Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Heart Lesson About Weeds...

Every spring, B and I plant a garden.  We love the satisfaction that comes from a little hard work to bring food from our modest back yard to our table.  Now, lest I come across as a woman with a green thumb, let me be clear:  B is the planter and garden tender.  He knows when and where the seeds are to be planted and all the tricks to make them grow.  Me?  I'm the weeder by default.  I like this arrangement.  The likelihood of plant survival depends on this arrangement.  My duties extend from our garden to our hosta and daylily lined flowerbeds.  B helps them grow, and I pull weeds.

The other day, I was walking along our driveway, admiring the line of hostas.   They were looking full and beautiful.  But, I saw some strange looking un-hosta-like leaves bursting through the full bundles.  Upon closer examination, I realized the leaves were attached to a tall, thick, stalk:  a weed.  There were hundreds of these weeds all lush and green disguising themselves among the hostas.

At first glance, it was hard to tell they were a weed; the leaves were green and almost pretty, but beneath the leaves was an ugly, garish stalk, and at the base a thick root was gripping beneath the dirt with all its might.  I promptly walked the line of hostas, grasping each weed at the base and pulling it up root and all.  

Now, if you've ever been put to the task of pulling weeds then you know that first of all it's dirty, back-breaking work, and second there's a rule:  to get rid of a weed, you have to get to the root.  If you just pop off the stalk, then the unseen root will continue to flourish and produce another weed.  It may seem to be gone...but underneath the soil, the weed is gaining strength and nourishment to grow again.

As I walked the line of flowerbeds with frustration bred determination, pulling and tossing the weeds in a pile, I began to think about how this scenario applied to my life...because I'm dramatic like that.

How many times do I allow seemingly innocent thoughts grow in my heart?  A little jealousy here.  A little anger there.  A touch of resentment.  Just a bit of envy or unforgiveness.  A dash of bitterness.  It's little lies, posing themselves as truths.

I just ignore them at first...sort of just shake them off.  I tell myself they are harmless.  Everyone gets those feelings at one time or another.  But, before long, just like a weed, they are consuming and rooted deep in my heart.  It becomes difficult to distinguish them as something that doesn't belong.  Before long, it's out of control, creating a mess, and I'm left feeling unworthy and beaten down.  It usually takes God coming along, getting His hands dirty, rooting it up and reminding me through the truths of His word that those things don't belong in my heart.  I'm reminded that the longer I allow them residency inwardly, the more they become reflected outwardly.

      "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he."
Proverbs 23:7

    "As in water, face reflects face, so a mans heart reveals the man." 
Proverbs 27:19

As painful as it is to realize what I've stored up, the sense of relief from releasing it is far greater.  To allow God's truth to settle, grow and flourish, making me more like Him becomes the catalyst for freeing my heart.

"He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water"
John 7:38

I want to reside in truth.  Not just believing in Jesus...but believing Jesus.  Taking Him at His word, and allowing that truth to settle over me.  No more believing lies about myself, spinning tales about not being effective or worthy, or allowing sin to grip my heart. 

My heart will not be fertile ground for weeds.

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy,
meditate on those things."
Philippians 4:8

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I'll Take Those Culottes, And Could You Throw In a Denim Jumper Too?

I'm not going to start this post with some catchy intro.  I'm just going to throw it out there:  We're homeschooling...and yes, I'm crazy. My brain hurts from all of the research on curriculum, I'm tossing around names like Charlotte Mason and Ruth Beechick, and I'm pretty positive I left all sensibilities behind somewhere.  If you find them, I'll give you my mailing address.  Thanks.

I can tell you, that I honestly never thought I would choose to homeschool.  As a matter of fact, several close friends are homeschooling their children, and when the question was posed if I would be homeschooling, I laughed hysterically and after catching my breath exclaimed, "No way!"  Not because I was against it, but because I felt I was not my child's best teacher.  "Leave it to the pros," was my motto.

I didn't even make the full commitment until a couple of weeks ago, and it took our local school's principal calling to get my decision for the coming school year for me to be able to say out loud (with a slight hesitating stutter) "Hello Mr. H...I-am-homeschooling."
So, why the heck have I taken the plunge?  Well, I can tell you it has nothing to do with my view on public schools (our neighborhood school is awesome), or the fear that another kindergartner will try to sell something illegal to my son.  I can also tell you my goal isn't to shield the little Mr. from the world...I mean, come on.  I think he has a proven track record of running the world amok with his own two hands.  I also in no way feel that our teachers are not either doing their job, or doing it properly.  They have a huge responsibility, and I commend them for getting up each day and giving their all.

Our reasons are pretty simple.  We want to have the opportunity to prepare our little ones with an education that teaches them to view the world through a Biblical lens.  We feel that homeschooling gives our family that opportunity.  Plus, I look good in culottes and denim jumpers... kidding...just seeing if you're still reading.

I have found so many resources readily available online (you can homeschool without the purchase of expensive curriculum if you'd like), and the support and encouragement from friends and family has been overwhelming.  Honestly, I never thought I would be so excited to teach.  I'm compiling our materials and curriculum (I'm piecing ours together rather than going with one company), and have begun to make our 'classroom' feel a bit more 'homey':

Instead of getting online and purchasing curriculum right away, I've taken the last few weeks to evaluate where my kiddos are academically and how they learn best, then work from there.  I've found lots of great websites that provide free worksheets and ideas on unit studies, and I've shopped the dollar bins at Target and Dollar Tree for flash cards, workbooks, play money, various charts etc.  I've also utilized some really wonderful learning sheets that seasoned friends have put together for their own children.  It's amazing how everyone in the homeschooling community freely shares with one another...I have yet to meet a parent who keeps all of their ideas under lock and key, and for that I am grateful!  

I'm learning homeschooling doesn't have to be expensive to be effective. More than anything, I've learned, that there is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to homeschool your children.  It looks different for every family, and I love that we can do something fun like using the little Mr.'s cars as math manipulatives, or anything else in our home to get our kiddos excited about learning.

So, in the coming weeks, I hope to blog about our progress and give you a list of links and tips on what we've learned along the way.  Homeschooling will not be the main focus of this blog, but since it's a new member of the family, you'll probably hear about it from time to time.  What do you think?  Is that something you are interested in reading about?  

Also, I want to encourage you to share in the comment section what you are learning, tips, or resources that have been a key to success for your family!  You don't have to be a homeschooling mom to share...because as parents, we teach our children everyday!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


We just got texting capabilities on our phones.  I's a shock how long I've survived without it.  You may be thinking, "Can you even get a phone plan without texting?"  Yes.  But Not until you've been asked multiple times by the customer service rep if you are,  "Truly sure you do not wish to have texting on your phone plan."

We've had texting for over a week now...and I have only sent one text...  I should share that I'm sort of anti-texting...I'm sharing this in my quiet voice...I don't have many pet-peeves...but, texting is one of them.  It may have something to do with the fact that my phone is *shock alert* out-dated and I have to punch the keys like five times as it cycles through every letter until I get the one I need.  It would be quicker if I just called and asked, "Hi Honey, what time are you coming home?"  It takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r to type it out.  Probably because I'm a novice...whatever.

I am also not a texting fan because I can't wrap my brain around sending an abbreviated makes this word-lovin' English major short circuit:  "Snt u a txt.  U get it?"  I'll stop there.  I'm probably treading on delicate territory. 

I'm mostly not a fan because while convenient, it means I don't connect with a 'real' person.  I want to hear someone's voice, laugh together, and understand *fully* what they mean.  But, in the same vein, I also avoid automated phone options, and always press zero for the operator.  See?  Need a human being over here people!

So, when I receive a sweet, "Thnkn bout u" Text from my hubby, I call him and thank him, then profess my undying love and devotion.  When my mama texts me: "evrythn ok?  jst chkn on u n the kids." I call her to let her know I am alive and well.  When My friend sends me a text: "Do u wnt to do lunch?" I call to confirm that indeed, I'd love to meet for lunch, how lovely of her to ask.

I suppose I just don't feel like I'm as adaptable as I used to be.  I don't seem to latch on to new things as easily as I used to (yes, I'm aware texting has been around for a while).  My sweet hubby thinks I'm just stubborn and a non-conformist. Well...I'm not going to address that right now *smile*.

So, I may be slow, but I suppose I'll text...once I figure it out. I'll squint as I look at the keys, mutter under my breath as I type, and declare this, "New fangled thing" to be a frustration while asking, "Why don't people just pick up the phone and call anymore?" Am I the texting Grinch?

Wish me luck as I attempt to keep up with the times.  Maybe for my next feat I'll get a Twitter account...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Could You Translate That Please...

I pride myself in the ability to understand my two-year-old daughter...for the most part.  While I can understand most of her requests and volume-defying high-pitched declarations, there is the occasional time that I simply have to throw my hands in the air and ask her to 'mime' for me what she wants.  It it weren't for the fact that the little Mr. speaks 'Eva-nese' fluently, our day would look like a never-ending game of charades.

Take yesterday for example, the little miss came up to me and babbled something frantically...and heck-if-I-knew what she wanted.  We tried back and forth for about five minutes, and all I could make out was 'Elmo'.  I would ask, "Do you want your Elmo?"  She would shake her head no.  "Do you want your Elmo potty seat?"  Again, no.  "Do you want your Elmo backpack?"  Nope.  Finally she threw up her hands and walked away.  Suddenly, without breaking concentration from building Lego towers, the little mr. piped up, "She wants to sit on the couch with a blanket and snack and watch Elmo." I looked at the little miss and she screamed, "YES!"  Seriously?  You got that sentence from "a;lkjnaf;aorebhga;na;eorugb;a;aldnv;r!!!"

Today, she pulled me over to the refrigerator and began pointing and yelling, "Pots!  Pots!  Pots!"  What the heck?  There are no pots in the refrigerator.  So, I opened the door and of course she continued to point and yell, "Pots!"  Eventually, Ethan to the rescue.  He calmly walked over in his, 
manner and said, "She wants applesauce," then he moved past me, grabbed a yogurt and walked away.  She looked at him with a thankful grin and exclaimed, "Yes!" 
And I stood there, scratching my head, wondering what I just missed.

Often I hear the two of them playing together, and Eva will say, ";anf;;asdroing;akjertb;airgb." And Ethan will give a little chuckle and say, "I know, I like it too!"  Huh?

So, what is it about siblings and their simple ability to discern communication?  I's baffling...and endearing at the same time.  Sometimes they fight like crazy, and I'm pulling out my hair, and other times there seems to be an impenetrable bond that adults are not privy to.  They understand one another and the plights of childhood that I seem to have forgotten.

Whatever the case may be,  it is clear that, unlike the little mr.,  I have yet to crack the Eva-nese code.  
I do hope he continues to provide his translation services free of charge.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Book...

A few months ago, I found myself sitting through a children's ministry training at church.  I was loaded up on donuts, juice and fruit, and chatting excitedly with friends...basically, I was preparing my body and mind so I could experience what it was like to be a four-year-old for a day.  Sort of like method acting.

After a few moments, the children's director stood in front of our group, welcomed us, shared her excitement for the coming year, but before sharing her vision, she said she would be sharing a book with us that made a huge impact on her.

She opened the book, and in perhaps the most pleasant and soothing reading voice, began reading the story.

A story of God's promise.  A story of a long awaited Redeemer.  A story of fulfilled prophecy and a promise kept.  My heart was caught in my chest as I listened to this story, taken straight from God's word.  I knew my own children, who have heard so many times of God's promise, needed to hear this story, told so plainly that they could understand and grasp every move God made to redeem His redeem us into friendship with Him.

When she was done reading, you could have heard a pin drop.  She then shared the vision and encouragement to every adult in that room to teach these little ones about the redeemer who wove his scarlet thread through each story in order to keep his promises.

Yes, I bought the book, and I read it with the same enthusiasm to my children.  Mid-story, the little Mr. tapped me on the shoulder and asked, "Mama?  What's a redeemer?"  Oh, my sweet one!  I truly couldn't hold back my tears.  First, because I'm emotional like that.  Second, because I was so grateful for the opportunity to tell him.  I said, "A redeemer is someone who rescues people and sets them free."  He looked at me and smiled his huge grin then said, "Is Jesus the Redeemer?" Praise God HE IS!!!  

Not only do we have a God of second chances, but we have a God who keeps his promises.  A king and redeemer who rescued us and set us free.  

**If you are looking for a children's storybook that concisely tells the story from Genesis to Revelation, while making it clear how Jesus fulfilled all the promises in scripture, then I highly recommend this book as a supplement to devotional times you have with your children.

"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on the earth."
                                  Job 19:25

"They remembered that God was their rock, that God most high was their redeemer."
                                      Psalm 78:35

**I am not being compensated in any manner for the review of this book.  I simply love it, and wanted to share it's awesomeness with you!