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Fabulous Family Friday–The Third R of Relationships

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Well, we finally come to the third R of Relationships! 

You’ve figured this out by now, right?!  

It is your relationship to your children. 

Let me repeat–your first two relationships must be in order for the third one to be as well.  You certainly can’t be mad at God or your husband and expect your relationship to your children to be just fine! 

I’m not talking about the occasional frustration but the ongoing tone of your other relationships. 

Now, what about those lovely gifts God has entrusted to you? 

There are days they want to make you pull your hair out, right?! ;) 

Having the right perspective makes things fall into place much better AND helps you keep your eyes on the long term goal vs. the current “tyrrany of the urgent”! 

It’s so easy as a young mama (and even us not-as-young mamas!) to get so focused on the here and now–the diapers, dishes, messes, homeschooling, laundry, or if you’ve got older children helping, then you have the oversight of the littles’ training (so they don’t just ride on the coattails of the older ones!), homeschooling three to four levels, (overseeing some, involved in others), making sure the jobs you delegated got done, making sure children make it to lessons, ministry opportunities, coordinating all that and still finding time to practice music as a family (in our case, anyway)!  Whew!  

From time to time it is important to stop, look up, take a deep breath, and keep your eyes fixed on the horizon of your long-term goals, so they don’t get swallowed up in the dailyness of life.  

“Getting things done” is probably a mama’s worst enemy to relationships.  Whether the “things” are chores, school, outings, ministry, meals……if we’re not careful we can go days without really tying the heartstrings in our relationship to our children.   Guilty here! :( 

I remember something I read by Michael Pearl…wish I could find it to quote it verbatim, but in essence he was saying that your daily duties are opportunities to train your children and tie heartstrings.    It was a fun issue with stories by other moms–I remember one enterprising mom had her children drawing or doing their math facts on the tile floor–maybe in washable marker?–then they had the “fun” of wiping it off.  Or maybe she wrote the facts down and as they answered them they wiped it off.  Math and clean floor in one lesson!   Now that’s my kind of school! :D 

Ah!  I found it! 

Here is the letter from the mom and Michael’s comment, both very good: 

The tiles of homeschooling 

“My four and six-year-old love to help me clean our kitchen floors. Although this
game works as well on linoleum, our kitchen floor is made of large ceramic tiles. I
divide the kitchen floor into two sections. With a dry erase pen on the four year
old’s section I draw numbers and letters in random order on the tiles. He has to clean each large square perfectly, thus erasing the letter or number on his square–but he has to do it in chronological order. His older sister has various words to read as she cleans each square, thus decoding a secret message (often a mini love letter) I have written to her. Sometimes we even make it a race. It’s lots of fun and sure beats nagging the kids! 

Valeri Marsh 

Payson, AZ” 

“The previous letter is the way life should be lived. She said, “it sure beats nagging.” Nagging is always counterproductive. It eats away at the soul of the family like moist rot. 

“Can you see that this mother is enjoying her children? It would no doubt be easier for her to clean the floor herself. Imagine mother crawling around on the floor, writing on every tile, leaving coded messages. This is a woman that needs to have fifteen kids. 

“Consider what must be the world-view of this mother. What is the most important thing to her in the course of a day? Keeping her house clean? Absolutely not. She lives for her children. She is a builder of souls. She has a full time job, and she is determined to succeed above all else. She is a mother. That is the attitude you must have to train up your children in the way they should go.” 

~Taken from Working Character in Children, part 2 

The following was also taken from this article.  I’m quoting this at length because it really captures the heart of why we do what we do–it’s not just to have something to eat, a clean home and clothing.  It’s about training character while tying heartstrings: 

“You have been thinking in terms of what you can get done most efficiently in the shortest amount of time. You are motivated moment by moment to follow the path of least resistance. You must change mantles. You can no longer be a one-person dynamo of efficiency. Resign from all of life’s callings. You are now a father or mother whose sole purpose in life is to produce beautiful sons and daughters of God

“There must be two changes; the first one is absolutely critical. Change your perspective and then you can change your lifestyle. With a new attitude toward the children and toward what must be accomplished in a given period of time. Arrange your lifestyle so the children are needed and are effectively engaged in responsible work.” 

(my emphases) 

Another mom I read about (different source) talked of giving the kids dishtowels that they could scoot around the floor on while they “mopped”.   Yeah, they made a mess and needed to change clothes when done–but what a memory!  And what a mom! 

This is where we must–must change our views.  It is tough when they’re younger, but probably the first thing you need to do is die to your pride.  Your idea of what a day should look like.  What if you end up throwing all the cushions on the floor or pillows and just read half the day away?  Was that a loss? 

Or what if you ditch your well-planned day and take a sheet and have an indoor picnic on a rainy day? 

I have done both of those, but way too few times.  Unfortunately I can probably count on one hand how many indoor picnics we did.  :(  And now, that I’m an older mama, I wonder….what was so pressing that I “just didn’t have time”? 

I no longer remember what the “tyrrany of the urgent” was during those younger years.  But I remember those fun oases when I let go of my agenda and let God direct! 

Of course I’m not advocating throwing your schedule out  24/7/365!  I think, however, that most of us in this “Daytimer” generation have a harder time letting go than being too loose! 

There are going to be days, especially when your children are all little, that you may need to take more time than you’d like to discipline and/or train them.  But you are laying a foundation, and you can gloss over the “little foxes that spoil the vines” and “get more done” now…..but you will reap a harvest and not get as much done later.  Nor will you have cheerful help later. Nor will you have the joy. 

Marilyn Howshall (who wrote Wisdom’s Way of Learning) often wrote:  

Character training adds time to every duty and every duty must stop for character training. 

We don’t like that, do we?  We want it to get fixed fast so we can get back to what’s “important”.  Whatever that is. 

Here’s another quote from the introduction to Elisabeth Elliot’s classic book, Keep a Quiet Heart:

“I think I find most help in trying to look on all the interruptions and hindrances

to work that one has planned out for oneself as discipline, trials sent by God to

help one against getting selfish over one’s work. Then one can feel that perhaps

one’s true work–one’s work for God–consists in doing some trifling haphazard

thing that has been thrown into one’s day. It is not a waste of time, as one is

tempted to think, it is the most important part of the work of the day–the part

one can best offer to God. After such a hindrance, do not rush after the

planned work; trust  that time to finish it will be given sometime, and

keep a quiet heart about it.

~Annie Keary, 1825-1879

I fear that we are rushing after the planned work, not trusting and certainly not keeping a quiet heart about it all! 

I had that quote written out and posted at different places in the home for awhile.  At the kitchen sink for a long time, then a mirror, then in my Bible.   I needed the reminder, because when I first read those words I was recovering from my 7th miscarriage and my children were 8, 6, 3 and almost 2.  

I am admonishing you younger mamas especially, please take the time!  Take the time to write down each day the silly, funny, seemingly mundane things you did today.  Right now you may think, “Who will care about that?”  Believe me–in 10 years it will be a riot to read what you ate for lunch that day, or  “Oh, remember? That’s the day we decided to just do a nature walk and had a picnic down the lane!” or when your barely walking toddler pulled your petticoat off the playpen where it was drying and got inside of it and then couldn’t walk! She was so distressed and you were laughing so hard you could barely help her out of it!  (Yes, that happened with my oldest and I did write that one down! ;)

Take time to make a chore fun.  Oh, you can’t do it every day with every chore, but what about 1 chore?  What about making Fridays “Family Fun Friday” where “regular school” is cancelled?  And it’s spelling games or math bees or wash the tile floor with secret messages  ;) ?  My goal is to have Fridays free–no matter how the rest of the week went!  That means if you “lost” 2 days’ worth of work, you do not use Friday to make it up!  That will speak volumes to your children!  Of course there may be the occasional (very rare) exception, but even taking the afternoon off to do some fun projects will be something they can look forward to! 

And please don’t make it a discipline issue–no “If you don’t straighten up you will do your work while we all have fun”–this is about grace.  There are plenty of other times to tie consequences to actions, but let there be one time, one fun time each week where it’s all grace.  Remember what grace you have been shown, Mama! 

You could even use that time to make something to bless others–make cards, no sew fleece blankets (we have a children’s hospital in our state’s capital that posts sizes needed and how to do them–cutting a small 1/4 inch slit at the base of each fringe piece to pull each fringe piece through vs. tying, works for single layer fleece), or perhaps make some simple gifts to have on hand for baby showers, birthdays, etc.  Here is a GREAT blog, Skip to My Lou,  and her Made By You Mondays have a TON of links to other people’s projects they share!  

Another good resource is Teaching Good Things, and she has many freebie ideas on her blog/website!  You will need to scroll down a bit on the right side to search, and there is a category selection that will keep you busy for awhile! ;) 

I personally believe whatever a child’s “bent” may be, he or she will benefit with learning to work with their hands.  You don’t have to be proficient yourself–just learn along with them!  (Just like homeschooling! ;)

When I was first married I didn’t know how to sew much, knit, decorate cakes, toll paint or a host of other things I’ve learned over the years.  I sometimes have felt like King David–I have amassed the materials (well, definitely THE material!  LOL!  I think I have my own fabric store!) and my children are King Solomon, building the temple.   My girls can do all the things I learned over the years much better than me.  But that’s okay!  I do not have to be top dog! 

Working with your hands builds character, but it also calms and soothes.  There is a boys’ home in Idaho that teaches the boys to crochet.  It is amazing how these troubled boys calm down!  They make blankets  to bless others with and accept yarn donations.  I often said that “technology” and “progress” have taken the part of woman’s work that stayed done and left us with the part that needs redone–sometimes several times a day! 

“Needlework is strong medicine for anyone, but for these young men it helps rebuild their very core. ” 

~p. 22  MaryJane’s Stitchery Room, by MaryJane Butters 

Patsy, a teacher assistant at this home who was  interviewed in MaryJane’s book, said it helps the boys with their anger and their addictions as well as building their self-worth. 

I wonder how many troubled women and children could get off drugs or therapy simply by keeping their hands busy?   Knitting, crocheting, sewing, embroidery, quilting, even spinning (it’s been a long time since I used my spinning wheel, but I still remember how utterly soothing it was!).   

Please don’t overlook the importance of this–“craft time” should not just be a nice extra that gets bumped off when you are “behind” in math! 

I have more I want to post about this “R” of relationships, mainly about older children, so I will save that for next week (don’t want anyone groaning at the length of my posts—conciseness is not one of my strong points!). 

I also wanted to share about Math on the Level today, too, but since this is long enough, I will share that on “Math Monday”!  ;) 

If you would like to donate yarn to the boys’ home, here is the address: 

Northwest Children’s Home 

P.O. Box 1288 

Lewiston, Idaho  83501 

For more information about crocheting as a tool for healing, or to support this important program, contact Patsy Gottschalk, 208-746-1601 ext. 270 

(This information was current as of the 2007 publication of MaryJane’s Stitching Room)

Fabulous Family Friday–‘Rithmetic

Friday, February 11th, 2011



I have a confession to make.

Math is the “bug-a-boo” at our house!  :o 

Whenever “life happened”, guess what was first to be dropped?!

Guess who has gone through about 8 math programs over the course of her 19 years of homeschooling?!

If you guessed “math” to the first question and “ME” for the second, you are right!

I thought for sure it was more like TEN math programs, but here’s the line-up:

Bob Jones Math (kindergarten)

A Beka Math (first grade–didn’t even finish unit one!!!  I am NOT an A Beka Mom!)

Saxon Math for 2nd grade (we did get half-way through that one…)

Back to Bob Jones Math for 3rd grade (I think we actually finished that one…)

Miquon Math (that was fun!)

Math-U-See–loved it!   For awhile, anyway…

Developmental Math–the older girls appreciated this one more.   The smaller booklets to work through weren’t so intimidating!  However, it does get pricey.

Mastering Mathematics–one I looked at when I first started and wish I had just went with it–I probably wouldn’t have changed so much!  We have been doing this for several years now and have overall really liked it.

But now….. ;)

I have found what I believe is THE math program, especially for more relaxed “math-as-real-life” moms!

Introducing……Math on the Level!

Let me say right up front–this is not a “take it out of the box and hand it to your child” type of program.  And it seems pricey until you realize– it is a one time purchase!  That’s right, NO workbooks, NO consumables!

I am just learning this myself, but so far, I am really impressed and decided to keep it after my 60-day trial period was up.  That’s right, you get SIXTY days to try it out, not just 30!  When I was reading testimonies like “You couldn’t pay me to give it back!” and “I teach all three of my children in half an hour”, I was ready to try it!

I actually had Susannah look it over at first and explain a lot to me as I was in the middle of another project I needed to give much of my brain power to!  She is going to help me by teaching math, so I felt she should feel comfortable with it.  She really likes it!  And as I am spending more time with the materials, I do, too!

The overview is very readable and understandable.  Carlita Boyles is a homeschool mom and developer of Math on the Level.  Here’s what the Introduction says about the development of MOTL:

“The Math on the Level teaching approach was developed over many years as Carlita taught her own children at home.  At first, she started out each year trying to use a textbook for homeschool math instruction, but each time she became frustrated with the textbook, put it aside, and used her own ideas to successfully teach her children.  After a few years, she gave up on textbooks altogether and developed what would ultimately become the Math on th Level teaching approach, teaching children at their own level of maturation, focusing on practical family life activities, and reviewing topics on a daily 5-A-Day paper.

“In early 2006, Carlita was approached by several homeschooling moms who asked her to write a math curriculum so they could use her teaching approach.  After prayerful consideration, John and Carlita decided to take on the challenge.  This project grew into an extended effort in which both worked together, blending their backgrounds in education and engineering to produce Math on the Level.”

I really love this approach!  It actually validates the “real life learning” math we’ve been doing, and gives me a way to “document it”, without making my children copy and copy and copy a bunch of problems.

I’ll give you a quick overview of what’s ahead, and then, because I am still in the “learning stages” myself, I plan to share some each Friday about how it is working for us!

Okay, first off, you have a concept chart where you can go through and see where your child needs to start.   And it starts in the very beginning…things like “Beginning Counting” and “One-to-One Correspondence”.

Let’s say you get close to where your child is, but aren’t exactly sure if they really know one-digit multiplication or not.  You would then create a 5-a-Day review paper (she has LOTS of ideas so you don’t always have to use your brain to come up with some!) that would include that concept.  If your child breezed through it, then you would mark it as learned.  If not, you would mark that as a concept to teach.

(I was going to link to a page I thought that showed this concept chart, but alas, MOTL is not coming up for some reason!)

What are 5-A-Day review papers?  That is where your children will review concepts they already know.  Although there are only 5 problems (at all levels!), those 5 problems could end up covering 19 concepts!

For example, let’s say one review problem is:

Is is < , =  or > ?  Fill in the blank.

1.802 ÷ 0.53   _____   7 1/4 – 3 3/4

You are covering math symbols, dividing decimals, subtracting mixed numbers (like denominators), but since one answer is in decimal form and the other in fractions, the child will need to convert the fraction to a decimal and compare the decimals. 

Isn’t that great?!  And the best part is, as I said, she has pages of problems you can draw from!  Yeah!

There is the overview book (in a binder), which really explains things pretty well.  I would say if you have either 2-3 hours to just sit down with it all, or have half an hour or so a day for a week, you would get this and be able to go with it.  Actually less–I spent maybe an hour, read most of the overview book and have enough of a grasp to get started!

The binder with the overview also has record keeping forms, and once you decide to keep MOTL and register with them, you will get a download link to where you could even keep their records on the computer! 

I bought the complete set, so I also have 6 spiral bound books:

 ~Operations (+ – ×  ÷ )


~Money and Decimals

~Geometry & Measurements

~Math Resources (Charts, Graphs & Set Theory, Word Problems, Math Dictionary, How to Memorize, Memorizing Math Facts)

~Math Adventures (Cooking, Using Money, Travel Time, Games, Math Vocabulary, Unit Studies)

Each of these books are color coded in the Concept chart, which is really nice! 

My goal this next week is to get fine-tuned where my younger set are in this book.   Of course Noah and Isaiah are very beginners, so they will be easy! ;)  

This program is billed as Pre-K to Pre-Algebra, and that is really about all we need.  Yes, I know you are supposed to do higher math.  Did you know I got the Algebra II award in high school 32 years ago, and it hasn’t made me a better person, wife, mother, or Christian?!

I’m not knocking higher math, I just think it’s interesting that now everybody needs it.   I have one daughter that wanted to do Geometry, so I bought her Patty Paper Geometry.  Yes, it’s an introductory program.  But it is all she needs at this point. 

I have another daughter that was overwhelmed with math.  So for “higher math” she is doing a consumer math (remember that? Do they even do that in public schools anymore?!).

Math in Everyday Life

Teacher’s Edition  (pretty much just has answers)

I will say that this text has a bit of an overkill on some of the forms, so I do not make my daughter do it 12 times or whatever they have her doing!

I also have her do only 1 internet activity–there is more to life than working on math all day! ;)

If my daughters were to need higher math (meaning algebra, geometry, etc.) I would probably invest in Teaching Textbooks.   They have math at all levels down to 3rd grade.  If you want something they can pretty much do on their own (with the computer) then this is the program for you.  Personally, I would prefer the Math on the Level approach for younger years, even into “middle school”, with consumer math for high school, Teaching Textbooks for algebra, et al.

One other possibility for “consumer math” that another daughter did, was Dave Ramsey’s Foundations for Personal Finance  .  The HomeSchool Buyer’s Co-op did have this as a special recently–I’m not sure if it’s still on or not.  That’s how I got it–my daughter loved the dvd presentations!

I hope this gives you a glimpse of some good resources, and please stay tuned–I promise, whatever else I write about on Fridays, I will give you updates on how Math on the Level is going!  :D

(And hopefully they’ll back online SOON!)

Have a blessed weekend!

My girls have a few new items on their Etsy shop, if you want to check them out, PLUS a Valentine’s Day coupon!  Click here!

Fabulous Family Friday–The Second R of Relationships

Friday, February 4th, 2011

I left off my “3 Rs” series last fall, so I thought I’d pick it up again!

The second R of Relationships is your relationship to your husband.

Your first relationship, of course, is that to the Lord.  If that relationship is not in place, then all other relationships will not flow as well.  We need to have our hearts in tune to Him first before we deal on the earthly plane with other people!  I remember one Bible study showing a triangle–the closer we get to God individually, the closer we will get to each other.

The dynamics of your relationship to your husband are very important for the smooth working of your relationship to your children as well as to others outside your home.

The Bible is very clear on our roles as women.  What muddies the waters is our interpretation of those Scriptures!

Let me preface the rest of my post by saying I am not talking about extremes here.  I’m not talking about abusive situations, but the average Christian marriage.  Even if you became a Christian after your marriage, the things I am going to share are for you, too.

Also before anyone gets a burr in their saddle (as the word “submission” seems to be like waving a red flag before a raging bull!), I also am not addressing men. Therefore, I am leaving their parts of the Scriptures alone. And so should you!  Your husband does not need a personal unholy spirit or attitude trying to hold him to “his” part.

When I write in a card for a wedding, I write “The key to a happy and successful marriage is to focus on your responsibility and your spouse’s needs.”    That takes care of 95% of most problems!  Too often we want to focus on HIS responsibility and MY needs!  :o

The paradox of God’s ways are that we give up our lives to save them.  Too often, we’re trying to save our life, our rights, and then we wonder why true satisfaction and joy elude us.

Do you really know how to love your husband?  I’m sure you have all read or heard about love languages.  It is something my husband and I realized before we knew there was a book called The Five Love Languages!  This was about 15 years ago when we made the discovery.

You can be saying “I love you” in a lot of different ways, but if you are missing the main way your husband feels loved, then you are not being a good student of your husband.  I have a laid back “Mr. Steady”, as Mrs. Pearl calls one of the three types of husbands.   He is not very demanding at all, but he is also hard to read.  I had to learn to be quiet and really listen to hear his heart. Too many times we think we know what they are saying and thinking, but really we are just projecting our wants and needs and thoughts into what they are saying!

Many men don’t come right out and give you the power point presentation and syllabus when it comes to their goals and likes and dislikes!   Mine was no exception!  Now me, I like those “methods” and boxes to check off….but that is NOT what a relationship is all about!  Remember that in your other 2 R’s of relationships!  God and your children don’t appreciate being something on your to-do list, either!

Sixteen and a half years ago God started dealing with me about my heart attitude.  I was generally submissive….but God sees on the heart.   He saw that many times, my heart attitude was not one of submitting cheerfully and trusting Him with the results.  Too many times I was fearfully trying to maintain control and manipulate things my way!  [ouch!]

The first book God used in this journey to true-heart submission was Elisabeth Elliot’s “Keep a Quiet Heart“.    As I read that and a personal note from the lady who gave it to me, I realized I still had too many expectations on my husband.   For those of us who weren’t trained and raised with a mindset of keeping ourselves for just one, both physically and emotionally, we filled our minds and hearts with all the romantic “sweep you off your feet” and “happily ever after” stories, that conveniently ended with the wedding!  The real work comes after the wedding! 

And what most princesses don’t realize is that after the shining knight or Prince Charming has won her heart and taken her home to his castle, he can’t just sit and adore her loveliness.  He has to go back out to battle, slaying dragons, overseeing his kingdom.    In our vernacular, that’s going to work, paying the bills, and keeping up on car and house repairs!

Not quite the glamorous tale we wove as foolish young girls! 

We marry with expectations a mile long.  We expect this one, mortal man, wonderful as he may be, to be our father, mother, siblings, friends–everything that everyone else was to us all rolled up in one person.

No human being can be all that.  No one. 

You can only find your deepest heart expectations met in One:

“My soul,wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.”

                                                                                                          ~Psalm 62:5

I call this my “life verse”!   God had started teaching me this lesson when I was a student overseas.  But I would say I had only barely gotten the kindergarten level before I got married!

The more a young lady can let God be everything to her before marriage, the better she will adjust and be able to allow Him to after the wedding. And the better her relationship to her husband will be–because she will not expect from him what only God can give!

Another booklet she sent to me was Looking Unto Jesus.  It is a powerful little booklet!  I used to read a little portion each day.  Thinking of this post reminded me of it, and I haven’t done that for a long time.  Time to get it out again!

I can’t stress this enough–if you cannot give all your expectations to God, you will always be disappointed.  Your husband (and children!) will never be able to do enough to make you happy or feel loved.  In fact, expectations are the #1 enemy of gratefulness.

Gratefulness is the “oil of joy” that keeps relationships fresh and alive!

An “attitude of gratitude” is probably THE #1 beauty secret, too!   It can make the plainest of us quite attractive!

If you think about it, most affairs start with just that– a wife or husband full of expectations, an it’s-about-time-you-did-that attitude, then there’s a very-grateful-other-person at work or church or wherever.  The very-grateful-other-person seems so much more attractive to the one feeling they can never be good enough to the expectations-minded spouse.   Unfortunately that is a mirage as when one leaves their spouse for the very-grateful-other-person, they both have new expectations of each other! 

Why not give the expectations to God, and start focusing on gratefulness with your spouse? 

Nancy Leigh DeMoss had a powerful little booklet (well, anything by Nancy Leigh DeMoss is powerful! LOL!) called “Portrait of a Foolish Woman”.   I believe it’s now a part of a book called “Biblical Womanhood in the Home”.  You can read this chapter here.   On page 89 of that link, there is this statement:

She is also a married woman (though either single or married women may
fit the description). She is not satisfied with the mate God has provided
and has expectations and longings that her husband is not fulfilling
(see v. 19). Rather than looking to God to fulfill the deepest
needs and longings of her heart, she focuses on what she does not have
and looks to others to meet those needs. Rather than pouring love,

attention, and devotion upon her husband, she invests her heart,

energy, and efforts in another man.


Too often we will pour our efforts, our attention,  love and devotion into another person.  Oh, you might not be pining for another man, but what about busyness?  Or pouring yourself into your housework?  The children?  Homeschooling?  The computer?  [ouch!]


There are many ways we try to “escape” when God is using these very things to bring us closer to Him.  I believe it was Hudson Taylor who said it didn’t matter what the pressure was as much as where the pressure lie–see to it that it never lies between you and your Bridegroom King.


After four years of working on my “true heart submission”, I was blessed to attend a Revive Our Hearts conference by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  I had a magazine article by her and thought she had a great way of helping Christians to ask questions that really helped them “get down to where the rubber meets the road.”  I had no idea she was doing conferences nor did I know much else about her.  As I attended this conference, “Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free”, I was so convicted!  I saw I still had many deceptive thought patterns I needed to allow God to correct, especially in my marriage.  And I would say that my husband and I had a pretty good marriage! (He would have told you the same! ;) )


She gave every attendee her little booklet, “A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood“.  This is a must-have, in my estimation.  My copy is soon to be 12 years old, the cover has come off, there are a few stains and some underlinings…but I am reluctant to get a new copy!   There are 28 statements with a Scripture in the first part followed by her always excellent self-examination questions.  In the second part are three areas:  Thoughts, Words and Actions that Build Up, or Tear Down.


In each of those sections is a statement of the positive on the left hand page, with its opposing statement on the right hand.

There are thirty-two statements and their opposites, just a little more than a month’s worth.  I double up on the last day.  I read a statement each day and ask myself if I honestly can say the positive describes me…..or its opposite!   I have done this for nearly twelve years now!


Can I just tell you how, out of those 33 statements, after 4 years of God working on my “true heart submission”…..I only passed FIVE?!


Thankfully, God is gracious, and as well as my husband!  :)  


I had posted a few weeks ago the importance of trusting God, letting go, and forgiving.  The first and foremost relationship that should be happening is in your marriage.  I have a post perking in my mind about grace—and I think we need to remember what God has forgiven us of, which will  make it easier to forgive the lesser things others do to us (in comparison to our sin against God).


I posted last Monday about the importance of a smile.    You will find it hard to smile if you are always thinking of what your husband doesn’t do for you!   This is an area we must give to God.  And….we need to treat our husbands just as we want them to treat us in our weaknesses and shortcomings!


Eleven years ago I was challenged by a speaker to start a gratefulness journal for my husband.   I told about it in this blog post a year ago.  I would encourage you to get a blank book and start your own gratefulness journal for your husband–and yes, especially write in it when you are frustrated with him!  It will help you keep your perspective! ;)


May I also admonish you to not expect your husband to act or think like a woman?!    That may seem obvious, but the way we talk about men often betrays our attitude that men are just so dense or they don’t get it, or “that’s a man for you!”   What did you marry?!


It is also not right for men to joke how women think or feel or express themselves, but again–I’m not addressing the men!    Be careful that “In the way I talk to and about men, I show their God-created worth and value”.  (From “A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood”, under statement #3).


Another author who is great about getting big concepts down where we live is Gary Thomas.  I have read several of his books and have been challenged by every one! But in a good way–not an overwhelming way.  You have to be ready to allow God to adjust your attitude when you read these books!


His book, Sacred Marriage, has a telling subtitle:  “What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?”


I had gotten about half-way through it when busyness hit and now I feel I should start over!  I just restarted it, but it is very good and very much challenges you on your part.  Yes, he speaks to both partners, but as in Scripture or any other book on marriage, you must focus on the only person you are responsible to change—you.


Marriage, like ministry, like child raising, cuts across our flesh and is a tool that God uses to mold us into the child of God He created us to be.  Of course there are wonderful “side benefits” and it’s not all work and no play!  But the more we try to squeeze happiness out of our marriage, the more we’ll strangle the life out of it.


As I share my heart here, let me say that I do not think the husbands need to do nothing.   And sometimes a wife is caught in a difficult place of God working on her heart, but no seeming similar response from her husband.  Let me say it again–it is not your job to change him!  The more you try, the farther away you will get from realizing your dream of a happy, fulfilling marriage. 


You don’t get it by striving after it–you get it by soaking in His presence. 


I will have a list of books and resources that God has used to help me in my journey to be a better wife by being a better Daughter of the King, but I want to close my admonition to you by sharing what the dear, Godly woman who sent me my “Keep a Quiet Heart” shared with me.  I will tell you that this woman went through several years of her husband not being what he appeared to be on the outside.  He put up a front at church, but was cold and rejecting of her at home. He was a Christian, but he had given ground to the enemy. 


She is the one who told me if you don’t forgive a person before they come to ask for it, it will be difficult to restore the relationship, because you will have walls and resentments and grudges.  She chose to forgive her husband, to never speak unkindly of him, even though she felt she was dying inside.  (Let me hasten to add that there was no abuse in this situation.  Just cold neglect and rejection.)


Once she found the true source of joy, it didn’t matter what her husband did!  And thankfully, God did get hold of her husband, and their relationship was healed.   But I wonder if it would have been had she hung onto her hurts and bitterness?  If she hadn’t sunk her roots down deep into her Bridegroom King?


Here is her note to me:


Dear Trisch,


I hope these books are helpful in seeking the Lord with your whole heart.  Remember that Jesus Christ must be all your life, the Holy Spirit must be all your power and all else is nothing.  You cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life–only He can. As you cultivate your love relationship with Jesus, His life will flow through you and out of your heart will flow “rivers of living water” to nourish and encourage your husband, children and all with whom you come in contact. Then you will be “dead” to yourself and “alive” to God. He alone will be your satisfation and your circumstances will never get you down.  They will just be another opportunity to glorify Hm by having right responses.


Love in Him,




I pray that this will encourage you to focus again on Relationship #1, so Relationship #2 can be all God intended it to be!


Blessings to you, my dear sisters!



A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood is available for download here.

Portrait of a Woman Used by God by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

~Available for download here.

Revive Our Hearts has two challenges that will help you encourage your husband, as well as choosing to be grateful (not just related to marriage).  You can sign up and you will get a daily e-mail with practical helps, or you can just print a download:

Encourage Your Husband

Growing in Gratitude

Praying for Your Husband


Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas


Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas


Me, Obey Him?  by Elizabeth Rice Handford


Daughters of Sarah by Genevieve White


Why Should I Be the First to Change?  by Chuck and Nancy Missler


Created to Be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl


Laine’s Letters–if you haven’t found Laine yet, you are in for a treat!  I found her 11 years ago, at the dawn (literally!) of a new millenium.  I stayed up until 5 a.m. New Year’s Day morning just drinking in her wonderful writings!  Some particularly helpful letters are:


The Proverbs 31 Woman, part 2

The Proverbs 31 Woman, part 3   ( I have a print-out of these that I read over every month–mine are about falling apart, but they are like old friends!  I am reluctant to print a new copy off!)

There Is REST in Submission

REST: Remember

REST: Everything

REST: Service

REST: Time


Ann Voskamp had a wonderful post recently about our marriage relationship:

How to Fall in Love Again in Four Minutes A Day


Marvelous Mommy Monday–*Smile*!

Monday, January 31st, 2011

We had a wonderful time with our friends on Friday!  And then got to go to a baby shower Saturday–so much fun!

Now for Fabulous Family Friday–on Monday! ;)

There is a song we sing called “The Smile Song”:

Every day in this world, there are people that I meet.

I walk up, shake their hands, and they see

The kind of person that I am by the smile that I wear.

I am blessed by the smile Jesus gives me.


A smile, a smile to make this life worthwhile;

A smile, precious smile  Jesus gives me.

And someday I know up to Heaven I will go,

Where I’ll thank Jesus for this smile He gives me.

 ~The Smile Song, Author Unknown, Adapted by Janna DePue


How important is a smile?   VERY!

There are several verses about a cheerful or merry heart in Proverbs.  Here are a few:

“A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” ~Proverbs 15:13

“All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.”  ~Proverbs 15:15

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”                ~Proverbs 17:22

Scripture tells us where a smile comes from–the heart!  And how can we have a merry heart?  By focusing on all Christ has done for us!  And allowing Him to live in our heart–and permeate the rest of us, too! ;)

Just recently I had a friend at church comment how our girls are always smiling.  I have received that comment/compliment frequently!   Often the moms will tell me how they just don’t really smile a whole lot.

Now, I don’t smile all the time, either!  But, I would say overall, that I am a cheerful person and smile and laugh a lot with my family.   If we’re not careful, we can get so focused on all that needs to get done, on what’s wrong with our spiritual walk, or our husband, or our in-laws, or the world…..that we let these things steal our joy.

Look again at the verses quoted above.  All refer to a “merry heart”.  But what does that mean?

It means you will become what your heart dwells upon.  If you dwell on all that’s wrong with the world (or your family, or your homeschool, or you), then that is what will “show”.  Remember this kids’ song?

“If you’re happy and you know it, then you’re life will surely show it….”

As Christians, all the more should joy and gratitude show through our lives.  And maybe that second part is the key–gratitude.

It is hard to be joyful or have a merry heart if you are not grateful.  If you think life has handed you a bad platter, then it’s easy to go through life with a chip on your shoulder, and hard to see how you can be a blessing to others because you are, ultimately, self-focused.

We are Christ’s ambassadors, reflecting His heart and His mind to the world.   There is no room for self-focus in that!  Jesus was never focused on Himself.  He always was in tune to the Father’s will.  We have that pesky sin nature that makes it a bit more difficult, but it is really a continual choosing of where you will focus your thoughts.

I am doing a wonderful study called The Mind of Christ, by T.W. Hunt and Claude King.  (I am doing the workbook, not just reading the book.  I highly recommend this workbook!  It was recommended to me by a dear “cyber-friend”, Asha!)  Here is a good quote:

I had spent most of my life unconscious of the process of thinking.   Little of my thinking was controlled by my will….

Then our thoughts often lead to actions–godly thoughts to godly actions, wrong throughts to wrong actions.


The mind of Chrsist was not disordered but ordered.  He controlled His thinking in such a way that only godly actions came though His life.  This is one reason you and I need the mind of Christ.

  ~The Mind of Christ, p. 36

We need to purpose what we will think and dwell upon. Then we will find our heart lighter and more merry, which leads to the “cheerful countenance”!

In Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ book,  Choosing Gratitude, Joni Eareckson Tada writes a convicting foreward.  You can read a few paragraphs on the sample front flap at CBD.  Here is a woman who must have everything done for her—and yet she is grateful.  I haven’t read much of the actual book yet, but just the foreward is enough to give you an attitude check!

I would challenge you to focus on gratitude–to God, to your husband, to your parents and in-laws, and to your children.  Let go of some of the things that are keeping your “countenance” from being “cheerful”.

And really, just focusing on our wonderful Father, Bridegroom King and Comforter is enough to make us grateful!

As you let go of the things cumbering you about like Martha, you will find a song in your heart and a smile on your face—and your family will start reflecting it back to you and to others!


I found this blog, Heart of Virtue,  when looking for an audio of The Smile Song, and I thought she had a delightful post–enjoy the post and her pictures!  (Maybe when everyone is well and gets their voices back, we’ll do a video of The Smile Song since I didn’t find any! ;) )

A smile, a smile–yes, a smile from a grateful, merry heart DOES make this life worthwhile!


Fabulous Family Friday?

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Today is a long, busy, fun day with my dear, dear friend Heather (Cheaper By the Dozen), so I will post my Fabulous Family Friday as Marvelous Mommy Monday next week!   (Gotta love that alliteration!)  ;)

Have a blessed weekend, dear friends!

Fabulous Family Friday! Taking Care of Mama!

Friday, January 21st, 2011

You’ve heard the saying:  If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

There’s a BIG element of truth in there! ;)  

We truly are the “heart of the home”, and if we’re having a bad day….somehow it seems the rest of the family is, too!

We mamas are usually giving from dawn to dusk (and sometime from dusk to dawn!), serving our families in one aspect or another.  Often the tyrrany of the urgent drives us, and the important priorities don’t always happen.

One big one is, taking care of ourselves. 

Let me say right off I’m not advocating some aspect of “me time” at the expense of your family.  There’s enough written about that out in the world! 

But neither is it some form of Godliness to let yourself get so run down to the point you can no longer function well in your roles as child of God, wife, mama and homemaker.  Sometimes illness or a crisis (or several!) just makes it hard…sometimes it is our choices that lead to this point.

In my studies for becoming a personal trainer with T-Tapp, it has been interesting to see it reiterated over and over how our lifestyle choices are most often what cause the degenerative diseases of aging.   The seemingly “out of nowhere” fatigue, fibromyalgia, aches and pains, arthritis, thyroid issues, burned out adrenals….they didn’t come from bad genes or a virus, but little choices along the away that add up to BIG consequences!

(Sounds a bit like something I’ve read in the Bible somewhere….. ;) )

Now, there is the caution that we don’t become obsessed with being thin, looking youthful, or even eating well and being healthy.   We know as Christians that we live in a fallen world, and you can do a lot of things right and still suffer.

But neither do I think we should ignore the physical and suffer for our own foolish choices!  If we’re going to suffer, let it be for God’s glory and not for our foolishness!

I know as a young mama, taking care of all these areas at one time during some seasons of your life may not happen.  But your heart should be to do what you can in each season of life.  Because I’m here to tell you now, there will be a price to pay.   You can either do what you can to pay it now, and reap the dividends later, or you can say “I just don’t have enough energy to think about that right now” and you will also reap the dividends of that later–but it won’t be as pleasant!

1.  Time with the Lord

Yes, I know it’s tough with little ones.  I love how Nancy Campbell often admonishes mamas of many littles to keep their Bible by the kitchen sink.  Grab a verse here and there.  Or if “all” you get to read is half a Psalm, turn that into a prayer back to your Lord!  That’s what the Psalms were, anyway–hymns of praise to the Lord!  (Complaint sometimes, too, but always ending back on praise!)

Work on memorizing a verse–say it while diapering and doing dishes.  Your little ones can learn along with you.  Come up with hand motions (ASL browser has come in handy for me!  I used to borrow books from the library to come up with signs!)   So what if you only memorize one verse a week?  Or even a month?  That’s better than none!

One other thing you can do to feed your soul is sing hymns and praise songs!   Keep a hymnbook of choice handy with your Bible.   Or copy off a hymn you’re learning and tape it in a prominent place you spend a lot of time.   We try to sing a “hymn of the week” so my children will be more familiar with some of the great hymns.  At one time we even had a “hymn of the month”–that’s even better!  They will know that hymn forwards and backwards!  And so will you!

2. Emotional Health

This is pretty easy to write about, and pretty hard to do!

Probably the biggest 3 things you can do for your emotional health are:

1. Trust God

2. Let go of things


You have to begin with #1 or you can’t do #2 and #3!    Too many times our issues really stem from not trusting God for Who He says He is.   We don’t realize that and we’d certainly never say, “Oh I don’t really believe God is able to do that!  I don’t believe He is Who He says He is!”  but our actions say it quite loudly!

I read something very interesting in a book by John Ortberg, Faith and Doubt   (highly recommend it, by the way!).


Ben Patterson tells of a common experience of westerners, particularly missionaries, traveling through jungle sections of the Amazon.   They will ask members of a village to give them directions to where they want to go.  “I have a compass, a map, and some coordinates.” The villager knows precisely the directions to get them there, but he offers to take them himself.

“No, that’s okay.  I don’t want a guide.  I just want directions.”

“That’s no good.  I must take you there.”

“But I have a map right here.  And I have a compass.  And the coordinates.”

“It does not work that way.  I can get you there, but I must take you myself.  You must follow me.”

We prefer directions, principles,  steps, keys.  We prefer these things because they leave us in control. If I’m holding the map, I’m still in charge of the trip.  I can go where I want to go.  If I  have a guide, I must trust.  I must follow.  I must relinquish control.

God is not much on maps and compasses and coordinates.  Life just doesn’t work that way.  We don’t need directions.  We need a Guide.


~Faith and Doubt, p. 172 by John Ortberg (emphases mine)


You will probably see that quote again on my blog.  It profoundly puts the proverbial finger right on our pulse, in many areas!!!

When we can’t “trust God”, we’re really saying, “I want to stay in control”.    So the first step MUST be to trust Him.  Then you can place things in His hands and leave them there.

And then you can forgive.  Forgiveness helps you more than the offender.  When you really boil it down, if you can’t forgive the person before they even ask for forgiveness (or if they ever do), you really won’t be able to forgive from the heart when they do ask.

Isn’t that what God did for us?

#3. Physical Health and Well-Being

Again, let me say I am not promoting a physical focus to the detriment of all else.  No obsessing!

This is why I love T-Tapp! (You knew I had to include that, right?! :D )

In just 15 -20 minutes a day, you can get some movement in, for way less than the cost of a gym membership (besides, who has time to run to the gym for 1 1/2 hours daily?!)   You can even do it every other day, and while you may not see major inch loss, you will still feel better for getting that lymph pumping and some movement in.

In fact, many people address diet first.  Well, way of eating.  Ah, neither one sounds good!  (Diet has DIE in it and way of eating is often shortened to WOE!  LOL!)

Actually, your first thought should be to get movement in.  Walking is good.  I will say, though, that walking is generally not as all-over body conditioning.  I know, because I walked for several years before finding T-Tapp.  It was definitely helpful, but the lump in my armpit didn’t get smaller with walking.  It did with T-Tapp! 

So you’re moving now, but what about eating?  Is it any wonder eating has become a billion dollar business—the food industry, the diet industry, the supplement industry—it’s enough to make your head spin!

And there is so much out there!  Low carb, high carb, low protein, high protein,  no fat, good fat, no sugar, fasting, low calorie, and a plethora of diet plans that have variations on the theme.

The problem is, though, that if we don’t understand how our bodies are fueled by food, we can be fooled by food!   

It is not a matter of calories in=calories out.  You don’t figure how many calories for maintenance and go below that to lose “weight”.  (You’ll lose, indeed.  Usually more muscle mass and water than fat!)  Nor do you figure how much to exercise to get your caloric intake just right.

It is far more complicated than that.

I’ll be sharing more next Tuesday on my T-Tapp Tuesday about food and dieting, but I wanted to share today, for you busy mamas, that getting moving and making sure you are eating as well as you can are more important than restricting calories to get thin, or thinking cutting food groups out will make you healthier.

Balance is the key.  If you eat a balance of good protein, good carbs, good fats and non-starchy vegetables, that will do so much good for your body’s metabolism.   In fact, if you just add more veggies into your eating, that alone will take care of some “poor choices”!  I’m not going to say, “give up sugar”, but make sure you’re getting plenty of other good food, too!

And one last thing for today–drink water!  You need half your body weight in ounces a day–more on hot days and when you exercise (meaning you don’t count the two glasses you drink while exercising as part of your normal total!).  Nursing mamas would obviously need a little more, too!

If that has you confused, I’ll demonstrate:

I weigh 146 lbs.  right now.  So I would need half of that, 73 but in ounces.  So I need to drink nine 8 oz. glasses of water during the day. 

It’s best to drink it throughout the day, and try not to gulp down water with meals.  Sipping water at a meal is fine, but that should not be where you get most of your water intake!  When your children (or you!) come to the dinner table and gulp down water first thing, that is a sure sign they didn’t drink enough throughout the day!

Our bodies need water for many functions, and it strengthens the immune system. 

AND–by the time you’re actually “thirsty”, you are already dehydrated!

So, busy mama–fill yourself a pitcher with the right amount of water in it, and make sure it’s empty by the end of the day.   That will help you make sure to get your water quota in!  If you find it hard to drink water, adding slices of lemon or lime or even cucumbers can help it taste refreshing and make you actually want to drink more! 

Please take time to take care of yourself, young mama!   (And older ones, too!)   Really, none of these steps requires much in the way of money, and really, not even that much time.  They do, however, require some effort to make them work.  But as in much of life, a little effort will bring rich rewards in refreshing you and helping you to be the best daughter of our Father, wife, mama and homemaker that you can be.

HUGS to you as you seek the Lord on how to take care of yourself, for His glory!

Then everyone will be happy…because mama is!  ;)

Fabulous Family Friday–Slaying The Stuff Monster!

Friday, December 17th, 2010

It has been incredibly busy the past few weeks!

First of all, I’ve created a new sport!   INSIDE sledding!

Just get one Rubbermaid Tub lid, place on laminate flooring, step down on it when you are hanging clothes up to dry in the windows of the sunroom, and go sledding!  Of course, it is very helpful if you are expecting to do this so you are not caught off guard and fall nearly-flat-on-your-face! 

It took a good week for most of the soreness to go away from that one.  I’m very thankful it wasn’t worse, and that T-Tapp’s Primary Back Stretch really helped keep the soreness more at bay.  Between some T-Tapp moves, Tri-Light Health’s Snooze-EZ herbs, Health and Wisdom’s Magnesium Gel  (scroll down about half-way), and T-Tapp’s Melatonin, I ended up only taking 2 ibuprofen the whole time!  Truly amazing!

So when not doing indoor sledding ;)  we’ve been decorating for Christmas (well, the girls have–see here!) and I’ve been finishing the decluttering I started in August.   Why any family needs the amount of coats we had is beyond me!

I am a sentimental packrat. Well, not just a sentimental packrat, but also a messie who finds it hard to make decisions.  I remember hearing Elisabeth Elliot share 15 years or so ago how Donna Otto said that most packrats aren’t really sentimental, they just have a hard time making decisions.  I say a hearty AMEN!

Now some of that could be lack of training, or related to being adrenal challenged….but bottom line is I should have had a system to keep up with the stuff all along.  Hindsight’s 20/20, they say….

My advice to you younger-than-me-mamas–keep up with the stuff or it will BURY you!   I am spending soooo much time going through things now, and many items were ruined from being stored in less-than-ideal situations (meaning they got knocked onto the floor of the “shop closet” where we stored them, getting dampish and therefore mildewed. :(  )

Yes, we literally had to crawl over “stuff” to get to other “stuff”!



I thought more than once about the Parable of the Talents.  About the one servant who buried his talent in the ground.  I know sometimes it is good stewardship to keep clothing to pass down to your children….but at some point along the way, you realize you really do not need so much!



This was where I threw the bags of toys so I could get to the clothes!!!

I got rid of a lot of little girl dresses–if God blesses us with another girl now, she could never wear all those dresses in 5 lifetimes!   Not to mention that she would have seven older sisters who would love to sew new dresses for her!   Better to let others who could use these dresses have them.  I kept some back for sentiment’s sake, but let a lot go.  In fact, at Susannah’s graduation open house, I urged moms, “You can’t leave until you fill a garbage bag full!!!”  :D


Anna getting ready to carry a basket of hangers out


It’s getting better!


More are going to a local charity that sells used clothing, but also will give what people need free of charge. 


Susannah helping sort


Cassia sorting and hanging up dresses and jumpers.

We actually had another shorter rod for tops and turtlenecks,

and yet another short one for coats!


We can actually see the floor now! 

Remember the “before”?  (Scroll up to the first picture!)

Woo-Hoo!  Love seeing that OSB! :)


Wow!  We can actually get TO the coats and clothing now!



More beautiful space!

Where did the toys go, you ask?

That’s another post!!!


Still have to go through toys…again, time to get rid of what has lost parts, or is broken (why do we keep these things around anyway?)….

These are just the “few” coats we took to the charity thrift store–

believe it or not, I gave twice that many to a friend,

and have another bag waiting to give to yet another friend!!!

I remember hearing of a mom who had a rule–when someone dropped of a bag of clothes, she gave herself 24 hours to go through it.  If she hadn’t gone through it, she passed it on or took it to Goodwill.  Now, 24 hours might not be realistic, but at least have some sort of deadline.  I wish I had held to my original 1 week deadline.   Learn from my mistakes!

SEVEN bags of clothes, nightgowns and coats going to a family at church!

Although I haven’t worked daily on this project, it has been hanging over my head for 4+ months–no, really much longer.  I knew it was getting out of hand out there and was going to deal with it “soon”.

Soon has come!

Besides things getting ruined or children outgrowing things before they were even found, there is the weight of needing to take care of it hanging over my head all these years.   I truly was not “free” as long as the thought of dealing with this “stuff” was in the back of my mind.

Whether it’s a closet, an attic, your parents household stuff (yeah, still have to go through some of that!), or a whole storage unit, it’s important to pare down.  Do we really need it all?


I’m not as spartan as some, but I’ve come a long way.  Still have a long way to go, too!  But my goal is to get these storage areas under control and have a system to at least purge once or twice a year.  Now many of you may already do that–wonderful!  But for the rest of us that didn’t get that training (or inherit that gene!), we need to devise a doable plan.  Of course, when you have crises hit one after another, it makes it hard to keep up with anything but survival!

I’m ready to be out of survival mode now….

There is a spiritual analogy in all of this.  I realized it as I was talking to my friend, J., on the phone last week.

When we hang onto all the “stuff” emotionally or spiritually–it binds us.  Keeps us from being free to really experience God’s love and care for us as well as being able to serve and love others.  Just as I have not been truly free to enjoy life with my children (because I feel guilty that I’m not getting that “stuff” dealt with), so also we are not truly free to serve others and give of ourselves when we are hanging onto “stuff” like:





Past traumas


No “God esteem” (putting ourselves down because we don’t realize our worth in Christ)

Those are just a few areas–you know what yours are!

There is only one thing to do–purge the stuff!    But unlike my physical stuff, there are no thrift stores nor charities to donate the emotional/spiritual “stuff” to!  But we can ask the Lord to help us rid ourselves of these things–usually that involves giving up to gain Him.

Giving Him our all so we can have all of Him!

If you need a little help, Gary Thomas’ book, Authentic Faith has been tremendously helpful to me.   I also have Holy Available, which I haven’t read yet, but looks to be as good.

I also have benefitted from The Glorious Pursuit, (also by Gary Thomas).

Whether physical, emotional or spiritual–

Deal with the stuff!!!

Don’t let it rob you of one more minute of your life in Christ!

Oh, and lest you think once you take care of it all, you will never have that problem again, whether with physical or spiritual stuff, take heed!  You’ll turn around and notice–



A “few” more bags I caught sight of today…..*sigh*


Eternal vigilance is VITAL–for our physical homes and our spiritual ones as well!



Fabulous Family Friday–Road Scholars!

Friday, September 17th, 2010



From Wednesday’s post–several of you guessed my mom, and you were right!  On the right is our 13 year old daughter, Anna.  When we  were at a reunion this summer, a cousin gave me this picture of my mom.   Later, when I was looking at it at home, I realized how much Anna resembles my mom at about the same age!!! (We’re guessing Mom is 14–she got her ears pierced at 13, I believe!)

What makes it special is that Anna has two middle names….we already had her name picked out when my grandma (Mom’s mom) wasn’t doing well.   Dallas and I talked it over and decided to add my grandma’s middle name to Anna’s.  It just so happens my dad’s mom has the same middle name!    That is why I thought it extra special that not only does Anna share my grandma’s name, she also resembles my mom!

It’s really neat to see how your parents looked at younger ages–of course, back then, they weren’t taking 10,000 pictures a year!  So there aren’t as many photos to compare.  

I really appreciate having this photo!


It’s been a crazy month or so!   Between getting things for all our canning and running to Chicago and getting ready for our trip East….well, it’s been busy!

About a month ago, some newer homeschoolers were asking me when I start school.

“Define school!” I smiled.

“Well, when do you start with the books.”  The mom asked.

“Usually after Labor Day, but this fall, we’re planning a trip out east and THAT will be school!”

Yes, my children will be Road Scholars!  (pun intended! ;) )

What are they learning?




Geography!   What states were going through, how they’re connected….and putting together maps and finding our points of interest on them.   Mapquesting each “leg” of the trip (there are 25 legs now…we’re 1/4 of the way to being a centipede…. :D )


History!   One daughter is quite into the Revolutionary War and has found out more and more about different battles, soldiers, etc.

Another daughter or two really got into lighthouses and learned a lot about their history (including Cape Hatteras, the tallest lighthouse in America.  Yes, we’re going to go see it!)

Math!   Can we fit in 3,500+ miles in 14 days?!   (No, we are taking 16 days!)

Actually, I think *I’m* getting the math!   Figuring gas mileage and costs, how many nights we need to stay at a hotel, how many hotel rooms we will be forced to get.  Some have said three–I mean honestly!  Just because we have ONE more child than each room is supposed to hold?!   (Five max in most rooms.)   Okay, then we’ll stay at Homewood Suites  2 bedroom suite–we did that when we visited the Creation Museum  last year, and they even have a yummy HOT breakfast!  That alone saves us $50-60!!!

Two of the girls were writing down how much it cost to get into some of the lighthouses….



Language Arts!   One daughter has blogged about it!

Problem-Solving Skills!   How to fit 11 people plus needed stuff into a 15 passenger van with the back seat taken out.   We were going to rent a motorhome, but we have more people than seatbelts, so that is out.    Deciding if we have time to really see Jamestown.   Do we go ahead and go to Arlington National Cemetery  or cut it out?   (You’ll have to wait and see what we decided!)


There is also the “problem-solving” of what Susannah is going to eat, since many places are NOT gluten free!

Of course, there is also the problem of who will take care of the animals? (Thankfully some dear friends offered to do this for us!  Thank you, W. family!)


Computer skills!   Looking up info (all 3 computers were busily in use Sunday night!) for attractions, maps, eating places, hotels…..

Social skills!  Reconnecting with old friends and family to try to squeeze at least a quick visit on our way through.

Character development!   While we patiently wait to hear back from aforementioned old friends and family…. 

AND we will also be developing character while  traveling 3,500+ miles together in close quarters with NO air conditioning….



Auto Mechanics!   Fixing all the things on the Big Red Bus that  needed fixing….just weren’t planning on fixing them all at once!  (Guess that’s more Dallas’ department.   But you can bet the boys were around observing!)




All kidding aside, truly there is a lot of learning going on right now.   No, it won’t be recorded in workbooks–but it will be recorded in blogs and visual journals!

Don’t underestimate the power of real-life learning!   So many times we are spending our energy worrying about “getting back to the books” that we can’t enjoy the learning that is taking place through the “real life interruptions” that come up.

This is something we have wanted to do for several years.  We actually wanted to go “out West”, but reality is we’d need a month, and we just can’t get away for that long.   We decided to “go East” and see as much as we can.  We won’t be able to see everything historical–and there’s a lot of history along the east coast!   But the main reason for this trip was to spend some time together as a family before everyone starts marrying (no, there are no prospects in the wings nor are we looking for any on this trip!).

Which, of course, brings me back to what I “preach” all the time–




Fabulous Family Friday–wRitin’, Part 2

Friday, August 6th, 2010

I decided to work on “part 2″ this week and do the second R of Relationships next week–I’ve had a crazy busy week and today picked up 3 bushels of peaches that need done right NOW!



I said this would be a much shorter post–well, maybe! 

Grammar…..read Ruth Beechik! ;)  

Did someone say, “Grammar”?! I’m outta here!

Ruth Beechik says over and over (and over and over) that you don’t learn grammar to write, you write to learn grammar.  I wholeheartedly agree.  And quite frankly, life is too short to work on grammar books every single year of a child’s life.  I know some of you may raise an eyebrow at that, but as one who has graduated three from homeschool now, and all three can write fairly well, I feel I have a little experience to make that statement!

I think learning grammar in context is the best way.  A really good resource I’ve used for that is Learning Grammar through Writing.   It seems to be out of print right now, but available used.  I used it more as a resource for me to teach on the spot.   Really, a good handbook would do the same.   Something you could look up and point out why a comma goes here (or doesn’t), whether to use lie or lay, and whether to say their/there/they’re.

Believe it or not, that is primarily the way I have taught my older daughters–and after awhile they learn to use those handbooks themselves! ;)

Hear Ruth Beechik’s tongue-in-cheek but oh-so-true wisdom on grammar:

Did God’s voice thunder from Mount Grammaticus, “These nouns and these verbs which I give unto you shall you use with all the inflections thereof which I declare unto you; and you shall teach them unto  your children and your children’s children unto all generations”?

No one I know believes that such an event occurred, but many people treat grammar as though it occurred.  For over two centuries our schooling has conditioned whole generations to view grammar as an authoritarian system.  Our textbooks contained all the pronouncements about “right” and “wrong.”  Maybe we, personally, didn’t understand some of them, but that was our fault, we thought.  It was clear–to somebody.

                               ~You CAN Teach Your Child Successfully, p. 197

Here is an interesting tidbit that also might shed some light on the “study of grammar”:

Grammar teaching….was closely intertwined with study of the classic poets, and not a means for learning language.  In primary school, Greek children had already learned to write fluently, and then in grammar school they studied the classic writers, and learned grammar in that context.

You would not want to imitate Greek teaching methods, since they were limited.  For instance, because they had no printed books, a great deal of time was spent comparing the students’ written copies with the teacher’s in a critical examination of the text.  As time went on, the Greeks lost all sense of why they were teaching the classics.  Emphasis was on words and details rather than on meaning.  Knowing details of the classics became an end in itself, and lost was the vision of heroism, morals, thinking and other higher purposes in literature. 

Some would argue that we are suffering the same loss of vision about why we teach grammar.  As a scholarly discipline, it is one of the highest uses of the human mind.  But as an authoritarian system, it fails us.  It doesn’t help our children write, as we hoped it would.

                   ~You CAN Teach Your Child Successfully, pp. 165-166


True confessions–I have some that don’t know all the “technical” terms of grammar–but they can write.   As usual, if I’m going to err, I want it to be on this side of that debate!  :D

The Language Lessons books by Sandi Queen I mentioned last week do have some gentle grammar.   If you’re not using them, I suggest finding a good handbook you like (Rod and Staff, Writers Inc., or the aforementioned Learning Grammar through Writing).  I personally do NOT feel you need a separate grammar “program” to work through.  If it is not going to necessarily help your child write better, and it’s taking time away from real writing–why bother?!  

There are a few “Charlotte Mason” type gentle grammar studies out there that I could use, if I were inclined to do something more “official” with grammar.  Karen Andreola’s Simply Grammar is sweet and pretty low-key.   I know it’s written for “elementary age”, and it’s mostly oral, but do you really need a scholarly study of grammar for every child?   If you really, really feel they need “more”, please wait until they are older (I would say 15 or older and writing well) and maybe do Easy Grammar.  But please do NOT buy all the graded workbooks, just the main book and please do NOT make your child do each and every problem on each and every page.   They can go over it, do a few exercises, and if they get it, go on.   The goal is NOT to fill that workbook up but for them to learn it so they can implement it in their writing!

You're not *really* going to make me study grammar, are you?


 Now on to spelling!


With my oldest two, I did the traditional spelling methods.   Leah used to be able to pass her tests with flying colors….then not be able to spell “with” or “white” in her writing!


I became very frustrated with the “traditional method”, and I was blessed to get a good deal on Spelling Power many years ago.    I really liked it for the oldest two daughters.   The next two seemed to get bogged down in it.   We tried Alphaphonics for awhile, and it was helpful, but still didn’t help as much as I had hoped.


For Susannah, we found Apples.   Apples 2 was okay, but she liked the first one better.  Then we used (ahem…very minimally!) Spelling Wisdom from Simply Charlotte Mason.   It is basically copywork, and when they are ready, you dictate the sentence or passage to them.  She liked it fairly well, and I don’t know why we let it drop.   She’s “graduating” now, but if she wants to pick it back up, we might! ;)


Cassia started using Andrew Pudewa’s Phonetic Zoo.  I did not buy all the cds–I thought we could make our own tapes!   A bit of work, but doable!  She really liked it, but life got in the way and we didn’t keep up with making the tapes (which is probably why maybe you should buy the cds…).   I looked at AVKO’s Sequential Spelling, and it looks good, but Cassia decided to try Natural Speller by Kathryn Stout.


Now this is not a pull-it-out-no-planning item!   But neither will it take you forever to figure out!  We just got started on this last spring before my mom passed away, so it’s on hold until this fall.    I basically have used a lot of what I’ve learned from other spelling programs and Ruth Beechik about testing the words they miss vs. studying a list and then testing.  So I was going through the lists from grade 1 (sometimes the simplest words trip you up!).   There is a little grammar instruction in there, too.




If you are brave enough to not have a “curriculum”, per se, you can use Ruth Beechik’s ideas in You CAN Teach Your Child  Successfully.  She has Common Word Spelling Lists for grades 4-8 in there (even though Kathryn Stout’s has grades 1-4 in hers, I again don’t think children need formal spelling instruction until 4th grade or older…usually older!).   You could test them until they miss some, let them study those, help with any “rules” that might apply (but don’t get caught up in that too much!), and then retest with another list the next time.


I have actually done this with Diane Lopez’ book “Teaching Children“.  She is a Charlotte Mason advocate, and her book is subtitled “A Curriculum Guide to What Children Need to Know at Each Level Through Sixth Grade” (what a mouthful!).   She has a Spelling section as well as a Dolch Sight Word List in the Reading section for each “grade”.   Again, I don’t advocate worrying too much about spelling too soon.   But going through these lists/ideas as well as using words from their writing (Ruth Beechik advocates writing every day!), will really give you more of a well-rounded spelling program than you realize!


Also, please don’t do 20-30 words at a time!  5-10 are really enough.  If you are just “testing” to see where they start missing grade level wise, you could maybe add more in just for that purpose, but please don’t give them 20 words each week (or whatever time frame) to study!


Barb Shelton  (another favorite!) in her Jumpstart Navigator said that for years her children had only 5 spelling words each week.   Her daughter went on to do well in college, and I believe her son is a well-adjusted adult as well!


Diane Lopez’ book doesn’t have word lists for spelling, but has listings like:


1. Phonetic and structural analysis principles

     Example:  silent letter(s) “ight”–bright  fight  light  might

     night  right  sight  tight


2. Content areas

     Words from the content areas should be used to supplement

     the regular word list. (This is taking words from their

    writing and reading.)


3. Sight words

     Use words from the Dolch list and the basal reader.


4. Calendar-related words

     Review the days of the week, months of the year, and

     seasonal words.


Ideas taken from Second Grade Spelling section


I didn’t list all the ideas, but that gives you a picture of what it’s like.   And again–this is very doable and low-key!  I like low-key!  :)



The bottom line for me is to not stress about “doing it right” or “covering it thoroughly” but working through it gently, in context with real life writing and reading.  


In all honesty, isn’t that what you do when you need to check up on your grammar?   Or spelling?  Do you go do a “course” on it or just look up what you need?


There may be reasons where a formal study of grammar would be helpful, but I honestly haven’t used diagramming sentences since I had to do it in high school.   It didn’t make me a better writer, either.  


I share all this to help you relax–you will find what works for you and for your child(ren). 


And of course, above all, keep the 3Rs of Relationships top priority!   If it’s causing tears (in your child and/or you!) or making you have knots in your stomach, it’s time to change!




If you want some help planning your schedule, head on over to Belinda Letchford’s blog (I love her website, too!).  She has three posts on planning that are very good and realistic. 


Planning Part I:  Getting My Head Around Planning


Planning Part II:  Writing a Study Schedule


Part III:  Prep Time


And here’s a wonderful story from another post, You Are Mine, Twice Over!


 I hope you find her posts helpful during this “planning season”.  



As for me, it’s “canning season”!   ;)







Fabulous Family Friday–The First R of Relationships

Friday, July 23rd, 2010



I’m alternating between the 3Rs for my posts, in case you hadn’t noticed! ;)

This Friday, I want to address the first R of the “3Rs of Relationships”–your relationship with God.

All other relationships flow from this one–if it is out of whack, so will the others be!

Young mama or older, many children or a few, you cannot afford to skimp on this relationship.

“In Him we  live, and move,  and have our being…” Acts 17:28

Our Heavenly Father longs to have a relationship with us–that is why He created man and woman in the first place.   And that is why He sent His Son to die for us–to restore that relationship.

I have learned how much I need Him, and when I walk out into my day trying to make decisions on my own, it grieves Him.  It says, “I can handle this on my own, thankyouvermuch.” 

Of course, we don’t consciously think that!  But why else would we think we can make all our own decisions without the help of the One Who made us?

There are seasons, of course, when all you may be able to do is read a verse here and there, and offer prayers throughout your day, and a one hour quiet time (or even a 10 minute one!) seems like a luxury!

But that’s what it’s all about anyway–a lifting of our hearts to Him throughout the day.

Brother Lawrence, a monk from the 17th century,  has been an inspiration to me.  In his book, “The Practice of the Presence of God“, he said that he developed the practice of of God’s presence to the point that he was never more than 10 minutes without being aware of His presence!

And that was amidst cooking and cleaning in the kitchen (which were his main duties) and shopping for the food….hmmm….sounds kind of like home, doesn’t it?!

He actually said he felt God’s presence as much or more during his menial duties as when in the chapel or in silent mediation at prayer time.  

“Men invent means and methods of coming at God’s love, they learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God’s presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of him?”

Nancy Campbell is also an inspiration for mamas–especially young mamas of many!   She is one who encourages you to keep a Bible at the sink you can glance at and read a verse or two while doing dishes.  Or you could write out a verse or two on a 3X5 card and keep it taped up at the window (or cupboard) to read, memorize and meditate on while doing “kitchen duty” making your kitchen a haven and place of intimacy with Him–a place to “practice the presence of God”.

Nancy also shares in her devotionals and writings how she would often run to her room to kneel by her bed for a quick prayer when tempted to say something out of anger or frustration.  

Susanna Wesley threw her apron over her head in her busy household to let the children know mama needed a few moments with God!

Some of this comes down to training your little ones.  Even at an early age they can be trained to be still for a few moments, giving mama a few moments of spiritual nourishment.  Or you could share your “nourishment” with them–reading a Bible story or looking at a picture Bible together.  Instill in them early the desire to be in God’s Word. 

Often when we’re single, we’re used to having these wonderful “feasts” in the Word.   Even when young married, although you have new responsibilities, you may still be blessed to be feasting.   Then comes morning sickness, sleepless nights, fatigue, baby’s needs…..and if you’re not careful, you can let this part of your relationship go.

I’m not putting a guilt trip on anyone here!  I have been in places where I was barely keeping my head above water, and did not always keep this the priority it should have been.  I had too much an “all or nothin’ ” mentality, and that is not good!!!

There were times I posted Bible verses on the bathroom mirror and at the sink.  I would try to at least read a Psalm in the morning, and maybe the Proverb of the day later (naptime….before I drifted off, too! :) )

Looking to the Lord in prayer throughout the day can be a way you stay “in touch”, too.

I think the biggest enemy to our spiritual lives as busy mamas is the idea that it has to be a certain way.   Once you free yourself from that mentality, you can be open to creative ways to meet with the Lord.

In Proverbs 7, we have a picture of the “strange woman” finding ways to meet with her lover.  Proverbs 7:15 has a lesson for those of us wanting to meet with the Lord, “Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.”   I actually pray to the Lord that as part of my morning prayer before I open the Word!

How diligently do we seek Him?  There is a difference between being exhausted from sick kids that an SOS prayer is all you can do and that becoming the norm because you allow other things to be more important.

Only you can let the Lord gently probe your heart and see if this is just a crisis season, or if you are letting it become the way you relate to Him.

And if I may offer another area to examine–how much time do you spend reading other books?   “Good” fiction books, books about being a Godly wife and mother, homeschooling books…..or websites….blogs…..all can be wonderful reservoirs of ministry to you, or they could be a distraction from the One Who can minister all to you.

If you have time to check all your favorite blogs, facebook, twitter, etc., but you “don’t have time” to spend with the Bridegroom of your soul, it’s time to do some pruning!

He has SO much for us!  He speaks to my heart throughout the day, not just in the morning prayer closet!   But my heart must be tuned to His voice–through keeping short accounts with Him, cultivating a thankful heart to Him, and praising Him for everything that comes my way!   As the old hymn says, “Tune my heart to sing Thy grace“!

It’s wonderful to be able to read through your Bible on a plan, read 5 Psalms a day and 1 Proverb, pray through your list without interruption, but reality is, that is not what makes a relationship, any more than going over your to-do list with your husband and talking to him about the events of the day without interruption mades a relationship with him.   What you have with your husband that you have with no other man is intimacy. 

I love Webster’s 1828 Dictionary–the meanings are so rich!

Intimate–one to whom the thoughts of another are entrusted without reserve; to share together; to love entirely;

Intimately–closely, with nearness of friendship or alliance; closely, with close intermixture and union of parts, as two fluids intimately mixed

Our Creator, Sustainer, Shepherd, Savior and Father wants that same relationship with us.  There are times you just lie in your husband’s arms and cry, no words, just tears.   Your Heavenly Father also can be that strong arm and shoulder.   I have cried on His “shoulder” much these past few months since my mom’s death. 

There is something about shared, tender moments that knit our hearts like no amount of flowery words can.   Often my prayers are a silent adoring of Him, or a silent pouring of my aching heart out to Him. 

You cannot impart to your family what you do not have–you cannot impart to them “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10) if He is not your joy.

You cannot impart to them “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13) if you are not looking to Him for your strength.

You cannot teach them to “trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5) if you are looking to your own understanding and not His.

As in so many areas of life, you must be what you want them to be!   They will actually surpass you (oh, praise Him!), but they must see you humbly relying on His grace every single moment of the day.

In fact, I believe the most beautiful fragrance we can wear in His presence is the Fragrance of Humility.

Take a few moments when you arise to pour out your worship on His feet, and keep kissing His feet with your life as you go throughout your day.


Helps for my Quiet Time:

Bible :)

Blank  journal and pen

3X5 cards

Come Away My Beloved Devotional Journal

Make Haste My Beloved (or any Frances Roberts’ Books)