Sunday, September 30, 2007

Small miracles, if there is such a thing...

Today I read the story from Acts 12. I'm sure you know the story: Peter is in jail, awaiting execution in the morning. The church gathers at John Mark's house to pray for his release. God sends an angel to set Peter free. When Peter arrives at the house, the servant girl runs to announce the good news to the people gathered praying for him. Once again, we see the disciples not making themselves look so good... They react as though the servant girl is crazy. Of course Peter's not there, he's in jail! It seems that they lost sight of God's ability to pull off miracles. How often do we do the same thing? I'm not talking about the parting of seas. I'm thinking of the everyday miracles, that we sometimes fail to pray about or even recognize.

Several months ago, I had gone out for coffee with a good friend. We talked quite a bit about her teenage son, and some of her worries about him. He had a lot on his shoulders, and was struggling to cope. She, too, was suffering in a season of grief. As we parted that night, I suddenly remembered I had a small book by Max Lucado in my glove compartment. I gave it to her. She accepted it, but didn't seem nearly as excited about it as I was. The book was He Did This Just For You, in which Max Lucado uses a parable about a father and his wayward daughter to explain God's desire for a love relationship with us. It is beautifully done, one of my favorites to "share" with people.

The next morning, during my quiet time, I was praying for her son. As I was talking about my concerns, God clearly laid on my heart that I should pray that the book would be left out, and the teenage boy would read it. I need to be completely honest here. Before praying for this, I tried to help God understand why this couldn't possibly happen! I gave Him several good reasons why, in all my wisdom, I didn't think it was very likely at all. Yes, at times I can be very dumb! But God was being persistent, and having prior experience with Him, I knew it was best to just do what He said. So I jumped on board with Him and prayed that God would work out a "small miracle". After all, it was a good idea He had.

Well, I'm sure you can figure out what happened next. The following day I called his mother and asked how things were going with him. She told me how "the strangest thing" had happened the day before. She had left the book I gave her on her bedside table. She said she went in her room, and saw her son laying on her bed reading it. He read it cover to cover, then came out and asked her if she had read it. When she said no, he replied "Well, you should, it was really good." His mom thought it was very strange that he would read a book like that, but mentioned that "maybe it helped, he does seem less depressed today." Being the faithless idiot that I can sometimes be, I was somewhat blown away by this information. Not only had he read the book the very day I had prayed about it, but apparently, he agreed with it!

So now you're wondering, what the heck is wrong with this girl? Right? Why was I so shocked to hear this news? I mean, wasn't it God's idea in the first place? What did I think was going to happen? God invites me to be a part of something He's doing, and I'm surprised when He completes what He started. What a dope I can be! Now I'm not fooling myself into thinking that God needed me to accomplish His will here. He is certainly able to bring about His plans, regardless of my unfaithfulness. But what a blessing to be a part of it!

Still, I can't help but wonder how many times I've missed out on the blessings He had intended for me because I lacked the kind of faith He's called me to. So I think I need to start asking myself this question: Would I rather be involved in God's wonderful plan, or stand on the sidelines critiquing Him? Seems like a no brainer to me.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Sunday School Answer

Last night my kids and I were playing a little game. It's called The Questions Game. (We're not very creative when it comes to naming things.) Here's how it works: A question is thrown out, then everyone tries to guess how a particular person would answer. Everyone gets very excited in calling out their guesses, before the person's answer is revealed. Sometimes my four year old, Olivia, has a tough time keeping up with the pace. Last night one of the questions was "What's your favorite book in the Bible?" Alex yells out "John!" and Rachel says "Romans". Then Livvy gets very excited, apparently she's thought of an answer. She thrusts her cute little finger in the air and yells out "Jesus Christ!" She must have thought Jesus was a safe guess. I mean, that's usually the the answer, right? Rachel and Alex were cracking up. She was so cute, and a little confused as to why Jesus didn't have a book named for Him.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Note to self

In an attempt to avoid repeating my own mistakes, I'm writing a little note to myself:
Dear Self,
The next time your family has a super fun, magnet kit in the house follow these directions, or risk havoc. Immediately locate the packet of "iron filings" and discard them, preferably hidden under old coffee grinds. Keeping them will only lead to misery. If by chance, the kiddos find these before you do, you must act quickly. Rather than exploring the wonderful world of magnets with them, yell at the kids to stop what they're doing. Send them into the bathroom to wash the black stains off. While they're cleaning up, gather up as many filings as the magnets will hold. Don't even try to get the filings off of the magnets. It will only lead to frustration and nasty black stains on your fingers and nails. When you've accomplished all you can with the magnets, use paper towel to gather up all the loose filings you can. Throw it away immediately. Otherwise one of the kids will pick it up and run across the room, freeing all of the iron filings. To get the filings off the hardwood, do not rub with wet paper towel. This will lead to yucky black marks. Instead, use clay to pat at them. Then wash the floor to get rid of the clay residue. Vow never to allow iron filings in the house again.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

One more reason to homeschool

A homeschool mom I know came across the latest in back to school gear: The Backpack Shield. Click here for the newest must have school supply. It's a bulletproof shield that fits the dimensions of a student backpack. They have a lovely line of backpacks or you can just buy the shield. They're having a back to school special! You read that right. A back to school special on bulletproof shields! It's yours for only $249 plus shipping. According to the website the shield "stops hardened higher velocity 9 mm and 44 Magnum Full Metal Jacket (copper) rounds flat in their tracks." It's available in a variety of colors with an optional personalized photo. Can you image strapping on your kid's bulletproof backpack, and sending them off for the day? I can't.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Kids will eat the darnedest things!

We all know kids can be finicky eaters. I'm very blessed in that area, as my kids aren't as picky as some. One problem area, however, is in trying new foods. It's always a 50-50 chance whether my kids will try a new recipe without being too skeptical or deciding they definitely don't like that, whatever it is. It's always helpful if the new menu item has an interesting name. Like, Chimachangas. Those went over real well in my house. If it's fun to say, chances are it's also fun to eat! My kids can be easy to trick in that way. If I give a recipe a new fun name, they're more likely to try it, and maybe even like it. With this in mind, I decided to really go for it. A childhood favorite of mine was galumkis. Galumkis are a polish dish, stuffed cabbage rolls. Now I agree, that doesn't sound too appetizing, but believe me..yummy! As a child my family would drive to my grandparent's house, 2 hours away. When we arrived the first thing I would notice was the smell. Yes, Gramma had made Galumkis, as she always did when we visited. Although we aren't Polish, it was a family tradition for some reason. Galumkis have a very distinct smell as they bake. Unfortunately for me, my husband loathes the smell. So, needless to say, I haven't made them in years, and the kids have never had them. But lately I've been having a hankering for them. So I developed a plan. My hubby was going away on business for 2 days. The night before he left I went to the market to get the supplies. (A very cheap meal, btw) I decided to make them the first night, so I'd have time to air out the house. Now all I had to do was convince the kids that stuffed cabbage rolls were a good thing. In this case, it wasn't as hard as it sounds. They already had an interesting name: Galumkis. I psyched them up about the fun food from my childhood. They fell for it! They were a little concerned as they watched me prepare them, especially about the strong smell from the boiling cabbage. But they smelled better baking and galumkis is a cool name. I didn't mention to my kids that as a child I had refused to eat the cabbage, and only ate the stuffing. When they came out of the oven, the kids thought they looked a little weird, but were willing to give the galumkis a try. With a name like that, how could they not at least try them? Well, you would have thought I served hot, fudge sundaes for dinner. They devoured them, cabbage and all! They had seconds and thirds. In the words of Alex,"They didn't look good, and they didn't smell good, but they sure tasted good!" How weird is that? It just goes to show, kids will like some pretty surprising things if you can just get them to try it. I just wish there were more leftovers.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

An anniversary, of sorts

Disclaimer: This one might be a little sad.

A year ago tonight we held a 40th anniversary party for my in-laws. This might not seem like something to reflect on, but there's more to the story.

For a year before the big anniversary, my husband wanted to have a party for his parents. Although the 50th is generally the year for a big party, my husband felt very strongly that we needed to celebrate their 40 years together. My in-laws, on the other hand, felt differently. Not ones to enjoy being in the limelight, they insisted they didn't want a party. My husband was very disappointed. About 8 weeks before the big day, my mother in law called and said she had changed her mind, and we could give them a party if we wanted. John was excited, but we had no idea how we'd pull this off. September is a big wedding month in New England. Where in the world could we find a hall? Then there were favors, music, cake, and invitations to think about. It seemed impossible, but God had a plan!

With very little effort, we located a reasonably priced country club that had a cancellation. My sister-in-law was able to locate a bakery to make a replica of their wedding cake. She also took care of the favors and centerpieces. (Unlike me, she's great with stuff like that!) We found a DJ, with only one phone call. My husband got a hold of their damaged wedding photos. He spent hours digitally restoring them. I made a scrapbook from the photos, the first real wedding album they've had. (I'll admit, I didn't finish it until midnight the night before the party!) He also created a slide show showing their life together over the years. John then made a guestbook incorporating all the pictures from the slide show. Throughout all the planning, God seemed to lead the way, and open doors. Apparently, He too felt this party was a good idea.

It was a lot to get done in a short amount of time, but when the day arrived, everything was ready. A family friend, whose hobby is photography, called that morning and offered to take pictures. We said "Sure!" Little did we know that this, too, was part of God's plan.

The party couldn't have been better. Everything went perfectly! The slideshow was a big hit. My favorite part was a photo of my brother-in-law with his son, Tony, on his first day of school. It faded out, the next photo being the two of them at Tony's high school graduation. It was very sweet. Everyone we had invited had come, and then some. Even our teenage nephews, Tony and Joey, were enjoying themselves. It was all about family and friends coming together to count their many blessings. Everyone seemed to "get" that.

When the evening ended, I happily headed out to bring the kids home. John stayed behind with his nephews to gather up all the odds and ends that we had brought. As I left that night, and hugged my nephews goodbye, I never could have guessed it would be the last time I'd see Tony's beautiful face. Four weeks later, our 19 year old nephew would die unexpectedly. The party is our last memory of him. Although Tony's death took us all by surprise, God, of course, knew what was to come. With my whole heart, I believe this celebration of love and family was orchestrated by God to provide us with the loving memories He knew we'd soon need.

So this date is bittersweet for me. As heartbreaking as it is to realize that it's been one year since I've seen Tony, I also think there's much to be thankful for about that night. The family friend provided a wealth of pictures. A picture of my sister-in-law with her 3 boys, altogether. A picture of my kids with their cousins, the last one we'll ever have with everyone in it. And many more. Tony's entry in the guestbook to his grandparents was the most tender of the book. He spoke of how much they have meant to him growing up. I know my in-laws will treasure his words forever. All of the aunts, uncles and cousins had a night of great memories, that included Tony for one last time. If I had known what was to come, I wouldn't have been able to imagine a better final memory of Tony. For that I can be thankful.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Preschoolers, sex ed. and the media

Actual conversation with my almost 5 year old daughter:

Mommy goes to kiss daughter goodnight.
Daughter opens her mouth.
"What are you doing?" asks Mommy
"I want to kiss like the lady and man on TV"
"What do you mean?" asks Mommy
"They kissed for a long time and they had their mouths open. I want to kiss like that."
"Well, you can't kiss Mommy like that. That's a special kind of kiss for married people."
"I can't wait until I get married! Then I can kiss people like that!"
"Well, honey, you can't kiss everyone like that. Only your husband."
"Why not, Mommy.? I want to kiss people like that!"
"Because it's a special kind of kiss that God made for husbands and wives."
"But you and Daddy never kiss like that.."
"Well, actually we do. Just not in front of you."
"Why not?"
" It's supposed to be private, honey."
"Then why were the lady and the man doing it right on TV?"

Good question, kid!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Homeschool Socialization

We've all heard it. The first thing people say when they hear you homeschool: "But what about socialization?" Forget academics and morality, this socialization thing can really get naysayers going. It used to really irritate me. Sometimes I'd feel the need to "educate" people about their flawed thinking. Now, with a few years under my belt, I either roll my eyes, or laugh hysterically.
Today we met up with a group of fellow homeschoolers. This was our first day with this group. My kids knew a few of the children, but not many. It was here that the socialization problem really became evident. My "tweener" daughter approached a group of girls around her age. They all knew each other. But something was terribly wrong with these girls. They didn't seem to know they were supposed to ignore the new girl, and make her feel like an outsider. Instead they introduced themselves and happily let her join their group. Very disturbing, indeed. During a scavenger hunt, my son was paired with a boy almost twice his age. Someone forgot to tell the older boy that he was supposed to whine and complain about this travesty. Instead they ran off searching for their items. They made a great team! During a snack, my 4 year old plopped herself down in a group of tweener girls. Rather than telling her to "get lost", or ignoring her, the girls treated her like one of the gang, engaging her in conversation. Don't even get me started on how the teen girls were dressed. Not a thong or belly in sight. Despite being fully dressed, they had an air of confidence and contentment that was unusual. Over and over again I saw these disturbing scenes: older children helping younger children, kids treating each other and adults with respect, (gasp!) children being "includers" rather than "excluders". No whining, either! Yes, the whole thing was very unlike anything you would see in a school setting. You could see that these poor homeschool kids were truly being deprived of "normal" socialization. There were no cliques, no cool kids, no geeks, no rich kids, no poor kids...They didn't seem to know they were supposed to exclude certain kids, berate those that were different, and treat adults with disdain. If this is allowed to continue, these innocent children are in danger of growing into well-adjusted, caring, respectful adults. How will they ever function in society??

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Some pee, some poop and a marriage proposal...

A recent post at Stephanie's Mommy Brain, brought back some funny memories. (This is where the link to the post would be, if I wasn't so technologically challenged) Anyway, last fall we were with some good friends at a playground. We noticed the boys standing behind a tree together. We thought they were chatting. How cute they are! When I moved to the side a little, I could see that they both had their pants at their ankles. Yes, they were watering the tree. Apparently it's more fun to do it with a pal. My friend and I tried our best to reprimand the boys without laughing too hard. I told Alex he could get arrested for public urination (hee-hee urination,that's a funny word!)...that got his pants back on. Fast forward a few weeks. Same friends, different playground. The girls are off playing, when my friend's son comes and tells his mother he needs to go potty. Well, the only "facility" available was a nasty port a john, so she told him to go to the edge of the woods. No one else was around, and the girls were occupied. Well, we should have asked more questions. He did just as he was told. He went to the edge of the woods, took down his pants, and squatted!! Yikes! My friend practically tossed her then 1 year old into my arms, and took off running and yelling to him. You should have seen her go! Just then my younger daughter decided this was a good time to run over to the little boy and ask him to marry her! Interesting taste in men, Livvy! The good news is my friend got there "in time". We're considering therapy for Livvy!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My near death experience

Let me start by saying I love where I live. The only drawback is the assortment of critters that I run into from time to time. Yesterday, I was driving to a nearby farm. It was pouring, and I was driving perhaps a little too fast for the winding country road I was on. When suddenly, out of nowhere, appears a spider tangling down in front of me, heading for my arm. Now this was no normal spider. It was nasty, and I could tell it fully intended to eat me alive. So I did what any normal person would do, I totally freaked out! I was swinging at the man-eating spider like a mad woman. I looked up, and realized I was literally inches from plowing into a telephone pole. How I missed the pole, I don't know. It had to have been divine intervention. I should have been counting my blessings at this point, but there was no time. I quickly realized that I'd lost sight of my nemesis. I knew he was in the car somewhere, so I pulled over, rather than risk death by telephone pole. It was no where to be seen. I reluctantly continued on my trip. A minute or two passed. I attempted to drive safely, while keeping an eye out for you know who. Suddenly he appeared again, this time on my lap. EEW! I knew I had no time to waste, within seconds he'd be gnawing through my jeans. So I slapped that little sucker as hard as I could. Bulls eye! Splat! I hurt myself, from hitting so hard, and my jeans had really nasty squished spider guts on them, but I WON!! All you PETA people can sit right back down, you didn't see this freak of nature.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Homeschool Rules!

After an great morning of school, I thought I'd list a few reasons why homeschool rules!

1. After watching news coverage of 9/11, we were able to pray for those who lost a loved one that terrible day, and no one got fired or sued!

2. My son is not only allowed, but encouraged, to spin around between each word while doing sight word drills. No meeting was held to determine what type of medication would best stop such "disruptive" behavior.

3. My daughter began a new lesson in her math today. After completing 2 pages, it was apparent that she had mastered the lesson, and asked to take the test. She was not required to wait for 75% of the other children to catch up with her, before moving on.

4. My children get to spend "recess" everyday with their best friends, each other. (Although they might not admit that!) 20 years from now when life throws them a curve ball, they'll have these relationships to fall back on. No one felt the need to segregate them simply because of their different ages.

5. After spilling the teacher's coffee, and bursting into tears, the teacher was able to comfort Livvy with hugs and kisses. No one was sued for sexual harassment.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Living Proof Live- Part 2

Let me start by saying how grateful I am for the incredible seats we had at this event. Believe it or not, we had better seats then Beth!! Yes, front row, center! Thank you, God!! Another day I'll reminisce about how that came about. But today I was thinking about something very simple, yet profound that Beth shared on the first night. She stated that "Selfishness will never lead to satisfaction". Ain't that the truth! Politically incorrect, but true. In the world we live in, pouring yourself out for others goes against everything we're told. Aren't we supposed to seek our own satisfaction above all else?? That's what we've been told. I am woman, hear me roar, and all that other garbage. How can pouring my life out for others lead to satisfaction?? Shouldn't I be miserable?? You'd think so, but the more I live my life in Christ, the more it makes sense. Not in the "Aren't I so good" kind of way. Believe me, if I thought that, I wouldn't feel the daily need for a Savior. It's a completely different kind of satisfaction than the world has to offer. It's a satisfaction deep in your soul, a sense of blessing in everyday, a peace beyond words. A satisfaction that is God-given. Something the world can't offer, or understand. And the coolest part is that God does all the work!! I'm just along for the ride!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

What's that smell??

I'm sitting at the computer when my kitty comes to the back door. I let her in. She gives me a weird look. Then I give her an even weirder look....what is that smell??? Yes, Hannah our beloved cat reeked! It became apparent that she got skunked!! The smell wafted throughout the house. Of course my husband is out...what's a girl to do? I tricked poor Hannah into going in the garage, while I searched the Internet for a solution. Just then my hubby called. "Get home now, and pick up some hydrogen peroxide and baking soda." He arrived home about 45 minutes later with the "supplies". So we brought her up to the bath tub. I prepared the solution, and John held her while I scrubbed it into her. She made sounds that were just pitiful! We had to leave the solution in for 5 full minutes. I know that doesn't sound long, but believe me, IT IS! John has scratches all over his arms from her attempts at escape. I couldn't help but sing a few lines of "Smelly Cat"!! She seems to smell better now. Hopefully she does, and it's not just that I've burnt out my olfactory receptors.

Living Proof Live - Providence part 1

Well, the main reason I started this blog was to put all these deep thoughts in writing, so here we go. The Living Proof Live conference in August was just amazing. I learned and relearned many things from Beth. However, I think I'll start with something that Travis said that really stuck with me. (Even though it's not in my notes-I checked, it's not there.) He was talking about God holding out His hand to help us, but he said that God won't pry our fingers open. many things do I cling to, instead of handing them over to Him? My "pet" sins, perhaps. Sometimes it's my attitudes, sometimes just trying to do things on my own. Let me tell you, the day in the life of a homeschool mom is a blast when you let Him do it. Not so fun when I try to do it on my own. So God has used Travis to bless my heart, and help me unclench my fists. But I also thought of others in my life. Those that don't know Him, and don't have the option of "dispatching" the power of the Holy Spirit. I think of those hurting and lost. In particular someone who has suffered the most unimaginable of losses. Oh, how I pray she will be able to unclench her fists, and let Him heal her brokenness. I realize that in some circumstances it can seem that there is no hope. But God is so much bigger than our circumstances. Even in the deepest of despair there is hope in Christ, for those who choose Him. It's really the only way to find peace in this fallen world. Without Him there is no hope, no peace....only brokenness and despair.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

What am I doing here???

Well, here it is, my first post. Why am I doing this?? Really, I have no idea. I recently went to Beth Moore's Living Proof Live in Providence. Afterwards, my mind was filled with all sorts of wonderful, deep thoughts. I said to myself, "I should write this stuff down...this is good stuff." Well, real life set in, and most of my "deep thoughts" have scattered, but since I often carry on conversations with myself, I thought "Why not?". It's not like anyone is ever going to read any of this stuff anyway. So basically this is my culturally accepted way of talking to myself. So, I'm now going to tell a little story to myself about my son Alex, so as to never forget his tender heart. This Sunday at church we were having the Lord's Supper. Alex just began participating a few months ago, and I still questioned some whether he "got it". I reminded him as the plates were passed that we were remembering what Christ did for us on the cross. It was also my youngest daughter's first day up in "Grown-up Church", so I was trying to keep her under control ("No, Livvy it's not snack time...), pray, and make sure no one dropped the plates as they were passed, all at the same time. After we took communion, I noticed tears in Alex's eyes. "What's wrong?" I asked. His response: "I was just thinking about Jesus dying on the cross, and it made me cry a little." So then of course, I got teary eyed too. Apparently he "gets it".