Friday, August 29, 2008

Carpe Diem!

The alarm clock & the phone ringing are actually among a few simple pleasures (blessings!) I look forward to early on weekday mornings:

The alarm clock - b/c it's set to go off early enough that hubby & I can spend some time together before he goes to work.

A hot cuppa delivered like clockwork next to the bathroom sink as hubby leaves for work ...The delivery guy is too cute(!) & he accepts (prefers?!) kisses as tips :)

The phone ringing! The earlier the better!... b/c it means hubby made it safe & sound to work after a long commute...

...and I'm thankful that today is off to a great start! :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

(heavy duty elastic) Strings Attached!

My apron strings must be interwoven w/ the heartstrings attached to Playmaker's "wings" ... b/c as I loosened them so much yesterday when I sent her off to her first day of high school, my heartstrings tugged so hard my eyes watered!! - They must be made of heavy duty elastic too...b/c about the time I could hardly stand it anymore, she came (re)bounding back close to my heart (relief!). After listening carefully to aaaallll she had to share, I'm encouraged & a bit more confident than I already was - based on some of the choices she's already made & actions she's already taken - that she'll be both blessed and a blessing as she stretches her wings - which made loosening the apron strings again today a bit less painful. ... Just hoping my waistband isn't somehow connected to all those strings too!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Choices ....

Gave this as a gift to Playmaker this morning
right before she left for her first day of High School.

That was then - This is now

That was then - Playmaker's First Day of Kindergarten

This is now - Playmaker's First Day of High School (Sissy is still homeschooled & hence can sleep in a little later!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

You know you're having a good day when....

...among the toughest decisions you have to make is what flavor Coolatta to get on the ride to the beach where you're spending your last day of summer before school starts. Things got a little more complicated when we got home & Playmaker tried to figure out what to wear on her first day of high school ...

The (re)- Gift of Worship

Tho't this definition of worship was too good not to share....found it in our church bulletin this Sunday.

To worship is:

To quicken the conscience by the holiness of God;

To feed the mind with the truth of God;

To purge the imagination by the beauty of God:

To open the heart to the love of God

To devote the will to the purpose of God.

And here's a "gift" wrapped in hugs & prayers - for two friends who know who they are - but it's also too good not to share. Hope you don't think "re-gifting" is tacky...b/c I've given this to one of my best friends in the past & encourage you to feel free to do the same for someone you think can use it ... I won't be offended :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

When was the last time you laughed til you cried?!

Last night our pastor treated our church to a powerful message (via a Ken Davis video) shared in a very lighthearted way... & I think I can count on my fingers how many times I've laughed that hard!

Bottom Line: I'm not ok! - & you're not ok either!! (& lots of hilarious examples to "prove" it!) - but that's ok - b/c God loves us just the way we are :)

- & -

Anyone who doesn't laugh, takes themselves too seriously! - & anyone who takes themselves too seriously doesn't take God seriously enough!!

We had a stressful wknd. I even got discouraged just running errands w/ my husband! I left the house looking forward to a "date" of sorts w/ him - & it wasn't long before I couldn't wait to get home(!) - to get away from so many people who must each think they're the center of the universe b/c there was no indication that they could care care less about anyone else! UGH! Anyhow - all of that & more - coupled w/ the fact that, in general, I tend to be a very deep thinker (so I'm told) ... just made such a treat (& powerful reminder) so(!) timely! It felt sooo good to turn my frown upside down for long enough that even my cheeks ached!

...And I'm curious --- when was the last time you laughed til you cried?

Friday, August 22, 2008

I was REALLY taken back (in time) today....

..... when I rec'd a pkg I had no idea whatsoever was being sent to me. Tears stung as I leafed thru' it (your first hint) & found what I think was a poem I may have written when I was a little girl - & some of both my mom & dad's handwriting - & misc. bulletin inserts, an article clipping, notes, etc.

What I found inside the pkg... was a Bible that had belonged to my father. Apparently my mom had given it to him for Christmas in 1966 (2 yrs before I was born). I was 14 when he died after battling cancer for about 4 yrs.

I shared what I'd received w/ my daughter - and as memories flooded my mind, tears are what poured out.

Have you ever seen such a beautiful color?!

This hydrangea (these & sunflowers are my favorites!) was a gift from hubby - planted a while back- looked as if it might die for while -- but I'm proud to say it clung to life & is now beginning to thrive - & judging by this you'd never know what a poor "wannabe" gardener I am!

Is. 61: 3b They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of The LORD for the display of His splendor.

He knows her name....

Pretty sure this was Playmaker's very first day of kindergarten...
we didn't begin homeschooling til she was in 3rd grade ...
Where did the time go?!

This is kind of an addendum to my "She thinks!..." post.

As our appt w/ the counselor to register Playmaker for high school wound down, I explained that I'd like for her to meet the Principal. W/ aprx 1300 students there, I shared that it would just put my mind at ease to know that he knows who my daughter is. Anyhow - Her counselor walked us over to his office - the "back way" - apparently to avoid the secretarial staff that probably screens his appts -- & despite us interrupting a mtg the principal was having w/ the music teacher, he was so very nice. Stopped what he was doing & chatted w/ us for a bit. Seemed both kind & confident - & in the short time we spent together I sensed he "commands w/ authority" by earning rather than demanding respect. ...& it worked :) -- It did put my mind at ease. The man at that top knows her name (at least I hope he remembers ;) - & in the back of my mind.... I can't help but wonder - w/ aprx 1300 kids in the school - and an aprx 30% annual turnover rate - how many students never even connect personally w/ him?

But I realize, even much more importantly, God knows her name too:

Is. 49: 1b Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name.

and He is w/ her wherever(!) she goes :)

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

From sea to shing sea....

Love this pic b/c my hubby is so relaxed here. We share lots of good beach memories - in part b/c our first little rental home was w/in walking distance of the Pacific Ocean :) Now - 22 years later - we're about an hour away from the Atlantic - where we spent the afternoon recently.

Let's go fly a kite...

Just like this pic of Strike & Daddy flying a little kite on a big beach the other day :)

She can think! - Therefore, I am ... successful?! it turned out --- she didn't end up in Honors Math after all - but didn't even realize it until after class was well underway - apparently the same thing happened to another girl - ...oh well - She's still challenged so I'm not challenging it :)

It's official! Playmaker's going to Public High School/9th grade! We prayed on the way to meet w/ her guidance counselor yesterday & it was awesome to see how God allowed our time to unfold in such a way that she was able to meet various key staff (Head Principal, Music Teacher, Hockey Coach) she'll likely be interacting with over the next 4 yrs.

And here's some encouragement for my fellow homeschool moms: On her Achievement Testing she scored Post High School in several areas & above her grade level in several others. Even in her weakest area - which was Math - in Procedures she scored grade 7.9 - but in Problem Solving she scored Post High School --- By this & her other scores, her counselor deducted that she can think(!) & she ended up getting into all honors courses (including Math!) where that was an option.

The encouragement I've been leading up to is actually found in here: She's long been a self propelled student. I did not constantly micromanage her time & I stopped doing grade reports long ago & used standardized testing as our main gauge of her progress. In regards to her schoolwork, I've long been more interested/concerned that she was doing something rather than nothing & I gave her a great deal of freedom in that regard. So.... truth be told, her "grades" are
NOT to my credit (& here is where I hope you find some weight lifted off your shoulders) - but rather to hers! ... & to the (in my opinion) awesome curriculum we've been using ... & to the very nature of homeschooling - & even more fundamentally - in the freedom God has blessed us w/ to be able to homeschool ...legally, financially, etc.

In the "end"/now that she's chosen to go to public high school, I'm ok with that. I know that in the time she's been at home she's learned how to think/reason for herself & that she's been well equipped to make godly choices. She's learned how to accept or reject - rather than to simply accept all information as "true" (discernment!) ... & the signals I'm getting indicate we've raised a "producer" rather than a "consumer". I trust she'll contribute to society & to her various relationships in a positive, pro-active, give & take way - rather than simply taking all she can get at the expense of others.

I'll always be her mommy/she'll always be my little girl - but my responsibility is shifting a bit ...from being less of her "teacher" - to being more of her personal prayer warrior - praying, among other things, that she'll use her ability to make godly choices consistently ... b/c there are some things that it seems are just best learned by experience. However - I realize she may make some poor choices in that learning process - & so I also pray that, in that event, her daddy & I will then have the measure of compassion necessary to respond in such a way that she knows our love for her is unconditional - & to effectively & accurately mirror Christ's love for her consistently as well.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Did you know?! Re: The Solar System

Note: In case you're wondering "Where did this come from?!" - It's a follow-up to my last post :) and is something the girls & I prepared/shared quite a while back for a "Time for the Kids" segment at church. We each had our own "parts" & had the music to "This is My Father's World" playing in the background...(wish I knew how to do that here...any tips anyone?) - Just remember being so amazed myself at some of this stuff I never remembered learning the first time around :)

This past school year Strike studied from a book called Exploring Creation w/ Astronomy written by Jeannie Fulbright…. And you know, while I’ve long heard that God has revealed Himself to us in Scripture and in Creation --- I’ve learned that to understand it all better…I need to read Scripture for myself and to look closely --- sometimes very closely --- at nature to better understand how He’s revealed Himself to us in creation. Even as an adult, it’s been fascinating for me– as I’ve been more faithful about reading and studying the Bible on my own and have learned things about creation alongside my girls, I find so much of what is revealed to us in Scripture, is confirmed in creation.

I’m going to hand this over to the girls now and let them share with you just some of what we’ve been learning together:

The Solar System

Genesis 1:14 – 19 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning the fourth day.

You probably know that our solar system is the sun and all the planets that travel around it. …but, did you know that about one million earths would fit inside the sun?

And --- did you know that the planets are aligned in such an amazing way that they actually hold the earth in place and keep the earth from moving too close to, or too far from - the sun?

Psalm 104:5 He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.

Did you know that without the sun there would be no color at all?

Did you know that Mercury is the closest planet to the sun – but it’s not the hottest!

Venus is the 2nd planet from the sun and it is actually the hottest planet in the whole solar system..

Venus rotation is strong evidence that the universe did not begin by a big bang because it spins in the opposite direction of most planets.

Earth is the only planet in the small area around the sun where life can exist.

Earth is the perfect distance from the sun to keep life on it from burning up or freezing.

*Earth has the perfect mass! - That’s important! - because mass determines the amount of gravity. Because of this, many dangerous chemicals rise up out of the atmosphere and into space, leaving our air cleaner and safer to breath.

*Earth has the perfect rotation! It’s perfectly timed for our need to rest – and it keeps the earth’s temperature in balance.

* Earth has the perfect atmosphere! – with oxygen we need to breath. It protects us from extreme temperatures and it protects earth from falling space rocks – sometimes called shooting stars.

*Earth has the perfect tilt! Without it we would not have seasons so food and plants would not grow well – if at all.

Earth has the perfect land! Some planets have no land.

Earth has the perfect magnetosphere! It pulls many harmful particles from the sun away from earth. Without it, we could not live!

Isaiah 45:18 He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited..

Mars is called the red planet - and it has bluish sunsets. Imagine that!

Between Mars & Jupiter is an asteroid belt.

Did you know that all the other planets in our solar system could fit inside Jupiter? - and Jupiter has a big red spot twice as big as earth that is a giant storm --- like a hurricane.

and Jupiter is like a protective mother to earth. She has a very strong gravitational pull that pulls most comets and asteroids into her…keeping them away from earth!

Saturn is a lot like Jupiter. They’re both made of gasses and we have known that Saturn has rings --but recently astronomers discovered that Jupiter has rings around it too. They weren’t seen until a spacecraft got close enough to take a picture of them.

Did you know Saturn is the only planet that would float in water!

Uranus looks like it’s lying down because it’s north and south poles stick out the sides……… This makes it look like a rolling ball traveling around the sun --- and it has rings that make it’s rotation and orbit look wobbly – it also spins in the opposite direction of most of the other planets.

Neptune is the brightest blue planet in the solar system! and it’s the farthest planet from the sun. Did you know ---- that some astronomers think the rain in the storms of Neptune are made of diamonds?! Experiments show that in the conditions some think exist on Neptune, methane can be turned into diamond dust.

Psalm 19:1 The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

Pluto used to be considered the 9th planet – but just recently, scientists have said that it is not actually a planet after all…..

The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. Proverbs 18:17

The girls have shared with you tonight - both from Scripture and from what research has shown us about creation….we hope you have a better understanding of how God has lovingly created this very special place we call Earth, with us in mind --- in such a way to meet our every need and to help us get to know Him better – and we hope we’ve helped you to understand that just as people could learn a lot about you by looking at things you’ve written or things you’ve made……we also can learn soooo much about God by studying His Word and His Works.

Time for the Kids

Our church has an evening service. - Smaller crowd - can't really even call it that :) - & so is more personal/"informal". I've become an unofficial back-up for a "Time for the Kids" segment - & WOW! - has this stretched me! You'd think it'd be easy to share a simple object lesson - or whatever (The man who does it regularly sure makes it look that way :) - but I feel an almost overwhelming sense of accountability speaking to them - & almost always I feel as if I coulda/shoulda done better! That's the part I don't like. But what I do like is:

- How at times, what I've prepared in advance ends up being an "illustration" of a message our Pastor shared that very day (so neat when that happens).

- Sharing what I'm learning along w/ our kids at home - w/ the kids at church. Figure if I'm "struck" by something that we've studied - perhaps they will be too -- & by sharing what I'm just now beginning to better understand, hopefully God will use me to give them a big head start.

- Involving my girls in sharing some of the lessons. Several things we've shared have actually been "polished up/dusted off" presentations the girls have already shared at a homeschool group activity.

- When the adults learn something too. I'm humbled at the thought of how much I've learned along with my girls -- so when adults who are listening in share something they didn't know before... somehow that just makes me feel better :)

Some things we've shared that come to mind are:

Character Portrayals/Book Reports w/a twist of drama (simple costumes/background music/visuals)

- Nan Harper - A little girl who traveled (survived) the Titanic w/ her father who was a preacher & perished.
- Sacagewea
- Priscilla Mullins - Mayflower Passenger/Plymoth Settler

History Lessons related to:

- George Washington - God's providence & sovereign protection over his life well before the American Revolution & his presidency - during a French & Indian War battle.

- Christopher Columbus - whose life choices seem to "illustrate" a pattern consistent thru'out History & The Bible - one of obedience to God reaping blessing/disobedience reaping discipline.

Science Lessons

- "Did you know?!" - re: Our Solar System

- Trees / Psalm 1

.....and I thought to begin sharing by posting some - if not all - of them here on my blog. By the time you read them, they'll likely be even more "polished" in hopes that they'll communicate even more clearly what The LORD laid on my heart to share at the time.

Hmmm - which one should I pick first?... Stay tuned :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

So many choices...

I'm getting ready to do something I haven't done in a long time...take Playmaker Back to School clothes shopping. She's been homeschooled since 3rd grade & will be a freshman in the Fall.

We allowed her to choose how/where she wanted to do/go to high school & were encouraged to see her working thru' it in a mature/methodical manner over several months.

My heart's desire is that our kids will ultimately & independently learn & choose to fully rely on God - & make their choices accordingly. Tho' some may disagree, it seems to me when there's not a clear cut "right or wrong", they/we have freedom in Christ to choose among sometimes various options & that sometimes the difference between a good decision & a bad one is the heart attitude (motive) & the measure of faith exercised in the choice.

Playmaker discussed this/her options w/ our Pastor & perhaps I'll summarize in another post sometime what he encouraged her to consider in this regard - in addition to being guided by prayer, obedience and conviction.

Giving Playmaker freedom to make this choice was a difficult decision in itself (& requires a great deal of faith on our part) - yet one primary goal behind "why we do what we do" is to teach & see our kids consistently make good (godly!) choices. - as that's essentially what life boils down to -- choices & consequences -- and ...based on my own experience, it seems learning to make godly/good choices is a lifelong process - so much of which is learned ... by experience.

Note: "all of this" causes me to consider the "why" behind why God created us w/ a free will/freedom to choose to believe/trust/obey Him - or not - rather than creating a bunch of robots instead. I wonder.... without the element of choice - would we be unable to enjoy a personal relationship w/ (love!) Him -- & vice versus? Given that both His Word & His Works "whisper & shout" relationship - I think I know the answer. Am curious what you think?

Monday, August 4, 2008

What I love about Sundays...

A while back we made an effort to make Sundays different from any other day... not only by worshiping God indoors/at church --- but also by reserving Sundays for fun/family/friends/rest. We really try not to shop or do major projects around the house on Sundays. Instead we often spend it outdoors, in God's creation - where we love to be - doing what we love to do with people we love to be with (family & friends! or strangers who we hope will become friends) ... bike riding, hiking, playing, and we just got kayaks so now that's an added option :) -- or simply(!) entertaining friends for dinner at home ... and this all has made a huge difference in what I'll call our "quality of life".

Someone once said "Don't get so busy making a living that you don't have a life".... & I find wisdom in that.

Love this song/video along that line too: What I Love about Sunday

Mark 2:27 (NIV) Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."

Note: I took the butterfly pic in my previous post on a bike ride w/ hubby & our girls yesterday/Sunday :)

Have you noticed.....all of this?

With the advantages that History (perspective), Science & Math (technology) provide, have you noticed that God's Word (The Bible) & His Works (creation) both whisper & shout "relationship"?!

Have you noticed
so much in our society discourages & destroys relationships?

Have you noticed "relationship" illustrated in Astronomy? Anatomy & Physiology? Meteorology? Botany? Biology? Chemistry? Math? etc., - & that God's plan & design for our personal relationships, w/ Him & others, is explained clearly in His Word?

Romans 1:19 & 20 ...since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

John 3:16 For God so loved the World that he gave His one and only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Have you noticed it seems we all have three things in common: 1) needs, 2) a need to be needed; & 3) something others need?.... & that therein lies relationship? -- & this pattern seems consistent throughout all that God has inspired & created? If someone thinks even one of these "links" doesn't apply to them, I think they're likely more independent than they were ever intended to be.

and - Have you noticed how much of what technology enables us to do encourages us to be so(!) independent & avoid personally interacting w/ others --- & to rely on God & each other less? ... & have you ever wondered if this breaks the heart of God??
Matthew 11:29 Jesus said ... for I am gentle and humble in heart...

If someone takes pride in being independent, I have to think perhaps it's less of a strength & more of a weakness.

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

God's plan for relationships (& reconciliation) requires humility. I've noticed... if I don't humble myself, He's likely to do it for me! In retrospect (with fresh perspective! ) it seems that "all of this" was exactly what I needed to better understand, in order to be a better parent & friend - & to more effectively communicate our need(!) for personal relationships - with God & others -- & to guard those relationships fiercely from all that threatens to discourage & destroy them.

Note: Scriptures from NIV

Friday, August 1, 2008

Flying Lessons

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies, yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Luke 12:6 (NIV)

Strike & I enjoyed watching this little one get flying lessons today from its mama.

Fun in the sun!

Pickin' Fruit on the Farm

Picked Blueberries, Peaches & Nectarines Tues at George Hill Orchard w/ our girls and friends. My eyes deceive me! Brought home so(!) many bbs!! Spoke w/ the owner who began it all in 1972 w/ only a few apple trees. Neat to see & enjoy the beautiful legacy he's established in less than my lifetime....which is now acres & acres of well manicured apples, peaches, pumpkins, blueberries, nectarines, grapes, etc. He shared about how they manage to scrape out an existence but struggle to make a living - & that just seems so sad/backwards/wrong... On a happy note...we enjoyed a gorgeous day, very fruitful harvest & I'm hoping to can peaches/nectartines w/ hubby on Sat. Already feasted on bb pancakes for dinner one night after kayaking :) Check out that pretty peach w/ the sunglasses :)