Five Minute Friday: Small

 

Squash blossom

I live like God is small sometimes.

My words clam up inside because worry bars the door, and fear covers my brain with imaginary scenarios. What-ifs and things unpreventable.

I live like God is small and surely He doesn’t see my little life here in the corner of a country full of problems.

My problems seem big though, and my husband opens his email every morning with a sigh because the inbox is an influx of his stress, subject lines out to get him.

We have to make efforts to see the small as big, and to put the things that seem big back into their proper place.

He told me last night that I was a good housekeeper.

Seventeen years of marriage, and I don’t think he’s ever phrased it quite like that. Such a small sentence with simple sentiment, nothing premeditated or planned. He just noticed and spoke it.

We can notice a thousand beautiful things and never take the time to speak them, because they seem small.

This morning for a small moment the sun blazed through living room windows, and I noticed the gold rectangles on the wall. He laughs because I get giddy about small things.

But, he laughs.

 

{I look forward to Fridays because I get free from perfection and just write. For five minutes. Lisa-Jo gives us the subject and we take it wherever we want. Today’s prompt is SMALL, and you should get free, too. Click here to join us.}

 

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Repetition is My Friend {6 Lessons Learned in 13 Years of Homeschooling}

It’s coming.

It seems like we’ve barely turned the calendar on August, but you know these last days of summer go the fastest. Are you squeezing out every last drop? Planning last minute trips and letting the kids sleep in another day?

Or are you wrung and ready for the next season?

The busy started Monday for us. Football and volleyball, and today I’m hammering away at preparations for another school year – ordering books and picking dates and praying. Lots of feverish praying.

boy in creek

 

I started a list of some of the things I’ve learned in 13 years of homeschooling. I wanted to have one for every year, to keep it all “13 Things I’ve Learned in 13 Years”, but I’ve found that for the most part I just keep learning the same things, over and over.

There are just some things God wants me to know really well, I guess.

Here’s a partial list:

1. Consistency is better than green grass. Or, the owner of the Better Homes and Gardens yard…is tired. I’ve worn myself out looking at the newest and the best and the guaranteed-to-produce-a-well-rounded-genius. There will always be something else and something more, but the best results have come from consistent love, consistent discipline, consistent time, and consistent prayer. And sometimes that just means that I consistently start over, doing what I know is needful. 

2. The best curriculum is the one you’ll use. This relates to #1. I’ve learned that if something is too teacher-intensive and requires me to spend an extra hour each week in planning and preparing, it will sit on the shelf until I find some ambitious mother-of-one or SuperMom to buy it from me. I need simple. Simplicity = Consistency.

3. Homeschool moms are o-pin-ion-ated. I’m a homeschool mom. I’ve learned to shut my mouth unless asked for my opinion, for the most part. I really learned this in the two years that we spent at a Classical charter school. We attended classes 3 days a month and the rest of our schooling happened at home, but because it was a charter school and therefore publicly funded, there were some who scratched me off their Homeschool Mom list. It was good. I learned that I, too, have judged the way others choose to teach their children.

4. You are you, and I am me. For many years, I stopped reading homeschooling blogs and magazines. I grew weary of trying to keep up with the Martha Stewarts of homeschooling and the comparison I always felt. I have begun reading a few again this past year, and I realize that I have gotten to a point where I can sift the information and ideas without feeling overwhelmed or less-than. I’ve learned that in homeschooling, as in life, there are people who can do more and handle more and commit to more than I can. And that’s okay. I’ll just leach their good ideas and benefit from their efforts.

5. It’s okay to say no. We are tempted to create so many opportunities for our kids – homeschooled or not. Sign up for this and volunteer for that and be sure to apply for here, and don’t forget to buy such-and-such so they can go to so-and-so and learn this-or-that. Just say no. Save your sanity and your children’s childhood and all of your time.

6. Jesus is not a school subject. He is the source of all knowledge and wisdom. He doesn’t fit in a box or a curriculum, and we don’t check Him off a list. If we handle a secular book, we handle it with the mind of Christ. When we study our Bibles, we study to find Christ. There was never a curriculum that Jesus died for, so we handle everything outside the Bible as the word of men and hold it up to the light of Christ – Christian publisher or not.

Whether it’s public, private, home or any other educational path we are blessed to choose in this country, may it be for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom.

What have you learned? Have any great ideas or nuggets of wisdom I could leach? Leave them in the comments and let’s encourage all the weary mamas. 

 

On Blank Spaces

Sometimes there’s that uncomfortable silence and you feel like you should insert something there, like everyone else is uncomfortable, too, and somebody should do something about it.
 
 
I think that silence and that discomfort are probably okay, though. Better to be silent than to insert some man-made thing in a place where God has ordained quiet. 
 
Selah.
 
It felt like this blog was quiet for awhile, but is anything internet ever really quiet?
 
would like to post in a very scheduled-and-planned sort of way, like every Tuesday and Thursday, and I would really like to have my posts planned out weeks in advance. (I even have a handy little planning sheet from Kat at HowTheyBlog.com to help me do that.)
 
I think if I wrote more prescriptive posts it would be easier to plan, easier to be consistent, and easier to create content to share with you. Because we all need more content, right?
 
I’m not really comfortable writing a lot of “prescriptive posts”, though. I tell people all day long what to do and how to do it and when it should be done, so I really don’t feel like doing that here.
 
(You’re welcome.)
 
I do occasionally share good ideas I’ve collected from others or things I’ve learned from trial-and-lots-of-error, and I share it as more of an acknowledgment of common struggles and mutual sanctification, rather than trying to be your mother. 
 
But sometimes I feel like there is nothing to write here and that stresses me a little, because there’s no place on my schedule for “sporadic”.
 
This flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type blogging is annoying but it’s also discipline for me, in a good way. I’m challenged to pray my way through and also compelled to reveal that I don’t have all the answers, don’t have the prescription to solve every dilemma, don’t even want every dilemma solved actually.
 
I’m reminded that there really is nothing new under the sun. All we can do as writers and readers and thinkers and lovers and pray-ers is to link arms and pull when someone’s stuck, or push when someone’s scared, and pray when we’re all lost. Not because we are hopeless, but because we actually know that there is Hope and we just all need reminded of it in different ways and at different times.
 
You, the handful of friends and family who read my disjointed words, don’t come here because you have some problem I can solve or because you need my wisdom to get through your day. So there’s no pressure, really.
 
Except that words are weighty and eternal. And that’s what keeps me on my toes and keeps me praying. It’s what keeps me silent sometimes.
 
Thank you for reading. Thank you for every comment here and on Facebook and via email, because that is community and accountability. Thank you for bearing with my whining and inconsistencies.
 
And I know. I know  that none of us needs more information or more entertainment, more blog posts or more links to helpful information via the world wide web, so thank you for spending some precious minutes with me here.
 
I keep coming back to this thought, from Oswald Chambers: 

“When God brings the blank space, see that you do not fill it in, but wait.”

 So, we’ll wait together and enjoy the blank space. 

What to do With Memories {Project Life}

creative boys, working together, homeschool room

In light of my last post on creativity, I thought I’d share a little of where I’m spending some of my creative energy.

Those of you who know me in ‘real life’ and who have been to my house lately have probably been subjected to my giddy excitement over Project Life. {Sorry}

Giddy, because it just. makes. me. happy. Excitement, because at long last I’m actually doing something with our pictures. The guilt-laden boxes and files of photos are finally being defeated.

See, I dream of being crafty. I dream of being super-organized. And I combine the dreams into one and I envision beautiful scrapbooks, baby books that are meticulously filled, and a computer who’s hard drive is not crammed with jpegs.

I also “want-to-like-to” journal. That means I have dozens of beautiful but unfinished journals with scraps of family life, random happenings, and never-forget moments in them. If only I can remember which journal I wrote them in.

Project Life Project Life has been an eraser for my mommy-guilt. It combines the pictures with the journaling and you do what you want with it.  Mine’s simple. Simple makes me happy.

The real beauty of Project Life for me is that I can start now, but I can always go back and add in things from previous months, years, or decades. I love the 3-ring binder. Love the sturdy pocket pages and variety of layouts. Love the journal cards and the fact that the box of scrapbook stuff I bought at the turn of the century can now be put to use.

I keep our album out at all times because it just makes me happy. Did I mention that?

Project Life only needs a little explaining, and there are beautiful blogs out there with layouts and inspiration. I probably won’t be that blog and I probably won’t post pictures of my album, but I can point you in their direction.

First step. Becky’s blog. She has just recently posted a note to new PL’ers, and it’s grace and freedom.  Grace to start where you are, and freedom to be as fancy or simple as you want to be. View the sample albums, click on free stuff, and check out the products.

Next step. If you’re on Pinterest, search Project Life. Tons of inspiration and free products, and all the great blogs with beautiful ideas and layouts. If you’re not on Pinterest (whaaa?!), just google Project Life, and don’t be overwhelmed. Ever.

And if you homeschool? We bought another album to use for our timeline book. We use the design F pocket pages and the 3 x 4 journaling cards. I print a 4 x 6 piece of paper with the time span (1000, 100, or 10 years, depending on the era and the amount of historical data). We write the dates on the journaling cards and add pictures or stickers if we have them. We are getting into the Renaissance now, so we may use some bigger pocket pages for printed artworks. It’s simple, neat, and less expensive than other timeline books you could buy. Again, it makes me happy.

Project Life has tons of possibilities. It has been such a burden-lifter for me and if you don’t already have a system in place for your pictures, you should check it out. Maybe it will make you giddy and excited, too! If so, drop me a line. If you are already a PL’er, I’d love to see your album and hear your ideas.

 

Linking up with The Better Mom, Growing Home, and Titus 2sdays.

 

 

 

 

On Keeping it Beautifully Simple

labels, Jesus, church, denominations, Jesus banner

I grew up “un-churched”. I remember attending random places of worship with my Grandma or with the families of friends over the years, but it was just a side-effect of having spent a Saturday night with them. Or a Friday night, in one case.

I had no clue at the time that there were “different” churches. Church was church and you got dressed up and sat quiet and then went home. I don’t remember much beyond being uncomfortable in those settings.

I realize now that I have been in Lutheran and Roman Catholic and Seventh Day Adventist and even Mormon churches, and Grandma probably took me to a Baptist or Missionary Alliance church.

Somewhere in there I’m sure the Gospel was preached.

When I met my husband, he took me to church.  A little country Missionary church, with a wrestling-coach pastor and a lady on piano.  We sang the words off an overhead projector, lead by either a gentleman with a velvet voice or by the elderly Native American woman, and the sanctuary was full of light.

I know the Gospel was preached there.

Before we married, I had fully accepted that I was a sinner saved by Amazing Grace and that Jesus had called me His. I don’t have a date and there was no Road-to-Damascus-type conversion,  and maybe I was truly saved at nine years old when I prayed with Grandma in her motorhome, but my testimony is just this: I know I was lost, and now I know I’m found.

We married in another little country Missionary church with red-shag carpet and a gymnasium.

After our honeymoon, church was in a garage or the living room of faithful saints. Eventually our little body moved in to the Methodist church building, meeting for a couple of hours after their service and usually having a potluck afterwards.

On my 21st birthday I was baptized.  By my husband.  In a hot tub.

We were few but faithful, and our lay-pastor was a certified genius who taught us of all the wonders of God and His word. I remember round tables and Bible studies where the whole church would show up, all 40 of us, and we’d discuss and disciple, and we grew.

Tim and I grew and our church body grew, and there were babies born and funerals for those faithful saints who opened their living rooms to us, sharing their mincemeat and encouraging us of God’s faithfulness.

We read our Bibles and opened our eyes. We traveled overseas and to the neighboring towns with Good News and we were, we are, small town American Christians loving the God of the whole universe.

God called a biologist back to his hometown to teach us the Word, full-time. So we got ourselves a pastor who’d never been to seminary, and somehow we outgrew the Methodist building and God gave us a larger one to rent. And we keep growing and going around the world.

We never took a label except the one pictured above.

Jesus.

In all this quaint history of my “Christian experiences”, labels have never been important. I still don’t understand what it means to be Lutheran or Baptist or Episcopalian or whatever. I know there are churches where Jesus is preached in all the fullness and infallibility of the Word of God, and I know there  are churches where He is not.

The jokes about denominations go right over my head.

The debates about -isms don’t hold great interest to me.

Emergent and fundamentalist, egalitarianism and complimentarianism, Christian feminism, Calvinism, Arminianism, on and on ad nauseum.

I’m sure there is merit in understanding the different schools of thought and in debating the various theological arguments. We have some of that in our small group meetings and Bible studies, and we are digging in to church history in our homeschool.

So I probably do use labels as a sort of caution, because I do need to define what is pure and true and noble. But at the end of it all, I didn’t sign-up to join a movement or to get a group membership.

When I read something or hear something, when I see someone labeled or find myself labeled, when I look up the definition to try to understand what is being said, I really just have one simple filter.

Is that in the Bible?

Because I guess I am just a simple person, believing in Jesus. I’m ok with that.

 

Linking up with The Better Mom, .Titus 2sdays, Growing Home, Soli Deo Gloria,  Miscellany Monday, Imperfect Prose and The Wellspring.

 

 

 

 

Why I’ll be Using More Paper

Convenience is great.

Accessibility is great.

And I’m all about making things simple and easy.

But I’m also about balance, and one thing I’ve noticed about myself lately is that my face is often in a screen.  Or maybe, the screen is in my face.

I’m also highly distracted, like ADHD without the H.

All that makes it hard to be a good mom, wife, friend, homemaker…all that makes it hard for me to just stop, put the brakes on, and engage with life.  That thing that happens around me all day.

My lists are on screen.  My books, schedules, dreams and ideas float in bits and bytes, and my eyes are burning.  I appreciate my Kindle for the convenience and cost-saving, but I miss paper.  

The thing is, I change my mind so often about how and where I want to organize those pieces of life that need documented.  I use notebooks, sketch books, journals, sticky notes, evernote, onenote, notes on my phone…

I’ve tried to be all computerized and organized in digital fashion, because I think that’s great.  But the screen sucks my brain and my attention (which is limited).

It’s easier to walk away from paper, but this screen cries out to me for just one more…

I have one life to live and one shot at making these memories, the ones my kids will live with.  I don’t want to be the mom at the pool that misses the cannonball because of The Screen.  There are baby steps on this road to recovery, and the first one is logging off.

So I’ll be using more paper, and hallelujah, I’ve found a wonderful notebook that makes me giddy. (I’m simple like that).

The Arc customizable notebook from Staples.  I’m not an affiliate, won’t get any money if you click on the link, but if you feel so happy and excited after seeing this thing and you’d like to thank me, we can make arrangements.  *smile*

It’s just a little thing, but isn’t that what our lives are made up of?  To be faithful in the smallest of things, that’s the calling of those called mom and it’s the groundwork for bigger faith.  Because nobody who takes care of the little things is ever overlooked in the kingdom of heaven.

He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. – {Luk 16:10 NKJV}

 

{Counting gifts and remembering His goodness with community here.}

355.  Again, great fellowship with friends…the Beautiful Feet people.

356. A lost dog and the way Jesus answers prayers

357. leftovers on busy days

358. kids old enough and willing to help a very pregnant friend

359. the ebb and flow of noise and quiet in the house

360. THE GREATEST JOY!  Our youngest, asking to receive Christ right in the kitchen.  Unprompted and out of the blue.  Born again, adopted again, and eternally His!

Oh, Happy Day.  (click and sing along with us?)

 {Why the random picture at the top of the post, you ask?  It’s just a good memory from Yellowstone last year, a picture my daughter took.  So it kinda fits, in a peacefully-engaged sort of way.}

 

 

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