Thursday, May 27, 2010

Favorite Friends

Making my rounds to tidy things up before the day gets away, I  pulled my favorite 500 thread count thrift store sheets, along with fuzzy blanket, down comforter, and white on white quilt from rumpled mess to straight and beautiful as best I could, but something bumpy restricted my hand as I smoothed the bedding up to greet the freshly plumped pillows.  Then, they fell out on the floor, “Goodnight Moon” and “Little Toot,” special friends of a little blond cutie pie and a littler blondish munchkin. I smile as I pick them up and place them on their shelf, remembering the squirmy delight of the “littles” this morning as we read together in my comfy bed.
Our books are our friends We read often.  Aloud, and for long periods of time, rapt in the unfolding drama.  Is there anything more cozy after darkness falls than gathering in the family room amid piles of pillows and blankets to listen, and be transported to far away places?  Not in my mind. 

My dear husband does not read a lot, but he always has a stack of books he is working through at hand.  Currently, it holds Disciplines of a Godly Man, A Practical View of Christianity, Biblical Eldership, Doctrine, and just for fun, Last of His Breed.  He just finished Crazy Love, and was quite smitten. 
John is an avid reader, and it is hard to keep good books in front of him.  His top 10 books for young men are; the Bible, Patriots, This Present Darkness, Piercing The Darkness, Last of His Breed, Hostage Lands,  Duncan’s War, In Freedom’s Cause, The King’s Arrow, and Rebel’s Keep.

 Anna and Rose read constantly, therefore the piles of books next to any cozy sitting spot in the house.  It has, at times, been difficult to find proper girly reading material for a wholesome young maiden, but as they have matured, I have let them onto my favorites.  It was hard for me to allow their naive minds delve into a less than perfect world where violence and it’s consequences reigned.  It has turned out to be a good move, one that has brought on many a discussion, and brought godly conviction to their hearts.  We are careful the girls do not read romance books that would fill their heads with silliness and unreal expectations, but fiction that upholds godly character and decisions in the face of uncertainty, that is good reading.

Then there are the favorite friends of the little ones, the books we all know by heart from reading them multiple times a day.  I have my special friends in these as well.  Books of whom the good character quality speaks loudly, obedience is carried out, and when it isn’t, there are consequences.  Stories that teach a lesson, open a mind to a world outside their own, and introduce youngsters to a higher vocabulary.  The illustrations must be winsome, I abhor ugly pictures.  Must be the romantic in me. 
As for the younger boys, classic boy adventures with heroes who do right and not wrong, who treat the fairer sex with respect and honor, these are the choices I put before them.  I have spent many hours pre-reading books to ensure a quality story.
 As you can imagine, this has left me little time for reading my own genre of books, but I manage to find little sniglets of time here and there, or an occasional whole day to devour, in one sitting, a particularly intriguing spine.  Mostly, I return to the same old , faithful words that have inspired me, corrected me, encouraged me, and taught me time and time again.  Their jackets are falling off, their binding showing it’s age and use, like the velveteen rabbit, becoming all the more dear to me with it’s shabbiness.

Books are often times our favorite friends, which is why it is so important to choose them well.  Proverbs 13:20 warns, “He who walks with the wise men shall be wise but the companion of fools suffers harm.” 
 Children will pick up many  kinds of  ideas from the atmosphere we provide in the  home.  Charlotte Mason put it this way:  “about the child hangs the thought environment he lives in.  And here he derives those enduring ideas which express themselves as life-long kinship towards sordid or things lovely, things earthly, or divine.”  she goes on, ”How much influence the world has over our children really depends on what standards we set at home.” It is logical, that if we parents start giving our children an appetite for good and lovely books from a very early age, their hunger will increase with their age.  Our children have proven this to us.  Their books are their peers, their instructors, backing up the principles that daddy and mama teach them.  In the end, the books we have set before them have become their friends, and their delight.  Seeing my children captivated by a book makes me smile.  It is truly one of the lovely things in this life.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Purpose Driven Wife

I am a driven woman.  I have noticed things about driven women, and I don’t like what I see.  
Driven wives are busy.  They are busy DOING.  They even pride themselves on not being lazy, like some people they know.  Productivity, you know, is next to godliness…or, maybe it is godliness, in her mind.  Many times, at the bottom of a driven woman’s heart is the desire to be worthy of love, to be pleasing to God.  As if God said somewhere in Scripture, I am impressed by what you do, therefore, go do good stuff.  When, in fact He says the exact opposite.
Jesus rebuked Martha in Luke 10:38-42 for being busy doing, anxious about many things.  He contrasted Martha with Mary, who was just sitting there visiting with Jesus, enjoying him.  Mary had chosen well, he said.  The lord is interested in relationship, not with “to do” lists.  This is something I struggle with, as would any driven woman.  In John 15, our purpose in this life is revealed.  It is to abide, not do.
Thanks to a true Titus 2 friend (bless you Linda)  I have a comparison list of a Driven Woman and an Abiding Woman.
  • God says, a woman who abides IS.  (Ps. 46:10:  Be still and know that I am God: )
  • A driven woman DOES.
  • An abiding woman pleases the lord  by who she is (Ps 147:11  The Lord take pleasure in them that fear him)
  • A Driven Woman tries to impress others, even God.
  • An Abiding Woman is controlled by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-26  The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and faith)  
  • A Driven Woman is controlled by an agenda.  Her list rules her day, not her gentleness and flexibility.  An abiding woman may use a list or agenda, but, realizes it is a tool,  prioritizing people as more important than the project.
  • An Abiding woman finds her self worth in Christ.  (Eph 2:10  for we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus)
  • A Driven Woman finds her self worth in her accomplishments(clean house, well behaved children, etc)
  • An Abiding woman practices grace with herself and others.  (Eph. 4:32  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you)
  • A Driven Woman expects perfection from herself and others.
  • An Abiding Woman teaches her children to be Godly (Prov 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it)
  • A Driven Woman trains her children to be good.
  • An Abiding Woman‘s perspective is based on what is unseen.  (Col 3:2  Set your affections on things that are above not on things on the earth.)  Meaning, it is ETERNAL things of this world that matter, all else will pass away, and her life reflects this priority.
  • A Driven Woman’s perspective is based on what is seen.  She is distracted by the urgent, the temporal, and gets bogged down by tending to these things above the eternal things.  She will even validate her actions by reminding herself that “the Proverbs 31 woman was industrious.”  and “ the Proverbs warns of a sluggard” and, cleanliness is a Biblical principle.  I know, I have done it, said it, believed it.
The Truth set me free, when speaker Muriel Cook said, “God stated that he was pleased with Jesus before Jesus did anything.” (Luke 3:22)  Jesus had not contrived one miracle, had not converted anyone, he was just a carpenter, just a son.
 Sister, if you have identified yourself too much with the driven woman, God loves you and is pleased with you because you are his child.  Not because of anything you do, how well you keep house, how good your kids are,  how gifted  or skilled you are.
  I encourage you to be still.
      To quietly slow down your pace, enjoying the beauty in each moment.
            To make the eternal your priority, your focus.
                      Your vision.
                            To simplify your daily activities, not just taking time to Abide, but make Abiding your new lifestyle.
It is a gracious way of living that exudes from your quiet heart.  A way that promotes peace in your house, relationship with your family, and contentment to your soul.   Choose the better part.  Mary did, and I doubt she ever regretted it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Log Lodge Curiosity

We had unexpected visitors to our lodge this morning.  Folks we haven’t seen in many years.  “You have how many children now?” They ask, as children begin pouring out of the house, the woods, and the ditch next to the house.
“Eight” I said, smiling, knowing what question would come next.
“Are you going to have any more?”  “Yes.”  I responded as I picked up the baby who was covered in dirt and waving hello with chubby, muddy fingers.
Astonished, they come inside to admire the lodge.  Meanwhile, the children are showing them pictures they have drawn, asking if they want to see the new kittens, and pulling them by the hand to show them their room.
“They are incredibly shy”  I tease.  Scampering all about, the “littles” follow us through the house tour, giggling, hiding around corners, lavishing the guests with tid bits of  information important to only those under the age of 10, or their adoring mamas. 
Having come full circle through the house tour, we landed at the kitchen table.  “I am noticing that they (the children) are all smiling.  Do they get along well?”

 “Yes, they do.”  I reply, but I am thinking, they came to see the lodge, but all the questions and remarks are about the children.  Interesting.

“They are certainly well behaved, and beautiful.”

“We really enjoy them, so much so that we just wanted to have more.”  I explain. “ It will be a sad day when we do not have a baby in the house.”  They stare at me for a moment of unbelief, until the cutie pie wriggles up on the guests’ lap and smiles into their eyes.  At once they believe.

“Children are a heritage from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is His reward.  They’re blessings not burdens, let’s receive each one and raise them up in the wisdom and knowledge of His word”-The Josties from their album, “Trust In the Lord“.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Slowing Down

Brian and I have lived a fast paced, chaotic, crazy life these past 9 years.
But no more.
We are taking the advice of the older generation, and slowing down, pacing ourselves.
Taking time to enjoy, observe, think,
be still.
Moving to the lodge has helped a great deal.
It is so quiet here.  It just feels more leisurely,
without the constant traffic passing by, and yes, the steady ring of the telephone.
I love not having a phone.  I am just an anti-technology person, you understand.
I have slowed my pace tremendously, and find I am really enjoying life so much more.
I enjoy the simple things of a country life,
like spending the morning on the porch in the sunshine
hanging laundry on a line,
watching the many birds that swoop in and steal the cat food,
going on a walk down our long driveway that has grass growing down the middle.
The children too, have transformed and blossomed,
spending much more time outside, searching for frogs, salamanders, bugs, mice,
and kittens hidden away.  
Instead of our house bubbling with constant activity, everyone seems more relaxed, less frenzied.

On a rainy spring day like today, some are napping.

Some are cuddled up with a good book.

Some are sewing.

Some are baking goodies to share. 
All  are benefiting from a mama who is
no longer high strung,
but is settling into a beautiful, romantic life of devotion to her family.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Log Home Decorating, pt 1, cultivating beauty

Cultivating Beauty in the Home:  Log home decorating part 1

I vividly remember sitting at the edge of my seat in her classroom.  She was the most classy woman I had ever seen.  Gentle, gracious, and full of wisdom.  Her college class was the highlight of my week.  She taught on various subjects, all relating to being a Christian Leaders Wife.  This one class stands out in my memory.  She talked about God’s beauty in the world around us, the order, the creativity so easily seen, but always amazing.  Then she spoke about the home, teaching how as we are a light before men of God’s glory, so our homes should reflect His character by being beautiful and orderly.  I recall drinking in every word, so inspired was I at the thought of decorating being a godly occupation.  I loved decorating!   I had been around some Christians who believed it a worldly thing, a vain pursuit, and was discouraged that my fascination with Architecture and decor were sinful.  But here, my heart pounded as Truth freed it from disturbing legalistic thoughts.
 Right now, we are settling into our new home, working on a place for everything, and everything in it’s place.  Feeling nesty, I am inclined to start some serious decorating.  I do have 2/3 of my home unfinished, with bare sheetrock staring at me, so I will start with the 1/3 that is done, mol.
I am an incurable Romantic, my husband is very rustic and masculine, so I want to combine these components and create a rustic, romantic lodge look with virtually all donated furnishings, which means this will mostly be a venture in creativity using what I have that has been given me.

This is the entry way, with Grandma's dresser and coo-coo clock

Living room wall featuring Bess' piano and papa's skis

Yet to be done, I have a set of moose antlers I want to mount and hang above the window in the dining room

It is nearly impossible to hang a picture on a log wall, so I rely on tall furniture pieces for the upper level of decor.   I am planning on getting more plants in the future, mostly hanging plants.  Sometime way in the future, I may even have window treatments,which would be to absorb sound more than anything.  My love for candles, plants,and flowers is obvious.  I am attempting to balance the"girly" with antlers, furs and anything rustic that I can find, preferably for free, like pine cones, abandoned old pots, wagon wheels, or animal skulls.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Taking a Large Family on Vacation

“How do you do it?” is probably the question people ask me the most.   My answer,  "Take time to organize."  Routine and organization is the way to a simpler life.  When chaos rules a house, it easily loses its charming warm atmosphere, both physically and emotionally.  So, setting up routines and seeking organizational methods that work for your family are of vital existence to your family.  I love to ask other quiver full moms what their favorite organizational tip is.  I hear a lot of the same thing:  "get a schedule/routine!"
Even when preparing for our trip to Seattle, we started organizing a month in advance.  I can look back at my journal entries and see that this has been my standard for many years now.  The first thing I did was make a grid of the days on our trip.  Then I began scribbling notes about possibilities for filling in the  blank squares.  The categories were: where are we going, what are we eating, what are we wearing, and extra things we need to bring.  On the day we were going to the aquarium, we were all wearing blue shirts.  We would pack a lunch of ham and cheese sandwhiches with condiments, apples, trail mix,  and water.  We would need to take the stroller, the camera, jackets, and diaper bag.  When we were getting ready to go, All the older family members could look at he grid and easily take on a job…”I’ll pack lunch”  they knew just what to put in.  “I will load the van”  I did not have to oversee this, and we always had everything we needed with us.  It worked out beautifully.
The second thing I did, about a week before our trip was check to make sure we had all the luggage we needed, then assign extra bags for categories like:  tech cords for ipod, computer, etc.  or bag for quiet basket and games/books/toys.  To me, the less bags and assorted things floating around in the van, the better!  And, we cleaned out the van, vacuumed, and fabreezed it.  There's nothing like starting your trip with a clean rig!
Thirdly, I bought snacks for the trip and packed them in a box that I kept behind the driver’s seat, which is in front of the baby, and next to me.  For handing out snack mixes, I had a pile of paper cups, which we found more reusable  and easier for the little ones to use than plastic baggies.
Next, I nabbed a sterilite box from the laundry room that fit under the first bench seat in the van.  I filled this with paper towels, plastic grocery bags for garbage, a towel and some washclothes, diaper wipes, Kleenex, and fabreeze.  Since this was under my seat, it was incredibly handy for all the needs of a family traveling 400 miles.  And we did use it!
Also in the van we keep a detailed medical kit that we have used and reused.  It has all sorts of goodies in it, and I feel confident I can take care of anything short of a broken bone or surgery when we are on the go.  A variety of pain killers, all sorts of bandages, including really big ones and feminine necessities.  A burn kit, mole skin, superglue and butterfly bandages, iodine, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide…and the list goes on.  Each child in the van has a fleece blanket that pretty much stays there at all times. We don’t have to take bedding with us for them, they just use the blankets on a couch, air mattress, or on the lawn.  I always carry water with us, a few gallons are preferable.  Each  other seat has a sterilite box underneath it for the children’s stuff which they must have with them.   The back of the van was crammed with our luggage, and it appears that we may have to graduate to a small trailer for future trips.  We managed to get it all in.. but it wasn’t pretty.
The day before we left, we packed the van as much as possible, or if that is not possible, we staged all the packed bags in the house ready to load into the van.
The day we left, we got up early, loaded bags and sleepy little ones, grabbed some coffee and hit the road.  About an hour down the road, everyone had to "go", which we figured would happen, so we planned a stop where we could pick up some yogurt, bananas and granola bars to eat on the road for our breakfast.  Later on, we stopped for a picnic lunch, eaten in the van if it was too chilly out.  While traveling, we listened to the audio Bible, we particularly like the Listener’s bible by Max Mclean.  We also like to listen to Henty, C.S.Lewis and various sermons while we travel.  This of course, is all planned in the first stages of the trip since I include travel day on the grid. 
So, that might sound like a lot of work, but don’t bug out on me yet!  All this preparatory organizing will allow things to run smoothly, which, will enable you and your love to enjoy your vacation, without quibbling over why there is no mayonnaise in the lunch cooler, or where so and so’s socks are.  I always think it is a good witness for children to pile out of the van with smiles and without  a landslide of socks, garbage and beanie babies coming out with them.  I can just hear some lady observing such a mess, “And that is why I only had two children!  Humph!”  Instead, my goal is a cheerful crew, respectfully dressed and tidy, enjoying our trip together in love and laughter.  Be prepared though… if you do that you will be stared at,  pointed at, have pictures taken of you, and possibly be someone’s dinner conversation.  We can only hope.   

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hidden Blessings

We will be schooling through the summer this year.  I have done this in the past, when I felt we were behind, but I have several reasons to do so this year. First, we are behind.  :-)  The time we took earlier this year to get moved into the lodge rendered us off my schedule to make our year end goals.  Secondly, the children often get bored in those hot summer afternoons, and I have found that having school time then settles them to enjoy their play more.  Third, I have some things I would like to do with the children, that I never get done during our regular school year.  Last, keeping a routine in the house helps all of us function better, otherwise, chaos gets the upper hand.  Having just attended the Christian Heritage Home Educators Conference with speaker Kevin Swanson, Brian and I were inspired to purchase the book "Proverbs, Family Bible Study Series," by K Swanson.  The Speaker claims that his family uses this book as their core curriculum.  I was intrigued.  I took some time this afternoon to peruse the book.  It was not what I expected, but I am still inspired to use this as our core for the summer.  The book is more simple than I expected, and it is just what it says it is , a study guide. I contemplated how this could be a core when my younger students need vocabulary, spelling and writing skills.  So, this is what I am going to do:  I will buy each student a notebook to be used just for Proverbs.  As we follow the lessons in the book, we will copy the verses in our notebooks,(penmanship) write out the definition for each unknown word (vocabulary), using the vocab words for spelling practice, and memorize scripture as we go. I am excited because it is something we can all do together, regardless of age, and seems like it will be ridiculously simple to accomplish.  Combined with completing our math books and the never-ending reading list, we should have less than 2 hrs a day, but be continuing to learn steadily.  If I am really on the ball, we may do some music too, it has been on my wish list for years.  The Proverbs book is available through "Generations with Vision," Kevin Swanson's web page.
I am hopeful that the hidden blessing will be that our children will excel in spelling and vocabulary more than with our texts, because we are trusting the Bible to be our core curriculum.

Living Counter Cultural: Femininity

Popular culture has a decidedly feminist bent.  Recent movies, tv shows and prominent women  are displaying heroins as   to...