Monday, August 31, 2009

So Far, So Wonderful

So far, there are many things I like about the new school year. For one thing, I seem to have much more time at home! Wednesdays are still crazy driving days, but thanks to the generosity of Joyce I. and Angel T., I'm home before 12.

Secondly, the fact that the girls have on line classes means I'm on the computer much less! I have actually been cleaning my home and doing domestic chores . . . and liking it. A lot! (Yes, Raquel. I know it's a banned word.) So far I have swept and mopped floors, scrubbed the shower, wiped down the kitchen cabinets, made vegetable soup, organized the Tupperware cabinet, and completely caught up on laundry and ironing.


I've started lesson planning for AWANA and graded papers as they have been finished.

Lord, I feel so on top of my game. Please let me stay here!

This week, Kelly begins her classes at the community college. This means she'll have the car and I'll be forced to stay home two days a week. I'm certainly not complaining about that.

I'm teaching only one class this year, plus Trek (AWANA JV). I do miss having a co-op and seeing those kids (and moms) regularly, but it has freed up my time even more. I'm excited about pursuing domestics!

Last week was only the second week, but it has gone much more smoothly than the first. I'm learning to schedule appointments during the months that I don't have the carpool so I don't have to take time away from a school day. This is our 12th year of home schooling and it feels fantastic! (Ha! Raquel, I bet you thought I'd say GOOD.)

Meanwhile, the report in Tennessee is that Ty's doing well in school. Please pray he finds a job soon! For those who don't know, Ty started a blog!

Yes, the one who mocked his mother has now joined her. Heh, heh.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Inspector

Yesterday's post inspired me to clean the house. We have terrazzo floors, so this involves a lot of sweeping and mopping. It also involves great comedy.

For some reason, Missy (Glenna's dog) watches me closely while I sweep. I don't mean that she stays on her blanket and watches, I mean that she stays within two feet of my broom and tracks every movement.

I have no idea why.

I wonder if she thinks I'm going to unearth something interesting or delicious?

While sweeping the family room yesterday, I noticed that Jack (our schnauzer) had also placed himself within two feet of the broom. This meant that the dogs were continually in my way, dodging the broom, trying to anticipate my moves so they could maneuver accordingly, and sneezing repeatedly from the dust.

What's the deal here?

Finally, I broke out the swiffer and dragged it under Red Mammoth, our massive red couch. As I pulled the swiffer towards me, two balls and one chew toy came out with them.

Mystery solved! Jack pounced on everything he could and a battle with Missy ensued. I was glad to have them out of my hair.

When I broke out the mop, however, Missy was back.

This time, she stood a respectable distance from the mop and watched the action like a tennis match. Back. Forth. Back. Forth. I began to lose track of her and concentrate on the mopping.

It wasn't until I finished the rooms and started to put the furniture back that I noticed it: each room I mopped had fresh paw prints.

The Inspector checked every inch and corner to make sure I did a proper job. I've got the prints to prove it.

Note to self: Put Missy in crate when mopping.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Slaying of Discontent

"Every wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands." - Proverbs 14:1

Our move to Florida 11 years ago made me realize what a discontent person I had become. In fact, I cannot wait until this year's retreat to hear BA's mom speak on contentment! I have learned so much, but there's so much more I need to learn.

As a newlywed and later a new mother, there were many things I did to destroy contentment. The biggest wound, however, came from being ungrateful. When did I stop being thankful for the things I had and continually long for the things I didn't have?

When we moved to Florida and were forced to do without so many things, I began to see material goods in the light of their true value. I was amazed at what I could live without, and my eyes were opened to all the STUFF I had - so much that I couldn't even care for it - and yet I still thought I needed more.

The things I did to feed my discontent were:

Pour over catalogs
Subscribe to magazines
Tour model homes
Get decorating books from the library
Watch television
Go window shopping
Read romance novels (even "Christian" romance!)

By pouring over catalogs, I was convincing myself that I needed the items on the pages.

By subscribing magazines showcasing beautiful homes, I began to see my home as shabby and ugly. This led to constant rearrangements of furniture, an endless search for home decorating items that only collected dust and eventually looked dated, and no attempts to beautify my home with the items I currently had.

Do I even have to talk about touring model homes? Both in the desert and here in Florida, I would walk through and dream of the "some day" when that gorgeous home would be mine with everything perfectly placed. I became an expert at room function and could even look at them with a critical eye; my home would have this, but never that.

Watching television made me lethargic and irritable. Still does, when I watch an occasional show on line.

Window shopping taught me that my clothes were ugly and outdated, and that I needed to feel badly about my appearance. Window shopping at a furniture store made my couch extra lumpy/bony/dirty.

I'm glad I caught the destruction of romance novels early on. Because the men in the books were so romantic, I was unable to see even the smallest efforts Himself was making. No wonder he gave up!

If I think back to my childhood, the homes I enjoyed the most never changed. I loved them because I was welcomed with open arms, the mom was cheerful and loved to do things with the children, and people spoke to each other with kindness.

I know that God is sovereign, but I also pray I have not damaged my children with my discontent. I hope they have seen me as a sinner saved by grace, and a woman who is continually learning and growing in the Lord. I have stopped doing the things listed above, or at least read magazines that are helpful (I love Real Simple!) and not feeding discontent. I pray I can make efforts to further embrace my role as housewife and mother; I want home making to become my craft and profession, and not just a stop until the kids are grown and gone. I feel fortunate that Himself loves and encourages me in my roles. In fact, when the kids are grown and gone he hopes to become even more of a "kept man" than he is now! With the 20 years he's put in as sole provider, I think maybe he's earned it.

He once asked me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

"A grandmother."

"Right on!"

Back off ladies. He's mine.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'm Telling You (Because No One Told Me)

I love being a Mom, and it's definitely the hardest thing I've ever done. I guess the harder the task, the greater the reward!

I am the type of person who will read every book I can find on a subject, and parenthood was no exception. Himself would see the stack of books next to my bed and ask me to simply highlight the things I thought he needed to know. I am so thankful that God not only led me to excellent books and wisdom, but He gave me the fortitude to apply the things I'd learned with enthusiasm and consistency.

I discovered a wealth of information on:

Cloth vs. Disposable diapers (I've used both)
Baby Foods (grind up and mash what you're eating without seasonings)
Consistent Discipline (No means no!)
Schedules and Routines
Crafts and Games
Reading Books early and often (we still devour them!)
Consciously Enjoy Every Moment (I'm so, SO thankful I did this!)
Ditch the TV as much as possible, and NO TVs in the bedrooms!
Lots of Love and Lots of Laughter

Those things took thought and effort and were immensely worth it. Watching the scene in Marley and Me, however, brought up memories of the areas where there was no teaching. Or, if there was, it was a side-note or brief mention.

There are so many things I can now clearly see that would have made a world of difference. Watching the woman in the movie explode with anger and frustration made it even more clear. In no particular order, here's what I hope God allows me to teach and disciple to other women!

1. The discipline of prayer. Face it - it all starts here. I've read books here and there on the subject, but I would have loved a person to ask me when I was complaining about my frustrations, "Did you pray for your children today? Did you start there?" and then hold me to it.

2. How to truly help and respect my husband, and how much personal fulfillment it brings. I've since attended some terrific seminars at my church on this subject, wishing I had this information 23 years ago!

3. The secret of contentment is thankfulness. It took me 11 years and 2500 miles away from home to learn this. (More on this later.)

4. Dying to self = new life, not death. As the woman in the movie said, she had to give up so much of what made her who she was. Yes, but only so a new person could be born! It's not bad, it's not wrong, it's just new and different.

5. Homemaking is a job and a priority; a craft to learn and pursue with excellence as one would a professional trade.

6. Especially with small children, do not take their sin personally. As I began to recognize that my children were struggling with their sin natures and not necessarily me, I was amazed at how easy it was to remain calm and NOT be angry. I still have a default reaction that I have to fight in order to get to this point (it slips once in a while!), but it is becoming more and more a way of life.

Next, I'd like to explore the things I've done that directly sabotaged all of those lessons.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bad Dogs and Good Conversations

There are, wonderfully, lots of new mommies at our church right now! I love watching them with their newborns. I love holding their babies even more!

Strangely, none of this has given me the desire to have more children. It has given me the desire for my friends to have more children, and as I write this, my friend Julie is obliging by being in labor! Praying for Julie and baby #8!**

The other night we finally broke down and watched the movie, Marly and Me. What I liked about the movie was that it started with a couple on their wedding day. We don't know whether they lived together first, and I loved that! They progressed into a nuclear family with a bad dog. The woman decided that home was where she needed to be, so she left her high speed, much applauded career and stayed home with her children.

I wanted to stand up and cheer.

Some of the new mommies in our church are forced to go back to work and my heart aches for them. One situation is ideal, where the Dad can be there if the mother can't. The other situation is good (grandma watches baby) but less ideal. This mother's heart is breaking to leave her little one, and my heart is breaking along with hers. The fact that some of these mommies are working just so they'll have medical insurance makes me burn, but it still doesn't make me want socialized medicine! Anyway . . .

One scene in the movie was particularly hard to watch. Surprisingly, it wasn't the end of the movie (which I won't give away in case we aren't the last people on the planet who haven't seen the movie). The scene that hit me hardest is when the mom has a baby and a toddler and she finally gets them both to take a nap. She's resting on her bed with the bad dog, when the dog suddenly hears the garbage truck approaching. Despite her urgent pleading to the dog to stay and be quiet, he bounds off the bed, barking, and proceeds to destroy the window blinds and wake the babies.

The mother's exhaustion and frustration were so vivid to me. She screamed at her husband to get rid of that dog immediately, and preferably through a painful death. He tries to calmly reassure her by saying she might have post-partum depression and she fires back, "I'm not depressed, I'm exhausted!"

It's the same exhaustion and frustration that caused me to march out of my house and confront a gang member living across the street (with bullet holes in his car, no less!) and read him the riot act. In other words, it's an exhaustion and frustration that causes a mom to say and do irrational things.

Fortunately, a moment of sanity returns and the mom told the husband to bring the dog back. (For me, the Holy Spirit convicted me to go and apologize, and I soon had a relationship of mutual respect with the gang member.) What she said next sparked a conversation and a thought process that may take a few days to work through.

"I just get overwhelmed. No one tells you how hard this is going to be."

"Which part?"

"All of it. Marriage, being a parent; it's the hardest job in the world and no one prepares you for it. No one told you how much you'd have to give up."

"They do tell you, but you don't listen and you get miserable."

"I've given up so much of what made me who I am. But I can't say that, because I'm a very bad person if I say that. But I did make a choice. I made a choice and even if it's the harder than I thought, I don't regret it."

It was painful to watch her pain as a mommy. I know that for me, so much of this is true! I especially have thought about not having anyone really tell me how hard it's going to be. The warnings I received were done in a mocking and condescending way and not meant to help or disciple. Rather, they sparked a rebellious "I'll show YOU" attitude that really didn't help matters.

I have more thoughts on this and will share them soon.

**Update: Julie had a Baby Girl! Welcome to the world, Sarah Nicole!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tone it Down, Will You?

We're off to an interesting start with Florida Virtual School.

For Kelly's Geometry class, she was asked to write a paragraph using geographical terms to describe a room in a photo. Her teacher's response:

"First of all, this is the most well-written paragraph I have ever received for this assignment! However, could you make the writing simpler so the math can show through?"

What can I say? English is her strongest subject. Math, clearly, is not.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Toolbox

Today as I was making lunch and doing dishes, I came to realize that my kitchen is just a giant toolbox.

Well, that's an exaggeration. My kitchen isn't a giant at all. I guess instead of the deluxe mega-toolbox that must men drool over, my kitchen could be compared to the small, multi-drawered version that sits on a tool bench. You know; nothing fancy, but basically everything needed.

One thing that makes Himself and our son crazy is people who don't take care of their tools. Whether that person is a paint contractor or a band-mate, his equipment needs to be in tip-top shape and ready to get the job done.

The other thing that makes them crazy is when people mess with THEIR tools and equipment. Use it, yes, but clean it and put it back!

Which brings me to my kitchen.

It is my hope that the family will eventually see the kitchen as my tool box. Use it, yes, but clean it and put it back. These are my tools, people! My tools need to last me a long time and can only last if they receive proper care.

Think it will work?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Heartfelt Thank You

When Ty left, he took his iPod and left his CDs, giving his sisters permission to listen to them.

It's been a feeding frenzy, friends!

Kelly grabbed all the cool ones Ty has kept to himself (the one from Copeland he said was his all-time favorite and none of us have heard; same with Underoath) but Glenna went right for the old Five Iron Frenzy.

She plays this while we do the dishes or chores and it makes me smile every time. It's such a vivid reminder of Ty in his pre-teen and Jr. High years! By the time he was 12, he could play the entire CD of FIF's "Quantity is Job One" on his bass guitar. Have you listened to it lately? Those bass lines are intense and wonderful!

As I was listening last night, I couldn't help but think of another young man. Now a Daddy with children of his own, he patiently taught Tyler bass guitar lessons for two years. Not only did he let him learn fun FIF songs, he also challenged him with music theory, even theory at a college level. Ty's skills as a musician, his love and knowledge of music are a direct result of his input, time, and efforts.

This same young man also helped bring our toddler Glenna out of painful shyness when it came to the teen boys at our church. Every Sunday for the first two years of our lives in Florida, he would kneel down at church, speak quietly to her, ask her for a hug, then resignedly smile and say, "Ok Glenna, maybe next time."

Glenna did eventually give him a hug. It was the talk of the church!

In fact, later on I passed a group of teen boys in church one Sunday in time to hear one of the boys boast, "Glenna talked to me!" The others gasped, "No way! What did she say?" Glenna was only three!

Thinking of this young man naturally led me to think of his wife. Also a teen from our church, Glenna had no problem sitting on her lap or talking to her. Kelly also enjoyed talking with her and being with her.

Through their courtship and eventual marriage, I was thrilled with the example they gave my children of a relationship that honored the Lord and each other. They were fun, the coolest teens around, yet they weren't above spending time with young children and investing in their lives. In fact, Glenna invited them to her fifth birthday party, and they came! They even asked Glenna to be their flower girl.

David and Sarah, I wanted to say thank you for the many ways you've influenced the lives of my children. The simple input of your time and yourselves have made a difference, more than you know. As parents, you probably know what it means to pray for godly people to walk along with you on this journey. My prayer for your children is that they will have a "David and Sarah" of their own.

God bless you, my friends.

Monday, August 17, 2009

It Begins!

Today is the first day of school for many home school families, including us! Glenna and Kelly will begin their Florida Virtual School classes. I will begin the only class I'm teaching this year: Advanced English (High school).

The classroom is ready, except for Glenna's desk. I just didn't have the energy or courage to go there.

Kelly starts her dual enrollment class at the community college on the 31st. I'm excited for her, and I'm especially excited that she can drive herself!

This Wednesday, however, is a big day for all three children. Glenna starts her English (with Mrs. R!) and science (with Mrs. S!) classes. Tyler has his first day of school in Tennessee, and Kelly . . . wait, what was Wednesday for Kelly again?


Speaking of Tyler, his first meeting with his roommates was very encouraging. One of them, David, was just returning from Bass Pro Shop with his mother. He's passionate about fishing.

Oh yeah!

They went fishing that evening.

And the world rejoiced.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

:-) :-( :-)

Things that make me smile:

The Kate staying over.

An FB hello from Vincent.

A freezer full of meals from Dinner A'Fare.

My friends.

Glenna as she enjoys the Newsies soundtrack.

Ty calling to say he'd arrived safely in Tennessee.

School supplies.

An empty laundry hamper.

This statement from Glenna when I explained her Grandpa was being too stubborn to go to the hospital: "At least he wasn't too stubborn to become a Christian!"

Kelly's improved driving skills.

Himself, being himself.

Things that wipe the smile off my face:

The neighbor's dog barking non-stop on an early Saturday morning.

Forgetting to ask where Jessie was running a 5K this morning.

Dirty dishes.

Fretting instead of trusting God.

Not being able to help Ty unpack and move into his apartment in Tennessee.

But then I see that the frown list is way shorter than the smile list, and that makes me smile.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Sweetest News

God always knows when we could use some good news for a change, doesn't He? This news came at exactly the right time.

From my sister-in-law:

First some wonderful news. I just received a call this afternoon from Children's and Taylor's PET scan last week was clean! This means there continues to be no sign of active cancer cells and the chemotherapy continues to do its job. It also means that her doctor will set an end date for her treatment. Tentatively, they have set her completion date at April 1, 2010 provided nothing comes up in the mean time that would cause them to extend her current treatment. We are so grateful for the thoughts and prayers sent our way that Taylor continues to cope with her treatment and the treatment continues to be effective so thank you all for your role in her recovery.

Thanking God for Taylor's health and recovery!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday Musings

Glenna finally talked me into driving to the downtown library today.

Books I will most likely NOT be reading any time soon:

"Math Projects for Young Scientists"

"Exploring with Pocket Calculators"

and the ever popular:

"Math Fables"

The word is officially out that Ty's going to Tennessee for a year. We were so excited when we heard he was accepted at the college! We received the phone call early in July and have been working the details out ever since. Kelly had recently left for Mexico when we got the call.

Working in the kitchen, I couldn't help but bragging aloud to Himself and Glenna.

Me: Did you know my son has just been accepted to a college in Tennessee?

Himself: What a coincidence! Mine did, too!

2 minutes later:

Me: Did you know my daughter just got her driver's license and is now serving the Lord in Mexico?

Himself: What a coincidence! Mine did and is, too!

Glenna: Next time you come out of that kitchen, it had better be something about ME!

Ty leaves Friday for school. I'm handling it surprisingly well (there's enough other craziness to occupy and weigh my thoughts). Sunday was his last set with the music team at church and it just sounded so great, I didn't have time to be melancholy.

I'm thinking this it how it feels when something is good and right and obviously of the Lord. Plus, as I told Ty this evening, I have such peace knowing I'll always be his Mother and he'll always return to me eventually. The fact that there's a pretty, brown-eyed girl here helps, too! I know he'll be coming home often. His sisters will have a much worse time than I will, unfortunately. He plays such an important, supporting role in their lives and it will hard for them when he's gone.

Still, he'll only be a text message or a phone call away!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Mad Daze

There's so much I need to write about, but it's difficult to write it down. Partly because of privacy issues, but mostly because if I write it down, that means it's really happening.

The best I can do lately is take each day as it comes. It's not all horrible, but it's certainly all a trial. I guess it could be said that we're all busy with spiritual growth. =)

School starts for us on the 17th so I have been trying to organize schedules and materials. I had a pretty productive day, yesterday! (I hate when Ty leaves and I'm working on the computer, then he comes home and I'm in the same spot. I've done a variety of work! Honestly!)

This has been the most insanely busy summer I have ever had. Normally, I'm able to take a break after July 4th weekend and enjoy a slower pace. It seems everyone is trying to cram in activities before school starts, so there hasn't really been a moment's rest. Perhaps starting school will allow things to slow down.

From here until next Monday, I will be saying "no" to most requests. I apologize in advance, but I know I'll be given the benefit of the doubt. There's much more to life, especially my life right now, than meets the eye. Some days are easier than others; some days I struggle to breathe. In every day, however, I know that God is good.

Saturday, August 08, 2009


While Vincent was here, we introduced him to many of the finer things of the United States.

Of course, I am talking about Krispy Kreme, Frappicinos, Smoothies, Pop Tarts, Reese's Peanutbutter Cups, Slurpees, Jerimiah's Italian Ice, peanut butter, and hamburgers.

Hips don't lie - it's a good thing that kid went home when he did. I have definitely put on a few POUNDS.

Glenna's birthday celebration and the huge strawberry cheesecake in my fridge have NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Dear Dad

No one sits a horse like you.

I never know what to expect when I see this look:

You're the onriest man I know.

Boy, do you love a good joke, especially if it comes from you.

I love you, Dad.

I always have.

I always will.

I hope you feel better soon. I'm trying my hardest to hang tough.



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