Monday, May 23, 2011

Pardon Our Progress

Young lady under construction here. Yes, friends, this comes with the territory on birthday number 4! It is so hard to be four.

In her defense, we did have some moments like this as well:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What I See Across the Table Most Mornings When We Start School

Just wanted to add a visual to the previous post.

Seriously, who could resist this?

Monday, May 16, 2011

May Musings

It's been on my heart and mind a lot lately that as your children wrap up the school year, some of you may be contemplating educational choices. While I consider myself a complete novice at this, I thought I might share with you a few things I have learned about homeschooling, kids, and such. Help yourself to my opinions and do with them as you will. I'm just shooting from the hip.

1. Public school can sometimes be a good alternative to homeschooling. Does that sound backwards to you? It doesn't to me anymore. While I do not consider myself "hard core" about anything but Christ, I am pretty sold on homeschooling because I think that's how everything started. Yes, historically speaking and yes, at my house and yours. I taught Hannah and Mimi how to walk, talk, dress themselves, eat with utensils, love, share, etc. Homeschooling was a cycle I didn't want to interrupt when Hannah turned 5. Being her teacher was a privilege and blessing I didn't want delegate to anyone else just because she was getting older. I love public schools. I grew up in them and worked in one for four years. However, it's not about public schools. It's about Hannah and Mimi. And I really believe as long as they live in my house we are going to be doing some intentional homeschooling. If for some extreme reason like financial circumstances (though I believe we save a lot by not going to public school) or health I could not homeschool my kids, then I might use the option of public school.

2. You're completely capable of homeschooling. I don't care what level of education you have. You could do it. If you have a library card, you're set. If you have the internet, you probably have access to more curriculum than you could ever use. Sure, public school teachers are trained but you could learn as you do it. Half of what I learned in education classes focused on problems that aren't even a factor when you are at home (budgets, buildings, classroom managment, parent conferences, working with the administration, etc).

3. Socialization is not a problem. Seriously, now when I hear this argument I want to laugh. My kids socialize so much it's ridiculous. True, they do not spend 8 hours a day with same-aged, mixed gender peers in a small classroom with one adult. But they socialize with me, their father, and each other primarily and I like that. We typically eat three leisurely meals around our table every day. They wake up when they wake up (usually 7) and we learn. We are completely free to socialize whenever we want because we're not tied to school schedules. We're not taking the summer off because, well, the learning wouldn't stop even if we tried. They socialize with children, teenagers, adults well. They react differently to social situations but they always persevere, make friends, and learn.

4. We're learning the Bible. I mean Hannah is very solid in her knowledge for a 5 year old. She's getting the big picture and the stories are like treasures to her. She cried the last two nights because I would only read one chapter of Esther.

5. Emily is going on 2 years of school and she's 4. Woot.

6. When it doesn't work, I make changes. I can do that.

7. Today, my kids painted the fence with water, played alphabet bing and number bingo, played at the neighborhood playground, played on our playset, chased each other, made up a game about bees and pollenation completely unassisted, made homemade ice cream sandwiches (chocolate graham crackers and cool whip then freeze 'em), rode a rake and a broom like horses, watered the plants, read to me, were read to, watched tv, were tickled, picked dandelions, added to their rock collection, walked home and voluntarily made sketches about their nature discoveries, and more. And all of that before 2pm. And today I didn't actually use my curriculum or do formal homeschooling.

8. And don't be impressed. Or intimidated. Because it's not about me or you. It's about God and how gloriously he created human minds and the children he blessed us with. Given a nurturing environment, #7 is just what happens. Because I homeschool, I got to see it, taste it, and cherish it. And I like it. I'm just sayin.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Like a Herd of Elephants

I don't know how it is raising boys but with girls, well, there are days that I can feel their future teen years breathing down my neck. It resembles the approaching sound of thundering paciderms or a runaway locomotive. Today is one of those days.

There are a few things in motherhood I consider highly under-rated, one of which is dressing my children. I really feel like each morning, when I go into their closets, it's like I am 8 all over again, dragging that worn case of Barbie clothes out and lovingly searching through the small piles to find just the right thing for my dolls to wear for the day. A few months ago, I realized that Hannah, especially, would much prefer to do the selecting on her own. Sad Mommy milestone. Reluctantly, I have relented (difficult as I am --some might say-- a control freak). Today her chosen ensemble was an army green skirt with a flouncy hem, a lavendar blouse with butterflies on it, bright purple leggings, and blue flip flops. (YOU SEE? THIS IS WHY I NEED TO DO EVERYTHING MYSELF!!! REALLY, IT IS NOT A CONTROL PROBLEM!). The blouse also has a cute flouncy hem and elastic in the waist but she tucked it in to her skirt. To me, this looked ridiculous so I kindly suggested she untuck it. Torrents of tears and protests later, beleagured from WARdrobe woes, I finally say, "Hannah, just trust me. It looks better hanging out than tucked in." To which she responds, "I want to look like a princess. I don't want to look like a big Mommy!"

I. Don't. Want. To. Look. Like. Mommy. BIG. MOMMY.


Good luck with that one, my clone.

I think I am going to look at my "World's prettiest Mommy" mirror that she made me last week in Sunday school until I feel better. Lol.

Friday, May 6, 2011

I'm Back? I Think I Am.

Recently, it was brought to my attention that my blog is being missed. I will try to start afresh. I reached a point last year where I felt like the blog world was a little too rosy. I want my blog to be real. Not to say my life isn't rosy, but there are some days that things just don't work right around here. Like when small people at my house use the toilet paper to do their business and then use same said toilet paper to "clean the potty and help you, Mommy."

Well, I am going to try again. To me, real life and therefore a real blog should make you laugh and cry all at the same time. My heart has been extremely heavy this week but I want to share some truth I have learned.

This morning in my quiet time, I answered the question, "What is the most significant lesson you have learned and applied from your study of Isaiah this year through BSF?" I wanted to share it with you. God is sovereign and his perspective eternal. Before the present came to be, he foretold it. He sees the past, present, future, past past, past present, past future, future past, future present, and future future simultaneously and none of it amazes Him. Compared to His perspective, mine is skewed, limited, faulty, assumptive, and narrow. To wring my hands over even one day, one issue, one struggle is to pull all my past, future, and present into that narrow hole I peer out of every day and to miss the blessing of His vast greatness. I will always tend to reason from my own perspective and I have a Great High Priest who is sympathetic with my weakness, but I hope I will always remember to cry out to the rock that is Higher than I.

Now, if y'all will excuse me, there is a load of laundry waiting on me because the four year old woke up at 5:45 this morning smelling like a boys locker room because we neglected to put on her pullup that I wish she didn't need anymore. :) Later.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Quick Story

(If you missed the previous post you will want to read it to understand the context of Hannah's conversations).

I have always thought that it would be good to have spiritual discussions with our pediatricians. I mean, hey, we spend A LOT of time in the room together with nothing else to talk about, and I REALLY appreciate what they do. But, I always find a way to chicken out.

We finally got around to having a 3 year check-up for Emily the other day and I prepped myself to talk to our great, high-energy doctor when she came in the room. I've been reading a great book called "Share Jesus Without Fear" that I would highly recommend to anyone. Well, I had not gotten around to talking to the doctor about spiritual matters when Hannah beat me to it.

"Dr. X, guess what?"
"What, Hannah?"
"I have Jesus in my heart." Big smile.
Dr. smiles. "Isn't that precious? Mom, is this a recent thing?"
Hannah, interrupting, "My daddy teached me how to do it."
Dr. X, "Well Hannah, did you know I have Jesus in my heart, too?"
Hannah smiles.
Dr. X, "And the best thing is all we have to do is ask! Y'all just made my day."
When she left, Hannah asked me to spell heart. I looked and realized she was writing her own tracts to hand out for people "in case they don't know Jesus."

So I learned a little Witness 1:8 lesson courtesy of my 4 yr old!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How God Works; Memorial Day 2010

Memorial Day has always been special to me, having a Grandfather and Uncle who served in WWII. Four years ago, Memorial Day took on a rather sad meaning for us when Daniel's father passed away from esophageal cancer in the wee hours of Memorial Day 2005. Memorial Day 2010, however, will have a most special meaning in my heart because that is the day my firstborn gave her life to Christ.

Hard to know where to start telling this story. Hannah's birth brought on some health issues for me and a radical shift in perspective to the point that I quit a job I was basically addicted to. Soon after, Daniel's father fought a six month battle with cancer, and passed away. All those events converged on our family and my marriage and my spiritual life in a way I really can't put into words. We were never the same. Praise God, we were never the same. I began to walk with Christ in a more intimate, surrendered manner than before and sometime along that year I began to pray that Hannah would come to know God at an early age and never depart from a serious pursuit of Him all her life. Like always, I prayed in the smallness of my faith and He answered in the overwhelming greatness of who He is. I had hoped "early in life" might mean before the age of 10. God had different plans.

Hannah has always enjoyed stories from the Bible. We started praying with her when she was 2. Her Daddy showed her how to kneel by her bed, clasp her hands, and pray, and she enjoyed doing so. However, sometime between 3 and 4 she began to resist family prayer time. It would be her turn and she would say, "I don't want to pray." This broke my heart and I didn't know how to proceed other than telling her I looked forward to hearing her prayers again. Often we would give her something to repeat and she would participate half-heartedly. I sensed a hardness in her that is hard to describe. In the meantime, my friend Jo Ellen began inviting us to BSF which has fabulous children's programs. I was hesitant to start on yet another Bible study venture or take them to another church building but we tried it out. The children, even in the 2's and under program, are instructed to lay down on a towel and spend quiet time with God. This lasts for ten minutes each week at BSF. Well, the first week went okay but when we came back for the second week, Hannah said, "I don't want to go to BSF. I don't like to talk to God." Well, I calmly (despite wanting to cry and rant) said, "You know, I'd rather talk to God than anyone, Hannah, and I hope that you feel that way soon because He is my favorite."

As Hannah has stayed the course in BSF where she is taught accurate Bible stories chronologically from the book of John, she has fallen in love with Jesus. She has a suprising grasp of basic theologicacl concepts which we reinforce at home through daily Bible stories. So one day we were riding in the car and she said,
"Does the Holy Spirit live inside me?"
"Well," I answered, "He lives inside those of us who have asked Jesus to be our saviour."
"What is a saviour?"
"Someone who saves us from our bad choices and makes a way for us to be with God forever."
"I want that. I want Jesus for MY savior, to help me not make bad choices, and to go to Heaven with Him, and I want to be baptized."
Well, I about had to pull off the road. I was not prepared for this at the age of 4!

The following week at BSF, I spoke to Kim W, our awesome former children's pastor, and she encouraged me to continue talking to Hannah. We left the sanctuary to go downstairs and get the children. The home training lesson was handed to me, and I looked down at the title, "How to lead your child to Christ." I already had tears in my eyes. Her teacher then pulled me aside, "You need to read this," she said. "Hannah is asking all the right questions. You need to be ready." I began to realize that with all Hannah was at the age of 4, she wanted all of Jesus. Sure, she thinks "sin" is Spanish for "bad choices" and she still makes plenty of them but she is aware of her sin and desires a savior. Over the next week, she told me multiple times that she was ready. In the car on the way home from Alabama on Mother's Day, we asked her to bless the Wendy's we were about to inhale and she said, "Thank you for this chicken and Jesus I would like to ask you to be my savior." Boom.

Since this was not the full confession of sin, desire to repent, and life surrender prayer I believed she needed to pray we knew we needed to follow up. It is with joy that I write that when this time came, I had ultimate confidence in my husband to spiritually discern this situation and lead Hannah in the way she should go. I took Emily shopping and he took Hannah on a date. A couple of hours passed, and when I came in the house they were quietly reading a book. I went to the kitchen to put some things away and I heard her come up behind me. "Mommy," she said, "I have Jesus in my heart." I turned around to look at her and what I saw physically affected me. She looked radiant and peaceful in a way I have not seen and she ran into my arms and threw all of herself around me in the best hug. If I drew this story out or included too much information for some of you, I'm sorry, but that moment blew me away. I don't want to forget any of it.

After she left, I called Daniel into the kitchen and covered his shirt in mascara. Then he retold me some of the conversation. What struck me is that even as ready as she was, when he brought it up again there was resistance there. Even at the age of 4 there was a war for Hannah's soul. "I don't want to talk about that now," she said. So he waited and she said, "Well Daddy, maybe I do want to talk about it. About Jesus being in my heart." Why do we resist a love that is so encompassing and so radical and so thorough?

Thanks for hanging in there and reading this story. Hope you have one, too. There is nothing like knowing He is yours and you are His. Forever.