As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this nearly six-acre tract of land, this farmhouse, this domain—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sunday Snapshots: An Ice Cream Sunday

When I began sharing "Sunday Snapshot" posts, the idea was to select one picture that would encapsulate our Sunday...sort of a representative of our together time each week.  But do you know how difficult it is to choose just ONE?  Ack! 

I think I'll just rename this feature "Sunday SnapshotS" and thereby end the quandary of either narrowing down my plethora of photos to a measly one or renaming my post every single week.  There. 

Caveat:  Now that I've removed my self-imposed restrictions, I may overload my readers with sweet grandchildren pictures.  Don't say you weren't warned.


OUTDOOR PLAY...






HOMEMADE ICE CREAM
the first of the summer...

Maddie takes a turn at cranking

The Reveal
(Check out Maddie's expression.)
 
The traditional ice cream eating spot
 
The adults will eat anywhere.


 Alaine decided that she really likes homemade ice cream.

...sharing with her mama

...sharing with Papa

...sharing with Aunt Kati

...and sharing with Papa again as he has seconds!


Sunday, June 26, 2011

S-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g

Multiple weeks of busy-ness and coming-and-going is quite a stretch for me, an avowed homebody.  But that is what this season has held. 

On my way to take Kati to her first driver's ed class a couple of weeks ago, all I could think of was ten days, twice a day, back and forth, blah.  And that was on top of an already busy schedule filled with activities above and beyond the normal daily and weekly stuff.  And I'm afraid that I was whining.  So I checked myself (or perhaps it was the Holy Spirit who was checking me) and I said to the girls, "Well, this is something that we have to do, whether we like it or not.  So we [insert: I should have said "I" instead of "we"] might as well stop complaining about it and make the best of it and ask the Lord to direct our steps." 

I'd like to say that I didn't complain any more, but that would not be true.  I did, however, make an effort and He did direct our steps.  And the girls are so looking forward to celebrating summer tomorrow morning by not setting their alarm clocks. 


Friday, June 24, 2011

A Milestone

Three years ago, I attended the graduation service provided by our local homeschool group.  Two of the four graduates were family friends.  I walked into the service an emotionally stable person, but it was not to last, for at the first notes of "Pomp and Circumstance", I became a blubbering mess.  I sniffled and sobbed all the way through the ceremony and it was then that I knew.  In three short years, my Kati would be graduating and I would be a blubbering mess again...only this time it would be in front of everyone! 

When my older two children graduated, our homeschool group did not have a formal graduation, and our friends-and-family parties and backyard presentations of diplomas were meaningful and memorable.  But Kati's desire lay more in the cap-and-gown and the "Pomp and Circumstance" and the photo slide show sort of graduation, so that is what we did. 

My Kati is a planner, so while I planned how I was going to make my presentation without crying (ha!), Kati jumped into planning her graduation announcement (and dragged me along included me in her design choices), and planning her slide show (and forced me to look at included me in perusing eighteen years worth of pictures), and planning her guest list and cap and gown color and shoes.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I am a planner myself and get obsessive excited about the details of planning a partydid I tell you about Bekah's French-themed birthday party?but Kati is not a procrastinator and I am and that's why she had to drag me along while I was still planning how not to cry.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Last weekend was the graduation service, and it was everything that Kati had wanted it to be. We are grateful to have had this special day as a  "marker" on her life's journey...a day that marks the end of one leg of the journey, and the beginning of another. 

As expected, the processional brought me to tears, but they were happy tears.




Each of the six graduates presented a slide show of photographs set to music of their choosing.  And I cried through those too.  Kati had chosen a favorite hymn, "Be Thou My Vision," and we watched her grow up on the big screen. 

After her slide show, Ron and I both made remarks to Kati as we presented her with her high school diploma.  Do you think that, after the three years of preparation, I was able to hold it together?  No.  But Kati said she knew that I would cry, and it would be okay...and then she went and cried too!  And it was okay, because, again, they were happy tears, tears of rejoicing, tears of gratitude. 





A beloved friend and elder in our home fellowship gave the commencement address.  He challenged the graduates from Micah 6:8.  "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?"









HOMESCHOOL CLASS OF 2011


Kati shared the day with some longtime friends.  Hunter's mom and I were carrying our babies (in the tummy!) to homeschool swim class over eighteen years ago...and Hunter and Kati have participated in lots of homeschool activities together ever since, from art classes to co-ops.  Kati and her friend Kate were gymnastics buddies for many years.
 
Hunter                                                  Kate


She also shared the day with family. 





I have decided to end this very long and sniffly and lingering post by sharing with you the words that I said to Kati as we presented her with her diploma:



When I was expecting you, 11 years after my last baby, your brother, I was determined that I would not rush this time around. When Kristin and Ryan were both little, I seemed always anxious for the next stage. When will she sleep through the night? When will I not have two in diapers at the same time? When will they be able to learn to walk, learn to dress themselves, learn to read? Always looking ahead.

But with this baby, I thought to myself, I will just take my time. I will not be looking ahead. I am going to live in the moment and enjoy each stage thoroughly, for by this time, I was an older and somewhat wiser mother, and I knew that those stages passed all too quickly...and that little girl and that little boy had grown up too fast and were on the brink of independence and young adulthood.

So I savored your babyhood and did not wish ahead one day. I also savored the toddler years and tried to eke out as much as I could. But I’m afraid that my grand experiment did not work out quite the way I had hoped, for although I did savor and enjoy those days, they did not pass any more slowly... and it seems that all of a sudden I am here again, at another graduation, at another milestone, only this time it is you, and, again, I am not ready, for the years and the days have flashed before my eyes. My mother’s heart wishes to hold on, and yet it is here and I cannot.

I may regret that time moves too rapidly, but I do not regret, never, not for a second, that we have had these years. I do not regret investing the time and effort to homeschool. I have treasured our days and our teatimes and our read alouds. I have enjoyed our laughs and even our tears, and our many, many, many conversations. I have delighted in watching you grow into a kind and gentle young woman who loves to read and loves to learn and loves to sing hymns and, most of all, loves the Lord and seeks to walk in His ways.

It is such a bittersweet moment for a homeschool mama...to have her children move away from childhood and into adulthood, because, although we are so proud of you and are excited to see you walk forward, yet we also grieve the end of a season.

I will say to you what Paul said to Timothy:

“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (II Timothy 3:14, 15)

Kaitlyn Grace, I pray that you will always walk in His grace...trust in His wisdom...stand on His truth...and lean on His mercy.

You have been a blessing every day of your life.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nature Study...Up Close and Personal

UPDATE:  Since posting this yesterday, my son Ryan suggested that our "quick identification" may have been a bit too quick!  We have been round and round as to whether our raptor was a Cooper's Hawk or a Sharp-shinned Hawk...although the current opinion is leaning toward the Cooper's Hawk.  Opinions?

***
Bekah and I had just settled on the loveseat in the kitchen to read the next chapter of The Year of Miss Agnes, when I heard a thumping noise on the back porch.  I looked over toward the back door and saw this visitor...IN the porch!  (The porch door is kept ajar so that our very timid outdoor cat can get to his food and water and eat in peace...and our visitor must have flown through the open door.)


We quickly identified him as a red-tailed hawk and Bekah ran to get the camera.  (That's my girl!)  She snapped a few pictures, but our hawk friend seemed distressed, so we ended his photo shoot, closed Pinky in the bathroom (she was watching him from the back door like a hawk...pun intended), and the broom and I encouraged him to move in the direction of the slightly open door.  (I did not touch our friend with the broom; I merely used it as an extension of myself to shoo him away.  I was a bit cautious of those talons...and that hooked beak, for that matter!)

Nothing like a little nature study right at your back door! 

*Click this link for interesting facts about the red-tailed hawk, including some audio of his call!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

"Our Thanks, O God, For Fathers"


OUR THANKS, O GOD, FOR FATHERS
Lois S. Johnson

Our thanks, O God, for fathers Who follow in Thy way,
And who with glad and trusting hearts, Exalt Thee every day.

Our thanks, O God for fathers Who show by word and deed,
Commitment to Thy will and plan, And Thy commandments heed.

Our thanks, O God for fathers Who meet Thee oft in prayer,
And who for all life’s toil and care, Find strength and wisdom there.

How blessed are the children Who in their fathers see
The tender Father-love of God, And find their way to Thee.



***Sharing this inspiring poem via PrairieFrog Blog.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Stuff of Earth

As I drive, hymns are almost always singing from the CD player, but lately we've been listening to "Songs" by the late Rich Mullins.  And there is a line from the song "If I Stand" that catches my attention every time 
"The stuff of earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of all good things."
I feel the competition within my own heart.  I feel the pull of this stuff of earth.  I have to consciously choose to live as a citizen of another world, as those who "confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."  (Hebrews 11:13)

I often think of conversations that I have had with my friend Ann, who lives with ALS.  She tells me how she is learning to "die"...to possessions, to independence, to privacy, to anything that is self.  And when I visit with Ann, it is I who am blessed...it is I who leaves encouraged.   For Ann lives with the good, she lives as that Heavenly citizen, she is letting go of the stuff of earth.

Learning to let go of the stuff of earth is not easy.  I am here.  I love creating a home, and I don't think it's wrong to enjoy the gifts that He has given...as long as I hold them loosely.  The trick is, as Rich Mullins sang, to not let it compete with the allegiance that we owe to the Giver Himself!

"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." Col. 3:2

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."
  Philippians 3:20 NKJV

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

This is a recording made as Rich sang at Wheaton College only months before his death.  I love the simplicity of this setting...just Rich and the piano.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Spoiled Rotten


Totally.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sunday(s) Snapshot(s)

The astute reader will notice that Owen is wearing different shirts in these photos, because I am truly sharing Sundays (two Sundays) Snapshots today.

Games are often a part of our Sunday afternoons. 

There are many game enthusiasts in our midst, perhaps none more enthusiastic than our grandson Owen (4).  He is ready to play a game at the drop of a hat.  Actually, he is kind of "dropping hats" in this Berenstain Bears card game (picked up at a yard sale when Kati was a toddler) where the object is to collect the four bears and their matching head gear.  This is a picture of a happy boy. 



At lunch today, the children were planning some outdoor activities, but as soon as the meal ended, dark clouds rolled in and it began to rain. 

"Our plans are ruined," moaned one child. 

Small shoulders drooped and faces fell, until Kristin reminded them that they had brought a favorite Wii game and extra remotes to Papa and Gran's house today.  The moans turned to squeals as they skipped into the living room and played Monkey Ball for most of the afternoon.  (Bekah and Gavin played all afternoon.)



But lest you think that the children have all the fun...not so.  We are all a little competitive too (with the exception of Ron who, when coerced to join a family game, always roots for the person who is furthest ahead so that the game will end sooner). 

Here we are playing Dutch Blitz.  (Ron refuses to play this one.)  The picture is a little blurry, partly because our photographer moved...but mostly because there is some fast-and-furious competition going on here!  (Check out the arms!)  My gentle, quiet Kati is transformed into a wild woman when playing Dutch Blitz.  Think elbows and fingernails and bent cards.  You would not know her.  She almost always wins (which only reinforces her wild behavior) and I am almost always last.  (This game is not for the slow.  Which I am.)



Usually, we end up playing Apples to Apples as evening nears.  This is the one that we usually coerce Ron into playing (we know he really loves it in his heart-of-hearts)...and often one or more of the children jumps into the game and plays on an adult's "team."  Don't you think Kati had a sweet little "team" this evening?  I do. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sunday Snapshot(s) on a Tuesday

Why is Sunday Snapshot on a Tuesday? 

Because we were on a desert island.

No...really because our modem went out during a thunderstorm, and we have been without internet or phone service since Saturday night. 

(But it feels like being on a desert island!)


***   ***   ***   ***

What would you do for a Klondike Bar? 



Friday, June 3, 2011

Dear Strawberries,

We're going to miss you. 





See you next year!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

MVA, Summer Vacation, and No Spring Chicken

My ramblings today...

MVA
As I spent a chunk of my morning at the Motor Vehicle Administration office, I kept thinking of Cindy, one of my favorite homeschool bloggers and a mother of nine, who writes at Ordo Amoris.  Her posts are always full of mind food, as I like to call it, but these words made me laugh out loud.
I have decided to blog while sitting in the DMV. Clearly frequent trips to this level of Hell are perhaps the best arguments against having a large family. My suggestion is that you stop having children immediately lest you end up like me wasting years of your life at the DMV.
As I sat there with my third child,  I concluded that it is the driving aspect of raising children that has been my greatest challenge.  Not the middle-of-the-night feedings.  Not cooling fevered brows.  Certainly not the teaching part or the spending-all-of-our-time-together part.  Nope.  It is definitely the driving.  I do not do well with having my beloved children out on the road with all of the crazy people.  When my oldest child got her driver's license, and made her first trip alone (that trip was a four mile trek to the post office), I looked out of the window as she drove out of our driveway...and then sat down in my kitchen floor and cried.  (Are you laughing?)  After you stop laughing, pray for me.  Kati got her learner's permit this morning. 

Summer Vacation

I have decided that "Summer Vacation" is a misnomer.  Oh, it is summer alright.  The outdoor thermometer assures me that it is summer even if the scientists do say that the summer solstice is a few weeks away.  It's the "vacation" part that I am contending.  It doesn't feel like vacation if you've been too busy to let the kids sleep in while you wile away the morning with coffee and blog surfing, or too busy to organize and put away your school things for the summer.  Not that I want to be lazy all summer...but I'd like one lazy day to kick off the season.  Maybe sometime in July...

No Spring Chicken
(I hope she reads this.)
I recently discovered a charming blog, No Spring Chicken. Debbie writes with humor, with creativity, and with eternity in mind. (Read about her eternal perspective ~here~.) Debbie and I have a lot in common-- we both live in older homes, each of us has four children, we homeschool, we enjoy homemaking, and we're...um...not spring chickens (although she is springier than I!). We have been chatting back and forth in our blogs' comment forums...that is, until a week or so ago. Since then I have been unable to post a comment at No Spring Chicken! Unfortunately, I am not a technical whiz, and I have not been able to figure it out. I have been able to comment elsewhere, so it is a mystery to my non-techie brain. Sigh. So I want to shout out to my friend Debbie and tell her that I am still reading and loving what she has to share.
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