Tuesday, December 30, 2014

And So I Wore Red...

Today was my Grandma's funeral. I type those words with disbelief in my heart. It seems like only yesteryear she was calling a tall, awkward girl with braces over to her house to share an ice cream cone. Or I was spending the night to play another hand of Pinochle. But no. Time marched on and that girl grew into a woman - still awkward. And Grandma, she remained the life of the party and the joker at every gathering, the one full of silly games and easily handing out hugs and "I love you's." She continued to be the one who gave thanks for all that she had, still was overjoyed when the little ones climbed up in her lap - the great grandchildren now. She carried on to love all in her life - but especially the children. She babysat my cousin's children well into her 80's....and they would tell you she was the best Great Grandma and babysitter EVER! Grandma never wore out...or at least she was never supposed to. But, at 94...well, her body finally did.

Lots of tears were shed as I looked upon her face, devoid of life, for the last time this side of heaven, remembering the life that she shared with all of us here. Never again will I hear her say, "Toot-a-loo" or "See ya' later alligator." She won't remind me as I leave, "Don't be a stranger." She will never take my little guy on a tractor ride - her John Deere sits quiet now. No more birthday cards with the not quite perfect smiley.

The preacher, he talked about heaven and Jesus...and that Grandma was walking the streets of gold. I know...I know where she is and I know that it was Jesus and her simple faith in Him that carried her there. He reminded us that she would not want to come back if she could and might even think we were all ridiculous in our mourning. And I agree..and so I wore red to her funeral. Not that muted, dark red. I wore Christmas red, bright and clear. I wore it because my Grandma had a favorite red sweater with faux jewels around the collar. She wore it every Christmas party...every joyous gathering. She would have worn it today, if she had a choice (but, oh she looked lovely in her bright blue). So to honor this incredible woman, I wore red.

I won't lie. It took this awkward, uncomfortable woman a little more than courage to wear that dress...and to hear a niece say, "You look very pretty in that red dress, but this is a funeral." Yes, all mourners were dressed in muted shades of gray and black...but me and one other I smiled at. I felt the need to explain myself more than once - and all 45 years of awkwardness were nothing compared to how awkward I felt in red today. But, somehow, I know that if Grandma were here, I would have been rewarded with her beautiful smile and twinkling eyes.

Grandma, walking streets of gold, she knows the red of the blood that was shed on Calvary. She knows the price that was paid to purchase her passage to Heaven. She sees the One who rose from the dead...she sees Him face to face and rejoices, praising our Savior that He rose from the dead, that death no longer has victory! And, for her I rejoice and so I wore red.

"For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, 'Oh death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." -I Corinthians 15:54-57 (emphasis mine)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

When All Hope Seems Lost...

I was in the kitchen crying today. Not because I almost burned the soup...nor because we had to register for healthcare coverage that we can not afford to pay for but we can not afford to live without...not because the sewing machine that makes quilts, gifts and an extra income died...not because the hospital bills came and we feel the crushing weight of them. And that business that we bought is struggling...and the picture window is falling out...and...the neighbor's dog just keeps barking....and the neighbor growls even louder...and my head is pounding...and my heart is aching...

No, the tears spilled and the sob rose in my throat when that bear of a man I married rested his hand in the small of my back and prayed...for me. I felt the warmth of his arms, wrapping me in his love. And I leaned in to him, gathering strength from his embrace. I felt the life of whispered prayers...the God who hears them infusing me with His comfort and strength once again.

And then I saw the tree...the Christmas tree standing in the corner, with its lights dark, burnt out and broken...and I realized that is me. I am burnt out; I am broken and old and tired....lifeless on my own.

And I need the Light that never fades, that never burns out, that never stops shining to shine His Light in me. I don't need another shiny ornament on a brightly lit tree or a tinsel star, a gift all wrapped in pretty paper. What I need is the Reason we wrap pretty presents and hang pretty lights...I need Jesus. I need that Babe who was born so long ago, that Child who was laid in a manger, the One who stepped out of Heaven and wore flesh...because He is the Light that shines even in the darkest night. He is the One who writes His hope in the hopeless places. He is the One who makes all things new...even the broken and tired, the old and lifeless...even me! In Him is life and light, hope and love, forgiveness and grace. In Christ is peace and joy. Because He took on human flesh and because he suffered on the cross, taking the punishment for my sin, because He died and rose again, I have hope and peace and life.

Christ the Light was born one morn long ago, to bring Hope for the hurting, healing for the broken, peace for the restless, a place to call home to the homeless, joy to the world. Yes, this Christmas season and all year through, may my heart and yours be filled with the light and love of Him who came that holy night. May the new year be filled with His love and joy, peace and comfort. May we know and understand the riches of the Savior's love.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Our Little School at Home: Beyond & World Geography

Okay, I am not saying it has been awhile since I last posted, but I could not figure out how to get into my blog account. Ha!!

Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory
Our school year is flying by. My littlest and I are in Unit 15 of Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory. I can not believe that this is my baby's first grade year...where does the time go? I am so thankful for the privilege of homeschooling, and especially thankful for the gift of Heart of Dakota. We are so blessed to have found a curriculum that keeps our days balanced, fun and most importantly Christ-centered. This week we are studying the Dutch Pilgrims, and how they brought livestock to America. Very fun! Our favorite activity has been making ice cream for Science as we learned about cows and cattle. What kid wouldn't want to make and eat ice cream? My little guy is already asking if we can do this again...and planning the next time!

Jacob finished his reading program and has officially moved on to the emerging readers. He is reading so fluently! I admit, I chose The Reading Lesson because it seemed the easiest to implement, but then kept second guessing whether or not it would be ENOUGH. I purchased some Explode the Code workbooks that I used with my oldest for reading, but only did the first few lessons of the first one with Jacob. So, yes, The Reading Lesson was enough and yes, he now reads so much better than I expected. Another huge "Thank You" to HOD for recommending it! :)

For math, we are using Singapore 1A, keeping up easily with the guide. My little guy loves it. The activities in the BLHFHG guide are easy to implement and have really added to his understanding of math concepts. He has figured out things not yet taught, like multiplication..seriously?? Yep. He comes up with math facts in the car, "Mommy, does 2 x 8 equal 16......and does 10 x 10 equal 100?" WHAT?? But, his math mind is constantly at work...even though we are no where near learning multiplication yet. And I am in no hurry.

Scripture memory is always made fun when it is mixed with some sort of physical activity...and the minute the guide has us doing jumping jacks or playing FREEZE, my little guy can recite the verse. Pretty amazing, especially when the verses are long. "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.Come and share your master's happiness." Matt 25:21 (NIV)

Wednesday we took the day off and Jacob had a friend over. It was so fun to watch the two boys play super heroes when neither of them have seen any of the movies. One ran around as Spiderman and the other ran around as Superman. At least they were not scaling the walls. :)

World Geography (for 10th grade)
Although we love HOD and are enjoying this guide, we are not completing everything as written this year. Joshua attends public school part-time, where he is studying to be an airplane technician. He loves it and (proud mama moment) is currently at the top of his class. Somehow, I feel like his success in college level classes gives validity to his homeschool experience and to the curriculum choices we have made - Yea! HOD!! Even so, this has been a tough year for Mama - letting go and realizing that he is quickly growing in to a man!

Anyway, we are doing the geography section of the guide, the world religions, writing, grammar and Bible study. We are plugging along and enjoying each activity. LOVE,LOVE,love the Essentials of Writing program. I do not know if it is because of the simplicity, the dvd or the complete package, but my goodness...my son can FINALLY write without any struggle...and his papers are good! (Insert Mama happy dance here) The Mapping the World Through Art has been excellent. My son's accuracy is amazing to me as I grade his work. Very encouraging! We are just finishing Unit 15.

The combination of 3 college credit hours and Heart of Dakota is ending up a perfect balance. We have added Saxon Algebra II for math and Apologia Chemistry for science. I am not sure these are entirely necessary as he is taking Physics and other higher level sciences at school...but he tends to be an overachiever. :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them."
-Psalm 139:16

These words have been repeating themselves in my head these past few days. A little-known missionary in a small Cameroonian town joined the Savior's side in his eternal home last week. Only, he wasn't unknown. He was well-known by the believers in Cameroon, well-loved by his family and friends, by the small non-denominational church he was part of before he answered the call of God to travel to another country and culture and he is remembered fondly by the many who knew him. I thought about him while I was shoveling snow. I thought about how he moved his wife and son to Cameroon - was it a few short years ago? How he spent his life serving and loving Jesus...how he did not know that early that Wednesday morning he would take his last breath this side of Heaven. I think about him most of my day...as I pray for his wife and sons. You see, his life is a reminder to me, to you, to each of us. Really, none of us know. We just can not say for sure that we will wake up tomorrow to hug our kids, to speak truth in to one more life, to say we are sorry for that harsh tone or judgmental spirit.

No, we just have not been given the knowledge of when our time on earth will end...but God knows. He has known since before He created me. He determined the number of my days before I ever took a breath. The number of my days? I have no choice about that...I don't get to choose how long I live, how many blinks I take. Each and every day I breath, every morning I awake, this is a gift...a gift from God. That little-known missionary? He could have chosen to stay here in the states, to remain in the comfort of what he knew. He still would have died...who knows, maybe shoveling snow on a blustery winter day like today in the northwest. But he did not. No, he chose to live only and always for Jesus, going where He called...life to its fullest is found only in the Christ.

There is something really beautiful about this gift, this life...found in the freedom we are given to choose how we will spend it. How will I occupy my days? How will I spend the next minute, hour, day? This man, he set his heart on God and he spent his time serving the Savior. These last couple of years when his single purpose has been service to his Savior are the continuation of his living out his close walk with the Lord.

For me? Just like him, the days I have are already numbered. How I choose to live them is my choice. I can choose to fill my minutes, hours, days in pursuit of selfish ambitions, the latest fashion, the newest trend, the best technology, the next best unsatisfying thing. Or, I can choose to fill my days with Jesus, just only, always Jesus. I can prioritize His Word, reading it, praying, getting to know this living, breathing Word, letting the Word live in me, transform me, reach out to those around me. Dedicate those minutes, hours, days to getting to know my Savior better, serving Him selflessly, or I can spend them on myself. Either way, those days are going to come to an end...either way, I am one day going to be done counting the years...and I am going to have to give an account of those days to the One who ordained them before I was ever born.

So, how am I going to live? How am I going to spend those minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years? What do I want people to remember at the end of a hard, long road? Do I want them to say, "I saw Jesus" or "She always got what she wanted." Because really, my life is going to be marked by something or it can be marked by Someone. My prayer is that it will be marked by Jesus. He is what people remember...not me. That like this missionary whom we remember as a presence that could fill a room, with a laugh that could draw a crowd and with a love for Jesus that shined to all, an obedience to his God, even when he was called to a far away place called Cameroon, I could know, follow, obey Jesus.

At the end of my days - whenever that comes, may it be said of me that people saw always, only Jesus.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Favorite Superhero

Sometimes, God He speaks to my heart through the words of the littlest among us. Today was one of those days. Me, curled in fetal position on the sofa, head throbbing so badly that I couldn't function, couldn't enjoy the sun shining blindingly through the kitchen window, couldn't get up without the pain multiplying and sending me to the floor, no words of kindness on my lips. Boy-man serving us all, fixing breakfast, fixing lunch, cleaning up the mess, setting up crafts for the littlest one - beautiful really, to see him love, to see him serve, and I am so thankful for this grace, the blessing of my oldest.

But it was this littlest one, the wee one, who made me weep. It was the wee one who spoke the light of God's Word into the darkness of my pain. Standing in front of me, after another time of me asking for forgiveness for a less than grace-filled response to his question...less than gentle, down right harsh. His face is all lit up, looking at me and in his small voice, he says, "Mama, do ya' know who my favorite superhero is?"

And so I ponder a minute, wondering, who is he going to say this time? Will it be Superman, Batman, Spiderman or the hero of his own making...Super Jacob? "No, sweetie, I don't know. Who?"

He smiles brightly and then offers, "God. Do ya' know why Mama?"

"No, precious. Why?"

"'Cause Mama, God IS REAL," he fiercely stresses those words, uncontainable joy lighting his face, "and ya' know what else Mama? He is my favorite because when He comes back, there won't be any more sickness..and I love that. And there won't be any more meanness...and I love that. And there won't be any more tears...and I REALLY REALLY LOVE that!"

Tears, they poured down my face at this wee one's faith...and for this gentle reminder from my Shepherd that He is not going to leave me here in this agony forever. And just that reminder of what is ours, spoken triumphantly by the wee one, strengthened me for the day. The head, it continues to pound, but I just want to share this joy with you. One day, Jesus is coming back. He is coming for His own. And for those of us who belong to Him? Our day of suffering will be over...He will wipe every tear from our eyes. He will wipe away all sickness, all death. That day is the one we wait for...we who hope in Him, knowing we will see Him face to face, be with Him and He will right all the wrongs. Today, whatever your struggle, whether it is sickness or loss, heartache or financial trouble, may you find Him and His Word to be water for your soul. May His Word renew you, strengthen you.

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.'" -Revelation 21:3-4

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Our Little School At Home: MTMM & LHFHG

So, this week was one of the worst homeschooling weeks I have had in the past fourteen years...at least that I can remember. The oldest deliberately chose not to do writing, regardless of the consequences. He loves the writing program, but extremely dislikes the writing process (did you catch the difference?). So, Dad happened to be off work with an injury (prayers appreciated). He heard the heated discussion and decided that the best route of attack was to enroll the boys in online school. And for me? I breathed a sigh of relief...because honestly, with the migraines pounding, the loss of memory and the struggling to accomplish the simple stuff, homeschooling, whether or not I love it, is proving to be a little strenuous for me. But then the application arrived in the mail, we sat down and read all the information. The husband, with a lot more input from me than I planned on giving, decided that it was not really going to help us accomplish the intention of our hearts: raising sons who love and honor the Lord. And again, I breath a sigh of relief, because in my heart, I know that this homeschooling with Heart of Dakota is the best thing for all of us.

So, my oldest got down to business, came up with a plan to play catch up on his writing. We made him come up with it on his own and I recognize that I have to be more involved in this area...mama failure, here.

Missions to Modern Marvels

My oldest son, he loves the reading for MTMM. He has been enjoying Something Greater Than Gold, the story of Eric Liddell (an extension book). Just a little funny: before he started the book, I asked him what he thought the book was about. He had not seen it yet, and he did not know whom it was about. His answer was, "Oh, probably about some gold rush failure." When I handed him the book a couple weeks ago, he chuckled. As he finished the story, he tells me, "Eric never ran on a Sunday. That is a really neat thing." For the oldest, he really enjoys studying the cultures of the times, so the living books are great. He still struggles with Algebra, but is progressing so well. He thinks that he is awful at it, but he got a 95% on his test. So I have to wonder, what is not going well? The answer is pretty simple...it takes him a long time to complete the lesson. I usually sit by him and "help." But, what I have been finding is that he is lacking confidence more than he is lacking ability to complete the assignment. Writing is the same. His history papers are so well-written, but he lacks confidence in writing. I am not sure how to build this, except through experience and encouragement. So, I try to point out all the things I really enjoy about the paper every week to help him. This week, he also got to take a day off and help his dad at work making deliveries.

Little Hearts for His Glory

The littlest guy is having so much fun learning. This week he was so excited because he completed his reading lessons without any struggle. HOORAY! We are continuing to use The Reading Lesson and enjoying it - just finished lesson nine. We studied the Pilgrims and Jonathan Edwards. I was amazed at how easily he answered the questions at the end of the readings and how quickly he is able to give a short narration of what was read. Amazing! We finished our Burgess book early, because it is something that I can do when I can do nothing else because of the aching in my head. We so enjoy getting to know the characters. Saying good-bye to Chatterer the Red Squirrel this week was sad and we are now impatiently waiting to meet our next character! For science, we made and sailed a boat on the salt sea in our sink. Of course, after we were done, the little guy had to keep playing in the water (that is why it was the last thing we did). It was a memory verse review week, and I am happy to report that he remembered ALL of his memory verses, along with their addresses. We played hot potato every day while he recited his verses. Lots of giggles were happening here. Math is always a hit and it amazes me how quickly he learns the concepts. We transitioned from number bonds to addition this week and he did great. I can't say enough good things about Singapore math. I like it far better than the programs I have used with my oldest. And my youngest? He begs to do more math everyday. And then, when we are finished, he writes out addition problems for me to do, trying hard to stump me. I confess, he wrote a number so long that I had to find out how to say it on line. He thought that was pretty funny. I always want to write, "One of my little guy's favorite things is...", but today I realized that he loves just about everything. His handwriting (we are using A Reason for Handwriting) is progressing quite nicely...and again, he begs to do extra pages. Finding the Answers is fun, gives great practice cutting and gluing, but he did struggle a little with rhyming this week.

As a parent, I appreciate that the lessons are gentle, focused, fun and engage not just his mind, but his heart. And for this mama struggling with migraines? I am so thankful that we are usually able to complete school even on a bad day.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"But God remembered..."

And so, I've committed to this study through the Bible in three years plan - what was I thinking? I won't lie, it isn't going well.... I could blame it on the headache or the lack of sleep, holes in my memory or kids disrupting...but what it really is...well...it's just that I am not studying this Word to know the words on the page, but to know the Author, the Living Word..and when He speaks, I tend to linger long on the passage, listening to His voice. Conversing with Him. So, that old familiar story of creation is exciting, the story of Noah's ark is taking my breath away, because the Author, He meets me there, not in ink on page, but His Spirit on the tablet of my heart. And lately, I have been stuck..stuck on these four words, simple words, really.

"But God remembered Noah"

Right there, black words on white page. And I read them, words that I have read so many times before, but this time, I pause and then read them again...perhaps seven times I mouth the words right outloud. Genesis 8:1. Oh, yes, there is more to the verse...but I never make it that far. Because I've read about the storm, the waters that flood and the man and his family whom God chooses to preserve through the storm. He is an extraordinary man, this Noah. He is regarded by God as righteous...and when you come right down to it, God's judgment is the only one that matters. But, this story, as so many stories...it is not really about Noah at all, but about the God who saves, delivers, anchors. This is who I really want to know...and so I mouth those words again.

"But God remembered Noah..." Genesis 8:1a. Four words packed full for me. The water and waves, they may rock the Ark I am in, but they can not strip me of the hope of those three little words: "...God remembered Noah..." Noah was not forgotten. Did he ever feel like he was forgotten in an ark tossed by the waves and full to the brim of life - you know the kind of life I'm talking about - smelly, noisy life? I read and reread those words. The ark, a year on the water, all those living breathing animals - even a large ark would seem like close quarters for a family of eight and two of every unclean animal, seven of every clean. Let's not kid ourselves. It was stinky business. But God remembered Noah. Did Noah ever wonder when it would end, how long the flood outside would rage on? Did he ever question God? I don't know, but for some reason, I doubt it. Just considering that he did all as the Lord commanded him makes me think his faith was unshakeable. He knew his God.

So why are these four little words being played like a drum over and over in my head? What about me? I know what it feels like to be in the storm, rain falling, water rising, and the boat, it may rock, but it will never be overturned because it is held upright by the anchor of His grace. The torrents of pain swell in my head, beating like a drummer, my mind cries again for relief. But God, He gives me this, "But God remembered..." He who penned my life, the Author of all life, He remembers! His grace carries through this storm and through this trial. Just as He remembered Noah and those critters on the ark, He remembers me. He will not forget.

And then, oh, the Spirit of the Living God, He whispers this verse to me, and my heart, it leaps with joy. Isaiah 49:15-16a "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! I have engraved you on the palms of my hands." (emphasis mine) Sweet words, aren't they? This, He whispers to a mama who did indeed forget her children...but even so, HE WILL NOT FORGET ME! Just when I feel like all is lost and that the One in whom I have placed my trust is no where to be found...just then, when the pain in my breast swells to unbearable and I feel like I have been abandoned, right there, He is with me - He is with you - HE HAS NOT FORGOTTEN. And you and I can know that He has not forgotten, He wears your name, my name, in His nail pierced hands, and just like in Noah's day, God remembers...and He is the Ark that carries us safely through the storm...the Anchor that holds when all else fails...so thankful that God remembers.

Just really, overwhelmed by His grace, His goodness...that He chooses to remember me! In the midst of a headache that has lasted too many weeks, of waking again on the bathroom floor, no idea how I got there, the tiny room spinning mercilessly around me...HE HAS NOT FORGOTTEN. He has engraved me on the palm of His hands.

And for you today? For you, His message is the same. He who remembered Noah remembers you. He sees your storm and He will carry you through. Your name is engraved on His hands and His love for you is beyond measure.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Swirling Grace

And so, there is all this beautiful grace swirling around me, and Christ alive in me. My head still aches, but what is a headache when you are holding on to the living Word - or rather, He is holding on to you? What are stacking medical bills, no insurance and short paychecks when your Heavenly Father owns it all and all you have to do is rest in Him? His grace proves sufficient in even this...and I bow head and give thanks.

The other day, I met a woman who bitterly shares her story - she is about to be evicted from her home. Her paychecks are short from unpaid holidays and weather days. And me? I totally understand because our life is much the same - yet, so completely different. For me, the bills are a matter of resting, leaning, clinging to the Living God. I breath deep of His grace and ask for faith to believe that He is enough, that I can give to this one without reserve now because I truly can not out give His abundant grace. But for her who does not know the Giver of all good things? For her it is a matter of fear and bitterness. And so I hear the whisper in my heart, "Give generously now, to this woman and her children...tell her that Jesus cares, not just with your words, but by sharing My gifts with her." And so, I open up the wallet and do what He requests. I whisper to her, "This is all that I have, but I will pray for you." She smiles cynical.

My heart, it aches for this woman, because she does not know that she has Someone to turn to, One who will hold her steadfastly, whether the bills get paid or not, who has provided for a far greater need than an earthly home...and if He could provide through Jesus, a way to have a place to belong forever, a way to be made clean and acceptable before a holy God, than surely, He can care for her every need here...she does not have to weather this storm or any storm alone, but Jesus longs to be an anchor for her soul. And so, I share His gifts, His grace with her. HIS GRACE ENABLES me to do this without fear for myself...because by HIS GRACE and HIS CALLING, I know who my Provider is. And so, for this grace, every grace, I bow head and give thanks...because I have so much more than I could ever ask or imagine. And, I bow head for this woman, asking God to break through her bitterness, her cynicism and reach her aching heart, to meet her need and to be her Provision.

And for us today, in the midst of medical bills and migraines, holes in the memory and short pay checks? Just as always, He promises to be enough...and the bills, they may pile, but never higher than His provision...never higher than His grace. And, we don't have a need that He won't meet...and His provision will always and forever be sufficient for us.

As I typed these words, just ready to hit publish, the phone, it rang. A sweet sister, she wanted to bring dinner because she knows my head hurts...and I smile. His grace is always and forever enough. Again, I bow head and give thanks to God for this provision, HIS GRACE, swirling around me, He is the Light on the darkest of days.

And before I post this, I hesitate, not wanting any to think this is a plea for money. I want it to be heard as it is meant, praise and thanksgiving for His amazing grace. So I hit save instead of publish...and save it for two, maybe three days. And what does God do? A man, he corners the husband at church and asks for the medical bills. When the husband comes home, he shares this with me and our thanksgiving mingled with grateful tears rises to the Throne of Grace, to this One who knows our every need and provides, even before we ask. As always, we are overwhelmed by His amazing grace...so much more than we deserve!

And as I begin a new day? My mind it wonders and my heart it anticipates what opportunities the Heavenly Father will give me to be His grace to someone today. So, I begin it in prayer, for eyes to see and ears to hear His voice...and a heart that does not live afraid to give lavishly as He has done for me through Christ Jesus...because really, in Him, I have all that I need.

Today, may you find His grace sufficient and His love enough. Whatever storm the wind blows into your life, may He enable you to remember that in Him, you are anchored. Winds can not blow and waves can not toss beyond the realm of His amazing grace.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Our Little School at Home

All week, the list of school closings seemed to include every school district within northern Ohio and southern Michigan, but not here. No. Our Little School at Home was open and in progress. Joshua was not too happy about that...after two weeks of the bare minimum of school due to my migraine, followed by two full weeks off for the celebration of the Savior's birth, no one really wants to start back except maybe the littlest among us. That kid loves school...except reading.

Little Hearts for His Glory

This week, we discussed Martin Luther and how he prayed and studied God's Word faithfully, trying to understand how man could be right with God. And, these words "The just shall live by faith" that rocked his world, the entire world, with one humble man's heart seeking God. He shared his memory verse on facebook to his Daddy: Acts 16:31: "They said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.'" Hearing his little voice quoting Scripture delights this mama's heart. One day, he got to make a box for art to help him remember that "The just shall live by faith..." and that getting to heaven is not something we can ever earn. He was stunned when he realized people believe that there is any other way to heaven than Jesus. Love the way that this sweet little curriculum speaks to my son's heart.

His handwriting is really progressing, and I am so pleased. He actually begs to complete extra pages of A Reason for Handwriting. I am so thankful! We are using The Reading Lesson for reading, and I enjoy how simple it makes reading. Although, I have found that he needs more practice on concepts than are offered, so I am trying to make cards of new word groups as he learns them. That way, we can practice word groups and rules apart from the book. Reading is his least favorite subject!

For my oldest, I used Math U See for years, but with this littlest one, I am using all of Heart of Dakota's recommendations. He LOVES math (Singapore Kindergarten B). He begs to do more daily. This is so refreshing!

Missions to Modern Marvels

The oldest kiddo is doing great. This week he studied George Washington Carver, a man of faith for whom we both have great admiration and respect. He studied World War I and the Roaring Twenties. He wrote his paper on the fashion trends (giggle giggle), complaining the whole time to his mama that it was really a difficult topic to write about. His Bible study on Romans, James and Galatians is going well and he is memorizing much of Romans and James for Bible Quizzing (only God could orchestrate that HOD Bible study is the same as the text chosen for Bible quizzing). Math (we are using Saxon) is SLOWLY progressing. I am more concerned that he has a good grasp on the concept than I am about keeping up with the lessons. We skipped grammar and dictation this week, mainly because I am struggling to accomplish much and trying to catch up with the house work that has suffered. Really, though, his grammar skills have been so strengthened since we switched to Rod & Staff, that I am committed to use this curriculum from the beginning with the little guy! For science, we are not using the recommended HOD resources, although they look really good. Instead, he is completing Apologia Exploring Creation Through Biology. My guy is really enjoying this and is slightly hesitant at dissection, but we are working through it. Overall, a good week!

Ever thankful for the Lord and His provision of a curriculum that draws me and my kids closer to the Him. He is so good and I am so blessed!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Health Update

I just wanted to post an update to my health, for those of you who wonder how I am doing and have been praying. Today, the headache, it still racks my brain. It is my daily goal - one which I fail more than succeed at - to focus on the graces and gifts that I have been blessed with, rather than complaining about the pain. As for my memory, it is still not completely restored - but I think most of it is back. That is kind of said with a question mark, because really, it is hard to know what you don't know.

There are things that I am very aware that I don't remember like getting married (but I most definitely am - everyone in my family assures me). And so what do you do with that? How do you make it okay to sleep in bed with a man that you speak of as your husband, but that your mind just doesn't remember becoming your husband? We did the only thing we could: Friday, January 10, Todd and I chose to commit anew to our wedding vows before the Lord with our children, a sweet Christian couple, and the former pastor of our church and his wife in attendance. We were so blessed! The pastor's wife prepared a beautiful reception of cake, tea and punch. It was a precious time of renewal and fellowship. Several people have asked me if I have looked at our wedding pictures to help trigger my memory, and I said, "Well, no, I never thought of that." But let me ask you, if I don't remember getting married, how likely is it that I remember that I have a wedding album? That is right. Of course, it never occurred to me to get out the wedding album, because, honestly, I did not know that one exists.

And then, there are other things that I don't remember, like a person that I met at church. I see her face, I know that I should know her, I chat with her briefly, but her name...well, I am not sure - did I ever know it or have I just lost that memory? Remembering that we have a new pastor at church - although I guess he has actually been the pastor for a couple of years, Todd tells me this and it seems familiar, right - and the memory comes back. Someone asks a question and it seems buried, like I know the answer, somewhere in my head, but it is going to take some digging to uncover the memory. And then, I remember - all foggy at first, but then more clearly.

The medical tests have come back negative for a stroke, for any blood clots or bleeding on the brain. These are all good things. So, the doctor thinks this is just a migraine, perhaps antagonized by sinus issues...as if there is anything "just" about a headache that has hung on for over three weeks and has robbed of memory. But, this is good news, and so we bow our heads in thanksgiving.

Overall, I am doing so much better and am ever grateful and humbled by your prayers. I am functioning normally (mostly) and completing the tasks the Lord has set out for me to do each day.

All any of us have is this present moment, and so I pray God will enable me to live fully in it, acknowledging His many gifts to me and constantly praying for eyes to see that He is good. His love endures, even when my memory fails, even when the head aches and the stomach turns, through every circumstance. He is an ever present help in times of trial, He is a strong tower and He invites us through Christ to run in to Him. And I don't know about you, but by His grace, I am running, running right in to His open arms.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

His Purposes

The husband, he opens the Word and reads to us this cold, snowy morning. The gathering at a building is cancelled, but the gathering into His Word, into His heart, under His wing...that is not something weather can cancel. And so he reads. He reads through the Jesse tree Scriptures, picking up right where we left off when my headache hit and my memory failed. Oh, I know that it is after Christmas, but this anticipating His coming...it does not end with the celebration of His birth. It begins with that day, unfurling hope in our hearts...as we await His coming again.

And so, this husband of mine pauses for us to share what the Lord speaks to our hearts. Me, I choke at the words. Every Scripture is a red cord whispering hope to me...the Messiah is coming. But this one Scripture, it corrects - it challenges me. He speaks after reading the story so close to my heart, the story of a woman who is barren...womb closed. Her husband a priest named Zechariah. He talks of what it meant for a woman in that culture to be barren. Heartache and sorrow.

Judgment, I am sure it tried to find and label their sin. That hope that every woman in Israel longed for...a blessed son, to have her part in the inheritance of Israel. Surely God had withheld a child from these two because of something that they lacked, something that they had done, some disobedience, some secret sin. Surely their suffering of the closed womb was evidence of what was buried deep in hard hearts. This is man, judging those whose hearts he can not see, judging according to man's wisdom.

But truly, it is God whose judgment matters. And what does He say? How does He describe this aged couple, time of childbearing behind them? He declares them blameless and righteous. He is going to bless...in His time...in His way...and they have not lost hope in Him. Elizabeth and Zechariah, they have walked blamelessly before Him, through circumstances that broke hearts and challenged faith. Righteous. And so, He describes His servants. Him whose judgment is right and true.

The closed womb was for His glory, not for His judgment. Those who judged, judged wrongly. They were not able to see the purposes of the Lord. He brings this child to a faith-filled couple and this child will turn hearts back, preparing the way for The Child. And the Lord uses these two whose hearts have faithfully waited on Him to birth and raise the one who announces the Lord's coming.

My eyes, they brim with tears as I remember the people in my life whom I have wrongly judged. My eyes, they are too oft blind to the high purposes of God, so I foolishly think that a struggle in a friend's life, it must be because of some silent sin, some wrong decision...when really, it just might be that she is righteous and blameless in His sight, clinging in faith, tightly holding to the promises He has whispered in her heart. And me, I have no wisdom to understand her trial. I am blind to her heart and have no vision of sin lurking there, just because of the circumstances she endures. To my sin and to my shame, I have too oft done this unrighteous judging.

And so, I confess and repent. I flee to the Savior and ask for forgiveness and grace. I seek grace and wisdom from Him, His Truth, so when my sister-in-Christ calls with her struggles, she will not find a harsh judge, but instead encounter a grace-filled friend, encouraging her and pointing her to the Savior, speaking His grace and His love to her.