Thursday, October 3, 2013


Confetti ~ In the Inbetween Places.

The kids tucked into car seats, warm October day with sun beaming.
Where is that rain the weather radio hinted of?
This is the inbetween place.

Summer still holding on, gripping tightly,
it's last performance call, splendid brilliance and
almost-impossible gifted days of last warmth.
Autumn hot on its tail,
slowly orchestrating splendor.
You can feel the hint of chill in the breeze.
The inbetween place.

Out of the driveway,
the confetti rolls.
Breathtaking whirlwinds of tiny yellow leaves
swirling and enveloping the car.
We all gasp.
Confetti like a wild Creator party,
heralding the coming of the new.
The new season.
God celebrates the death of summer warmth--
with confetti.

My kindergarten-wise-one asks,
"Mom, do the trees not need their leaves anymore?"
That's exactly it.
There is beauty in the discarding and the death of the old.
There is rest.

The trees know:  this is the season of rest.
Get rid of the unnecessary--and let beauty be found in the falling sound.
What clues them in that this is the resting time?
The air?

The inbetween place.
The space between what was, and what will be.
Soft and subtle.
This is their cue.

God is at work, in the inbetween place.
When one season is closing, and the next is not yet revealed.
I find myself often unsettled in the inbetween place.
Wondering where I am,
Where God is.
Yet He is conducting the entire show.
And He speaks:  Child, REST.

Child, TRUST.

My day began with beautiful confetti,
I basked in the smiles of precious little ones,
watched the tiny ripples on my "lake,"
and lost my breath when a crane
swooped over the water.

Yet why I end some random days with
anxiety and it's-ugly-tangled-twin depression on my heels again?
It mystifies me.
I put up fists to fight wild hard.
I feel defeated--thinking I had already busted-the-jaw
of this wild creeping beast.
And God declares:  REST.

Rest in My goodness,
Rest in my working all things for your good.
Rest in My power over this.
Over every season of your life.
Rest, knowing that:

I bring BEAUTY out of dying places.
Splendor untold,
confetti parties,
ushering in the new.

And you, fragile one?
You are in the driver's seat,
front row seat to watching my magnificence
erupt your tired places
into absolute 

Yes, I dance in the confetti
of the inbetween place.
My soul learning how-to-rest.
Rest being spelled:

"And the children of men take refuge
in the shadow of Your wings.
They drink their fill of the abundance of 
Your house;
And you give them to drink of the river
of Your delights."

{ Psalm 36: 7-8 }

Drink your fill of His goodness.
Claim His promises over you.
He is faithful.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Front row seat.

Fall 2012

construction dust caught in a spiderweb

fall 2012

Beauty from Destruction.

The dishes done,
I set down my dishrag.
Enamored by the view.
My lake-front property view.

And it washed over me ~
This view is a reminder to me,
of God's incredible love for me.
Of his faithfulness.

When I look at it,
I am reminded:
To not look and be taken under by what I see,
But to trust in Him who is unseen.
There is NOTHING like God's faithfulness.
And often times it is the trembling difficult paths
that teach me the most about God's character.
Hard times?
They are a front row seat.
A front row seat to God's faithfulness.
The best seats in the house.

I am learning that there is only one healthy fear.

"Fear the Lord, you His Saints,
for those who fear Him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing."

We crazily, blindly bought this house over ten years ago.
This blessed little haven.
How naïve we were.
Blessedly naïve.
The roof was ancient.
God said -- I've got that covered.
Hail storm.
New roof for the cost of a slight deductible.  An amazing bargain.
Oh.  And a backyard that flooded.  Deep.
God stepped in,
And before a decade of living here had passed?
The backyard was dug up, drains were installed.
The city paid half, the neighborhood split up the remainder.
What would have cost us thousands, cost us one thousand.
Which we just happened to have leftover in our tax return that year.

We bought this house, in an instant, for ONE REASON:
for the forest across the street.
It felt like a little cabin nestled at the edge of the city.
I would seriously stop while putting down the garage door,
stop and just stare as the sun settled behind the trees.
Those beautiful, wild trees.

I would joke, that when we outgrew this house we would
simply add on a second story.
A second story with large windows facing those beloved trees.
A treehouse.
That's where I would sink deep into a bubbly tub in my very-own-bathroom,
up in the canopy of leaves.

And then last fall, that forest was ripped up.
To install a retention pond.
The city decided to trade trees for retained swampy water.
It decided to rip up beauty?
My immediate reaction to the city's plans were anger,
anger, and more anger.
And then -- helplessness.
As I watched the bulldozers and machines make
mulch out of beautiful trees, within the span of a single day.
It wrecked me.
It wrenched my insides.

And I told my husband -- this was the end of our stay here
at this house.
My anchor was gone,
and I wanted to move.

The day that the machine came to rip out trees?
I cried.
Just sat there, watching, and grieving.

Hopelessness has no place in the life of a believer.
Fear has no place.
My husband came home, handed me a blessed band-aid (mocha flavored)
and said, "God has a plan.  You'll see."

And from that moment,
I determined to trust.
To set aside my disappointment and just:  rest in the character of God.

There is a place in our neighborhood ~ my favorite place ~
a beautiful lake, just blocks away.
I often walk there just to sit and think.  Or to hear the cranes sing.
God and I have spent some deep moments there.
It is where I fled to weep over my grandmother's death.
And I would think to myself, as I passed those expensive homes --
how GLORIOUS would it be to see this lake everyday as the view from within?

And as I set down my dishrag today,
it washed over me:
my VIEW.
My front window view.
God brought that lake right to me.

For free.

Ponder this:  He intimately knows the desires of our hearts.

This retention pond is somewhat, strikingly beautiful.
It connects directly with my favorite little lake.
Like an extension of my favorite lake, pulled and molded right to my door.
It is lined with trees,
Less trees?  Yes.
But somehow, even more beautiful as they line the shores of my favorite lake-view.

Yes, this morning I even saw a crane wading in the water.
I have enjoyed a summer's worth of frog songs.
I've watched geese families follow each other in unison along the marsh grass,
and have delighted in the massive amount of dragonflies that ponds bring.

I set down my dishrag and was overcome with truth.
With the truth of God's character.
Why do I ever doubt that love?
With the wave of his Hand,
He brought a gift to my front door.
And asked simply that I trust.
Always, trust.
Trust even in the midst of destruction everywhere.
In the midst of noise, dreams fading, anchors being moved.
Trust that He sees, and that He moves on behalf of his beloved.
Do not forget, little forgetful one.
Do not forget WHO I AM.

And that I LOVE YOU.

Is it possible to weep over a dishrag?
In my fear, and my anger, I almost sold this place.
Almost cashed out before the blessing.
I spent way to much time worrying, and way too little time praying.
And I do that a lot.  With much bigger things.

Control is a response to fear.
Is an illusion.
We control...well, we control really nothing.
Worry sets in as we try to control,
and worry steals our joy.
Worry is a thief that promises to help us,
only it robs us blind the moment we let it in.

Fear the Lord.

He holds the lakes, and the trees, all of it.
He holds our fragile bodies, and our dreams and our children.
Even in death, we win.

Anchor yourself to the One in control.
Blindly, like a child.
Take joy and dance, instead of control and fear.


This metaphor,
of beauty coming from destruction,
of swamp water where beauty once flourished,
parallels much deeper seasons in my life.
And if you've lived any amount of time here on this broken planet,
Life throws curve balls, fells our trees, and rips at us.
Seasons come ~ where it is hard to see hope among the impending.
And when all that is left in the depths of your soul,
is Who lives there.
And you cling.
Cling through the waves and destruction.
Waiting for the beauty that you know will come.
Because God's character?  Is only good.
And He can be trusted.
I have tasted His goodness in the land of the living.
And I remember this sweetness when the bitter waves roll.

"Those who fear Him, lack no good thing."
Fear where it belongs = a content heart.

Go in great peace!
And remember to give grace always,
as almost everyone you meet has broken places
and battles things you would not understand.
Love one another.
~ Love God highest. ~

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter ~ Hearts and TREASURE.


The Rock That Easter Builds.
Last year, Easter marked a time period for me right before a storm.
I believe that God holds those He loves,
preparing them for the coming waves.
{If we are breathing, the storms will come, amen?}
It was during this time,
this calm...
that my heart yearned to elevate Easter to its proper place in our home.
To make it an event,
something really special ~ marked.
And in my muddled mind, was born the idea of pointing my children
toward the ultimate treasure:
Somehow the teaching of my children always teaches me most.

This is how I yearn to spend my days.
Pointing toward the Jesus treasure.
My children are nuts about all things pirate, and all things treasure,
and adventure calls to them from every corner and every bedsheet.
So I am purposing to speak their language.
There is a verse that has always sung to me the song of adventure:

"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure
hidden in a field.
When a man found it, he hid it again,
and then in his JOY went and sold ALL HE HAD
and BOUGHT that field."
 ~words of Jesus, from Mathew 13:44

In years past we filled their Easter baskets with yummy sugar,
and then....
we made them put that sugar in the pantry...
having a little here and there ~ and most of it being forgotten,
and uneaten, and tossed out.
Or eaten by the wrong mouth...{sigh}

Last year, we started a new tradition.
Easter baskets, yes.
But with just a few pieces of candy that they can enjoy right away.
And then....
A mysterious note?

A mysterious note, that turns a clue....
 inviting them to partake in an Easter morning:

That FIRST clue will lead them to their SECOND CLUE,
and so forth....
and clue number THREE?
Will lead them to their treasure.
One clue for each of the days that Jesus lay hidden in a grave.
They will find their treasure wrapped in paper, with hearts taped on it.
One heart per child, with their name scribbled across it.
And the paper will have the following verse:

"Sell your possessions and give to the poor.  Provide purses
for yourselves that will not wear out,
a TREASURE IN HEAVEN that will not be exhausted,
where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
For where your TREASURE is, there your HEART will be also.
~ words of Jesus from Luke 12:33-34

As I type~ in our dining room, taped upon the door,
is a colorful cross.
Colored yesterday by little hands grasping crayons in delight.
Wondering what mommy had up her sleeve this time?
All week long we live in this house, in the shadow of that cross.
When we falter, when we fail,
we pick a little piece of scrap paper out of a basket in the center of the table.
We pray, reflect, and blot down our misses,
and put them right up on the cross.
I was the very first one to nail a transgression up there yesterday:
And when my husband arrived home late and I missed a few minutes
of my webinar, and was snippy? I volunteered up "impatience."
Yes, this cross will be full up around here over the span of a week.
On Easter morning the children will have the chance to
remove: every.single.sin.
To take them down, and toss them in the garbage.
Washed clean.
And they will have the chance to put their heart,
the one stuck to their treasure:
right at the foot of the cross.
To remember where our real treasure lies.
Taping our fragile hearts right there.
Then we will rip open the paper, and delight in our treasure!
We will talk about how Jesus is our FOREVER treasure!
And how His followers found Him alive on that third day!
And how He was seen alive by over 500 people, after his death upon that cross.
And how we carry the Holy Spirit inside us, ALIVE, everywhere, all the time,
if our hearts belong to Jesus.

Death, where is your sting?
Hell, where is your victory?

These are the hard-core-truths
that can carry us through any storm.
Sing it LOUD!
This will be the song infiltrating every room of our home on Easter Sunday...
The miracle, the love, the thrill of the Easter story ~ the rock to build our days upon.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I am a simple girl.
All twisted up in a life of swirling options.
I get sidetracked easily.
Like a child, chasing after butterflies.
Have you noticed
how distracted the world can be?
It is a very easy age to be entertained to death.
It wraps it's silent hands around the most precious, most scarce of jewels:
our time.
And it steals our focus.
Steals our mental clarity.
I was standing in my basement, gathering laundry,
when like a flood it washed over me.
Knocked me clean-over inside.
I looked there, at my four year old son,
giggling and jumping and playing in the playroom
just a few feet away.
His laugh, infectious.
His joy, exuding.
And I just stood there, basking in his childhood.
In his temporary, whisping status.
He is not a permanent fixture in my home.
He is here, just passing through.
Just passing through.
What distracts me from being all-in?
What takes my time away from getting on my knees,
drinking in the joy, giggling right along with him?
Whatever it is that distracts me, better be worthy.
Extremely worthy.

There is the necessary.
The tyranny of the urgent.
The laundry to graciously consume piece by precious piece.
The dishes to prepare.  To present.  To clean.
The minds to fill.
The necessary ~ yes.
The necessary in and of itself can take the entirety of a day.
Maybe there is even more necessary than there are hours.
It is a matter of sleuthing out priority.
Those precious moments of time,
when the necessary-of-the-necessary are covered...
are fleeting, temporary treasures.
Some to spend on my soul.
And some to pour out into the banks of memory,
which will be all that remains
once childhood vanishes.
All that will last ~
is what I've poured into those banks of memory.
I pray it be a river of life.
I am on a mission to simplify.
Cutting the clutter of all the time wasters.
Of all the wispy, cute little butterflies that flitter across my mind...
and send me chasing.
Distracting me from the worthy.
Distracting me from the main event.
I'm on a mission to elevate the important in my life.
It is easy to think that everything is worthy.
So to help myself gain clarity, all the unnecessary must go, for awhile.
It's just a little experiment of mine.
A journey.
I don't want anything to hold power over me,
and when the thought of deleting facebook made me cringe,
I knew it had to go.

I was walking a street in Milwaukee this weekend.
Turning the corner of Oakland and Bellview.
Walking briskly, frozen snow crunching beneath boots.
Sun spilling and breaking late in the day between naked trees.
Trying to escape the frigid cold.
When I heard it.
A small song.
It hit my soul, woke me up ~ and I stopped.
Right there.
The sound of spring?
My eyes had to search, my ears had to be tuned carefully...
to find it.
And there, yes there--up about twenty feet perched on a branch,
was a Robin.
Orangey-red chest swelled.
Singing her little heart into spring.
And my heart sang with her.
She can sense it.
Despite the cold, the bitter, the weariness of a long winter...
the snow so bright it blinds and makes eyes quench shut...
there are signs of spring everywhere.

Walking through life can be head-down, fast.
Get it done.
Get through.
Focus on the next task.
But what joy we miss, when we are distracted and
flitting from one thing to another? 
There is incredible joy in the simple,
in the simple journey.
In waking up to it.
I want to be alert for the gentle voice of God.
The opposite of alert?  Distracted.  Asleep.
And one of the enemy's greatest strongholds upon our generation?
Putting the soul into a trance-like-sleep.

I know what sleeps me, what reaches out and steals my clarity.
So I purge, and reorder, and find quiet.
Until the cold grip of distraction loses its hold.
I want to leave you with this:
 one of my favorite passages in the Bible.
So.  Good.
May you be listening for Him, my friend.
Elijah, a prophet,
is weary.
He is running for his life.
He is the last one standing for the Lord,
He is alone.
He is full of dread, fear, and defeat.
Overwhelmed, you could say.
And he wants to give up.
And the Lord feeds Him.
Elijah finds strength, and wanders on.
Wanders for 40 days until he reaches a mountain,
and he spends the night in a cave.
And God meets him there.
In Elijah's exhaustion, and his overwhelm.
He speaks to Elijah,
Elijah replies basically: I am alone, and running for my life.
Alone.  Overwhelmed.
And what does the Lord bless Elijah with?
Not treasures, or an army, or instantly taking away his problems--
God blesses Elijah first with the ONE thing that is beyond compare:
His very Prescence.
He tells Elijah...
"'Go out and stand on the mountain in the prescence of the Lord,
for the Lord is about to pass by.'
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart
and shattered the rocks before the Lord,
but the Lord was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake,
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.   
After the earthquake came a fire,
but the LORD was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a GENTLE WHISPER. 
When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face
and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave."
~I Kings 19:11-13
And here is where God
tells Elijah where to go, and what to say.
God, powerful enough to be preceded by grandeur,
A gentle whisper.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Navajo fry bread.

It's probably a good thing:
that I don't know how to "fry" things.
A testimony to the excellent upbringing I had,
where:  if it didn't come in a box labeled "Helper,"
It was just never served.
The second-last week of our
"Adventures in US History"
and we are called to pretend to be Navajo's
and make up this easy, 5 ingredient thing called:
Navajo Fry Bread.
The kids get all sticky,
I get all sticky,
and I am determined that this is gonna be super awesome.
And it was.
The boys asked for triple helpings.
And then some.
And then it was time for me to clean up the kitchen.
Now, please have a little sense of humor and cut me a little slack here.
It was the end of a REALLY long day, and I went straight
into "cleanup mode autopilot."
I grabbed the pan of hot-frying oil,
one inch deep hot oil...
and I thought to myself,
"I really need to get the oil outta here so I can get this cleaned
and put away for the night."
I then remembered that my grandmother used to pour hot oil
into a little container.
So I pulled a half n half container out of the recycling bin,
opened up the top really wide....
and prepared to pour.
My tired brain stopped me.
I cannot pour this oil--it's going to slop all over the sink
if I just up and pour willy nilly.
So I instead grab a ceramic bowl.
A ceramic bowl with a little pour spout.
As I am about to pour, something inside me begins to wonder...
just how HOT do I think this oil still is....
is it going to damage this ceramic bowl?...
oh well, what's the worst that can happen....
And by this time I am already pouring.
Hot, sizzling oil.
Into this precious little ceramic bowl.
And the bowl begins to sizzle and  TERRIFYING noises erupt,
LOUD noises--
and I yell to the boys who are snacking on their fry bread just a few feet away:
I grab them and grab the high chair and
I'm pulling kids and pushing them fast into the living room.
Kids covered in sugary fry bread and pizza hands from supper.
One of the kids smiles and yells,
They are looking at me, and I am totally clueless.
They are safe on the other side of the wall and the sizzling continues...
we are all listening.
and I am wondering if this--if this is how this little house will end.
"In flames, after a homeschool experiment recipe (!) gone awry."
I stand there with the boys, waiting.
I am seriously expecting the bowl to just start exploding all over the place.
I am picturing Thanksgiving fry turkey fires...
and wondering if this whole oil/ceramic mixture
is meant to just KABOOOOOM!
That MUST be how oil fires start?
Curiosity is my middle name...
I venture back to the sizzling sink...
I peek to see a bowl with hot oil sizzling in it...
a bowl that is still in tact.
and I realize that we are all going to be okay.
That we are all okay,
and that the house is still standing.
And I begin to laugh.
I begin to LAUGH like a little girl ~
straight from the gut.
Earlier I had posted a story about the mess of the house,
and how sometimes it's tempting to push all the mess out the back
door and start a bonfire.
Who woulda thought I almost started a bonfire in my sink?
The laughter began to peel out of me,
and the boys laughed, too.
We were all just rolling, doubled over in laughter.
And I find it ironic that after a stressful day full of the mess
of motherhood,
that THIS, ~This~ is how my Saviour allowed me to end my day.
My mind earlier, talking of pushing the mess outside and just roasting
marshmallows over it,
and my day ending in crazy rolling laughter that the mess is all safe.
That I DIDN'T start it on fire!
My Lord certainly has a sense of humor.
Me at the brink of explosions,
realizing that all that noise was simply hot-oil-poured-into-a-room-temp-dish.
The laughter must have brought my tired mind back to reality.
Back to scientific explanations.
And I remembered that grandma used to use a TIN can for her hot oil.
Funny how that came to mind so easily,
after my mind was allowed some deep, pure laughter.
Oh, Grandma, if only you could hear this one.
I can just see this story, handed down to my grandchildren someday:
"the day that mom told us to take cover during supper."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Insanity of Motherhood.

When did ~THIS~ become my normal?
It's quiet time, and I am looking for:  a REMOTE.
Not to watch tv.  I don't really ever watch tv. {gasp?}
I am looking under basement couch cushions...finding lost toys...
I am hunting shelves that are piled with dust.
I look behind a giant speaker from my husband's-bachelor-days
and find random clothing tossed by a son, toys hidden there, too.
An empty, tipped bottle of rubbing alcohol?
I am on my knees, thinking it HAS to be here, somewhere....
And it washes over me like a wave:  WHEN did THIS become my normal?
I want to find this black remote, which holds the key to my health~
the one non-negotiable that is MINE:  my workout dvd, Insanity.
The DVD will not work without that remote.
So the intro of the DVD plays over and over...calling me....
and I realize that time is ticking, and I'm already behind schedule.
And this was THE WEEK that I was going to start fresh and
not miss a SINGLE workout.
And I begin to feel the tears well up.
I swore, before kids--and even with my first kid--
that my house would always be organized.
That our toys would be well-cared-for, and neatly-arranged.
That I would get down on the floor and play with toys, with my kids.
That we would, yes, play with all those organized toys, all pieces present.
A game comes in, pristine, with all its hopefulness of pure family fun
and giggles and all the promised-happy-memories.
And then it spends just a few months here,
and its identity is lost,
its soul is wandering,
it is a shell of its former glory.
Used as a jumping board, or shoved in a tight space,
or emptied out to play pirate ships.
My ideals were high.
Now look at me, on my belly searching the deep darkness, the-under-spaces.
How did every toy in this place end up looking like a battered rummage item?
I search for the remote, and lift up puzzle boxes with missing pieces and
BENT edges.  Game boxes half closed, half empty.  {sigh}
I rummage through glorious green bins that I bought to "organize" toys,
that now hold random pieces of games here and there...
Nothing in one place--all scattered. 
My mind is spinning in chaos.
I find myself muttering that ol' saying that mother's through time say:
"Now THIS, THIS is why we can't have NICE things!"
I lift a couch pillow and find a piece to a game that I don't
even think the kids PLAY.
And how did it make it's way here??
I  bet that's an interesting tale...
I think about my morning,
of the milk that spilled down the unreachable-crack...
the one between the fridge and the cabinetry.
How in the early part of a fresh day,
anything can be spun into joy:  
how I had counted it an Opportunity.
An excuse to finally: clean behind that old-piece-of-ancient...
whirring, buzzing, stained refrigerator.
With it's broken deli drawer.
Reminding myself it's all about perspective.
Reminding myself that Laura Ingalls grew up without one of these.
I thought about how the dog hates me.
How I take her aging bladder out for "business" twice an hour,
and she still found a way to leave me presents THREE times today.
One which a child handed me, one a child stepped in.
Disinfectant wipes, skin washings, and more laundry.
Yet I still rescue her from a tragic death of eating plastic and spare my own
fingertips as I pull a plastic-wrapped piece of forgotten-child-size string cheese
from between her snarled teeth.
Trying to remember that one day she will pass,
and I will be sad to see her go.
Because she follows me everywhere,
and keeps me warm on chilly winter nights.
My footsteps are followed in beat by the click-clack
of tiny dachsie claws.
It's the sounds of:  home.
School lessons with a runny-nosed, miserable toddler
who tipped over a tote full of school supplies.  Cracking it.
Countertops piled with randomness waiting for my "free time"
to organize and put things away.
I just keep piling, waiting.
Thinking every day:  tonight I'll take some time to put
all of this away.  Instead, piles GROW.
Into pile-trees.  It's a bountiful harvest of clutter now.
The crunch underfoot in a kitchen needing sweeping.
The jersey that needs washing and the stars
that yet need be ironed on it.
Laundry baskets full of clean laundry--
somehow it cleans, but the folding part and away part is
akin to impossible.
I feel like when I do get it folded and put away it
lasts there for about 12 hours and then
I turn right around to repeat.
Yes, there are days that I want to just sweep it all into a big heap,
Right into the backyard.
And then sit it afire.
And read a book.
Quietly, warming my tootsies.
I wonder if the kids feel the same?
I resist the temptation to sit there in the basement, and cry.
I felt the tears welling,
and I reminded myself that this:  IS ALL blessing.
For me it takes deliberate REMINDING.
It's a blessing to have mess, to begin with,
And I did what every overwhelmed mother does:
I took five.
This is my five.
I set aside all the mess and the walls caving in,
to write.
Not to turn on the tv, or cry, or yell.
Although I wanted to yell about the remote, and the cry part we-know.
I tucked the children down in the mess, to play.
They seem to enjoy themselves amongst the chaos that makes me cringe.
And I'm sitting here writing.
Clearing mind clutter.
And in front of me, the verse...
bound by a clip:
Psalm 34:
Of David.  When he pretended to be INSANE before Abimelech,
who drove him away, and he left.
"I will extol the Lord at all times;
His praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the Lord;
let the afflicated hear and rejoice."
I think it would be therapeutic to pretend to be outright insane.
Sometimes motherhood can take my mind to insane places.
It can take me away from my Insanity workout.
But it does one thing well:  it reminds me that I am weak.
And that I cannot get through this insane job-description
without a really BIG head-choreographer.
Who knows my insane.
Who gifted me my insane.
And that in my afflicted states,
I can still rejoice.
Because when you sweep it all into the backyard--
peel away all the clutter and overwhelm:
All of this is a gift.
Every sacred overwhelmed day,
is a gift.
Ahhh.  Back to peace.
Now, to get the a little school,
and dance amongst our mess.
Dear God, please be our peace today.
Keep my mind fixed on blessings.
Praise always on my lips.
I stray so easily.
(Better yet, Lord...I'll bring the book, you bring the marshmallows...)

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Logic of English ~ WITH LITTLES.

The Logic of English with young children.
This post delves deep into some of the sweetest moments of our learning day:
Using the tools within The Logic of English with my sweet Littles!

The GO-TO book for getting started with ABC's and littles:

(Image belongs to LOE)
Need help finding where to purchase this book?  Click here.
I love this book.
And we've had many, many alphabet books make their way through here.
This one?  The best.
I bought it for my littlest little, age one, for Christmas.
I bought it early in the season....but loved looking at the illustrations SO MUCH
that I left it out on my bedroom side table and
refused to wrap it until the very-last-minute.
It is THAT beautiful.

It differs from other ABC books in that it teaches
the sounds of A-Z letters.
If you are wondering about the "logic" behind this philosophy of teaching
letters, parents may find it very helpful to read
Uncovering the Logic of English, also by Denise Eide.

Come sneak a peek into one of our letter adventures...
using a preschool curriculum written by Winterpromise
alongside LOE.

Alphabet Books!
{part one}
The book on the right is Doodling Dragons, by Eide.
The book on the left?
That is little guy's "alphabet book."
It is a blank story book that I purchased from a local school supply shop.

Each week we "study" a different letter.
The week here, we are investigating the letter "I,i"

Day one, we open Doodling Dragons.
We enjoy illustrations that help us remember all the
different sounds "Ii" can make:  four sounds.
We work a little on alphabet book each day.

Day one:  we color and cut out a little printout of the letter.
Great to practice cutting and pasting.

A different day, little guy will get to think of words that start
with the letter-of-the-week, or even words that have the letter-of-the-week
INSIDE them.
And he'll illustrate them in his book.
Since he knows what printed letters look like,
he will often write words all by himself in uppercase letters.
I do not correct spelling--this is not the purpose of our time.
I encourage!!
If he thinks of a word, we celebrate! 

I let him think and draw as long as he wishes.
Or until the page is full up!
You can see here, that he is thinking of ALL the sounds "I,i" makes.
Not just the traditional short sound of I in "igloo."  But also, he thought of "item."
And to my glee, he spelled it correctly without any assistance.
He said he learned it from playing Wii.  {sigh}

Since "I,i" is a vowel, it is everywhere!!  And by teaching ALL of its sounds,
and enjoying the beautiful pictures within Doodling Dragons,
my son has visual pictures in his mind of all-the-wonderful-things-"I,i"-can-do!

Stay tuned for "Alphabet book" {part two}:  handwriting practice!

I love the preschool curriculum written by Winterpromise,
titled "I'm Ready to Learn."
We use this as a reference for fun games and resources,
such as "alphabet books."
It is so rich with ideas!
However, we do NOT use IRTL's reading methods/program.
Wherever IRTL has reading suggestions,
I substitue in the philosophies of LOE.
LOE is currently working on a kindergarten-specific curriculum,
called "Foundations."
We already purchased and loved IRTL long ago,
so we are using what we have on hand
and meshing the two!

Winterpromise "I'm Ready to Learn" preschool curriculum....  click here
The Logic of English "Foundations" beta testing K curriculum....  click here.
(*Note ~ I believe that the beta testing is closed, but the program
is coming out sometime in the click the link to find out more or
to contact Pedia Learning/LOE.)

***I am not affiliated in ANY way with The Logic of English or Winterpromise.
I did NOT receieve any free curriculum or incentives
to write this review. I do NOT know the author(s). I purchased
all of our Logic of English and Winterpromise material with my own money.
I do not get kickbacks or profit from readers clicking links.
I write to help other families, that is all.  Enjoy!***



Friday, February 1, 2013

Snow ~ and STILLNESS.


I am patiently waiting for my littlest guy to fall peacefully asleep...
as the afternoon is calling, with all of its blessed demands.
I am taking the little weiner dog out to do bathroom duties,
my little circle dog,
opening the flimsy screen door to the glory of the backyard.
Painted in white, glorious washing.
And I am struck with the mundane beauty of the everyday.
There really is nothing left untouched, is there?
Untouched by majesty?
It's abounding everywhere.
And it's in the grasping of this,
that time can stand-right-still.
In learning to acknowledge and appreciate, to give thanks...
life somehow stills and slows.
There is something about fresh snowfall that stills me.
As if God is calling:  PEACE.
I stopped all day yesterday to embrace the moments
of these little people running at my feet.
Often, I rush.
I rush through school, rush to exercise, rush to make dinner.
Rush to bathe the babies.
Rush to do their laundry, get it folded...
my unfocused eyes looking forward and missing all-the-now.
The snow sings it loud:  there is no rush in nature.
There is order, and there are seasons.
But rushing is futile.
The snow calls:  STILLNESS.
Life frozen, and washed white.
I wrapped in the thought like a quilt.
"Be STILL and know that I am God."
In the rushing of life,
it is hard to know that God is God.
It is maybe easier to fall into the trap that we are god?
That somehow by rushing fast and accomplishing much,
we foolishly think we have it all under control.
We take hold of something that really belonged to God all along.
The outcomes.
The everything.
All ~ God's.
And when we rush we merely are forgetting.
We are not changing anything.
We are merely forgetting,
forgetting that the minutes slip right between the fingers,
and that it is simply not worth the-plow-ahead.
It's not worth rushing.
Time is not traded in.
Time is lost.
And time slows.
The soul wakes.
I watched the full cheeks of my one year old, rosy pink.
Those cheeks puffed out and eyes squinting saying, "ME!"
When I asked who-would-like-more-milk?
I scooped him up and tickled him silly, and just held the moments
like golden treasures that will one day be-no-more.
I rubbed the back of my 7 year old as he did his reading,
I listened intently to his entire narration of the cartoon that he watched:
a mystery of the stolen jewels...
Told scene by scene with passion spilling from sky-blue eyes.
I consciously listened to him instead of listening-while-doing.
To tell him:  I will always be here, to listen.
I am setting the stage for our future relationship.
I wrapped him in his robe after his shower,
realizing that very soon there will be a wall between us
as mother and son ~ the wall of a boy becoming a man.
When a mother no longer enters post-shower,
to wrap her baby in a bathrobe.
I tucked in a 4 year old who makes-my-soul-laugh-silly.
Looked at his smile and the way he jumps and kicks around this place...
donkey kicks, we call him.
I tucked in all-his-silly with a smile as he smiled back,
wrapped beneath Thomas the Train blankets and surrounded
by plush animals.
I marveled all day in the belly-rolls of laughter that erupt from him.
Praising God that these, these are my gifts.
I plunged hands deep into soapy water, to barely clean a house that
is full-up with living.
A house that is no longer possible to scour clean:
a little clean, and a little living comes...and does away with the clean.
I bounded down the steps to the deep lair,
where I rinse diapers.
And marveled at how many dirty ones can be made in a day by one child.
I stepped around toys forgotten.
Wondered how the kitchen counter attracts clutter like a magnet?
And counted it all: JOY.
Stillness does something to the nature of the soul.
A stilled soul beats in rhythm with
a marvelous God....

Monday, January 28, 2013

ART. therapy.

ART:  therapy.


Yes, that right there is my coffee cup.  Treasured.
Surrounded by chalk-dust.
(..the kind-that-doesn't-wash-out-easily)
And instead of it being a full-up mug of hot java,
It was today, our INSPIRATION.
The boys laughed at me,
because I refused to put marshmallows in my drawing.
I said that my drawing was one of my favorite drinks:  coffee.
And you just can't toss marshies into coffee.
Of course, their imaginations were full of sugary treats,
fluffy marshmallows, and chocolately cocoa.
They drew with delighted abandon.
I will admit,
However, since I've had children?
I'm ashamed to admit, I just feel overwhelmed getting out the art supplies
with them.  Their little excited grabby hands and inability to keep
their sleeves in the right places...the paint brushes flinging everywhere...
the stains!  Oh, the stains.
Oh...the cleanup....
It drives my mother heart a little bit into a pandemic.
And that's EXACTLY why I need art in our days.
I stumbled upon a great book,
A Simple Start in Chalk Pastels.
(available over here, at Hodgepodge)
And as I paged through this neat little E-book,
and their neat little website full of INSPIRATION,
I decided:  art is not optional.
Art is necessary for our souls.
I felt it, as we gathered up our materials--felt the soul sing.
We shared my tiny college-box of soft chalk pastels.
(who woulda thought--back when I bought these...that all these little hands
I had brought into the world would be holding them one day with glee?)
I looked up at Quinn,
who was brimming ear to ear, his tongue hanging out in his classic think-mode,
pastels smudged across his face.
He looked like a chimney sweep straight outta Mary Poppins.
And then Gabe, who is meticulous and hates to get his hands dirty--
he was putting finishing touches on his perfect drink of choice on a cold day:
a peppermint hot cocoa.
Our little souls were as warm as our mugs.
Then came the REAL therapy:  the cleanup.
Would you know, that I left an old rag at the bathroom sink
for my guys to clean up their messy hands with...
and they...forgot?
They used my brand new towel, instead?
The light green one??
That my little chimney sweep
wiped himself clean as a whistle?
A light green towel smudged with ...stains....
Therapy for a momma's heart, to embrace mess
and exchange perfection
for laughter and joy and memories.
And we all know--
Ecover stain stick got that stain right out.
Quinn's sweatshirt though...that thing will never be the same!
And to think.
I am already looking forward to next week's art gathering,
together at our dining room table.
I think we are going to draw mountains.
There's a verse I am working on:
"I tell you the truth.  If you have faith and do not doubt,
not only can you do what was done to the fig tree,
but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself
into the sea,' and it will be done."
Art therapy.  For the soul.
Gabe was so inspired, that he spent his entire quiet time
working on a piece in colored pencil.
He told me that he drew it in honor of the book we just finished
during our evening read-aloud time:  Mountain Born.
A book describing the life of a shepherd,
to help us understand what the Bible means when it describes
Jesus as the "Good Shepherd."
Art is highly infectious!
Planted in the soul by the Great Artist Himself.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Logic of English ~ THE WHY.

How the Logic of English has changed our homeschool.
7 year old playing a phonogram game of Dragon (similar to "OLD MAID.")
Guess who has the Dragon??
4 year old working on his cursive J (LOE handwriting program)

We do life and learning just a little bit different than most folks.
If it's not wicked silly,
and crazy fun...
it just doesn't find a permanent home in our homeschool.
I like to use laughter as the vehicle of learning.
Mainly, because I love to laugh myself.
And I REALLY am addicted to hearing the belly-giggles
of my little guys.
And serious is fine,
but passion is not fueled by constant furrowed brows.
We get silly, we get hands-on,
and we get serious lasting learning done.
Self-education is the only possible education;
 the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child's nature.
~Charlotte Mason.
It wasn't always this way around here!
I bought into the lie that certain subjects just have to be TACKLED.
And wrestled to the ground.
Like English and spelling.
Then I realized that our English and spelling
in my son's head.
And I attended a local homeschool conference where I sat
in on a lecture that changed our homeschool life.
Fun and laughter and passion in spelling and English? INDEED!
After attending the lecture, I knew it would fit us well.
It took me awhile to come to grips with setting aside our
already purchased-and-paid-for-drill-and-kill-failure-english/spelling-style.
But one day, I had had quite enough of the wrestling and sad,
and I made the best decision ever.
Meet our English and spelling of choice:
Did you know that teaching your child,
"when 2 vowels go a-walkin' the first one does the talking"
is really misleading?
Well, blah.  I taught that to my very logical-thinking kid
and then wondered why I would watch him spell things all wrong.
Spell things all wrong:  with the very tools I had taught him.
I got exhausted saying, "You're right to think that way...
but this word is an exception to the rules..."
Or..."This word is a SIGHT word...we memorize it b/c it breaks all the rules..."
I would just get this sad, blank stare back at me...and I started to wonder myself...
just what kind of CRAZY mixed up language IS English, anyway?
And how on earth did I ever learn it??
I almost jumped up and down when I sat through the Logic of English
presentation.  It totally grabbed my logical-mind and
I went straight to the vendor hall and bought Denise Eide's book:
Uncovering the Logic of English.
This little, well-thought out book explained everything to me.
There ARE rules that apply to English.
But when we teach our children "funny phonics" like
"the E at the end of a word makes the vowel say its name,"
we are creating the myth that these rules apply on a consistent basis.
And when those funny rules DON'T apply--
it creates a great deal of discouragement.
The Logic of English has a set of consistent, reliable rules.
Children memorize:
30 spelling rules
and 74 phonograms (these 74 include A-Z)
That's it.
104 tools, total.
All the tools needed to decode 98% of the English language.
A language that boasts between one and two MILLION words in its lexicon.
A well-trained mind has up to 200,000 words in its memory bank.
THAT is a lot of memorizing without tools.
The BEST part??
These 104 "tools" are delivered via my favorite vehicle:  laughter.
We play games and learn our way right into the
very MEAT of the English language!
I bought this curriculum for my seven year old,
but the most amazing thing is: 
I have watched my 4 year old memorize spelling rules,
and memorize every-single-phonogram-I've-introduced-thus-far.
Which is somewhere around 50.
The other day he did our spelling list right alongside,
and my jaw dropped as he spelled "clock."
Now--tell me--what 4 year old knows that clock is clock and not klok?
The kid who learned,
"ck is used ONLY after a single vowel that says its short sound."
Then he spelled "human."
Because he learned that A,E,O, and U "usually say their names at the END
of a syllable."
4-year-old-man also knows ALL the sounds that A-Z make.
(Did you know that A says three sounds??  I didn't either, until LOE!)
And the thing is--my 4 year old is NOT required to sit in on our English or spelling lessons.
He does it for the pure JOY of it, it is THAT fun!
I will be posting more about our journey with the Logic of English.
But for now--if you are curious,
it all starts with Denise Eide's book:
Uncovering the Logic of English.
I have a copy on my shelf--it is priceless.
I only purchase books that I cannot live without.
This is one:  I cannot live without as a homeschool mother.
The book changed my heart and revolutionized our homeschool
I will post more on what our days are like with LOE,
in case it is helpful to any other families out there
looking to bring the logic and JOY
back into English and spelling!
the book: 
the curriculum:
the presentation:
***I am not affiliated in ANY way with The Logic of English.  I did NOT receieve any
free curriculum or incentives to write this review.  I do NOT know the author.  I purchased
all of our Logic of English material with my own money.
Yes, it is that good.***