Friday, March 30, 2012

Egg On Face

Sooo... there's this thing (issue) between somebody(s) and myself that has bothered me for...let's say about six years, but even more so the last two. 

Then, a few days ago, it came up in discussion with my husband, who is well aware of this thing, and he says, "well, you should know that...." and shares with me a bit of information that changed what I thought was justified anger to "oops." aka egg on face.

You see, this thing has caused frustration, hurt, and has had an influence on some very defining decisions for our family. It has also hindered showing love toward certain people. And it was unnecessary.

My initial reaction was to my husband that this information would have been really, really nice to know AS SOON AS YOU KNEW! (six years ago)

But in reality, it was still my fault. I chose to get so angry about it. I chose to let it bother me. With or without my new knowledge, I still should have chosen love. (that is what I tell my children....) I wonder how that might have changed things.

And I wonder how often arguments start simply out of an assumption or a case on being on guard so someone won't be hurt. I'm thinking that more people are hurt when we don't let ourselves be vulnerable and don't assume the best in people.

Or even when a person or group of people make a mistake...even a really bad mistake...we are too quick to be the judge and the jury and assume A) everything you hear that is bad about them is true, and B) that one bad mistake determines his or her definite character.

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! -Galatians 5:14-15
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek it's own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails....For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. -1 Corinthians 13:4-8a,12-13

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Economic Plan

I'm pretty sure homemakers can and will change the world. But if not, at least they can change the world of those in their home.

I'm not a political kind of person. Not because I don't think it is important. I will cast an informed ballot, but I don't intend on losing sleep over the outcome.

I am labeled as a Pro-Life Republican, but I strongly believe that if you are going to vote that way, you can't be ignorant about the reality of a very troubled economy and society. People are hurting. And if I am going to vote for less government and more babies, I personally need to get involved in helping the hurting.

Imagine.....okay, I'm not so sure about your ideal, John Lennon. However, imagine if all of Jesus's followers actually did follow his example. 1) Did not have other gods before Him (money) and 2) Loved the Lord with all soul, heart, and mind and all their neighbors 3)Trusted that God would do as He says- "how much more will He take care of you?" 4) Laid down their lives, picked up their cross, and followed Him.  Just for starters.

There is also a verse in there about feeding the hungry and clothing the naked.....caring for widows and orphans....

Would there even be debate within the government on social issues? I just wonder.

Now, I realize that I am jumping on a bandwagon that took off long before it hit me, and I am no where near where I need to be. Thousands of people are sold out to the idea of living to love others. I wish their stories were told more. But this is actually really good news for me because I can improve my economic situation simply by being obedient. No new skills are necessary.

But it takes a little shifting of the mind.

First, I need to spend time- time that I could be spending worrying about my day- just meditating on how big God is, how much He loves me and everyone in the world, and how He desires to pour out His blessings on us. God is good. Better than I've ever imagined. I wonder how big I can imagine.

If then God clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith? And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things  the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.  -Luke 12:28-30

After I have forgotten my worries and remembered my blessings, I can take on the world. I can encourage my husband who does have good work. I can bring up children that will have values to give to the world and not take.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.- Philippians 4:4-9
I can be picky about where I spend money. Some businesses are doing great things for others.

I can pack up gently used clothes and pass them along. I can double my lasagna recipe and give one half away. I can recognize my excess and eliminate it. I can be resourceful in order to save, and in turn, give more.

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. -Luke 12:32-34

I can encourage a healthy family, needing less medical intervention. I can make my food from scratch, saving money and improving health. I can make cleaning supplies, too! I can involve my whole family to instill these values.

I can teach them to volunteer and give. These things are good for the soul and body, and it has been proven that those who give and volunteer are healthier all around. If giving people are healthy, then they are not taking. And they can give more.

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace about toward you, that you , always having all sufficiency in all things, may have abundance for every good work......

I can love, I can advocate, I can serve.
But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. -Matthew 23:11
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man to gain the whole world, and loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?- Matthew 16: 25,26 

I can care for other children in need, maybe even to the point of adoption. This breaks a cycle of destruction and brings new hope for a child and possibly his or her children, also creating a better future for everyone.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
-Matthew 5:3,4
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. Be he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doers of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion is this: to visit the orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. -James1:22-27

These things are acts of faith in the greatness of God, which erase the fears and doubts. Acting in faith gets us out of the way and allows God to do mighty acts. And he can give me more resources that I could earn on my own in any economy.

But many who are the first will be last, and the last first. -Mark 10:31

Several months ago, I shared our decision to sponsor Rebka, a 10 year old girl in Ethiopia. This experience has been God ordained and full of joy. It's not just writing a check, but writing letters and providing needs. I almost feel as though she belongs as a part of our family, even though I've never met her face to face.

Sook and I fell in love with her in this picture:

And my dear friend hand delivered our first letter to her.

Then, another friend felt the call to head up a huge challenge to make dresses and send clothes to all the children of the Kechene Care Point, and God blessed her efforts above expectations! You can read her story here.

I am so excited to see people rise up for a group of children waiting to see how God loves them! And the thing that amazes me the most is that what they need is actually so little to us. It is do-able.

But now, more children are in need of school uniforms and shoes. The shoes these children wear would have been thrown out long ago by the average child in the U.S.  One pair of shoes or one uniform is less than most of us would spend on clothes, yet means so much to a child. One pair is affordable to us. But many are needed. Would you give to these children too? If you would like to donate money for a uniform, click here and for shoes, click here.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Line Between Selfishness and Joyful in Grace

I have finally setteled the debate within myself that my calling to homeschool is just as much for my benefit as my children. I do believe it is good for them, based on the knowledge that I have aquired, the best at this point and time.

But it may be better for me. Some people say that they are too selfish to homeschool. I am too selfish not to.

I don't like strangers dictating my schedule. I want to be the one to choose what they learn and how they learn it based on my evaluation of them. I want to know what they have learned. I want to influence them based on our family values and beliefs throughout their learning.

But even more, what I have gained personally from this venture is better than a college degree.

Take the subject of History for example.

I thought history was memorizing a few facts and dates. Oh my word. I would have never known the difference without being involved in their learning. History is comprised of stories. Real stories that make up who we are now. I realize that it doesn't take a genius to figure this out, but if the goal is passing a test instead of actual learning, this may be the conclusion, period.

And it can be so simple. Our first stop on our way to Oklahoma last week was in Arkansas City at the Cherokee Strip Land Rush Museum. We had a "treasure hunt" to complete within the museum which was exciting in itself. We were able to actually see so many of the things we had already studied or read about, like the yoke for calves Almonzo got for his birthday. As I explained it to the girls, another young boy walking by said, "Hey, I'm not the only one that read 'Farmer Boy'!". We saw a blacksmith's station, anvil, bellow, and all. But my most exciting find was a telegraph after learning about Morse Code.

The prize they got for completing the treasure hunt was a Cherokee Rose rock that is found at the end of the "trail of tears"

One rock, that forms dozen of questions.
Like, "Why were they so sad? Why did they cry?"
Which also set a platform for our visit to the Chickasaw Nation and Standing Bear Park.

"Why did they have to move?"
"What was it like?"
"Why did they get in trouble when they left the reservation?"
"Why wouldn't white people think Indians weren't human?"

But what I saw from both of these adventures was not staying in tears but persevering and determining to hold on to their culture yet embracing the present to work out what it best for their people. I am not saying I agree with everything, but I have the utmost respect for a group of people that stand for what is right, and are willing to share it with anyone willing to learn.

If you were to ask my children about our Oklahoma stay, they would probably tell you that there is red dirt in Oklahoma.

They would also say that we got to swim in the hotel.
And they might mention that they got to dance with "real Indians".

Even though it may not come to mind, I believe we all have a better idea what Oklahoma, meaning "Red People" in Choctaw, is all about.

And in my own life, and my children's, history seems to settle uneasiness about who we are as well. My children have felt uncomfortable when they are the only ones with brown skin. I have been frustrated with being a Mennonite farmer's daughter. But History changes things. It improves understanding, it increases appreciation, and it gives a satisfaction to who we are. And it even challenges us to ask, "why am I here, at this time, with this history?"

Why did God call me to homeschool? I don't think it was because he wanted me to indulge in my selfish desires. I think he might have given me this challenge based on my history and personality, knowing it is what is best for me...and my family.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Smoothie

I stole this idea from work.

I hesitated to tell the kids what was in it but I gave in. In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day, they tried it.

Some had seconds.

Here's what you need:

Frozen Mangoes
Juice- Orange/Yellow colored. We used Pineapple/Orange/Apple.
Spinach- only a hand full, which is enough to make it green. You can't taste it.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Big Fat "F"

I have decided that if anyone should ask me how to prepare for parenthood, my answer would be this:

Prepare to be a failure.

Get used to failing. Learn how to deal with it. It is inevitable.... every day.

Boy, I sure hope someone else is saying "amen" to this. Otherwise I'm a complete idiot.

I guess now that I've put it out there, I need to explain myself a little.

I don't mean that you shouldn't try- in fact, you should fail because you tried.
Embrace your failures. Make friends with them. Distant friends that you are not too comfortable with but comfortable enough that you can laugh with them.
Failures happen to me all the time. I know they could dog pile me and leave me scared and bruised, but they could also build my courage and increase my knowledge.

Know your failures. Pray over them. Determine to conquer them.
As best you can, stay away from those that exploit them and use them for their own show. Instead, find honest parents that will identify with the failures of parenthood. I always appreciate that- to know it's normal. Because there is always someone that looks like he or she has it all together...but here's a secret.....they don't. So here is a list of some of mine so you can feel better about yours.

  • Some days I am too tired to think, literally. I stand in the middle of the room and for the life of me try to remember something- anything I should be doing. Even if it is to make a pot of coffee.
  • Some days my kids are forced to make their own sandwiches or noodles for lunch. Sometimes it's frozen pizza.
  • Most days my kids wake me up.
  • Since giving birth almost nine years ago, my entire house has not been clean. Ever. Maybe a room or two, but never everything. And it gets much worse with each child.
  • As much as I try not to, I yell at them.
  • I stopped getting Better Homes and Gardens because my goals have decreased from the featured home to "must vacuum today."
  • Even though I spend most days with my children, I often go to bed wishing I had done one more thing for them or with them, and wish there was something I had not said or done.
  • Sometimes we wear dirty clothes for lack of clean ones.
  • Today, instead of doing a lesson with Brooke, I did a short quiz to determine that it was not necessary and then let her go play.
  • I don't always keep my word because I forget that I said it.
  • I always run out of clean spoons.
  • I have left the garage door open all night before.
  • And forgotten to pay some bills.
  • And I always, always forget the name of the child whom I am speaking to.
  • They fight alot.
  • Sometimes in front of strangers.
  • They do not have perfect table manners, they don't wear matching clothes, they whine, and often say or do something to embarrass me.
  • And there are days that all of this wears on me, and I cry.
But I have the assurance that God still loves me. He knows my heart. He knows. And thank God my husband never rubs my failures in my face. For that, I feel blessed.

And I know that all of these things will work together for me and my family, becuase I love God, and because he has a purpose for me. Part of that purpose is to be the best darn mama possible.
    Prepare to fail, and watch how God turns your failures into successes.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Yesterday was not good.

Today I remembered the "whatevers".... Whatever is good, whatever is lovely....

So here are the things that made me smile today:

Max- who has a great belly laugh and always tries to sneak outside without pants on.

Daddy took us to the park to fly a kite that he helped Savannah make.

Ohmygoodness. Spring weather!!!

Summer was very excited to learn division today. This never happens.

The geode I found in our pea gravel.

And in history, we leaned about Iowa:


And the California gold rush, which stuck this song in my head:


Some very giggly girls that would not go to bed easily.
But they did help clean.

Today I see my blessings.