Thursday, December 29, 2011


This is my word for 2012. Intentional. Being purposeful does not come naturally to me. I am an ideas girl who likes to make big plans and yet the follow through is often lacking. This can be an assest when flexibility is needed, but frustration arises when the day/month/year has past and all there is to show for it is a lot of could've/should've/would've.

Instead of my typical New Year's resolutions, I've instead set some specific goals in several areas of my life. These aren't just aspirations, but actions that can only be done with intention. I'll leave the end result to God.

Spiritual: Memorize Colossians 3. Join or lead a Bible Study for some portion this year. Read through the Bible with a 3 year plan.

Relational/Family: Write one hand written note per week and actually send it. Pray individually with each of my children once a week. Go on a "date" with each of the kids once a month (even if it is just going to the store together.) Show one intentional act of love to Sean each day in word or deed.

Financial: Establish a written, monthly budget. Balance the books each Saturday. Organize and collect coupons for shopping. Carry cash to pay for consumables (food, gas, misc, clothing, eating debit card for these).

Social: Host one family a month for dinner. Blog once a week.

Physical: Move on purpose at least 20 minutes per day (even if just walking in the evening). Work out at the Y with Sean in the morning at least once per week. Avoid completely white foods (sugar, flour, rice, potato.... Sounds extreme, but I'm all or nothing when it comes to food).

Career: Read two books related to lactation. Attend one seminar or conference in my area. Complete my education requirements at work on time and attend 50% of staff meetings.

It looks like a lot, yet each could be achieved by simply being aware, being available and being willing to be intentional.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Oh, how I wish I could blog again. I do miss sitting down with this old friend. It's not only therapeutic, but the best way I know of recording our lives. But, alas, life must be lived and little time or energy is left at the end of the day it seems.

So here's all that has transpired in these last few months:

1) We just finished our first 9 weeks of school. We are LOVING Classical Conversations and the depth and scope of the program. I already feel that the kids have learned more grammar (my weakness) in this first section than I would teach them in a year. I'm especially excited to see how this program plays out for my younger ones who will get the information up to six times over the course of grade school. The burn out on homeschool that I was experiencing at this time last year has dissipated. What an answer to prayer.

2) Having a high school student keeps me hopping! Hannah just finished volleyball season and begins 4 months of basketball next week. It is so rewarding to watch her spread her wings a little farther balancing heavy a academic load, new friends, sports, church activities.... Even if I'm just in the stands watching, I don't want to miss a thing! It's been painful at times, yet she's figuring it out. I'm so thankful for our relationship and that she remains open with us. Having her dad at school and as a teacher is just an added bonus. In fact, many nights we have to kick her out our room after talking so we can get some rest.

3) Lydia, too, is finding her way through 8th grade. We couldn't be more pleased with the school she is attending. The respect that is displayed there between students and teachers and visa versa is profound. We purposefully placed her where Hannah had not been. It's got to be hard being 13 months behind your sister and so completely different. We didn't want her to have to struggle with comparisons. She's working really hard and applying herself like never before. There have been a lot of tears, but also a lot of growth that could not have come otherwise. She even tried out for the volleyball team and had a great time!

4) My sister and I held our second consignment sale last month. There's something about having a business that I really enjoy. I love the planning and casting the vision for what is to come. More than that, though, I believe in what we are doing and am excited for others to benefit. Working closely with Barbara has only added to the blessing. We are a good team in that we are alike and different in just the right ways.

5) On the homefront, I feel like I'm loosing control of my house. Nothing new there. I began painting and rearranging the rooms downstairs. This has been an ongoing project which now leaves us with practically nothing to sit on and many other chores undone. Why is it that any extra home projects always spill over into chaos everywhere else? I'm rereading some books and looking for a routine to rein this mess in. I'm open for suggestions.

6) It's finally feeling like fall here. I'm going to my college reunion next week with my roommates and favorite girlies in the world. Can't wait! I'm also very much looking forward to this season of Thanksgiving and hosting our families again. God certainly has given us much to be grateful for.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

First Day of Homeschool 2011

We had a great first day getting organized and oriented to the year ahead. Our school is down to five now as Lydia will be attending a local private school for 8th grade. Being that this is my 10th year of homeschooling, we decided it was time for a change. The curriculum has become increasingly eclectic through the years and thus increasingly complicated for the teacher. Therefore, this year we will be streamlining and participating in Classical Conversations. We are blessed to already know many of the families in the group as friends. I think I'm the most excited since I know what great things are ahead!

In attempts to make our first day extra special, we started with cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Then we sat down and we came up with the "school rules". We each contributed one. Not much changes from year to year, but I always love the way the put things in their own words.

1. Don't cry. Either ask questions or get some help.

2. Don't interrupt mom.

3. Obey the first time.

4. Put away your books every day. If you can't find a book, you owe mom a dollar.

5. Ask for permission to use the school art supplies so they don't get lost. (That was mine:)

6. Drink a bottle of water while you do your school work.

Next, we brainstormed some snack and lunch ideas and field trips. We discussed the daily schedule, too. Though it can't be the same everyday, we strive for routines.

Since we are going to be referring to a lot of timelines this year, the kids made their own timeline of their life starting with their birth and spanning into the future. Here's what they created. I think I'll keep these precious papers for a very long time.

Miriam, 6th grade. She's not thrilled about being the oldest this year, but honestly I'm looking forward to spending some time with this special girl.

Elizabeth, 4th grade. I love the way that she thinks in pictures.

Joseph, 3rd grade. He even included the date for when pictures of Pluto will be transmitted back to Earth. Who knew?

Rebekah, 1st grade. How could my baby girl be a first grader already? She's so ready and very excited!

John, PreK. I love the picture of him being a doctor when he grows up. He loves to help people especially when they need a bandaid.

Finally, we spent some time making up our own, pocket sized dry erase assignment sheets. This will be just a quick check list of daily responsibilities on one side and school assignments on the other. They had fun picking out the clip art and fonts. It became a little lesson in computer skills.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Wings to fly: Finances

How can it be that I'm a mom of a high school student? This seems nearly impossible since I, myself, just graduation from college. And yet, it is reality and I am actually excited to see what lies ahead as my older girls start to spread their wings. At the same time that Hannah goes to high school, Lydia will beginning a journey of her own. Her first school year outside of our home. They are ready and for once, I think I am, too.

When I consider that in four short years our oldest will be entering adulthood, I'm struck by all that still needs to be taught from our end as parents. We decided that the Freshman year we are going to be focusing on teaching our kids to budget, earn, spend, save and give wisely. The truth of the matter is that these things have to be learned through experience and practice with room for error. What a better place to learn that while still at home and early enough to get a firm grasp on it.

I can in no way take credit for this idea. I read it in a book last spring and thought it was brilliant. With some tweaking here's what we are doing:

1. We each made up a budget separately considering all of the out of pocket expenses that she incurs throughout the year beginning in August. Her catagories included: giving- tithe, gifts, clothing- necessities and wants, school- fees, supplies, lunches, sports- uniforms, camp fees, participation fees, game snacks, books, fun money. We encouraged her to research cost and try to think of every single thing that she might need money for and the real price.

2. We went out to lunch and had a "budget meeting" to compare. We had very similar categories and bottom line. After some small adjustments we signed it into agreement.

3. Sean and I are going to provide 80% of her budgeted needs in 2 payments (August 1 and January 1). She will be responsible to work, plan or readjust her budget for the remaining 20%. Each year of high school our provided percent will decrease and her responsibility will increase.

4. Now she is on her own to organize and keep track of where her money goes. We promised ourselves that we won't bail her out if she gets in a pinch. This will be a lot easier for me since at least I know that she has a roof over her head and food on her plate.

We've made it clear that although she has her "own money", we still are the parents and have the right to veto any purchase (specifically inappropriate clothing). Also, she has agreed to spend this money on the things specifically listed in her budget, so there will be no hoarding it back and then announcing a Spring Break trip to Florida. Truly, I wouldn't imagine these things happening. She is very sensible, but sometimes it is good to just get it all out there.

The younger kids have been watching this whole process carefully and are starting to take ownership. Miriam and Betsy are having some friends over for a sleepover next week. They went to the store with me to make out a budget of what they would need for rootbeer floats, crafts, candy, batteries for flashlights. They found some work to earn money and went back a few days later to make their purchases. They didn't even want me to walk with them in the store or help them through the checkout.

Overall, I'm looking forward to no unexpected costs creeping into the family budget, but yet I am also realizing I need to do some planning and extra shifts of my own. We are going to be shelling out a lot of cash here in the near future.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Home Again

Someone mentioned to me this week that it takes half as much time as a person is gone from home to get back into the routine. What a true statement. We've been home from our vacation a week now and I'm still trying to put life back into the order. We got an unusually amount of rain while we were away and the yard, tree and beds resembled something from the amazon.

Vacation was in one word, WONDERFUL. It was worth every effort and sacrifice to get there, that's for sure. My favorite part by far was just being together. No outside obligations. No deadlines. No interruptions. No schedules to juggle. Just being us.

This trip was particularly meaningful to me as it is the last summer before our oldest goes to High School. Our family's schedule is about to go to places never before seen. Four more years and our first child will possibly be leaving home. Time is more precious now than ever.

It filled my heart to see all of the kids playing together and relating to each other in their own different ways. A walk on the beach. Digging together in the sand. Playing pool games. Riding bikes. Reading books aloud at night. Talking for hours in the back of the van. Laughing. I am sure that our youngest will remember this vacation as a special time with their older siblings.

Another highlight for me was when my parents visited for a few days. One of my favorite childhood memories was when my dad took in me in the ocean for the first time and we played for hours. He was like a kid out there, as side of him I hadn't seen and yet endeared me to him even more. Twenty five years later it was just as much a thrill for me.

My mom and I had time just to talk and talk and talk. I always learn so much from her about what it means to love my children, so I am always so inspired after I've had some time with her. It was a special treat to do our talking with the waves lapping at our toes and drinking iced tea while watching the kids play.

On the way home we enjoy the hospitality of Sean's long time friends and fellow math teachers, Jim and Jane. They live in Georgia on a beautiful lake, which the children enjoyed after 10 hours in the van.

Here's the last set of pictures from our trip.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


The past few months I have enjoyed crocheting these hats for young girls and infants. I have not been pleased with any of my crocheted flowers and gave it up until now. I was inspired by some silk flowers I saw in a boutique and decided to create my own. What do you think?

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth


You can't be described in just a few words. From the day that you were born 10 years ago today you have shown yourself to be a girl who walks her own path. One would think that a girl who had three great older sisters would follow along in their shadow. But not you. You have your own style, your own ideas and an imagination that just keeps going. I love that about you.

Tonight as we ate your cake everyone shared what it is that they love about you:

Lydia: "Elizabeth is joyful. She always is smiling."

Hannah: "Betsy is friendly and always welcomes all people no matter who they are. She is also cheerful."

Joseph: "Elizabeth is wise. She always steps in when there is an argument and helps me get out of it. She my friend."

Rebekah: "She reads to me and likes to spend time with me and play with me. She makes my life fun."

John: "I like her hair and her face."

Daddy: "Elizabeth is friendly and smart. She brings others into our home and makes them feel welcome."

Me: "Betsy always thinks about others before herself. She's an example of living selflessly. She also is a quick learner and excited to learn something new and teaches her brothers and sisters."

Miriam: Well, Miriam just cried. Eventually she was able to say, "Elizabeth is my best friend and I love her so much."

I hope you know what an impact you've made on all our hearts in just these first ten years, sweet girl. Our lives are incredibly blessed because you are here.

I love you and can't even begin to imagine where God will take you in the next ten years. I can already see glimpses of a beautiful young lady shining through.

Love you, forever,

Thursday, June 2, 2011

How we got here

We just arrived in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to enjoy a three week vacation. We left as close to the end of school as possible and drove through the night to get here. I've been reluctant in many cases to tell people about our time away. Saying it seems a bit excessive. Three weeks? A family of nine? In a beach house?

Three years ago we were blessed with a similar opportunity through the Lily Teacher Fellowship. We never even conceived of such an idea on our own. As a long shot, Sean applied for this grant which would enable our family to live in Florida for a month, enjoy the local library and rec center, attend family Space Camp, explore Kennedy Space Center in detail and take in all the nature to our heart's content.

I think it is fair to say that experience redefined what vacation would mean to our family. Being able to stay in one location for an extended period of time allowed us all to step away from the pressures, busyness and dailiness of life to connect and grow closer together. At home our lives are very busy and if any of you know Sean and myself personally you know that the work never seems to stop. While we certainly did not lay on the beach everyday, but we did play together, explore and make memories. It was incredible.

Two things have happened since our last trip here, Sean has begun working for Texas Instruments traveling around the country providing instruction for other teachers. This means that much of the summer he is coming or going. No more lazy days of summer for this teacher. Secondly, we became serious about budgeting/saving with the intent that we could repeat our last trip on our own dollar. In fact, it was in the Cape Canaveral Library that I read Total Money Makeover for the first time and we laid out a plan to get out of debt. Please note that we aren't in a perfect place financially. It's a journey with many detours. But we were convinced with some ingenuity we could provide this vacation without incurring debt.

Knowing that this is the last summer for our family to be without a high school student (practices, jobs, camps, obligations,earning money for college...) and realizing that the youngest ones had no recollection of our last vacation together, we decided last August to start working and saving for a three week get away. Everyone was excited at the thought of returning to the same place. I thought that it would be a little easier to set aside the money, but found out otherwise in December when my hours at work began to be cut. Sean's extra work has become a necessity so we had to get a little creative.

Here's how we did it. I hope it will encourage you to dream big for your family and consider how you might work together to meet a goal.

1. We cut back on weekend trips and field trips this school year. No overnights in hotels- we just drive through the night.

2. We sold baked goods whenever we had a chance- garage sales, events at Sean's school, other people's garage sales.... (Actually, I think that my own kids probably raised half of the money themselves when I told them they had to pay $.50 like everyone else.) We used coupons and sales to buy premade cookie dough when possible to cut down on the cost.

3. We had a fall and spring garage sale. We earned several hundred dollars through these sales just from stuff we had around the house and really didn't use. We also sold our no longer used books/CDs/DVDs to Half Priced Books. A little bit here and there adds up over time.

4. We kept a jar and saved every bit of change we could. Last week we rolled almost $300 in coins.

5. We held "Babysitting Saturdays" at our home. This was a family effort in which we opened our home to kids from 4-7:30 on selected Saturdays, had a structured play time, craft and a light dinner. My younger children thought this was the best thing ever to have so many playmates over at once. I'm hoping the older girls continue this business on their own. It was a hit!

6. Sean had two regular tutoring jobs throughout the school year. We held back the checks and cashed them all right before the trip just to make sure the money didn't slip through the cracks.

7. We bought our gas on a gas card that gave a 5% rebate. I'm not a fan of credit, but I am a fan of rewards. As you can imagine, gas for a 15 passenger van is a huge expense.

8. We bought and cooked most of our meals in Indiana, froze them and hauled them in coolers. Prices are much higher here and it's a relief to know dinner is already made (from meat that I bought on sale.)

9. We cleaned houses. The older girls and myself put ourselves out for hire to do any job or project inside or outside. Usually the people had a list and we worked our way through it. We charged $30/ hour and stopped when we were told.

10. God provided- a generous thank you gift from a student's family, a bucket of change from a family member, gift cards, an unexpected refund check.

Was it worth it? I think the picture says it all.

It's so much fun to see the boys explore Kennedy Space Center. John really thinks that he is going to go up in a rocket.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

White Walls

I have just begun reading Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller have already been convicted of some hidden idols in my life that are hovering around in the corners. No, these are not small wooden icons or elaborate golden statues. These are the things, ideas, people and activities that I elevate to a place that is only the Lord's. I bow down to them with my affections, time, energy and hope. Many of these are seemingly harmless (oftentimes good) pursuits. Yet, No matter how I dress them up, when I have reserved for them the special part of my heart and mind that I've devoted to God, they are idols. Counterfeit gods.

Today in church our pastor told of his recent travels to Japan where he taught some theological classes there. One Japanese man was excited to share his conversion story. He told of the first time that he walked into a church. He stood and the doorway and was astounded by what he saw. It sent a chill down his spine and changed his life forever.

A white wall.

Ahead of him was a worshiping congregation of believers with nothing before them but a white wall. This man knew then that he had found truth.

Being from a background of Buddhism, idol worship was all that he had ever known. He knew enough to know that a mere statue could not save. His encounters with God had been littered with idols. This freedom from idolatry that he witnessed within the church was what led him on his road to Freedom.

When people see me I want them to see nothing but white walls. May there be nothing in my life to hinder the Truth from going forth.

I've got a lot of cleaning up to do and I'm only on the first chapter.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tough Love

Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3)

They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3)

Watching our children wade through the murky waters of teens is difficult. They are not perfect, nor am I. They are searching for purpose, direction, and identity in a sea of peers, expectations, new experiences, youthful desires. Their thinking is not always logical. Their decisions are impulsive. Their emotions run ahead of them.

What do I do when what initially appeared to be a childish decision has become a consistent part of their character? Am I to blame for not being persistent or jumping on it sooner? Could I have pursued another route or have I failed to see the heart of the problem too late?

If they were a toddler, the answer seems obvious. Immediate consequences. Restoration. Try again. With some young children the lesson is quickly learned. With others the reinforcement day after day is required, but with consistency and unconditional love it is received in time.

I am not willing to let our teenagers raise themselves. The world would be more than willing to scoop them up and carry them along. But I will face the conflict and the hurtful looks if that is what it takes. I will be the bearer of unwanted discipline and wipe away the tears if that is what is required. I will stay up all night and pray and repent of my own sin as it glares back at me. I will trust and stand of God's promises of fruitfulness, peace and life for those who follow Him.

Christ did not leave me in my sin to please myself. He reached down. Called me. Saved me from myself. Walks with me through this life. Molds me. Shapes me. Disciplines me as only a Loving Father can. Restores. Redeems. Rejoices over me.

That's tough love. That's what I'm living.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Another Update

Someday I WILL write again. I think that someday is soon since we are headed into our last two weeks of school! I will reflect on that when it's actually over. For now we are doing a year end review. I've never done this before and I'm not quite sure why since it has been a huge hit with the kids. I am pleased with what they have retained. I am also finding that with this review time some missing pieces are falling into place. I have big plans for opening our time capsules and one last surprise field trip.

Here's a wrap up since I last wrote a post:

1. As of this week, Hannah passed her concussion test and has re-entered the world of active 14 year olds. We are thankful each and every day for God's care over her life and this recovery process. I find myself thinking a lot about our soldiers and the thousands each year who sustain traumatic brain injuries of various degrees. There is so much more to the healing processes for patients and families than I ever imagined.

2. Though things at work remain slow for me, my sister and I are blazing a new trail. We have started our own consignment sale business. Our first event is in a few short weeks! Our prayer is that we will be able to serve our community and bless our families in the process. We are still in the beginning phases in so many areas, but I have very much enjoyed the process and look forward to growing our business.

3. Since I last wrote, Joseph turned 8! How could this be? As is the tradition in our family, he had his first sleepover party. He chose a Star Wars Lego theme. Being that this was our first boy party, let me just say that we weren't at all prepared for all the noise and activity. It was SO much fun.

4. I've been reading here and there when I can. The books by my bed are always an indication of what is on my mind and stirring in my heart.

Organizing from the Inside Out
Still Alice
Hamlet's Blackberry
Lots of books about Word Press (which have not helped me much)
Lots of books about small business
Friendship for Grownups
Do Hard Thing: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations

5. Raising teens reveals to me a lot about myself. More that ever I have to ask for moment by moment wisdom not to be reactionary, but to be intentional in the words I chose to speak. I fail more than succeed in that. My tendency is to avoid conflict, but when I realize we are in the last stretch of parenting at home this it is not an option. There have been many difficult, late night conversations as of late. That is all I want to say about that.

6. We are anticipating an early summer family vacation. The day after graduation we are headed off to Florida for three weeks. We've spent this entire year saving our change, working extra jobs, setting aside gift cards/gift money, selling what we don't use/need to make this happen. We aren't going there for a big adventure (though I'm sure some will present themselves), but rather just to be together as a family and enjoy one another. After this summer we'll always have children in high school and we suspect that an extended time away might never happen again. The younger two have little to no recollection of our last time in Florida, so they are especially thrilled to be going to the ocean. We are returning to Cape Canaveral beach and staying in the same house as we did three years ago.

7. Last, but not least, with encouragement from my neighbor I started the 17 day diet back in February and for the first time since John has been born (4 1/2 years) I have been losing weight! She loaned me the book. I read it in one day and have been losing weight slowly but steadily ever since. For whatever reason this diet speaks to my body in such a way that it is actually cooperating. True, there is discipline involved on my part. Let me say, though, that it is ALOT easier to be disciplined when there's a reward at the end.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Life as I know it

I'm looking at my calendar this morning and amazed at the difference. The past two months have been packed with activity. Perhaps not such a bag thing in the middle of winter. Our lives have been consumed by basketball, it seems. It's a good thing that we enjoy the game so much. I think the younger kids may have a different opinion, though. Recently, I pulled up to a building that looked like a school (it was actually a church) and John began to cry, "No mom. No basketball." They've been troopers.

As I look ahead the days seem much clearer. I'm envisioning working in my flower beds, reading on the porch, going to the park after dinner, riding bikes with the kids with an occasional interruption from the calendar.

Though I've personally been busy balancing the lives of the nine of us, this has also been an important season of growth for me. Though I haven't been blogging along the way, I want to share these things as a matter of remembrance and reference as to what God has been teaching me.

1. Joining the ranks of so many hard working Americans, I've experienced firsthand the effects of the recession. The hospital where I work has had to take important measures to cut down on extra staffing and expenses. As a result, my hours have been cut at least by half. I'm still technically on the schedule, but getting called off an hour before work is the norm for me. This has resulted in a mini midlife crisis for me. Is God closing this chapter of my career? Should I wait it out or look elsewhere? Am I to take a different road altogether? Maybe it is time for me to stay home completely? (Believe it or not, I've found balancing work with older kids somewhat more difficult than when they were younger.) At this point I'm still asking questions and waiting for answers.

2. As a result, I'm back to working hard on our family finances making every. single. dollar. stretch. We've been here many times before, but not with these high prices and big, hungry kids. As in all things, God is faithful and we are so fortunate for all that we have. Whenever I am discouraged, the Lord meets me right where I am. It could be a new pair of shoes passed on to one of the kids, or a gift card given as a thank you, or a great sale and just the perfect coupon, or a free promotion at the kid's favorite restaurant. Those kinds of blessings are often overlooked when we are living more comfortably. The fact that I'm teaching Dave Ramsey's homeschool curriculum to the Junior High class this semester has been a timely encouragement as well.

3. Sean took me to San Antonio for my birthday in February. He had a conference and I completely enjoyed the time away where the weather was warm and I had time just to be. I got yet another glimpse into my husband's life. It was an international conference so his teacher friends from all over the world were there. It was a pleasure to be introduced. One of the highlights of the trip was meeting up with a long time friend from college, Diana. She and her husband are missionaries in Mexico. I hadn't seen them since they were married ten years ago. Don't you love it when you can just sit down and talk for hours like no time has ever passed since you last met. It was a precious time of sharing our hearts and lives. Precious.

4. While we were gone on our little trip, Hannah sustained a concussion during a basketball game. This is perhaps one of the hardest things I have experienced as a parent. I wasn't here. I couldn't have prevented it, I know that. But our girl was hurt and has suffered ever since. Her physical symptoms have lingered (nausea, sadness, dizziness, fatigue), but the mental symptoms have been the real setback. She is now undergoing testing which measures her brain's ability to comprehend and process information, remember and problem solve. Last week's test showed her to be at the low end of "below average" and at 2% in another area. It has been a very real reminder that life is fragile. With physical and mental rest this past week, we've already seen marked improvement in her behavior. She will be retested every two weeks until her scores reach acceptable levels. This unexpected trial has resulted in many conversations about the whys and the what ifs, yet all the while realizing God's protection in it all.

5. This fall I returned to BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). This study has been a foundational part of my walk with Christ since our early marriage. However, once more babies joined our family and homeschooling came to the forefront, I stepped out in order to attend to these matters. This year I rejoined for the book of Isaiah and have been challenged and blessed on a whole different level. It's been a year of transition and growth for me. Without God's Word before me on a daily basis much would have been missed. What has Isaiah been teaching me? Listen. Watch. Follow. Trust.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I love it that many of my friends are bookworms. In college all of my closest friends had a literature bent. They would sit around and discuss characters, plots, themes... while I studied pharmacology and anatomy. Even now when we get together it is not long before the discussion turns to books.

I am also in awe of my friends today who have a love for words. I'm always encouraged when I read their end of the year lists knowing that they, like me, lead busy lives full of responsibilities. Their book lists quickly become mine and I'm encouraged to step away from the media and think for a while.

Not all of my friends blog the books they've read, but here are a few. Enjoy. I know I will.

Catherine @ A Spirited Mind

Heather @ Blackberry Rambles

Amy @ Kevin and Amy's World

If you have a book list or frequently review books, please leave me a comment. I'd enjoy learning about what you've been reading.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Winter Inspiration

The flu has hit us hard this year. As of right now five kids have the fever, chills, coughs and aches. Hannah, who had it first, slept for nearly 48 hours straight this weekend and somehow has managed to go to school and play basketball this week.

Not that I'm glad for illness, but I was secretly ready for a little break. This time of year is our busiest it seems for activities out of the house- practices, games, lessons, co-ops, work.... We are really focused on our schooling. There's not much recreation going on, so one day just runs into the next.

Having to just stop in our tracks, cuddle up on the couch, read a book, take a nap or just hold each other is a welcomed change.

I know a lot of homeschool moms are headed toward burnout at this point of the year. It seems like the end is in the far future and the beginning was so long ago that it's a distant memory. The books are no longer new and the creative ideas have slopped flowing. And when school becomes a grind for the teacher, the students quickly follow suit.

I was encouraged recently to go on a homeschool tour. Some moms from our co-op traveled together to eachother's homes and shared our resources, spaces, and ideas. A lot of times homeschooling moms talk about their struggles and frustrations. It was nice to be encouraged in such practical ways for a change. I was really struck by how different each of our schools operate and yet how well suited they are for each family. It was clear to me that each mom has been gifted by God to give their children just what they need.

I used to feel the need to compare our homeschool experience to everyone else's. God has slowly been working on me and freeing me from these unrealistic expectations. Since that time I find such inspiration and motivation when I'm introduced to another mom's perspective.

So while the troops are recovering I'm going to spend my days digging in to these new found treasures. Hopefully, when we are back full speed next week we'll be able to plow right through until Spring.

Word Roots
: A game in which the student builds a city building their vocabulary and spelling skills

Time for Learning: An online supplementary tool with games, lessons and printables.

Enchanted Learning: k-3 printable and activities

Draw and Write Through History

Life of Fred
A day in the life of Fred where he encounters math in the everyday. Written like a novel with a humorous story line.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Each Moment

I am continually humbled by how God is using my teenagers to teach me more about what it means to live for Christ. Many a late night conversation which started as frustrated tears has ended with....

How will I know which is the best way for me to go?

Why do I keep making the same mistakes over and over again? No matter how hard I try I'm always back where I started.

Where do I fit? What am I good at? What makes me different?

I need my life to count for something- something outside of myself.

I want to do something important with my life.

I have struggled with these same questions and had to learn again and again that life is not about the destination. It's about the journey to get there. The shaping of one's character happens in the dailiness of life. The constant rhythms. The ebbs and flows. The unplanned detours. The subtle interactions. Relationships. Regrets. Lessons learned.

This week one of my daughter's classmates was tucked in bed for the night with the flu and went to be with her Lord for eternity.

This has spent my mom mind spinning in a million different directions. Much of my striving as a parent is to get my children to a certain point academically, socially, spiritually. A destination. It seems at times as though the clock is ticking faster and faster....

I'm convicted this night by my own words. Life is about the journey not the destination.

Were my words today kind and encouraging?

Does she know there is NOTHING she has to do to earn my love?

Did I look up and look into his eyes when he wanted to show me latest drawing?

Was I approachable or too busy to give affection freely?

Did I give my children the Truth today?

Tonight I'm thankful for another day in the life of my children. The privilege to walk beside them and be their mom is one that I never want to take for granted.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Good Bye 2010

I admit it. I love January simply because it signifies the beginning of a new year. I'm one of those people who looks forward to changes and finds motivation in looking ahead. I'm not terribly sentimental about the past (except when it comes to my children). And I've always got a vision brewing in my head for what could be. In the meantime, decluttering, rearranging, planning and cleaning are in order for this month.

2010 in retrospect was a monumental one for our family. Hannah graduated from our homeschool to continue her education at a nearby private school. For the past 14 years we've been growing our family mainly within our home. Now the time has come to grow outward. It's been a change for us all, especially her siblings. Her presence is missed here, but she is flourishing in many significant ways. We are all SO proud and anticipating Lydia's move to private school next year.

These past two weeks of break have been the best yet. Sean was completely free from work responsibilities while I was able to clock in full time at the hospital. In between were many days of relaxation, family, friends and fun. What a perfect way to end 2010.

A long lunch with my college friends of twenty years. Priceless.

New games and lots of lego creations.

Dad time. I think the boys are going through withdrawal.

LOTS of sledding. My family dominated the hill.

Children's Museum

On the 31rst we finished using up our Summer Reading rewards. Two games of bowling, Laser Tag and Miniature Golf.

The wedding of our friends, Michelle and Jason, was on the 1st. We also treasured spending time with Jenny and Heather who were home from Africa.