Monday, December 31, 2012

Out of the Boat



{click picture for credit}

January 1st. 

It is a big day here in our family life.  This is the first official day of Daddy working from home.  Full time.  100%.  No distractions (beyond the ones we create for him).

My dear, sweet husband has wanted his own business for most of the 15 years of our marriage.  I, on the other hand, have been content to kiss him good-bye in the morning and hug and kiss him hello in the evening.  I grew up that way and it worked. 

Besides, it is safe. I hate to admit it, but I like safe.

These past few years have been hard on my husband;  he has a unique job situation with multiple demands that sometimes conflict with one another.  He had outgrown his job a few years ago, but…..well…he stayed because nothing similar was quite right.

So now we are walking on water.  Dave has been listening to God, praying, and making plans to launch Life, Version 2.0.  He has “side work” and his baby business – – and a business partner. 

God has always provided for us in times of job loss, layoffs, and stress.  Dave reminds me we’ve never gone hungry…we’ve never lost our home…we’ve never been without. 

I’ve spent months this year being supportive (to a point), dreaming along side him, asking “devil’s advocate” questions, and --- finally in November – releasing my fears to God’s capable hands.  How do I know I’ve successfully submitted to Him?  I sleep at night.  Well, OK, I don’t always sleep at night, but when I do have insomnia, it isn’t because I’m worried about Dave’s job.

Of course, the big test will be in late January, when we need to skim a bit more from our savings to pay bills.  Will I sleep through the night then or worry through the night?  I’m prayerful that I’ll sleep – and if I don’t, I know how to “fix” my problem:

I will reach out for the Helper that has never left me. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas



May the mercy and grace promised

by the birth of the Savior

for all the world

bring you peace this Christmas

and in the year to come.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mid-Year Assessment of Our Work So Far ~ Writing


Hmmm, seems like I’ve missed a few weeks of reports.  Oops.  The last 8 weeks of so have been pretty stressful – my husband is transitioning to a new work set-up (self-employment!) and it has impacted my concentration for  school, reviews, and life in general.

With everything as in place as we can arrange it and our full confidence in God’s plan, we are ready and I am determined by faith to walk forward and move on with my jobs.

Usually at this time of year, I assess where we are in our different subjects and decide if we need to make any drastic changes from materials that are not quite working. I’m pleased to say that this year, we will not be needing to make huge changes. Everyone is learning, progressing, and we are chugging along just wonderfully!

I decided since I’m way behind in writing weekly reports and I need to assess our curriculum this year, I’d throw them both together.  First up is looking at the boys’ writing programs.  I’ll also discuss science, grammar, and spelling.

photo credit:  Flickr User Phing (Creative Commons)

Luke and Levi’s writing program was shelved for about a month because we were just running out of time during the day. Ditto with science.  I think that Write Shop Jr. A is a little young for Levi.  He is a little bored with topics that are suggested for writing, but we are chugging through and adapting when needed.  I hope to be able to look through the rest of the curriculum and pick and choose a couple projects that he can work through as well as consult Tapestry of Graces Writing Aids more for ideas for writing. We’re also using lapbooking for accountability with our history topics for the week and for sentence formation and copy work – I think I’d like to do a bit more of this to help Levi with sentence formation and Luke with paragraph writing.

Luke is having a good time writing creative stories with Write Shop Jr. D’s program.  He needs to finish up his Science Fiction story – which has a Christmas setting.  Luke is all boy, and I do have to guide him a bit in his story-telling so that not everything blows up! 

With both of my younger boys, I am thinking about setting aside some free journaling time.  Since they both seem to have lots to say, this might give them the opportunity to express themselves freely (spelling and grammar don’t count!) and without barriers or limits.

Ben is making good progress using IEW’s Continuation Course level B.  We are working on finishing the Continuation Course (you’ll see on IEW’s website that it is called SICC-B) in one year. Last week, he finished up a biographical essay using the DVD’s model of Clara Barton.  I know many people dislike formulaic writing, but I’m pleased that Ben is required right now to use lots of different sentence structures and elements to give his writing some pow!  He is not naturally a pow! writer.  At this stage in the game, I’m just happy that he needs to meet requirements that challenge him beyond short, simple, declarative sentences.  This is my kid who left to his own devices would declare “very” is a descriptive adjective, lol!  He has a great receptive vocabulary, and this program is forcing him to grow and expand.

As with Luke and Levi, I would like to look through the suggested assignments in TOG and Writing Aids and incorporate a project.  0r, maybe I’ll have him write something from science.  Regardless, I would like to work with him on managing two writing projects at a time.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

{Not So} Wordless Wednesday - Christmas!

At the beginning of December, Grandma came up to see Luke's first band Christmas concert.  The concert was *adorable*. {I'll post the concert clip soon!}

One of  Levi's favorite Christmas traditions is making a (premade) gingerbread house.  I thought it would be fun for Luke and Levi to build it with Grandma!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Field Trip: Battleship Cove

In just a few words I can safely say that the boys LOVED this field trip.  I know we will go back again when it is warmer.  A battleship is a big boat, and we did not have enough time to see it completely!







Sunday, December 16, 2012

God Spotting: Women of Faith -- Not My Plan, But Yours

If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. 
God must've been rolling on the floor in early November when four girlfriends and I changed our Women of Faith weekend plans from a two-night getaway to a one-night getaway.

Four friends and I volunteered at the Women of Faith conference in Hartford, Connecticut.  It was a great time of singing, praying, crying (I always cry at these things), and serving.  We had planned on returning home late on Saturday night so that we could cuddle our hubbies and enjoy church on Sunday morning with our families.  Great plan, we had.

Except God intervened to teach me us a lesson. The short story is that we left the arena and discovered we had a flat tire.  My friend's van didn't have a spare and all the usual places you would purchase a tire were either closing in less than half an hour (it was a Saturday night, after all) or didn't have it in stock and  were closing in less than half an hour.

We ended up deciding that we had to spend a second night in Connecticut.  And the God spotting kicker of it all was that our tow truck driver was a Christ follower and invited us to his church! We decided at this point that God must be trying to get our attention and we needed to follow His lead on this detour.  So, husbands were called, Plan B (rides home with others from our area who were at the convention) was cancelled, and we went to sleep (thanks to my friend Susan's husband's Hilton points!) waiting to see what God would teach us on Sunday morning.

Now, I will interject here that the end of October was a pretty stressful month for me..  Plans for a life/ career change were accelerating for my husband and we'd had some growing-up issues with one of my boys. I was struggling to trust God with these issues/ changes.  As a matter of fact, these challenges really made me not excited about attending Women of Faith in the first place.  Isn't that just like the enemy?  Right when I needed God the most, the enemy attacks us and tries to put a wedge between our Father and us?

But after a day of worship God at Women of Faith on Saturday, I was feeling better about God and his plan. Not fully surrendered to it, but better.

Sunday morning was sunny and beautiful in Hartford.  Our two taxis drove us to the Missionary Baptist Church  and we were enveloped in hugs and warm welcomes!

We found our seats and participated in the most joyous worship I'd ever had inside a church!  Life! Energy!  Love! It was heavenly.  Prayer was inspired.  There was love and acceptance and worship in those walls, and it was something we all let soak into our souls.

The message that God had sent to the pastor was right on -- like it was written for me.  Only God can orchestrate a right-on message preached at an African-American church for five white women from several states away who just happened to walk into their church. 

It's a new season, it's a new day
A fresh anointing coming our way
A time of (healing?) and prosperity
It's a new season, It's a new day 

I'm fairly certain that this song was song for me.  We definitely have a new season coming soon in our family (my husband is going to be self-employed January 1st) and I've been worried about all that this implies for our family and our lifestyle.  This song was a salve to my soul that God is in control of everything.  This is our time to get out of the boat and focus on Christ.

God orchestrated a few more gifts and miracles so that we could return home after four hours of worshiping at church.  (Yes, I said four hours.  It felt like one.  Honestly.) We got our van, repacked it with our things, and drove home.




Safe, as we always are, in Jesus' loving arms.

Sometimes, though, we just have to get outside of our plans to see that.

Thank you, sweet Lord Jesus.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Creating Joy at Christmas

Light brings Joy.
I love lining the Dining Room with Christmas lights.  Sometimes the boys argue about who gets to turn them on in the morning.  I don't really like the arguing part, but it gives you a sense about how much joy this gives us. 

Memories brings Joy.
The boys think my love of this little angel is weird.  I don't care.
My dad used to work as a bookkeeper/ accountant for a trucking company when I was a little girl.  Sometimes he'd bring home a toy or doll or something that came off one of the trucks.  I don't remember when he brought this angel home (I'm fairly sure it was before I had memories), but I do remember every year getting excited to take her out of her box, gently having a minute or two to hold her, and watching Mom hang her from the light in the foyer of our home.  She has  a sweet little pudgy baby belly, a golden crown, and the most delicate wings.  I know it looks like she had a below the knee amputation on the left leg, there, but it is actually just wrapped behind her right leg.
I used to cry when it was time to put her away each year.  I admit that I cried when my parents passed her down to me, and I could place her in my own home.  And, I'll admit that one year I totally forgot to put her away until about June.  Those silly boys make fun of me, but I don't care.  

 Simplicity bring me Joy.  
I have always loved simple, uncluttered decorating (though you wouldn't know if you looked around my house right now!).  At Christmas, nothing bring me greater joy than to set out simple candles in the window.  One year, I lined the front windows with white lights.  It stressed me out, however, because there were cords and plugs everywhere.  No, just give me simplicity, please.  Then I can breathe.

 My Children bring me Joy.
This year, Levi had some definite ideas about decorating outside with lights.  He explained to Daddy what he wanted, how he wanted it done, and then worked with Dave to accomplish his goal.  Our little Japanese red maple tree was the object of his wishes, and it brings me such joy to see him accomplish what he set out to do.  

Celebrating Jesus brings me Joy.
I think we have been reading Arnold Ytreeide's triology for 7 years or so.  The books include Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage, and  Tabitha's Travels.  If I had a million dollars I would buy a set of these for everybody I know.  Truth.
Ben was probably in 1st grade when we read through our first of the books; now Levi is in 1st grade.  Our Advent tradition involves a nightly reading from one of these adventure stories -- all which culminate in the 10- or 11-year-old protagonist's witnessing of the Christ child's birth.  
I cry each year.
I will admit that Ben's initial reaction to pulling out Jotham's Journey this year was less than enthusiastic (I mean, I think this is the third time we've read this book!).  He rallied, however, and has been patiently listening like his brothers.  
When we first started the books, I didn't read a majority of the devotions that accompany each night's cliffhanger.  It was when Ben was about 10 that I started making sure to read them.

What brings you joy during Christmas?

To read how other Schoolhouse Crew members celebrate and remember Christmas, you can visit our Crew Blog Cruise!