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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Clothing to Die For - Or Not

I am the girl on the girl on the right. I am wearing the skirt in question, but not the blouse.
(To be honest, I don't remember owning a navy vest, but then again there's a lot of things
I don't remember about those strange years.)

You would never see this outfit on a celebrity, never on a model, and most definitely never on a typical twenty-two year old woman. But when I wore it, I felt skinny and sexy.

The long, navy blue skirt fit trimly with no pleats or gathers. Its hem softly brushed my ankles as I walked. The white, button down blouse was a gift from a friend and co-worker. She said she saw it at Goodwill and thought of me. I loved it. It hinted ever so slightly to my figure, thanks to strategically placed darts.

Now if you’re envisioning a tall, slim twenty something in a long pencil skirt and figure flattering, crisp, white blouse, top two buttons undone revealing a smooth chest and perhaps sparkly jewelry, think again.

This was a long navy blue skirt two sizes too large. Safety pins tightened the waist line, allowing it to hang on my hips. Under the white blouse was a full length cotton slip, removing any opportunity for showing off a figure. Every single one of those buttons where buttoned tight and not a hint of jewelry was seen.

Yet when my 22 year old self wore this outfit, I felt on top of the world. I thought for sure a few of the more good looking guys (way out of my league) would notice me. I thought for sure Mr. Gothard would think I looked professional and would ask me to do something important.

Of course there was the issue of random people’s hair staticly clinging to the skirt’s hem as I trailed the red carpets, and the fact that the blouse button third from the bottom would never stay buttoned, but by golly, this was the outfit that was going to change the world for me.

After wearing it two days every week for several months, I found it did nothing for me, except keep me company while I answered the switchboard in the huge, lonely front lobby.

I wore this outfit the day Mr. Gothard (for some weird and rare reason) walked through the front door. I stood, smiled, walked around the desk and shook his hand. He smiled then pointed to the ceiling. “Who’s responsibility is it to change the light bulbs?” he asked. When I answered that I had no idea, he told me to investigate. So much for an important job.

I wore this outfit the day I said good-bye to a “young man” I thought might be “the one”. Well, turns out he wasn’t. So much for snagging a man in it. (P.S. As nice as he was, I’m glad he wasn’t the one. I rather like the one I caught while wearing a t-shirt and denim skirt.)

I kept this skirt and blouse in my closet for several years, even after pregnancies changed my body enough to never fit it again. I’m not sure why. Maybe I thought just looking at it every time I opened the closet door would make me skinny and sexy all over again.

Let me tell you though, if being skinny and sexy means going back to ill fitting navy and white, then I yell for all to hear, “BRING ON THE FAT JEANS AND MOMMY SHIRTS!”

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Another Wild Kratts Birthday

 When Daryn turned 4, he requested a Wild Kratts birthday. This year, when he was to turn 6, he requested another Wild Kratts birthday. So we set up an animal's feast.

The Watering Hole: Water bottles with Wild Kratt labels
Snake Soup: Spaghetti and meatballs
Black Beetles: Black olives
Herbivore Delight: Salad
Ants on a Log: Bananas w/peanut butter and raisins
Gorilla Grub: Fruit salad
This year, we did a Trotuga cake.
Last time, I did a simple Wild Kratts logo cake with cupcakes.

Monday, December 31, 2012

A Lifetime of Healing

Why does it take so long to heal?
Why do things fester unknown just waiting for one small thing to reopen the wound?
Why do injuries affect every area of life?
Why do the ones I love most suffer because I have suffered?
Why can't life just be normal and everything happy?
Why does it all explode in my face just when I think we're good and all is healed?

How do I turn off the torturous thoughts?
How do I trust when trust is so hard?
How do I choose love over fear?
How do I turn off the sick feeling in my stomach?
How do I keep those around me from being affected by my hurt?

Such a reminder that this world is not my home. There's a longing in my heart to feel eternally safe and accepted. This world and the people around me cannot fill that longing. Only my King can.

Oh Lord, I do need you every hour... well, heck... every second. But there are times when I feel that need even more than normal. And this is one of those times. Teach me to trust You with my heart. Teach me that the love of those around me can only satisfy so long as I am satisfied in you.

Teach me to recognize when thoughts are not from You. Teach me to not give them the time of day. Those thoughts do not deserve my focus. Teach me to learn Your truth and to hold it close to my heart.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Strong Tower

“Thou hast been a shelter for me,
and a strong tower from the enemy.”
Ps. 61:3

She could hear it faintly through her loud, raspy breathing and the thunderous pounding of her feet as they hit the ground. It was coming closer and closer with her every step. She knew she was running as fast as she possibly could, and yet she felt as if she were crawling. She peered over her shoulder into the darkness, feeling the urge to freeze in a paralyzed stupor, but knew she must go on, for Fear would soon reach out its gnarled fingers and squeeze the life from her soul. She could hear the rustling steps much closer now and could feel Fear’s warm breath on her neck. The air around her began to reek with an indescribable, evil stench, threatening to intoxicate her.

She must run faster. Surely somewhere, somehow she possessed some sort of unknown inner power that could drive her beyond her failing strength. Her foot caught hold of a stone. She felt as if she hit a brick wall as she fell in slow motion to the ground. Everything seemed far away… everything but the darkness. It closed in with suppressing thickness. For a second, she entertained the idea of giving in to its heaviness, but the rustling of Fear’s steps jolted her from her comatose state. She pulled herself to her feet and groped in the darkness, trying to find her bearings.

Only as she began once again to force one foot in front of the other did she noticed the piercing pain shooting through her leg. Her steady pace turned quickly to a limping fast walk. How long must she run? When would she have a chance to catch her breathe?

Suddenly, she froze. What was that lurking in the darkness? It flittered past her again. Her hair fluttered with the breeze created by its movements. There it was again. This time, it brushed her as it passed. It must be Memory, the stalker she had heard horror stories of. She must keep going.
But before she could move an inch, Memory returned, knocking into her and ripping at her with his sharp claws. Blood poured from her chest. She could feel the breeze and knew he was coming at her again. She tried with all that was in her to duck out of the way, but Memory predicted her every maneuver and hit her again and again, each time ripping deeper and deeper into her chest. She knew she must run. She must get away before he reached her heart and ceased its beating.

She turned and, with as much strength and speed as she could muster, limped away. Blood poured from her wounds and she could feel herself fading in and out of reality. When would this stop? She felt a tiny sting in her right shoulder that soon burned as hot as fire. Another hit the middle of her back. Then another and another. The snipers of Reminder showered her with bullets. Doubt and defeat began to creep in. She wasn’t sure she could keep going. Fear’s rustlings following her… Memory’s breezes threatening her… the snipers of Reminder pelting her. There was just no way she could outrun them. Not with these overpowering wounds. There was nothing left. No strength. No speed. No power. Not even a desire to run. If she could just find a shelter of sorts where she could hide from it all and rest.

Something caught her eye... a tall, dark shadow looming before her. Unable to stay on her feet any longer, she fell to the ground. Grasping the roots and stones, she pulled herself closer and closer to the looming shadow, hoping with everything inside her that it was a place of safety and not another trap. She looked up, trying to make out its shape. A glimmer of hope ignited within her. It appeared to be a tower… a strong, high tower of stone. If she could just drag herself the last ten feet, she would be at its base.

One pull after another brought her within a mere foot. She reached out her hand, her fingers slightly brushing the wall. Just one more pull. But there was no strength left in her. She laid her head on the ground in defeat.

At that moment, she felt herself being lifted and carried. She cracked her eyes open just enough to notice she was passing through a stone doorway. She was gently being lowered and her wounds were being washed and tended. She could stay awake no longer and finally let herself drift away from everything. It was a good sleep… a healing sleep.

The joyful song of birds filled her ears as she slowly opened her eyes. She gingerly ran her fingers across her chest. The wounds had closed. All the pain she had felt the night before no longer consumed her. She turned her eyes to the window where sunlight was streaming in. Morning had broken. And with it… hope, joy, and healing.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Forgiveness Hill (A Peek Into a Children's Book I am Writing)

An excerpt from
The Journey of Sanctification*

It had been several weeks since Christian had climbed through the boulders of trial. The only reminders of his painful climb were the scars where his cuts and scrapes had healed. The bump on his head had completely disappeared.

The journey since that climb had been easy and enjoyable. There had been warm sunshine, a bubbling brook to rest beside, and other traveling friends to talk with. Christian was getting used to all the goodness around him.

That’s when he saw it looming in front of him- a tall hill. Christian shrugged. “It’s just a hill,” he thought. “Last time, it was sharp towering boulders. This should be easy.” He tightened the straps of his backpack and rubbed his shoulders. The pack was sure getting heavy lately.

The slope was slight at first – not too steep. The view was simply gorgeous. Bees buzzed and hovered above fluttering flowers. Birds sang loud and clear in the surrounding trees.

Christian took a deep breath of fresh air. It felt good. He gulped another, but a pain in his shoulder made the breath stick in his throat before he could finish. He slowly let it out through winced teeth and readjusted his backpack. Why was this thing so heavy?

As he continued on his way, the hill began to get more and more steep. It wasn’t rocky. There were no cliffs to climb. But the pack on his back kept digging into his shoulders. He was tired and breathless. The extra weight was wearing him out.

Halfway up the hill, Christian sat under a tree to rest. “Maybe,” he thought, “I should just take off my pack and leave it behind.” He slipped it off his shoulders and plopped it in front of him. Should he go on without it?

He touched the zipper and shivered. He knew he shouldn’t open it. That if he did, he would regret it, but the pull was so hard, he couldn’t help it. Slowly, he slid the zipper. Before it opened even an inch, bubbles came pouring out and floated around him. Dark bubbles filled with dark memories.

Christian reached out and grabbed a bubble. He held it gently in his hand and watched the memory inside like a movie on TV. He saw himself as a five year old boy talking to his older brother.

“Please give it back,” he had said. “It’s mine, and Dad said you have to leave it alone.” His older brother had only laughed as he held Christian’s favorite stuffed bear above his head.

“Please!!” Christian begged.

His older brother sneered, “You can have it back when I’m done with it.” Then he ripped off the bears arms, legs, and head. He dropped the pieces at Christian’s feet and ran away.

Just seeing this memory play inside the dark bubble made Christian angry. “He was my older brother!” he said out loud. Older brothers are supposed to take care of their younger ones. They’re supposed to love them and help them, not hurt them.

Christian reached out for another bubble. He held it in his hand and watched the memory. He was seven in this one, standing in the middle of the broken pieces of his mom’s favorite vase. His mom was yelling at him. “Why did you do this?! That was my favorite vase. Ugh! I am so mad!!” Christian had tried to tell her that he didn’t do it. That the cat had jumped up on the table and knocked it off, but his mom was too mad to listen.

“It wasn’t my fault!” Christian yelled as he threw the bubble away from him. He grabbed another and another. One after the other, until he was so mad he could hardly stand it. He could hear his heart beating hard and fast. His face felt hot. He was clinching his teeth so hard, his jaw hurt.

He gathered up his bubbles, stuffed them back in, threw his pack onto his back and started to run up the hill. “I am so mad!” he thought. “There’s no way I’d leave this pack behind. I need these memories, so when I see these people again, I can show them their bubble and how much they hurt me.”

It wasn’t long until the angry energy ran out, and Christian collapsed in exhaustion. He pulled his knees up to his chin, put his head down, and cried a long cry. It just all hurt so much. How could these people do that to him?

Christian felt a hand on his shoulder. “What’s wrong, my friend?”

He looked up. Another boy stood beside him. He looked at Christian with love and concern. “Can you tell me why you’re crying?” the boy asked again, as he sat down beside Christian.

“It’s this pack” Christian blurted. “I hate it! It’s so heavy and it hurts my shoulders.”

“What’s in it?” the boy asked.

Christian looked down and quietly answered, “Bubbles.”

“What kind of bubbles?”

Christian shivered. “Dark ones. Heavy ones.”

The boy put his arm around him. “I had a pack full of dark bubbles too. The memories inside were too heavy to carry. I also fell to the ground in tears.”

For the first time, Christian realized the boy did not have a pack. “What happened? What did you do with your backpack?”

The boy smiled. “I said two powerful words and let it go.”

Christian stared at him in disbelief. “Didn’t you want to keep the bubbles to show to the people who hurt you?”

“I thought I did,” the boy replied. “But then I decided to show them to God first.  I wanted Him to see how much they had hurt me. I wanted Him to punish them. But He told me to let the bubbles go and say the two powerful words.”

“Did you?” Christian asked.

“It was hard.” the boy admitted. “After He told me to let them go, I started gathering up my bubbles and stuffing them back in my pack. I didn’t want to let them go. But as I was stuffing them in, I realized that these bubbles only made my pack heavy. It made it hard to climb the hill. And for what? All those bubbles only made me sad and angry. Why do I need them?”

“So what did you do?” Christian asked.

“I said the words, dropped my pack, and watched it roll down the hill.”

Christian slowly began to take off his backpack. “What were the powerful words?” he whispered.

“I forgive,” the boy whispered back.

Christian held his pack out in front of himself. He studied it for a while. Then he whispered, “I forgive.” Then again, louder this time, “I forgive.” He dropped his pack to the ground and watched it roll down the hill. “I FORGIVE!” he shouted.

*These past four weeks (and the two more to come), our homescchool has centered around the theme of "Road Trip". For our Bible time, we've been discussing the journey of sanctification that we as Christians make through our lifetime. It begins at Salvation when we surrender our life to Christ. Each day after that, through every circumstance, He makes us more and more like Himself until one day, when we reach heaven, we will be perfectly like Him, holy and completely sanctified.

I thought of using Pilgrim's Progess as our basis, but it would have taken much longer than 6 weeks and was also quite a bit above a kindergarten and second grade level.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

34 Things I've Learned

In honor of my 34th birthday....

34 Things I've Learned About Life, My Family, and Myself
1. God is sovereign - always in all things. Every detail of my life, your life, world events, past, present, future, pain, joy, hardship, goodness, sin... it's all part of his big plan. Nothing is a mistake. We can't change His plan by messing up. He's in control of all things.  There's never a point when God says, "Oh darn. Why'd she do that? Now I gotta figure out how to make this into something good."It's all part of the plan - always has been.
2. Forgiveness is always best. The sooner the better. No matter how big and daunting and painful the offense. Forgiveness is not about telling someone you're glad they hurt you. It's about freeing yourself from the control of that offense. It's about accepting God's sovereignty and being excited to see what He plans to do with it.
3. Security comes not from white knuckles, but from relaxed hands. Desperately clutching the people and things we deem most dear creates fear - fear of loss, fear of hurt. Letting go and trusting God creates security. Hold them loosely.
4. Love is a choice to give grace. It's not a feeling of happiness. It's kindness even when it's not deserved. It's sticking beside a person even when they are in a dark place. It's being best friends even when life brings changes.
5. Sometimes it's more important to have a happy day than a productive day. It just is. For sanity's sake. For the spirit. For the joy of it.
6. Negative feelings are the natural easy choice. Positive ones come by choice and take strength. It's easy to give in to fear, insecurity, hate. It takes a conscious effort to trust, accept, and love.
7. No matter how dark the night, the morning always comes. With it... light, peace, and joy. And somehow the night will become a precious memory, for without it, the morning would have never come. You can't have morning without night.
8. Pain is love's fertilizer. There's nothing like hurt, forgiveness, restoration, and healing to grow strong love into incredible crazy love.
9. Discovering who you are is a long, hard journey. But the rewards are great. And it sure helps prioritizing a lot easier.
10. Consistency is the key to success in just about everything. Which is probably why I'm not that successful in a lot of things.
11. My tears are precious to God. He saves every one.
12. I may forget who I am, but God never does. Sometimes I need Him to remind me who I am.
13. He chose me. To receive His eternal reward. To live this life. To love these people. To be loved. It's all a gift. Given freely. Without my asking. Without my earning it. He chose me to this calling, confident that, through Him, I can. 
14. My family needs me in this moment. Planning is good (and fun), but always planning ahead without living in the now defeats the plan to love life with my family.
15. God has gifted me an incredible husband and marvelous marriage.
16. I love my husband - like I mean really love him. I didn't know that love like this existed. And he loves me. Really loves me.
17. My marriage is a treasure - rare and precious.
18. Time spent with my husband is time best spent. There's nothing like husband time to make everything right again.
19. After more than seven years of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, I'm tired of comforting tears, but they still need it and want it. They don't measure comfort in countable quantity. They measure it in momentary quality.
20. It's ok to stop what you're doing and hold a child. Most times I really don't want to. Things seem more important. But it's just supper. It's just schoolwork. It's just laundry. What does all that compare to holding my child?
21. Loving hugs are often more effective than stern discipline. Attitudes are governed by feelings. Love out the hurt feelings and actions will probably change. Sometimes all a child needs is a hug and a listening ear.
22. My kids like it when I talk "non-sense" with them. Telling ridiculous stories in insane voices is bonding, actually.
23. My children are beautiful and amazing beings. I am beyond blessed.
24. I am an introvert. I need space, alone time, and just good old silence.
25. I am not a good housekeeper or a cooking enthusiast. I'm just not. It doesn't come naturally and I don't enjoy it. That's ok. I accept that. I'll just do the best I can and be ok with it.
26. I am not an entrepreneur. I tried it. Hated it. I just can't take the stress.
27. Stressing over what I am NOT only breeds irritation and strife. I want to be the perfect mom in my head, and when I don't meet that, I get so frustrated and it ruins my entire mood.
28. I can't change me, but God can change what matters. Not everything I think is wrong with me is really worth changing. Some of that is who I am. The character issues... God will work on those.
29.  Doing nothing and enjoying it is becoming a lost art. One I need to spend more time practicing.
30. I will always be unsure of myself, but I never have to be unsure of who God is. I can trust that even when I doubt myself, He knows what He's doing.
31. I say "sorry" too often. "I'm sorry I didn't accomplish everything in the world today." This is what I will probably tell my husband when he gets home in a few minutes.
32. I am incredibly creative. That's what I should cultivate with a passion.
33. There's only one way to listen to good music - loud. This of course only applies to me, not to the neighbors or to my kids.
34. I thrive on words, good music, my husband's kisses, and God's sovereignty.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cirriculum Plans for 2012-2013 (Kdg & 2nd)

I am SUPER.DUPER.UBBER excited about starting the school year. I'm pretty sure if I were not a mother, I would so be in heaven as an elementary school teacher.

(Even if I were a work-away-from-home mom, I don't think I could do the teacher thing AND be a mom. Too many kids for too many hours to come home to more kids. :) hehe. Homeschooling will have to "do".)

Why am I so excited? Because this year, I am splitting the school year into 6 - 6 week sessions, each with a fun theme. And because I am not me without several hours of design work and cirriculum development, I am pretty much using my own cirriculum except for math and reading.

I am also determined that nothing voluntary will interrupt our school year. This is very important since last year's interruption made 1st grade less than fun for Cherith.

So without further ado, here's the plan for this coming school year ( least on paper. We all know homescchooling plans are subject to change.)

Kdg & 2nd Gr.
(& the preschoolers when they're interested)

Morning Meeting Board (some daily, some not)

1. Calendar- months, days, number of days in months and year (made my own printable)
2. Clocks and time (printable from Confessions of a Homeschooler)
3. Money (printable from Confessions of a Homeschooler)
4. Address and phone numbers (printable from Confessions of a Homeschooler)
5. Books of Bible (printable from Christian Preschool Printables)
6. Today's date and Today's Bible reference - for Bible drills (my own printable)
7. Weather and temperature (printable from Confessions of a Homeschooler)
8. Days in school and hundreds chart - with rounding (printable from Confessions of a Homeschooler)
9. Name-O song to learn family name spellings (idea from 1+1+1=1)
10. Fun flashcards - like states, traffic signs, sign language, etc. (from the Target dollar spot)
11. Vocabulary word of the week - on the back of the board (from Target)


These are the subjects that are ruled by our 6 week theme rotation. The studies will be shared with both Cherith and Daryn (kdg & 2nd). Here are the themes and the subject ideas with them. The first six weeks are all prepared and ready to go.

1st 6 weeks: Fruit
  • Bible: The Fruit of the Spirit, Study of Galatians 5:22-23 (my own cirriculum)
  • Health: Health, Safetly, & Manners 1, A Beka (with a strong focus on nutrition)
  • Science/Geography: Where Does My Fruit Come From?, a research on fruit origins (my own cirriculum)
 2nd 6 weeks: Road Trip!
  • Bible: Road Trip: Sanctification, A study of the process of sanctification from salvation to heaven (my own cirriculum)
  • Geography: United States landforms, a sort of virtual vacation across the country visiting natural landforms
  • Science: motion, wheels, gears
3rd 6 weeks: Around the World in 30 Days
  • Bible: a study of international missions, how to be a missionary, etc.
  • Geography: the 7 continents
  • Science: ecosystems
4th 6 weeks: Jungle
  • Bible: probably use a jungle themed VBS as an idea starter
  • History/Geography: jungle missionaries and the countries they serve(ed) in (including Saint & Elliot)
5th 6 weeks: Military Heros??? Still unsure on this
  • Bible: Armor of God study
  • History: a brief, young child friendly overview of major U.S. wars
6th 6 weeks: Camping
  • Bible: probably use a camping themed VBS as an idea starter
  • History: pioneers and settlers
  • Science: backyard nature studies

2nd Grade

  • Airthmetic 2, A Beka (along with supplimental activites found in various places online- such as file folder games, skip counting cards, etc.)
  • Letters & Sounds 2, A Beka
  • Various fun easy readers (Cherith is in need of learning to ENJOY reading, so we're skipping the typical "boring & trite" readers, at least for starters, until reading becomes enjoyable and therefore more smooth.)
  • Language 2, A Beka (2 days per week) This is for general language practice.
  • Grammar City (3 days per week) This is a cirriculum I am currently writing. It covers the five most basic parts of speech at a young elementary level through the discovery of a place called Grammar City.
(Last year, in Language 1, Cherith was often told to write a sentence or a story, but she had no idea how. All she knew was that sentences are made of words, end with a period, and start with a capital letter. I realized that without some base knowledge of the parts of speech, she could not construct a written sentence - although she could verbally).

  • All About Spelling, Level 1 (but I still need to order it) :)
  • Number Skills K, A Beka (We'll be skimming over a lot of the first many lessons to reach his level.)
  • Letters & Sounds K & Readers, A Beka
  • Various fun easy readers that we can read together.

That about covers it. Seems like a lot now that it's all written out here with pictures. Here's how I plan to keep track of all the planning and documenting:

Binder: Back-to-School deal from Office Depot
Year Planner: Walmart
Calendar Sheet (which I used to mark our school days and holidays and will use to mark attendance): Teaching My Three
Subjects by School Week: Teaching My Three
Lesson Plan Books: dollar spot at Target