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Posts Tagged ‘Fabulous Family Friday’

Fabulous Family Friday–The Enemies of Relationships

Friday, October 21st, 2011

I had intended these to be a bit closer together than 2+ months!   I had written about the first enemy of relationships in August, here.




The second enemy of relationships also begins with an “E”, and I think it’s probably even worse than the first one.




I’m speaking of Expectations.




That could be a book all by itself!




Truly Expectations can kill a relationship–with God, our husbands, our children, friends, church family…..




In my own life I have found that lack of gratitude is usually linked strongly to this monster.   Once I start feeling I am owed something, I don’t see the many efforts others go to to bless me, and then I expect it, then they feel they can’t ever do enough for me…..ay yi yi!  What a horrible downward spiral it becomes!




Then I become bitter, lack gratitude and express it even less, and here we go again! :p




STOP!  I want to get OFF!




I can remember a specific time in my prayers for my husband, where I was praying Godly, Scriptural things….but my spirit was becoming more and more bitter.  I was comparing him to my idea of a spiritual leader, and in doing so, was missing his unique gifts and abilities God had placed within him while focusing on what I perceived were his weaknesses.  Of course I wouldn’t want him doing that to me!  But as often happens when we let this monster grow, we don’t think about that part.  It actually all stems from pride.




Thinking that we are not doing the things others are “guilty” of.    Of course I’m not judging…I’m not ungrateful….I’m doing what I’m supposed to do….  (ack!)




And this pride doesn’t always stem from just an “I’m better than everybody else” attitude….usually it is rooted in having been on the other end of the “expectations” ideal—someone had unrealistic expectations of us (or we of ourselves) and that insecurity fuels perpetuating the same monster through the generations.








It’s time to slay this monster!




I honestly don’t know what made me finally get sick and tired of my way of  “praying” (or was that complaining to God?!), but I do remember one day finally writing “PSALM 62:5″ in HUGE letters across my “prayer page” for my dh!




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



I honestly quit praying all those things.  Even Scriptures.  I just prayed, “Lord, make him the spiritual leader YOU want Him to be.”




That was all I prayed for a long time!




As I’ve realized more and more Abba Father’s love for me, and His acceptance of me based on who I am in Him vs. what I do, I’ve been able to not only let go of unrealistic expectations of myself—but of others as well.




Some time ago–again, I’m not sure exactly when, I started praying Scriptures for my husband again.  But this time, my focus was different.  I wasn’t praying for him so he’d be the kind of spiritual leader *I* thought I needed so I could be comfortable and happy.  I was praying for him to be what God wanted him to be so he could fulfill God’ s call on his life…..and be fulfilled by doing so.   Of course that could only benefit our family.  Much better than forcing my dear husband into a mold he didn’t fit into!  (And that didn’t benefit anybody!)




This has spilled into other areas of relationships as well.  I quit expecting my children to act or be a certain way so I could look good, or because I thought that’s what a good Christian family should be.  I started saying “thank you” a whole lot more and praising God for the wonderful gifts they were to me.




I would say that the biggest antidote to expectations is gratitude.  I have suggested this before, but I’ll do so again–start a gratefulness journal.   Write down at least one thing you are grateful for each day.  You could even write three things–one thing you are grateful to God for, one thing you are grateful for in your husband, and one for your children (or even one for each of them!).  It is amazing how focusing your eyes in a different direction affects your heart and attitude–and then of course your words and actions!




I remember as God was teaching me to lay down my expectations, we were trying to sell a pop-up camper.  We had already dropped the price and didn’t want to go much lower.




We had lots of lookers but no takers.  Then one day, I came home from some errand, and Dallas told me he had sold the camper!




Of course I wondered how much.  He had come down even further on the price, but I felt peace about it.   He later told me he felt total freedom, that I wasn’t going to make him feel badly about dropping the price.  He specifically said he could tell I didn’t have expectations of him to do things a certain way.  Wow!




Yes, I was disappointed we had to lower the price, but I had total confidence in his judgment in this.




It was equally freeing to me!




Many times we try to hang onto control, either fueled by the fears and expectations or resulting in them.  Either way, once we learn where our true trust must lie (in Him), and quit putting it on those around us, we free ourselves and them to be who God created them to be!




I have found that our Lord’s ideas are far better, wiser and infinitely higher than mine!




I’ll write more about this, more specifically how this enemy can affect our relationships with our children.




If you have also been working on slaying this monster, please share what has been helpful to you!


Marvelous Mommy Monday–Homemade Toothpaste!

Monday, October 10th, 2011

I missed Fabulous Family Friday, so I thought I’d post it today!



We were busy getting ready for some dear friends to visit for a week–they came from Connecticut Saturday and we are SO enjoying them! :)



I really wanted to get back to my FFF posts and even had a great idea, but it took Jessica helping me and we just couldn’t connect Friday due to everything else we were trying to do–including Isaiah’s birthday, which was also Friday!   (Is my “baby” really five years old?! )


I thought it would be fun to do a video post!  I’ll post the recipe I use below so you can copy and paste it if you want, but sometimes seeing a how-to in a video is even more helpful than in pictures.







Here is the homemade toothpaste recipe (not original with me–I just tweaked what I found on the internet):


4 TB baking soda

1/2-1 tsp. celtic sea salt or himalayan salt, ground fine (you can do this in a coffee grinder, mini-chopper or blender)

Note: I use about 1/2 tsp. celtic sea salt in the double batch–you can leave this out but it does add minerals!

2 TB coconut oil (can use olive oil or sweet almond oil, or you can even leave it out and just have a tooth powder)

Water (optional–if your mixture is too dry, add a little, a few drops at a time)

15 drops total essential oils  (approximately–as you saw in the video, this isn’t exact!)



Here is what I used, but of course use what suits your family best!


~8-12 drops peppermint

~6-10 orange

~1-3 cassia


Mix together and store in container(s) of your choice.  To use, wet toothbrush and dip in to get a small amount on the brush.  Use a bit more water to help it reach all tooth surfaces, rinse well.


Note:  I doubled the above amount in the video.


Here is a picture of the containers we use, purchased at Wal-Mart, they come in packs of two in the travel toiletries section of the Health and Beauty area.





Here is Dr. Ray Behm’s site, and right on the homepage you’ll see “The Secret” that I shared about in the video.



Save Your Teeth



Please share in the comments if you have tried making this and what essential oils you used.



Also please let me know if you liked the video “post” and would enjoy more in the future!



Keep that smile bright and healthy! :D





Fabulous Family Friday–The Sound of Music

Friday, July 22nd, 2011


Little did my mother know back in 1973, when she let me take the “Tonette” in 5th grade, what it would lead to……



Only part of the "family orchestra"--four more are up and coming!


When I started flute in band the next year,  they bought me a Bundy flute used fr om my neighbor for $50 with the stern admonition that if I started band, I could not quit.  I was in it for all 6 years!


After I “proved” I would stick out the first year, they bought me a “new” Bundy….I really wish I had kept that one!  But I still have my original Bundy…I will be teaching my 10 year old, Charissa, on it this fall!


I did stick with band for all 6 years of junior high and high school, through three band teachers, too!    My freshman year I tried the drum set….fun but  not quite “me”!


Then in 10th grade, there were too many flutes for our small school, so I switched to oboe!  (It’s in the same key and most of the notes are the same fingering–the double reed is a bit different, though! LOL!)   It belonged to the school so I didn’t even have to pay rental.  I got to be a part of the Honors Band that year as there was only one other oboist within a 30 mile radius!


Did you know that the whole orchestra tunes to the oboe?   According to Wikipedia it’s because the oboe pitch is secure and penetrating.  I was told it’s because the oboe didn’t have much wiggle room for tuning, so you got as close as possible to be “in tune” and then the rest of the orchestra tuned to you!  ;)   Makes an oboist feel a bit more important!  :D


I tried trumpet (didn’t have the lip for it!), clarinet (that mouthpiece hurt with my braces), and played tenor saxophone in jazz band (another instrument that has the same fingering as the flute–handy!)


I always wanted to take violin, but alas!   A small town like mine had no orchestra!


When I got into college it wasn’t for music.  But I held onto my flute.   About halfway through college God really got hold of my life and changed my direction.  I took a semester of music at a small Christian college majoring in voice.  And took piano.


Although I only took one semester, I learned enough about theory between my classes and the piano lessons to help me later arrange things for my daughters and me to play!


I share that with you because there are many times we think music is a “nice extra” to “fit in” after the academics.  I’m glad my parents made me understand it was a commitment, and that it was every bit as important as French and Algebra.   And I’m glad they supported and encouraged me, coming to nearly all my band concerts.


When Dallas and I got married and looked forward to having children, we talked about what we wanted for them.  He knew of many families that really got into sports, and although there are certainly things to be learned from that, he felt music was something they could take into their lives once they were grown.  I really appreciate his vision!


When Jessica was very small, she wanted to play the “Volin-V” (so named after her See and Say Busy Bee when he said, “Violin-V!” :) )   At 5 she started violin lessons with an elderly professor at a college about 20 minutes from us.   After he retired we found another teacher, and a year later Leah joined her.


Soon came harp for Jessica, cello for Susannah and Cassia….and I was busy helping them practice!  No, we didn’t listen to the tapes like we were supposed to and no, I didn’t practice hours a day with them (which is why we’re not in Carnegie Hall! LOL!).


I did what I could as a busy mama of many who was also homeschooling.  But I also didn’t just give up.


When the girls were 10, 8, 5, 2 and Anna a tiny baby, Dallas suggested we sing for the local senior center.  So we did!  I remember Susannah and Cassia pushing each other off the piano bench, a dear elderly lady from my Home Ec Club holding Anna, and Jessica, Leah and I singing and playing a few songs together.  And that is how it started, nearly 14 years ago!


I had to write the “music” in a way they could understand it–a real challenge when the “cello girls” joined us!   I would write string names and finger numbers, and simplify hymns so they could play, too!  That theory class came in quite handy! ;)


Over the years, their skills have grown–thank goodness!–and we have a BLAST playing together!


I often tell people, when we share in song, that “family harmony” has more to it than just sounding good together!


For whatever reason, (maybe because we  have a life beyond music!), we seem to end up practicing late at night.  Some of us like to go to bed early, and others of us are night owls!  So usually someone is a bit on the grumpy side and needs to lighten up, and others of us need to be sensitive to that and not let non-essentials put off our practice sessions until so late!


You might think you are not very gifted in music.   Do you know what really sparked my love of music?  My mom had these record albums with “The Best of the Classics” with many of the popular classical pieces.  To this day I am familiar with many of the classics thanks to those albums!  I used to listen to them ALL the time!  (Suzuki-style before I even knew about it!)


Playing good music for your children is a cinch in this internet age!  You can find just about any composer’s work on YouTube with excellent orchestras playing it.  That way your children can see it as well as listen!  (A privilege I didn’t have!)


Check your local community–there may be free concerts, especially if there is a college nearby.   We are blessed, even in our rural area, to have a local symphony (that two of my daughters are going to audition for this fall!), as well as a Christian summer orchestra camp, drawing the cream of the crop for dance, choir, orchestra and theater.   And it’s all free!   So don’t think just because you’re in the middle of a cornfield, there’s nothing nearby! :)


Listening to good music is a good start.  Simply Charlotte Mason has a rotation to listen to different composers for 6 weeks at a time.  You could shorten that if you want to get more in in a year’s time.   But do read up a bit on them and listen to some of their more popular works.  I confess I’ve not been as consistent with that–but my children listen to it on their own! (Like mother, like children, I guess!)


And that is true–if you grump about “having to hear that song one more time”, you will not instill a love of music in your children!


Lessons don’t have to be with a professional….my girls have taken lessons from a professor, a second violinist in a philharmonic orchestra, homeschooled young ladies, college students and now back to more professional teachers!   Jessica started teaching at 13!  The girl she taught was only 8, so all it takes it being a few steps ahead of your student! ;)  (Kind of like homeschooling, eh?!)


My girls have done and now are doing work for their lessons. Their teachers need projects done that they can’t always get to as full-time teachers, so the girls work while one gets her lesson, then switch.  It works out very well.


Cassia wanted piano lessons for a long time, and I taught her a little, but it was obvious she was going to go far beyond me and needed just the right teacher.   A few years ago God opened the door to a wonderful, Godly lady who is just right for Cassia!   She also does work for her lessons.


Maybe going the instrument route isn’t possible, but you can sing!  We typically sing about 4 hymns  day when we are in our routine for school.  Yes, I said FOUR!


“Doesn’t that take a long time?”


I timed it once–it takes about 10 minutes!


10 minutes five times a week yields the ability to sing many hymns and harmonize!


I usually pick a “hymn of the week” for us to sing, to get more familiar with  it.  Then we also sing through the hymnbook–just sing the next song whether we know it or not! (That’s where those piano lessons come in handy!)   We do save the Christmas ones for Christmas time, but we plow through the rest of the hymnbook and find some real treasures in there!


Whoever does their laundry on that day also gets to pick a hymn–and yes, 3 days we double up!   Sometimes we also are working on a hymn to sing together and it only makes sense to do it then, too.   So there you have 3-4 hymns.   The girls are amazed at how familiar many of the hymns are because of us singing them over the years!  My only regret is I have not been consistent since we started this back in the mid-90s.  Just think of the rich treasury of hymns and songs they would have!


We thought we would start having a “Sunday night singing” as a family and sing through all the weekly hymns.  Obviously by the end of the year we might have to split those up since we’d have close to 52 songs!   We were at a ministry once where they picked a hymn per week and sang it at suppertime.  They had it in a binder, and you would move the previous week’s to the back of the binder.  We started doing something similar, and plan to pick it back up here soon.


We also have some Scripture songs we want to learn, so we will be factoring those into the “mix” as well!


Do you see how easy it is to add music to your family’s life?  And how important it is to homeschooling?  It has been said that when the church stopped singing, the Dark Ages came.  I realize that is simplistic, but there is a nugget of truth there.


One of the disadvantages, in my opinion, of worship teams and such, is that the congregation can stop singing and let them carry it.  I know that doesn’t always happen, but I’ve seen it happen and it saddens me.  You hardly ever hear anyone singing in harmony in some congregations.  That is a beautiful art!  (My girls learned this by playing different parts with their instruments as well as hearing it in the music we listened to.)


In the future we do plan to be a little more organized about practicing, taking one day a week to practice together.  But I want to share that we really didn’t practice hours each day.  We sing together, practice together like crazy women when a ministry opportunity comes up ;)  and have fun!   If I could do it with four young children and a baby, you can, too, mama!  Just do what you can, use what you have, and let God perfect it!


I would plead with you to not let this one slip by “so you can get the academics done” (or housework).   Music can lift the soul, encourage others, and become something siblings and parents can do together.   If “all” you ever do is bless a local nursing home with your “ministry”, that will certainly bless and minister to our Lord as well!  And those people enjoy it so much!


If you can have the far reaching vision of music with your children, then someday that can be an opportunity for them to bless others through singing/playing together, giving lessons (for pay and/or as a ministry), as well as something to give them a family purpose.


We are known all over our county and a few others because of our singing ministry.  Many people come up to us and tell us how much they enjoyed it, loved seeing the little ones in there, too, or even remember when the older girls were “the little ones”!


We started with little character songs and hymns. Added a few  hand motions and maybe some Scripture memory.  It took a lot to fill 20 minutes!


Now we can fill an hour easily! ;)


But it starts with little steps, and most of all, it starts with Mama having a heart for ministry and a vision of family unity that will keep you going even when the “musicians” are giving you a hard time!   (Like this goofy video–you won’t see anything because we were practicing late one night and some people weren’t dressed for videoing!  LOL!  And as you can tell–we were NOT in tune! :P  And in spite of my “stern” sounding tone of voice, it was all in fun!  No children or mothers were harmed in this video! )






Add big smiles to the mix and you can’t go wrong!



And one day, you may be blessed to hear their pure, sweet voices leading The Star Spangled Banner at the Sale of Champions during the 4-H fair:






Or maybe you will find a funny song to sing together that will make people smile!





Or maybe one of your daughters will surpass you on piano and take your place accompanying her sister–far better than you ever could!




Or maybe the same pianist daughter, who used to spend hours each day challenging you, will put that energy to better use in playing a tremendously moving piece:





So go ahead–make some music and memories together!



(And thanks, Mom, for making me practice, making me stick with it, and always believing in me!)





Here is a neat resource that we have used–in fact, I need to get ours out and work with the younger ones!




(Scroll down for the handbells–the first ones you see are combination handbell/deskbells.  I always intended to get the extended range and chromatic bells….maybe one of these days!)



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–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–wRitin’, Part 1

Friday, July 30th, 2010




Now we come to the second “R” of academics–wRitin’.  (I’m talking about writing to express yourself, vs. handwriting.)


Of the 3 Rs, this one is the most fun, and yet can seem to be most intimidating to “teach”.   It can be as easy or as hard as you make it, really.


Now, language arts is my “thing”.   It might not be yours, but I am going to share some things with you that will help demystify teaching writing.


What is the reason to learn writing?  It’s to be able to express yourself.     Please keep in mind that not everyone needs to know how to write a short story–or a research paper.   For some, being able to write up a quote for a job and maybe a love note to a wife may be all the “writing” they really need!    As in all of education, having a “one-size-fits-all” attitude is not going to work well here.  You may have some children who are trying to write their own novels at 9 and others who seem allergic to anything to do with the subject!    The first axiom in teaching writing is, Know whom you’re teaching and why.


I have daughters who love to write more prosey things and stories, and I have one that is “Just the facts, Ma’am!”.   I have another who thinks she doesn’t like to write, but if you let her do it with the computer vs. pen and paper, does very well.   Had I insisted they all write short stories and novels, or had I insisted they all do research, had I insisted they all use pencil and paper, I would have killed any love of writing in my four oldest daughters.


There are some things I could have done better, don’t get me wrong!   But overall, I’m going to share some very simple ways to teach writing as well as some resources I like.


Teaching to write is as simple as writing a letter.   Really!  The “program” I used with my two oldest was Understanding Writing by Susan Bradrick (here is another review, by Cathy Duffy, and here you can get information directly from Family Discipleship Ministries, the Bradrick’s ministry).    It was the best investment I made!


Basically, you are teaching writing through the medium of writing letters.   Mrs. Bradrick teaches how to evaluate your content and focuses on Christ-honoring writing.   Grammar is sprinkled in throughout level 4 and up (levels do not necessarily mean grade level), and she advises taking the “junior high” years to study grammar using Easy Grammar, while reviewing and honing skills learned in levels 1-5.   I admit right here that we tried Easy Grammar and I thought it was an overkill.  But I have an aversion to workbooks of just about any stripe!  LOL!  


I “taught grammar” in context.   Mrs. Bradrick has you using grammar handbooks, and although you might occasionally need to work on a concept, my oldest two daughters really absorbed a lot this way.  They might not know all the “grammar terms”, but they have proven Ruth Beechik right in that they write beautifully!   By the way I highly recommend first reading everything Ruth Beechik has to say about teaching grammar before you stress about it! ;)


Understanding Writing is not something you can just give to your child and they do with minimal input from you.  The lessons are well-laid out, not twaddly, and really fairly short.   Older children could possibly read it and do the lessons on their own, and sometimes I “doubled” up–while practicing a concept by writing a letter, I would sometimes teach another lesson (depended on what the next lesson was and my daughters’ ability to absorb something new while practicing the previous concept).


The most wonderful part, to me, is that this becomes a ministry!   One of my mother-in-laws lived out of state and loved getting letters from her granddaughters!   We had a neighbor who was dying of cancer, and one of my daughters wrote her a few times before she passed away.   She had told me how much those letters meant to her. 


Shut-ins, grandparents, neighbors, friends far away–what a beautiful way to keep in touch!


It’s also nice that there is a purpose to writing vs. filling in a workbook that only Mom is going to see.  


My girls would make a copy of their final letter to keep in their folder before sending the original off.




Another resource I’ve used is Jill Bond’s “Writing to God’s Glory“.     The first part is for the “teacher” or, if it’s an older student, the student could read this part.   Jill helps get you focused on using your “red pen” for highlighting all the good stuff, vs. marking up what’s wrong with a child’s writing!  Again, this is not a “pull it out and hand it to your child” resource, but I personally found it good!   I did some of the activities in the “teacher section” with my oldest two, then life took over and I just let Jessica finish it on her own.   It’s supposed to take 2 years to work through.  I honestly don’t remember how long with Jessica–we think it was longer.


Some don’t consider this an “in depth” program, but I know I am writing to many young mamas of many.  To be honest, if your older child is really into writing and needs something more “in depth”, then by all means find what will work for them!  But I will tell you that Jessica got started on a sweet children’s character novel simply by the section that had her coming up with a plot, characters, etc. for a story!


It’s considered K-12, with older students able to go through it on their own (although some feedback from you would be nice!).


Writing Well is the first section, talking about the process (mechanics of building a story) and the features (aspects of writing).   The Craftsmen section is grammar, although again, not an in depth treatment of it (not all bad!).   Jill makes it really fun with titles like “Gotcha (“Got” Is Not the Past Tense of “Have”)” and “Love is Lovely” (Overuse of words).    Ideas is the section that has you coming up with a plot, developing characters, setting and research for a book.  Note–you do not HAVE to write a book!   But by going through those processes, you get an idea of what  plot, setting and character are!


Finally is the “Favorites” section, where students will write down favorite things they like in others’ writings.  First lines.  Vignettes. 


Jill gives a couple of “scope and sequence” ideas for working through the book. 


Because I have “different kinds of writers” in this family, my third and fourth daughters did not enjoy this as much.  So the hunt was on, again, to find something for them!



I latched onto Diane Hopkins’ Journal and Language Arts Program, from Love to Learn (K-5).  About half of this binder is filled with papers with different sized lines for writing, with the front page half blank for a drawing.   The idea is that the student draws a picture and “journals” on the lines.  You don’t “grade” their spelling or grammar, although you should encourage good handwriting, you don’t “grade” that either. 


Spelling grows out of their journaling, and she has spelling list pages that you can keep track of the words they need to “study”, gleaned from their writing. 


Next is the “Teach When Needed” Language Arts section!   She has some ideas by grade level (nothing daunting–it all fits on one page!).  Then there are ideas for lessons on everything from Abbreviations, ABC Order, Addressing an Envelope to Prefixes, Suffixes, Roots, Punctuation, and Synonyms (there’s more than just that, but I wanted to list some to give you an idea).  There are even some spelling families listed.


The final section is Dictation Instructions, along with four sections of quotes of various lengths to use for dictation.     This was very gentle and worked well for us for awhile.    Again, to be honest, no, I did not do everything all the time.   But it was a sweet, non-threatening way to get them journaling.  They kept their work in  a binder, which is funny to go back through now!



We found Sandi Queen’s Language Lesssons  series at Queen Homeschool Supply (K-12), and because life had gotten a bit insane for us, they were an answer to prayer!  These are more like traditional workbooks EXCEPT—they are based on Emma Serl’s Language Lessons and are definitely Charlotte Mason and relaxed schooling friendly!  Short, sweet lessons, picture studies, grammar, writing, phonics for the younger set (although not enough to get them reading–but good review), and  poetry.    My girls really like these.   When Susannah and Cassia got to the upper levels, they didn’t care for them as much, but neither of them are prosey fiction writers, and there was more writing at those levels.    I also would say the copywork is maybe a bit overdone sometimes, but that is probably because my children copy daily from the Bible.  So I sometimes excused them from some of the copywork.  I realize copywork is GREAT to teach handwriting and other skills, but use your discretion on this (if you have one with an aversion to pencils, maybe you would cut down how much they did).



The resource we started using last year is Andrew Pudewa’s Teaching Writing: Structure and Style.   I only have the teacher’s syllabus that I’m teaching from, although I have viewed the dvds as well.  With the dvds you have a very comprehensive course on writing.  I’m not very qualified to tell you how it all fits together, but you do not have to buy the student dvds.   Since I have seen some of the dvds, heard Mr. Pudewa speak and like language arts myself, I am fine using just the syllabus.  It is definitely a more expensive option if you go with the dvds, but many homeschool groups have invested in some to share or a mom who had been through them may teach at a co-op.     I really like Mr. Pudewa’s teaching and he makes it “easy” to write–I was teaching my 9, 11, 12 and 16 year olds, and the 18, 21 and 23 year olds want to be in on it, too!   My one daughter who really dislikes writing the most actually enjoyed it, and my friend who is loaning it to me said her older son is in college and writing essays very well.  Her younger son is severely dyslexic, and HE enjoys them!  That says volumes!


I need to say that they don’t advise teaching it without going through the course.    Of course, I have to be different!  ;)    I had borrowed this to see if it was worth investing in, and I believe it is.   So I will probably be getting my own set of dvds and syllabus this fall.




I realize all of these require a bit of investment.   To be honest, if you are willing to go against the flow, you can teach a lot with Ruth Beechik’s recommendations in her books (A Strong Start in Language–good for K-3, and You CAN Teach Your Child Successfully–grades 4-8).   Another really good resource that is helpful, free, and not too overwhelming (as long as you don’t keep reading all the rest and feel you have to add it in) is “Making the Transition” at Simply Charlotte Mason.  You don’t even have to be a “Charlotte Mason” homeschooler to use these ideas!


The page I linked to first is “stage 1″, basically talking of short lessons, living books and narration.  For younger children, that plus copywork is really all you need!  But if you want to know more, click here and scroll down a bit for spelling ideas, and click here for ideas on language arts.  But don’t try to do it all at once.  “Make the transition”, as it says!


I am mainly covering writing as expressing yourself, vs. grammar and spelling.   I will cover them in wRitin’ part 2 in two weeks!  It will be a MUCH shorter post, believe me!  :D 


If you have any questions about the resources I’ve used, or if you want me to clarify anything, feel free to ask in your comments or e-mail me.   I really love language arts and want to get back to having fun with this with my younger set!   


The bottom line is—don’t stress and have fun!  Teaching “as you go” is one of the best ways—and it works!    :)



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)

Fabulous Family Friday–FairSchooling?!

Friday, July 16th, 2010


I promise that next week I will return to my regularly scheduled posts!  This week has been a full one, with today being our last day of the 4-H fair.  This was Susannah’s last year–but she’ll be back as a helper next year!  (Are true 4-H-ers ever really “done”?! ;) )


I thought you might see how “school” fits into the fair!  :)




How is this educational, you ask?


Can’t you see it’s engineering?  Roadbuilding? Dirtmoving? (with your brother’s croc shoe, of course! ;) )  Memory skills?  (Where did I bury that red “woo-woo” truck?!)

Life-skills-learning at its best! LOL!



 (Close-up of “using your brother’s croc to move dirt”!

Problem solving, you know! ;) )




That’s stretching it a bit, you say?


Well, here is one that incorporates spelling, vocabulary, word usage, math and art!





 Hangman in the sand!!!



I’m sure between my girls and I, we will be giving you many glimpses into our time at the fair!


Enjoy life with your family!


And “ham it up” a little–life’s too short to be serious all the time! :D