Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Life with Daddy

Yesterday morning I awoke, as is usual these days,
to a pudgy little hand on my face and squiggling, happy Olivia in the crook of my arm. 
I look down through blurry eyes, into her little round face, great with grin. 
She is a morning person.
I am....not.

We managed to find our way down the stairs in search of caffeine,
when I overheard my husband reading aloud.
  It is 6:30 am. 
Then I remembered, Monday, O yes, it is Joseph's morning with daddy. 
First they read and discuss a book,
then they make the whole family pancakes from scratch.  They are really super too.  
But what I heard him read from "Created For Work", by Bob Schultz sounded so good 
that I returned to it later and read the chapter for myself, 
once my eyes got opened and brain fully functioning, or about 9:30am. 

"God didn't have to put intricate designs on the wings of moths and butterflies. 
He could have made them all gray. 
He didn't have to paint a frog's eyes gold. 
He could have made them all black. 
God adds distinct and beautiful touches to each thing He makes. 
His energy and creativity are without measure. 
They overflow into everything he does. 
Drudgery and bare minimums have no part in His work. 
What ever He makes is not only useful, but also beautiful and fascinating.
  Some things he makes are very simple. 
Yet even their simplicity is a work of art. 
God puts His heart into His work.
  He doesn't finish things just to get them over with. 
He commands us to do the same,
"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily" (Colossians 3:23) pp11

The chapter continues on to ponder making our work beautiful and meaningful, 
with discussion questions at the end.
  A good word.
I smile then, remembering how Joe likes to embellish,
and thinking what the product of such encouragement will be.
Today was not just any Monday though, but, being daddy's day off, 
each Monday of the month is assigned to individuals for a daddy date, 
and today is the little boy's day. 
As the rivers are feet above the flood level,
and the last time I drove past the lake the whole parking lot and outhouse was underwater, 
fishing is not going to be an option,
although that was what all were hoping for. 
My dear husband came up with the plan to take the boys out to shoot and learn about gun safety.

They took the .22 and went to a local range, (redneck style; i.e feild), 
where they were pleased to shoot up 150 rounds. 
The shocker was that Ben, shooting left handed-- for whatever reason, did extremely well.

They all tore up their little paper plates with bullet holes, 
which they waved wildly when they arrived home at last. 
But that wasn't all daddy had up his sleeve. 
They had stopped at the store and bought hot dogs, chips and s'more makin's 
with a mind for a campfire in the yard. 
Ben proclaimed it was the best day of his life. 

I am all smiles again, to have boys blessed with such a daddy,
one who lives what he preaches,
and walks what he talks.
  Life with our daddy is one of the main reasons we have it so good.
This beautiful, peaceful life.

"Didn't you plan to be an artist at one time, Professor?"
Carver smiled.  "I am an artist..I make beauty instead of recording it.  
There is beauty in a well tilled field,
in healthy and happy people,
beauty to living in harmony with others.
  With God helping me, I have tried to create beauty according to His directing."
-from Carver of Tuskegee

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Big Weekend

Saturday dawned cloudy, but promising. 
We packed up the entire lot of us in our big red van, 
with a hot lunch in tow, 
and set off down the road, 
a good drive, with the beautiful spring green of verdant pastures and thick Idaho forests, 
and arrived at last upon the anticipated destination. 
We seem to be quite a spectacle, marching down the sidewalk toward the Farmer's Market.  
People stop talking and stare. 
Each big person has a little one as shopping buddy,
and we go..two by two...as folks bob their heads mentally counting.  
I smile. 
It is always this way, and I find it amusing.

Our goal at the Farmer's Market was to purchase some plants for Anna's herb garden, 
with the benefit of enjoying  the live music, colorful culture, delicious smells of home cooked vendors, and the plethora of hand made articles. 
We were successful to find just the plants she was looking for,
especially delighted with the Rhubarb,
since we have a goal of perfecting a rhubarb pie by the end of the year.

Next came lunch, which would have been lovely in a park, 
but it was very cold, so we dined indoors-
of the van. 
I packed hot burrito filling in the cast iron dutch oven, 
(my favorite kitchen anything) which was also hot. 
Putting a towel over it, it stayed warm for lunch, 
wherein I added shredded cheese to a tortilla, then the meat mixture.  
It really wasn't too messy, despite some unruly children in the back seat. 
I thought it all worked out well, and was a tremendous amount less expensive than eating out, 
was not a hassle, and filled all tummy's happily.

Then we were on to thrift shopping, something the children love. 
We live so far out of the way, that yard- saling is not really much of an option, 
this was a good alternative. 
Everyone found something they couldn't live without,
and mood was festive throughout. 
After a few stores, I surmised the children, 
and perhaps a bigger person or two had about as much as was happily tolerated, 
so , despite the fact that the females could have gone on for several hours, 
we headed for home. 
It was such a fun day, I think we will make it an annual trip.

Sunday it poured and poured. 
The new umbrellas, from the previous day's finds, 
were whisked out and the children ran outside for the simple pleasure of standing in a great downpour. 
I love bad weather. 
I have probably said that before, but, it is worth saying so again. 
I find it very calming and settling. 
Just now it is sunny, but ten minutes ago it was coming down in great sheets with thunder and lightening.
  Anna is sitting before me at the table, candles lit of course, flute music playing, writing a letter.

The sun has just popped out, so we will dash out for a walk before dinner.
I think that this particular weather,
sunny after a shower of rain, makes especially clear that
"the whole earth is filled with God's glory."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Mom's Pie

My mom makes the best apple pie ever.
  Of course, it is a family favorite.
  Over the years, whenever there is an occasion to celebrate, or a family gathering,
you can be sure there will be apple pie. 
I think she took to apple pie because she has some wonderful old fashioned transparent apple trees.  However, when a birthday came around, her pie became such a favorite 
we would invariably ask for apple pie instead of cake. 
One is never enough, especially if you want to have that wonderful, most blessed  occasion 
of apple pie leftover for breakfast.

I suppose that one reason I love to make pie, not only apple, 
(but it does travel well, if you were, say, sending one in the mail to your dearest loved ones),
is because I have come to the conclusion that feeding people is my spiritual gift,
and that my love language must be food.  :-)  
In truth, I like to think that cooking and baking is a practical application of nurturing and life giving.

The joy of thinking of the folks whose tummy's and mouths will be delighted by my efforts 
keeps a smile on my face as I peel, roll out dough, and put it all together.
It is a labor of love.

I hope to transplant a start from one of Nanny's apple trees to here at Providence Lodge for posterity.
This is one family tradition I plan on carrying out, and passing on to my children. 
I can just imagine my great grandchildren making an apple pie for a celebration and telling the story of how Great Great Nanny made the best apple pie anywhere.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Creating a Home

It always saddens me when I enter a home, and find a horrid mess.  
Clothes, toys, and stuff piled everywhere. Not a tidy or orderly square foot anywhere. 
Not a clean surface in sight.
A mere trail leading through to ...somewhere.  

My heart goes out to the husband who works hard all day and comes home to such a disaster,
knowing that his wife has not done her job, 
nor saw fit that he should enjoy the beauty and peace of an orderly home,
but preferred her agenda and comfort to his.

Imagine, if a husband went to work each day, but never did his job,
instead sat idly chuckling over facebook status', reading magazines, watching tv,
and making himself comfortable. 
 Likewise, when a wife and mother does not take care of her home,
she simply is not doing her job,
and her family pays for her laziness.
I feel great pity for the husband of such a home, and for the children. 

I will not beat around the bush, but will, as much as I hate conflict,
exhort women everywhere to maintain their home,
for the glory of God and the love of their family, 
as I believe the care of the home is of utmost importance 
and the lack thereof  reaching epidemic proportions. 

A great part of a woman's job is to see that the heart of her home is a peaceful sanctuary,
a source of contentment, acceptance, rejuvenation, nurturing, rest.
   What husband, if given a choice,
would rather come home to a beautiful clean home with the smell of dinner in the air, 
or a hovel where he must pick his way carefully past the heaps and piles
through the trail that leads to his room?  
Isn't it disrespectful to ask your husband to pay for a home for the family 
and then let it fall to ruins around your idle feet? 

We are to be good stewards of what God has given us. 
We, as women, are charged to be productive in the home. 
Yet, too many Christian women ignore these Biblical charges.

A slovenly wife can give her husband a bad reputation,
but a God fearing wife uplifts and ennobles that which she has, and he is praised for it.
  "She does him good and not evil all the days of her life." 
Do your best to make sure you honor your husband and children in this way.
Ask God to help you maintain a house that your husband is pleased to come home to.
Ask the Lord to show you how to make your home a safe haven that builds up your family- 
a place where creativity flows and communication is ongoing. 
Ask God to help you keep the house clean, the laundry done, the kitchen in order,
the pantry and refrigerator full, and the beds made. 
These are the most basic things that should not be overlooked.

Logically, they should be attended to daily. 
It is much more efficient to keep a house clean and orderly,
than to get it clean only to let it fall back to ruins and have heavy work to do again to clean it. 
Take dishes for example, washing a few three times a day is so much easier
than a whole giant pile at the end of the day when you are already tired.
How about laundry?  One or two loads a day does not take much of your time to care for,
but 17  loads once a week is enough to give anyone need for antidepressants. 

It is a biblical principle to do your work first, then seek the enjoyment and refreshment due you.
   Once you have done your daily housework, 
you've earned a cup of tea or cocoa and time to read your email or relax.
Keeping order in the home does not mean it has to be perfect,
but it should not be out of control. 

God is a God of order and beauty, therefore as his followers, our lives should reflect that.
An orderly home is a great joy and comfort. 
Keeping a home provides us with the daily work of our hands that satisfies and makes our sleep good.
  It also means we must die to selfish desires and  instead do that which should be done, 
both for ourselves and the example to our children.
As homemakers, we should be taking our role seriously, it is a daily job,
requiring daily work of our hands. 
If we are not building up our  homes, then we are tearing them down with our own hands, 
and the Proverbs calls that woman a fool.

Let us be about that which builds up, beautifies, edifies, strengthens, and enobles our homes.  
Our Lord has asked it of us, and our families will bless us for it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Every Hour

For years, I had my daily devotional most every morning. 
I would check it off my list of things to do that day, and get on with the day. 
Notoriously, not too far into the day, 
irritability, frustration and discouragement would engulf me. 
I had a hard time with the thought of living a victorious life. 
What was that about anyway?

Then one day I hit the bottom.
I can't seem to get my act together and live the way I am supposed to!  
I try and I try, so very hard, and I fail and flail and end up making such a mess.
After a fitful night's sleep, when I awoke, before my eyelids even opened, my heart cried to God.
  "Oh God help me!!
I CANNOT do this (my life) without You!! 
I don't even know if I can do this with you right now. 
I just know that I do not have what it takes to raise these children in a God- honoring way. 
  I need You, every hour...maybe every minute." 

And that became my daily prayer for years.
  Still is my daily prayer. 

I do not have what it takes. 
In my flesh, I am selfish. 
I get cranky when things don't happen the way I think they ought. 
That is not any way to raise a family...with a cranky mama! 
Poor children.
But, the Lord is gracious and compassionate,
and he wants, more than anything
to walk through the day with me, enabling me and strengthening me for the task. 
So I need Him, every hour. 
Not just for some religious devotional of 15 minutes, 
but as my loving Father..always by my side guiding me as I go. 

Now, I realize that God did not change. 
My perspective did. 
My prayers did too. 
Instead of sounding far away and like some not so reachable being, 
He, my Heavenly Father, is right here, 
and I talk with Him all day, just as I talk to anyone. 
It became personal. 
Very, very real.

Folks see me with my passel of children and often ask, "How do you do it?" 
My answer is simple,
I need God every hour. 

He has sanctified me through my children. 
I came to the end of myself
and found I could not go on with out an ample and unceasing supply of Him. 
I came to the end of myself. 
Once I got me out of the way,
there was oh so much room for Him.  
We have been having a lovely time ever since. 

A victorious life is really attainable.
  It does not mean life is perfect, 
but it is possible to live a rewarding, joy-filled, and peaceful life.

""  I need Thee every hour Oh gracious Lord,
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
I need Thee, O I need Thee; every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee.
I need Thee every hour, stay thou near by, 
temptations lose their power when thou art nigh.
I need Thee, O I need Thee; every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now my Savior, I come to Thee.
I need Thee every hour in joy or pain;
come quickly and abide or life is vain.
I need Thee O I need Thee; every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now my Savior I come to Thee.
I need Thee every hour, teach me Thy will
and Thy rich promises in me fulfill. 
I need Thee O I need thee; every hour I need thee! 
O bless me now my Savior I come to Thee."
-Annie S. Hawks, Robert Lowry

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spring has Sprung at last!

Better late than never! 
We enjoyed some beautiful spring-like days this past week. 
Once the sunshine appeared,
(for more than 10 minutes), 
we were eager to get our hands dirty with a bit of gardening. 
There will be more veggies to follow, we are just getting started. 
Here are the strawberries, under protection lest some critter,
winged or four legged, takes a notion to visit.

And then the tomatoes and peppers, 
still in pots to allow us to bring them in until the danger of frost is over. 
This year we have the usual Early Girl variety,
but couldn't resist a Beefsteak or trying an heirloom Brandywine.
There are 19 plants in all, I am hoping that is enough for eating fresh and canning. 
My mouth begins to water at just the thought of a ripe homegrown tomato.

The children were having so much fun on the trampoline,
Rose could not resist trying to obtain in flight pictures. 
These two photos capture splendidly the essence of Jim.

Lulu surprised everyone Saturday morning with 4 adorable kittens. 
  We wanted to name them Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter, 
but we were out-voted by the younger bunch,
who were in favor of each naming one in particular.

Today, my list of 10 things I am thankful for include:

The blessings of family and home
The love of a godly mother
The hope of strawberries and tomatoes
The opportunity to disciple and train our children at home
Lovely piano music gracing our home as Rose practices
Friends far away, but near in my heart
The Psalms of David
The joy of mothering this bunch of tender young ones
A Heavenly Father who loves me unconditionally.

"Thanksgiving creates abundance." -Ann Voskamp, 1,000 Gifts

May you be filled
with the abundance of  blessings of a Loving heavenly Father today...
they are there, 
you just have to search to find each one and unwrap it,
rejoicing over them along your way today.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Walk on Camano Island

We are very fond of walking.

If anything could lure us out doors, it is the cease of rain
followed by the glint of sunshine through the clouds.
Such weather is perfect for a romantic stroll.

  Speedily, as the rain tapers off,
we set forth into the damp path which has that refreshing, pure smell of earth. 
On Camano Island, the air was heavy with the scent of flowers. 
Slugs abounded, much to the delight of small boys,
and puddles lured even a young lady.

 Every detail must be noticed. 
The delicate drops of fallen rain teetering on a leaf.
Sunlight reflecting off  gathered drops, shimmering in iridescence.
Birds hopping among the grass, happily devouring the surfaced smorgasbord of worms.
All a product of God's creation, which never ceases to amaze.
All a gift of beauty waiting to be noticed, 

Thus, our simple meandering down a country lane
becomes a journey to worship the King of Kings,
the Maker of it all, 
as we give thanks for each spectacular moment, 
We revel in His goodness, His beauty, His power, His purpose, His plan.

Setting forth into this sanctuary of the work of His hands always fills my heart with His peace.
His love for us..shown so lavishly by his creation, is so very near and clear,
intended for our delight, 
for His glory.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Influence on a Sponge

 She is at the age of imitation. 
She duplicates my mannerisms.
  She copies her older sister's fashion and speech. 
She mimics heroines in movies.
  She is a sponge, soaking up the worldview and culture which we set before her. 
We are modeling the image of woman that will shape her philosophy.

It is terrifying and motivating all at once.

"What we want to do with our children is not merely
control them and keep them in order,
but implant true principles deep in their hearts
which shall rule their whole lives; 
to shape their character from within into Christlike beauty,
and to make of them noble men and women, strong for battle and duty. 
They are to be trained rather than governed.
  Growth of character, not merely good behavior, 
is the object of all home governing and teaching. 
Therefore, the home influence is far more important than the home laws,
and the parents' lives are of more moment than their teachings." 
- J. R. miller-Homemaking pg 107

Friday, May 6, 2011

She's graduated, now what?

Our daughter, Anna, completed her high school education recently. 
So, the big question is, Now What?
Bible College?
We talked about it.
Our premise in home educating our children was that by the time they completed high school,
they would have the equivalent of a year of Bible School already under their belt.
  Having mostly accomplished that,
why pay thousands of dollars to continue at college when we can do that here at home?

  Anna would like to continue her education here at home,
as well as helping with the little one's schooling,
assisting her daddy in his ministry,
teaching a young ladies Bible study,
and preparing for the future.
We have been talking about what this would look like.
First, the quest to learn should never cease.
Endless possibilities for study abound all around us.
  Keeping up with current events, politics, the economy and what that means to the family
is one subject all the older children will engage in.
Reading some great works on Christian theology, as well as Christian biographies is in the plans;
books like "Bonhoffer", "The Imitation of Christ", and "John Knox".
She will be studying herbal remedies along with planting a medicinal garden. 
                                             Lessons in music will continue, both piano and voice.
I think she will stay productively busy just with those plans,
but, becoming accomplished at skill sets is also in the works.
Skills such as sewing a garment,
completing her second quilt,
pursuing Spanish,
making salves and tinctures,
taking a tactical handgun class with her 38 revolver,
and being a great contributor to the family gardening endeavor.
We do not plan on completely isolating her here at the lodge, however,
she has the opportunity to travel with an aunt to South Africa,
visit friends and relatives in other states,
and the undetermined senior trip.

Our goal in home based higher education
is to pursue many avenues of interest that will enable each student to be well rounded, 
with profitable skills, and most of all,
be well armed with a great knowledge of God's Word. 
It is an exciting time. 

Our older son, John has been learning all winter as well. 
His job is seasonal, which allows him to pursue interests and continue his learning.  
This concept of training a student to teach themselves is called "autodidacticism."
I love that they become responsible for their learning, given a bit of direction from parents.
With the vast wealth of information online, and books readily available shipped to your door,
   a wonderful opportunity for the dominion-minded homeschooling family awaits. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Vacation Highlights

The children were so grateful for one sunny day in which we could enjoy the beach!
They found crabs, large and tiny. 
They located clams by their spit through the rocky beach. 
Bethany loved the sand. 
Gabe would have stayed all day throwing rocks in the "pond..." I believe he found his life- calling. 
Brian relaxed just watching it all, the roll of the waves,
the children delightedly playing, the calls of the gulls, the occasional boat. 
All the sounds and smells, so unlike what we are usually acquainted with, 
it was perfectly romantic.
  Rose discovered it to be the perfect photo opportunity.
  Anna thought she would rather be int he mountains, but enjoyed the children's comical antics anyway.
  I found the entire day to be almost surreal, like watching a scene from a movie unfold before me.
I adore watching the children having a good time of it, and they LOVED the beach!
Ahhh a most glorious day.

Christian Heiritage Conference

If you have never attended a homeschooling conference,
you are definitely missing out.
  The Washington Home Educators Conference is very worthwhile. 
This year, Kevin Swanson was the keynote speaker,

and the Geoffrey Botkin family the featured session speakers.
  Both were outstanding.
  Besides the great teaching on topics such as higher education, courtship, what our father taught us about boys, Jane Austin, quadravocational vision, and sibling rivialry,
there were many other sessions taught by a variety of noteworthy people. 

Then, there is the sheer encouragement of seeing thousands of Christian families there, worshipping together.

  Our older girls enjoyed being in the chorale, led by Neil Craig. 
Hearing the concert on Saturday is worth the entire cost of the concert alone. 
The memory of last year's concert will stay in my mind forever, I believe,
as the 200 voice choir of young people rang out in beautiful harmony singing Fairest Lord Jesus,
I had no choice but to burst into tears, as the goosebumps rippled up my spine.

Also, there is the rarity of seeing hundreds of modestly dressed girls
and respectful young men in attendance. 
We have met several families whom we see each year.
  Catching up with each other's lives is also very encouraging. 

Lastly, there is a huge vendor hall where you can see, touch, and look
through that curriculum you've been contemplating. 
The vendors generally have great sales,
so you are able to purchase your choices at much less than catalog orders.

Our children are already talking about next year. 
If you haven't made plans yet,
the 2012 conference is in Kirkland, Washington
and will be held the last weekend in April.
The keynote speaker will be Voddie Bauchuam.
If you are interested in the cd's from this year, or other event information, check out the web page: 

Overall, the week was a tremendous blessing,
great fun, inspiring, and life altering. 
God is so good to give us just what we need at just the right moment!

Living Counter Cultural: Femininity

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