Saturday, June 30, 2007

Do Hard Things

Alex & Brett Harris at the Rebelution are holding a conference called The Rebelution Tour. If you are not familiar with these boys, you should be. Their family legacy is one that speaks volumes about the blessings of radical obedience that comes with surrendering to the Word of God. They are twins in a family of 7 children, home schooled, brilliant, articulate, and completely sold-out to Jesus Christ. You can read their bio's on their blog, The Rebelution, which is a..."teenage rebellion against the low expectations of an ungodly culture." Both their brother (Josh Harris) & their father (Gregg Harris) have authored numerous books and spoke before thousands but these brothers are embarking on their own crusade....and it has the glory of God all over it.

That makes me want to squeeze their necks really hard (in a good way) and shout a very loud amen. Do you understand what kind of minority these boys represent?

The four cities listed on the blog are pretty well spread out but it would still require some effort to make the travel accommodations. I believe it to be so entirely worth it.

My oldest is only 12, so we will hold off another year but I am following this conference and praying that God use these young men to speak truth and conviction over the lives of so many young girls and boys.

The lies that our children have come to believe about what their teen years are all about are an abomination. The lazy apathy of parents has been the most powerful influence on their sons & daughters. The idea that *real* responsibility & expectations should be lowered because well.... because they are "just" teenagers. That is the sad reality that is resulting in a culture of self-centered, confused, and biblically ignorant young people.

There are words spoken in elementary school that are permitted and 20 years ago they where not permitted. Why are they permitted now? Lowered expectations.

There are clothes worn to church that are not allowed to be worn in school, like tight-fitting cami tops and strapless halters. They are blatantly inappropriate and obvious stumbling blocks for all ages of men. Why is that permitted in church? Lowered expectations.

Parents are driving their 10-year olds to dances and dates and they allow their 14 & 15 year olds to show affection to their boyfriends & girlfriends in front of them. Do you remember when you would never think of kissing your boyfriend in front of your dad? Why is this now okay? Lowered expectations.

Chores, manners, family responsibility, accountability, respect.....These expectations are so low they hardly exist in many families. The truth is that without the Word as the complete beginning and end of your parenting charge we will always fall short in the area of expectations. Remembering that the standard is Christ and we should never expect less than what gives honor and glory to Him. It truly is that simple. (more simply said than done)

It is the total and complete responsibility for moms & dads to rise to the occasion of real biblical parenting. Not school....Not church. NOT church. What a misconception it is to drop your children with their youth group and assume that the ministry will parent to the standard that God has called *only* the parents to. Your youth minister will not be held accountable for the influence in your child's life. He cannot be the primary influence in the teaching & application of God's word. Parents should not assume that a mediocre influence with a mediocre amount of time to result in anything less than mediocre standards. To ensure the best case scenario for the end result that He desires, should we (parents) not be in more control of the environment in which those results are born and bred? Again....easier said than done.

But as the boys at the Rebelution say, we should Do Hard Things. It is so much easier to compromise in the areas that require so much of us physically....emotionally.... and spiritually.

Every decision in regard to my children should result in serious deliberation. I can honestly say that there are situations that have been placed before me and I failed miserably in seeking the wisdom of the Lord and trusted traditions, culture, or my gut. I have been wrong on every occasion when I used those standards rather than His.

I am prayerful and oh-so-grateful that God has revealed His purpose to me as a parent. Although I am fallen and sinful and at times completely spent over the dilemma of "doing it right", I have such a blessed hope in His word. That never-ending grace sustains me and will continue to do so as we continue forward on this amazing journey as their mother & father.

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

Monday, June 25, 2007

Wonderful Deals....

Leslie wrote about these great deals at the Westminster Bookstore a couple of weeks ago and I took full advantage! I had been eyeballin' the Jesus Storybook Bible for a bit and after the endorsement from Girl Talk, I decided to add it to my order.

My favorite find and one that I have been looking all over creation for is this Children's ESV Bible. Can I tell you that trying to find a complete bible for children that includes illustrations is just about impossible? We have scores of children's bibles that touch on all the favorite lessons, but we wanted to find one that left not one scripture out. Meeting that criteria and it being ESV made me plum giddy.

Our church is using the Generations of Grace curriculum from John MacArthur and the lessons are unified throughout the Sunday School age-groups so that even though the lessons are age appropriate, every group eventually studies the same thing. That means when Hannah & Emma (age 10 & 12) are studying "The Sin of Achan" so is Samuel (age 4)...and it's hard to find Achan in the Toddler Bible, ya know?

I also ordered this Children's Story Bible from Catherine Vos because I was on a roll and I am officially addicted to bibles. No seriously, I loved this bible and I have considered ordering it for a while. I believe I had this bible at some point in my childhood or someone else had it and I coveted it. Either way....I needed it in my library of *Too Many Story Bibles" and it was nearly 1/2 off. That my friend, is called a "No-Brainer".

On Sunday nights our church meets at our pastor's home for a sweet time of Catechism & Family Worship. I cannot tell you with words what a blessing it is to be in communion with my church family in such an intimate setting. With only the guitar and our voices, we are unified in praise through worshipful songs that are sung with the sole purpose of pleasing the Lord. Our worship leader and elder Brian (that's Jenn's husband) spends time teaching the importance of the hymns and songs that we sing. Who wrote them? Why? What in the world does "dross" mean?

Our pastor then leads us through the study of God's Word. Right now, we are in Genesis and the emphasis of creation that began the miraculous wonders of God's sovereign plan....from before the beginning. Then we break up in to elder-lead groups and review our Catechism memorization. We are using the Baptist Catechism adapted from John Piper.

I do very well with my memorization.... as long as the room is deathly silent and not-so-much as a cricket makes a sound...cause if that happens then I lose all train of thought and all those years of AWANAs start to take over. Before you know it, I am singing something about being a "Spark for Jesus".

is not my middle name.

So far the family-friendly competitive spirit that runs rampant in our home has not taken over.....yet. I find it completely wrong that the same children who robbed my brain cells to begin with are able to memorize the Apostle's Creed faster than I can get through the 3rd Commandment. It's wrong. So what if I chant the theme song to "Happy Days" in their ear while they are trying to recite their verses. So what? Someone has to level the playing field.

I am also ordering these three books. Most of my blog girlies already have these books and because I was totally clueless when the girls were younger, I am revamping my children's library. You should head over to the Westminster Bookstore because the sale ends tomorrow! Thanks Leslie :)

And this my friends, concludes my post with the most links ever.

Your welcome.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Samuel says....

"Daddy....are day playing Cowboy Golf ?"

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Tex!

The dog had his first birthday. In honor of his birthday and the 103 degree heat, we took him to Bruster's for his free doggie treat! Utter summer silliness.

It was so stinkin' hot.

Tex kept looking around anxiously waiting for someone to pop him on the head for eating the human food.

Rotten dog.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Who knew?

Easter 2004

I spent the better part of my childhood dreaming of a make-believe father that I could trust. In my dreams, he was someone who I longed to please and pleasing him would never be impossible. I would never be nervous or afraid to spend time together. He would never look at me with resentment or hostility. He was never my worst critic and I never left his presence feeling defeated. I would rest in his arms and feel loved.....and safe.

What seemed lofty and unreasonable was actually a hearts desire that came from my maker and was etched in the Word of God.

"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4

Who knew that all those difficult years were marking the trail towards the father of my children?

God knew. Through His sovereign knowledge he married beauty from ashes and caused a great a conforming change that would bless not only my life, but the life of my husband and the future lives of our children. Because God pursued me, and changed my heart to surrender to Him as Father, I am reaping the blessings of what it is to be married to a man who shares in this promise. Praise God for the trial and again for the provision.

My daughters have rested their heads on the chest of their father more times than I can count. At just 4 years old, our son has a reverence and admiration for his daddy. He sees something to emulate. It is.....without question....the most precious thing, to see my children in love with their father.

Happy Father's Day Chris. I love you.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Like a chicken....

....WITH MY HEAD CUT-OFF!!!! Seriously. It is that time of year. The end is near and I can taste it. I am tasting it and it taste really really good. I am ready for it to come to a screeching halt.


But, in the last few days I have woken up way to early with a primal need to bawl my head off because this week involves saying goodbye. Of course, the typical "goodbye" to teachers, but we do that every year. This year entails a bit more. Our elementary school experience has been an overall positive one and the memories are special and sweet. Oh, how difficult it has been for me to wrap my brain around....the "never again" in regard to my children spending their days there.

It is terribly hard for me to mark passages of time, especially ones that have made such an impact on my life.

It truly has nothing to do with going forward. This *isn't* about homeschooling. If I lived in a little cottage in the woods with no running water I would still be wistful and heavy-hearted when I left. If I had raised my babies there and shared my life with other cottage dwellers, then even the offer of living in the grandest castle on the highest hill would still leave an ache in my heart for what I was leaving behind. It's the way I am made. "Fearfully & wonderfully"....and insanely sentimental.

Finality has always hit me hard.

This morning marks the last day of school for Emma & Hannah. They are thrilled. I am too. What an adventure we are set to embark on! I cannot fathom what the Lord has in store for our family. Educating my children with material that is woven so beautifully with the Word of God fills my heart beyond measure. Impressing upon them the things that our culture has deemed worthless.....things like purity, selflessness, humility, and holiness. Do you know that have not one doubt about this decision? I am not burdened in the least bit. I am ready.

But the lump in my throat won't go away.

O.K. enough already. As I limp through the day, trying to keep my ugly cry at bay, please enjoy a photo montage as a means to deter you from the utter sadness. (is that enough drama for you?)

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. I have yet to post on our "We Are Moving!"...... "We Are Not Moving!" adventure and all the tidbits of life that sprinkled that decision.

In due time. I have to remove the lump first.

Without further delay, here's our family doing what they do "Mi Vida Loca"!

Samuel got his summer cut. Can you tell this is his absolute most favorite thing to do?

We swam with friends last week. Friends who are moving away. Our very best friends who are moving far away. Did anybody hear me mention my issues with goodbye, finality and change? This lump is starting to feel like a bowling ball....

Hannah's class visited Petersburg National Battlefield. We sort of beat'em to the punch on this one because we visited here at Spring Break. The trip with school was actually much better. The National Park Rangers did a stellar job of bringing the Civil War to life for the kids and really got them involved in the process.

This guy used a huge canvas that had the city of Petersburg with an emphasis on the rivers, railways, and boundary lines. Using wood pieces with gray or blue men glued on top, he created a visual re-enactment of the Battle at Petersburg and how supplies were cut off ensuring the victory for the Confederacy. It was incredibly interesting but crazy hot (high 90s) and so between catching sweat in my mouth and dreaming of an ice cold Dr. Pepper, I actually learned something :)

The following are videos that I took of the kids. They were each given cards that stated whether they were Union or Confederate soldiers, if they were injured or not, where their injuries where, and then if they were injured there was also a number on the card. The Ranger separated them (North and South) in a field and signaled when to "Charge!". At that command they were to run towards run one another in a mock attempt at battle. When she blew her whistle once, all the injured soldiers with the #1 on their card fell to the ground wounded. The others continued to charge forward until she blew her whistle twice. After all the wounded 6th graders fell to the ground then the able bodied "soldiers" were to haul the injured to the area set up for treatment.

4th grade celebrated with an end-of-the-year party...Fiesta Style! Can you find the child in the picture with the most ambitious mother? Note the homemade serape and handlebar moustache. This girl is festive. Emma begged for a sombrero but they are hard to come by in Virginia.

We settled for a purple t-shirt and some Nikes. Ole!

Sombrero Picture frames & Tissue Paper Flowers

Can I tell ya'll that tissue paper flowers are *not* easy to make? Do you remember going to Six Flags and buying the super-huge, momma-jomma, tissue-paper flowers on the dowel rods? They were big and beautiful and worth every bit of $15.00 (or not).

I think I took for granted the artist touch that it took to create such a masterpiece because my paper flower looked like a gift bag reject.

God's Eyes & Sand Art

The Limbo!

See where all that gymnastics money is going???

Samuel basically ruled the playground and avoided all the border festivities. I, on the other hand, stayed in the thick of it to ensure a large portion of nachos with chili-cheese on top. There are actual rewards for being the room mother and mine was being in total control of the crock pot.

Membership has it privileges, you know.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

How I became a blogger...

How did you start blogging?

My friend Tiffany (Flying Freckle) said..."read this blog". I did. Then she said....."you should get a blog". But I thought it was weird so I did not. I talked about it with some friends (Lurker) and they (just she) said it was weird. Then I talked about it with Chris and he said it was weird too. Then one day when I was feeling very very weird....I started my blog. Some people in my circle still think it is very weird but Chris and the Lurker have warmed up a bit.

Did you intend to be a blog with a following? If so, how did you go about it?

No. I did not even know that blogs *had* followings. I know there are ways to generate traffic but I do not enlist such methods. Too much pressure. I care too much about what other people think. The last thing I need is people pounding at my blog doorstep looking for my post.

I have underwears to wash.

What do you hope to achieve or accomplish with your blog? Have you been successful? If not, do you have a plan to achieve those goals?

I guess if I actually set out to accomplish something with my blog it would be to chronicle our life a bit and have some sense of memory capturing since I don't scrapbook or journal very well. As a byproduct of that desire I found that writing has been a wonderfully cathartic way to express my thoughts. If I could somehow glorify God through that process of sharing His grace in my life and exposing the Word as the only absolute truth on this earth than that would be an achievement. Only He could say if I were successful in that.

Has the focus of your blog changed since you started blogging? How?

Not so much. I do think I have been more bold at times when speaking about convictions or beliefs but I still hope to point to Him through those expressions.

What do you know now, that you wish you'd known when you started?

Nothing really. I have enjoyed the process of "finding my way".

Do you make money with your blog?

Again with the pressure. To me, making money with my blog would be like being paid to eat donuts. It would be a very bad relationship and the motive would be all wrong. The donuts would know that the love was gone and I was just looking for the dolla'. Not pretty. Honestly, I would feel too pressured and my posts would be a bit tainted. That's just me folks. I read other people's blogs who I think should be paid a pretty penny because their thoughts are just out of this world and I would have paid cash money for that kind of therapy :)

Does your immediate or extended family know about your blog? If so, do they read it? If not, why?

Yes, some do know about it and some read it. I suppose if they know about it and don't read it, then they probably hate me....or else they just don't read blogs. I am insecure, so I would lean towards the "they hate me" theory.

What two pieces of advice would you give to a new blogger?

1.) Don't put *everybody* in your "links". In my opinion it is much easier to add someones blog than it is to remove someone. Just when you think you have found someone like-minded, they could publish a post that is polar opposite of your convictions and beliefs. While I think it is perfectly fine to read blogs and gather insight from people who are different I feel that is something more when you are referring others to that same blog and it quietly infers that you agree with that blogger on some level. Just my opinion :)

2.) I agree with Leslie on this one. Don't write for man's approval. Don't question the posts that are in complete alignment with the Word. Write with a conviction to stay true not just to you and your family but to God and his commandments. The only following I could condone would be behind Jesus Christ and in that....I am just one of the followers.

If you go to Chilihead's website you can read about your favorite bloggers and their blogging saga. I'm sure it involves a great deal more ambition than what you will find here, but hey people.....I'm just keepin' it rill.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Super-Duper Deals!

My first *Used-Curriculum Sale* was quite productive! Spelling Power was in bad shape, but I wasn't sure we were going to use it this year anyway and for a buck....A SINGLE BUCK. One dinky little buck? That's stealing.

Saxon Math 7/6 was on my list.....check

Algebra 1/2 was on my list.....check

I think I paid less than $30.00 for both, including the test books.
Apologia -Exploring Creation with General Science was on my list and some of the others were on my list as well. I was just plain giddy after these finds. I still have a few more things to gather up, but I am nearly done. I am so grateful for all the help from those who have gone before me. It has made this process exciting and not at all daunting or overwhelming.

The desk was my first cheesy homeschool purchase. Veteran homeschoolers....laugh if
you must.

I couldn't help myself.

Things have been a bit topsy-turvy around this mercy-filled house and so I haven't posted much. There is a whole heapin' bunch of stuff to write about, but just not quite yet. The move isn't going as expected, but that is totally O.K.

Witnessing God's beautiful provision is an awesome thing.