Tuesday, August 26, 2014

When I am afraid...


Morning came a little sooner than expected when I heard my littlest crying through the monitor for her older sister.  After stumbling across the house, I heard her repeat, "Naomi, Naomi, I'm scared!"  I'm thankful that my little middle is a sound sleeper.  After snuggling under the covers with my littlest, she tells me all about her bad dream with the wild pig and proceeds to ask me questions of where they live and what they eat.  After assuring her that there are no wild pigs in our little town outside of Raleigh, we pray.  We pray that God will remove these scary thoughts from her mind, that He'll replace her dream with one that is pleasing and peaceful, and that He will surround her bed with His angels. She settles back down to sleep.

Since my alarm was set to go off in the next ten minutes, I went ahead and started the coffee, grabbed a blanket, and settled down to enjoy my quiet time a little early (especially since I forgot to do it yesterday).  It's not everyday, but more often than not, God is so good to allow my devotions or scripture from the past to come to mind when I need it the most.  Today was one of those days.  

In the past, I have allowed fear to consume me.  When I left my girls last year to go to Ecuador, I was terrified on almost every plane ride.  When one of my children goes away for a day trip with someone else, fear overtakes my mind, putting thoughts of panic within me.  The past week has been another such time.  A local young teenager dies in a car accident, a house down the road gets broken into, the news is full of terrifying stories that cause me to pray for my babies and pray that Jesus will return soon.  Until then, His Word reminds me again and again...

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

"Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always." - Psalm 105:4

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid." - John 14:27

When I am afraid, His Word brings such comfort!




Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ready or not, here we go again...



Another summer is slipping away, while a new school year has now begun (and Sophie is still holding the Preschool sign.  Next year... kindergarten!)  The summer has flown all too quickly with little accomplished projects to show for it. Yet time has been well spent meeting new friends, catching up with old ones, road tripping with my girls, and simply enjoying the lazy days of summer.  No regrets.





As we begin our sixth year of homeschooling, I'm still just as terrified as the first.  Over the summer, feelings of guilt, second guessing myself, and rethinking much of our curriculum and our schedule has consumed my mind. Homeschooling is hard, but there is nothing sacred about it. There is not an extra measure of patience given to those of us who choose this nor a shiny halo over our heads.  This is just a choice our family has made for now.  

It can become mundane and we get stuck doing it the way we started or just because we've always done it that way.  But I've discovered by allowing the mundane to consume me, I lose my joy in teaching my children.  Homeschooling is a gift. It is daily growing alongside our children.  It is finding beauty at the breakfast table and eating lunch outside with great men and women of history.  It's talking about Jesus and those who are spreading the Word in His name.

 


My baby is no longer a baby.  That hurts my heart, yet excites me to have a house full of big girls.  She loves doing school alongside her older sisters, but grows weary quickly. So my goal is to be much more prepared on a weekly basis to not just entertain her, but encourage and enable her to grasp the beginnings of learning to read.


My little middle is starting off on the right foot this year.  I pray daily that she'll grasp some concepts that we struggled over last year and that I will have enough patience and discernment to challenge her, yet cultivate a love for learning.



My girls have grown so big and time is passing all too quickly.  My oldest reminds me often that middle school is on the horizon.  I'm not exactly sure how that changes her daily life, but it does thrill her to think of going to youth group soon. Our study of North Carolina as well as East Asia excites both of us and I look forward to watching her skills refine in many areas in the upcoming year.
 




Even though I woke up on the wrong side of the bed on our first day back, God quickly changed my moodiness to a measure of peacefulness through the thoughtfulness of others.  Talking on the phone to my mama on the other side of the world, our principal (aka. Daddy) taking the pupils out to doughnuts for breakfast, and a special basket from a sweet friend full of notes and treats would make anyone's first day back a success.  My girls dove into their books with no tears till early evening (which one did bawl like a baby).  A picnic at the park and a trip to the library completed the day. Ready or not, here we go again...




Monday, August 11, 2014

Summer Dates


"Where do you want to go on our date?" 
"McDonald's!" says my vegetarian bred girl
Thus, a meatless hamburger kid's meal was ordered and savored by my sweet four year old who even shared a fry or two with her mama.

Not much was accomplished on our summer bucket list, but taking each of my girls on a date was not only checked off, but thoroughly enjoyed.  Marty does an amazing job taking the girls on monthly dates throughout the year, but for some reason, it's harder for me to make the time for such individual attention.  









Waffle House would not have been my first pick, but seeing my little middle's face as her chocolate chip waffle was laid in front of her could not have made that breakfast anymore special.  Having that time to listen to her dreams and fears was priceless.


Since our summer is rapidly approaching its finale, my oldest accompanied me on my weekly retreat to one of my favorite coffee shops for our special date.  Being early risers, we arrived soon after it opened, enjoyed our pastries and hot drinks while reading through our devotions.  Not much planning occurred on my part, but it was fun just sitting together working on our own agendas. 

How I pray that in years to come they will still want to spend time with me, that french fries, waffles, and hot tea will always be treats for them, and that their hearts will feel freedom to open and share, knowing we will always listen and love unconditionally. 



Saturday, August 2, 2014

Time, Questions, and the Thoughts of Others...


Time... It's what we all say "there's not enough of," yet how serious do we really take it?  How much of it do we throw to the wind?  How much is spent on tools of convenience and communication, all in the name of "time savers"?  When I choose to put down the phone, close up the laptop, and mute the ding of the Ipad, will my time expand?  Or will it just become more alive?  Maybe that twenty-seventh handstand will actually be the best and I can sincerely clap and shower with praise or perhaps it will simply be the assurance given by having my eyes focused on my little one who needs her mama.  May I be more focused...  




As our school year rapidly approaches, so many questions have been swirly around my head. 

Am I giving my all to this calling of teaching our children at home?

Am I lining everything I do for my family in accordance to scripture?

Am I serving and loving my husband wholeheartedly?

Am I focusing so much on myself and my needs that my eyes are blinded to those in my community around me?

Am I judging the lives of others because they may not be exactly like mine?

Many of these questions have already been answered (and will be) through spending time in God's Word. Some of them have been approached through the eyes of others in which I glean wisdom from.  These are some of my favorite bloggers/writers and some of their recent posts.  

Sit back with a cup of coffee (as I am with mine) and enjoy some weekend reading.  Maybe ponder with me through at least one of these articles.  

A Diet of Distraction by Unfiltered.me - One source to my initial thoughts on time and all the distractions around us.

The Great Challenge Facing All Women by Ann Voskamp - Nuggets of wisdom.  "Every yes automatically says no somewhere else."  "Heaven forbid any woman would try to go around and try to make all women into an image of herself... Christ makes us a body, not a faith factory.  He calls us to be Christ followers, not cookie cutters."

How Women Can Stop Judging Others by Ann Voskamp - The plea for us to stop judging one another, to stop expecting Pinterest perfection, and to be "key women who will link arms with other sisters in Christ and release each other from judging our mothering, our cooking, our cleaning, our clothing, and our kids."

On Gathering Women  by Living Learning and Loving Simply - The call for us women to be inviters, to reach out, and encourage.

The Hard and the Holy by Annapolis & Co - The reminder from a mama of almost 4 little ones that motherhood is hard, yet God calls us to be holy, not perfect.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tidbits from our Road Trip


Travel!  Adventure!  Words I long to fully embrace...  Every summer, Marty takes at least one week to go to camp or on a mission trip with our youth ministry.  This year instead of staying home, I contacted some friends from high school and went road trippin' south.  It was a blast!   


Besides our potty/change out of jammies stop at Sheetz and our "Ooh, there's Ikea!" stop, our first real destination was outside of Greenville, South Carolina at my sweet friend, Chelle's.  Getting to meet her husband and newborn daughter for the first time was so special, not to mention how thrilled Sophie was to get to play with another 4 year old (since in her mind they are a rarity.)  Eating a late lunch, snuggling with such sweet newborn cuteness, picking the last of their blackberries, and making antique ornaments made this a perfect rest stop before moving on to Atlanta.

Driving to Atlanta was not nearly as stressful as I had thought it would be.  I had already discovered which essential oil helps to relieve the tension in the back of my neck on the way to South Carolina through pouring rain, Charlotte traffic, a broken DVD player, traffic jam on I-85 (thank you, Google Maps for the side route!) and the constant need to use the bathroom. (It's a blend called Past Tense, in case you were interested.)  Rush hour was over and thanks to a bag of chips and Ella Enchanted on audio book, we made it to Atlanta before nightfall. 


You never know how your children will react to new friends and you pray they will at least be cordial, but last week, it was so precious to see my three get along so well with my friend, Steph's three little girls.  It was honestly better than I could have imagined. Spending time at their pool, playing My Little Ponies, eating amazingly yummy food, and catching up on life in general were a few of our highlights.



Anyone who knows my family well can attest to our love for the zoo, so imagine our excitement in visiting a new zoo! Steph had a season's pass allowing our family in free too, which was such a blessing!  We squished our six girlies into Steph's vehicle (which Chloe thought was amazing... the car, not the squishing) and thank goodness Steph was driving because I would have had a heart attack driving through Atlanta to get there.


We tried to feed the birds.



Our growing animals...



Chloe and Elise, best buddies.




The highlight of the zoo for my girls!  Baby Pandas!  I think I was just as excited as they were.  They were so rolly-polly and squishable!



Speaking of rolly-pollies...



The time in Atlanta ended well and I'm so thankful for friends that can pick up where we left off, spend hours talking, and simply enjoy each other's company (and children).  



Greenville, Greenville, where have you been and why haven't I visited you before?  With time to spare before arriving at camp, the girls and I parked in Greenville with the mission to explore!  I loved every inch of this place and wish to return sooner than later. Everything from the coffee shop (Spill the Beans) to the falls running through the middle of town, we enjoyed it all!  Picnicking on a family-size swing over looking the river ended our time well before getting to see Daddy at camp.










The best travelers I could have asked for!





Our trip ended with a dance party (seriously!) by joining Marty and several hundred students at North Greenville College where they had been at camp that week.  This was definitely a highlight for Chloe who is now counting the months till she can go to M-Fuge as well.  




On Friday, the girls and I spent a few hours in Ikea again, which is always a treat for us.  The ice cream melting all over our hands on the way out may not have been as thrilling as expected, but soggy ice cream is still ice cream.  An hour later, we concluded our trip with a stop at my sister, Kristi's, house.  Naomi and Sophie adore Ava, and Chloe loves caring for Zeke any chance she gets.  It was the perfect rest stop before our last leg home.

Lessons learned...
- Audio books are great for entertaining older children and putting younger ones to sleep.  Win, win!
- Opening gifts every hour or so is still a favorite, even when you're ten.
- Google Maps can be so helpful in traffic!  Am I the last person to discover this?
- Trader Joe's Edamame crackers and Dark chocolate Raisinettes are amazing for keeping drivers awake.  Probably not simultaneously though.  
- Road trips are always a good idea, no matter how far you travel...