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Fabulous Family Friday–It’s Time to Let Go

Thursday, July 28th, 2011




Dallas’ step-mom stepped into Glory early Wednesday morning.


Times like this make you re-evaluate your life.


What is really important in life?  What IS the “important stuff”?


Well, if you know me at all, you know I “preach” about relationships all the time.


Relationships.  Those are the “important stuff” of life.   God wanted fellowship, so He created man.  He didn’t “need” us.  But He wanted a creature that would choose to fellowship with Him. So He gave man a choice.


Man didn’t make the best choice and has suffered for it ever since.


Then the Father made a way to reconcile us to Him.  He paid a precious price to redeem us from our foolish choice of self!


What a wonderful Savior He is!


And yet….


I can’t help but think of the parable Jesus told in Matthew 18:21-35.   I used to tell my girls, when they were younger, how the servant owed money that if it were stacked up, would be as high as “the tower”.  “The tower” is connected to a Cargill facility and stores grain to be used for mixing feed.  It is 8 stories high and visible for miles around!   In our rural area, it stands out!  It was pretty new when they were small, and they used to look for the tower on our way home from anywhere and start this litany of “I see the tower!  I see the tower!”


So it made a BIG impression on them to think of $20 bills stacked 8 stories high!


(Note:  I’m not stating that is the exact amount or how it might look but was using it for an analogy! ;) )


That’s how much the servant was forgiven!


Then what does he do?  He goes out and finds a fellow servant who owes him $20 and says, “Pay up or else!”   As his fellow servant begs for patience, he has no mercy whatsoever.


I’m sure we’ve all read that and thought, “How could he do that?  How could he just be forgiven a debt that he could never repay, and then demand his fellow servant pay a ridiculously small amount?!”


Because he didn’t understand mercy.   Or grace.   He didn’t focus on the “important stuff”.


I have watched Christians hang onto bitter grudges and hurts, and say things like “They’ll get theirs!”


Really–do we want others to “get theirs”?


What about “ours”?


Oh, that’s different!  WE get grace and mercy!  But “they” don’t “deserve” it.


It looks pathetic in print, doesn’t it?


Yet that is what we really are saying when we choose to not forgive.


And that is usually at the bottom of broken relationships.  Someone is not meeting our needs, someone is not doing what they should, someone else is being selfish and it hurts you….yet God’s grace is there to help you forgive them.


It’s not a feeling.  It’s a choice.  But too many of us are bound by our feelings.   And as we’re waiting for “feelings” to help us forgive, we’re getting more bitter every day.


Bitterness is not just wishing for revenge.  It can also be hanging onto the hurts.  Which is all too easy to do, especially when the other person either doesn’t have a clue they even hurt us, or they don’t care.


But we are commanded to forgive, to let go, to love, to bless and do good to our enemies (Mt. 5:44).


If we are to do that with our “enemies”, shouldn’t we do that all the more with our brothers and sisters in Christ?  Especially in our families?


This brings peace, rest, grace…unity.


And unity is the gift we can give to Him.


“That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us:  that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me.” Jn. 17:21



How will the world believe the Father loved them enough to send His Son, when His children can’t even love and forgive each other?


When we keep His lovingkindness, His mercy, before our eyes, it is easier to see how to walk in His Truth.


“For Thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes:  and I have walked in Thy Truth.”           Ps. 26:3


His lovingkindness is also His beauty, His favor.


When we keep before us all He did for us, and that we have favor with Him only because of His Son, it makes it easier to trust Him and believe that truly He can work even the wrath of man to praise Him. (Ps. 76:10)


Do we really think we can make a difference in an offender’s life by holding him or her hostage to our bitter emotions?


Christ died to free us from the shackles of guilt, shame, bondage to sin.  So why do we insist on putting shackles on our brothers and sisters?


I told my husband the other day that I think I know what the “unpardonable sin” is.


He asked what?


I said, “Unforgiveness.”


No, I can’t prove that theologically.   What I mean is, first of all, if we don’t forgive, He plainly said He won’t forgive us, either.  (Mt. 18:35)


If we are truly His, and we choose not to forgive, we may still “get to Heaven”, but we will live in a self-made hell-on-earth, because we can’t stay in fellowship with the Father Who forgave His prodigal when we harbor bitterness and unforgiveness towards another.  We won’t feel His forgiveness, His favor.  We will also destroy other relationships, because anyone who acts like or reminds us of the one we won’t forgive will evoke a reaction from us.  Or we’re so consumed with rehashing in our minds and to anyone who will listen how that person wronged us.  How we’re justified in feeling this way.  And then we will wonder why certain people have become distant to us.


Our hearts will shrivel up more and more as we get more self-focused, self-possessed.


“Be careful that you are following Me, and I will care for all else.  Striving is for those who have not yet learned to trust Me.  Anxiety is the affliction of the self-possessed. The godly know their heritage and revel in the protection of their Redeemer.  For it is in the blood of Jesus that refuge is found for every onslaught of the enemy.                                               ~Come Away My Beloved, by Frances Roberts


Truly, hanging onto offenses shows a lack of trust in God, and a lack of belief that He is Sovereign.   He could have stopped the offense, but didn’t.  Can He really be God?  (Where does that lie come from?!)


By embracing the grace He extends to you, and choosing, in spite of your feelings, to forgive, and instead of rehashing what was said or what you will say when you get a chance the next time, you choose to think of His grace and say, “I choose to forgive them.  By Your grace, I choose to love them”, then eventually it doesn’t hurt anymore.   And you actually DO love them!


Jesus didn’t die on a Cross so you could “have the right” to “speak your mind”.  Or to hold onto a grudge and refuse to give grace and mercy when you have received so much more from Him.


It’s really a slap in the face to the Glorious Son of God Who died to set you free!


We really have no other choice if we truly want peace and to stay in fellowship with Him.


It’s time to let go.


As you can imagine, life has prompted this post.


29 years ago, my step-mother-in-law had heard some things about me that weren’t true, but she trusted the one who told her.   She didn’t know me very well yet.  For close to 2 years, I could tell she didn’t like me and didn’t really accept me as her daughter-in-law.   At the time, I didn’t know why.


I had to choose to forgive, to say, “I love her” even when I didn’t feel it one little bit.


I’m so glad I did!


As I knelt by her bedside a few days ago, holding her hand, not knowing if she even was aware we were there, I thought, “Thank You, Lord!  Thank You that we cleared all that up years ago!”


My mother-in-law did say she was sorry, but by the time she did, it really didn’t matter anymore.


You see, if you wait for them to “say their sorry and mean it’, they will never be able to mean it enough for you.  You will still be expecting so much from them, and when they sincerely ask forgiveness or apologize, you won’t be able to release them.


And your “balance” will be upset.  As long as they were not acknowledging their wrong, you were “justified” in your feelings.  But now they have received freedom from God, if not from you, and their end of the balance has flung to the Heavens.  And you are left with the weight of the bitterness you harbored in your heart.


There is only one thing to do.


Let go.   Give it to Him, a thousand times a day if you must.  But let go, before it totally destroys you and those you love.


After all, when you get to Heaven, and see those nail-scarred hands, just what will be so important to hold on to, when you look into the face of One Who let go of it all…..for you?


Remember, it was from His Cross that He spoke the ten words that are our example….



“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”



May you find in Him the grace, the mercy, the strength….


…..to let go.


For then you will see and know His Truth, and “the Truth shall set you free.”


May you be free in Him!




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–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


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–First of the 3Rs

Friday, July 9th, 2010



First, I want to thank you all for praying for my dear friend’s 5 year old daughter who had spinal meningitis–PRAISE the LORD it was viral!  She is home and doing well–better and better each day!



I know you’ve all heard of the “3Rs”–Readin’, wRitin’ and aRithmatic.  (Not good for spelling, but I guess it works! LOL!)


I have another “acronym” use for the 3Rs–Relationship, Relationship, Relationship!  ;)


(That’s Relationship with God, Relationship with your husband, and Relationship with your children!)


So today, I’m going to address the first R on the academic side–or should we call it, First R (a)?!



First the “Readin” R.



Teaching your child to read can be one of the most rewarding things in life! 


Teaching your child to read can be one of the most frustrating things in life!



It all depends on your motivation and your approach!  Are you teaching them out of fear of state standards?  What your mother (or neighbor) thinks?  Because all your homeschooling friends are?  Because they’re “supposed to” know how to read by age 6?  (I’m sure it’s stated somewhere in Scripture….maybe one of our pastor friend’s favorite book of 2 Hezekiah! ;) )


Why do we teach our children to read?   I mean, really?  


  • So they can function in society
  • So they can eventually learn independently, requiring less of mama’s oversight
  •  So they can read and learn God’s Word


All of those are really good reasons, but of course you know the third one is the most important.   If you teach your child to read at 6 (or 3 or 10 or whatever) and they function well and successfully in society, but they don’t pick up the Scriptures and read them and allow God to speak to them through Them…..then what good was teaching them to read?

We “reward” the children when they learn to read by buying them a nice Bible with their name imprinted on it.   I buy a large print Bible, making it easier for beginner reading eyes to read.   So far, only one of the 4 older girls has bought a different Bible than the one she started with–and that was after 7 years!

Each little girl excitedly asks, “When will I get my Bible?!”    We usually give it to them for their birthday or Christmas, whichever comes next after they learn to read.    No, they probably can’t understand every word, but they are quite proud to have a Bible of their own to do copywork out of and to read for “quiet time”!

I will confess that so far, 5 of my 7 girls have been later bloomers in reading.   I was worried about the first late bloomer, and one day I thought, “Isn’t this why I homeschool?  To be able to allow them to learn at their pace?”

I relaxed a little and backed off being so intense.  By 8 1/2 she was reading, and by 11 I had to pry her nose out of books!   I remember one season I actually had to limit her reading!!! 

Now, what was I worried about?  :D

I realize there are sometimes issues that make it hard to learn to read and I am not qualified to advise about that. 

So what did I use? 

I started with Writing Road to Reading.  Very thorough.  Very intense.  After 6 weeks, Jessica and I were both tired of it!    I then used a “method” I had heard at a homeschooling conference.   I use the word “method” loosely!  There was no curriculum, no books.  If you have something that has the basic phonics rules in it, that will do.

The lady sharing this used Matthew 5 to teach her child reading.  No kidding!  I started doing that with Jessica, and she delightedly said, “Mommy, I like this so much better than when you stand at the chalkboard and say, ‘old’!”

You take the first part of Matthew 5:1:  “And seeing the multitudes….”

And.  You would help your child sound this out (obviously, you have taught the sounds by now.  Maybe just to these letters plus a few).    Now have your child add a “b”.  Baaaannnnnd.   “h”  Haaaannnnnnd.   Even have them try the ones that don’t make words.  “j” Jannnnnnd.

You get the idea!

You’d teach that in a short word, the vowel usually makes it’s “short” sound. 

You might only do that for one day or several, depending on your child.  Then the next time, drop the “d” at the end and do it all over again!

ban, can, Dan (could quick point out we make “mama letters” for names!), fan, man, pan, ran, tan, van.

Next time, take off the n and put the d back on.  You’re off!

bad, dad (or Dad!), fad, had, lad, mad, pad, sad

Next go to “see”–the first syllable in “seeing”.  You could even spend a “lesson” or two on syllables, having your child clap the names in your family.  Don’t quiz them on it or make a big deal about it.  Have fun!

Okay, so “see” makes the “long e” sound.  Here we go again!

bee, Dee (if you know anyone with that name!), fee, Lee, wee (vocab–tell them it means small!)

Obviously some harder ones you won’t do.  And if they say, “Oh, nee!” you can explain that’s a special one that they’ll learn later.  Commend them for a good try!

Next is “ing”.   You got it!

king, ping, ring, sing, wing

“The” would teach the “th” sound and that vowels at the end of a word say their name (or you could save that for “he” later in the verse!).

“Multitudes” has the CVC as well as the CVCV patterns.  If that is Greek to you, I mean:

Consonant-short Vowel-Consonant (mul) such as “can” or “red”  and

Consonant-Vowel-Consonant-Vowel  (tude) such as “cane” or “rope”.

You can have fun teaching “silent e” and change words just by adding “e”!  (Or the “when two vowels go walking the first one does the talking” rule).

can/cane; man/mane; pet/Pete; rob/robe…..

If that is hard to think through or follow, then the next easiest thing for me, and one I also used, was Ruth Beechik’s simple but wonderful (as anything by her is!) “The 3R Series“.   The “readin'” one is “A Home Start in Reading” (although I’d buy all three!).  And here is a review by Cathy Duffy.  (Although I would disagree that they need extra “learning activities” to learn–mine didn’t always need that!)

Here is Cathy’s review of The 3R Series.

Even if you choose to use something more traditional, please read Mrs. Beechik’s A Home Start in Reading to demystify the whole process of reading for you!

Now maybe you need something YET a little more….structured.  (That word is used sparingly around here…..LOL!)  When Anna was learning to read  my dad was falling and ending up at the hospital all the time, had surgery, ended up in a nursing home….so I needed something very simple.  I went with a book that has mixed reviews, but we ended up liking it!  Teach a Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.     Here again is Mrs. Duffy’s review. 

As she states, many people are hesitant because of the distorted alphabet.   But I will tell you that it did not phase Anna.  She took off reading, maybe had a few times I had to remind her of blends (like “sh” and “ch”), but overall did not have any issues with it.  Another criticism of 100 Easy Lessons is that the stories are silly.  Well, I didn’t find any of them bad, and yes, sometimes they were really off the wall, but the kids liked them!  It is scripted and easy to pretty much look over in a day and use the next.  I did NOT repeat everything as often as the book said, unless a child was having a huge problem with something.  Plenty of review built in!

Now Bekah and Charissa didn’t care for it as much, so I invested in something I had been wanting to check out for awhile.  Happy Phonics  from Love to Learn.

I confess we do not do the Explode the Code workbooks with it.  I had a post, “Happy Phonics, Happy Mama!”  awhile back about how we do Happy Phonics.   We ? Happy Phonics!

I would go with the regular set and pay shipping–there is an e-book option, but you get ALL of it already on cardstock for basically the same price!   For busy mamas, it’s worth the extra few $$!

I have taught Rebekah mainly this way, and Charissa is learning.  I’m reinforcing phonics with Anna to help with spelling–she loves it, too!   Noah and Isaiah want to do it with me, too–but I keep it very low-key for them, as I explain in my other post.

Happy Phonics is where we’ll stay, I believe!  And no, I don’t foresee doing the bookwork of Explode the Code–although of all the workbooks out there, I would recommend that series.   Here is Cathy’s review of Explode the Code–one of her Top 100 Picks!

One last resource I would like to recommend, although it is not something you “take out of a box and do”, is Teach a Child to Read with Children’s Books by Mark B. Thogmartin. 

I had one daughter that did not learn the traditional “phonics first” way.  That’s why I love Mr. Thogmartin’s book!  He says it’s not phonics or whole-word but both.  Children really do use both ways to learn, and some lean more heavily on one than the other.  The same daughter learns piano the same way–none of this right hand, then the left hand, then put them together.  It’s put them together from the start!   But that’s the way she learns.

I am editing this to say that the free copy on the internet is not by permission of Mr. Thogmartin and Mrs. Gallagher.  He graciously commented below that he has rewritten his book and it is now available at Teach a Child to Read.  My apologies to Mr. Thogmartin, as I didn’t know he was rewriting his excellent book and that the “free” ones were without his permission! 

Although I have an older copy of his book, I may just spring for this revised version!

Do you know what I like about most of these “methods”?  They don’t require a lot of drill and kill.   And they can be done snuggling together on the couch!  (Well, Happy Phonics is more on the floor! ;) )

And you know me–anything that builds relationships is TOP on my priority list!

I hope something here is helpful to you, and let me tell you that there really is no great mystery or perfect curriculum.  Sometimes you just need to allow time.   But when they”take off”, it is the most thrilling thing to me!!!

Happy teaching, happy reading and happy snuggling!  :-D




Fabulous Family Friday–Friends Part 2 & The Great Escape!

Friday, July 2nd, 2010


First thing–please pray for some dear friends whose 5 year old daughter has meningitis.  She is in the hospital and last I heard with a 104.9 temp.   I also don’t know if it’s bacterial or viral.   Her name is Susannah.  Thank you for your prayers!



One area of friendships I didn’t address last week was–mama’s friends!

We need to be just as careful to not form closer relationships outside the home than we have with our family (and it goes without saying with the Lord first!).   I have had times where I had to pull back from calling or going to things with friends.   Again, you can both be the most Godly of women, but after awhile…well, we are fleshly and all it takes is one wife who needs to deal with God about her attitude towards her husband, but it’s soooo much easier to talk to her friend(s)….and before you know it, you have devolved into a husband bashing session! 

Oh, we’re quite spiritual about it!  We wouldn’t say, “That no-good bum!  He expects me to do ____ and _____ and all he does is ______……”  

But we can “ask for prayer” even for “my attitude” and still paint our husbands in a less-than-favorable light.   There are times when we may need to bare our hearts to one trusted friend to pray with us.  But not every friend you have in exquisite detail!!!

I challenge you to honor your husband, even when perhaps he is not acting honorably.  Of course there are times to seek counsel–I’m not talking about abuse here.  I’m talking about the usual “he doesn’t pick his socks up” or “he doesn’t lead us in Scripture reading” or “he doesn’t play with the kids enough” or “he doesn’t discipline the kids enough–he’s a big kid himself!”

That’s just about our husbands–we can do this about our mother-in-law, our other friend, our children.  Again, there is nothing wrong with being honest and asking for prayer!  But if around certain people you start griping more than just sharing, and come away feeling more bitter instead of better, and if they “take your side” vs. praying with you and encouraging you, even in a difficult situation, then you might evaluate how much time you spend with those kinds of people (whether in person or on a phone or e-mail).

If our friends aren’t encouraging us in our walk as Godly women, wives and mommies, then those should not be the people we spend the most time with!

Even if you have great friends, you can end up spending lots of time interacting with them, then you  might be less content to “just be with the kids at home” or your husband.   Those are just some warning flags to watch out for!   We can’t expect our children to turn their hearts toward home if ours isn’t also turned toward home!

Of course, friendships can also become a part of something else I’d like to talk about….


What do I mean?!

Escaping our mundane, routine duties.  Oh, a vacation or little break is quite nice!  But when our heart would rather do something else than train and nurture and face life head on, we might evaluate whether what we are really doing is escaping.


The phone (cell or otherwise!).  Facebook.  Twitter.  Blogging. Texting.  Visiting.  Play days at the park.  Homeschool get togethers.  Field trips.  Eating out.  Shopping.  Educational opportunities.

None of the above are sinful actions by any means!  Unless….we are turning to those things to fill the God-shaped vacuum inside.  Many times, especially as mamas at home, homeschooling, training children 24/7, we feel we need a break.  And again, a little break is nice.  But when we’d rather have lots of breaks and very little time at home or taking care of the task at hand….then, we must question where our hearts are.

I heard Marilyn Howshall 10 years ago talk about too much running.  When you have to leave for an activity, you obviously need to quit early enough to get around to go.  Then you go to the activity, then when you get home it’s hard to get everyone corralled again to do chores or school or work on projects (or work on character!  ;) ).   One day of that is one thing, but when every single day is spent running all the time (I’m not talking about a short season of extra craziness!), then we–and the children!–start looking forward to the interruption and only half-heartedly apply ourselves to “doing the next thing” at hand.

I have been guiiiillllttyyyyyyyyy of this one more than I care to admit!   And it starts out so innocently!  “Just checking e-mails really quickly” turns into an hour (there’s a time warp in front of the computer, I’m sure of it!!!).  Or just a quick text to someone, and they reply, and you reply and…..well, you get the idea!

Even books can be an escape!  I’m not talking torrid romance novels, either!  I remember on one Mom’s list I used to be on,  a mom sharing how we can read all these good books about being a good wife, a good mom, a good homemaker, a good homeschooler, etc…..but eventually we need to put the books aside and just go be those things!

I think the hardest “escapes” to nail down are the ones that look so “responsible”.   If you are a very servant-hearted person, you can find yourself “ministering” to a lot of people….but not so much your family.  Or you’re not home to catch the little foxes before they destroy the vines.

With the advent of all our technology, it’s easy to even get caught “ministering” too much via e-mail, texting, etc. 

The best thing to do is to set some limits, allowing of course for emergencies!  Don’t get in bondage over this!   Someone may truly need you right now and other things can be put on hold.  But that should not be the norm!  :)

Another good thing to do is to be accountable.  Either write down how much time you spend on the phone/computer/texting/etc. or maybe a friend at church can ask you from time to time how you are doing in the areas you are most tempted.  Your husband can also hold you accountable, if that works for you.

Be very careful–the enemy may know he’ll never get you to rob a bank or leave your husband, but if he can get you busy “serving” and not realizing you are actually avoiding the character issues and tasks at home–and especially if it can be cloaked under the “serving” category–then he still wins some battles in your heart and home.

This is not something you “outgrow” or overcome once for all!  I still fight it! 

And one of the biggest ways to fight it is to make sure you are keeping intimacy with the Lord–seeking His face and staying close to His heart (vs. checking off your Bible reading list and prayer list).  Truly the “things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”–but we must be meditating on, beholding and pursuing His glory and grace for its light to loosen our hold on earthly things and praise!

If I have thousands of people extolling my virtues and how I helped them, but I lose my own children–what will it profit me?

I’m not naive enough to think my work is done!  I still have some younger children that need nurtured and guided, and to be honest, it’s somewhat harder now because of all this technology tearing us away and apart, if we let it!

My prayer is that we will all stay focused on the most important work–keeping our hearts focused on Him and our families.





I believe I have shared about this website before, but I decided to again!


Belinda Letchford is from Australia, and she has a wonderful website that really covers a Learning Lifestyle quite well!   I will warn you–you could spend a lot of time there!  ;)


I love her “motto”:


“Homeschool:  Live Life with Your Kids!”


She has a wonderful e-zine that you can get in your inbox, too.   She and I must be kindred spirits!   Like me, she believes their walk with God and character are more important than academics.   Not that academics aren’t important, but they are after the other two! 


Click on Lifestyle Homeschool and be prepared to be refreshed!


I would just go systematically through the pages you are intersted in.  She has many links on each segment, so again–plan to spend some time or keep track of where you left off!  Easy to navigate and just a wealth of good stuff there!


Belinda has also written a few e-books which I’ve ordered and enjoy (need to get them printed off so I can enjoy them more!)


Do start by reading the first homepage and then click on the links!  :)


Mamas, whether your children are little ones, a mixture, or mostly grown, my best advice to you would be to keep focusing on relationships.   My older daughters and I have a wonderful relationship, and I intend to keep pursuing this with my younger ones, too!  My “middle child” will be 13 in 6 weeks, and I’m so pleased that we are good friends, too!


Next week I want to cover something I’m sure every mama does but always wants to do better–praying for our children!


Have a blessed weekend and remember to thank the Lord (and all the time!) for the freedom we have in our nation to train our children for Him!



(A cellist outstanding in her “field”!  :-D )