Books and Nails And Legos

Tonight the kids and I went to eat Mexican and spend Mack’s birthday gift card at Target. I’m well aware of how different they are and tonight it was very clear as soon as we walked in the door.  

 

Ruby was set on not letting us skip our read aloud this evening. She claimed this book as the one SHE was going to read aloud–not me!  And it was only fair considering she has read Caddie Woodlawn three times on her own. She is hilarious as she gets to certain sections she enjoys more than others…and she asks us questions about what we think is about to happen!  I love to hear her read. 

  

And Molly. She was painting her nails before I set my purse down!  This girl is too funny to me. 

  

And Mack, though he tried to spend his money on something other than Legos, he just couldn’t do it. 

  

Sure am thankful for these kids and all the time I get with them. I’m thankful for Josh who works to provide so that my concentration can be at home on my family. Thankful for this season. ❤️

Homeschool Conference Recap

Growing up and into adulthood and then marriage and even with having my first baby, I never thought I would find myself at a homeschool conference. I didn’t have awful thoughts about homeschooling. I just truly never even thought about it for one second of my life. And looking back over the past 11 years, I cannot tell you the first time I did think about or consider myself home schooling my kids. I do know The Lord used people (and lots of them) around me to get me thinking about the idea of home school. I met home school moms that were awesomely “normal” (whatever in the world that means).  I began to realize that there are actually all kinds of people everywhere you go and in whatever you find yourself in to. A very honest friend of mine, when asked about socialization and weird home schoolers, said, “You’re kids will be as weird as you are.”  She has a point!  

Anyway, all of that to say, we jumped into home schooling in 2009, and we have never looked back. 

Now I didn’t say I’ve never daydreamed about having 7 hours, five days a week without my kids…but I truly cannot imagine not homeschooling the kids. I’m learning so very much! And I am getting to know my kids in some fun and challenging ways. 

So I found myself at a home school conference this past week. I could have attended for three days straight, but I attended four great sessions, strolled through the Exhibitor’s Hall and came home to fall into bed at 10pm.  It was enough for me. The rest of the weekend I gathered my brain back together with silence.  Heavenly silence. 

But while I was at the conference I did learn some things. 

Session One-MaryJo Tate     “Overcoming Interruptions and Distractions

She reminded us that saying YES to one thing automatically says NO to many other things. 

Distractions and Interruptions come in all shapes and sizes. She divided them into three categories. 

1) ACTIVITIES- what do you need to KEEP doing? ELIMINATE? ADD? She talked about delegating some chores…maybe kids can start doing all the laundry or maybe you need to outsource a subject or music instrument to another teacher?  Or what about hiring a maid? (Now that would be nice!)

She encouraged you to study your kids and see what they are passionate about before just signing them up for this, that, and the other. 

Lastly, in activities, she told us to remember that opportunity does NOT equal obligation. You don’t have to do every great thing that comes across your path!

2) STUFF- Get rid of clutter and simplify your life. I think I’m making great strides in this area. 

3) PEOPLE- sounds funny that people, including your children, can be interruptions or distractions. As a general rule, people are worth stopping what you’re doing and helping.  She was just trying to convey that as your kids become more independent in their work, you may want to do some other things ( for her, she edits books as a job), and your kids need to learn some boundaries. For me, if I’ve spent time with my kids with Bible and History and then get them started on a few things they can do on their own, without me sitting over them, then I can go walk on the treadmill and should be able to expect no interruptions. Maybe school is over and I want a nap…that’s ok. Tell the kids what you expect from them and take an  uninterrupted nap. I’m with my kids a lot, so, I want to help them realize I am my own person and I don’t  exist simply to answer their every school work question or help them in all their endeavors all day long. 

Other helpful tidbits from this session:

Use 30 minute screen time for the kids when it would most benefit me in the day. 

When my kids come to me for help about something, first ask them, “What would you do if I were not here to help?”  This just helps them start thinking more independently. 

And my favorite reminder: INSPECT WHAT YOU EXPECT. Ugh!!  Isn’t the fact that I’ve told them what to do and have shown them how to do it enough????? Evidently not. So for a while I will be going back to a bit of hand-holding. I will have to go into the bathroom to see if the toilet is clean, to make sure the mirror is clean of toothpaste spots, to make sure the beds are made nicely, etc. More work for me now, but I am hoping they are actually learning how to clean a bathroom really well. Whether you agree with me or not, it’s a valuable lesson. 

Session Two-Karen DeBeus   

Karen was a great speaker. She wrote a book, CALLED HOME, that I read last year. It is a story about how she reluctantly began home schooling. Her blogs are  simplylivingforhim.com and BibleBasedHomeschoolibg.com. 

I enjoyed hearing how she used the Bible as their only textbook one year, besides still using their math curriculum.  However, at this time, I don’t  feel led to do that!

A few quotes I liked:

“Don’t spend more time reading ABOUT the Bible than IN the Bible.”

“So what if they can read….if they don’t read The Word?!”

“Being a homeschooled should not define us. Being saved by Christ should. Let us be known by representing Him.”

My main take-away here was to start each day with the kids in The Word. I used to be diligent about this. I have my own time with God in His Word, so sometimes I just have them do their chores, have breakfast and then get started on math while I do some other things I want to do and then we move on to other subjects and before you know it, we haven’t read God’s Word together. It’s the most important thing we can study together, so why would I skip it??  So, we’re putting priorities back in order as it relates to our home school routine. And I’m looking forward to it!

Session 3—SIBLING RIVALRY

Session 4— INDEPENDENT LEARNERS 

Both of those sessions were fabulous, but a bit too much to convey through notes. They gave good tips for helping kids realize that the real enemy is satan, and in realizing their common enemy, they will better understand that they should work together against him and his ways instead of against each other. 

And as it relates to independent learners, I think the girls are making great strides. Mack, on the other hand, has a ways to go!  He loves to be sitting right beside me while he works…you know, just in case he needs me to explain something in every math problem to him.  We will continue to work on this with all of the kids. I do not want them to get to middle school and be clueless about completing their work on their own….of course I will still teach them, but for the most part, it’s pretty neat to see how they learn a great deal by reading the lesson on their own. 

While I’m still prayerful about classes we will sign up for and curriculum we will buy, I think I have a plan!  And for that, I am thankful.

  

Here are a few pictures from down in south GA of what my kids were doing without me. 

   

     

He Speaks to Me {because I’m sometimes confused on how to be great}

What a reminder I received this morning with The Lord. I have been alone for a couple of days, which is a rare and precious thing to me. What’s a girl to do with time alone? I mean, besides have chips and salsa for dinner and a waffle for dessert? She sleeps! She reads! She de-clutters! She may or may not stay in pajamas all day, take a shower in the evening, only to put on new pajamas for bed.

I also went for a walk this morning. Yesterday it rained and rained and rained some more. These spring-time rains are gifts from God; they wash away the pollen. If we aren’t careful here in Georgia, we will miss the grand beauty of spring because we have to endure so much pollen. We even feel the pollen making our heads so very heavy!
Ah-choo! (We are so easily swayed to complain, aren’t we?)

But the rain that was falling yesterday was a beautiful sight, and as I looked out the window I could just tell that everything was so much more green and lush. And so my walk this morning was fabulous. My eyes could hardly take in the beauty of God’s creation. The birds were chirping their little heads off. The trees were seemingly stretching up to heaven, branches raised in praise to God with their little blooms. And everything was alive with color!

Couple this amazing creation with a clear Word from My Creator, and I was overflowing with praise and thanksgiving. He spoke to me about something that I’ve thought about for a while and have had several conversations with some friends about:  this tension of really being used by God…making sure your life matters (as if this is somehow all up to me). And just like God, He showered down His Word in my heart and cleared up my thinking. And it was beautiful.  I could almost feel the growth happening as I spent time with Him this morning.

Here’s the scripture that spoke to me:

MARK10:43-45 “…but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slaves of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

I want to be great! I want someone to notice me and all my hard work, maybe even see a diamond in the rough in a certain area. I have dreams in my heart that seem to be going nowhere. So how can I be great? Are you great if you write a book? Are you great if your kids are genius kids that get a scholarship to school and go on to become famous? Are you great if you make Christian movies?  Are you great if you make a lot of money and are able to give a lot of money away? Are you great if you have a world-renown blog? Are you great if you make all your own meals from scratch and run marathons for fun?  It sounds quite shallow when I type it out: Am I great? But even the disciples asked some pretty presumptuous questions that I sure can relate to!  I believe that maybe they felt like I do…I want to do something great for God because I want to please Him.  I want my life to please Him.  I want to know that what I am doing matters.  Matthew 18:1 says the disciples asked Jesus who was the greatest in the Kingdom.

Luke 22:24 puts it this way, “And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.”

Jesus speaks into the dispute, bringing clarity, but probably not what they were hoping to hear. When He first started speaking, I wonder if each disciple secretly hoped Jesus was about to set the record straight and tell the others that he was indeed the one who is the greatest. Instead, Jesus says, “..but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”

Bottom line? The way the world views greatness is the opposite of how Jesus views greatness.

“How to be Great” isn’t a big secret or formula for me as a Believer. Jesus was quite clear.

If I want to be great, I serve.  And when I serve others, I please God because I look a lot like His Son.

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My Two Cents {a few marriage tips}

Ladies Night Out with my Sunday School girls happens the first Tuesday of each month.  The location changes, and we do different types of things together.   This past Tuesday we all gathered at my house to just talk…but with purpose.  I had a few ideas of topics and other gals brought up things on their minds.  It was a good night.  We even got to hear someone’s testimony, which brought us all a little bit closer to her and opened our hearts a little more to hers.  

Near the close of the evening, I asked each girl how long they have been married.  There were a couple of 16 years and 17 years, lots of 13, 14, and 15 years a 7 years and 4 years with a few others.  By no means was I sharing out of sooooooo many years experience, but for this room of gals, it was ok to simply share some things I have gleaned in my short 14 years and 2 months of marriage. And I enjoyed hearing their input as we talked through the list. 

So if you’re a newlywed wife and would like some advice on marriage, I hope you’ll read my list. It isn’t exhaustive, but I’ve hit some of the highlights.

1- Remember, you and your husband are on the same team!

Josh has used the “same team” analogy on me multiple times.  I suppose that’s what I should expect marrying a guy who played team sports his whole life.  I used to pout or get real quiet when I was bothered by something….I’d do anything except talk to him about it.  Well, he would have none of that.  He would have me sit on the couch, looking at him, and he would tell me we were going to talk. “We’re on the same team!” And he was right.  It’s so easy to let life’s circumstances drive a wedge between you and your husband instead of bringing you together.

2- Remember, you’re not always easy to live with either—forgive often, seek forgiveness and live humbly.

3- Never do anything alone that you couldn’t do with your husband’s ready approval.  It may put a damper on your Target trips, but it will keep you accountable!

4- Love believes the best about someone.  I remember a season when I thought Josh must be out to get me…he always had shoes in the living room, he would hang clothes on anything but a hanger in the closet, or he would leave his dish in the sink after I had cleaned the kitchen.  BUT, one day the Lord convicted me about my thoughts and sometimes my words about Josh.  I was NOT believing the best about him.  I was telling myself that he didn’t care about the work I did at home, etc, etc.  In reality, those thoughts weren’t true or loving.  

5- And connected with number 4, I also realized that I had started grouping my husband in with my kids.  “Y’all always leave your shoes everywhere.” “Does anyone know how to put their clothes away??!!”  See, it is indeed a lot of work to keep a house in good running order!  No one is debating that.  (But remember that it is also hard work for him to earn a living for his family!) Take caution not to let the line get blurry between our husband and our kids.  I’m training my kids to become independent and have less need of me. And as the kids get older, I can let them know that they can put away their own clothes.  They can put away their own shoes and clean that dish they just tossed in the clean, empty sink!  And I can serve my husband with joy.  I’m not his mother; I am his wife! 

6- Marriage is intended to be a picture of Christ and the church. What are you showing your kids, your family, your friends or neighbors about Christ by how you treat your spouse?  I want my kids to supernaturally see the gospel when they watch Josh and me. I don’t completely understand how that happens exactly, but I believe it does. They should see unconditional love, faithfulness, commitment through all types of circumstances, joy, encouragement, purity, patience, graciousness.

7- This may be just me, BUT a red flag goes up when I start a sentence to Josh with, “I feel…”  Now I’m not saying I never tell Josh how I feel, but many times that sentence goes on to be a bit dramatic, so for me it’s a red flag.  Is what I’m about to say true and sound or am I being overly sensitive? 

8- Think of your three closest friends. Is your husband one of them?  How can you be a better friend to your husband? There’s no one on the planet I love to spend time with more than Josh!

9- Intimacy is a good thing—a gift from God to be enjoyed all your married days!  I mean, not every single day, but lots and lots of days throughout your married life!

So there you have it.  My little list.  Marriage is hard work, but also the most fun thing I’ve ever been a part of!  I’m extremely thankful for the gift of marriage!

Yard Sale on the Blog

I hardly ever sell my stuff.  Josh and I don’t like clutter, so we are more apt to give it away than take the time to sell it. Plus, we have been given quite a few things, and we know what a blessing it is to give. HOWEVER, I have been organizing my list for curriculum needs this fall, and I just have to say that BOY OH BOY does it start adding up. Cha-Ching!$!$!

So, on this Friday when I am home alone (gasp!), I have been de-cluttering, and wouldn’t you know, I’ve found some decent items that I am going to try and sell. 

Take a look and private message me on facebook or call me if you have my number if you see something you could use. 

First up, a dollhouse that sits all alone at my house. Ruby has another one she plays with more. 

  

Next, a basket full of puzzles! 

  

Do any of your little girls like to play dress up?  Basket of a few outfits:

 SOLD!!!! 

Any American Girl doll fans?

 SOLD!!!!

And one of my favorites, felt boards to create different scenes with: 

SOLD!!!!

 These are boards and pattern blocks:

SOLD!!!!

 

  

I used these baskets in all three of my kids’ nurseries:

UPDATE: Josh says these  are priced too high. So the new price is  $40 for the pair!

 

 

And since my kids all sleep in the same room, we don’t use this Pottery Barn, Queen size duvet. It’s really pretty, especially when it is ironed!  

NEW PRICE: $60 for duvet, sham and bed skirt  

These are both twin sized Pottery Barn bed skirts, and I’m asking $10 each:

 

 

So there you have it. Either some people will buy this stuff or you will see it again at a Goodwill near you! 😉 Or if you know someone who really needs any of this stuff and can’t pay for it, just let me know.  

Happy Easter in Augusta!

We spent the weekend with my family for Easter in Augusta and had a great time just hanging out together. 

How about some pictures?

  

Sweety with all of the grandkids (Ruby-10, Molly-9, Jud- 9, Vance- 8, Mack-8, Kaybeth- 7, Renn-6)!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Molly is only 9, but she seems more like 13 to me!  She was brave and took a dip in the pool. 

 

 Mack was not going to miss a chance to swim either!

 

 Josh seized an opportunity to fish.  Looks like fun!

  

Then, it was time to hunt eggs.

  

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Vance found the most eggs, so he got a cash prize. 

 

 My sisters and me with all of our kids. 

 

  

Cacy with Jud and Kaybeth

  

Marcy with Vance and Rennison 

  

My sweet family😍

  

Now time for dyeing eggs!

   

 

 Happy Easter morning!  We went to church to celebrate our Savior who is alive!  We were at West Acres Baptist with my family and really enjoyed being there. 

 

 

 

 Crazy boy. 

 

 

 

 

 

 This is my Kindergarten teacher!  She is in the same Sunday School class as my parents.  I first met her when I was 5 years old and she was about 24, I think. She helped teach me to read and write!!  Such great memories from 33 years ago!  She looks incredible!  Her name is Ginger, but she’ll always be Mrs. Richardson to me!!

I thoroughly enjoyed our time in Augusta. I especially enjoyed watching Josh talk about places we visited in Israel and how those places that we hear about in the Bible are really there!  The kids listened so well!

   

 

Thankful for some time with family. Hope everyone had a great Easter celebrating The One who matters most, Jesus!

He Speaks to Me {Through Kathy Ferguson Litton}

The Lord has given me a gift that I didn’t know I needed. Her name is Kathy Litton. She doesn’t know she is such a source of wisdom for me. She doesn’t live anywhere near me. I’ve had a handful of conversations with her. (You’re probably wondering how this person can be such a source of wisdom for me. Trust me, she can.)

The Lord has put Josh in a position that puts me in a position to hear Kathy teach a few times a year. 
I could probably write a small book on what I’ve learned from her….and it would really then be HER book because it’s what she has shared with me, so let me just recap some of the Nuggets that have been so useful to me. 
1) Let God Deal. (Especially when you’ve got grown kids who live in their own houses!)
2) Know Yourself well Enough to Distrust Yourself. 
3) Life Sometimes Allows things to come into your life that put you in a trajectory that you never saw coming. You’ll meet people you would have otherwise not met. You’ll go places you’d otherwise not have gone. Trust God even in the painful times of life. 
4) Your muscle of trust grows when you’re pushed into circumstances that cause your faith to grow….and those are usually very difficult circumstances. Trust brings peace. 
Faith all grown up is TRUST. 
5) She has a talk on Intimacy as it relates to marriage. Every point she makes is very thought-provoking. My favorite two quotes in the lesson are, “Every night is not going to be the 4th of July” and “Do you initiate? You should.” 
I love her heart for pastor wives. I love her wit and fun, and I love her transparency even when it is uncomfortable or causes her to go to hard places in her past. She is simply amazing and is being used by God in amazing ways, and I only see a small percentage of that!  

The baby is 8!

  

Our baby is 8 years old today. Not sure how that can possibly be, but it is. I walked the streets of Gatlinburg with this cutie hunting down a canteen. He found the Davey Crockett hat on his own. He still loves costumes, particularly Cowboy and detective paraphernalia. He is mastering his skills in his role as “little brother,” meaning he knows how to push his sisters buttons.  Bodily noises crack him up. And he talks more than Ruby and Molly combined….somewhat of a social butterfly, which totally cracks me up. His love language is unashamedly GIFT-GETTING. He can hardly stand the thought that there is a gift for him and he doesn’t know what it is (ie, wrapped presents under the tree at Christmas make him crazy!!!!, the surprise that is at home waiting on him is making for a long ride home right now…pictures to come later.) 

We absolutely love all that Mack brings to our family. Thankful to God for the gift of Mack!

  

  

He Speaks to Me {through others}

He Speaks to Me {through others}

One evening I was sitting at a table at a restaurant with six other people;  my pastor and his wife, another godly couple we’ve gotten to know over the past two years, and two new friends that I don’t know extremely well were there.  Someone asked what we thought was the key to raising godly children. Considering the ages of our kids (only 10, 9, and 8 years old), Josh and I probably should have kept our mouths closed.  We did share our opinion, but we did more listening than talking. 

The conversation seemed to boil down to three main ideas. 

1) PRAY for your kids.   Take every concern or desire you have for your children to The Lord. I have really enjoyed using The Power of A Praying Parent by Stormie  Omartian as a guide. One of my favorite prayers to pray is that, as their parent, I would see their giftedness and encourage them in it in ways that give God glory.  

2) TIME with your kids. Look them in the eyes.  Spend one-on-one time with them. Listen to them talk….about big things or little things….let them know you want to hear from them about anything. 

3) HUMBLE yourself and apologize when you blow it…and you will blow it. Letting your kids know that you know you were wrong and seeking their forgiveness is HUGE. It gives them a picture of the gospel. God knew there would be times that we would mess up….yell…be impatient…respond selfishly….so He made a way through Jesus to be forgiven and made right with God and others. 

While I enjoyed the food and the atmosphere was delightful, I greatly appreciated the conversation. I hope I find myself surrounded with godly people often, and that while I am with them I will ask good questions and listen intently. God often uses other people to speak into my life. 

C’mon Now.

So we’ve been enjoying warmer weather. It’s beautiful outside, and I love it when the kids can just throw open the back door and go play. 

Inevitably, though, we quickly start to realize that most of our warm weather clothes no longer fit!  The flip flops (that we can find) are faded and a tad too small. The shorts are too short or won’t button, and even the dresses are proving to be too short!  

I spent some time on Old Navy’s website trying to figure out an amount to ask Josh to budget for the summer wardrobe overhaul for the girls. In the process I thought I would click over to the Women’s page and see what kind of deals were out there. And when this came up on my screen, 



I was SURE that I had clicked on the “girls” tab by accident. I mean, don’t these models look about 14 years old?????? Maybe 16.   But, nooooo, I had indeed pulled up the “women’s” tab.  

Ridiculous. That’s all I really have to say about that. 😁😁😁