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!!