Monday, December 30, 2013


This headache, it comes at the worst time - if there is ever a good time. It is Christmas. The gifts...I don't even know what they are. They are wrapped with pretty bows and names printed in five year old hand. But me? I sit and wonder what each holds. I shopped for them - so he tells me - I bought them, this man who claims to be my husband affirms, but me? I can't remember...the robbed me of this...this remembering.

I opened my eyes one Tuesday morning, this man, he tells me it was a Tuesday morning. I am fourteen...I think that I am fourteen - and I just cry to go home...will this strange bearded man call my mother and have her come get me? Is it okay with my mama that I slept at this strange man's house? I slept in a chair, afraid of the man who had shared my bed for more than twenty years (this is what he tells me- we married over twenty years ago?). Fear, confusion, panic....and

This stranger had not hurt me, never would...I just could not remember him. He has proven himself a gentleman, a gentle man, kindhearted and good. He has cared for me...gently, reminded me of who I am, who we are, who our children are. He has had a few good laughs - like when he introduced me to my own fourteen year old boy-man. Me, thinking I am fourteen, shocked to discover that I have birthed a boy so old. Me, near weeping, asking, "How old am I then?" Then, he brings me the wee one. This five year old bundle of love, and my heart, it melts and I know he speaks truth. The mirror, it reflects truth. Years are marked around my eyes and gray streaks my hair. Grief overwhelms the heart when it is forced to remember every loss, the years that have marked me. Joy grabs the heart as it remembers the victories and promises.

These past weeks have been ones of reliving...I have relived the losses, wept tears over the death of grandparents, shed tears over the loss of children, remembered the pains. I have rejoiced over the joys...the recounting of the broken womb bearing children and the old woman bearing a child. life is being lived again. I feel different because life is gift...all of it. And I have bowed my head in the giving of thanks for each memory regained - the sorrows and the joys. I do not remember getting married...but I am - and this man, in the past week, proves he is more than I deserve. Grace that I remember how much I love him, and how we first met - sheer grace is the depth of his love! I do not remember being pregnant, but I have been - four times this man tells the doctor at my appointment - and two children breath this side of heaven. Grace that I remember holding each wiggling, new from the womb body. I do not remember friends, but they call to see how I am. Grace that I have such loving friends.

A week passes, I think my memory is back...I remember family and friends, I remember this blog, but the reading of it...I sit and wonder at some of what is written: so this is ME? MY LIFE? I have figured out how to do laundry - where the laundry is...I call to order pizza. And that, that is when the reality of my loss comes crashing. The man on the phone, he wants my phone number. I hesitate, nearing panicked tears. He tries again....I don't know my own phone number. How long have we had it? How long have we lived at this address? This husband of mine tells me we have lived here for twenty years. The phone number? The same for twenty years. So how do I not know it?? How do I remember email addresses and passwords to email, but have no idea what my home phone number is? Confusion, panic, fear boil in my heart as I try to remember. The mail on the table, it has the address...and so the pizza gets ordered and the boys get fed. But my head? It aches with the confusion of not knowing...with the not knowing remembering.

I go to get lab work done. This man who walks beside me, he drives. But me, I decide that I can do this by myself. I walk to the registration desk. The lady, she smiles sweet, talks about Christmas, asks if I am ready. Oh, yes, I am ready for the coming of the Lord, Him overcoming my flesh, the joy that is only had in Jesus. This I remember - a moment of joyous grace! Then she asks my birth date. I easily rattle it off, relief flooding. My address, I check the driver's license she just handed me back. My phone number, my social security number, my heart drums wild. The man who has proven faithful, he told me these...but I don't remember what he said. She nods, and says, "I see,that is what you are here for. It is fine."

Is it fine? Is it fine to not remember the one who has walked with you twenty years? Is it okay to forget the children you bore? Is it fine to not remember more than twenty years of your life? The boy-man, I confess, I learn about myself through him. I question him all day while his daddy is at work. I want to remember, I want to know. I ask silly things like, "Where do you go to school?" He stares at me, eyes open wide, disbelief on his face: "You, you are my teacher. You homeschool me." I sigh tired. The head, it aches and the not remembering, it saps of energy. How do you know what it is you don't remember? I go to church and I feel overwhelmed. The lights, the music, the heat...all too much for my aching head and the pain surges fresh. Friends stop to chat and I speak I know them? I ask to go home...home - a nest of safety. And he, my husband, this man whose love shines in his eyes, he drives me home, tucks me in to sleep on the sofa and returns to church.

And now, two weeks since it started - that is what my husband says - the war rages on inside my head. The memory, oh, I think it has returned...mostly. Still the moments of panic when someone calls and I can't remember...I can't remember who they are or how I know them. Thankfully, it happens less and less often. My sister, she tells me that my speech has returned to normal (I did not know it was slow), and my kids...well...they say that I am back to normal (I am not sure this is a good thing). My husband, I remember him now, and I am thankful for the grace of a man who walks faithfully beside me even when I can't remember.

And I am thankful that forever, always, Jesus walks beside me. He does not leave me alone even when I forget His tender mercies...His love is limitless and in the midst of pain, He is an anchor for this soul.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Sweetest Thing

And so I go to the Christmas Tea. And one of my friends has a tale to tell...about my little guy. My stomach, it knots tight. What has my littlest one done this time? Did he hit a classmate? Did he forget to share? Was he running out of control? Oh, in that one moment of her silence, my mama's head swims with the possibilities of what this littlest has done to stir up trouble...because, you know, he is five...and no matter how sweet he is (and he is so sweet)...he was born under Adam's curse, just like me...a sinner, saved only by God's desperately in need of the grace and mercy God provides in Christ.

And she chuckles as she speaks, "Oh, the whole class was loud and wild. So the teacher tells them to put their heads down, she shuts off the lights and says, 'Now, let's think about what Jesus would do.' After a few minutes of quiet, she turns the lights back on, ready to begin class, when little Jacob, in that sweet little voice says, 'I think Jesus would forgive us.'" And this friend of mine, she laughs a sweet twinkling laugh, and says, "Isn't that the sweetest thing you ever heard?"

And it is...isn't it? To the sinner weighed down by the consequences of his choices, to the sweet sister in Christ who spoke impatiently, to the child who has disobeyed, disrupted class...HOPE. Jesus would does forgive. And she is right...Jesus forgives us...isn't that the sweetest thing you have ever heard? Jesus forgives...the sweetest thing I have ever heard, good news for this faltering heart!

Singing Love

And this little boy, in his small voice says to me, "Mama, I didn't want to do it - I was afraid. But I looked at all those faces and I knew."

"Knew what?" this mama asks, confused.

"That they just need to know that Jesus loves them."

And so he sang. He stood by himself in the middle of fifteen, maybe twenty, older men and women to sing "Jesus Loves Me" to them. He put his fear aside because they needed to know. These men and women who have been sent to the nursing home by families who could not care for their needs or because they don't have family at all. They sit in the activity room, playing bingo, doing giant crosswords. Even with other wrinkled faces next to them, they wear their loneliness as a coat around their aching hearts.

Watching my little guy sing for them brought tears to this mama's eyes. Aged voices joined him and before the chorus, every one of those lovely, aged lips were mouthing the words along with him. And my little guy? He was so happy to be able to bless!

"Mama, did we bless?"

"Oh, son, yes!"

Not a week later, he sings again, for a woman sitting in her room. Her eyes shine and her mouth forms the words to mouth along with him. This woman who does not know one day from the next, whose memory has slipped and she no longer knows the past from the present...well, she knows this one truth: "Jesus loves me" and she sings it with him. The speech therapist comes, watches in amazement...that the woman recalled the words, that she sang and smiled...that this one name, Jesus, in Him is found joy.

And God blesses her and He blesses us by giving us this one free gift, JESUS...that one name that is above all others, that one Child that was born to grow into the Man who would carry the cross - not just any cross but my cross, your cross...the one we deserve for each failing, mistake, every sin. But Jesus, He came as a babe to grow into the man who would bear this cross...bear it for us, that we may be clothed in His forgiveness and righteousness. And we who are so blessed to know and understand such grace and mercy...we are so blessed that the blessing pours out for us and then from us. We are so thankful that He uses us as instruments of His peace and love.

Thanking Him today for His grace...His mercy...His love...for the Babe born that first Christmas long ago. For the Hope He brings.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

But for His Grace...

My aunt, she used to say something that as a child I never quite understood. "There, but for the grace of God, go I." And she would whisper a prayer of thanksgiving.

Yes, she saw it. She saw herself in every sinner. She understood the only thing standing between her and the alcoholic, the woman selling herself on the corner for another hit, the person living steeped in sin is the grace of God in her life. Everything good in her - and in me - is because of His grace.

Sometimes I question that. How is that His grace? How do you credit His grace with being who you are and where you are without wondering where His grace is for the person living on the street, for the alcoholic, for the one who sells herself on the corner, for the one beaten and abused, for the abuser, for the woman who has been violated, for the child who has been rejected? My heart aches, because really, apart from Christ I am so many of those things. I know it...and I am humbled because this grace that is too big and too wonderful has nothing to do with me...I did nothing to earn it (wouldn't that negate that it was grace at all?) and I can't do anything to make myself worthy of such grace, and yet, here is the truth: He has poured this all-consuming grace out on me. But, what about those others?? What about all those ones of whom my aunt used to whisper "but for the grace of God"? If grace has nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him, then what about THEM? Where is His grace and why are they suffering, and why can't their testimony be "there but for the grace of God, go I"?

So, when you know such a thing about Grace and yourself, what do you do with it? How do you open your eyes wide to this all-consuming grace and not weep for the lost? How do you not pour out grace on a hurting world? Really, here is the question, among all the "amen's" at the sermon, how do you LIVE this all powerful, all consuming grace? How do you take a beaten and wounded heart and pour out His grace on it? How? I know it is not by following the list of things my dear sister in the Lord gave me when I first came to Christ...the "do these things, don't do these" and you will be a good Christian list. (By the way, I failed...I really liked Petra Praise...and such sin, she assured me, would lead to hell's fire, I watched a movie and I did go to a dance...I still can't follow that list of do's and don'ts)

Because really, my son caught it (he leaned over to me, wide-eyed "Really? That is Mr.----? Ha!" - I have to confess, he talked about it all the way home), the one perhaps shouting the loudest amens during the sermon on grace....well...he is the same one who brings a list of his perception of my son's faults regularly to our attention with a smirk - in fact, had just done it the night before. So obviously, KNOWING what grace is and LIVING grace are two different things...and I don't want to just know, I don't want to just "Amen" during a sermon...I want to live grace...I want His grace to be all that there is...I want my life to be the Amen at the end of the message. But, then again, I recognize, apart from His grace I am incapable of living His grace.

And for that woman selling herself on the corner for another hit, and the child living in fear of an abusive father, and for that person steeped in sin, for the sister who has stumbled? Well, maybe...just maybe, God has called me to be His grace to them...His gentle voice whispering freedom to the hurting, healing to the broken, hope to the hopeless, forgiveness for the sinner. Maybe, just maybe...I am called to live His grace out to them...take them the message of the resurrected Christ, Hope and freedom, let His light shine through me and in me. Could I, maybe, live this grace outloud so that they who have no hope might see the Light of His love shining through me? Only by His grace and the power of His Spirit am I able to live such grace!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Grace for the Storm

The storms in life, they kick up and kick in, pick up and toss, knock me right down to my knees. On bent knee, I find Him - refreshing me, tucking this little chick under His wing of protection. I am overwhelmed by the grace in the storm and the love of the Father that sends the swirling winds and pounding thunder. A day after crying out in agony to my sister, the Lord speaks and I give thanks that He has not left me alone...that the midst of the driving rain of life, He is right here holding open wide the umbrella of His love, covering me with His mercy and grace.

Just thankful today for the miracle of His grace, the abundance of His provision in the midst of this storm. He does not forgotten nor does He overlook His own.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Growing up, we had wide open fields to run in, a creek to explore and trees to climb. Our house, it was on an acre caught between my grandma and my aunt's acres. We were free to roam the no longer farmed fields...and we did.

But it was Grandma that called us back...over to her house for an ice cream cone or an orange push-up. It was Grandma whose garden grew the best tomatoes, whose kitchen produced the best grape jelly. Mama's Thanksgiving table was always blessed with Grandma's homemade applesauce and delicious pies. She filled in as chauffeur when Mom worked, cheered us on at our sporting events when no one else could come - she even did a cartwheel once when my sister's volleyball team won an important game. Grandma, who could turn our faces red with an inappropriate comment or could make us giggle with her cat's meow. And her hair, she always let us brush it back. She would rest on the sofa davenport, while one of us girls would sit behind her and brush her hair long blinks of time. She taught me to play to laugh over loses and how to win gloatingly graciously.

It was Grandma who harassed me when I came to know Jesus and called me fanatical when I spoke of Him as friend.

It was for Grandma and her Polish roots, my Polish roots, I took polka lessons when I was a grown woman. I came back from life in Texas to dance with her around that small living room that always seemed just the right size. She laughed and told me that I was doing it all wrong...and she taught me the right way - her way, with laughter and shortness of breath, a woman well into her seventies by then.

Grandma, she held us as babies, pride and joy gleaming in her eyes. The same woman held each of my babies, a day from the womb, tears glistening and joy in her eyes.

When life was hard and Grandma needed to think, we would find her on her John Deere. She loved to be outside, mowing, raking leaves, trimming bushes, digging in the garden. She worked hard and breathed deep of the great outdoors.

My grandma, her life wasn't easy. Her husband died the day she buried her mother - her a widow at the age of thirty-three with two young girls to care for. She, with the help of her brother, took over running the business in those years before a woman in business was popular. When it failed, she went to work in a factory, then became a custodian for the local public school where she worked faithfully until retirement age. She would never remarry.

Her growing up years were never easy. She wouldn't finish school - dropped out sometime before eighth grade...but man, could she add numbers in her head quicker than a calculator. Her parents owned a strawberry farm and she worked...hard, long hours as a young child. She had eight siblings..and has buried all but one. They grew up in a small farm house, all the children sharing a room. Floors caked with dirt, either from neglect or perhaps there was no floor but dirt - I can't remember. She has spoken of the bedbugs that deprived of sleep and remembering the catching and crushing of them between "Don't let the bedbugs bite..." was not just a silly saying, but almost a prayer.

One thing I know about my grandma: she never made excuses. She never complained about all the bad. She may have cried long when she suffered loss, but she somehow managed to get up and move on.

Last night she fell, her near century old body crumbling under the strain of years. She lay there alone for several hours before being found by my mom. She was rushed to the ER, where the doctor found her broken hip. She waits in pain for the surgeon, crying out just to go home. She just wants to be in her own bed, her own little house...the same one she has been in since before her husband died. And I cry with her, praying that God will call her, open her heart to His amazing grace and overpowering love. May God write the peace in her heart that is found only in Christ...the peace and joy that have been missing for nearly a century. In this, the twilight of her life, may she find the Light for all eternity.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dark Before the Dawn

The threatens to consume this soul, to steal its joy. It presses in like a weight, crushing the chest. I fight for every breath, I scream and cry and struggle against the night, only to slip again in to its blinding depths...darkness so black that it hides all light. Its weight forces me, pushes me; stumbling under the pressing darkness, I fall to my knees...where I find voice to petition the God of Light for His intervention...that He will come and illuminate the darkest night. His promise is sure and His Word is true: No darkness can hide me from His presence, nothing can separate me from His love, and even in the shadow of this darkest night, He breathes life. Him, breathing life into my nostrils like He did that first man...I know it and feel it as I choose...choose the only thing I can: give thanks in all things. Give thanks to Him who laid the foundations of the world, for the life He breaths in to me, for the hope that He promises me, that perhaps I am not being consumed by darkness, but am living in blindness. Yes, in giving thanks, I find His healing salve upon my eyes.. restoring my sight that I might see the light of His presence always shining. And the darkness breaks to dawn and the Son, always shining, I see. His light not hidden from me.

And so, I kneel in thanks and find His light in the night, His hope shines in the darkness. He is always good and His mercies are new every morning. He upholds me with His righteous right hand. His Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Thanking Him today

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Always Enough

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation."
-Phil. 4:11-12

A full ten days before payday, and I know it is bad. I forgot to write that one check in the register...and I overspent my two hundred dollar a month grocery budget by sixty dollars this month...and we are out of milk, bread, jelly and eggs. The peanut butter and jelly that become our staples those few days before payday had no bread and no jelly to serve as sandwiches. The cereal supper that happens occasionally at the end of the month when all the rest of the food runs out had no milk...sigh...

So, I log in to see the balance of my account and the sigh becomes a groan. That check that I wrote and couldn't remember? It has the markings of disaster. The balance...reads...$0.01. That is right. In the midst of my groan, thanksgiving bursts forth. This disaster could be so much worse. I could have overdrawn the account which would mean exorbitant fees and reaching in to the next month's grocery budget. So, here I am with little food for the family, but a heart full of gratitude to the God who keeps us even in the midst of this mama's forgetfulness. His hand of protection evident in even this!

The husband and I, we bend our heads and give thanks for the Lord's abundant provision for us. And present our request before God. He knows what we need, so why be anxious about it? He is busy about providing for us, even before we know what our needs are.

Sunday, we walk in to church...and an envelope sits in our box, our name penned in uneven slanting letters across the front. The husband opens it and a twenty dollar bill falls out. We give thanks with great joy and share the story with our kids as we stop at the market on the way home. We tell them so they know His provision is always what we need and always just in time. And the cupboard? It is stocked once again with bread, peanut butter and jelly. The refrigerator? It again cools two gallons of milk. Another month that our family is fed, only by His grace...and so we bend our heads in gratitude to the God who cares for our every need.

I never cease to be amazed and overwhelmed by the God who gives us far more than we could ever ask or imagine in His perfect timing. His grace is sufficient for me...and it is sufficient for you! Today, may you know the Lord's abundant provision for you, may your eyes be open to see and understand His great love for you...and that He has made provision for each of our greatest needs through Jesus Christ our Lord. You are loved and cared the Creator of the Universe!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Rushing to get ready for church one Sunday, the phone rings. I answer, hesitantly...a Sunday morning call...early... "Pray for a miracle," her voice shaky and broken. Her son won't wake bad is it?? The doctors, they don't have all the answers...

And I realize it, just as I kneel to pray...isn't that what we all need? Feet slipping on the slopes of Heaven..don't we need just that...just a miracle. Not any miracle, but the miracle of His grace, that all sustaining grace we sing so freely about every time we mouth the words, "Amazing Grace how sweet the sound..." Isn't it just the miracle that we desperately need every single moment of every single day just to survive? Right in the middle of another pile of dirty laundry, dishes stacked a mile high, the child's illness or husband's job loss, the doctor's diagnosis of cancer, financial devastation, the wayward child, the wife's bout with depression, the broken womb...whatever the circumstance....we need that miracle...the miracle called GRACE. And isn't that what we are asking for when we come to Him in prayer? Please, Lord...another miracle, another grace...another gift."

And so, yes, I did...I dropped down on my knees and I prayed for a miracle for her son...His answer came...quickly. Within two hours, he was awake...crying..broken and beaten body, but alive.

And me, today? I pray for a miracle of be a gift to her as she seeks understanding...the miracle of His hope shining in the darkness of depression. Today, I pray that God will allow me to be His grace to her and her family...that He will use me to draw the bruised and broken to Him, that He will make me the miracle. Could I, today, maybe, just maybe, be the miracle instead of asking for one? Only by His grace will I know such a miracle.

Our Little School at Home: Missions to Modern Marvels & Little Hearts for His Glory

Of course, we are way behind in school, but we are still lovin' it. From my being plagued with migraines to the kiddos doctor's appointments, we seem to be having more interruptions than full days of school. Sigh.

Jacob is the main sufferer, since he can not do school by himself yet. Joshua sits and does reading with him when I am sick..which seems to be quite often lately. Love watching big brother help little brother sound out words! He also whipped out the paints and had the little guy paint pictures one day. We have been studying the life of Jesus for history and Jacob will say, "Mom, you read me that before." :) His favorite parts of school are the rhyme, art and science - well, maybe just about everything! What continues to amaze me is how easily he memorizes things. He memorizes his Bible verse the first day & then, when Joshua and I are studying for Bible quizzing, Jacob memorizes his verses too. Big brother is not very happy about that because he really struggles with memorizing things.

Joshua is just finishing unit 3 of MTMM. Of course, we would be in unit 6 if everything had gone as planned...but...sigh. The first two weeks were very rough. Joshua did not follow the directions in the guide, so we spent the next two weeks re-doing the entire first two weeks. His days are really long. He is not using the HOD suggested math or science because we are already beyond algebra and he needed science suitable for ninth grade. His written narrations are progressing quite well, and he really likes Write with the Best. We are both excited about the Bible study because it is the same books of the Bible that he is studying for Bible quizzing - only God could orchestrate that - although Joshua keeps asking when he will actually study the book that the study is about. :) He is currently reading Etsy's Gold and came to me one day saying, "Mom, this just makes me so sick...people really treat other people like this?" I plan on adding literature from the Geography guide as soon as God provides the money! No rush there, since I am hoping by then we will have shaved some time off of our school day...otherwise, I fear that we will be schooling until midnight!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Mission Field

This farm girl I follow, she's taking her daughter and they are heading out to Africa. And, me, I wonder why He hasn't called me to Africa...or the Dominican...or Haiti...or anywhere else on earth. In one of those moments I wonder and whisper the words right out loud. Right there, my son hears. And that six foot tall thirteen year old boy-man loops his arm around his mama's shoulder, leaning in to her with a wide grin and answers with the words this mama has spoken one too many times, "Ya know Momma, we aren't all supposed to go on a mission's trip. BUT we all are supposed to live the mission."

And I remember, remember his daddy and I training him to think that way. You open that big back door to our house and you know that you have entered the mission field or you are inviting the mission field right into your own kitchen. Every moment of every day is our mission, bringing glory to God, singing His praises and giving thanks to Him. Well, those things don't just change who you are and how you view your world. No, those things change everyone that He brings to your door because first you have invited Him in.

And I give thanks for this boy who speaks words of Truth. Because, whether I am traveling to Africa or staying right here in my suburb, God has asked me to be His hands and carry His love to those I reach out to the poor and hurting...right here in my small town America. No waiting for a plane or traveling to exotic places, no passport or visa are needed to meet the same face of poverty and heartache that exists right here where I am.

So today, I commit...commit to continue to live the mission...whether or not I leave this small town..because really, poverty doesn't belong to any one country. Brokenness and heartache aren't limited to other places. They exist right here, right where I am. And I can choose to see them and make this my mission field every day...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Our Little School at Home: Rev to Rev Complete! LHFHG Continues..

We finished! We finished! School ended last week. What an incredible year of growth for my sons.

Rev to Rev Year Summary:

Joshua loved, LOVED, LOVED this year of study. He claims it is his favorite guide so far.

We finished the year reading and discussing George Washington Carver. Such a great book to end the year on - full of godly character: faith, resourcefulness, diligence, sacrifice...and the list goes on.

Joshua enjoyed the bible study, but found it a little light - not the study, but perhaps the scheduling of the materials. I think this was an attempt to keep our days balanced, so he completed a study on the book of Matthew alongside the study of Hebrews this year. He also participated in Bible quizzing, memorizing a majority of the book of Matthew. (Okay, proud mama moment - his team placed first for the year!!)

He really enjoyed Draw & Write through History. I am so thankful that we were introduced to this resource. Joshua has taken up drawing and sketching as a result. He has purchased some great art supplies and instructional books to continue his study. I have to say - huge GROWTH in this area. When we started HOD with Preparing Hearts for His Glory, Joshua HATED drawing - especially from this series. BUT now, after having stuck with it, he LOVES it and is EXCELLING.

The state study was also a hit. Joshua really enjoyed learning about the states and daily came to recite some ridiculous law that the state had at one time or another. We shared quite a few chuckles.

The American Testimony dvds were also a great hit. Once in awhile, a segment would not grab his attention & he would complain - but then again, we are doing school, not trying to entertain him! The videos did lead to some great narrations and discussions. One resource I wouldn't want to skip - even on those "not-so-exciting" segment days!

Little Hearts for His Glory

Jacob and I are continuing LHFHG next fall. I am not planning to finish it in the fall, so we are taking our time. We have loved it! Somersaulting through the months of the year, memorizing Scripture and the rhymes made our year so fun. Jacob has enjoyed the science and art activities...but his favorite part of our day is the time he gets to curl up in my lap for reading - History, the Thornton books or ANY of the resources. He doesn't care what we are reading...he just loves to be read to. He is really struggling to read himself, but he is pretty young yet, so I am not too stressed yet. I was hesitant to use Singapore math because friends who have used it haven't like it...but we are enjoying it..and most importantly, my little guy is understanding the lessons!

LHFHG has been a breath of fresh air. I used a different curriculum for my oldest, and he sits in on the Thornton Burgess books...he gets a kick out of them (and he is 13). Too funny! He also jumps in and does the rhyme with us when we are doing something like somersaults. I have to admit - sometimes the actions distract us and we spend far more time on the rhyme than necessary - but we are having FUN and LEARNING!


...because of Christ

I remember him so clearly...Juan, that is...even though it has been over twenty years since I met him. Then, he was a small ten year old boy wandering the boardwalk of an ocean-side New Jersey town. Alone. That always stands out to me. His big brown eyes looked up at me as he smiled full. My friend had just shared the good news of Jesus Christ with him...and he was excited, overwhelmed. He understood the hope. He immediately invited us - begged us - to come to his home: "Won't you come and tell mi mama? Por favor, please...she needs to know." Those big brown eyes began brimming with tears. It was like we had offered him a lifeline and he knew it. He knew that this one thing, this one Person held the power to change everything. And Juan was clinging to us because we knew Him...and maybe, maybe this One could change his life too.

We went gladly, daring to enter the poverty-stricken home of an immigrant from Puerto Rico. The mother, she welcomed us with a weary, hesitant smile, fear hiding behind her lashes and a flow of questions in her foreign tongue - questions too big for two twenty year old girls in their native tongue. Her life was a sad one. Marked not only by poverty, but the hopelessness that comes when you feel trapped with no way out - emotional poverty, spiritual poverty. She was in a strange land with a man who mistreated her and her precious son. But if she left, would she support her son? The soft, rhythmic voice she spoke in - Spanish, everything in is it that we came to her today? How is it that today, when she was crying for help, two women showed up on her doorstep - both fluent in Spanish? She asked the questions that have only One answer...and His name is Jesus Christ. God gently called her to Himself. She bowed her head with tears, she accepted His free gift...and she resolved to take the next step. Within the week, she was no longer living with her boyfriend. God had provided for her...amazing things: a safe place to live, food to eat, a church to help her, employment. The most marked difference in her life was the hope.

While we lived in that New Jersey town, my friend and I visited her frequently, this woman transformed. We shared the Word with her in her native tongue, we shared our food with her, our things with her and we demonstrated love to her. She was like a sponge receiving water after it had been left too long in the sun.

And her son, that brown eyed young boy....he rejoiced and he sang a new song...and his life was forever changed one day on the boardwalk in the middle of a usual day when he came face to face with the Christ. And because of his boldness, not only his life, but the life of his mother, the life of my friend and my life too - all changed..four lives that collided because of Christ.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Choosing Freedom

The Israelites, really, how could they have purposed in their hearts to form a golden calf? How could Aaron so easily allow his heart to turn, to fall to the pressure of those around him, forming a golden calf for them? Who could so quickly forget the miracles God had performed on their behalf to win their freedom? Who forgets the God who parts the sea just when it seems all is lost and captivity would have been a better option?

Me...I could, I have time and time again. I don't want to admit it. I would rather hide my shame than confess it...but reading the story of Aaron making the golden calf to my son from his children's bible...I could not deny who I have been. I am the one who has doubted the God who saved me. I am the one who has thought that surely all was lost. I am the one who has been rescued time and time again, only to see the next trial as beyond His ability to save. And most of all, I am the one who has doubted that my freedom won by the blood of the Lamb was better than captivity.

Reading the story again, God gave such clarity. The questions, constantly burning in my heart were answered. It is me - I am an Israelite. The freedom that God poured out on me...freedom to choose to live in light of who He is, freedom from the sin that entraps and quickly thrown away because what the world had to offer gave the illusion of being sweeter than what God freely pours out. Bondage...taking one step back to my Egypt, to my task master. I have been held hopeless and helpless by the cravings for what the world offers (power, wealth, children, tasty delights to satisfy every craving). I have given God my words, but have given my heart to idols. Writing it on paper, it seems even more ridiculous than a group of people in the wilderness crying to return to the false gods of Egypt. Why did they want a golden calf? The same reason I want a shake from the golden arches....God did not answer as quickly as they expected and they were they tried to form their own god, cover their own fears. What kind of god is made from human hands? What kind of power does such a god have? How much hope can such a god offer?

A god made from human hands is just as helpless, hopeless and powerless as the hands that formed him. The only place to seek what I (and you) desperately need is at the foot of the cross, looking into the face of Love and waiting in confidence for Him to answer...because, really, doesn't He always answer? Didn't God always answer the Israelites in their distress? When they had a need, did He not always make a way for them? Victory comes in His time, in His way and according to His power. No matter what your battle, may you continue clinging to the God who has set you free...may He give you the courage and strength to hold fast until He answers! May you find that His grace is enough!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Our Little School at Home

Rev to Rev
Okay, I am sitting here thinking, "What unit did we even complete this week?" I don't know! Seriously! Most of our week was marked by sickness, but we were still able to complete the unit - but most of it is a blur.

Joshua (and I) enjoyed an activity in Morse code that he did for the history project this unit. As part of the Inventor study, he is reading about Henry Ford and has asked to visit a not-so-local car museum. He also drew a log cabin using Draw & Write Through History. His drawing has made so much progress since he began HOD four years ago. YIPPEE!!

After completing Only the Names Remain for Storytime, Joshua and I had quite a discussion about the Cherokee Indians before beginning the new book. Excellent book! There were so many elements to the history of the Cherokee that I never read in any history book growing up. I must be tired, because although we both love the new storytime book, I can not remember what it is for the life of me!

We continued watching The American Testimony dvds. Joshua really likes them. He and I watch together and discuss it or he narrates. Great resource!

Little Hearts for His Glory

Jacob continues to be thrilled with his school work. He is progressing with reading, slow but steady. He is on the young side, so I refuse to push him too hard.

School is so much fun! This week we studied Moses. He loved the rhyme and acting it out as he rocked like the boat, tiptoed, etc. And, then we hid baby Moses in a basket. Whew, he wanted to play that game everyday!

As always, he learned his memory verse so quickly. Oh, to be young again! Playing games with balls and a light scarf makes him a little wild. Yet, in the end, he knows the verse and I haven't had to struggle to get him to learn it. :)

For art, Jacob made an Egyptian collar. He was so excited to wear it for Daddy when he got home. :) Everything in HOD makes school so much fun!!

Surprised by God

About a week ago, Joshua and I began praying about this ministry thing he has been doing. He travels to various outreaches and activities to do balloon twisting. He loves it and I am so thankful that God has given him the ability to engage the kids. But here is the thing, Joshua is not satisfied with just doing it once in a while. He really wants to see how God can use this thing in a bigger way. So, we began to pray and brainstorm.

It was fun listing different hospitals, nursing homes and places he may be able to visit to bless people with a simple balloon animal. The continued prayer and then, the questions, "Mom, have you called --- yet? Have you...?"

He is just so excited, but I refrained from asking for prayer from anyone because I...well, I just wanted to wait and see what the Lord was going to do! And, I am still waiting on some things, but an interesting thing happened that I am ecstatic to share.

Thursday evening Todd came in with the mail. Surprisingly, he handed each of the boys an envelope. For one boy to receive mail is unusual. For both boys to receive mail is almost unheard of, unless it is from one of the Grandma's - which it was not. Jacob got a letter from a homeschool friend - so thoughtful of God to give him something so he would not feel left out. But Joshua, Joshua opened his envelope and inside found just a short note that read:

"Joshua, God told me to send you this money for your balloon twisting ministry. I am sure that He is going to do big things through it."

We both were dumbfounded. This letter came out of the blue - straight from the heart of God! Joshua accusingly looked at me, "Mom, you told her, didn't you?"

"No way, Joshua. I have not even talked to her or anyone else."

We were both AMAZED! Neither of us had thought about where the money was going to come from for him to continue his ministry. It never crossed my mind that he would need to buy more balloons (I am sure it would have when it was time to buy more balloons!)...but God had already made a way. This was truly an "aha" moment for Joshua. He was so excited to give God glory and honor and praise. He was so thrilled to see how God works out details in our lives. And me? I am just a mama humbled to belong to God, humbled to be part of this story God is revealing to us, in us and through us.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

I just sat there...unsure of what to say. I went to the Women's Coffee, not because I wanted to, but because that great big bear of a man of mine whispered that I should. He said, "A mug contest? You just HAVE to go and take your mug...I bet it will win!"

Okay, there is a real spiritual, selfless reason to go to a gathering! Laughing, I reluctantly agreed. I knew that really what he was telling me was that I needed the time to be refreshed with know, pink-thinkin' people. And I mean no disrespect...nor to ruffle anyone's feathers! Just sayin' there is not an awful lot of girly stuff going on in a house where I am the only female!

So, I went. My mug, of course, did not win. As unique as it is (a flower pot with an oversized ladybug resting on its handle, "Bloom and be happy!" stamped among its flowers), it was neither the most sentimental nor the uniquest. I can't remember the other category...but really, that pretty little mug was nothing compared to the other mugs. Kind of like me.

Still, God had His purpose in taking me to that coffee...and as He frequently does, He left me completely speechless. One of the women said, "Oh, Shelly, you came! I am so glad. I have a coat for you in my car."

"Ummm..what? A coat? For me?" was my shocked response.

"Yep. You know, God has been telling me that this coat is for you. I LOVE this coat, but after trying to come up with every reason in the world to keep it, I can't fight with God. This coat is for you!"

I sat there in stunned silence. How could this woman know that within the last two weeks I had been at the store to get a new coat, but the money just wasn't there. I prayed and talked with God about it, thanking Him for the coat that I currently old, ragged and ill-fitting as it is, I have to confess it is so much more than others have.

And then, across the table from me sat God's answer - my sister in the Lord telling me that God was directing her to do this thing. I probably wouldn't have accepted her gift, except that the women's ministry leader stepped in and shared how blessed she had been when someone had done something similar for her. I almost wept, but then found my voice to give thanks to God and to this woman who had heard His voice and obeyed. OVERWHELMED! And that coat? My favorite color in the style I was looking at in my size...only God would care about the exact details...only God could know and answer in such an unexpected, perfect way!

But...God wasn't done yet. A bag dropped off at my house the other day. Another answer from God through my sister. I sat there stunned...again, speechless. Over the last few weeks, I have complained to my husband that, well...that I had no shoes to wear with my jeans and dress pants - except my beat-up old tennis shoes. I have prayed about it and thanked God for His provision, but I have also shared with Him how I would like to have a casual pair of shoes to wear. Let's face it, when you live on a tight budget, shoes are not important. If you have one pair to wear, you are thankful. If you have two pair to wear, you are ecstatic. But that contained six or seven pairs of shoes, some with the tags still on. AND EVERY SINGLE PAIR FITS! Only God...only God! I called and thanked my sister. I told her the story that I had been asking God for shoes...and she said, "That is funny, because God kept impressing on my heart that I needed to give you those shoes!"

And here I sit, still stunned with the goodness, mercy and love of God. So, I bow in stunned silence that He sees and hears my smallest need and concern. He answers in ways I can't even begin to fathom. I give Him all glory and honor and praise!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Throwing Out School Thursday

What a fun day we had school, but fun just the same. (Snow day without the snow - the principal made the glad that is me!) I introduced Joshua to my favorite Christian bands from my late teens. We had a good laugh at how I have limited what he listens to, but I ROCKED with bands like White Cross and Petra, Carman and White Heart.

While listening to that old music, he did the out his tennis racket, strummed it like a guitar and stood on the dining table. Ummm, yeah, that was his mother egging him on with "if you really want to be like Aunt Lisa, you will jump!" Quickly followed by, "Wait, you probably better not...knowing you, you'll break something." I almost didn't get that last line out - I was choking badly on my own laughter.

So, we pranced around the room to This Means War; He Came, He Saw, He Conquered; The Champion and other such tunes. Joshua kept laughing at me as I jammed like I was nineteen again - I must say, I ROCK on the air guitar - such talent! At least the kid will have some memories of me being a little crazy.

We also talked about what a rebel I was - rebelling against mainstream Christianity, not against God. God, well He deserved all of me then, just like He does now. We talked about how, growing up in a family apart from Christ, I did not understand my need for a Savior until I went away to college...and then, after God called my heart home, someone told me that it was my choice of music (Petra, White Cross, Carman, etc.) that was leading me straight to hell - no matter what I believed. I am just as sure today as I was back then that the man was wrong. Just to rebel in disagreement, I would play "God Gave Rock and Roll to You" by Petra as loudly as I could. We had a really great discussion about music, as God's gift....but that not all music glorifies God. Probably the best discussion we've ever had on the topic.

At any rate, eventually Jacob joined us with his little guitar. He jumped out of the hallway and screeched, "God gave rock and roll to you..." in an Elvis like pose. Joshua and I could not contain our laughter. I mean...that little guy was so serious and so LOUD. Apparently, he caught the rock bug, too. At least he stayed off the table.

So, we threw out school this Thursday. We cleaned house - I know, I doesn't sound like it, but at least one room is clean. And our hearts are full of joy in Jesus! :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Our Little School at Home

Last week we completed HOD Rev to Rev Unit 19. Probably Joshua's favorite parts of school continue to be Biblical Worldview and Inventor Study. Maybe it is that scientific and creative bend in him that is always thrilled to read about the inventors! For biblical worldview this week, we had such great discussion about harmony and disharmony. He made a comment that startled me with its depth.

The written narration, although he has grown tremendously, continues to be a struggle for him. His least favorite day is Day 1 of each unit...that unfortunate day when the narration is scheduled. I think his dislike of it is mostly because he is such a perfectionist. He can't stand eraser marks or crossed out ink on it, so he doesn't like to make mistakes. I know that others don't agree with this, but I let him write it on notebook paper instead of the notebooking pages. The notebooking pages are so beautiful and well done. I confess that I had to let go of my disappointment with his pages not being complete with the narration written directly on them. In the end, though, I had to do what was best for him (and the peace of our days). :) Overall, he has made so much progress and is writing such wonderful narrations, that I am quite satisfied. The struggle is really the writing process more than the actual outcome.

We continue to be happy with Rod a& Staff Grammar. Joshua is using level 7. It is so thorough. He will be well-prepared for high school! We do 2-3 lessons a week and intend to continue with this level next year. Probably one of the things we enjoy the most is the sentence diagramming. I used to dread it, but we began to see it as building blocks of language (such a boy thing). Joshua has always liked to see how things are made, tearing them apart and putting them back together. Diagramming sentences is so much like that.

He learned about Francis Scott Key and the writing of The Star Spangled Banner this week. He jumped on-line to listen to it. Then he gave an excellent oral narration.

Little Hearts for His Glory

Jacob and I completed four days of LHFHG. I so appreciate how many hands-on activities are scheduled to make our learning fun, as well as the Christ-centered focus. For math, we taped numbers 6-10 on the floor using green painter's tape. Jacob followed each of them, like a path. Then, he put the correct number of counters on each number. We kept the numbers on the floor all week...I hesitated to do it because I was afraid it would leave a sticky residue. Thankfully, it did not.

For science we made stars on the ceiling with a flashlight. Then we made them closer and farther away by moving the flashlight.

Our greatest struggle of the week was reading. We repeated the same lesson all week and Jacob still showed no progress. If anything, it seemed that he is slipping backwards. I am really not sure what more to do...take a break? ...just keep repeating the same lesson? ...move on? UGH...these are the uncertainties of a homeschooling mama!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Our Little School at Home: Little Hearts for His Glory Unit 2 & 3

Jacob is continuing to LOVE school. When I asked him what his favorite thing is, he answered, "Sittin' in your lap and reading. Ummm. No, putting chocolate chips on the 'cookies.' Actually, no. It was all of it." (Smile)

We are using The Reading Lesson for phonics and I could not be more satisfied with the progress he has made. He has had a little difficulty and we have had to repeat the same page four times now. I am not worried - I know that this is so common.

For math, he did make "chocolate chip cookies" by putting the correct number (1-10) of chips in round circles on a sheet of paper. He found this activity to be "delicious." I smile because learning is so FUN!

One thing Jacob does with great enthusiasm is the rhyme. He had so much fun this week jumping backwards three times as he shouted, "Go, GO, GO!" Some days we did the rhyme over and over again - I did not mind. School should be fun at this age & it definitely is with Heart of Dakota!

He also memorized Ephesians 6:1 "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." When the week was over, he whispered the verse into his Woof-Woof's ear. It was just too cute.

Our Little School at Home: Rev to Rev Unit 18

Joshua's first week back to school after Christmas break was a little rocky. Isn't that always the case? A little bit of freedom is so much more fun! By Wednesday we were back to normal - thank God!!

So, this week we continued to study the Lewis and Clark Expedition as we read Seaman. Seaman, a Newfoundland dog, explored the west with Lewis and Clark, providing a sense of home and encouragement to the men.

Joshua drew a picture of Sacagawea with her babe on her back. He has grown so much in his ability to draw through the years of using Draw and Write Through History - such a blessing! I remember when we first started HOD, back in Preparing Hearts for His Glory, he used to cry over his artwork (groan). Now, he draws beautiful pictures and is satisfied with his work. Still, I do not make him color the pictures...he never likes the way that they come out.

Joshua also began the history spine The Story of the Great Republic. He is really enjoying it. He has been studying about Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon. (I just love how the storytime books are scheduled to help us really experience the major events and times we are learning about!)

We, as always, had a great discussion about God's intent for creation and how God, so unlike us, is able to make something out of nothing. Who is God? And Can I Really Know Him? is such a great resource for our Biblical Worldview study!

Probably the one thing that I am really glad I decided to do this year is make the switch to Rod and Staff Grammar. I constantly confess that I hesitated to do it...but it is thorough program that has enough repetition that the Joshua is really growing in his understanding of the English language.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Better than the Light at the End of the Tunnel

The other day I was praying, complaining to God really...asking Him...where is the end of this current suffering? Isn't three and a half years of looking for a full-time job for my husband enough? Isn't struggling to keep the electric and gas on, being threatened with the water being shut off, struggling to feed the family, pay the bills...isn't over three years of it enough? Where, oh where, is the light at the end of the tunnel?

And then He hit me smack in my blind eyes...His much better than the world's lie. I am looking for the light in the wrong place. My eyes are straining to see that which was not meant for me to see - the end of the tunnel. He is illuminating the path right NOW. He wants me to see Him, the Light of the world, right now, in these current circumstances. He is the Hope I need, not the end of the tunnel. He is the Light I seek...and I can have Him right now, right here, right in the midst of this dark tunnel...and it excites me to be able to see Him, to have my eyes wide-opened.

Oh, the world wants me to believe that the tunnel is dark (and it may be), that it is hopeless (and it may seem like it), that I should be looking for the light at the end of the tunnel (my eyes have strained). But the truth? Well, exciting that it sets my skin a-tingling. The Light is not at the end of the tunnel. I don't need to strain to see - The Light is with me in the tunnel! He has not left me alone, He has not broken His Word to me. Can you see Him?? That is right. Whatever your tunnel is...whether it be the loss of a job, the loss of a house, the unfaithfulness of your man, the illness of a child, the broken are not alone. Your tunnel, no matter how dark, is not without light. Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, is right there with you....right HERE with me!!

And so, my blindness becomes sight as He opens my eyes...I see Him clearly, the Light of the world. And, I am able to give thanks for His abundant provision in the midst of the darkness, for His constant care and concern, for His amazing love...and that He is not only the Light of the world, but He is the Light that illuminates my darkness. He is providing in the HERE and in the NOW. I don't have to wait until my husband finds a full-time job. I don't have to wait until this current trial ends to see HIM!! Praising God for His goodness and mercy...for continuing to teach me the same lesson without growing weary. Thanking Him for His kindness.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Message of a Man

Our pastor preached on Heaven the last Sunday of 2012. His body, failing and weakened from cancer, did not interfere with his God-given purpose. He sat in a gold winged-back chair on the platform. Mind sharp and heart still afire with the light and love of Christ. He spoke to the congregation as if he were our father, our grandfather, mentor, friend, sharing the Word of God with us. I felt like I had been invited in to his living I was his daughter and he was sharing this life-giving truth with me. I wept, from the message - convicting, challenging, asking the hard questions - Am I living in light of eternity? Do I look forward to Heaven? Am I pursuing Christ or have I become lost in this world? Am I so earthly minded that I am doing no heavenly good? Am I living as a citizen of Heaven or have I become lost in this temporary world? Do I really know what heaven is like? Oh, those weren't the pastors questions...his were slightly different, recorded word for word in my journal. But, these were more important because, well...these were the questions the Holy Spirit asked of me through the sermon.

I wept too because I have loved this minister of God as a child loves her father. At times, I have sinfully envied his children - children blessed with imperfect parents hotly pursuing the holy God. So unlike my own growing-up family...I have watched this man from a distance and I have seen...seen what it means that God is my Father....seen that He is the Father I can trust with my whole heart, loving and compassionate. Yes, it has been a healing sort of watching...healing from God, in the recesses of my heart. Healing of the message that was burned into my heart long ago: trust no one, expect to be left, you are worthless. Watching this man with his children and grandchildren has spoken volumes to me about who God is, how He loves and what calling Him Father means...and I give thanks for being able to call God my Father...and I give thanks for this man that God used to show me what a father really is supposed to be.

Does this man know that his God speaks so loudly through his life? Does he realize the powerful way God uses him? Does it matter that my life (and so many others) has been so deeply impacted?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year!

Happy New Year!! Entering 2013 counting God's graces in my life...His gifts. Want to join in on the eye-opening fun and live a transformed life? Jump on over to and become part of what the Lord is doing!!

Here is my short list of last year's bests...have any to share? Leave them in the comment box!!

2012's Best Book: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp; also liked The Harbinger

2012's Best Recipe: Enchilada Soup (YUMMY and CHEAP!)

2012's Best Habit: Counting God's gifts to me

2012's Best Memory: Little One asking how he can have Jesus live with him.

2012's Risk that turned out the Best: Sharing my testimony several times.

2012's Best: that little pink journal by my bed that reminds me of all His many gifts.

Won't you come join us on Facebook, counting our gifts? Just check out One Thousand Gifts...and let His grace change you!!