Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Completed: Our Last Year of Homeschool

It has been an adventurous, glorious, roller coaster the past four years. I have felt so certainly called to be primary teacher to my kids. And I think, although I see weaknesses and faults in my abilities, we have all learned a lot together. I know by the government's standards we are doing well because the boys absolutely ACED their standardized tests. I question more whether I have taught them all that I can about Christ and walking with Him. THAT is the important question!

It has, by far, been our busiest year yet!
Academically, Jackson and Joshua's 5th and 3rd grade years...
Math: Lessons 1-150 in Horizons 5 (or 3)/ many multiplication and division drills/ 1-2 hours every day of hard work
Grammar: Lessons 1-150 of BJU Press 5 (or 3)/ 7 major writing assignments/ much chanting/singing of grammar memory work
Spelling: 32 lists and tests from Abeka 5 (or 3)
Logic: 40 middle school level puzzles solved
Latin: Completed English from the Roots Up
Geography: Map skills book completed/geography of Europe and Asia as we studied the wars of the 1900s History: Sonlight, Core E completed (1800s and 1900s) In our 4 years to homeschool, we studied Creation through today!
Science: Completed Christian Kids Explore Chemistry/ weekly science experiments
Reading: Read 31 chapter books from the Sonlight Core E course! VERY impressive!
Art: Drew many historical subjects: Mt. Rushmore, M.L. King, world war I soldier, etc. from the Draw Through History series. Also took a fabulous art class!
Bible: Lots of reading and Who Is God? from Apologia

What a year we have had.  I have two very bright, hard-working sons.  I am so honored and proud!

Monday, May 21, 2012


This weekend has been extremely difficult.  Really missing our "old life" and really feeling out of place here.  So many fun things going on for the children.  I do not know why it has hit me so hard.  But I have been really struggling.  The people who surround us here have such radically different worldviews, it is sometimes very hard to understand.  Maybe I am just weary from putting in so many hours in the car, getting the children to the classes/places that they need to go.  But at the same time, I want to be in the car.  Because if not, that means I am here, often times feeling lonely and sometimes still reeling from the fact that I am living here.  I have plenty to fill my days, yet I am completely out of my element.  And often times Andy is working, or falling asleep as I am desperately trying to explain all this to him.  Except this weekend when he got a major ear full.  And really, what good does that do?

I feel really selfish and guilty for letting this move effect me in such a deep way, STILL, after over a year.  I know there are people with far, FAR greater woes than mine.  But still, in my heart and mind, it feels like a real trial.  In fact, it feels like one of the most difficult trials in my life.  I am looking forward to the fall when the kids and I will be involved in such an amazing school.  I just hope we can keep up with the pace of a very challenging school, outside activities, and 2 hours a day in the car.  It's a lot of responsibility and a little overwhelming to think about.  But I think we can do it and I look forward to the change, even with its challenges.

It just seems so very hard to combine what we love into one life together.  And in my own weakness and selfishness, I am tired of all that this requires of me.  I feel so vulnerable sharing these feelings.  But someone out there may take comfort in the fact that even the sweetest relationships are filled with difficulties, if we are honest with ourselves.  Marriage, with all of its beauty, can be very hard.  Life, with all of its beauty, can be very hard.  This is the essence of wearing flesh and living here (not here as in rural Alabama, but here on earth). :)

Nonetheless, I know that being a Christ-follower is about seeking His glory and pushing through the difficulties, with eyes fixed on Jesus and not myself.  In Him and through Him I can move forward and give of myself as He asks me to.  He is the prize and not my current happiness.  Seeking his joy and peace today.  And until I receive it, marching forward into whatever today brings, knowing that it is one step closer to Jesus.  Praying He can be glorified in this messy life of mine!  Lord, help me live out these words...

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for each other."
I John 3:16

"May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
John 17:23

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Her favorite

Lydia Joy has made it plain and clear to me that gymnastics is her favorite thing.  She really, REALLY squeals and jumps when it is Monday.  I am still not sure if it is because she gets to socialize more (while waiting in line at each apparatus), or if it is a true love for the sport.  But either way, she has had so much fun.

Lydie with her medal!

As I wrote a few posts ago, she was not able to be a part of the last gymnastics meet.  But last night was her end-of-the-year show.  She did such a great job!  She even volunteered to open the entire show, being the first to do her floor routine!   
During her floor routine

With her friends from class.  Next to the smallest, of course.

Before this year, she had never taken gymnastics and could only do a forward roll.  In class this year she learned to do a back bend, a backward roll, a cart wheel, a head and hand stand, mount the bars and beam, and so many other little skills.  She has been faithfully practicing at home and doing lots of sit-ups and push-ups.  It is fun to see her excitement and dedication.  Her ultimate goal is to be a cheerleader. :)  There really is no way to describe how fun it is to watch your own children do well at something they enjoy.  Her gymnastics teacher's prayer is that the discipline used in class will carry over into every area of their lfe.  That is my prayer, as well.

Dad came to the show and then took us to Pizza Hut afterwards.  Thanks, Poppy!

She couldn't even walk across the beam without holding her teacher's hand.  So proud of her progress!

Mother's Day

I had a sweet day this year. Roses, gift card, breakfast in bed, and sweet notes from everyone. After a wonderful service at church, we met both sets of grandparents and my brother and sister in law and their kids at The Melting Pot. I love a meal at this restaurant because it takes several hours to get through all the courses leaving time to talk to everyone. Funny thing, my Mom picked out the exact gift for me that I gave her- a potted geranium! And my Mother-in-law gave me an owl for my new classroom, which was so thoughtful. It is so nice to feel appreciated.  That evening we sat around and allowed ourselves to be completely lazy- reading, playing the Wii, and chatting. I feel so overjoyed for the privilege to parent these three amazing people and to have a Mom and Mother-in-law who love us.

The children's cards were all darling. Here is what Jackson's said:

Dear Mom.
Let me count all the things I love about you.
1. You really, really, REALLY like hugs!
2. You are passionate about cursive and history.
3. You are very good at multi-tasking. (He inserted a picture of Lydie crying, Josh saying his finger hurts, and Jack asking for help with math.) :)
4. You are loving and caring. (He drew a caption of himself saying he lost his spelling book and me saying, "That's okay, dear."
5. You can draw a mean Garfield.
6. You are good to have on a basketball team. (With a picture of me playing basketball with Andy, shoving him and telling him, "You're in my way!!")
7. You make really, really good food.
And most importantly...You're MOM!

Isn't that the sweetest? Hope all the Moms out there felt celebrated! (**Pictures to come**)

"I desire to be a Mother, if only to give food to the craving activity of my soul. Maternity is an enterprise in which I have opened an enormous stake...Motherhood will develop my energy, enlarge my heart, and compensate me for all things by infinite joys!"
-Honore de Balzac

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Conquering Fears: Lydie's Ballet Recital

When we came back from our big ski trip in January, Lydie went through a strange phase for about a month.  She cried any time she had to be away from me.  Even if she could see me in the waiting room at ballet or gymnastics, she cried.  It was really unlike her and difficult for us both.  Of course, most people attributed it to the fact that she is not in preschool, and consequently she is "around me too much". 

But knowing her ability to be so flexible and eager before, I knew that was not a rational explanation.  So I tried to meet each situation in prayer, with the need to discern as each week passed how best to walk her through her fears.  At times this meant sitting in the room at ballet.  And at others it meant telling her that her fears were irrational and that we would pray together and then I expected her to meet a new goal.  Eventually, after 6 weeks or so it passed. 

During those weeks she had her first gymnastics meet.  Actually, it was right after our trip.  And she wanted so badly to earn a trophy and do well for her teachers.  But her fear to be away from me and in front of so many strangers won, and she just couldn't go out and do her routines.  We had to leave empty handed.

Well, yesterday was her ballet recital.  Now granted, that gymnastics meet was in January, many months ago.  But still, I remember how awful it was for all of us.  And I was a little nervous that those fears would rear their ugly heads.  But thankfully, they did not!  She got on stage and danced her little heart out.  She was so excited, and even though she was nervous (it was a packed auditorium and quite intimidating), she controlled her fears and remembered all that her teacher and we had taught her.  It was glorious!  God is so faithful.  And he gave us just the right name for our girl- Lydia, meaning "strong and beautiful".  He shows us his power and beauty again and again through the life of our girl.  What a gift.

 Unfortunately, my mean, old computer has lost all of the pictures from the recital except this one.  This is Lydie with her ballet teacher, post-recital.  She danced to "Take My Life and Let It Be" for her ballet routine, and a Tinkerbell song for jazz.  It was so darling!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The luxury of date night

The only pictures we have together are always these very unflattering, super-close-up shots we take of ourselves.  This one was in the car post-dinner, pre-concert.
Thursday evening we enjoyed a real treat. Our friends invited us to dinner and a concert in Birmingham. I thought it might be a little much for Andy to have a late night during the week. (He has worked 5 am til 7 pm lately on the farm.)  But he insisted we go because our friends arranged childcare at their house. It was such a luxury, sitting around holding hands with Andy, a babysitter watching the kids, adult conversation with our friends. Not to mention the amazing French restaurant (Shez Fon Fon) with a great table out on the patio, cool weather, and later drinks and the music of Sandra McCracken at Workplay. What a perfect date night! Thankful for God's provision through friends who convince us to get out and enjoy. And so thankful for my handsome guy.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Our smallness

"God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him."
John Piper

God has been putting a reoccurring theme in my life lately.  And that theme is that I am so very small, and He is so very big.  I have been asked to pray for so many people lately who have suffered or are in the midst of great suffering.  The husband whose wife shattered the bones and damaged the organs along the entire left side of her body, tip to top, in a car accident.  Also, a couple of cases of traumatic brain injury, one to the college student in a car accident and one to the high school student in a golf cart accident.  Mom as she continues to recover from surgeries and chemotherapy.  The list goes on and on and reminds me of what a blessing good health is and how it should be cherished.  And it also reminds me that I am not in control.

As I pray and look ahead to the fall where I will have less influence and time with my children, I feel so small.  I realize how many new challenges will be a part of their lives that they have only experienced on a small level.  Some include peer pressure, more of an emphasis on grades/performance, etc.  Although I feel like we are being called to make this change, and I am so, SO excited, I realize how little I can control.  Even in the most conducive atmosphere to godly friendships (wonderful Christian school), I cannot control many things that they will experience in their personal relationships.  And the good thing is, I am not called to do the impossible.

I am called to point them to Jesus, but I am not their Savior.  I am to teach them that this life is not about them (getting their way, putting themselves first, acquiring stuff, etc.), it is about the glory of God.  I am called to fill my speech with His grace, be sorrowful and prayerful over my sin and theirs, point them to God's Word and other means of grace, and pray for them all the time.  I can pray for them to repent and turn from their sin, but I am not their Redeemer.

Sometimes I forget my priorities.  I think about what they are wearing or involved in as my priority for the day.  Do they look nice?  Should we go to this camp?  Some days I put the temporal ahead of the eternal.  Instead of seeing the times that they sin as opportunities to point them to the gospel (both through gentle mentorship and firm consequences), I feel angry with them instead of compassionate and sad.  I cannot control their hearts.  They are sinners, just like their Mama.  We are in this journey of sanctification together, and it is a serious, daily battle.  I am so little, He is so big.  I have so little control. 

But the more time I spend with Jesus, the more I realize how comforting it is.  I am little and there are many things that I really want to turn out a certain way.  But He is in control of the universe!  And He is glorious, all-knowing, and wise.  He knows the number of hairs on our heads, every detail of our hearts and minds.  And we are created for Him, for His glory, not our own.  It is so freeing to just let go and trust a Big God.  And it is nice to know that when I fret again, He will still be merciful and kind to me, His beloved. 

Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise to the Lord
All the land.
Serve the Lord with gladness.
Come into His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is He who made us and not ourselves.
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him and bless His name.
The Lord is good.
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.


Sunday, May 06, 2012

Ladies at the lake

Yesterday some ladies at our church went to the lake for the day. Something I have noted for the last five years or so is that ladies with more life experience (older) are so much more fun, blunt, and easy going. One lady read a poem about the ABCs of getting older that was hilarious.  I laughed a lot and really enjoyed a day of yummy foods, laughing, and just sitting around talking.

I love all of the perspectives of a group with various ages. There were talks of everything from pregnancy to being a widow. Such precious time. I am sure I will find a lot of friendships and mentors here.

Big news around here...after three weeks on the market our Atlanta house is under contract!! To God be the glory for this answered prayer. Looks like both of our concerns financially will be answered. We only had to come down $1000 from our asking price and we only paid 2 months of mortgage payments (renters moved out in April). We are amazed and humbled. I honestly believe God allowed us to rent the house to our friends the past year because I would have been devastated to sell it and close that chapter of our lives a year, or even a few months, ago. But now that I have so many wonderful things and people to love here, I feel ready to let it go and move on. And of course, he wanted our friends to live there during that time for reasons that their family needed.

A sweet young couple is buying it- it will be their first house. Cannot wait to meet them. The years in "the white house" were the best I have lived so far. I am hopeful that soon that will change and the farmhouse will hold memories of our sweetest years. Cannot wait to find out!  Also this weekend celebrated my handsome nephew's birthday.  The big ELEVEN!  Unbelievable.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

A prayer for May

This describes how I feel this morning beginning the exciting, yet impossibly full, month of May (and then the summer months, too).  I feel like God has given us wonderful, purposeful things to do.  But I am not sure how to do them all (and have time for sleep).

Saw this verse this morning that helped me heart quit racing and calm down a little:
"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us- yes, establish the work of our hands."
Proverbs 90:12,17

So magnificent Father, establish the work of this day and the 30 that follow.  Show me how to support my husband as he harvests and takes his first delivery of vegetables to our CSA in Atlanta.  Show me how to keep the boys on track in order to finish school on time.  Show me when to say yes...there are so many fun things they want to do with friends.  And so far, I have said yes to every single one.  Is this wise?  Show me how to love my little girl well, as she is by my side the whole day long and sometimes I get tired of talking and cuddling, even though she is darling and her requests are usually reasonable.  Lord, show me how to feed my family well, even though this requires cooking and baking that I often do not feel like I can give any more time or energy to.  Equip me to do what you have called me to do with energy and passion!  Help me, Lord, to be responsible, keeping my calendar and commitments straight.  And when I disappoint, please gift others with grace.  Remind me gently to be thankful and not anxious.  All of these friendships and activities are a gift we have asked for.  Help us to finish them all well, remembering all that is needed to wrap up each thing we have been involved in.  Lord, there are so many extra details almost every day of May.  So much to do and remember.

And Lord provide the time I need to gather for the flea market, prepare clothes for the consignment sale, prepare books for the book sale, help Mom decorate, and sew those pillows for the money we need to start the next school year.  So much to buy, such a tight budget!  And now is the time to start working towards all the money that will be needed.  And thank you Lord that as I type, a couple is preparing an offer on our Atlanta house.  Please allow it to be THE ONE! 

In the bustle of birthday parties, field trips, spend the night parties, and all of the end of the year parties and recitals and programs, help us to remember those in need, too.  Help us not to be completely full of ourselves.  Remind me, when I am overwhelmed, that our neighbors and people in our church body, are hurting and need us.  Remind me to visit the neighbor who lost her husband.  Remind me to make the meal for the couple who is stuck at home.  Remind me to invite the friend over for dinner whose husband travels.  Because it really is yucky to just focus on ourselves.  Not just yucky, but empty.

Show me when to stop everything and help my husband.  Let me not do it out of guilt or compulsion, but help me to hear your voice and follow you, and to love this incredible man well.  In all these things, show me how to follow you.  You are our Rock, and we labor in vain without you to lead our way.  Be glorified in our chaos because we love you and live for you!