31 Dec

…listen for the footsteps…

footsteps

The sound of God shutting the door.

The sound of the rain on roof.

The animal noises.

The sounds of the story of Noah stick out to me. (So do the smells, but I don’t dwell there too long!)

The sound of the flood waters slapping the side of the ark.

The sounds of people outside the boat.

But today, as I study, as I sit with Noah and his wife inside the hull of their calling I hear a sound I did’t hear before. The footsteps. The footsteps of those that followed Noah into the ministry of His calling. The footsteps that followed Noah as He followed God. The footsteps that followed Noah to Salvation.

…followed Noah…to salvation

Little feet thunder up and down the stairs, and I wonder how one small boy can make the noise of a herd of elephants.

I hear her voice echo down the hallway as she sings in her room. When I pause my typing I can hear her foot tapping on the floor as she belts it out with Jamie Grace via her karaoke Christmas gift.

I can hear their footsteps.

And I know….I know…little ears are listening, little eyes are watching, and those little feet they are following.

I sit in our home still half full of Christmas and full of the sounds of Christmas break. Video games, dogs wrestling, music, laughter….play. Our little ark here in a world flooded with all that seems painful and maddening. Our little ark where God opens the doors (with ideas, callings and studies) and beckons others in to be safe, to learn and be loved on. Our little ark, where little feet are following us…and the weight of the question nearly knocks me over…where are we leading them?

Oh, how I want to say salvation.

…to Jesus…

And sometimes we are. We do.

And sometimes….we don’t.

On the days when the tv echoes into their hearts before a Word from God does. On the days where mama’s temper snaps and all the is gentle and holy is awash in the sound of a mama gone mad. On the days when death calls, checking accounts hemorrhage and life is hard…do they see us run to Jesus, so they can follow us there. I can’t always say yes.

We are a handful of hours from the new year. I think of all the things I’d like to do that would improve our lives, bring glory to God, change the world.

I don’t do resolutions. I set goals. I dream with God. And I look forward to whatever that strike of midnight brings…knowing my King sits on thrown before time started and after it ends. I love the promise of a New Year…a blank slate…the Spirit hovers of the pages yet unturned as God’s plans wait for me. And yet, here I sit.

Footsteps.

Not a moment is lost on God. This reading and Bible study on the precipice of the New Year. He leans in close and whispers to me….listen for the footsteps….

And I think that perhaps 2015 is the year of the footsteps. Of intentionally looking where I am pointing (in life and deed), so that those that follow…our little peanuts and someday grand-peanuts, our friends and family……whoever….will find them selves smack dab in the middle of God’s plans and miracles when they look up to Him on their own.

So here’s my 2015 goal…dream….resolution…hope…thingy… as I walk through the everdayness of my life, and live the highs of teaching/speaking to the lows of the laundry and every moment in between, those footsteps behind me will echo my sweet Jesus’s footsteps in front of me.

15 Aug

Raising Kids Who Get It

It might just look like a dented tin box tied with a broken balloon…

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…but it’s not.

This week we bid farewell to one of our Compassion kids. His letters with his perfectly beautiful penmanship and his dreams of university and the future have been a very real part of our family’s life for a few years. Our dear, William, has grown up and graduated from the program. And with his milestone comes the end of our relationship.

And while we talk of strategies to remember him — where to hang his picture and leaving his prayer stick in our jar — it is time to move on.

There are more children.

There is a HUGE need.

And we are a Compassion family.

Huddled around the computer screen we search for our new “family member”.

A girl this time.

Ethiopia.

Perhaps someone with a September birthday (since 3 out of 4 people in this house belong to that club).

And we find her. Simegn.

From her picture onscreen her eyes captivate me. She’s the one.

Her birthday is just a couple weeks after the kids. The same year as our daughter. She’s the one.

As I push all the right buttons on the screen to make her “ours,” the chatter begins around me.

She’ll need a birthday package. (something special with pictures, letters, stickers, a verse to pray over her and more)

More than an hour later he appears.

That dented box in his hands.

“I’ve been putting this together for her.”

That girl.

Our girl.

“I know she is poor.”

The tears that trail down his cheeks as I begin to tell him that we can’t send the box surprise. Paper stuff only I explain.

He tries to negotiate with me…to change the rules. Offers to pay to send it. And sobs until he can barely breath.

We offer other alternatives. We could save it for Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes or put it in the foster peanuts bedroom.

He shakes his head.

He won’t let us see what’s in the box that is now hanging limply in his hand.

It takes almost an hour for him to quit moping.

Later after playing outside, his sister whispers to me the details of what is in the box.

And I tear up.

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It is his treasure….what’s important to him offered to another.

All those moments of our children begging for toys at Target and making Christmas lists in February flash through my mind. We’ve planned lessons and looked for teachable moments. I’ve sat with other mothers and lamented about how hard it is to raise kids who think of others….kids who get it.

And then, this little dented box whispers of little boy grace.

He gets it.

12 Aug

I’m a Super(hero) Mom

Last year I had big plans.

Summer reading.

Field trips.

Playdates.

A summer full of fun and memory making.

Two surgeries, a family emergency and a death in the family most assuredly took the wind out of all those sails. The kids watched movies all summer.

They were bored. I was bored and summer crawled by at a lame snail’s pace. (upside we ALL looked forward to school starting)

So this year, I was determined to do better. For summer to be better!

With my calendar by my side and all my ideas rushing around in my head I did what any woman who needs direction and inspiration does.

I took to Pinterest.

And inspired I did get. Overwhelmed too. (oh and a little distracted cuz there are some killer desserts and some super cute outfits on there too!!)

So I pinned.

And planned.

And before long there were three weeks of “Summer Camp at Home” on the calendar.

(the first two weeks were themed for animals and water. We played some games, ate some snacks and did some crafts. They were good weeks, but the third week was blog worthy!!)

The third week (drum roll please) was Superhero Week.

The weekend before the camp started I gave the kids homework. Think up a superhero  identity.

Monday morning found us bound for Wal-Mart on a mission to get costume supplies.

superhero supplies

Hours later, covered in glitter, hot glue on my finger tips, we had reinvented ourselves….

superhero mama cape

…my cape…

superhero gear

 

Jester Man (our son) and Water Cheetah Archery Girl (our daughter) – gear is set out for Tuesday’s activity

While the peanuts slept on Monday night, hunky hubby and I decorated the house with lots of inflated villains. Tuesday was Superheroes and Villains day. Armed with nerf guns the kids hunted down and shot bad guys all over the house.

superhero villain balloons

superhero shooting villians

And then…Wednesday was Superhero Olympics. We invited some friends over, set up some games, and played.

superhero beanbag toss

beanbag toss

superhero obstacles

obstacle course

superhero medals

superhero medals

superhero league

elite league of superheroes

It was an incredible week and we ended it by making a movie. Yes, a movie!!

Totally the highlight of the week. I grabbed my camera and the kids and I invented scenes as we went along. When hunky hubby got home he dawned his best bad guy costume (complete with cape that we made) and we shot the “Bad Guy” (that was his name) scenes. After some editing (read hours and hours of me trying to figure out how to add music and make it cool), we sat down to the premiere on Friday night (complete with movie snacks and orange soda). It was a blast.

So, despite some diva moments (mine and theirs) and glitter on every surface of the house (even days later) summer camp at home was a smashing success. At the very least we made some awesome family memories….and a movie. (hey remember that time I produced a movie!)

02 Aug

I’ll Trade You A Rock

{I frequently surf blogs, Pinterest and Facebook for ideas for homeschooling, parenting, life and more!! I am grateful to the women (and men) that choose to share what works, what doesn’t and a laugh at yourself anecdote that helps else all get through life. To that end, I’ve decided to share a few things along the way….}

 

Just a bit past lunch time and we’ve already been deep into magical dungeons, searching for golden tickets and saving the world with an underwear clad superhero.

And while our sweet peanuts hang on every word and stretch their imaginations to keep up with the adventure, it all started with a rock.

Not even really a rock, more of a pebble. Buy ‘em from the dollar store in a bag “river rocks” kinda things.

Last year when we bought our children Nintendo DS’s for their birthday it quickly became apparent that we had to find a balance between games and well everything else in life. After trying a couple of systems, hunky hubby and I hit on something that we thought was genius.

Turns out. It was.

And, it has turned out better than we ever could have planned or imagined. {don’t you love when you stumble across some incredible parenting method?!?!?! Oh, let’s be honest, much of parenting is the stumble method.}

The concept is simple.

15 minutes of reading = one rock

One rock = 15 minutes of gaming time

The more you read, the more you play.

Each kid has their own jar. We put in rocks and take out rocks depending on reading/playing time.

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Here’s where the couldn’t-have-planned-this-part comes in.

Our kids became obsessed with earning rocks. Piling up hours and hours of playing time. {time that resets every weekend} And how do you earn playing time?? By reading.

Our already bookworm daughter used her love of books to bank time in case she felt like playing. Our not such a bookworm, learning how to read son, wasn’t so keen on the system at first. And then, enter “Captain Underpants” in a quest to light his fire for reading (or being read to), I began searching out books that target little boys. Imagine a set of books with wedgie, underwear, booger, poopie pants and more as the center of titles, plot lines and stories. {lots of moms seem to cringe at the mere thought of the books, but if it gets them reading?!?!?} Our little man was hooked. And the more time we spent in the pages of Captain Underpants the more time he wanted to spend reading.

We now spend a couple of hours a day reading together, all of us.

Hunky hubby and I have toyed with the idea of expanding our system. 1 rock = 15 minutes of media time (video games, ipads, computer, tv, you name it). While we are still working out the kinks.

In the meantime, we keep reading. The sound of pebbles clinking into jars is music to my ears. And I don’t think the kids even notice that they spend FAR more time reading then they do playing video games.

I heard Dr. Phil say once, {said with a bit of a texas-hollywood drawl} “you have to find your child’s currency.”

For us, it’s rocks.

30 Jul

We WILL have fun

Sometimes I get it right. Like today.

Sometimes, I don’t. Like yesterday. {plastic pool + ice cold water from the hose = fun afternoon, right?? Add a bee sting on a tiny foot, a little girl attitude and a deflated momma ego and it becomes a fail. Fail.}

Today, I awoke with new resolve. We will have fun today. We will get it right. This summer camp at home thing will produce smiles and fun. It will.

An hour into filling water balloons I was smiling to myself. Oh, they are going to love this! Buckets full of birdie balloons at the ready. Just a few more to fill, some green pigs to draw on the driveway and we’d be ready to play.

A balloon springs a leak. I get wet.

Our son discovers the bucket full of balloons and gets excited about throwing them at his sister. When I try to explain we are going to play a game and if there are some left over they can have a war, he bursts into tears.

A balloon pops off the faucet spraying the kitchen and me. Mostly me. I get soaked.

Small boy continues to cry.

I fill another balloon, dry it off and draw a face on it.

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If we survive to play the game. We will have fun.

I give our son a choice. Calm down and play, and maybe have some fun or stay inside and be angry.

He opts for maybe having fun. Maybe.

Off to the driveway we go. Buckets of balloons loaded and ready.

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I grab the sidewalk chalk. I begin sketching boxes and round things.

I’ve got the lil man’s attention.

“Mom, that looks like a pig.”

“A green pig, mom.”

“Mom, are we playing Angry Birds?”

{if only I could insert the delighted squeals}

Now we’re all drawing pigs and scenes.

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And then it is time to play…

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{in order for a pig to “fall” it has to be completely wet….here the sun was a pig}

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{oh yeah, and some of the “birds” were real balloons filled with water…and sometimes they bounce}

IMG_7241{the final battle required team work and lots of balloons…and yes, the boy did play in his socks}

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{it took more of the actual water balloons then I thought it would so we took a break after level 2 and filled up a more balloons and re-hydrated the players}

Some days I get it right. And I just wanted to share {and well, maybe, brag a little too!}. But we had a great time…Daddy is jealous at work and the kids are ready to play again soon.

Summer camp at home is now 1-1. Never one who likes ties I’ll have to try again tomorrow. More water balloons (after all this week’s theme is water) and more games. I’m hoping for smiles, not perfection, and some fun memories along the way. {oh, and maybe, just maybe, a little family therapy session with balloons!}

{btw, we had lots of balloons left over and the lil man was able to get everyone soaking wet!}

16 Jul

I really, really, REALLY didn’t have a clue

We had our reasons. And they were well rehearsed.

I could spout off an impressive list…a God-centered education, overcrowding in schools, exposure to worldly concepts and issues and so much more.

And today, surrounded by piles of notebooks, planners, and books I realize….

I didn’t have a clue.

Don’t get me wrong…I still aim for a God-centered home (& education)…and while there is validity to all the reasons I thought we started to homeschool I really, really,  REALLY didn’t know the reasons we would keep doing it.

I’m a planner. I love to plan {sometimes I think I might love to plan the how better than I like the what but that’s another blog post for another day}.  But this year as I outlined topics, read through school books, planned field trips and searched the library online catalog I began to get excited. As the weeks began to lay out in front me, I saw all the places where little minds were going to get excited and engaged.

I began to see a small boy marching around the house with his shield and sword….made as we study the crusades and what the true armor of God is. I saw the small girl who gets googly-eyed over Robin Hood {have you watched the BBC version????}, light up with scissors in hand as we put together the lapbook filled with some of England’s greatest literature and myth all wrapped up in one bow wielding philanthropist. There are samplers to be made as we study colonial times and chances to walk in the footsteps of amazing real-life heroes for freedom and our liberty on field trips.

As I spouted off my list of reasons and well rehearsed speeches about socialization and living on one income, I couldn’t see the realities of homeschooling. The days when we’d forget to pray and read the Bible…um, God-centered, what?? The days when my children spent more time trying to scratch each others eyes out then breathing…family bonding, healthy socialization, what??? The days when math ended in tears, reading was more grumbling then sounding out and I forgot to plug in the crockpot to actually cook the roast. Quality time, healthy meals and what????

There are hard days and then there are even harder days. But even, then through the tears and prayer {really, God, I don’t think I can do this!??!?!} the truth of why we homeschool comes sparkling through. It is in the Bible character “go fish” games, it is in the cuddling on the floor reading library books, it is in the backyard safaris and celebrating the lightbulb moment in math. It is in science lessons with daddy and sharing our unit work with family and friends. It is talking about Egypt over dinner or taking a field trip as a family in the middle of the week.

The glory and grunt-work of homeschool all come down to the same thing.

Family.

We play, learn, laugh and live as a family. We dig into the riches of God’s Word, discover the beauty and wonder of creation, and grow…together.

There are other reasons too, of course, that I didn’t know would become so important…like tayloring their education to their learning styles, talents, passions and weaknesses; like building godly character and new skill sets; like allowing natural sleeping cycles dictate when we get started.

I had a list and plan on how to do this homeschool thing, but what I found on this incredible crazy journey filled with markers on the wall and dog hair on handwriting pages, we’ve found that homeschool isn’t something our family does…it is the heartbeat of this loud, book-filled home.

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