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I felt helpless
My sweet tiny blessing, my fourth child, was ten days old. He screamed. Every touch to attempt to sooth him, only made him shriek louder as if he were in pain. I took his temp and called the doc.
In every attempt to help this mama stay unpaniced, my doctor came in and without even looking over this fragile life, he told me of my plans for the day.
There would be a nurse waiting for me in the ER
We would have some exhaustive testing, and be transported to the closets Children’s hospital either by ambulance or helicopter.
You see, at 10 days old it was not common for an infant to have such a fever. There was speculation of meningitis.
Grandparents came and got older children, and prayed. Friends tried to come and pray but were turned away, as they had small children at home that they did not want to expose to any dangerous situations.
The last, very delicate test needed to be done with us outside of the room.
So, there we prayed. My husband and I and our pastor. As we were praying the doctor came and informed us that he did well in the testing progress. They would know an answer very soon, but he had this look of full sorrow as he told us the fluid in our son’s spine was not clear. He wanted to prepare us for what may come with those results.
So, in that cold waiting room….
I gave my son’s life to The Lord.
The very one who created him
The only one who could heal him
The one to whom all glory can be given
“Trust in The Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understaning; in all your ways, acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I asked God for a miracle
To save the life of my newborn son. Or, to show me how to glorify God through the loss of his life if He chose to take him.
I remember God asking me if I would still give Him the glory if He chose to take my baby.
Though it was one of the hardest prayer conversations I have had, I resolved to lay down my life, and the life of my child for the purpose of God’s grand purpose.

My own understanding as I nursed my infant son, wondering if it would be the last time, was so limited.
That doctor looked so somber.
So certain of the diagnosis that was to come.
Then it came….
That doctor, confused, bewildered and a bit taken back. The test came back negative. He was sure it would not.
He just looked at me and said, “The only thing I can think of is that it is because you all prayed”.
That boy turns 9 this year.
He is fierce in his faith
Deep in his love for others
God will be glorified, all the days of his life, because we prayed.

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God has planted a seed of hospitality deep in our hearts. We love opening our home to others. Enjoying a meal, laughing with our children and guests, relaxing with coffee cups full while discussing a varied mix of topics.
God has now asked us to do something very special, very close to our hearts. To invite…
So, we acquired a guestbook. Something we should have done years ago. And tonight, we have two beautifully written names in that book.
You see, often we have a mindset that seems like there will always be more time, or better timing for things in the future. When our homes are organized, when we fine tune our culinary skills, when our walls are clean, when our schedules are clear. And the list goes on. Last week we lost a wonderful woman. A woman that had been in our home, and over chocolate crinkle cookies we shared stories of lives lived well. Though she had been to our home, it had been far too long since her last visit.
It got me thinking…. I don’t want to waste anymore time. Time wasted on worrying that my home won’t be clean, or the children may misbehave, or the drawers that may be opened. Gasp, those drawers that seem to need constant reprimands to get themselves back in order. Time wasted on the things needed to be done before we can have our doors truly flung open for God’s purpose.
So, tonight we invited two lovely ladies. These two ladies often “go to supper” together, and when they received the invite they had one request. Hot dogs….burnt hot dogs. So, we served them hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese. For dessert, we filled our mugs with “fancy flavored” coffee and had orange cake that refused to come out of the pan gracefully! How is that for culinary lovliness! Not one remark was made about how ugly that cake looked, they just said, “I’ll take some of that stickiness from the bottom. Make sure We get a share of that sticky stuff.”
We brought out the old photos that my Grandpa Mac gave me. Those ladies poured over those photos. Reminiscing about the places and people in them. They shared with my children the same stories my grandparents, who have passed on now, once shared with me. They knew the names and lives of my sweet departed family members in those photos, and gave insight to the old china hutch and Bible that grace our dining room.
There they sat, holding a bible from 1918. The print so small, none of us could read it longer than a few verses. Filling our home with fond memories, laughter and blessings. My walls were still dirty, and the cake sure was ugly. But, we all enjoyed the “sticky” stuff from the bottom. In the end, they said, “we will come again” . Truly a blessing to hear those words. We have been blessed, because we invited.
Is God stirring your heart? To invite someone in, to give them a place to rest, and a place to be blessed and be a blessing? Join us in this journey. Because our hearts and home were open, they have been filled!

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Spiritual battle is real folks. It’s ugly too.
We are constantly at war.
Lately my mind rings a particular “theme song” for this season of life from Barlow Girl. The chorus reads like this;
“So take me one more round
I’ll just keep fighting
One more round
You’re messing me up but I’m still here”

One more round, and then yet another.
I am fighting a battle that is already won, so I give myself to the victor.
I may be battered and bruised, but I still come out swinging.

It has been one round after the other.
A sneaky blow to the side, a sock right between the eyes, or a nasty kick while I am down.
I need to remember that though Satan can use others to fight for him, it is his evil self that is the attacker.
Though things may seem as though they have been shaken up and dumped out, and folks have turned away from spoken truth.
He asks me to stand and fight.
To take a stand for his word and to point others to him.
To continue to do what he has called me to, and let my soul pour out his love.
That my actions will show my true heart.
That wisdom in silence will be louder than mindless chatter.
To get in the ring for another round.

A while back I was completely obsessed with work-boxes.   I read post after post about other families who used them and how they implemented them.  I even watched several you tube videos from moms who have made them. For those of you who are not familiar with this concept, as I was just a few months ago, a work-box is simply a way to organize papers and assignments that are given to each student.  There is tons of books and videos and other info out there to teach you how to make several different variations about this wonderful addition to an organized home.   I am not going to go into all the details of why and how you can do them, I simply wanted to share with the compromise we made to make them work in our home.  You see, we have eight children, and the thought of having eight rolling carts of drawers entering our home seemed a bit too much to me.  We would probably have to put on an addition to the house, and maybe a race track for racing the carts themselves.  I can envision the littles climbing up the drawers while the older kiddos are lining up and ready to push their carts, siblings on top and all, through the finish line.  sigh….not the most helpful thing in our learning adventure. The drawers do give plenty of space for each assignment to be placed in each drawer, along with everything the child needs to complete that assignment.  But, to be completely honest, I wanted to teach my children to be responsible for these items themselves.  Each child was given a toolbox with their name on it at the beginning of the year.  The toolbox was filled with school supplies they would need throughout the year.

I then came across the idea of making a work-box out of a Rubbermaid plastic file holder and filled with plastic ziploc bags with each assignment inside the ziplocs.  The thought of that much plastic makes my hair stand up like I just rubbed up against a giant balloon.  I could see myself struggling with the floppy bags that won’t stand up perfectly and maybe, just maybe some child may decide to fill a bag with water, or jello, or worse.  again, not helpful.

My husband is the best for thinking of ways to make things wok best.  He often looks at the projects U struggle with and can come up with wonderful solutions to accomplish them well.  He had the super fab idea of using those inexpensive accordion folders. he is a genius!  I like him!

So, we now have these simply adorable work-boxes.  I fill them about every four weeks, before we switch the continents we are traveling to in our studies.  I added cute paper and names to each to personalize it to each child’s interest.  The numbers on the back are for them to keep track of what subjects they completed each time.

While I think the work-box system is a great addition to many home schools, I think it could also be adapted to benefit families with kids who go to school outside the home.  It is a wonderful way to teach children to be responsible for their work and stay on track, in a way that is not overwhelming to them or to parents. Our hope is to raise responsible, self-directed learners in our home.  Children who will continue to desire to learn more in life wherever God takes them.  This is just one step of the process.

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IMG_2227Once again I find myself searching.  Reading, learning and taking it all in.  Trying to choose the best possible fit for our lifestyle  of learning in our home.  We desire to create an environment where learning  is natural, enjoyable, and woven into our daily lives.  I have recently enjoyed learning more about the methods of Charlotte Mason.  I found a wonderful video series on you tube that goes through and explains her thoughts behind her method and most importantly, her heart.  I am finding that if I can keep developing myself as a teacher, I gain more vision and enthusiasm for teaching my children.  I hope to use this blog a bit more as well.  Hopefully to encourage you to desire a closer relationship with God, a stronger marriage, and to pursue a legacy for your children.  You can look forward to more menu postings and posts about huge freezer cooking days.  Also, a journey through our home school curricula choices, and maybe even some book reviews.

With my new-found love for anything written about Charlotte Mason, I have been devouring books written on her life as a teacher and her dreams for children.  While cooking dinner I have listened to many speakers explain methods of gentle instruction leading to a desire in children to learn more.  For them to have the ability to read wonderful literature and to fill our home with quality choices of reading, art and musical choices. That sounds lovely now, doesn’t it.  I have visions of my children siting on a hillside, with their tablet open.  Nature study at it’s best, painting a beautiful flowering field, or nesting bird.  In the “real world” of our lives, we have paint splatters, crackers on the hardwood floors, books strung across the room by toddlers,  and days that are just too cold to go outside.  But, we have the paint on the brushes, and classical music.  We have joy, we have laughter, and prayers going up for those we are painting the pictures for.   An environment where learning is natural, enjoyable and woven into our daily lives.  that I can count as a success…..for today.

Genesis 2:18The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

In my world of endless lists of to-do’s I can sometimes miss the simplicity of being my husband’s helper.
After all, I feel like I must
Do laundry
make myself look as presentable as possible
make breakfast
Mop the floors
Help the kiddos to look as presentable as possible
Teach school in fun and exciting ways
Clean the house
Make a super fab and tasty dinner
Organize and deep clean
And the list goes on and on
All the while, my sweet husband would love nothing more than for me to make that one phone call to the bank. Or send him that email he asked about. I can bless his day greatly when I simply ask, “What can I do for you today that would be of help?”. Seems so simple, yet so grand. And then follow through….
I love this man with all my heart, yet sometimes I miss the opportunity to be a blessing to him daily because I fool myself into thinking I am too busy to help. Trust me, your husbands would rather have pizza and a little help than have a super fab dinner and be on their own.

I was not born in the south.
I was not raised in the south.
However It seams as though my heart is somehow connected to the south.
I love the thought of good old southern hospitality, biscuits and gravy, bbq and real sweet tea. I have a dear friend who moved to the Midwest from Texas. When someone offered her iced tea she cheerfully excepted. She was a bit surprised at the taste however. You see, in the south they brew and simmer and steep their tea……then they sweeten in heavily with a nice crusty ol’ white sugar. None of that powdered midwestern instant tea, sweetened with some calorie free nonsense. Once you have tasted the real thing, nothing short of mama’s fresh brewed will do. Here is how I learned to make it from a dear southern friend of mine.

Fill a saucepan with water about half full
throw in 4 large tea bags (black tea)1
bring to a boil
turn heat off and let the tea steep……the longer the better…. if you forget about it overnight that would be fabulous.
pour it into your favorite pitcher and dump in 1-2 cups of sugar in, depending on how sweet you like it
fill the pitcher the rest of the way with cold water
Stir
Now pour yourself a tall glass of this loveliness head out to the front porch….enjoy ya’ll100

047Monday morning again. The rush…rush, hurry, rush. Get up and quickly. Ready for school, no time for stopping to smell any sort of roses. Pulling through the drive of the school, a prayer said aloud over these precious children God has trusted me with. And there’re off.

Until it is time once again, to wake a sleeping baby, blushed cheeks and puckered face. Load up the van, and off we go. To bring them home again, hurry. Home with these gifts, gifts to love and pour into. But there just isn’t enough time. Homework, supper, showers and prayers. And all to quickly they are blushed cheeks and pucker faced….snuggled in for the night, sleeping away the exhaustion from the race. The race of the day. But what were we racing for. Why such a hurry?

It was this daily routine that caused us to peruse the journey of homeschooling. The very thought frightened me. I always joked that if I homeschooled all my children would know how to do I was cook, bake, clean and garden. And not to mention the fact that my wardrobe consisted of zero denim jumpers and I could not imagine lining my entire home with bookcases and pencil boxes.

but God called out strong

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

deuteronomy 6:4-9

This verse has been our “family verse”. It is a call to parents as to how they can train their children. It begins with acknowledging who God is and for us as parents to love Him with our everything. We then are commanded to keep them on our hearts and impress them on our children. This passage tells us to do life with our kids. To teach them as we go, the things that are on our hearts. To talk with them and walk together. There is no mention of running, hurry or quick-before the bell rings…..sigh. So this my friends is the main reason we chose this journey. We find daily many other Blessings along the way, but this was the main fuel to our craziness.

It was a hard decision, as we loved the teachers and staff so dearly at the public charter school our children attended. Now I could go on a rant here about how my heart breaks for these amazing folks who would love to just sit down and teach children to read and write and so on, but they feel so trapped by state regulated testing for funding…..but I won’t waste your time…..the truth is those teachers love my kids, and our family. And we still miss them dearly…..tough decision.

I still have my moments, while brewing a fresh cup of java….wondering what I have gotten myself into. I must be hot-mess crazy! And then I notice the joy, and the growth….and the cursive writing, and the sounding out of words, and the cuddling up with a good, thick book and I could go on and on. So I may still lack a jumper or two…but I do see a few more bookcases creeping in our home decor. And oh the cookies, the cookies my children will bake. Bake with me, in our kitchen. On a Tuesday morning, with a candle burning, and bed head. What joy that brings my soul.

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

In the midst of trial and struggles, I must say, I do not have the answers…

Uncertainty and Fear creep up on so many I love…..

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

And yet, my heart rest in Him

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

For He is never-changing

You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find


Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

When I am at a loss for words

When my thoughts are numb

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

For His peace is real, and His grace is sufficient….

Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
Jesus, I’ll worship Your holy name
I’ll worship Your holy name

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Menu planning can be overwhelming if you have never done it.  Now that I plan one month ahead, we spend a lot less time and money!  Start with your family’s favorites and plug them in first.  Then add a couple new recipes and even a themed night.  A theme could be “Slow Cooker Night”, Italian Night, Mexican, etc.   Here is our menu for February.  I do not always follow this to a “T”, but I do know that I have everything in the house for each meal.  Items with an * are items that are currently in the freezer ready to reheat and eat! 

1~Herbed Pork tenderloin* with red skin potatoes* and broccoli*

2~Flank Steak* and Couscous 

3~Meatloaf* and  Twice baked red skins*

4~ BBQ ribs* 

5~Pizza 

6~Savory Chicken bundles (LAUGHS)

7~Baked Potato Bar

8~Nachos

9~Pancakes and sausage

10~Italian Chicken subs

11~ Santa Fe Chicken pot pie

12~Pizza

13~ Moroccan Beef

14~Valentines Dinner Shrimp cocktail, steak and potatoes

15~ PortobelloImage Cranberry Brisket

16~Beef Roast

17~Baked potato bar (LAUGHS)

18~ Chicken Teriyaki

19~French toast and sausage

20~Pizza

21~ Blue Cheese, walnut and mushroom stuffed chicken

22~ Swiss Steak

23~ Ham and cheesy potatoes

24~ Freezer meal 

25~Freezer meal

26~ Freezer meal

27~ Drippy Italian beef sandwiches

28~ Enchiladas

 

I hope this inspires you to plan a menu and save time and money for your family as well.  Have a truly blessed meal time together!

 

 

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