Monthly Archives: November 2010

Being Thankful With Family

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. I am so excited about traveling to see family tomorrow, and though I still have a tiny bit of packing to do, and a few pies to make, I want to take time today to sit with my girls and read The First Thanksgiving, by Linda Hayward. We love to look at the beautiful drawings and talk about the difficult journey the pilgrims made to America, and why they left their home to come here. We talk about how God watched over and provided for them.

It isn’t too late for you to include your children in a meaningful Thanksgiving activity. Read with them. Talk to them about what you are thanking God for this year. And you can make some ‘Pumpkin Pockets’ together to help them think of things to be thankful for as well.
May you have a blessed and restful week enjoying the Lord’s goodness with your family.

Thank you, Becky Book for our family photos.



Coming Back From the Silence: Part III

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If, you haven’t already, go back to read Part I and Part II.

Unplugged.

That was the ‘cool’ way to worship when I was in college. Oh sure, we loved concerts. I attended a Baptist liberal arts college that, in the mid-nineties, welcomed popular Christian bands like the Newsboys, who puts on quite a production. My group of friends and I took numerous road trips to hear Third Day, Point of Grace, and Caedmon’s Call. That was back when they toured with Bebo, who was just getting started.
And sure, our BSU (that’s Baptist Student Union – for all you young ones, that’s what it used to be called) had a sharp little worship band, where I sang back-up vocals while playing a variety of small percussion instruments. (The rain stick was especially popular in mid-nineties college worship bands, just FYI.)
But the coolest. I mean, the ultimate of worship of this genre was – wait for it – unplugged.
Yes, my friends, a little impromptu, spontaneous acoustic worship on a grassy knoll – that was where it was at. Although, in retrospect, I suppose it wasn’t all that impromptu or spontaneous, seeing that it happened at least 3 times weekly.
And twice on Sundays. Or something like that.
This was the epitome of my college ‘experience’, folks. It was precious to me, and I’m sharing it only with you… the entire world wide web.
You’re so welcome.
Why am I talking about this? Well, mostly it was a rabbit trail down memory lane, and partially I’ve been stalling while you’ve been waiting for me to finish this ‘Coming Back From the Silence’ mini-series. But actually, I do have a point, so let’s get to it.
Where was I? Oh yes, frustrated, impatient, and more defeated than ever.
I had to get out of the pit. And that’s what it felt like: a deep pit, and I was stuck.
I once heard a person wisely say, ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.’ I knew I had to stop the insanity. One mid-morning, I looked up from my desperate state and cried out to the Lord. I went through the necessary motions of feeding the kids lunch and putting them down for a nap, and then I turned off the computer.
I turned off the computer.
I picked up my Bible and my journal and went to my room for some solace – praying that the baby would stay asleep long enough for me to spend some real time in prayer.
The weather was absolutely beautiful that day, in late September, and I had even had good sleep the night before. But I was positively crabby. And as I spent time before the Lord, I confessed that I couldn’t blame my crabbiness on my fussy baby, my messy house, my bickering children, or the constant interruptions that kept me from doing my daily household duties.
No, I could only blame my crabbiness on me. On my sin of discontent and choosing to be unhappy. I needed an attitude change, a heart change. I needed a purging and a cleansing. A washing of my mind and heart. A renewal. I needed the Lord to wash me with the WORD, and right away I knew I needed to fast the internet. No Facebook. No blogs.
I decided to begin a journey of searching the Scriptures for what the Lord says about contentment. And humility. And I wasn’t going to use an internet search engine for it either!
I wrote in my journal the following quote from K.P. Yohannan:
To be radical, you must deliberately choose to do things that would help develop and cultivate your heart. It will not happen on its own. Take stock of your spiritual condition; face yourself honestly. Take responsibility for your own spiritual growth.’
I began that day writing down scripture references in my journal, dealing with contentment and humility.
For the next few weeks, I went unplugged. I stayed away from blogs and the social interaction (and distraction) of Facebook. Instead I focused on my family – on trying to have a servant’s heart for them. When I would sit down to nurse the baby, instead of reading at the computer, I sat down in silence. Or I talked with the girls.
I picked up a few copies of a magazine called Above Rubies, which a friend of mine had handed me and told me to read. It was filled with the Word and encouragement. I read one story of a woman whose family moved to a remote area, where they had no access to the internet in their home. Without a way to follow blogs, read internet articles, or converse on forums, she found herself having to rely solely on the Lord. Instead of consulting parenting gurus, or homemaking experts, she asked the Lord for help with everyday, practical things – asking Him for clever solutions.
It had never occurred to me to do this.
She began to pray for vision in her mothering – and God gave her vision and showed her how to implement it. She learned to pray about everything, and God kept giving her ideas – about keeping house, child training, homeschooling – everything.
Her story lept off the page, and I felt so silly – and convicted – that I had been using the internet to escape my feelings of being overwhelmed, instead of asking the Lord what to do.
So I very feebly managed to word a simple prayer, ‘Lord, would you give me vision in my parenting, too? Would you help me?’ I knew the Lord was with me, and one of the first things He impressed upon my heart to do was, ‘Simplify.’
Simplify what? Everything.
Meal planning. Laundry. Homeschooling. Everything.
Immediately, the Lord showed me that I needed to weed out. I needed to stop trying to make elaborate meal plans and stick with three basic menus to be repeated and cycled through every month.
Immediately, the Lord showed me that I needed to weed out clothes. One of the major reasons I can’t keep up with the laundry is because we have too much of it. He showed me that if I go through our clothes and cut down on what we have, I can manage it more simply, and stay on top of it.
Immediately, He told me that I needed to have just a few important goals for homeschooling the girls – and those goals need to be based on HIS priority for them, not mine. I realized that when I let go and just focus on what the LORD deems is important for a 3 and 4 year old to learn, I can relax.
And He showed me more. This whole journey hasn’t ended yet; I’m still in the midst of learning to be content, learning to seek God’s priority for my days. Learning to put my family’s needs above my own desires and selfishness. Learning to ask God for solutions, and trust Him, rather than reading about what 15 other homeschool families are doing. God is breaking me, and stretching me.
Less of me. More of Him. All of Him.
The journey has just begun.

Coming Back From the Silence: Part II

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This morning I heard the persistent cardinal outside my window again.

There is never a shortage of feathered friends around our house; sometimes they can get quite noisy. This is especially the case recently, since we decided to hang a bird feeder from the tree in the front yard. There are usually a dozen, of different varieties, flapping and pecking and hopping and munching. Some resting on the feeder. Others perched in the tree branches, waiting their turn – not so patiently sometimes.
They are fun to watch.
But the redbirds… they are extra fun. For more than a year now, I’ve witnessed these redbirds attempt to fly into my window, smack their beaks on the glass,… sit back a little dazed…. and then try it again. And it’s not just one window. It’s several different windows in the front of the house, where this has occurred.
And I do not keep clean windows, people. I just don’t.
Is this peculiar behavior just typical of cardinals, or are mine a little more ditzy than normal?
From time to time I will be sitting at the computer, or working in the kitchen, or folding clothes in the living room (or not folding clothes in the living room… that’s more often the case) – and I’ll hear the familiar…
‘thunk’……….. ‘thunk’………………… ‘thunk!’
When I heard it again this morning, I just laughed. Those silly birds keep ‘thunk’-ing their beaks against the hard glass with no different result than the last 25 times they tried it. And still they go a’ thunking.
I laugh at them, and yet…. just before I took my Blog Silence, I felt that way. Like I was striking my head repeatedly against a brick wall. (My hard head would probably break the window.)
Every day it was the same thing, all over again:
Needy Children
Tired Mommy
Piles of Laundry
Cranky Mommy
Hungry Children
Exasperated Mommy
Dirty Bathrooms
Overwhelmed Mommy
Fussy Children
Desperate Mommy
Late Dinner
Exhausted Mommy
Screaming Baby
Depressed Mommy
Piles of Clutter
Defeated Mommy
And tomorrow we get to wake up and do it all again!
I found myself spending more and more time on the computer, unconsciously seeking a soothing balm from the depths of cyber space to heal my battered soul.
I looked for help. How to get organized. How to cook healthful meals without spending the entire day in the kitchen. How to teach your children chores and good disciplines….
I frequented blogs where other homeschooling moms wrote about their daily goings-on.
Blog led to blog and link lead to ever-multiplying supply of links. Soon I found myself escaping the mundane or the overwhelm of my day by sitting in front of the computer more frequently, and for longer periods of time. If I had a question, the answer was a click away. If I needed to take my mind of my mess, relief would come in the lightening-fast speed that Time Warner cable connectivity could deliver.
Suddenly, I didn’t just need to know about schedules and cleaning routines and homeschool curriculum… I needed to know about soap-making and cultured cheese… I needed to research different breeds of goats and how to raise chickens….
I would be standing at the counter, making lunch and suddenly need to research how I could make our own peanut butter…. oh, and where could I get the best deal on food grade buckets?
I would be folding a towel and suddenly need to look up bathroom decorating ideas or how to make hoodie-towels for the kids….
This insane behavior grew until I could hardly stop it.
I know it sounds crazy, ya’ll – it was like I suddenly had ADD and an addiction…. an addiction to blogs and internet searches!
Sure, you’re laughing now, but I bet you won’t find it so funny when this newly-diagnosed disorder makes it into the DSM-IV.
Nevermind. You know I don’t believe in psychology anymore. We’ll save that topic for another post someday.
Anyway…. I was out of control. And more frustrated, impatient, and defeated than ever. I looked ahead to never-ending days of the same frustration and defeat. And I knew something had to change…
Stay tuned for Part III

MIY Monday: The Mystery Project

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No guesses, eh?

Really? I can’t believe there’s no one who wants to guess… well, anyway, here it is:

My Custom-made Magnet Board!
This is so easy I’m almost embarrassed to even give you ‘instructions’ on it. The idea popped into my head several weeks ago, and it is a project that is easily completed in an afternoon, say, while your kiddos are napping (or not, however you roll at your house.)
I really wanted to bit of a change in our dining area, where there is one long, boring wall, with nothing on it – I’m terrible at decorating! I wanted to paint the entire wall a fun, beautiful blue, but that would be more expense than I wanted, and really time-consuming as well. So I decided to paint just the half-wall above the bar:
Yes, I know… time to clean off the bar…

Using some of the leftover paint, I brushed on a coat of this beautiful blue on a sheet of ‘scrap metal’ I bought at Lowes. I wandered around looking for a sheet of ‘tin’ I could use for this purpose, and when I asked an employee, he pointed me to a small section of these in various sizes, thickness, and prices.
The kind of metal that you can shake back and forth to make a ‘thunder’ sound!
I wanted to rougher effect that a brush would give, rather than rolling on the color.
After a short time, it was dry, and I asked my super-hubby if he would punch a hole in each top corner, where I would thread some jute through to hang it. Ever so helpful, he was happy to oblige.
And voila! Pretty magnet board that adds a splash of color to my boring wall.
Happy Monday, everyone!
Be sure to come back for Part II of Coming Back from the Silence.

Sunday Night

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I thought I might spend some time tonight thinking through my week, looking over my menu, making plans for what needs to take place – you know – gearing up.

But I decided sleep is more important.
See, the only sounds I hear in my house right now are the dryer running in the garage,… the hum of the refrigerator… and the clicking of my keyboard. The important point here is what I don’t hear. And I dont hear my 9-month-old son screaming his head off wailing loudly. You see, its been weeks and weeks since I’ve slept more than about 3 consecutive hours at a time. Carson has been waking up all throughout the night, making for a cranky mama… and crazy, chaotic days.
But now, right now,… sshhh…. He sleeps.
So I am too.
By golly!
But I’ll leave you with this…

Can you guess what this week’s Make-It-Yourself Monday is? What is it and how did I make it? (And no cheating if you’ve actually been to my house in real-life and seen it for yourself!)
G’night, ya’ll. (Oh no, I need to watch that.)

Coming Back from the Silence: Part I

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You know how it feels when you haven’t spoken with someone in a while, and so much happened -so much changed in you during the absence- that when you finally see them, you don’t know where to start?

Or you know that feeling of sitting down with your journal for the first time in months, with pen in hand, but it just ‘won’t come‘?
Or do you know that frustration of finally going to that quiet place in prayer, after being silent with the Lord for a season – and you just can’t form the words? You couldn’t force them out of your pitiful little heart if your life depended on it?
Well, that’s how I feel with this little thing I like to call a blog. You may have noticed (or maybe you didn’t) that I took a break from blogging. It was meant to be just a week, but so much more happened.
I didn’t just take a break from blogging, but also from reading blogs, frequenting Facebook, and playing on the internet in general. I reached a point one day, several weeks ago, where something had to give. I was experiencing such a season of discouragement in my homemaking/homeschooling/mothering abilities, and a real discontent in my heart.
You know, once in a while, I’ll encounter someone who thinks I have it all together in one area or another, but friends, let me tell you, I certainly do not!
This stay-at-home-mom business is hard, ya’ll. I’m just sayin’… it ain’t for the faint of heart!
And my real-life-friends know that anything that has me saying ya’ll and ain’t is serious business! (Well, I typed it; I don’t know if it would actually come out of my mouth.)
Anyway, during the season that I shall hereafter refer to as My Blog Silence, the Lord showed me some things… about myself… about balance… about my family and my calling within my family… about marriage… and even about housekeeping, fancy that!
And I’ll share some of those things with you in days to come.
Here’s some of what’s on the agenda:
– Coming Back from the Silence: Part II
– Feeding Your Family’s Bellies… and Hearts
– Upcoming Holiday Ideas
– Recommended Reading (My book list)
– What’s New in our Kitchen
– More ‘Make-It-Yourself-Monday’… including a special post my husband is excited to share.
It feels good to be back…