Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March Blessings

March went by super fast! We had a lot going on this month as we are doing everything we can to finish school before June to give me time to prepare for this 6th baby. Even with busy days, God has shown us His great love and mercy and I'm so thankful that He is my God! Here are some of this months blessings.

  1. Having a Sunday with nothing extra
  2. Seeing Jen
  3. Taking a nap
  4. Lillian waking me up with kisses
  5. Free pancakes at IHOP!!!!
  6. Meeting another family very similar to ours
  7. Driving home safely while snow is falling
  8. Julianne
  9. Getting more organization done upstairs
  10. Time to talk with Jim
  11. Not turning on the TV all day (getting back to this)
  12. Time to hang out by myself at home
  13. Going to celebrate Shannon and her baby boy!
  14. Getting extra school work done
  15. Jim not having to work on a Saturday night
  16. Encouragement from dear friends
  17. Jim being awake for church
  18. Lillian willingly sharing her milkshake
  19. Kids sleeping until at least 6 am! (No really that is HUGE!)
  20. God moving in Jim, me and our home
  21. Jim growing in listening and being there for me emotionally
  22. Time to catch up with Dana
  23. Jamey and Lillian going to CG
  24. Going to Sweet Frog
  25. Not yelling at my kids (this was a 1 time thing, but such God's grace)
  26. Getting more organizing done
  27. Going to water aerobics
  28. Encouraging first time moms
  29. Reading a decent amount
  30. Getting needed emails written and budget filled in
  31. Finishing The Odyssey
  32. Seeing Ben, Jill and their kids
  33. Baby Dedication at Sojourn
  34. Catching up with Sarah
  35. Being encouraged
  36. Getting Jim's car fixed
  37. Lots of family errands getting done and the kids handling it well
  38. Free ice cream cones at DQ
  39. Book club
  40. Reaching viability day with our little boy!
  41. Playgroup at the park!
  42. Getting a large amount of the kitchen organized
  43. Great date night with Jim- talking about things we enjoy doing
  44. Getting our Sonlight curriculum for next year and organizing it
  45. Working on things that needed to be done and accomplishing a lot
  46. Water Aerobics and Mom's Night Out (great combo!)
  47. Going on a homeschool mom's retreat with no cell service!
  48. God stretching and growing me
  49. Sharing a devotional about joy that opened up opportunities to minister to other women
  50. God's great grace
  51. Winning a 1 hour massage with manicure and pedicure
  52. Catching up with people at church
  53. $10 stuffed crust pizza
  54. Low-key family day
  55. Jim moving to day shift
  56. Sharing feelings quickly instead of harboring them
  57. Catching up with the Robinettes
  58. Sharing our testimonies with CG
  59. Jamey losing his first tooth! (he's getting so big)
  60. Date night with Jim- Homerun Burgers, Pie Kitchen and Good conversation
  61. Making it through Jim's first day shift
  62. Getting to take a nap during the day
  63. Jamey and Lillian helping a lot
  64. Jamey volunteering to empty dish washer
  65. Jim being home on a Friday night
  66. Sleeping in
  67. Getting more of the kitchen organized
  68. Jim being home on a Saturday
  69. Seeing Fiddler On The Roof at the Jewish Community Center
  70. Subway
  71. Time with my God
  72. God being awesome!

March Evaluation

Due to circumstances this past year, I'm not really changing my goals. Some will go that are not top priority, but I'm keeping the ones that fit with the overarching goal of having a God-centered life and the things I see Him leading me to right now. So thus far this is how it goes:

  • Spend at least 10 minutes praying daily- Yes, usually for strength or wisdom sporadically throughout the day
  • Spend at least 10 minutes reading and reflecting on the Bible daily- More improvement, but still want to grow more in this
  • Memorize verses with the kids - We are working through verses related to lent and catechism
  • Memorize Scripture- Currently working on verses that go with North Star Catechism
  • Go out for a date once a week- Yes
  • Go on a night away once this year- Need to plan this
  • Read 3 books together this year- Started a list of books we want to read together
  • Discuss plan weekly on Sunday afternoon- Better, hoping Jim being on days will improve this
  • Spend 30 minutes of one on one time with each child every week- still need to work on this
  • Go to playgroup each Tuesday- Missed a couple 
  • Write in individual journals at least 3 times this year- I have not written in any this month, but hoping to get caught up
  • Finish Jamey's 1st year Scrapbook- This is not a top priority,but hoping to at least do some work on it this year
  • Keep up with cleaning schedule- Doing major overhaul so did not do much with this
  • Keep up with my calendar- Starting to do better with this
  • Being fully present when with my family- Getting better at this, but still struggling
  • Continue sending out Prayer List- Yes
  • Read a book a month for myself- Finished "The Odyssey"
  • Journal 5 days a week- doing better in this, but still not where I want to be
  • Write (books) 3 days a week- Went through my creative writing bucket
  • Edit novel to prepare for publishing and research publishing options- No editing this month
  • Finish Rosetta Stone Russian level 1 - Have not worked on this
  • Continue to meet once a month with writing group- Not able to meet this month
  • Blog 3 days a week- Definitely kept up with this
  • Go to water aerobics once a week- had to miss one
  • Maintain weight until birth- Maintained well this month!
  • Lose weight after giving birth- 
March flew by with a lot of things going on. We are really seeking to get done with school in a timely manner and get our house more organized before baby, so most of our extra time is in that. I was thankful to get many things done that needed to be done and still get many other things done as well. Looking forward to a beautiful April!

How was your March?

Monday, March 30, 2015

My Palm Sunday

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, when we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. It was a great celebration as the Jews believed Jesus was coming to be their King on their terms, taking over the Roman government and returning Israel to their control.

In the afternoon I went to see my favorite musical/play, Fiddler On The Roof at the Jewish community center here. At the end, the Jews are told that they were to leave their homes and evict the city. One character says, "Rabbi, we have waited all our lives for the Messiah. Wouldn't now be a good time for Him to come."

I thought, how ironic that I am hearing this today of all days. The Messiah that you have been waiting for did come. In fact, you laid out palm branches and cloaks so that His donkey could walk on them and shouted Hosanna as He entered Jerusalem. But you did not receive Him or His way of salvation. You wanted it your own way.

And then I think to myself, how often is that me? I shout praises to my God, but so quickly turn to my own way when God doesn't do what I want? All humanity is the same, desiring their own way, their own kingdom. I have always had a soft spot for the Jews, and this year more than ever, because they are God's chosen people and yet have rejected His way of salvation. I feel this same pity for all the lost as well. It does us no good to seek our own kingdom because it will never stand.

Father, help us look to the true Messiah, Your Son, Jesus Christ. He is all we need. He is the only King and His Kingdom will never end. Right now we are just waiting for it to come to fruition. Come, Lord Jesus!

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Greek News

This was part of our History curriculum for our oldest this year. This was a fun way to present parts of history. As a writer I appreciated the uniqueness of the journalistic style for recounting history. It also has "advertisements" to see the types of things people would have been buying and selling back then. It made me want to visit that time period and interview people myself. My oldest loved it also. He enjoyed the pictures to go along with the story.

4.5 stars for this unique history book!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How Do You Lift a Lion?

This is a good intro to simple machines. We enjoyed this for my 4-year-old's preschool science lesson one day.

4 Stars


This is a very basic look at humanity as a whole. It has fun interesting facts, though some of the numbers are outdated. It was fun talking through how people are different, even within our own family. It was good for a basic conversation about differences and loving those who are different than us.

4 stars

Monday, March 23, 2015

Usborne Greek Myths

This was part of the Core B curriculum we did this year and it was so fun. I have always enjoyed Greek Myths and this was a easy basic read of many of the well known tales. My kids enjoyed reading them as well. Reading The Odyssey at the same time added to the enjoyment of reading these myths and hearing the kids version of this book.

4 stars for this kids book

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Spiritual Observations in The Odyssey

In my review of The Odyssey yesterday I wrote that I was challenged by the worship of their gods in the book. Part of the challenge was seeing how similar their sacrifices were to Old Testament commands for sacrifices to God, at times using the same phraseology. Seeing this, though, made me think, how much am I willing to sacrifice for God? Not in the sense of burning sacrifices, but how often to I stick to my own agenda or do things my way instead of God's way? How often do I get something for myself instead of giving to someone else?

The characters in the book also talked about their gods frequently and always asked them for help. I love to pray, but hearing the way they talk to and about their gods really challenged me to be more diligent in seeking God out in everything. I really want to grow in this more as well as talk about my God and how great He is at all times. I want to worship and honor my God, the One True God, more than those who worship false gods.

I also evaluated why their sacrifices were so extravagant. The characters were seeking to appease, gain favor and, in a sense, manipulate their gods. How often to I do this?

I don't want that kind of worship! 

My God is appeased because He sent His Son to die in my stead. There is nothing I can do to make Him love me more or to fix my sin. Jesus did that. He satisfied God's wrath for me.
I cannot gain His favor because my favor is found in Jesus.
I cannot manipulate God because He Is! He is over all things and His ways are perfect. He will not stray from what brings Him the most glory and His people the most good.

I want to worship my God because by His grace He has saved me, a sinner who does not deserve to be saved, who deserves nothing good. He sent His Son, a part of Himself, to do the work. I cannot save myself. He has done it. That alone is enough reason to worship God with all that I am and all that I have.

The characters also had a deep understanding of sovereignty of their gods, usually referred to as destiny. How is it that we so easily dismiss God as sovereign? He is over all and orchestrates the universe. May I honor the God who is over all things and trust His working, even when I do not understand or like what is happening.

I know there are far more observations than what is written here, but these are the primary things that stand out to me. If you've read this book, did the spiritual elements of the book challenge you? If so, how?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Odyssey by Homer

This is my second book in the Back to the Classics Challenge for this year. It is one I have been wanting to read for quite some time and I'm so glad I finally read it. The Greeks are really good story tellers and as a whole kept my attention well. Not only was the book a story, stories were told in great detail with in the story. I'm not sure most people today would agree with this enchantment as we are all about how fast we can get through a story with as much action as possible, but I really enjoyed the complexity with which the story was told. There were a few times I got lost in the details, especially when words were used differently than I was familiar with, or I did not know the word at all, but it was still a good read.

I was also challenged by this book in the way they worshiped their gods. It was really interesting to see their worship and how much they gave to and relied on their gods. I plan to go more in depth on these observations in another post.

Showing the realness of humanity was also enjoyable. Though the level of revenge taken I felt was a bit much, it was a very real look at how people think about things and deal with life. I like how the Greeks are very real, if even to the extreme.

The least enjoyable element of the book was the ending. It was very abrupt, especially after what had taken place in the chapter before and in a sense way too simple, after all the complexity in the rest of the book. I'm not sure how I would change it, but it was too neat and fairy talish for my taste.

I would give this book 4 stars. I look forward to reading it with my kids in the future.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Gods Must Be Angry

This is the second time I've read this book with my kids and I still love it. It's a great short book that gives a small picture into some Thai culture as well as tells how God works in all kids of ways. I love stories about how God is working around the world, and that is in this book. I absolutely recommend it.

5 stars

Friday, March 13, 2015

Is A Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is?

This is one of our science books for our Pre-K Sonlight curriculum and it was fun to read. It's a good look at giving perspective on how small we really are compared to everything else. I like that it is very basic science for kids who want to learn but are not yet ready for the concept that often go with science.

4 stars

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Stories From Africa

This short book has 6 stories from various missionaries in Africa. It is part of our homeschool curriculum and this is my second time reading it. I really enjoyed reading it again, as I never tire of hearing the amazing stories of how God is working and has worked around the world. It is fun sharing these stories with my children and telling them more about how great our God really is. Highly recommend this book.

5 stars

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

YAY for Viability Day!

Yesterday I turned 24 weeks, which, for L&D nurses, is known as viability day. It's the day where we do a happy dance, because if the baby were to come early the chances of survival greatly increase. I do pray that this baby will at least wait until June. Having a boy I do not want him to come before 36 weeks. I am so thankful that God has allowed us to get to this point and that both he and I are still doing well. I pray the next 16 or so weeks continue to go well and that the delivery is smooth for both of us.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Why I Love Homeschooling (Part 2)

Yesterday I shared some thoughts I wrote down in September about why I love homeschooling. Since then I have written down some others that have come to mind. The more I think about these the more I really do love being a homeschool family and thankful that God has led us to do this at this time in our lives.

Teaching Jesus First
I love that we can open our day with prayer, Bible reading and talking about Jesus as a family. We also are able to talk about God in everything we learn, which I love. At the doctor last week, when asked what his favorite subject in school was, Jamey replied, "learning about Jesus!" What parent doesn't want to hear that?

Family Being Together
As a homeschool family we get to do a lot together. This is such a blessing! Can it be stressful at times? Absolutely! But we also learn and grow together in many different ways. With Jim being a nurse, it also means a lot of Daddy time for the kids and he really runs the primary part of our homeschool day. I think we all love this. I know I do!

Family Learning Together
As Jim or I teach the kids, we learn too! As we teach the older ones, the little ones get to hear and begin learning things as well. It is so much fun when we all read a story together and can talk about it on different levels and hear what each other gets from it. This doesn't happen all of the time, but as the kids get older it is becoming more frequent and it is so precious.

Watching Things Click
I cannot explain to you how happy it makes my heart when I see one of my kids get something and we all celebrate. Whether they are struggling with a concept or just learning something new, there is something so precious in their eyes when they have that "aha" moment and they get it.

Kids Teaching Each Other
This is beginning to happen more and it makes my heart melt. Last week I sat and listened to Lillian read to Reuben. What a precious moment! Both Jamey and Lillian help the little boys with their letters, phonics and numbers at times. It is exciting to see this starting so young and I pray it will continue.

I am sure these are not all the reasons I love homeschooling, but they are the most prevalent. Why do you love your school choice?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Why I Love Homeschooling (Part 1)

During September (and really the last 5 months in general) I have been reminded of a lot of reasons why we homeschool, even though they may not have been reasons when we first started to homeschool our kids.

The last few months have been chaotic to say the least. Some days we have so much going on that other things go by the way side. Other days are open and free and we have time to delve more into things the kids want to know or learn additional things. We also have the ability to go on vacation whenever we choose. My parents had fall break in September, so we went on a trip to St. Louis with them just because we could. In this we also had some natural history, geography and science lessons along the way. Why? Because life is a classroom and we can learn in any situation.

Teaching Where They Are
Because of the way school went last year, our kids ended up in different places than we had originally anticipated. But that's OK! When you school at home you can put your kids on whatever level they are on. Jamey is doing a combination that falls from the kindergarten to 2nd grade realm. Lillian is doing pre-K. Reuben and Gabriel are being schooled together with a basic preschool learning curriculum. As we go we get to evaluate where they are and how much we need to repeat or if we can move right along. At first I was a little frustrated by this, because my kids did not do what I had anticipated, but now I love it! I can focus on each child and see where they are in their learning process. I can also see better how they learn. This way I can help them learn more effectively.

"Why-why," said Elizabeth Ann, "I don't know what I am at all. If I'm second-grade arithmatic and seventh-grade reading and third-grade spelling, what grade am I?"
The teacher laughed. "You aren't any grade at all, no matter where you are in school. You're just yourself, aren't you? What difference does it make what grade you're in? And what's the use of your reading little baby things too easy for you just because you don't know your multiplication table?" 
from Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher pp. 64-65

Focus On Strengths and What They Enjoy
This goes along with the last one, but more specifically, we can focus on where they excel and spend more time on the subjects they enjoy so that they enjoy learning. In essence, I don't have to make them well rounded. That does not mean we do not teach all the subjects, but we don't have to harp on their weaknesses so that they are excellent in every subject. Instead we give them space to do what they enjoy, whether it be academic or extracurricular. For example, Jamey loves language arts, science and drawing! We can spend more time doing these things, helping him to develop these skills and just do the basics in other areas. We are still learning what the other kids strengths are, but I love the concept of being able to give them space to be who they are. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Lenten Season

I had planned to do another series during Lent this year, but family life is more important and so there is no specific series. Right now, during this season of reflecting on what Christ has done for us, learning to live the life He died to give me seems to be what He wants me to do. I struggle with this. I am a dreamer and always thinking of what else I could be doing. But that is not God's best. Right now His best for me is to learn to be who He has made me to be in the life He has given me to live. I'm still learning what that means for everyday life. Right now, some things have had to go so that I can get His priorities in order and that is clearly going to take some time to learn. Since Lent has started we have been cleaning, purging and organizing our house. As we do this, I see God working on the same things in my heart. What could be better than God purging the sin and darkness out of you? I can't really think of much else.

Thank You, Father, for saving me, for sending Jesus to die for me so that I might live with You! Help me this season to really learn who I am in You and to live according to Your Word and Your Way.