Sunday, June 21, 2015

Menu Monday: Week of June 22nd

This week we have a full house and then some!  We are hosting 2 summer missionaries this week, Monday-Friday.  I will be preparing breakfast and dinner for our extra 'family' members this week...  not sure about lunch yet.  Ashley will be assisting me in the kitchen to help with the extra work.  I'm looking forward to taking care of these great kids!  The other factor in our menu planning this week is VBS, I am leading 1st graders each morning this week from 8:30-12:00 and my kids will be assisting as well.  With one car, extra bodies, and meals to boot... it is certain to be a whirl-wind week!

Breakfast: Banana Bread
Lunch: Sandwiches and fruit
Dinner: Grilled Herb Chicken and Kabobs with a Salad and Fresh Bread
Breakfast: Sausage and Cheese Eggs with Biscuits
Lunch: Chicken Salad
Dinner: Goulash, Salad and Bread Sticks

Breakfast: Waffles
Lunch: Left-over Goulash
Dinner: Chicken Stir-Fry

Breakfast: Omelet and Toast
Lunch: Left-over Stir-Fry and/or Tuna Sandwiches
Dinner: Pot Pie and Fresh Bread
     *I use a simple pie crust recipe lined in a 13x9 pan.  Pre-cut (cube) and pre-cook chicken, mix with chicken gravy or cream of chicken soup and frozen mixed vegetables.  Dump it all in the crust, cover with crust top and bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes.  It is a family favorite and too easy to make!  (I add a dash of sage, pepper, salt, celery salt, onion and garlic powders to my gravy mix for flavor)

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Mac-n-Cheese and Hot Dogs
Dinner: Beef and Bean Burrito with Salad

Breakfast: ?
Lunch: Leftover Burrito
Dinner: Burgers and home Fries

Breakfast: Eggs and Bacon with Biscuits
Lunch: Church Picnic and VBS Outreach... Bringing Pasta Salad and Brownies
Dinner: Snack

What are you cooking this week?


Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Obedience of Kings and Men

It is a crazy time we live in.  Hard to escape the obvious ulteriors in the world around us.  Turn on the T.V., walk through the store, sit in a restaurant.... you don't have to be anywhere, doing anything, for more than a few minutes and your senses are bombarded with the degradation and wayward faith all around.

Reading in 1Kings 11 this week, an old familiar chapter, God's Word really grabbed me concerning not just the state of the world, but more importantly, the state of Christians today.

In Kings we see Solomon sitting on the throne God established through his father David.  He is a good and wise king.  He built a magnificent temple. He erected an amazing house for himself and his successors.  People came from all around to hear his wisdom.  Even the Queen of Sheba recognized a mighty God above all gods as the only reasonable and responsible source for such wisdom and blessings.

Then it takes a turn.  You begin to see this ramping up of extravagance, an extravagance which even transitioned over into the king's private chambers.  Verse 3 tells us he had 700 wives "who were princesses" and 300 concubines... he loved many foreign women!!!  I simply can't imagine.  The worst part of these many companions was that he disobeyed God by taking many of them from nations God had warned Israel not to enter into marriage with (v.1-2) because He knew exactly what would come next.  And it did...

For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father....

....So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done.
- 1 Kings 11:4,6

He did two things wrong:
1. He did what was evil, a big part of which was building a "high place" for the gods of his wives and made offerings to them
2. He did not repent when God called him out...

And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods.  But he did not keep what the Lord commanded.
1 Kings 11:9-10

The result?  God would split the kingdom after Solomon died and, in the meantime, Solomon would meet much resistance.

You see, it wasn't just that he sinned.  His father David had his own list of disobediences including giving into lust and temptation.  BUT, the difference, David repented when he heard the voice of God and his sin was rooted out.  He repented and turned away from his transgressions and did not commit that sin again.  2 Samuel 12 holds a beautiful account of one such situation, some of David's Psalms of repentance and celebrating the forgiveness of the Lord come from this experience.  Hebrews 11, the 'hall of faith' even records David's name among those who are 'counted as righteous' because he obeyed God.

It's simple... but it isn't always easy.

1 Kings 11 and the emphasis I added above draws out a key point: Solomon did not WHOLLY follow God, he was not WHOLLY true to God.  Meaning, he still believed in God.  We don't know for sure but he may have even still visited the temple to offer sacrifices to God... he may have even still prayed... we aren't sure.  What we do know is these passages reflect a split.  He walked as though he could juggle his faith in God AND follow false idols at the same time.

It simply isn't possible.

I stopped and meditated on these words, seeing so much of modern society spilling out of the same concept.  So many Christians who declare "I go to church on Sunday, I'm a Christian. I believe in God."

...Yet they give themselves over to the idols of our time.... money, inappropriate entertainment, un-biblical ideologies, self worship, THINGS worship.... I could go on.

...Many of these same people visit the bars on Friday night, don't think twice about drinking to get loopy or even getting drunk. Scripture calls us to be sober minded, ready to defend the faith and so on.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
1 Peter 5:8-9 

...Many of these same people divorce because their spouse just doesn't 'fit' anymore, like a significant other is an old pair of pants.  Refusing to heed scripture which calls us to grace and long lasting sacrifice and perseverance and staying with the wife/husband 'of our youth'.

...Many of these same people are NOT digging into the Word of God daily, are NOT praying from their heart daily, are NOT surrendered to seeking God as the Lord of their life and are instead seeking worldly people to advise their life.  They are rejecting the wisdom of God for the way of man... something the book of Romans speaks extensively about.  Something we see dividing the Kingdom of Israel when Solomon's successor hits the throne in 1 Kings 12:6-11.

I'm not talking about a list of dos and don'ts... rather, this is the test of our faith: do we desire to bring God glory, or do we desire to please ourselves?  Yes, it takes effort and self-denial at first, but our love for God should be greater than our love of things which destroy our Christian witness and snuff out the light which could draw others to join us in the glory of eternity.  I'm talking about vertical commitment and pursuits verses horizontal or self recognition. It is a sobering thought to remember the words of James:

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!
- James 2:19

As I sat in this medication and heartbreaking reflection, one question glared at me:  What are the gods we worship in our lives?  What things and people do we put above the council and time of the Lord?

- Is anger running our lives more often then peace?
- Is frustration controlling how we respond more than patience?
- Do we count all goodness as "luck", a 'god' in itself, instead of recognizing blessings and giving praise to God?
- Does our Bible Study time suffer because we aren't willing to carve out that time and put God first?
- Do we neglect to pray through every tough spot and find praising God through every victory, big and small, pointless?
- Do we treat church like a sporting event?
- Do we put secular or un-biblical council above Christian or Godly council?
- Do we treat others according to our  moods and opinions or according to the grace God has given us?
- Do we sacrifice (time, energy, resources... whatever God asks of us) to the cause of Christ, allow ourselves to be drawn out of our comfort zone and even transformed, or do we put our wants, our comforts or the opinions of others above steps of faith?

The list could go on .... and on!  Many of the items boil down to a 'worship' of people, self, and things getting in the way of hearing and/or answering and worshiping God first.  Often times I wonder how much the modern message of salvation is planting these seeds of shallow faith.  It misleads believers to think it is less than the truly amazing thing it really is: JUST trust in Jesus and you will be saved.  Some even extend that to say, trust in Jesus and life will be better. Once you say that prayer you can go back about your life however you please because you've got eternity 'in the bag' now.


More like.... Make Jesus the LORD OF YOUR LIFE, submit (a dirty word in our country but a beautiful Word in God's design) submit to Jesus... this is "trust", this is what saves.  Obedience.  It is that.simple.


Will life get easier?  Not always.  But you know what you do get?  Peace.  When you submit to Christ, when you recognize sin in your life and repent, turning away from that sin and walking the other direction, God is glorified and your peace is in knowing you followed Him.  My favorite reminder lately when things are hard is this:

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
- Matthew 25:21

The only praise and accolade I seek is not of this world.... it is waiting for me when I cross that threshold into the Kingdom of God.  Worrying what other people think, well, Jesus knew all about that too:

Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.
- John 12:42-43 

Did Solomon love the approval of man (or rather, his wives) more than the approval of God?  We aren't certain, but all fingers point to yes because he did not repent.  He "loved" his wives.  He refused to make God Lord of his life any longer and for that, his life.... his kingdom.... fell into disrepair.

The same can happen to us.

Romans 3:23 tells us "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God".  Sin is unavoidable as we live in a fallen world.  Even once we are saved, sin is still something which needs acknowledging and rooting out, like David did.  We all know John 3:16.  We know it so well, we often glaze over the meat in it's meaning as Jesus' explained it to Nicodemus:

 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God."
John 3:19-21 
Yes, God sent his only son into the world to save us, our salvation is affirmed in denying "works that were evil" (aka sin).  This is how we walk in the light and bring God glory.  If we say we believe in God and we believe in what Jesus did for us... but still keep deliberately walking in sin the way Solomon did in his later years, then are we truly following God with our whole heart?  No.  We need to believe and allow the light of Christ to shine on the dark things in our life. To push those dark things out so Christ's light can shine brighter.  We are meant to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18a).  A stagnant faith, a walk that shows little to none of the light of Christ, draws into question the truth in our 'conversion' as seen in James 2.

Don't be a Solomon in his old age.  Instead, seek God daily...through His Word, through prayer.  Test all that you think, do,and say by the refiner's fire and that which is good and honoring to God, will withstand.  That which is not.... we must deny and throw away lest we end up on the path of Solomon.  Be mindful of what God is telling you.

I pray your walk is strengthened each day as you seek Jesus to be the Lord of your life... denying everything else which might jockey for a position above the only one who is above all!

Need encouragement?  Check out this powerful short video:


Monday, June 15, 2015

Menu Monday: Week of June 15th

This is Week 1 of a new weekly topic I wish to share here.... Menus.  I am a list maker (I might have mentioned that once or twice on this blog!!) and from what I have gathered upon visiting other bloggers... I am not alone.

A couple months ago during the Titus 2 link-up I discovered a sweet young gal and her blog Simply Lindsey.  She shares an array of neat tid-bits as a young newlywed. One of my favorites is her weekly menu share.  It is short and sweet and often linked with at least one recipe.  I realized, upon other website wanderings, Lindsey is not alone in menu sharing.

Menus are simply lists which keep us on task in weekly cooking.  They help us be more efficient with our time and money not just when we are shopping, but also as we plan out our days and the time needed to keep healthy and delicious food on the table for our families.

Biblical hospitality and care of our home and families applies here as well. I could go on and on about the various areas and our duty as housewives when it comes to planning and being diligent when it comes to what the Bible says.  There are a multitude of verses to inspire you here.  One that spoke to me in my Bible study recently and happens to be at the top of that list:

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. 
- Proverbs 21:5

The hard facts are this:
  • We eat better when I plan.
  • We often have more than enough when I plan.
  • Our meals aren't as satisfying when I don't plan.
  • Needed ingredients are often missing when I don't plan (or pay attention to the plan!!!).

So, without further delay, I shall share my menu for this week.  Please feel free to chime in in the comments section below and I will visit your site and menu as well!

This week we are down 2 kids until Friday Night since Brenden and Brooke are still at CYIA training and it is just Hubby, Ashley and myself.  It is strange to cook for so few.  Tuesday is Youth Group and Wednesday evening Ashley and I are attending a VBS meeting. Friday is a running day with grocery shopping and a 7pm 'graduation' Ceremony from training, we will need to leave early in order to attend so a quick-fix meal is a necessity!

Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs with Ham and Cheese pieces and Toast
Lunch: Hamburgers and Tortilla chips
Dinner: Skillet Herb Chicken over Salad
     *tip: cut chicken into small pieces no bigger than a nickle or quarter in diameter and you can make just a few pieces of chicken breast go a very long way!
Breakfast: Fried Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Left-over Chicken Salad
Dinner: Chili Dogs and Tortilla chips

Breakfast: Waffles  
Lunch: Left-over Chili Dogs with Baked Potato
     *I will bake extra potatoes and refrigerate for tomorrow night's dinner
Dinner: Mexi-Style Chicken with a side-Salad and Black Beans

Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs
Lunch: Left-over Chicken and fresh Bread (I love my bread machine!!)
Dinner: Fish Fillet and Oven Roasted JoJos
     *JoJos with the left over potatoes.  I will cut in half then cut each half into about 4 strips.  Bake at 425 degrees.  The less healthier version is to fry them or baste them with oil and then bake them!  Sprinkling fresh diced garlic on top before baking gives it extra flare!

Breakfast: Eggs and fresh Bread toast
Lunch: Pizza
Dinner: Chicken and Cheese Chimichangas from Costco with a side Salad

Breakfast: Popovers
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Burgers and chips

Breakfast: Sausage and Egg Biscuits
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Grilled Steak with Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions topped with Feta, Corn, green Salad and Texas Toast.... Ice Cream Cake for dessert... Happy Father's Day!!!

What are you cooking this week?


Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Business of Blogging


I recently read and watched as a fellow blogger went down.  Someone I had become bloggy acquaintances with back when we both first put up residence on the www.  Our hearts, at the time, rendered a similar tune.  I had observed, over the last year or two, as her blog became her business and her life became guarded.  I didn't understand at first.  The tender personal touch which drew me to her in the beginning was replaced with the business of the blog.  Her whole writing style changed.  My heart ached for her and as she shared the final words of her last post before dis-assembling the virtual home she had built, the core of her message shook me:  blogging for her had become superficial and the true pain and pleasures of life had become something to skirt around as the business of blogging had overcome.

I didn't want to become her.

So many blogs I visit, I see this same scenario in the works.  The business of blogging and the facade of life.  We get into a habit of only sharing the good or the desirable, carefully stepping around the messes or ignoring the elephant in the room!  Don't get me wrong, not everyone is this way, but everyone has this potential, myself included.  Not that we air all our dirty laundry (that just gets ugly!!) and the truth is, some things in our lives HAVE to be in our lives alone.  But so much more can and should be shared.

He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, 
that he might fill all things.  And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, 
the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, 
for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith 
and of knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood [or womanhood!], 
to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 
so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves 
and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness 
in deceitful schemes.  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way 
into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, 
joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, 
when each part is working properly, 
makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:10-16

I could have bold-printed most of this passage, however, I think the point is made.  Why blog?  Some say to raise money, because they are bored, to keep an account, to communicate with family... all noble purposes.

Why do I blog?  To glorify God and build up the body.  That is just me.  Our family was called into a missional lifestyle almost 5 years ago now.  God put people and situations into our life which pulled us out of our comfort zone and transformed our way of thinking.  No longer were the activities of day-to-day life that which gave us purpose or propelled us forward.  Instead, daily life became an opportunity to declare the Lord and glorify Him.  My blogging, too, underwent transformation.  It was no longer just about keeping an account or communicating general information.  Instead, it became my platform to share my heart and my life and how God is intertwined in every aspect of it. 

Perhaps I'm not as deliberate as I would like to be.  When I share recipes, my heart is called to encourage others to good eats and biblical hospitality... but I don't always communicate that well.  When I share our school week it becomes an account of all we have done but the truth is, my heart hopes others will be encouraged and inspired through both the neat things we did and the challenges we faced.... so that they too will continue to answer God's call (for those who are called) to keep on keeping on with the trials and triumphs of teaching.

Everything I share here; good, bad, and in-between.... is intended to follow Ephesians 4, to build up the body.  Every time I share I want to be authentic and transparent... not dumping the garbage of my heart for which I will have to clean up the mess later (I did that once-upon-a-time on this blog.... those articles are now deleted!!!), rather, pouring out the truth in brokenness and the beauty in healing and the process of repair.

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each on of you speak the truth with his neighbor, 
for we are members of one another.
Ephesians 4:25

I take Ephesians 4 seriously.  As a matter of fact, we take it so seriously in our house, we built our ministry around verse 12!  We are a support ministry seeking to equip all who desire it.  While I would love the gift of evangelism, I am not an evangelist.... I am an encourager.  And that is why God has given this blog longevity.  Not for my glory or props or through anything I have done but for His glory and prompting and through all of His guidance.

My husband and I begin work this summer on a new look and new location for Faith and Home with a tailored domain.  We covet your prayers to the completion of this process which has taken well over a year now to set in place.  My desire, as this current location continues and once the new one is built, is to stay focused on God in my blogging.... to walk out Ephesians 4 in every corner of the site, to be transparent and inspiring and I want to re-commit, this day, to authenticity, open sharing and the continued philosophy of upside-down blogging.

Why am I airing this claim so publicly today?  I don't know.  Perhaps to seek prayer in the process.  Perhaps to encourage someone today who will stumble here, doubting the purpose of a blog.  Perhaps to encourage someone who is walking with a guarded heart and unspoken testimonies of day-to-day struggles and triumphs, that they too, YOU too, have a story to tell.  One which can encourage and inspire women (and men!) globally to hang tight, have fun, live in joy and grace and peace, and most of all, to seek Him who is master of it all.

My heart and prayer for you today is that you would seek His grace and guidance to become (if you aren't already) an upside-down blogger.  Even if you blog to raise money, share with family, or simply chronicle life... you can still take the challenge of upside-down blogging and bring God glory in every corner of your webby influence!


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Setting Summer in Motion: How to Have a GREAT Summer Break

Boy, if that isn't a long title, my husband would be disappointed in me!  But, hey, it covers all the bases!  After all, most of us in the Northern Hemisphere are wondering; just what do I do with this summer set before me?  Oh, sure, we may have a few plans here in there.  If you saw my blog post this weekend in Weekly Wrap-Up, you saw my bucket list:

Call me juvenile or carefree... it makes no difference.  I am a list maker.  I am educated as an Early Childhood instructor and, even though I am in my 40s, I still feel the need for some good old fashioned construction paper, pretty pens, and glue sticks now and again!  What good is life if you don't have a little fun?!  Interestingly enough, I got the idea to make a common bucket list into more of a production from an almost 13 year old at this mamma's site.  I did it to inspire my kids (didn't work, apparently they are onto me now!), instead, I have inspired myself.  Today, I hope to inspire YOU!

Past, present and dreaming... here are a few ideas to set summer in motion and have a GREAT break!

1. Survey your summer
Every year I take stock of what special events are expected.  Do we have any visitors coming (or are we planning to go).  Is there anything needed to be prepared for summer visits.  I make sure to schedule those things in so I don't find myself rushing around at the last minute with preparations.  Once you know (approximately) where you will be and when, take it a step further...

2. Become a tourist in your own town
Each summer I make a trip to the local visitor center, city website or the town's Business Bureau for information on ALL the summer happenings within our radius.  Our old home-town use to print a "101 things to do..." manual each summer.  I would go through the materials I collected to comb out events and activities I found interesting and applicable for my family.  Then I copied a basic blank calendar for June, July and August and began filling in the various events in our area.  Not that we could or did go to ALL of them but we could definitely be more deliberate in our activities.  For example, wild berry picking peaked in late July, one guide had an article on all the best campgrounds to visit when berry picking so we would plan camping trips accordingly.  Also, for many years we lived a bit of a drive from the county's main town but every summer they did a picnic in the park with music.  We planned our trips to town around events like this and made a day of it. 

See your town through your child's eyes.  Try something new and revel in the simple joy of something old.

3. Slow down
It is hard to switch gears from full-time schooling to part-time or no schooling in the summer.  But right now I am going to give you permission to SLOW DOWN!!!  Whether on a picnic, at the beach or lounging in the back yard; take time to do some needlepoint, read that book you never had the time for in the din of the school year, sketch, or just people watch!  When God created the earth he rested.  Not because he needed to (he is God, he doesn't 'need' rest) but to set us an example.  Housewives work hard.  When dad clocks out at work each day he often comes home and rests.... while mom keeps right on.  It is our joy and our blessing to serve our family in this way... it is also our reminder that our rest and pockets of peace may not always coincide with our husbands.  The important thing is that we DO get them so we can be at our best the rest of the time!  If rest is good enough for God (and the Son of God) then it is good enough for me! 

Consequently, some of my favorite memories from my children's younger years are Picnic in the Park with live music while I worked on embroidery or crocheting and the kids danced and twirled to the music or sketched in their sketch books next to me.  Similar vantages fill my mind of our beautiful beach side as well (I sure miss that place!)

4. Who said you had to grow up?
BE A KID with your kids this summer.  I'm not saying throw ALL responsibility to the wind but last I checked, water fights really don't hurt.  Surprise someone unsuspecting with a bucket full of water or a turned on hose (it's on my bucket list this year!!!) and be prepared, even in your good clothes, for retaliation!!  Laugh loud and play hard.  See the world through your children's eyes from toddler on up to teenager.  Share life and summer with your kids.  One of my favorite summers was spent walking through this book with my kids:

I didn't just give it to them to read and do, no.  It became our summer manual for excitement and exploration of the world around us.  My darling explorers were ages 9 - 14 that year (my oldest opted out only because he was working all summer!!)  We marveled at the simple things and found ourselves impressed by the unexpected.  One day, the glint of an old abandoned railroad track in the middle of a scavenger hunt for "shiny things" had us on an adventure following the rails to see where they would lead.  I reveled sparking and sharing in the excitement with my young adventurers while still balancing my parental responsibility to stay safe as we trekked on.

5. It isn't about the money.
Too many people miss the opportunities to truly relish life and, in particular, summer vacation because they are wrapped up in what they can't afford or what they don't have room in the schedule to do.  Our favorite summer I spoke about above, was spent on a missionary's budget (aka, we had NO money).  The most money I spent was on that book!!!  The kids joined a reading program at the library and earned free ice-cream at certain points throughout the program which we went and enjoyed on a hot day.  In #2 above, most of the ideas I would jot down on my calendar were either free or might cost a gallon of gas.... if that.  I watched for free days at museums and the pool (our pool would have them once a month through the summer).  We were always on the lookout for promotions and opportunities to do something fun without breaking the bank.

6. Carpe Diem
This, too, is on my bucket list.  It was a sudden inspiration to round it all out and sum my summer ambitions up: Carpe Diem (Sieze the Day) because Tempus Fugit (Time Flies).  I have always been an adventurer.  They use to call me the gypsy when I was a child.  I spent many a summer on the road with my dad who was an over-the-road truck driver or my grandma who visited family in other states.  I even found adventure in venturing just two townships over at my paternal grandparent's house for a week at a time.  When I was home, I set to purpose each day of summer break with some sort of great adventure whether it was to write a novel or build a cardboard house.  Even now, as all my children are middle school/high school/college.... the adventurer in me is still quite alive and a need to seize the day is an integral part of making even the most mundane moments of life, memorable.  My life won't last forever here.  My children will not be in my hands much longer.  When we all look back on our days and, especially our summers, I want them to be remembered as something we lived to the fullest.

This doesn't mean we sign up for every club, every sport, every swim class.  Quite the opposite actually, it means we consider what makes life full and wonderful and worth waking up to.  First, of course, is our purpose to glorify God and second, I believe, is by building family and memories full of joy and hope and laughter and adventure in all the simplest things as we live in the Light of His Glory.

7.  Pictures are optional
If you take them, be creative, have fun, be spontaneous.  And if you don't.... don't feel guilty!  Pictures of the simple things are best.  Here are some of my favorites from the blog from summers past:

So.  Whether it is a weekly picnic at a local park, a walk down a different street or cooking out on a hot summer day, I pray your summer is blessed with wonderful memories and moments you can treasure for every year beyond.



Saturday, June 6, 2015

Homeschool Journal: Filling in the Gaps

You've got to love librarians with a sense of humor... the above is taped to the librarian's counter at the college's library where Ashley will be going in the fall.  If your kids ask why they have to read this summer instead of just play computer games.... give the above answer a try!

Ashley's testing is ALL DONE for college entry.  She did great and we are proud of all her hard work.  However... after observing her through this process we began to pray if FULL TIME dual enrollment was really the right fit for her come fall.  Her still un-identified neurological challenges and potential temporal seizures were of most concern.  We found that she was beyond exhausted after a full afternoon of study following her regular schoolwork in the morning and even complaining of headaches after some particularly rigorous sessions.  She is smart enough and has even found grace in the Lord to overcome some of the most perilous challenges of ADHD... but the headaches and exhaustion....

Through our prayers and discussions with each other we agreed a better route would be to ease in.  Like conditioning for a race: you don't just run a 5k when you have never run more than a block before.  The "stress" of higher education may need to be conditioned into her because of her neurological challenges... maybe.  Or maybe we will find that the full time weight of higher education will always have to be taken in small doses for the comfort of her brain!  We don't know, but such peace came over all of us as we began to embrace and step in this direction. We simply trust God knows what is best.

With that we were able to begin our year-end wrap-up.  Planning for next fall so I know what to be working on this summer in order for her to be prepared.  She is planning to attend a 'basic training' of sorts at the college in August with other new students where she will learn to do research writing.  Then, in September, she will put her feet down on ONE college class: Music Theory (she will be working toward a degree in Christian Leadership with a focus on Music).  As far as this year, she is working to finish her Apologia Biology, which she loves and considers leisure reading!!  I gave up on drilling her with Consumer Math when she recently found out she had actually fulfilled her math requirements for graduation last year. She hates math and nothing seems to incentivize her in it!  She worked hard but after 2 months of sickness this winter putting her 'behind' in all her work, we have resolved to collect biology and call it good!!  Sometimes you just have to give yourself permission to let go!!  She writes and reads daily, it is hardly a class for her anymore...more of a way of life!  I feel good about it all.

Brenden and Brooke technically finished almost 2 weeks ago.  Brenden, with his dyslexia, is just sort of always learning.... some times of the year more vigorously than others! For the first time EVER Brooke completed a math workbook.  We usually finish the school year a few chapters shy.... don't feel bad if you do too, when my kids were in public school they brought home so many unfinished workbooks because they never got to it with the teacher, it was crazy.  So, for the past 2 weeks, they sat through a Bible Overview class I did with Ashley, did math facts (we love and read.  They start Christian Youth in Action training next week and will be gone for 10 days so their summer vacation has sort of begun!  With Ashley not being totally done, it is hard to celebrate and say, officially, "Woohoo, School is out!" because for one 'student' it isn't completely, yet.

I know there has been some bloggy sparseness these past few weeks.  I was finishing filling in the last of the gaps around the house as the kids and I wrapped things up.  The garden has been my biggest draw.  I consider myself an accidental gardener so there is a lot of learning as I go!  I finally got almost everything, seedlings and seeds, completely installed.  Only a few small things left to seed in the back area along our fence and in my corner plot.  It has been ALOT of work this creaky body does not appreciate!  It didn't help that last Saturday was consumed with pest control.  I found I had flea beetles eating my tomato plants.  I spent the night praying and trying not to stress and the good Lord led me to a recipe for a concoction which I mixed and began the tedious process of applying to the leaves of ALLLLL my tomato plants.  This also opened up the necessity of transplanting so all of my remaining seedlings and store-bought plants went in the ground that day as well.  The kids pop in and out to help as I need them.  I feel it is so important, when you can, to have things growing for children (no matter their age) to appreciate, help with and learn from. My haven for summer lazy days is coming together though.  

My other joy these past days has been curriculum.  For those who have followed this blog a while, you know I am a recovering curriculum addict!!  Our local Homeschool Organization had their annual book sale/swap so, instead of just attending, I scoured my goodies and reserved a table to sell!  I told my husband it was so I could support my habit!  ha.  As it was I spent $20, made $17 and wrote a post-dated check for $20 to nab an irresistible writing curriculum which was an absolute God-send and perfect for Brenden.  The best part was the box full of FREE (yes, FREE) PACE science, civics, economics and government curriculum a neighboring seller gave me.  After sorting and searching I found that ALL of the needed material for Ashley's senior year in these subjects was there in full.  I only need two booklets for a total of $6.  I promptly called A-Beka who I had reserved curriculum in these subjects through back in April and cancelled that portion of my order... I saved over $70!!!  After swapping out for some science workbooks for Brooke, they ended up owing me almost $2 and the remaining $48 I owed for my last payment was erased!  Remember that $20 post-dated check for writing curriculum?  More than covered!  I felt so blessed seeing how God was covering it all and providing beyond my expectations.

No gaps to fill this summer, though the 'vacation' will be very different this year.  Ashley is trying to land a job to save for school in the fall and a car later on.  She still doesn't have her permit, needs to study, but retrieved a State I.D. so she can be all officially when an employer is ready to hire.  Brenden and Brooke will be summer missionaries serving around the city in Bible clubs.  Each week will hold something different for them. I will be (hopefully) working on back-log articles for gaps on the blog, like the latest one, and gradually pulling together lesson plans for school to start back up in the fall.... all while (hopefully) enjoying my growing garden, a less stressful pace and hopefully even some good books NOT on the necessary reading list!  Which reminds me, I even did a bucket list for this summer!  I tried to get the kids to join me, Brooke is the only one considering doing one of her own.  Mine hangs on the wall in my bathroom so I don't forget to look at it!!!  .....

I pray all your gaps get filled with blessings and signs of God's work and guidance in YOUR life!


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