Thursday, August 30, 2012


She bobbed her hair and lotht her two front teeth. And now sheeth turning theven. I jutht can't thtand it.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

{The Grand and Glorious}

It's struck me a number of times this summer. This impression that I really want to do something big and great and wonderful (and, of course, noticeable) for the Lord.

I feel burdened for the homeless and impulsively toss cash to the veteran with the cardboard sign on the street corner. I've never done that before and wonder if it was a bad idea. I smile and say, "God bless you" and hope it makes a little difference. But I don't know.

I hear about the thousands of children in foster care in our one small corner of the country alone and I think, "We should adopt!" I search websites and my enthusiasm waxes and wanes and I don't know. Is this where God is leading us?

As I grasp at the big, the Lord reminds me of the small. Because it's not small to Him.

David wanted to do great things for the Lord. And indeed he did. But he also received a very specific message from the Lord: You are not the one to build me a house to dwell in. (1 Chron. 17:4)

There are times when my vision is clouded by grand things and I fail to see that which is to be done in my very own home. While I'm praying about foster children, my own child is having a particularly rough week. I can't forget my ministry here. How can I begin to minister to others when I don't even know how to reach my own?

Again I look to the authority of Scripture. I'm thankful for David's example as recorded in 1 Chronicles. One of the things I notice is that, although there are many repeated stories that correlate with events in 2 Samuel, we don't revisit his glaringly obvious sin with Bathsheba. It's as though the Lord is reminding us that He's forgiven and forgotten . . . even this.

Which means he does the same with me.

He forgives when I'm blinded by grandeur and miss the needs right under my own nose. He forgives when I choose my own comfort above the little one clamoring for my attention. He forgives when I busily type away at the keyboard as though a deadline is so much more important than the child who wants to show me his new magic trick.

And He reminds me how to turn it all around. Again I look at David's life and see the events that lead up to and follow the return of the ark of the Lord. He's done this great thing (with an important caveat, "If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the Lord our God . . ." 1 Chron. 13:2).

Once the ark is safely placed in the tent, David presents "burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before God." He then proceeds to deliver a psalm of thanksgiving to the Lord before the people: "Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name . . . worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness . . . that we may glory in your praise . . ." (1 Chron. 16:8-36).

But here's the part that jumps out at me, bright as day. Once he had accomplished this, "David returned home to bless his family." (I Chron. 16:43)

Did you catch that? David is in a position to bless his family when his posture has been one of sacrifice and thanksgiving.

It's the same for me. The Lord may still be nudging my heart toward the homeless or the fatherless, and yes, I will keep listening and waiting. I want to be ready. But in the mean time, there's no wasted time. I am to put myself in this same posture of sacrifice and thanksgiving that I may bless my family.

When I am in this position, I can hear so much more clearly "what is good and what the Lord requires of me" (Micah 6:8). I place myself in His will, even if it means that I'm quietly tucked away in my own home, still in my bathrobe, making yet another bowl of oatmeal for a glaring urchin. Because here is an opportunity to bless my child.

The wonderful thing about God's plan is that it's for our good and for His glory. When He told David that he wouldn't be the one to build the Lord's house, He didn't leave it at that. He promised David amazing things: "I declare to you that the Lord will build a house for you . . . I will raise up your offspring . . . his throne will be established forever." (1 Chron. 17:14)

I want the Lord to build my house. I want the Lord to bless my husband and my children. And I want to be a blessing to them that we may glory in His praise. It may not look grand and glorious from the outside, but that means that I've forgotten.

Seven and a half years ago I was surprised to hear that our fourth child was on the way. I wasn't prepared and the sensation overwhelmed me. Four? That was bordering on the Lots of Kids category. I wasn't cut out for it. But the Lord told me otherwise. Actually, he showed me.

One evening, as I sorted through my conflicting emotions and alternately frowned and beamed over my swelling abdomen, the Lord intervened. My eyes closed and I saw my child. She was nestled safely in the Lord's arms. He was robed in light and His arms warmly extended toward me, giving the child to my keeping. My entire being filled with peace and gratitude and I knew for certain that I was being given an extremely precious gift. A gift from His own hands.

My entire household is such a gift. I sometimes forget that. But when I remember the truth, when I receive this role from His own hands, I know that I'm exactly where He wants me to be. Which is pretty grand and glorious, after all. 

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Monday, August 20, 2012

{The Gift of an Hour}

My children aren't allowed to use the "b" word in our home. Therefore, the minute it's uttered, the violating child is put to work. Because there's plenty to do around here, that's for sure.

This doesn't always prevent them from finding ways around it, however. Sometimes, rather than saying it outright, "I'm bored!" They cloak it a bit differently: "I don't know what to do . . . " Whine, whine.

Ah, the burden of pint-sized ennui. 
Sarah Ban Breathnach

I find myself getting offended and actually kind of angry when my children exhibit this behavior. As though I have failed them and they haven't enough imagination to fill the burden of an empty hour. (Oh, to have such a burden.) What is wrong with these people?

It recently occurred to me that anger isn't the best solution. (Light bulb.)

When my children are whining for something to do, this is my opportunity to share with them the many ways in which they can fill an hour. They might not necessarily like all of the options, but here again is an opportunity: sometimes we just need to do what needs to be done. And it feels so good when we accomplish it, too.

My response in these moments is key. When my kids whine at me, my instinct is to whine back. But they're much more likely to see the gift that an hour can be when I help them meet it with anticipation. Think of all that could be done in this moment!

I try to bear in mind a line that I picked up from Charlotte Mason's writing years ago. Each day, our children should have “Something to love, something to do and something to think about.” It's a great responsibility as a parent to provide such opportunities, but if we are meeting those needs in our own lives then we are much more likely to set a healthy example for our children.

I've found that the simple diversion of a chore frequently leads to creativity. Children (and adults!) just need that productive space of time to get the ideas flowing.

For example, the bored child will be asked to put away the LEGOs all over his bedroom floor while we think of an activity. This chore invariably leads to the creation of many LEGO spaceships. Voila! The child is no longer bored. As long as the original chore is performed, mama is thrilled to let the creations continue.

My older children have greater responsibility in their day. I appeal to this when they hint at boredom. They are old enough to understand that lounging about with a lolling tongue is less than desirable. I still give them options, but here again when they get started on a chore it usually leads to creativity and the discovery that there's so much to enjoy.

When I sense that ennui is en route (you know, that pesky afternoon hour), I often have the kids rest in their rooms with books. An hour of quiet is sure to perk them up, and soon they're bursting to do anything and everything under the sun.

One way that I encourage my kids' creativity is to suggest activities that I did with my own siblings (puppet shows, bike races, dressing up the dog . . .). There's something kind of cool about doing what mom or dad did as a kid. (I'm reluctant to have Daddy share his childhood ideas. Someone's bound to get injured, I just know it.)

Pinterest is also a great resource! I've seen tons of ideas that can be written on popsicle sticks and placed in a jar on the counter top. The burdened child need only grab a stick to find inspiration. Imagine that.

Now. At this point I must state the obvious: we are not perfect. My kids still whine from time to time and I still whine . . . a lot. We have plenty of regrettable "Oh just stick them in front of the TV!" kinds of days. But we are learning. Which is a pretty great thing to do.

That said, here's a list of 20 diversions that we often turn to. They can all be done at home, indoors. Which is quite practical if you live in a Very Rainy State. Maybe our list will help add a little spark to your day, too.

1. Find "dollar jobs" around the house for your child to complete. A job well done and the kids add a buck to their piggy bank. (My mom did this with us. My kids love it, too.)

2. Make cookies, muffins, etc. I've never yet met a kid who doesn't like to make (and devour) cookies.

3. Have a game relay. Set up three or four board games. Rotate from one game to the next, setting a timer for three minutes. Every time the buzzer goes off, move to the next game. Continue playing each game, three minutes at a time. This one's a hoot.

4. Make a blanket fort.

5. Have an indoor relay race. Cotton balls on spoons, jumping with a ball between the knees, etc.

6. Play library. The kids take turns being the librarian and get to read books aloud to "the class."

7. Turn the kitchen into a diner, complete with menus.

8. Take pictures of each other.

9. Write a letter to a grandparent or cousin.

10. Perform a skit or puppet show.

11. Host a living room circus, complete with stuffed animals and beautiful ladies.

12. Make play dough.

13. Let them take a bath in the middle of the day. (This is a great diversion for especially little ones.)

14. Have a fashion show. (This is not limited to girls in dresses. Boys may desire to create and display Star Wars garb. You never know.) 

15. Freeze dance party! Turn the music up. Hit pause every once in a while and everyone freezes.

16. Whip up a picnic lunch or tea party. Enjoy it in the back yard or on a blanket in your living room.

17. Make a magazine doll house. A manilla folder decorated on the inside with cut-out furniture pasted in a homey arrangement is a lovely place for a paper doll to play.

18. Write, shoot and edit a mini-movie. Older kids will enjoy running this operation.

19. Make a book for a younger relative or friend. The kids can write and illustrate an original picture book to give as a special gift.

20. Host a concert. Wee hooligans love to lip sync. And it's pretty hilarious to watch, too.  

What can you add to our list? My kids (and their mother) thank you in advance.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

{Share Your Food}

She pops through the arborvitae in the back yard where the kids are noisily jumping on the trampoline. Her eyes dance and her smile is eager, hopeful. "Can you play?"

They welcome her. "Come jump!" And a friendship begins.

The summer days pile one upon the other. All the while the girls slip back and forth between the bushes, each delighting in the magic of having a friend appear out of nowhere. As is frequently the case with children, sharing snacks quickly becomes a part of the friendship. They run to the back door and beg, and soon Popsicle juice is dribbling down little chins.

One day she lingers at the back door (her mother isn't comfortable yet with allowing her to come in) and hints that she hasn't really had lunch. She doesn't usually have lunch. My heart aches and I recall that which I've just read in Isaiah: "Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen . . . is it not to share your food with the hungry . . . ?"

Share your food.

It's an easy thing to do. But it seems too simple. I have been reading about women who adopted in Uganda and ministered to the homeless and I feel like I should be embarking on a huge mission. I am waiting and I am ready! I want to make a difference!

Share your food.

I whip up a peanut butter sandwich for our friend. From then on I look for opportunities to give. A plate of cookies passed beyond the bushes. Popsicles melting in the sunshine. Peanut butter sandwiches.

And then comes the day when she has permission to play inside. I'm making smoothies.  

Share your food.

I grab another glass and pull out another neon straw, and smile at the five children circled around the table. Often when they circle like this I take the time to read a Psalm. My mind is racing. What should I read? I have a perfect opportunity to share with our neighbor. I pray. I add strawberries and bananas to the blender and pray. Nothing comes. I'm discouraged. Nothing.

They guzzle down the smoothies and race off to play. And I don't get a chance to read. I don't share God's Word. I feel deflated and wonder what I should have done.  

Share your food. 

Moments later, I hear them gather in the living room. The voices become hushed, all but Bethie's. I can just make out the words from 1 Samuel: "Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine . . ." She pauses. "Remember that part! You'll hear about the stones again . . . ."

The story continues and my eyes fill with tears. That's why I couldn't come up with anything to read. The Lord wanted to use Bethie. My job, in that moment, was to share our food. But a child's voice, a child's understanding of what kind of story would interest a sweet eight-year-old, was what God chose for that time.

Days pass and we hear that our friend will be moving. I've connected with her and we've only just begun to share God's Word with this precious, heart-hungry child. It's too soon.

The family begins to pack up and the visits between the bushes are now even more treasured. We know they won't last much longer.

The last night comes. She says they must leave by a certain time and I wonder if they've lost their home. We've done so little.

Share your food.

I run into the house and scramble up to the loft where a basket of Little Golden Books sits. Sorting through the titles I find David and Goliath. I scramble back down and head out to where the kids are jumping their last jumps together on the trampoline. Her mama calls through the bushes. "Time to come home!"

We hug each other goodbye. I take our friend aside and hand her the book. "This is the same story that Bethie read to you the other day. I thought you'd like to keep it." She beams. "You can remember us when you read it, okay?" She takes the book and nods.

Bethie pipes in, "It's from the Bible!" Atta girl.

She disappears through the bushes, pigtails swinging. My prayer follows her. "Father, bless this child. Your Word is living and active and she's heard it. May it take root. Use it in her life, Father, and bring others alongside to tend the seed and nurture this precious young heart."

I pray again with the children as they drift off to sleep.

* * * * *

Jamie's been suggesting that we put a fridge out in the garage. I'm reluctant. One more thing to store, one more thing to clean.

I tell him about smoothies with our friend, about Bethie's faithfulness in sharing God's Word. And then I remember how it started.

Share your food.

He raises his eyebrows, cocks his head, and we both know what that means. We now have a fridge in the garage. 

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Monday, August 13, 2012


A rare, quiet moment crept its way into my evening. Inspired by the Olympic athletes who proved again and again the potential of humans, I determined that I, too, would choose that moment to somehow better myself.

I escaped to the living room, dug through the basket of books and papers next to the piano, and found some sheet music that I had worked on years ago under the tutelage of my mother. Yes, a little music to soothe the soul, strengthen the mind and exercise the fingers. Just the thing!

I carefully and slowly worked my way through Bach's Air, pleased with the way certain strains came back to my fingers almost automatically. I relaxed and found peace.

And then Miss Kate entered the room. She was not as inspired. "Ahhh!" she shrieked. "It's scary when you play the piano! It's not normal!"

The lamb then covered her ears.

My chord came to a screeching halt. And I instantly recalled why I seldom sit down to play in the first place.
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Sunday, August 12, 2012

{Iambic Quadrameter at Its Finest}

Newsflash: It's SUNNY and HOT in the Pacific Northwest.

I'm aware that "talking about the weather" is about as unoriginal a topic as can be. But. We've had some pretty decent summer weather around here, which has made for some fun excursions.

It's also addled my brain, so I shan't write much. Or well.

Nonetheless, I offer a series of rhyming descriptions. Just for you.

The Pacific Ocean has lots of sand;

I can hold it in my hand!

Brother can float in country or city,

While little sister holds . . . a kitty.

Paddling with cousins is lots of fun,

Especially when Auntie and Clara come. 

 Little Boy Blue dangles his feet,

While big brother, Ethan, dries off in the heat.

Two sweet pixies splash in the pool:

While crazy cousins try to keep cool.

The drinking fountain has lemonade;

And dear old Maizy stays in the shade.

The End.
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

{Involving Extended Family in Your Homeschool Journey}

Children who are schooled outside the home often have a number of opportunities to share their work with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. School assemblies, music concerts and open house events all showcase their work and provide a unique opportunity to highlight progress and learning.

But what about the homeschooled child? How might he share his learning with others?

There are a number of ways to creatively involve extended family members in your child’s homeschool journey. Here are a few ideas to get you going:

Join me over at The Homeschool Classroom today to continue reading . . .
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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

{I Knew It}

There are certain eras which speak deeply to my soul. As though I could easily have lived during that time. And most definitely as though I could easily have worn the clothes of that time. Because I tend to forget about the wars and hardships that surrounded the era and instead focus on the superficial. The hats. The gloves. The hair.

Sad, but true.

When I first saw The Music Man as a child, I didn't know what era was represented. But I did know that I sure did like them clothes. When I first saw Meet Me in St. Louis I thought the same thing. Them clothes! I soon detected a pattern. Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, Anne of Avonlea . . . .

(Don't even get me started on Downton Abbey.)

Them clothes!

I eventually figured out that it's the first two decades of the twentieth century that has me in such a swoon. This era speaks to me and I know that I would feel perfectly at home in an Edwardian gown (corset included, I'm afraid.)

So you can imagine my delight when I discovered that I actually did live at that time. It all makes sense now. While visiting my mother-in-law's childhood church in Montana last month, the kids brought my attention to a picture of an early Sunday School class. "Mom! She looks just like you!"

I thought, "Oh, how quaint. I'll try to act as though I see the resemblance." And then I actually saw the picture.

It was startling. We all crowded around and agreed. There I was, seated in the first row of chairs, third from the right. I'm poised and ready for the picture while keeping a watchful eye on my mischievous children in front. (Yes, there are two boys and two girls, just as it should be.)

Now I know why my sister and I spent hours making up costumes from this era and reenacting as many book and movie scenes as we could. We are Gibson girls, through and through. Minus the big hair.

Although now that I think about it, the big hair is pretty great, too. I just might have to pull out the ol' dress-up box and attempt a bit of coiffing to go along with it.

Because that would be extremely practical for one who spends her afternoons doing the laundry and making dinner for her family. Don't you laugh. I'm sure that's exactly what my Sunday School doppelganger is thinking about. She's got a roast in the oven and it's gettin' overdone.  
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