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. :)