Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Smiles and Costumes

My co-leader and I gave the all the students in our homeschool co-op a choice for spirit week:

- Nerds vs. Rockstars
- Occupation Day
- Favorite Team
- Favorite Book Character

Favorite Book Character day won by a landslide. 
And the conversations at home began.  Who to be?
Much to my surprise, Nancy Drew was thrown out because all you need is a magnifying glass and where's the fun in the that costume?   I should've figured.

After much deliberation, I give you:
Blossom3 as Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor (illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser).
Blossom2 is Queen Blossom from the Kingdom of Fantasy books by Geronimo Stilton. 
Blossom1 is Queen Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. 
Blossom4 is Jesse Bear by Nancy White Carlstrom.   
We made a five dollar trip to the thrift store (Boom, baby!!!) and another trip to the dollar store.  Blossom3 needed a feather boa and a boatload of beads! 
Blossom1's costume began with a brown flared dress about ten sizes too big and a set of burgundy curtains.  Blossom2's costume began with a blue shirt off the quarter clearance rack and another set of curtains. 

After about an hour or so at the sewing machine, we had ourselves some medieval style sleeves and our costumes were definitely looking good now.  The girlies were so tickled with how their costumes turned out. 

Blossom3 borrowed the red wig off her Grandma, who won it at a Mary Kay party several years ago.  Her wig was the first to go from her costume, because wigs are hot, but she made a pretty convincing Fancy Nancy.  And an adorable Fancy Nancy, if I do say so myself!

Blossom4 as Jesse Bear didn't even make it into the group picture at co-op, because her Nittany Lion snow suit turned bear costume was "SO HOT."  That's life with a three year old, but I expected that, so no biggie.

There were just so many smiles with this whole costume thing... smiles of anticipation.... smiles after the fittings... smiles checking out their pals' costumes... the smiles of childhood fun.  And I'm glad.


Friday, November 25, 2016

Favorite Bookish Parts of My House

I do chuckle a little about home tours.  The homes are so perfect, it doesn't seem possible that a family could actually live there!  Blossom4's overflowing book basket is proof that we really do abide in our abode.

While I find other people's homes inspiring, there comes a point that it just doesn't do anyone any good anymore.  My sister says, "When Pinterest stops inspiring and starts making you feel bad, it's time to get off."  Very wise.

Which is why I thought you'd enjoy the stack of mail, half full fruit bowl and our latest read-aloud on counters coated with a sheen of wheat flour, with dirty dishes in the background. 

And why not include some nooks that make me smile?  It's like my mini bookish home tour! 
It goes without saying that the Rugged Mountain Man and I are passionate about reading. 

It reflects in the culture of our home.  I'm always arranging tempting reads on the dining room table in order to whet the girlies' appetites for something new, old, different or challenging.  I myself love to reread my favorites over and over again. (Hello Pride & Prejudice, again.)  The little figurine in the middle of the table is something my Mom always had around our home when I was growing up.  It gives me warm fuzzies, reminding me of the special times of reading to our Blossoms. 

Whenever I step around the dining room table, I have to watch my step, because they, especially Blossom2, are always snagging a few moments of cozy reading time in their bean bag chairs, leaving the books upside down like this.

And here's Blossom3's book basket in her bedroom.  She doesn't know it, but I'm drawing her into longer books with curated selections.  I love when she emerges from rest time clutching her latest read and grinning.  She happily rattles off what she read and begs me to add it to her book list. 
So, this is just what you'd see if you come on over.  It's us.  It's our home.  And yes, it's bookish.  Happy Friday!


Monday, November 21, 2016

Hearts, Hurts and Hypocrisy

I've heard of passive aggression, but now I've experienced it. 

Passive aggression has been unmasked to me for the hypocrisy it is.  

When words are used to hurt people under the guise of kindness, it's wrong. 

Wrong, wrong, wrong. 

When you walk away from a "nice" conversation and you feel icky.  It's because you were meant to feel the dig.  The words were designed to put down, to wound. 

When you leave and wonder how something "pleasant" could bother you so.  It's because the motives of the heart have shone through another's words.  You heard the words, but truly, you got the message, loud and clear.

Those nice words from a mean heart or motive are completely un-Jesus. 

Jesus was genuine in His interactions with people.  People were drawn to His love.  He didn't fake it.  He talked straight.  He loved and He acted on that love.  In this journey on Earth, I'm aiming to be just like Him. 

Have you found yourself saying inane things with a mean motive?  I caution you.  You could lose friendships that God has ordained

"A man that has friends must show himself friendly."

Are you crafting conversations from ugly sin in your heart?  Is it jealousy?  Is it insecurity?  Is it impatience?  Is it bitterness?  Jesus is calling us up higher to the law of Love.  The cause of the Gospel is being damaged when Love is not the rule... 'cause ain't nobody wants to be a part of a Family that works like that. 

What if you're finding passive aggression where you expected fellowship? 

We can recognize the fakery, no longer partaking in the hurt.

We can pray.  Really pray for the perpetrator and the receiver. 

We can still walk according to the law of Love. 

And if the opportunity arises, we can speak the truth in love.

Let's end the hypocrisy.

Friday, November 18, 2016

On Provoking

We recently took a jaunt to one of our favorite state parks.  The fresh air was invigorating, as was the "mom time." 
The girls soaked up the learning opportunities with their pals, finding the geocaching and GPS instruction to be especially interesting.

Everywhere I go, every path I walk in a day,
I'm listening through the noise of walking out my calling.

I want the Lord to show me how to serve Him better.

One thing I've been listening to the Holy Spirit's whisperings about is provoking my children. 

He's putting His finger on this, showing me there are times that my response to their tiffs, arguments and such is provoking them into further sin.

I am human and I feel frustration at their struggles and sins.

Sin is never an excuse for more sin.  Period.

As they come to me in their own frustration and/or anger with/at each other,
I'm thankful to be feeling the "check" of the Holy Spirit. 

"What will you say?  Will you join in their sin?  Will you add to it? 
Will you provoke them to (further) anger?" 

Or will it be a soft answer? 
Believe me, I've noticed that the softer answer helps everyone simmer down.
God is always still working on me.
"A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger."
Proverbs 15:1 NASB
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,
but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4 NASB

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Chipotle and God's Lavish Grace

I finally experienced the Mexican fast food restaurant Chipotle this past weekend.  As my sister guided me through the line, the Chipotle lady said, "Sour cream?" to which my sister's reply was something like, "Heck, yeah!"  Being that I have several sour cream lovers in my house, we actually have to try to conserve sour cream or I'd be buying an embarrassing number of shamefully large sour cream tubs per grocery trip.  I was expecting the Chipotle employee to dribble on a token amount of the tasty white condiment.  No-siree.  The young lady took a huge serving spoon and enthusiastically dolloped on the biggest splat of sour cream I've ever seen on a respectable Mexican dish this side of the Mississippi. 

That dollop of sour cream stuck with me all weekend.  "That's how God is," I thought. 

We expect God to conserve.  We expect Him to be stingy.  He must be an ogre or a miser, right?

But He isn't like that.

"In Him we have redemption through His blood,
the forgiveness of our trespasses,
according to the riches of His grace
which He lavished on us."
Ephesians 1:7-8 NASB

We are redeemed from sin, bought back from satan's clutches, receiving the forgiveness for the sins we've committed.  He isn't stingy about His forgiveness.

Friend, you aren't barely forgiven.  You don't squeak into God's Kingdom when you surrender to Him.  Nope.  This is all according to the riches of His grace. 


We don't have to stand on the outskirts, shyly hoping we're truly "in."  He is a bountiful Father, ushering us into this love. 

This mama/wife/life drives me before God daily, petitioning for the grace I need.  Grace to parent.  Grace to submit.  Grace to swim upstream.  Grace to choose the harder things.  And I keep thinking about how He freely gives that grace when I ask.  He isn't guarding the "grace container," rationing how much grace I should have for today.  He's got gobs and gobs of grace, which He rains down on me in a beautiful flood.

That sour cream splat kept my thoughts churning on the beautiful character of my Heavenly Father.


Tired, stressed out mama, those gobs of grace are for you.  Just ask.   

Friends, that forgiveness, that redemption, is for you.  It isn't barely there; it's fully for you.  Surrender to Him today.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Pinterest Fail or Parenting Win?

What a cute idea!  Use leftover maps to wrap presents. 
wrapping presents with maps:
Since I rotate the maps in our school room often, I thought why not?
And then the Littles "helped" me.

And chose the ugliest part of the map to wrap with. 
But hey, at least I can cross "wrap the gifts" off my to-do list...

and we did it together.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Thoughts on Autumn, Friendships and Courage

The last quintessentially autumn days are becoming more and more sparse as November begins. 

I was thrilled just the other day to be able to snag just one more supper out on the new porch.  What an unexpected treat!  As I write, the girlies are outside, playing with their rabbits, riding bikes and undoubtedly scheming something.  The warm temps make their hearts go pitter-patter. 

Also, the warm temps have made pleasant days for gym class at the local parks.  I've enjoyed checking out the tennis and volleyball courts at various locations around our small town.  While one of our fantastic moms has spear-headed gym class, it's been super satisfying to sit down and have meaningful conversations with my own friends.  The conversations are always thought-provoking and encouraging.  I realize this:

True fellowship is invaluable. 

It's becoming obvious to me that God uses people to speak to me in palpable ways.  Things He wants me to learn sometimes hover a bit in my peripheral vision until some friend says that one word, so fitly spoken,

It's golden. 
(Proverbs 25:11)

Then, it comes into focus.

That's what I desire ~ cut the fluff...

I want real. 

Real relationships that are more than a passing conversation. 

Real friendships that make me want to love God more, more, more every day. 

Real bonds that go past surface niceties. 

Real conversations where there's constant giving and receiving ~ encouragement and exhortation to keep running this race.

I'm finding those things in places I never expected.  You really can't limit where you find fellowship.

God can forge friendships through the most unique divine appointments.  Several years ago, I brashly knocked on a door to find out if the basketball hoop near the side of the road was free.  It wasn't.  I survived my embarrassment and discovered like precious faith in the woman who answered the door.  It was the beginning of iron sharpening iron.  We laugh now over the beginning of our friendship.

Perhaps you've limited yourself to only the friendships of those you meet in the foyer.  Maybe you're frustrated by conversations that never go past the weather.  Maybe your circles haven't grown in a decade or so, now resembling stale bread, rather than the life-giving, iron-sharpening relationships God intended.  I'm learning not to be discouraged by any of those things.  Our God is capable of astounding divine appointments, leading me to forge and foster friendships that glorify Him. 

I continue to reach out in the love of Christ, but others must reach back.  My job is to love.  My job is to pray.  My job is to listen intently.  My job is to care.  My job is to be Jesus to whomever I meet.

Today, reach out and when someone reaches out to you, reach back.

Friday, November 4, 2016


We ambled out into the fields last night, pushing supper to later in order to take advantage of the diminishing daylight and the delightful temperature that only autumn can offer. 

It's been a while since we've been field walking.

Field-walking is more of an autumn sport.  It's easier to walk when the corn is down and it shows respect to the farmer and his work, by staying out of his fields and off of his crops. 

We are trying to teach our children to respect all property, whether it belongs to us or not.

The Rugged Mountain Man says there's nothing more maddening than going hunting, only to find another hunter left a pile of litter.  No wonder people post their land.

The mission of this hike, aside from simply enjoying God's Creation and getting fresh air was to find a path to a friend's house that won't involve walking on the road.

This would allow the children to trek to each other's houses in relative safety.

When I told Blossom1 this, she was thrilled.  Unfortunately, we had to turn around because we interrupted some inline hunters.  Oops. 
I liked the above snapshot of Blossom4, as it seemed to show just how small and helpless she is.  She was finding out how good wide open spaces are for the soul.

Blossom1 was trying her hand at some artistic photography of HikeMon and HikeWoman. 
I think she did pretty well!

We're looking forward to more field-walking this fall.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Rails to Trails in the Autumn

There are so many tasks on a mama's to-do list, even on a beautiful autumn Saturday.

I'm thankful that the Rugged Mountain Man wrangled us out of the house on that glorious autumn day not long ago. 

We love biking our local Rails to Trails. 

Here's the great thing about Rails to Trails.  It's F L A T because they were once railway beds.  FLAT.

Flat is good for all parties involved.  I've done marathon biking with my dad, registering fifty miles on this particular trail.  (I love shadow pictures.  Oh, and here's another one.)

We went for a mere nine miles as a quicker "Let's Enjoy Fall" and still get a few things done on Saturday. 

As you can see, I thought the pump was picturesque. 

I'm almost surprised there isn't a verse in the Bible about fresh air being medicine for the soul,

though there are plenty of verses of God's splendor and glory in His creation and maybe it's just assumed that it ministers to your soul soaking it all in.

The Rugged Mountain Man and I were happy to note that the Blossoms are getting strong enough for longer rides, as they didn't want to be done after this ride.  They were "pesting" for a longer ride!

Blossom3, who is 6, was all over the road, almost running into every member of the family.  This caused a few chuckles. 

I'm glad I didn't let the to-do list keep us in.  I'm happy to tackle the tasks of home life, but sometimes family time in the outdoors is just more important.