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 home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—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, April 30, 2015

Watching the Lord Lead

In this particular post in my Homeschooling: Finding Joy in the Journey series, I'd like to share a personal story. It is the story of this year, Bekah's 8th grade, and how I have seen God's hand in our little school. 

Of course, I always plan for our school year. Actually, I love to plan! Beginning in the spring (or even sooner) and making final decisions by summer, I read and consider and mull it over and peruse catalogs and discuss it all with Ron until I think that we have a direction for each child for the upcoming year. The most important thing I do is to pray for His guidance. I have done this every one of the twenty-four years that we have homeschooled, and I have found Him faithful to guide.

But after I have done everything that I know to do, He often surprises me by enriching my plans! 

* * *

Here is my story:

This year, Bekah is studying Ancient History. I knew that I would be using The Mystery of History Volume I, mostly because I love how the author follows history chronologically, from a Christian perspective, melding Biblical and secular history into one story (which it truly is).

And here are the things I did not plan:

Our Bible study group is studying the book of Ezekiel. 

We began this study in September and we're currently in Chapter 25. Yes, we work our way slowly and thoroughly through Scripture and we are all learning and gleaning so very much. Studying Ezekiel while learning the historical setting makes the story come alive.

We were able to see a performance of Moses at Sight & Sound Theater. 

When we visited the Rabes in October, they took us to the show! What a thrill to see the story that we read along with the sights and sounds of Ancient Egypt. Perfect field trip!

In January, Kati borrowed An Invitation to Awe from our local library. 

This is a two-CD musical collection by Michael Card, based on the writings of the Old Testament. (This is a remastered version of The Ancient Faith.) Kati put one of the discs in her car and I kept one in our van. In February, we purchased the collection as a gift for Kati. In March, she had to return the borrowed set to the library and I checked it out myself. In April, we purchased the set for ourselves.

Have we really been listening to the same 24 songs since the beginning of January? Absolutely! They are beautiful songs, rich with meaning, taken from Scripture. The words have worked their way into our hearts. From "In the Beginning" (Genesis) and "Lift Up the Suffering Symbol" (Numbers) to "Then They Will Know" (God's message through many of the prophets) and "Malachi," we hear and sing the message of the Old Testament Scriptures.

Bekah found the piano music to An Invitation to Awe.

One evening, she was looking through some old piano books and sheet music for something new to play when --lo and behold!-- she found two books with the accompaniment to many of the songs in the collection. She was so excited!

The amazing thing about this? We didn't even know we had them!

The books were published in 1989 and 1992 and are now out of print. Where ever they came from, they were purchased on sale for $1.00 each, but no one remembers buying them. All I know is that they are a gift for Bekah (and for us) right now. This year. She is playing these beautiful songs and we are listening and singing and meditating on their message. 

* * * 

Does God care about my little school? About the one student in my class? Does he arrange the details of our lives?

I believe that He does!

And Christian homeschooling mom, I believe that He cares about your school and your students too.

As you look ahead to the next school year, pray and make your plans...and then watch for the ways that He will lead! 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Weekend Snapshots: Five Months

~ This boy is five months old. 

~ It has been five months since our son Ryan and his family moved from Maine to Virginia. 

~ And this past weekend, we enjoyed our fifth visit together in five months. (December, January, February, March...and April makes five!) Such a blessing! 

A few peeks at our weekend...
Tulips Sarah and the children planted in early December

We brought Ryan's childhood stash of Legos for his own family.

The mountains were hazy.

Dogwood tree blooming outside of the restaurant where we celebrated Kati's successful completion of her CNA classes.
(I had forgotten to take my camera inside, so no pictures of said celebration.)

New bikes :)

Papa riding Eve's bike...

...and having way too much fun!

The lovely Sarah

10 years and counting...

As always, I thank the Lord for safe travels, and for this wonderful privilege of being together!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thursday This-and-That

After I chatted about our revised plan for painting the living room (the plan in which we are breaking the project down into manageable chunks rather than be overwhelmed with the seemingly gargantuan task of tackling it all at once), many of you nodded your heads in affirmation. It seems that you, too, have learned the wisdom of "eating the elephant, one bite at a time." I am sure that I had heard about that proverbial elephant before, but now he is a part of my reality and I am seeing how that principle can be applied in many areas. 

As a perfectionist, eating the elephant has to be deliberate for me. My natural tendency is to procrastinate any project until I can do it thoroughly and well. But the reality is that some things just never get done because there is no perfect time to do it or enough time to do it in. 

So this week, I have been making an effort to do daily "mini projects." I am setting aside a small amount of time (30 minutes, 15 minutes, or even 5 minutes) every day to tackle some extra project. Clean out a shelf of the bathroom storage cabinet. Clean out and organize the second shelf. Put away several bags of pantry items that Ron brought home from a friend who is moving. It sounds simple because it is...but it is something that I have to be deliberate about. It's okay to do something small. It's okay to do a part of a project and then come back to it on another day. 

I also mentioned in my post last week that we were not going to be watching Call the Midwife any more. Some of you agreed. Some of you were curious about why. 

I am very disappointed because it is one of the few shows that I watch. (Downton Abby and Jeopardy are the others.) I loved this one because it was based on actual events, the experiences of Jenny Worth who was a midwife in London's East End in the 1950's. I enjoy true stories and I fell in love with many of the characters. (Who couldn't love Chummy? Or Jenny?) Over the past several years, there have been issues with which I didn't agree, but most were limited to one episode, were based on actual events, and were not a continuing theme of the show.

However, now it seems that the creators of Call the Midwife have decided to take one such "issue" (sin) and make it "in your face." Not only was homosexuality a major theme on the episode that aired on April 12th, but a little online research tells me that it will continue to be a theme with one of the characters. I have had enough. I am weary of this tireless attempt to desensitize us to this lifestyle, making it appear to be normal and even mainstream. It all brings to mind the words of the prophet Isaiah:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

* I read this article last night. Lots of food for thought...

I didn't tell you about another of Ron's vacation projects. He and his brother felled a rather large cherry tree in our side yard. Huge sections of bark had peeled off this tree, giving us doubt as to its general health, and it was too close to our house to take a chance. As they began the process of cutting it down, Bekah was peering out of her upstairs window and I couldn't watch (but I was praying!!). What a crashing thud it made as it fell! Thank the Lord that it came down perfectly, totally clear of the men and the house and the power lines (!!!), and never even skimming another tree or bush.

Two new things here. 

(Technically, it is more than two.)

I mentioned that Ron had brought home some pantry items from a friend who is moving. Actually he brought lots of things home. Which is so Ron. (Knowing his weakness for accepting free items, my son once said, "I hope no one ever offers Dad free drugs.") 

On his third trip to our friend's house (he was doing a few odd jobs to help get her house ready for the market), I cautioned him begged, "Please, don't bring home anything else." (Remember, my house already looks like a used book store.) 

When he came home, he brought in a cardboard box. 

"I think you're going to like this," he said, and he opened the box to show me an assortment of Churchhill Blue Willow dishes. 

Yes!! He made the right call! Fourteen dinner plates, three salad plates, and a meat platter. (I know I don't need dishes. But I know just the ones I am going to pass along to someone else to make room for these babies.)

Last night, I ate my slice of Impossible Coconut Pie (that was the other new thing...a new "keeper" recipe by Martha Ellen) on a Blue Willow salad plate. I had to. 

That was an awful lot of this-and-that!

What are your thoughts on "eating the elephant"? Are you weary of political and social statements "in your face" at every turn? Anything new in your world? 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Ron returned to work yesterday and I was happy to see him go. 

Don't get me wrong. I was not tired of his company. I like having him around. Rather, I was happy to see him go back to work because it meant that "vacation" is over and I can rest

Honestly, my plain old Monday seemed easy-peasy after the days of last week! Laundry, homeschooling, tidying, cleaning out a cabinet, preparing dinner? No big deal

So, yes, we accomplished the goals of Plan E!

Goal #1: We finished painting Bekah's bedroom and she loves it! 

She was a bit reluctant to give up those pink walls after fourteen years, but now she's a convert and loves having the "blank canvas" of white on white. She has been trading out duvet covers and rearranging accessories by the hour. The photos I am sharing in this post simply show the room as I was photographing it. It could be totally different by now. :)

I am thrilled that she is enjoying her room, dabbling in decorating, and finding her style. Not only will she enjoy her space now, but it is practice in making a home. 

Goal #2: We painted the built-ins in the living room.

Yes, we are waiting for the paint to cure before we put the books and accessories back.

So, yes, the dining room still looks like a used book store and our TV is perched on a dining room chair.

But "vacation" is over! (Whew!)

Have you ever worn yourself to a frazzle on "vacation"? 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Snapshots: The First Race of the Season

All winter long, they asked.

"Can we have a race?"

And we elders who were standing out in the cold while seeing them off on a Sunday evening, and the younger parents who were also cold and wanting to get home for some down time before the new week began...we'd all say, "No. There'll be plenty of warm Sundays for races." 

On Resurrection Sunday, it was beautifully warm, but everyone was wearing their holiday best and, again, the parents/grandparents said, "Not this week." 

But was warm, there was no rain (yet), and everyone was wearing play clothes and the race was on!  

Winners all! Delightful springtime!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Painting: Plan E?

For weeks I had dreaded the "painting the living room" project. It loomed out in front of me, taunting me with its enormity. Prime, paint first coat, paint second coat. Three doors, an entire wall of built-ins, two windows, baseboard. Then up the stairs...risers, molding up the sides. The upstairs hallway with four doors and one window. Then the walls and ceilings in all of those areas (living room, stairs, upstairs hallway). Given the fact that the job was huge and (this is important) that we were short one painter (Kati is doing clinicals for her CNA training), would we even be able to finish it all in one week? 

As late as Sunday evening, painting the living room was the plan for this week of Ron's vacation. But as I sat there in my chair after watching Call the Midwife (for the last time, I might add, but that's another story...), my mind scrambled for another plan. 

What if...I began, thinking that Ron would be reluctant to rethink those plans. But guess what?! He was all ears! So we weighed all the pros and cons and talked over Plans B, C, D, and E and ended up with something we all felt we could live with. Whew!


1) Paint Bekah's bedroom.

I know. What?! But last fall, when she was so inspired by our visit to Fresh Vintage by Amy in Lancaster, I had promised her that we'd repaint her room sometime soon ("soon" being a relative term around here). And this was a much smaller project.

For her entire life, the walls of her bedroom have been pink, even after a couple of updates. (The girl does not like change.) This time around, we're painting the walls Swiss Coffee and the woodwork Decorator White, both by Behr. This neutral color scheme will provide a blank canvas for her vintage treasures and the pops of color that she loves. 

2) Paint the living room/stairs/ stages.

Whew! That is such a relief!

I am all for getting a project done and not dragging it out indefinitely whenever possible, but this seems so much more doable. It is a very workable solution. 

For this week, we're painting the built-ins only. This involves removing from the shelves, priming, and two coats of paint. We won't replace the books for at least a week after the new paint is on, allowing plenty of time for the paint to cure, which means that my house will look like a used book store for a while. (Bonus: We are enjoying "shopping" at our used book store, finding some forgotten treasures.)

Then we will tackle a little bit (or a bigger bit, as time allows) of the job every week until it's done. Maybe paint a window in an evening...or the walls on a weekend. Not the ideal way to do a job, but a manageable one. (Which is important.)

Although I don't consider myself "old," I have found that we cannot do things at the same rate that we used to do them. And our work days are shorter too. We want to be sitting in our chairs by the time Jeopardy comes on at 7:30. 

Life is continual change, isn't it? 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sunday Snapshots: Celebrating Bekah!

And now she's 14! We can hardly believe it. Our teeny tiny preemie baby who was born after a very difficult season of our lives, she is now a beautiful young lady. We are so thankful for the grace that is Bekah! 

On Sunday, we gathered to celebrate her. 

The party was hers. She chose the colors, the decorations, the menu, and even made her own cake. She loves to plan parties and helps me all year long, but she knows that she is the Executive Planner on her own birthday and she revels in it! 

She is musical, artsy, witty, inquisitive, talkative (at home!), smart, and shy...and a joy to our hearts.

We are still amazed that God blessed us with this sweet girl. and we can't imagine life without our Bekah Boo!!

(Party photos were taken by Bekah; people photos are mine.)

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