Horses and Chickens, Sidewalks and matter where you call home, a Mom's Heart Beats the Same

Monday, April 30, 2012

Connect 4~City Mom

Does that sandwich look good? This is what we had for dinner last night. And tonight too.
We meet with three other families in a group called "Connect 4" where we discuss parenting in a grace-filled, spirit-led manner. And when someone talks about whining at the dinner table, I offer up helpful, awkward suggestions like "oh, when that happens at our house I remind our kids that children should be seen and not heard." (I'm hilarious! Our group just doesn't know it yet) ;)

We share a meal and then have a time of discussion.

Last night we had a "build-your-own Subway Sandwich" night. I think it was a hit.
You need to have a really cool husband who knows how to make bread to pull this off (unless you're a really cool chick who bakes bread~that is not me).

I'm not a huge bread eater anymore, since I've been making healthy lifestyle changes, but look at that!
City Dad made it all by hand. It was far more enticing than the broccoli (for SOME of us)~Mr. G, I'm so proud of you!

You also need men with beards to pull off this evening. HOW did this picture get in my camera Mr. Mud?

Here's our cute crew of kids. It is fun when City Dad gets them all settled and then has them come upstairs and jump at their parents to thank them for learning and growing as parents.
The 2 year olds in the group. They look like they just jumped out of a cute Family Circus cartoon!

It has been life changing to me to approach parenting from the stand point of walking by faith, being spirit led, and leading our children in grace. In the earlier years, I was a little more "harsh" with my children~thinking if I was stern enough, or if my "consequences" were unpleasant enough that I would be leading my children well. Over the years I've learned that if I dole out unpleasant consequences I CAN get my children to do what I want. However, when I look down the road, I don't want "compliance" so much as I want my children's hearts.

A couple of my favorite thoughts from our times of study:
"My children are not my report card" ( Jim Jackson)
"It is not my job to FORCE my children to obey. The command for obedience in Ephesians and Colossians is to the children. I can train them in righteousness, but whether or not they obey is entirely up to them."
"If Jesus treated prostitutes and drunkards and the vilest of sinners with a tender hearted compassion, why do we as parents think we need to treat precious, small children as if they were Pharisees with hardened hearts?" (I think that's some kind of Clay Clarkson very poorly paraphrased thought.)

You kind of get the idea. I love the ideas from the book "Discipline that Connects with your Child's Heart" book. It is basically "walking by faith" as a parent. When an issue or concern arises, my job is to   step back, ask Jesus for help, make sure my child knows he/she is loved (even in the midst of sin and bad choices), try to look for the gift that has gone awry, and correct the sin/misbehavior in a way that helps them know they are capable of doing the right thing.

It makes so much sense to me to ask God for help in situations with my kids. There are so many parenting resources out there that have "blanket" answers and set us up as parents as if we always know what is right~and if we don't, the author of the book we're reading does. I don't always know. I DO need to rely on God! I do need to check my own heart/spirit as I interact with my kids and not always assume that I am "right" in all of my demands or interactions. I do need to realize that sometimes I need to give up what I perceive as my "rights" in my a quiet atmosphere, a peaceful afternoon, a sleep filled night. Parenting is sacrifice. Parenting requires faith. Parenting requires grace and most of all, love.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Goldie's Last Day~City Mom

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

If you were to ask my husband and children about me lately...they'd tell you I've been slightly obsessed with certain CD's. Recently, the group that has frequented our CD players the most is PFR. I was a HUGE fan in my college days and have found that those old CD's are still pretty much the bomb.

The other day we popped in "Goldie's Last Day" during a van trip across town. The kids actually begged for it, so either my good taste is rubbing off or they're really cool kids. If you haven't heard the song, then you need to get yourself over to youtube and take a listen: Goldie's Last Day

I "facebooked" Joel Hanson my kid's comments about the song. (**he "liked" my comment. sigh. facebook can  be so fun sometimes) 
JuBe was full of questions as she hummed along: "Did he REALLY have a dog named Goldie? Was it a boy or girl? How did Goldie die? Is this song funny or not?"

Peebs was the skeptic: "Why would you want to SING about that?" and "Ewww. The dog LICKED him?"

Odes...the philosopher: Goldie's dead mom. Dead. Will I have a last day some day? Will all of us have a last day? I guess I want to have a last day. Then I'll get to see where I'm going to go. You know...heaven or hell.

My response was internal: I wonder if the PFR guys ever anticipated as they recorded this song, that a four year old boy was going to get schooled in the gospel as a result.

The verses from Deuteronomy flashed up in my brain after I heard Odes ask his simple child-like questions and as he pondered life, death, and all that God has for us. 

There are SO many instances like this as we go through our days...when God gives us these little "divine appointments" with our children. Opportunities where we have a choice! We can chuckle and write them down in a baby book. We can feel frustrated and try to push the questions away so we can get back to our own thoughts. Or we can do the "Sh'ma...Deuteronomy 6:4-9. One of my favorite aspects of homeschooling is that I get to be there when these little thoughts crop up all day long. And as we are sitting at home, walking (or in this case driving) down the road, at bed time, in the morning, all day long I get to be there to lovingly take these sweet buds of thought or deep questions of the universe and I can help to shape their hearts and minds and remind them that "The Lord our God, the Lord is one."

After Odes said the above, I turned off the music and began to ask him questions. Questions that reveal the heart. We talked about the reality of an after life. We talked about sin and the amazing grace that Jesus bestowed on us when he bore our sin and stood in our place to take on God's wrath against our depravity. And yes! I use big "theological" words like that with a 4 year old. Sometimes he gets it, sometimes he doesn't! 

You know what he said though? "Well, I sure want Jesus to pay for my sins! 
I don't want to pay for them myself!" 

He shared his assurance of where he would go on the day when it came from him to stand face-to-face with Jesus. We've had variations on this conversation a hundred times. He wants to follow Jesus. Sometimes he gets confused and thinks HE needs to do something to be in right standing with God. Sometimes, something "clicks" and he realizes that it's all based on Jesus. 

What is the last "divine appointment" you've had with one of your kiddos? How are you impressing God's commandments on your children's hearts?

One of my favorite ways to "schedule" this into our day is at breakfast. I will try and share something that God is teaching me either from His word or through the encouragement of another person. David is going through the scriptures with the kids each night as they follow the book: Long Story Short. (This is a really great devotional for kids of all ages. I find myself being challenged at times. And there are many sweet times when David and I are able to share applicable stories of God's faithfulness in our lives in the past and present as we go through the scriptures with our children.)
We still go through Our 24 Family Ways (I do this with the kids in the mornings and we all do the "memory" of each way and verse, together as a family). I met with each kid this week one-on-one, to pick out verses that we're going to focus on in how they want to grow in Christ over the next year. I really love the spontaneous moments with my kids that catch me by surprise the best though. Go ahead and share some of yours below!!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

How Many Homeschoolers Does it Take to Make Lunch?~City Mom

Today we tried to do our own version of a Homeschool Cooking Show to share with you. I'm going to say straight up, that this didn't go as planned. There were tears. There was fighting. There was a "stern-talking-to" at one point. A lesson on fractions was interrupted when a character lesson raised in importance. It took us 45 minutes to make something I could have made in five. We made a mess. A fairly large one. We tried to video tape our natural reaction to the lunch coming out of the oven, but the sun in the background didn't cooperate so we had to do a lame fabricated one...

But here is our Pannekoeken lunch lesson:

Pannekoeken recipe:
Preheat: 9x13 pan dotted with butter

5 or 6 eggs
1 1/2 C Milk
1 1/2 C Flour
1 heaping T. Sugar
1 T. Melted butter/with a little salt

Mix above ingredients together

Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes

Serve with: syrup, fruit, whip cream, brown sugar, or powdered sugar.

**Bring to the table piping hot, banging on an old tin pie plate shouting "Pannekoeken, Pannekoeken"

How many homeschoolers does it take to make lunch in your house? What are some fun things you do at meal times? Do you include kids in your cooking? Do you have a favorite or funny recipe?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Weakness, God's Strength~City Mom

Before I had children, I knew I wanted to be at home with them. I wanted to be like my mom. She was always there. She knew everything about me. She helped me with projects, was always there before and after school. She watched Sesame Street with me, and braided my hair, and colored with me, and read me every good classic book. She made awesome meals and laughed and rode bikes and let me listen to records. Mom let me have friends over, and buy scholastic books, and was OK with me selling wrapping paper and Christmas cards to the neighbors. She encouraged my giftings and never shoved me away. She would bring a blanket into the shade under the trees up at the lake and read to me and then tell me her own stories, like the one about the cows across the road who wore jewelry. We shopped and went to the restaurant with the goat on the roof in Door County. She said weird German phrases and spit on us when we got hurt. She let us ruin her beautiful Easter Eggs with our stupid crayon sayings, and always made Christmas and birthdays magical with the perfect cakes and thoughtful presents. She let us watch Mork & Mindy and have an atari and let us be the "who" we were supposed to be. She took me on a weekend trip to talk to me about all of the changes that go on in a pre-adolescent girl, giving me a beautiful diamond cross at the end to signify purity and the price that Christ paid to win mine for me. Doesn't she sound too good to be true? She's amazing. was my turn. Like many new moms, I went into parenting with a head full of ideals and a heart full of fear. Here was this tiny life set before me, and I wanted to do all of it right. Sigh. I did really well with that too...for the first 20 months. Then, another baby came. I was going to do an ever BETTER job with Peebs. I'd live up to my ideals...but without fear! I had confidence now!
...We got home from the hospital and my mom and dad met us at home to drop off JuBe and I sobbed, begging them to stay. I couldn't handle having two babies at one time!!! During the next year, most of my ideals were stretched and challenged in ways I couldn't believe! It was HARD to breastfeed this big boy sometimes 12 times a day. It was HARD to divide time between two babies. My husband wanted a clean house and orderly toys (or so I thought). JuBe was starting to challenge me! Peebs was far more needy of a baby. I was tired. Finances were tough. I felt great pride and joy in my sweet little gifts, but I was in over my head.

I began to think that maybe I needed to do something else. But what? I hated to part from the kids for more than 30 minutes and I had to do that three times a week to work out. So, I started a MOPS group! That sounds good, right? I could get encouragement and it would be a project to do with the kids in mind! In the midst of that "good" thing, I also became pregnant and started a Home Based Business. I didn't realize it then, but I was grasping for something outside of my Calling. Because frankly, my calling was just waaaay too hard. Being a passionate person, I gave myself to planning my new mommy group and making some "fun" money for my family. I felt little tugs of guilt as to where my heart was heading...but I justified it away, thinking about the ministry opportunities that were in front of me. I lost my baby and became pregnant again fairly quickly.

Odes join us. We went through a time of sweet, sweet joy. Odes was the sweetest, easiest baby.

My business was making us a nice little income alongside my husband's. The Bigs had each other and I got to spend a lot of time cuddling my third little baby. We sold our home, moved in with my parents, built a new home, and SURPRISE...another baby was on the way! With all of the change in our lives, transition after baby #4, our sweet JoJo wasn't quite as easy. That's another story, for another time. But, I will say that everything seemed to crash around me. The Mom ministry was long-gone...but I was still grasping all around my Calling and trying to find fulfillment in additional ways.

However, JoJo gave me a great, great gift. Or, I should say, Jesus gave me a great gift with the addition of her to our family. I was busted. I was running full speed ahead in everything. I was putting finishing touches on our new home, running my business with all of my energy, homeschooling, and breastfeeding a new (and 4th I might add) baby on demand.
I crashed. Fell apart. Physically, emotionally, mentally, I was totally depleted.

And then...Jesus. I began to learn that I couldn't be *my* mom (what a bummer, cuz she's awesome!),  I couldn't be all things to all people. I couldn't even be the mom that *I* am called to my own strength! Slowly, I began to relinquish  the control, the fear, the craziness to Jesus. And something beautiful has come as a result. My home is messier, my kids are louder, we make more mistakes. Sometimes I forget things I put on the calendar. I don't always look "perfectly put together" when I go out. Sometimes my kids are really, really, really, naughty in public. Sometimes, I have to say "no" to the good things, in order to say "yes" to Jesus and His Calling on my life as a mom.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

As I continue to relinquish myself to HIS plan, I am able to show more weakness. And HE is shining more and more in my home. That is my goal in this home! For Him to shine. More of Him, less of me.

Stay tuned...because the next part in all of this is a difficult lesson I've been learning in "sacrifice." And I'll be excited to share it, if I get the right inspiration and the words are able to come. This mom-path is so crazy. I daresay, my sweet mom came to these conclusions in her own way when she walked the early days of mommy-hood. But there are some things can't be taught~so I've had to walk through this path of refinement and sanctification in my life. My wise-mom never says much as I walk through this journey. I know she stands back and prays as she sweetly encourages me day-in and day-out. Maybe, I *will* become more like her, because we're both becoming more like Jesus. And ultimately, He'll be the shining light and legacy that both of us will leave as this next generation rises up.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Curriculum picks ~ City Mom

To quote one of my BFF's Tammie: "Next year is going to be the year when everything is going to come together in our homeschool and all will be right."

Is that what is going on with me? For crying out loud~it's April! I haven't gone to a homeschool convention, I haven't finished this year's studies with the kids, but I have a PLAN for next year. And it is AWESOME. I can't wait to implement it! Woo hoo!!!

This is actually the eve before my very first homeschooling convention, so before I share my picks, I want to share a link up to some cautions from one of my favorite homeschool mom/grandma's out there in the blogosphere. Check it out! the bestest ever

JuBe will be in 3rd grade. I can't BELIEVE it! I remember when she was 3 or 4 and didn't want to be homeschooled. I told her we'd pray about it and she agreed. One day I went to Target to buy some tag board and markers and she said, "does this mean God wants us to homeschool?" I told her "yes." She sighed and said, "alright then, if that's what He wants." I'm happy to say that she wouldn't have it any other way now!

This past year we did "My Father's World" the "adventures" year. A lovely gracious mom I met at a homeschool showing of "Annie" loaned it to us for the year. We have enjoyed our intro to the states and early U.S./colonial history. That said, we won't be diving into the MFW cycle this next Fall like I had previously planned. It's still an option for the future, but right now there are a few reasons we'll be passing.
1. It is $350+ for basically history and Bible. I love the thematic nature of the beast...but that's a lot of cash flow for something I could do for almost nothing, if I utilize the library, pinterest, and my own creativity.
2. It gives a nice structure, but I'm not sure I *want* that kind of structure. I kind of felt tied to going back to the MFW "schedule" and then trying to implement my own stuff and back and forth and back and forth until I just went with theirs. I don't really enjoy that, so for now, we are moving on.

So...drum roll is my Rough-Draft of the 2012-2013 school year:
This first section will outline what we will all do together.

Science: A Child's Geography by Ann Voskamp (a holy experience mom). This looks to me more like an "earth science" book than Geography. But, my goal for this year is to give the kids a picture of the Great World that is beyond our door step and country. I think it will fit in nicely to what I am hoping to introduce to them. We will do this book 1x a week. Looks like there are some awesome activities in it. We'll also be doing some experiments that I found on pinterest.

Geography: I was a little extravagant this year and decided to purchase Little Passports. I was introduced to this cute little "tour of the world" a couple of years ago from Jolanthe over at homeschool creations. I've wanted to do it ever since and decided this has to be the year. JuBe will still think it's fun. I didn't want to miss that window. They love getting mail, so that aspect is very exciting. I realize it won't be a complete geography study however, so I've been compiling some different lapbooks on my pinterest page. Then, I came across: Expedition Earth by Erica over at Confessions of a Homeschooler. For $15 she's already done all of the work and it looks like FUN. So, we'll probably be adding that choice to our "daily" routine.

Bible: I've had this wonderful book: Children's Story Bible by Catherine Vos for several years now, since Country Mom told me it was a must-have. We read it 3 years ago when my Bigs were tiny and even though there are virtually no pictures and the stories are long, they used to beg me to read it to them. During that time, Peebs had a light-bulb moment and completely embraced the gospel. I have seen fruit of repentance and belief in his life ever since. I really have a fondness for this book. So, I've decided that we are going to re-visit the New Testament portion of it. We're simply going to read it daily and discuss. I may add coloring pages from time-to-time that go with the theme of what we are reading, or a fun activity, but this is simply what we're doing for "Bible" this year. We will be doing a scripture memory routine that we always do (we put scripture verses on cards and also on a cute chalk board by our table) and learn them as a family. Here's the cute chalkboard:  

The writing on it is from the Clarkson's "24 Family Ways." We will be continuing to learn and talk about the 24 family ways & scripture passages which accompany them next Fall.We'll be doing this during Calendar Time however instead of meal time which is what we currently do. (I'll cover our new Calendar Time in another post some day.)

Art: This will be a compilation of "Drawing Lessons" with Barry Stebbing, "How Great Thou Art" and simply areas of interest from books we're reading, holiday themes, and pinterest ideas. Gotta love pinterest. 

Physical Eduation: We'll be doing Swimming Lessons and I have a plan to take them to a HomeSchool swim two times monthly. I have some other ideas planned for teaching them some gross motor skills, but this isn't fully developed yet. 

Read alouds: We do at least two Read Aloud chunks of time a day. Usually right after lunch, and right after afternoon pick up (right before Dad gets home). Often we'll read a chapter or two at bed time as well. We'll start these this summer most likely. We like to sit on our nasty old swing on the front porch and read together as we wind down from a day of playing outside. 

Isn't it horrible ugly? It is comfy though. And a sweet neighbor walked it down to our house, 2 blocks away just to bless us. It's hard to get rid of it. It folds into a bed. We utilize it all the time. The kids can eat and drink on it. It is not "House Beautiful" but it is loved. I am often tempted to go out and purchase cute front porch furniture, but can never really give up this ugly, old piece!

These are the books on our list for the coming year: Indian in the Cupboard, Mouse & the Motorcycle, Mr. Popper's Penguin's (In honor of Nana's favorite childhood book), Betsy~Tacy Go Over the Big Hill, James and the Giant Peach, Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of Nimh, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Honestly, this list excites me more than anything else in my stuffed little planner. City Dad has his own reading list which he reads to the kids. He's looking forward to the "10 girls/boys that Changed the World" series.

Individual kiddos...


language picks are here: All About Spelling (2x weekly), Primary Language Lessons Volume 2 (2 x weekly). My friend Tammie told me about this workbook option. I'm excited about this! We have used the book this year, but it's been slightly unmotivating to do it without a workbook, so next year hopefully this inexpensive little fix will help us stay focused. A Reason For Handwriting, we've loved this and we'll be moving into cursive this year. The little Bible verses at the end of the week are a treasure. She'll be doing this daily. She'll be practicing writing in our Geography and Science units. Also, my 4th grade teacher, Mr. Reinsmoen (who was the best teacher I ever had), would read aloud to us every day and then have us "journal" on our own afterward. She'll be practicing writing skills this way as well.

Math: ugh! I haven't decided on this one for absolute certain but am leaning toward sticking with Christian Light Math. I love that it's a spiral approach and she has her math facts solid (even if she does hate it!). I've considered "MathUSee" and "Teaching Textbooks." I think MUS is ruled out, based on the "mastery" approach and from a conversation with my friend Jean and reading some reviews. I don't like that you just work on one skill all through the level. That would make my kids and I both nuts. I'll talk to the Teaching Textbooks people at the convention tomorrow and will still consider this shift. My one caution is the finances and the idea that she would be doing ALL of her work on the computer. I'd miss being her "math teacher." I know we'll move to this system at some point, but I'm not sure if *I* am ready for that yet.


Language: we'll be doing All About Reading. We've loved Ziggy and are excited to move forward. We have tried different reading approaches and haven't loved anything until we came across AAR. I wanted to include Odes during these lessons but that had Peebs in tears as he wants his "alone" time with me and doesn't want Odes shouting out the answers. So, we'll see how he feels about that in the Fall. Odes is a language pro, so I understand Peebs objections. He'll also be doing A Reason for Handwriting this Fall.

Math: We'll stick with Christian Light. Peebs is a math whiz and will zoom right through his lessons. He is excited!

The Littles (Odes and JoJo)...

We'll be doing All About Reading with Ziggy again next year. They LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Probably 2 times a week. We'll also be doing Before Five in a Row. I have most of the books and did it with the older two. Precious! I plan on doing this 1 to 2 times a week. I just hope I don't skimp out on this. These are sweet days with those little two, and I don't want to forget that and get bogged down in life, schooling, housework, my own job, etc. and forget to invest and pour into them on their own level!

Well, that's it! If you made it this far, you are amazing! I'd have to say this post was good for my own processing...and maybe I'm the only one who cares about it, and that's OK! If you did read and have some thoughts...feel free to chime in. I love hearing opinions on this stuff! What are you thinking about for your family's curriculum next Fall???

Saturday, April 7, 2012

He Is Risen Indeed!

Right after we put it together.
We used a jelly roll pan, an old candle holder, some rocks form a jar which held a candle.
We purchased the dirt and grass seed.

Here is our (pinterest) "Grace Garden"

Country Mom and I were giggling about how millions of homes across the planet will have some variation of these little empty tombs as their Easter table centerpiece thanks to pinterest.

After we laughed, I thought..."how awesome! little sprouts of worship in homes across the land!" What a beautiful picture to think that these little projects will grace many tables...right next to the ham and twice baked potatoes!

Lord Jesus, you conquered sin & death.

"I'll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross"

Odes asked me tonight as I was tucking him in for sleep "Mommy! Is God dead?"
"Oh no sweet son! Jesus paid the price for our sin on calvary, but he is very much alive. He has won the victory and death has no sting!"

He Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

City Mom's homeschool REALITY

When we decided to start a blog...ANOTHER BLOG about homeschooling, Country Mom and I wanted to present ourselves honestly. We have some good ideas. We can be creative. We have really good and cute kids. We like to share the good, but never want to come off as if we are perfect, or that we in ourselves are something to strive to go after. We'll share our ideas...and the imperfections that accompany them on the way. Here are some realities about City Mom's homeschool life:

 JoJo likes to change up the answers to our "Good Morning" song we do during Calendar Time. The other day instead of saying "I'm fine" she said, "I'm Obama" during her portion of the song. Do other people's kids change it up like this? Or is it just mine?

Then it was Odes' turn to answer. He also decided to answer "I'm President Obama" only with the intent to get others riled up. Are my kids the only ones who fight during calendar time? Confession: I used to get upset about stuff like this. I mean, my kids weren't looking like the perfect bloggers' families I'd seen doing these activities. What was wrong with us?

The kids make the Pledge of Allegiance into a goofy time. Hitting each other with the flag, laughing. JuBe was the only true participant. Is this what homeschool looks like? Is it something I've done? Should I be cracking down on the kids and making sure we are doing this "right"?

During devotions this morning I asked the question "How do we let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts?" Someone answered, "I smelled **George's gas once. I mean, I didn't put my face in his butt, but I smelled it. More than once." That put an end to our time. Really, no one could recover.

As I begin to share ideas, curriculum picks, how we organize, some or our family goals, some pictures, our "pinteresting" existence, I want you to remember this post. I get asked often: "how do you do it all" "your kids are soooo well behaved" "I could just NEVER do what you do" ... remember this post.
My kids are great, great kids. They are not perfect kids. I am NOT supermom/perfect mom. I am however, learning that these little "blurps" in our day are really the "gifts" in our day. I'm learning to laugh and enjoy and realize that we don't need to look like our friend's homes, blogger's homes, or anyone else's home but OUR home. That is a happy place to be. It's the best place to be.

And remember, the next time you see pictures of my kids or hear about our family devotion time...our kids are probably talking about the scent of your kid's gas. Oh boy!

**name changed to protect the identity of the child.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pray For Rain ~ City Mom

I recently took a road trip. I brought along a few friends from my past:
James Taylor, Christy & Nathan Nockels, Whitney Houston, Garth Brooks, Clint Black, Brian Eichenberger (OK, he actually IS an old friend), Joel Hanson and the PFR guys were among the crew. It was a packed little Honda Accord!!!

The past decade has been an interesting one musically. Right around the time I had my first baby, I also had a time of deep pain in regards to my musical journey. The combination of the painful event and the first baby caused me to put all musical ambition on hold. Don't get me wrong...I've had much joy as a mother over the past several years, HOWEVER, I have switched off a crucial element in my life. God has always used music to reach me. The gospel became clear to me through a SONG. I played instruments and sang all through grade school at church. In middle school I began to get a taste of truly "educating myself" in music as I played in the jazz band. I was in dance. I liked theater. In high school, music/theater/choir/band were really the only things I cared about. This led to seeking a degree in music and a career in music after graduation. Every missions trip I've ever been on turned into me somehow being an element of some type of "song-leader" even when I tried to avoid it---it's just been a part of who I am. Almost all of the turning points or significant times in my life, can be led back to a certain song, or band, or show, or gig. Even when I was near death in a foreign country, the way God spoke to my heart was through a song. 

It's really been tragic to turn off this area of my life. It's affected my personhood and spiritual journey.
But, last Summer, my dear friend Handt,

asked me to come sing with his worship team. I cried through the entire rehearsal. Until he looked over and told me I had five days to get it together...and then I laughed. This flood of tears, opened up a flood-gate in my heart. Then I remembered my friend Brian (Ike) had a CD out. He sent it to me and it made me so happy to hear his developed gift for song-writing, and his amazing skills.

This all led to my road trip. There were some really great moments of memories listening to the songs from the artists above. But two of my favorites came from PFR...the song linked above and a song I'll link below. I don't know that I want to EXPLAIN the significance in them for me, as that will seem to take away a bit from the ART. But, I will say that the second verse of "Grace of God" was particularly compelling. "So, I bought the lie and I chained my soul..."

Unchain my soul Lord God! By the Grace of God!!!
The flood gates have been opened, and the Song in my back. It's a little wiser's a little more's a little more open at the same time.  I'm made whole again. Thanks friends for joining me on my road trip and being instruments (ar, ar) in my journey!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Life on the Farm

 This month we will have been on our little farm for 4's hard to believe that it's been that long.  After so many years of living in a little neighborhood in the Twin Cities, I still sometimes can hardly believe that this is our home.  It's silent here, it's beautiful, I can go out to the barn in my pajamas and no one will care, I can sit at the fire at night, look up at the stars and see constellations that I would never have been able to see in the city.  I hear coyotes, and owls and frogs, see pelicans fly over our house on the way to Lura Lake.  In June and July the fields are dotted each evening with fireflies, and in August the corn is close to 7'tall surrounding our property.  It's a quiet peaceful place!!                                                        Sun setting behind our little vineyard

I'm a believer in learning though experiences and this spot that the Lord has put us is the perfect backdrop for us to do just that....since moving here, we've raised chicks into hens that give us our eggs, rescued a little horse and brought his hooves back to health (and taught him some manners along the way), put in a 60' x 90' vegetable garden, a dozen fruit trees, a large perennial garden,  gathered LOTS of wood to burn in our wood burner, watched birds, raised bunnies and cats, trudged fields looking for field stone, gathered morel mushrooms, bought snowshoes to get to the barn in the winter, witnessed meteor showers, and storms, and wind like I've never seen before.

I think that life on a farm is shaping us us discipline and character.  Out here, if dinner isn't made you don't have the option of running to just isn't an make fried eggs or a pannekoeken.   We've all learned the value of hard work....when it's 40mph wind in middle of winter and the animals need feeding you don't have the option of waiting until the wind dies have to do it.  It builds a discipline in you that can only come from the work of doing.  Plowing the driveway, weeding, shoveling horse or chicken manure, hauling hay, hauling wood....all things that are hard and not really fun, but that I try to is fleeting, and I know I'll look back on even these things when my kids are grown and remember them fondly. 

Marcella and I trying to convince the chickens to go in their coop a little early so that we don't have to come back out after dark

 Marcella picking and eating a piece of rhubarb

Tiger sitting in front of the woodshed

James 4:14
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Goal of Our Instruction is LOVE...

I struggle as a mom with "perfectionism." Do you?
I want the school room clean, the dishes done, the beds stripped, the vacuuming done on the second level of the house, everyone dressed, teeth brushed, and rooms cleaned---by 9:00 on a Monday. I want to be up early, work out, quiet time, showered, dressed before the kids get up. That is an ideal Monday morning for CityMom.
* is 11:00 and I have not showered, and none of the above chores have been finished (or started)...but we are all dressed with great dental hygiene in place.

I asked the boys to clean up their toys in the school room before we got started. They BEGGED permission to keep it all out. "ugh," thinks City Mom...I can't THINK with clutter, we can't do school. 
Then, I think of our Parenting Group last night, 1 Tim. 1:5...
"The goal of our instruction is love..."
No biggie to keep the toys out today. Right?

We start Calendar Time each morning together. It brings us together. It gives us direction. It helps the littles feel like they've been poured into. We have a kid of the day. Today that kiddo was Odes...which means, was a goofy Calendar Time. 





Messy room...scattered time...what is my goal again? oh!

The littles love making dramatic faces for pictures.

The kid of the day, performing part of his privilege...entering the "day of the week"

...leading the pledge of allegiance. When Odes leads it's usually a big joke, and the littles yell, "AMEN!" at the end and giggle til they can't giggle anymore (about that particular little funny). 

For Calendar Time. We sing songs, talk about the date, talk about family issues, talk about and pray for our country and country leaders, do pre-school activities, like general weather, counting coins, and colors. We review our address. We pray for people in our lives and for our favorite Missionary :)

Odes picks out a weather card...

He picks the "color of the day"

...then they are off. After a short instruction with letters...the smaller 3 play. They moved their toys and spread them from school room all over the front entry way. This stresses out City Mom. goal is...LOVE. Let it go...

JuBe sits at the table and does her math. I look at this picture and get excited for the new additions to our school room that are coming soon. I love to be organized and hate clutter. So, this is vulnerable for me to share...

I hate messes, but I'm not a "scheduled" person, and lately even "routine" has been tough for my free-spirited personality. I love my kids, and love having them home, and love the opportunity to shape their little hearts. We'll go into this week with this goal for our instruction...LOVE. It is shaping every choice I make. Will we get this place cleaned up? You bet...can it wait while my boys are in the throes of an epic battle with their Star Wars and castle guys? Yes...
Off to finish up history and Bible. My loving sacrifice to my little quartet I love so much.