In just a few days, the fifteenth year of the second millenium A.D., will come to an end. For about a week, I have been contemplating my goals for the coming year; however, I realized how I should look at the year I've just been through and what I have learned and accomplished. It is by this reflection that I am better able to set new goals and assess how I can improve myself.
1. For what I believe is the first time in my married life (21 years), I read my Bible through this year. I began January 2 and was able to finish on December 23. I was blessed to have many times when God truly spoke to me through His Word, I was able to spill my heart to Him and lift my spirit while praising Him.
2. I was able to learn more of what it is to "be still" and see God work. There were many times this year when I wanted to jump in and fix something and other times when I knew something needed to be done, but I just didn't know what. I would wait and pray...and I would see God work in ways I never would have thought. Being still and waiting does not come naturally to me...this is someting my husband has been teaching me for years and, by God's grace, I am learning this lesson. The benefits and blessings of waiting are tremendous. It's so much more fun to see God work things out than having me mess things up.
3. Almost 2 years ago, I read Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts for the first time. It was then I began to give thanks and count gifts, making my own list of 1000 blessings. It shouldn't have taken as long as it did, but I finished my first 1000 this year. I am on my second list now.
4. My husband bought me a wonderful brand new bike and I biked may miles along the Erie Canal this summer.
5. In the last month, I have learned to crochet and have completed a couple of little projects. Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
6. After about 10 years or more, I have picked up my guitar again. It's surprising how much I remember. I have no plans to play publically as I wholly play before the Lord. I am so blessed to have this wonderful and fun way to worship.
How I have been blessed this past year! All I have learned, experienced, accomplished and have been given has come from my Saviour. I believe I will concentrate on just praising and thanking Him these next few days.
How about you? In what ways have you grown and been blessed in 2015? I would love to hear!
Saturday, September 19, 2015
I had a busy Saturday morning going to the Rochester Public Market and the grocery stores getting stocked for tonight's dinner with friends. Now, I am finally enjoying my "morning" cup of coffee with a fresh cannoli I treated myself to at Market.Last week, I was out with my sweetheart celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary. One of the fun things we did was visit a State Park we haven't been to since our dating years. I am often amazed at the beauty that surrounds us in the state that most outsiders assumed is all skyscrapers, pavement, and hurried people. (You can read about the rest of our anniversary in Thursday's post)
Now that I have all the necessary ingredients for a yummy dinner, I need to get my house in order and start cooking. But, that can wait until after my time with you here...and after my cannoli is eaten!
"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."
I Timothy 4:12
"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content...and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."
I Timothy 6:6-8,11b
Children's Book: We Are in a Book!
Children's Book: We Are in a Book!
Just about everything from Mo Willems is brilliant. And funny. Brilliantly funny. I must say, at this time we do not actually own any of his books. But, every time my younger children and I go to Barnes and Noble, we look at this guy's books. We Are in a Book is my current favorite. You have to read this with expression. Warning you, though...you'll not get through it without stopping to laugh. And, let's face it, laughing with your kids is necessary.
Good Reads for Adults: One Thousand Gifts
It's feeling and smelling like autumn here in Upstate New York. With that comes pumpkins, corn, scarves, and attitudes of gratitude. This book is perfect for the season. I have read it twice, so far, and plan on cracking it open again this week. Two words I don't use often: Life changing.
So, we know this guy who ran 6 marathons in 6 continents in 5 days. Don't believe me? See it for yourself.
First, watch this. You might cry.
First, watch this. You might cry.
....watch this. You will cry.
Then, watch the song again.
One of my favorites.
So, two years ago some college students released a weather balloon with a GoPro camera attached. After several minutes soaring above the earth, it crashed into the Grand Canyon. It was recently retrieved. Two thoughts:
1. Amazing footage from the stratosphere.
2. That is one tough camera!
Well, the cannoli is gone and time is passing. I pray all have a marvelous weekend.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
Wednesday, September 9th was our 21st wedding anniversary. Back when we first got married, I thought it thoroughly unromantic when couples would just go about their normal, hum-drum lives on their anniversary. No card, no gift, and no date equated no love in my young mind.
How appalled my 21 year old self would have been to have travelled into the future from September 9, 1994 to September 9, 2015. She would have seen the couple who got married with stars in their eyes and mush in their hearts living a seemingly ordinary, if not chaotic, life. She would have seen her aged self sitting on the couch at 9 am with 6 of her 7 children around her each sharing what they got from their Bible reading, singing hymns and reading a Christian hero biography. A few hours later, she would have seen her true-love walk in the door for lunch, but because her older self was involved with homeschooling, very little would have been said between the two. Around evening, she would see the entire family get into their huge van and go to church. She would have seen she and her beloved at the front of the church again, but not as a bride and groom exchanging vows, but standing hand in hand in the midst of their children happily singing hymns with the rest of their loved congregation. After that, she would have seen a crowd of people back at their yard - some dishing up ice cream from cartons set out in a wagon, some around a campfire, some playing basketball in the dark, and some playing hide and go seek. An anniversary party? No...a get-together for some old friends who were leaving town. She would have seen her 42 year old self across from her 45 year old best friend, not next to him. She never would have seen a card or gift passed between the two.
How utterly unromantic!!! How did we get this way?!
But, wait. If my younger self had looked closer, she would have seen the soft eyes that said so much. She would have seen the smiles shared quietly. She may have even seen the card tucked in a book ready to give, but forgotten.
What I realized that day, was not how unromantic our life is, but how our love and romance has brought us to this point. Our house is full of children, our hearts are full of love for each other and our Lord, our home and yard are often filled with friends we have made along the way, and the ability to share our love and joy with others - children, family and friends. Oh, our life is far from perfect, but even in the day to day duties, trials, and exhaustion, there is love.
Our actual anniversary was spent concentrating on other while being aware of each other's presence.
Not completely resigned to neglecting our special day, we made plans to spend the entire day together the following Saturday. I got up and dressed, did my hair and makeup and tried to look practical enough for hiking, but cute enough for a day with my sweetheart. He tells me he loves me with or without makeup, etc., but I think the fact that I make the effort makes him feel pretty good. ;)
How wonderful it was to get away for 16+ hours and drive and explore beautiful areas around us like we used to do in our early days. We had a rough plan of what we were going to do but left enough flexibility in there for spontaneity. There were times of much conversation and times of much silence and, in both, we felt very comfortable and happy. We walked in pouring down rain wearing tacky plastic ponchos - something I never would have done while we were dating. Yet, after 21 years of marriage, never once did I worry about what he thought because he is the one person in my life that sees beyond the wet hair, ugly attire, and blotchy makeup (as well as a lot of character flaws) and still loves me.
Saturday was spent concentrating on one another while putting others aside for a bit. We came home after a day of sun, rain, and long drives happy we had spent it together. So very much like our life.
Looking on it all, our love has become like that walk in the rain on Saturday. We have many sunny days when we are looking and feeling our best and have time to really talk and enjoy one another. However, some days, we get rained on with responisiblities, schedules, sickness, trials. We don't look so good, we are covered in dirt (literal and figurative), and we are passing each other by. However, we know that the sun will come out again and that we will be able to replace the nasty poncho with our dress up clothes. The hair will be combed, the face cleaned and (in my case) the makeup done. We know we will dry off and reconnect.
In short, we walk hand in hand in all the elements of life, loving each other all the while. This is romance.
Not sure what my 21 year old bridal self would have thought, but this 42 year old wife is happy and satisfied.
Saturday, September 5, 2015
The kids and I began doing a bit of school this past week. While it wasn't a full load, I will say it was a successful week. I am looking forward to getting into it full-swing this week.
Walking in the store today, I saw apples and apple cider at the entrance. Even though it is so humid outside that you break a sweat just sitting, there is no doubt autumn is right around the corner. I LOVE this time of year - hot apple cider, wagon rides, campfires, pumpkins, crunchy leaves, and beautiful colors. Makes me truly love New York!
Right now, be blessed, edified, and smile. I promised you some videos this week....and I came through. Enjoy!
Keep thy heart with all diligence: for out of it are the issues of life.
But as teaching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another...And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you..."
I Thessalonians 4:9,11
(perfect verses for the beginning of our homeschool year!)
Blog: Gather the Fragments
Laura Holt and her husband Stephen are missionaries to Sierra Leone - one of the most areas most plagued by ebola over the last year. Due to the disease, Laura came home in August of 2014, but Stephen has remained in Sierra Leone ministering to those around him risking his health and life to minister to those dying physically and spiritually. Stephen and Laura are modern-day missionary heroes and at Gather the Fragments you can read the ponderings of this dear missionary wife.
(The blog is a portion of their entire website, so feel free to check out their ministry while you're there.)
Children's Literature: Lentil
Robert McCloskey is one of my favorite children's authors. His drawings and stories are real enough to be believable, but fiction enough to be fun. This is the story of a boy who couldn't carry a tune through song, but through constant practice, he mastered the harmonica. How he used his talent to save the pride of his town will make you smile....hey, it made sour Old Sneep smile! ;)
Good reads for Adults: Peace Like a River
My brother gave me this book and it sat on my shelf for so long I forgot it was there. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. When I finished it, I gave it to my teenagers to read. This was Leif Enger's first book and it topped the charts...and for good reason. It's the sometimes-sweet, sometimes-sad, sometimes-unbelievable, most usually gripping tale of a seemingly ordinary family in which quiet miracles often happen in the midst of their biggest trial.
Oh, c'mon!!!! Tell me this video doesn't make you smile!!!!
Maybe you've seen this before? Watch it again.
Celebrating Labor Day weekend? Here's why.
(Interesting that today is September 5th.)
Wishing you all a very happy Labor Day weekend. Let's squeeze all we can out of this last official weekend of summer! See you next week!
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Well, it's the last Saturday of August and the Saturday before we begin our schooling (hopefully). Summer break is drawing to a close and it's time to get back into the routine - including here on the blog. I have missed my visits with you on Saturdays and hope to be back here more regularly for our Saturday morning coffee (or afternoon tea, or evening dessert - depending on our schedules).
This week, our first-born daughter began college classes and she will officially begin her Senior year on the home-front this week. I am only teaching 6 children as our graduate continues to work his current job and look for new employment. Some days, I feel very old. Other days, I feel satisfied and blessed.
It's been such a crazy summer that I have had little time to organize our school books, so that is on the agenda for today. I am looking forward to a Saturday at home just doing much-needed household chores and being with my kids.
If you are beginning school this week, or already have, whether it's homeschool or not, know that I am saying a prayer for you & your children today. May the following scripture, sayings and suggestions bless you on your way....
"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
...for ye serve the Lord Christ."
Colossians 3:17, 23, 24
"Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established."
Blog: Reaping in Joy.
Sweet Molly Little went home to heaven on May 24. This has been a summer of sorrow for her family, but they continue to hold tight to God and trust Him. I cannot tell you the blessing and encouragement her mother has been to my soul these past 14 months. But, you can experience the blessing over at her blog, Reaping in Joy. Read her latest post and then get to really know her heart by taking the time to read through all of her past posts throughout this week. You'll walk away grateful for what God has given you and trusting Him just a little more.
Food for Thought: Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed by Thomas Umstattd.
My husband and I don't really believe dating is a good idea...not in the modern sense of the word. We truly believe that our children ought to date only someone they intend to marry. Casual romances and the dating games create insecurities, don't encourage healthy friendships, put on undo pressure, and cause much heartbreak unnecessarily. But, is the conservative courtship process the best approach? I read this article about a year ago and it still has me thinking. Our older children are quickly approaching the age where we will need to make some decisions...Lord, help!
Children's Literature: The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot
I have read this book several time to my young children. In fact, I think we actually own the book - if I could just find it. Anyway, I had never heard of the determined Louis Bleriot and his history-making flight across the English Channel until I first read this picture book about 12 years ago. Currently, I am reading one of the first accounts of Lindbergh's historic flight and Bleriot is mentioned several times, which brought this book to mind. It's a fun, well-written, beautifully illustrated biography that your children will enjoy over and over again.
Good Adult Read: Running for My Life: One Lost Boy's Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games
The title basically gives you the idea. This book is the fantastic autobiography of Lopez Lomong, Olympic runner. How God miraculously saved him from death after being captured by rebel soldiers when he was 6 years old, how he survived the refugee camp for 10 years in Kenya and how he was chosen to come to America will amaze you. And, that's just the beginning of how God has blessed this young man and his life.
Looking Back: The Death of Captain Waskow by Ernie Pyle
Ernie Pyle was a phenomenal writer. I read one of his books earlier this summer and learned more about America's soldiers in World War II than I ever learned before through his poignant and real style. This article about the death of an Army Captain is a prime example of Pyle's exemplary writing. Grab a tissue...it will move you to tears.
Lots of reading recommended for you today, but I suppose that is appropriate for the approaching school year. I will be on the look-out for some cool photos and videos for next week. Until then, may the Lord bless you abundantly!
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
It's been over two months since our first-born graduated high school. It's been three months since he finished his courses and began to work full-time. His childhood passed quickly. His young adulthood is moving even faster.
May 30, 2015. The day our son, our oldest child, donned his blue cap and gown with the green and black tassel, and walked down the aisle of our church to receive his diploma.
During the graduation ceremony, each graduate has a 2-minute slideshow. Two minutes to see my son's 17 years flash before my eyes. He had music from the Pirates of the Caribbean - powerful, strong, victorious. Seemed appropriate. We then walked up on to the stage where my husband gave Michael his diploma and said a few words with me speaking after him. Then Michael, who despises public speaking, said a few words - quite eloquently, I may add. When he finished, we sat down.
That is when I cried. Not hard. Not long. But the tears flowed. I wasn't sad…on the contrary, I am excited that our son is growing up and becoming a fine young man. Maybe that's why I cried.
Michael and I learned to do this thing called "home school" together. I made so many mistakes. I messed up a lot. He was patient, forgiving and - though I had my doubts many a time that he would - he persevered and finished. Often I wondered if he would come out on the other side able to stay afloat in this world.
Would he be employable?
Would he be a hard worker?
Would he follow God?
He's been finished for 3 months. He's been employed that entire time. He is liked at work and comes home exhausted after working 10-11 hours, but happy. His co-workers know he is a Christian. He reads his Bible before going to work and keeps on coming to church. He's excited about our Bible conference this week.
I know it's just the beginning, but so far, we have a re-sounding "YES" to all three of my questions. So far, his first steps into the great big world have been successful and strong.
I failed more times than I can remember in Michael's day to day schooling. I let too much time go before checking his work. I yelled, often. I thought about giving up. I could have done more. I could have prayed more. Yet, when I prayed and wept before the Lord spread out on my bed totally spent and at my wit's end, God heard me. He heard this weak, pathetic mother and He kept my son on the course. I gave up long ago. I knew I wouldn't be able to get my son to the end, but God had to. Whatever Michael is today that is good, is God's work. All I did was hand Michael to Him.
That, I believe, is why I cried on Michael's graduation day. Because Michael finishing school, working hard, following the Lord and still loving me is a picture of God's grace.
I am proud of my son for finishing school, even when he didn't want to. I am proud of the man he is becoming. I take no credit….it's all because of God and His grace.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Today we are remember Lillian Judith Joy Robinson. It was one year ago that she was birthed into this world…four days after her soul flew to heaven. Rather than trying to feebly put my thoughts and heart into words, I am asking you to go over to my daughter's blog and read the beautiful letter she wrote this morning.
Thank you to those who have prayed for the Robinson family these last 365 days. Please continue. They have cried much this past year, but have smiled more. They have grieved - and continue to grieve - with grace. We have a blessed hope, even with tears streaming down.
Saturday, April 25, 2015
"And now…sad news…"The passing of Jonathan Crombie.
Oh my goodness…Kermit lives!!! It's the discovery of a new frog species with an uncanny resemblance to our Muppet-friend. "It's not easy being green."
All of God's creatures have a bad day!
Now, two more children's books recommendations!
This was my favorite book growing up, so I guess the story of this little guy would make it to my Top 5 list. (Do I have over 5 books in my Top 5 list???) Back in the day, they called him Poky. Today, they would say this puppy has ADD.
I absolutely LOVE this story of a bunch of kids and animals tagging along with Mr. Gumpy for a ride in his car. I love the use of onamonapia while it begins to rain and the group has to push the car out. My favorite word in the book: Petrol!! Sounds so European and cultured while reading a fun book. ;)
Now I am off to do some fun shopping on this beautiful sunny day!! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Originally posted November 30, 2009: While my children are older, I still do many of the things listed in this post. Thankfully, now all of my children get themselves dressed and make their own breakfasts and lunches. But, I hope this encourages all of you moms. I know I still need to remember Who it is that gets me through each day.
As I got the pile of books out this evening to plan our school week, I suddenly realized all I do every single day to keep our family going.
Here's a simplified list: make sure chores are done and children have eaten in the morning, get little ones dressed, get everyone in their respective places for school (and continue to corral them there during the course of the morning), teach 2 children all of their subjects while fielding questions from the older 3 as they do their independent work, break up fights and instruct the littlest 2, make lunch, delegate clean-up, teach older children their lessons, figure out what's for supper then make it, delegate supper chores, laundry, getting younger children ready for bed, getting all children to bed at their scheduled bedtimes. These every day chores are always accompanied by other items that need to be done such as: making grocery lists, cutting coupons, finding time to go grocery shopping, answering phones, running a homeschool co-op, setting up meals for women who have babies at our church, calling friends whom I've not seen in a while, planning birthdays or holidays, cleaning, etc., etc., etc.
I do well when I don't think about all the things I need to do. I liken it to a piano player. He doesn't contemplate that he's moving both of his hands in opposite directions and that he literally has 10 different actions occuring at the same time. A good piano player often has songs memorized and does not meditate on each and every note as he plays it. Everything just moves fluidly with little problem. However, once he begins to really think about everything he is doing and every single note, that is when the mistakes tend to be made. That is how I felt today. As soon as I really began thinking about all the things I do and the fact that I am one person, I began to feel overwhelmed. Yet, only for a moment.
As my breaths became short as I felt my self beginning to drown under the pressure, I realized that I never can do anything without God. It is only by His strength that I can keep going. It is only by His grace that the plates can continue to spin without crashing to the floor. I am nothing without Him. I can do nothing without HIm. However, "I can do ALL things through Christ which strenghtheneth me"!!
I gave it to my Heavenly Father Who cares for me so deeply right then and there. Immediately, the burden lifted and I was able to take deeper breaths. It's going to be ok - because God is my strength in weakness.
The next time you stop to think of all the things you need to do, realize it is not you, but God who will get you through the day.
It's the only way us moms will remain sane!
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
The other day, I received a note from a former student. It was one of those notes that made me realize how blessed I have been to teach throughout the years and influence the lives of young people.
From the time I was in Kindergarten, I dreamt of being a teacher. Oh, my reasons changed throughout the years, but my goal was always the same. When I was 5, I just thought it would be cool to write on a chalkboard all day long. By the time I was in the 6th grade, I had an opportunity to work with a very bright Kindergartner and that is when the idea of really teaching took hold. By the time I was in 9th grade, I realized that spending the entire day with a bunch of little children that would never understand my sarcastic humor would not do, so I would become a high school teacher. English would be my focus as it was my favorite subject and, if a certain group of kids were annoying, they'd be out the door in 45-minutes. When I was in college, I knew I wanted to teach in a public school rather than in Christian and even do some time in a foreign country teaching English. I wanted teaching to be more than a job, but a ministry.
I know my dreams seemed pretty naive and idealistic…but having a couple of teachers who cared for me beyond test scores and helped me through some critical points in my young life, I always knew I wanted to do more than teach. I wanted to let kids know I cared. I wanted to make a difference.
The thing is, I never did graduate college. I had to leave the college I loved after my freshman year due to lack of finances. I attended a local college and I struggled academically. Eventually, my then-boyfriend got down on one knee on a May evening and proposed. I said "yes," finished my last week of college and never returned. I received a marriage certificate and turned my back on a degree.
However, a year later, God gave me my first opportunity to teach in a real school setting. I substituted regularly in a Christian school in Vermont. I spent a little time in the fourth grade as well as in the high school history classroom; but I spent most of my days substituting for the English teacher. I also was the Spelling Team's coach and that year we made it all the way to the State Spelling Bee. (Trust me, you haven't experienced stress until you've coached a spelling team….my nails are still growing back.) Anyway, I am still in touch with students I had in my classroom back then.
After moving away from New England, there was a 12 year hiatus in my teaching career. Then, after giving birth to my 7 children and beginning the homeschool journey with them, we began our homeschool co-op and I've since been able to teach in a classroom situation often. Each year I teach, I love it more. Each class becomes my favorite. In time, the students are not just "my students", but "my kids." We have fun together. I get to know them. I learn their individual strengths and weaknesses. I am a teacher who loves for the kids to talk in class and only have them start raising their hands if the chatter gets to be too much. I hate to be the only one talking. A child who talks back to me is a child who is engaged and is learning.
The blessing of a homeschool co-op is that we get to have the fun of teaching and learning without the politics. No grades are given, no report cards and, in my classes, homework is optional. While I have had teachers stress about their students not completing their homework assignment, my theory has always been that if the student wants to get the most out of the class, they'll do the homework. If not, they'll still get something out of it, if I do my job correctly. It's up to them to decide if the time doing homework for my class is time well-spent. If they are struggling with a class at home that is more important to their future goals and choose to let my class assignment slide, I respect that decision.
Last year, I taught a speech class and we did a skit for our end-of-year program. Working with those who struggled speaking loud enough or clear enough was a joy to my heart as I saw them transform into confident, clear speakers with just a bit of consistent encouragement. A couple of the students found their niches in assisting me in directing. They got a taste of leadership and they blossomed. I realized that, yes, I was The Teacher and "in charge", but truly, these kids had a gift that we all could benefit from. I've seen too many teachers who have to be The Teacher in Charge and the kids are expected to take orders, no questions asked. These are the teachers that the kids mutter about under their breath, right or wrong. I loved the ideas my kids had and they loved the idea that I would listen to them.
While I spent three years in college learning English literature, grammar, some education theories, etc., most of my learning how to be a great teacher was by being a student in the classrooms of great teachers. Compassionate teachers. Teachers who listened after class about the trials of a young girl. My parents split up when I was in the second grade. That teacher didn't coddle me, but I remember she cared. I remember, most of all, her joy and smile when I came back for my third grade year and told her my parents had gotten back together. My sixth grade teacher kept my secret for as long as I asked her when my parents split up again that year. I was so afraid of what my classmates would think. When things got too hard, she asked for our school guidance counsellor - a more compassionate man I still have yet to meet - to come in and talk about my situation to my class while I was out of the room. My classmates took the example of these two kind teachers and showered me with kindness. That 6th grade teacher became my 7th grade English teacher and the reason I chose to study English in college. She regularly asked me how I was doing and encouraged me in my writing and studies. She became more than a teacher…she was a friend and a confidante.
God has blessed me with the opportunity to teach through the years, even without a degree. I have learned that it takes a loving heart, not a degree, to make a difference in the life of another. I had teachers that made a difference in my life, and I choose to pass on the blessing. The note I received the other day was worth more to me than any college diploma. I may not frame it, but I will keep it tucked safely away and thank the Lord for the opportunity to touch the heart of a child…just like some sweet teachers touched and changed my heart so many years ago.