And me saying, I am picking the clothes today. They have an answer for everything!

Still, I love my children and my husband and can't imagine life without them. I definitely learned one thing, though. It's okay to eat chinese out with the kids, but not sushi. Chris and I ordered some sushi, but you need to eat that slowly and savor it--not exactly something easy to do when you have a 5, 3, and 1 year old sitting with you =)

So, that was my Mother's Day. Oh, and I took Molly to puppy kindergarten. That was humbling in itself. We missed two classes. I felt shame that Molly could not do what the other dog could. When am I going to have time to train her? Thankfully, my husband does most of that, but I know I need to find some time to reinforce it too.

Ah, being a mom =)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Something I always wanted =)

You'll laugh. But, there's something I've always wanted.

It's one of those magnets with all the cartoon faces and you put a frame on the one you are. I have never known where to get one. I've also never told anyone (!) that I wanted one.

So, such a fun thing happened. My husband bought a Mother's Day card for the girls to give me. It had one of those magnets in it! Except it was a special one for moms. It's pink and it has a happy mom, a stressed mom, an ordering in tonight mom, an eating out tonight mom, an I'm cooking mom, etc. It is fun =) and just what I've always wanted!

But, my husband was very wise about something--and I'm going to remember this. He had the girls sign the card after dinner tonight and then gave it to me right afterwards, or rather right after their bath. He knew that they wouldn't be able to keep a secret for even 10 minutes about what the card was right (just like their Mommy and secrets). As she was getting into the bathtub, Autumn immediately wanted to tell me about it. She couldn't wait. I told her not to tell me and that we would open it right after they got dressed.

But, I am going to remember this for Father's Day. There is no way that my girls will be able to keep a secret for even a day from their Daddy. They won't be able to wait to tell him for even 10 minutes!

What a wise husband I have.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

In the Past...

I emailed this to a friend, but then I thought I would post it here as well...

Before I came to know the Lord, I had a hard time understanding that God knew all of my pain. My dad had raised me to be bitter any time something happened and I thought I deserved something I didn't get. He also raised me to compare myself with everyone else. His first question when I brought home a test was How did you do? And the second was How did everyone else do? Who I was and what I did was never good enough on its merit.

When I came to surrender my heart to the Lord and realize that He is in control and I'm not (I held so tightly to control that I thought I had of my life), God comforted me and I knew He loved me. He washed the bitterness and anger from my heart. I had tried for years to get rid of it on my own and I couldn't. But, He did. God sent a friend to me to help me realize that God loved me and felt all of my pain. God did a lot of things through that in my life. I went to several people that I had thought had intentionally acted to hurt me over the years. I learned and realized that things they had done had not been done with the intention of hurting me.

I understand a lot more now then I did then. This world is made up of imperfect people. And sometimes--even the people we love the very most and who love us will let us down and even hurt us. We are all sinners. God loves us and forgives us and he does the same for them. I remember my dad once asking me "Don't you want to just hurt people back if they've hurt you?" I said No, dad, because that means they're hurting even more. I had realized that when someone lashes out at you, they are hurting and when we lash back it only starts a horrible cycle of hurting each other. And the wounds only get deeper and deeper. When I asked my dad about it, he replied back that he would hurt them back even worse if someone hurt him. And I can see the deep, deep bitterness and anger in his heart because of this and what it's done in his life.

God helped me see through that. That in the same way I hurt people when I was hurting--other people sometimes did that to me. It helped me turn to God for comfort instead of lashing back--and stop the cycle of continually hurting each other. God gave me friends that would listen and encourage me to read the Bible, His Word. My friends will pray with and for me. And if you are one of my friends and are reading this, please know that I appreciate you so much!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Yesterday a friend made a comment to me about the struggle older children have sometimes with jealousy when a younger sibling comes along. So, I asked Autumn if she was glad we have Sami and Eli. She said "Yes!" with a great big smile. I asked Sami if she was glad to have Autumn and then Eli--and to each she also gave a big "Yes!" with a big smile--my exuberant little girl that she is. I am thankful that they love each other and really do get a long--most of the time =)

My friend's comment did caution me though. I feel it is important that all my children will feel loved and not neglected over another. It is so easy, I think, to do that when one child has more needs, but I desire to guard against that!

Monday, May 4, 2009

A thought about homeschooling

On Saturday we had a couple over and the husband asked why we homeschool. Chris succinctly answered that it is because we feel we can give a better education to our kids at home. If we didn't, then we wouldn't do it. But, then on Sunday, I was chatting with a gal at church and I realized that most of the time I think of homeschooling in terms of what it does for the kids--the benefits for them, not for us as a family or for me and Chris. The gal mentioned that when homeschooling, the parents don't have to run kids to and from school every day and then tackle homework every night.

It made me realize that I don't have to do that! Every May, I am relieved when the preschool year ends =) and I have a few months off from getting my child off to the high school twice a week (and it's only 1/4 mile away!!) =)

It made me realize how thankful I am to be homeschooling and that although it seems to make life crazier in some ways--I think it actually makes it more manageable for me!

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Life isn't easy for anyone. Sometimes I think Satan tries to convince me that it's easier for everyone else and that I should be jealous of others. But, one of Satan's greatest tricks is to twist what we know to be true and to lie to us. I think Satan tries to tell us that life should be easy.

I met a woman at church today who's marriage is in a rough spot. She has 4 children and I think she feels that she's at the end of her rope and alone. I mentioned the small group that we host each week in our home. She commented that she hopes we'll be able to keep it up--inferring that we might not be able to with 3 kids.

Three kids and a puppy has been really hard for me, but I have realized that God has gotten me through each day. I was convicted this morning in church that at times I have looked at my children as burdens. I have been focusing on me, rather than them. So, I had just been convicted of this and then this woman poured out her burdens to me.

I felt compassion and sympathy for what she is struggling to cope with. But, it convicted me all the more about how I view my children and my responsibilities. Will I accept that they are what they are and will I do well with what God has entrusted to me? Or will I become more and more stooped under the weight of what I perceive to be the burdens I must carry.

I am thankful that I don't have to work part time and that I can be home full time. I realize that this would really make life tricky for me and for my family. I am thankful too that I am homeschooling! Yesterday, a couple we had over for breakfast asked why we homeschool. My husband succinctly said that it is because we feel we can give our children a better education at home. If we didn't, then we wouldn't do it. BUT, I realized that homeschooling is a blessing not only for them but also for us. I'm not running them to and from school every day and trying to get them to do their homework after school every day while still trying to fit in Bible study, dance, and music!

Just a few thoughts and lessons I'm learning. =)