Friday, April 30, 2010


My husband has been researching our family trees using He has found some really interesting information, but what census, birth and death records can't tell is us who those ancestors really were. It's nice to know a name, but I'd really like to know where I got my green eyes (no one else has green eyes), and what were my great-great-great-grandparents like? Were they kind? Did they know Jesus?

Names and superficial information are nice, but I want to know more. Unfortunately, I may never know unless I find someone who remembers. Doing this type of research has strengthened my resolve to leave a true legacy for my children. No, not riches or property or fabulous antiques fit for Antiques Roadshow...I'm talking about the legacy of a mommy who knows the Lord and who loves Him with all her heart. A lasting legacy. An indestructible legacy. A mommy who drops everything to play and dance and sing silly songs. A mommy who builds blanket tents in the living room, and has picnics in the backyard. A mommy whose joy for life is contagious. (If you find her let me know!)

Without Jesus, I am none of those things. I'm grumpy and selfish and not a lot of fun to be with. But when I've spent time with him, I'm free to be the mommy that He has called me to be. A mommy who delights in her children. Every day I am building a foundation for my children. Every word I choose to say (or not say), and everything that we do either builds up the foundation or tears it down. I want my legacy to be children firmly rooted in the Lord. I want to know the joy "above rubies" that they all walk with God. At the end of my life, it's ok if my baking skills have never improved, or if I never quite organize the basement. I just want the world to know how much I love my husband and my children, and how much I love the Lord. It may not be information you can find on, but it will be written on the one place it matters - my children's hearts.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Signs of love...

So often we hear news stories that cause us to focus on the negative, with what is wrong with our world. Today I am resolved to focus on what's right. As I was reading Psalm 119:65 this morning, I was blessed to see that "The earth, O LORD, is full of your steadfast love..."

So what are the signs of God's steadfast love this morning? Well, it's a beautiful sunny day. The kind of day that dawns with the promise of warmer weather. The birds were singing as my eyes opened. Sometimes I wonder if they are worshiping as they wake. My little one woke up calling "Mah-meeeee." That is a sweet sound too. When I walked into the room, she was genuinely glad to see me! There was plenty of food for breakfast. The coffee was already brewing (programmable coffee makers are wonderful!). My husband and I sat at the table while little one played and we read God's word together. My son awoke and said, "I love you, Mommy."

In our family, we call these things "kisses" from God. The world is full of these kisses, reminders of His steadfast love. It falls upon us to choose to see them. As I began to focus my attention on what was right with the world (instead of the crumbs on my kitchen floor) my heart was flooded with joy and thankfulness. I can't think of a better way to start my day.

It's not a matter of whether your cup is half-full or half-empty, but rather where your attention is focused. Stop looking at your cup! Today, I challenge you to focus on signs of God's love. I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ashes for Beauty...A story of God's faithfulness

Two years ago today my youngest daughter was born.  By all accounts, we should have been facing a very sad anniversary. We very nearly lost her. Delivered weeks early by emergency c-section, we learned her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck 3 times and knotted. That is why she had stopped moving. By God's matchless mercy and grace Jordyn Grace is healthy and strong. To see her today, you'd never know that the NICU doctor was concerned that she may not be able to hear or see. This part of the story, however, is just part 2 of the miracle. Part 1 took place in my life just before her birth...

As I watched her put on her princess crown and skirt and dance this morning, my mind was transported back to the events of two years ago. Just prior to Jordyn's pregnancy, I suffered a miscarriage. It was a horrible, dark time for me. We had waited so long for another child, and the loss was almost more than I could bear. Sometimes, our miracles come in dark wrappings. You see, it was during this time that God became real. Sure, I knew Him before I lost the baby, but I didn't comprehend the depth of His love for me. I was angry, but I felt him wrap His arms around me as I cried and mourned that child I would never hold. I learned what it was to rest in the shadow of His wings. I know with certainty now that He hurts when His child hurts. He really does keep count of my tossing and turning, and keep my tears in a bottle. (See Psalm 56:8) Through all of that sorrow, God changed me and revealed himself to me in a way that is beyond my words.

Just 8 weeks after my miscarriage, I found out we were expecting Jordyn. When I started bleeding at 10 weeks, the icy fingers of fear were back. (Not again, Lord. I can't do this again!) But all was well and God calmed the storm in my heart. He knew how fragile I was, He gently lead me through the rest of my pregnancy.

The day of her birth, I hadn't felt her move all day. I knew something was wrong. Through a series of God-ordained events, my husband came home early. Had he gone to his appointment as expected, Jordyn may not be here. Soon after my arrival at the hospital for a non-stress test, we knew something was terribly wrong. Doctors and nurses kept leaving the room without saying a word. She was born by c-section just a short while later. The doctor came to see my husband when I was in the recovery room and told him "You don't know how lucky you are." Yes, we do. But luck really has nothing to do with it. God has a plan for Jordyn. I'm not sure what it is yet, but I am thankful that I will get to watch it unfold. Happy Birthday, Princess Jordyn.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

White Noise...

Every night before my little one goes to sleep we turn on a fan in her room for "white noise." The droning noise drowns out all the background noises in our house. This morning, I was trying to concentrate on my time with the Lord, but I kept getting distracted. Ideas for the co op class I'm going to teach, the dinner menu, something that should be added into the homeschool portfolio...all these ideas were buzzing around in my head. I must have re-read the chapter in Ephesians 3 times before it dawned on me - I wasn't giving God my full attention. I was frustrated that I, once again, allowed the white noise of my life to cut into my time with my Father.

I looked up from my Bible and saw the sign above the fireplace. "Be still and know I am God." I don't think God intended it as a mere suggestion. So, why is it so hard to actually be still? What am I missing in my relationship with Jesus because His voice is drowned out by all the white noise? Do I know the true voice of my Shepherd, or only the part that cuts through all the other "stuff" that I'm thinking or doing at the moment?

When we fully give our attention to Jesus, nothing else seems important, nothing else matters. Today, I want to hear His voice. I know he's speaking to me. I want to be able to answer like Samuel, "Speak, for your servant hears." No more white noise. It's time to turn off the fan!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Rites of passage...

First t-ball games...Dance practices...Dance performances...Second birthday parties...Rites of passage, all. But when they happen in one weekend, whoa! This mommy was feeling emotionally overwhelmed this weekend.

I watched my little man get his first ever t-ball uniform. He is number 5 ("Just like me, mommy!"). When he put on that shirt and baseball cap, his face lit up and the tears stung the back of my eyes. He is so grown up, yet still so small. It is hard to know just now how much to protect and how much to let go. There are still glimpses of my baby boy now and then when he climbs up in my lap or when I watch him sleeping, but those are getting fewer and fewer. His latest mantra is "I can do it, Mommy. I'm getting bigger." I know I have to pull back and let him try, and perhaps even let him fail. Who knew that mothering would be a slow process of letting go, of training and instructing and then stepping back to watch the seeds take root. One of the boys on the team didn't hit as well as the others. I watched my little guy walk up and give him a high five and congratulate him. Another rung on the ladder climbed. He's getting so big, Lord. I'm so thankful that you walk with him on his journey.

My oldest daughter was gone all day on Saturday with dance practices and performances. I really missed her by the end of the day. I missed hearing her laugh and her easy smile. She was gone from "the nest" for the better part of a day. She was fine. She did her part well as I knew she would. It wasn't the performance that concerned me, it was the "letting go." I found myself wondering what it would feel like when she would be old enough to drive herself to these events, not even needing me for transportation...Thank you, Lord that you are easing me into this stepping back portion of mothering. She's only 9, so this was just a baby step. But it is sometimes so difficult.

My "baby" turns two this week. I know our quiver is full and there will be no more babies. This is another kind of letting go altogether.

For a while, I was gloomily reflecting on these rites of passage, then God again changed my perspective. He gently took my hand and allowed me to see that these were just small steps of "beginning." God whispered to my heart, "you've tended the garden well. Stand back and enjoy the beauty for a while. It's just another beginning." I will still cry at these beginnings, but my perspective has changed. It's not about them needing me less, it's that they are becoming more fully who God created them to be. Isn't that the wonderful privilege of mothering? We get to hold their little hands, kiss their little faces and watch and pray as they become just who God wanted them to be.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

On Eagle's Wings

"They that wait upon the Lord,
Will renew their strength.
They will mount up on wings
like eagles.
They will run and not be weary
They will walk and not faint.
Teach me, Lord;
Teach me, Lord, to wait."

This little snippet of a song has been playing in my mind for the past several hours now. I wish I could remember more of it, or who wrote it to credit them (if you know, please share with me!). This song has always been a great comfort to me.

Facing the next several days when there is too much to do and too little time to do it, has stressed me out much more than it should. You see, I've been trying - again - to do it all myself. It's shockingly easy for me to think that I can carry all the burdens of what "should" be done over the next few days. God gently, lovingly reminded me (again!!) that I am not designed to make it all work. I am designed to be just as fragile and overwhelmed as I'm feeling, but only because I haven't let Him be in control of the schedule. My simple prayer, "Today, I lay all of my expectations down, Lord. Today is yours." brought immediate peace to my soul. I was able to focus and write a to-do list that suddenly didn't seem quite so daunting.

Today I choose to let God take control of "the schedule." It's such a simple thing, really. But it is so difficult to remember in the midst of the planning and striving to make it work. I pray that letting go is much easier for all of you.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Preserving memories...

Last evening I had the joyful task of deciding which photos to purchase from our good friend, a professional photographer. Seeing each of my kids' sweet faces captured by her camera almost reduced me to tears. (Ok, so I cried on the way home.) How did they get so big? Where did the time go? I was most awestruck by the joy and love that was captured by her lens. Pictures of piggy back rides and tickle fights, a sweet kiss by my husband, my son taking the baby's hand... Spontaneous moments that may have been lost forever had our dear friend not been there.

Not every moment can be captured on film, but today I'm going to focus on the "camera" in my heart and mind. It's the one that whispers "click" when you glimpse a beautiful sunrise or a perfect flower, or a precious family moment. You know, that I wish time could stand still feeling. I'm struck by how easy it is to forget all the beautiful little moments of every day. The sweet smell of a freshly-washed toddler, my son telling me that I'm the "beautifulest mommy ever," my daughter snuggling up with me on her bed and pouring out her heart, catching my husband's eye over the chaos of three little ones...I choose to remember this.

As you watch your precious family today, let your heart whisper "click" for those little moments, and then thank God for the privilege of remembering.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Lies We Believe...

Everyone else's house is cleaner than mine...
My children haven't learned enough...
They will never master fractions and long division...

Sound familiar? For me, the answer is yes. I realize that these "little" lies we believe about ourselves and our abilities to homeschool our children aren't so "little" at all. If I believe these lies I tell myself about my abilities, then I am not walking in the freedom that Christ purchased for me on the cross.

I seriously doubt that God looks down from Heaven to my humble little schoolroom and counts the cobwebs and goldfish cracker crumbs that reside there (although, trust me, he could.) I'd like to think that he sees three happy children laughing and playing while they learn and a mommy who is loving every moment. Isn't that why I chose to homeschool in the first place? So that we could be together? So why then do I believe that a clean house is more important than happy children?

As I put the finishing touches on my eldest daughter's portfolio for this year, I am blown away by the amount of material we did, in fact, cover. And what is more, she not only learned some cool things, she excelled! I had to keep inventing more topics to cover, more books to read, because she devoured everything I put in front of her. I am so thankful that God has given my children a desire to learn. And while we may not have completely mastered fractions and long division, I have seen growth in my children's character. I'll take that over an A+ any day! So why then do I worry that they aren't learning "enough"?

Homeschooling moms sometimes feel the weight of the world on their shoulders - and we allow it to be there. Today I feel God calling me to walk in truth. Confront the lies head on. Your home isn't the dirtiest in America. Your children have learned something, even if it is just how much you love them. Jesus is just waiting for us to lay down our burdens at the foot of His cross, waiting for us to walk in freedom. Let Him carry you through your school day today and I am certain that His love will remove any fears you may have about your abilities.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Who am I?

I was privileged to hear a wonderful message on Sunday that challenged me to really think and examine myself. The speaker challenged us to evaluate how we and how others define who we are. Today as we start a new week of schooling, I want to extend the challenge to helping my children know who they are.

One of the greatest gifts we as homeschooling parents can give to our children is to let them know they are "fearfully and wonderfully made" by a loving Heavenly Father to do good work He has planned for them. We need to make sure we daily remind them of that. God has a plan for them and you as their mother and teacher will be in the trenches with them watching this plan unfold. I am blessed every day that I see fruit from the training and correction that is applied in their lives. (And when I don't see the fruit I remind myself that it will come!)

Further, homeschooling allows us to be flexible in our educational approaches. Our children won't have to try and stuff themselves into artificial molds so they can "fit in" in a school environment. They can be who they are more fully. They can be who the Master Potter created them to be, and be celebrated instead of restrained. Delight in the uniqueness of your children! My son likes to do his reading assignments hanging upside down off of the couch in our school room. I am thankful that his wonderful little boy energy can be channeled instead of him being told it is "unacceptable." My daughter is an endless doodler in her notebooks. It is not a sign of a distracted child. It actually helps her to concentrate on what is being said. Our children will do their best, not by manipulation or the promise of a reward but because they know they are working for Jesus. What a blessing they will be to future employers!

Every day we homeschool we are "training up our children." May God bless you with renewed commitment to help your children know who they are.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Finishing Well...

"...and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us..." 
Hebrews 12:1

At this time of year, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with the last minute details and loose ends in your homeschooling. I know that I am ready to be done with school and enjoy some more unstructured time, and my kids have been ready for quite a while too. These are the days when we seem to "forget" basic math facts and sight words as we gaze longingly out the window at the sunny skies and the promise of play later. 
Just this week both of my darling scholars declared (actually whined may be a better word) why can't we just get this over with. Trust me, after having to redirect everyone's attention back to the task at hand for the thousandth time, I was beginning to wonder the same thing. I sensed that there was a greater lesson here for all of us. God brought Hebrews 12:1 to mind and I stopped everything and prayed that God would give us the desire to finish well. 
It would be so easy these days just to say, come on guys let's just get this done so we can have some fun. I don't think that is the lesson I want them to learn, however. Sometimes the greatest reward comes in persevering through a task that is challenging (and if you can even throw some joy in there too, WOW). I don't want to inadvertently teach my children that unpleasant tasks should be rushed and treated with less than their best effort. It's about teaching their hearts (and mine) to want to finish with the enthusiasm and determination with which they started. That is the attitude that honors God. I've decided to be cheerful as we finish this year's schooling with endurance and grace. I wish the same for all of you. Enjoy your journey today!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Is anybody listening to me???!

"Have you heard a single word I said?", "Is anyone hearing me today?", "I might as well be speaking to the wall" (my personal favorite)...ugh. Would that these phrases weren't repeated over and over. I have to admit that there are days when I really do feel that the wall would be more responsive to my requests. My response to "did you hear me" is often a blank stare. So why do I care so much? Why is it that I think that what I have to say is so important?

I've found myself recently convicted by the passage in James 1: 19 -20,
Know this, my beloved brothers: 
let every person be quick to hear,  
slow to speak, slow to anger; 
for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
We all probably even have that passage memorized. I know I do. But memorization is not the same as having it written on my heart...
Am I quick to hear? or am I already planning what I'm going to say next? Sometimes I am probably more apt to be quick to dismiss. But being a good listener is what God wants for us. He knows that in the discipline of "hearing" we see into the heart of those who are speaking. When we are true "hearers" we find empathy and compassion overflow and the love of Christ is able to come from us. Hearing is a discipline. If we find it difficult to listen to those we are with, how much more difficult it will be to hear God. Hearing must be practiced and cultivated.

Am I slow to speak? No. How many times have I said something and then immediately wished I could take it back? Being slow to speak means dying to yourself. It means overcoming the fleshly need to be heard, overcoming the feeling that what you have to say is "important." It also allows us to use discernment. What a wonderful gift to those around us when hasty words are left unspoken.

Slow to anger...Whew! Now that is really asking a lot, Lord. Don't you see how frustrating my life is with three small kids underfoot, cooking, cleaning, refereeing, consoling, laundrying, and trying to fit in school amidst all the chaos?? He does see. And he knows that living in a constant state of near-eruption is not healthy for us, or for those around us. Our frustration doesn't fix anything because we are selfish creatures. I'm usually angry or frustrated because things haven't gone according to my plans. When we turn to God in the midst of our anger, He will calm us. When we turn to God after we've been angry, He will help us repent of our sin. 

You see, God is gentle to us. He wants us to willingly heed his call to slow down. And until we do, he is long-suffering. He truly wants the best for us and holding our tongue, hearing those we love, and keeping our tempers in check will bless those around us!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Coffee with my Father

I am a self-confessed coffee fanatic. Next to running out of diapers, not having coffee in the house requires immediate action. I love meeting friends at a coffee house and sitting and chatting over steaming cups of caffeinated goodness. Unless I'm terribly short on cash, I'm always up for a coffee date with friends.

Not so long ago, I was convicted, not that I was drinking too much coffee (thank goodness), but that I wasn't having coffee with the right "person".  I would wake up and enjoy a cup of coffee and (on very rare occasions) enjoy some quiet before the children awoke. But my Bible was in the basket next to the recliner virtually unopened outside of church on Sunday. Sure, I had some really good excuses for why I didn't have time for devotions and prayer (you who homeschool understand) but God whispered to me "Come away with me for a bit, we'll drink coffee and chat like old friends too." So, I did. I poured myself a fresh cup of coffee and opened my Bible and started to read and pray. I felt the Lord's presence in an exciting way that morning as I had coffee with my Heavenly Father. I prayed for my still-sleeping children, for my husband and for the many other things that I never quite got around to praying about (like school of all things). I opened God's word and read scriptures with new eyes.

I encourage you to wake up a little earlier and turn your home into God's coffee house. He desperately wants to meet with you!

God bless!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

And so it begins...

Blogging about our adventures in homeschooling has been on my heart for quite a while now. I've tried to ignore it, unsuccessfully. You know how it is once God puts something on your heart... You can only run and hide for so long - check out the story of Jonah if you don't believe me.

I certainly don't feel like a "homeschooling expert" but it is something that I am passionate about. To me, homeschooling your children is not so much a choice as a calling. Trying to do it without God is impossible. His mercies are new every morning. If today wasn't a stellar day in your homeschool journey, have faith that tomorrow will be better.

I don't have all the answers, but I do hope that I can offer some encouragement to those who are also educating their precious ones at home.