Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Interview with the Author

Have you ever been reading a book or magazine article and wished you could talk with the author? You think you know what the intended message is, but you would love to ask them just to be sure. I can think of a few authors I would love to chat with just to glean from their knowledge a little deeper. Or in my case, as a homeschool mom, I would love to have the author explain the concept just a little more.

This happened to me recently as Caleb was completing his Latin lesson. He has the DVD’s so I confess that I have not been standing in front of him every week learning along with him. He is making good grades on the quizzes and tests, so I have allowed him to take that subject and run. After all, this is his second year. This arrangement works great until he has a question. When he asked me about derivatives and declensions, I was a little confused. Now, I did figure it out eventually, but it took a little while. During the searching and reading, I thought about how nice it would be if the author of this little course were standing here in front of me to guide me along. But that never happens. We are left to take the written word and interpret to the best of our ability.

How blessed we are not to have that burden when it comes to our Jesus! He is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). This means that He helped to write the plan of our salvation as one of the Godhead trinity. And he perfected it by coming to earth as a man and living a sinless and holy life unto God. He wrote the book, lived the book, and now, through his Holy Spirit, teaches the book. We do not have to wonder. We do not have to fret. We can talk with the author and we can do it anytime we need! What a privilege to have the hand that penned the Holy Bible wipe away our tears and lead us in the way we should go. Glory to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit from whom all blessings flow!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

We have been crazy busy the last couple of weeks. Have you ever had those really busy times? For those of you who do not know, Dewayne's mom had a car accident early last week. She escaped with no life threatening injuries, but has a broken ankle that will require surgery next week. Their van was totaled, so that has left them with no car and no way to drive even if they had a car (because of the broken ankle). This has been quite an adjustment for a mom who is usually on the go constantly. It has also been an adjustment for Dewayne and I because we have assumed the errands and transportation for his parents. I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity to serve because I think it has brought us closer to his parents just in the last week and a half. But because we are on the road a lot (not just with that, but with our regular stuff, too), it is hard to find time to get everything done around here. We are slowly developing a routine, but that takes time for me to reroute my brain synapses to do things differently.

Between schooling, cooking, cleaning, running here and there, activities, and a few more social engagements than normal, I sit down at night and wonder where the day went. There are a few things that cannot be changed no matter how busy I get. I am thankful to say that over the past six months to a year I have developed a morning Bible study habit that leaves a void if I miss it. I have tried to develop that habit for years, but to no avail. Then, all of a sudden, I decided to pray about it. Duh! What an awesome God we have to not just give us commands, but also the priviledge to ask His help when we are trying to follow them. He has placed a desire in my heart for His word and when I miss that time with Him, I feel it! I am not naive enough to believe that I could NEVER fall into the habit of no quiet time ever again, but I have learned so much about "dying daily" (as Paul said) to self. I constantly put my Bible study time before the Lord, asking Him to protect it and help me to put it first in my day. I cannot do it alone in my own power.

In addition to my time with the Lord, there are a few more things that I try to find time for everyday, no matter how busy I get:
  • Kissing my husband
  • Hugging my kids
  • Having a Dr. Pepper (it was hard not to put this one at the top of the list)
  • Watching at least one Andy Griffith Show(see why...click)
  • Checking my email (most days, anyway)

Notice that any form of cleaning and/or chores made it to my list. This could be why my house is in a state of disarry as I type. SIGH! I guess I need to get off here and make in dent in the laundry or the dishes. Now which one is in a more desperate state? Too close to call...

Have a great day!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Leave it to Beaver

Yesterday morning we were all getting ready for a day of errands when I looked outside to see some poor animal lying near the road. We live on a major highway, so we learn to watch our pets and make sure they do not play close to the traffic. But this animal looked different. It didn't look like a dog or cat, so Dewayne went to investigate. Lo and behold, it was a beaver! This was surprising because I did not know that we had beavers around here. Anyway, it was lying in peaceful eternal rest with no major visible traumatic injuries. The kids saw it and asked what it was, so we told them. As we were pulling out of the drive, Hannah lamented, "Poor beaver!"

Well, this afternoon we were in the van again heading to my mom and dad's for a few minutes to visit. Out of nowhere, Hannah yells, "Mama, the beaver is gone!" We looked and sure enough, no beaver. Now where would a medium sized beaver disappear to? Hannah knew the answer right off the bat. She proclaimed, "JESUS HEALED HIM! HE'S ALIVE!!"

Anyone ever found scripture where Jesus healed the sick, the lame, and the roadkill? Me either!

Monday, February 11, 2008

My Young Men, part Two

So here is the continued story from Wednesday night...if you did not read part one, click here.

After Caleb left the Worship rotation, Garth's group was next to come in. This group of 2nd and 3rd graders seemed to be more subdued than ever before. They had just come from the Wiggle rotation (fun and games) and they were tired and sweaty. I elected to have them sit down for a few minutes and listen to a couple of new songs while they rested up.


These songs are really catchy and they have movements built into them that we can watch on the dvd. Last term , the songs and routines we learned were put into a musical that the kids performed for their friends and family. We are working toward the same goal this term, so the kids really enjoy learning the routine.


We listened to two songs and I asked the kids if they were ready to get up and begin our routine. They asked to rest for one more song (they were REALLY run hard during the the Wiggle time!). I pushed play on the only song that was repeated from last year. It is a fast paced song that allows a lot of "free" dancing. That is, there is no "set" routine, just a lot of dancing as you feel. The kids LOVED that song last year and I was really glad it was included again this time.


I must interject here the sad reality that neither of my guys necessarily have the gene that allows them to have natural ability to dance. There are those people who seem to have the "rhythm" so to speak and look good simply by keeping the beat with a song. My guys are not like that. They have a lot of heart, but the God-given ability to groove was not one of their blessings.


I saw Garth's face when the first strains of the song began to play. He said, "This is one of my favorites!". He glaced around him, sure that other kids would love this song so much, they would leap to their feet and let the dance moves fly. When they didn't, he could hardly contain himself. Something in his brain was telling him that if no one else got up to dance, he really shouldn't either. Everyone else was sitting and he should follow suit. What else could he do, right?


Garth's love for these songs go much deeper than just loving the beat. This particular song talks about getting the Bible into every aspect of your life. It says "I'm getting into the Bible...and the Bible...is getting into me!" Garth identifies with this song because he loves getting into the Bible. He has begun to read so much better this year that he is reading daily devotionals on his own. He comes to me with big words, but he likes to try and get into the Bible himself. So not only the beat of this song was calling to him, but the words he loved were beckoning, too.


I saw the determination on Garth's face as he stood up and began to dance with the song. He did not care that no one stood with him. He wasn't concerned that everyone looked at him a little funny. Kids can be cruel sometimes and he knows that. But he risked people laughing at him because he had to dance with the song. Garth just made a profession of faith in the last few months and I like to think that his need to dance was part of the way he was worshipping his newly found Savior.


Going against the grain. Making waves. Call it what you will, but as Christians, we are sometimes called upon to be different. There is no more unforgiving scenario than the kid world of being different. We are fortunate enough to have such a good group of kids at our church that no one laughed when Garth danced. No one made comments or pointed. Life is not always like that. We can be ridiculed or ostrisized because of our stand. A lot of times, by the ones who are closest to us. But we are called to be IN this world but not OF this world. We must move when the Spirit prompts us. How blessed I was to see this in my 9 year old! It was truly a great Wednesday night!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, Grammy!

My mom's birthday is today. Last night, we had her and my dad over for a grill out and (of course!) birthday cake. The kids really wanted to make her cake on their own, so we set out yesterday morning to do just that. We had lessons in washing hands, measuring ingredients, and being safe in the kitchen (a hand mixer can be a deadly weapon). I was supposed to take pictures, but with three kids, cake batter, and various kitchen utensils (did I mention a hand mixer?) the camera simply did not make it into the equation. I did, however, get a great picture of the kids with Grammy & Pop and another one of the baked masterpiece up close. We may be opening a cake baking shop next week...

We had such a nice time! It was great to be able to celebrate such a special day with my mom. What a wonderful role model for me to attempt to pattern my motherhood after! If my children only think half as highly of me as I do my mother, I will be honored. Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you!

Friday, February 8, 2008

My Young Men, part One

Every now and then I am privileged to glimpse the character developing in my boys. If I am really blessed, I get to see that in both of them at the same time. This happened to me on Wednesday night at church. Dewayne and I help in the Wednesday night kids activities. I am in charge of the Worship time where we sing and dance and generally worship God with our whole selves.


Lest you think I have a hidden talent for singing and dancing I want to reassure you that the only requirements for this job is an ability to push play on the dvd player and the habit of breathing on a fairly regular basis.


So Wednesday my guys were in two different rotations (we rotate between Worship, Word (Bible study) and Wiggle (fun and games)). Caleb came to me first and we began the worship songs with the group like normal. He was really getting into a song that has a pretty difficult routine (with a spin and everything!) when, all of a sudden, he spun and lost his balance. He tried to recover, but he could not before he slammed into the wall. Since he was in the front of the room, all eyes were on him.


Remember being at the age when everything seemed so much worse than it was when you had an audience watching? Now imagine actually doing something that warrented a laugh from those watching. You are already painfully embarassed and the potential laughter can cause you to do react in several different ways. I really didn't know how he was going to react.


All eyes were on Caleb in the few seconds following his collision with the wall. These seconds seemed like an eternity as I waited for the tears or angry reaction to come. Caleb looked at everyone, laughed a deep hearty laugh, and said, "Well, that hurt!" Everyone laughed along with him, and the moment passed. It took me a minute to realize that it was over. At the same time, I realized a mark of maturity in my oldest...the ability to laugh at himself.


We all do things (some of us on a daily basis) that require us to be able to laugh at ourselves. When we are able to not take ourselves so seriously, the small stuff stays small and our perspective stays clear. What a blessing for me to be able to see that glimpse in Caleb!

I was also fortunate to have a glimpse into my youngest son's developing personality...but that will be Part Two. Stay tuned!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Hell hath no fury like a toddler scorned

I get in these moods sometimes where I have had enough. Enough whining, enough arguing, enough hearing the word "Mom!" What I did not know, however, was that even little ones get that way.

My precious three year old, Hannah, helps me sometimes with the laundry. She will push the clothes into the dryer for me and close the door. Or she will help to transfer the dry clothes to a basket. Of course, it takes longer this way, but she really enjoys helping and usually I don't mind. This morning, however, was hectic beyond belief. I had a huge pile of laundry to get through, not to mention the million dishes stacked all over the counter. And that was BEFORE school. Needless to say when she "helped" me by taking the WET clothes OUT of the dryer and piling them on the floor, I was not happy at all! I will admit I spoke to her rather sharply and that brought a flood of tears. I really felt bad about it, but my pride held onto my indignation as she walked away from me. It was my plan to go to her after I started the dryer and talk to her after I cooled off. I never got the chance.

I looked up from my clothes and stared down the barrel of a large Nerf bazooka. This little girl, this beautiful princess, had my head in the crosshairs as she peered through the scope. There was a coolness, a calculating callousness that I had never seen before. Apparently, this was not the day to make her angry. As I straightened up and moved to the right, the barrel stayed trained right on me. I have rarely seen such concentration and I would be willing to bet that it would even rival the military's top marksmen. Girl was on a mission and was not letting anything distract her.

Lucky for me, she can't resist a giggle when she hears a giggle, so that was all I had to do to break her concentration. As I snickered at the sight before me, a smile slowly broke on her face and the bazooka lowered. I have to admit that I breathed a sigh of relief at the fact that three year old princesses cannot legally own firearms.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Everything I know, I learned from Andy Griffith

So here is a fun blog for me. I have been faithfully watching The Andy Griffith Show for about 18 years. I began watching it after a breakup from the guy I thought I was going to marry. Of course, I knew this at the ripe age of 14. I was mourning the loss of the relationship and looking for anything to do that didn't even remotely remind me of "him"! I missed him most during the time of night when we would talk on the phone about our future together and how "in love" we were. It was during this time that a local TV station was running two episodes, back to back, of The Andy Griffith Show.

I began to watch this show with half hearted interest and found myself enjoying more and more the homespun comedy presented each night. I laughed as Barney flubbed up one thing after another and learned as Andy taught Opie lessons on life. Pretty soon, I was looking forward to the shows every day. It gave me a way to immerse myself in another world after a day of public school (as the fat kid, no less!).

Years later, I visited the small town that Mayberry was loosely based on: Mt. Airy, NC. Since I was the single mother of a small child at the time, I felt a special kinship with the character of Andy Griffith as I walked the streets where the real Andy Griffith used to walk. I have taught 2 AG Bible studies, I have miniture buildings from the town, and almost all the episodes on either VHS or DVD. I have a AG Trivia Game that I love to play, but can't find anyone around here who wants to. I have pictures, books, and postcard memoribilia. So here are a few things I have learned over the years:

1. A bullet left in your gun belt for a long period of time will turn green.

2. Never leave the keys across the room when you are in a jail cell...they could be invaluable if the cell door gets accidentally locked.

3. Anything can be fixed with fried chicken or a paper sack full of homemade sandwiches.

4. Fishing can take an hour or it can take all day.

5. There is always time for friends.

6. Simplicity is better.

7. Eating dinner together should be the norm.

8. A town can survive without a McDonalds or a Walmart.

9. Teachable moments can occur in everyday situations.

10. Family doesn't have to be mom, dad, and 2.5 children - it can be a dad, a son, and an aunt; or a family made up of mine, his, and ours (like mine!).

Of course, The Andy Griffith Show is not the most important thing ever, but it has been a blessing to me. I still love to watch it every evening, if I can!

Friday, February 1, 2008

A New Perspective on Being Sick...

My three-year old has a yucky cold. She has that cough and stuffy nose that just makes you feel bad. She was sitting on the couch yesterday looking pretty dejected. I asked her what was wrong. She said, "My laugh and cry is gone!"

Thinking there has to be a perfectly good explanation for this, I asked her to show me how she knew her laugh and cry were gone. She took a deep breath and proceeded to try and laugh. Next thing I know, there was a hoarse and husky, well, sound. It didn't resemble a laugh so much as it reminded me of a forty-year smoker hacking up a lung. I did not ask her to prove that her cry was also gone, for fear of hearing that awful noise again. I took her word on that one.

Poor baby! She tearfully said, "See! I told you my laugh and cry was gone!" Well, I would be upset, too, if my laugh and cry were gone.

Painting the Watertower

I live in a small town. I have lived here all my life. I have watched this small town grow and change over the years in ways I never thought it would. I mean, we have a WAL-MART, for goodness sake. But living in a small town means everyone knew everyone growing up. And everyone knew what was going on. However, as our town has grown, it gets harder and harder to "keep up" with everything.

Driving home one day last week, I noticed that two guys were on a scaffold painting one of our city's water towers. Since I was sitting at a red light, I had some time to ponder. When do you know a water tower needs painting? They were only halfway done and for a minute, I could not tell which was the new color and which was the old color. It wasn't like the paint job on the tower was so badly degraded that it even warranted a new coat. Honestly, I wondered aloud to my husband about the merits of spending money on all that new paint and the salary for two people to spend several days painting that tower when it didn't really need it. You see, that's what you do in a small town. You form opinions about decisions the city council makes and wonder how it would be different if "John Smith" (insert any local citizen's name) were running things. HE sure wouldn't have spent all that money on painting the water tower. HE would have realized that painting the outside of the water tower was a waste of taxpayers' resources. Being on the downward slope of a pretty severe drought in our region, "John Smith" would have realized that changing the color on the outside of the tower would do NOTHING to change the deficient water level on the INSIDE of the tower.

Then it hit me. Ironically enough, this water tower was next door to my church and the parallel to the painted water tower was so clear. That is what we do with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We go to church on Sunday after getting all painted and pretty on the outside. We lift our hands in praise and put an arm around one another in fellowship. All the while, inside, we are drying up spiritually. We answer "I'm good. How about you?" when asked how things are going. I wonder how many people would answer, "Things are pretty rotten right now and I need your prayer" if they felt completely safe to say that. How many times do we sit through a service wishing that God would speak to us and wishing we would hear a song we like when what we are really there to do it worship Him?

How would things change in our fellowships if we went to church on Sundays wondering how many different ways we could pay honor to our Lord? What if we went challenging ourselves to pray a quick prayer for every person we hugged? What would really happen if we asked someone how they are REALLY doing and take the time to listen to what is going on in their life? I'll tell you what would happen! We would have CHURCH!

I am blessed enough to attend a fellowship that takes seriously the teaching of God's word and encouraging true fellowship between members. And let me tell you, it makes such a difference in my Christian walk. I feel my cup overflowing every time I enter that place. Praise God!

As far as the water tower goes, there may have been a legitimate reason for needing to paint it. I am not a water tower expert. I do know this: one reason it was painted was to shift my brain in gear and renew my resolve to take an interest in the people and purpose of my church. Through true fellowship and the solid teaching of God's word, we can truly worship our Lord!