Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve Day

In order to cut down on the candy mess at our parent's house, my sister and I decided to have our kids open their stockings at home this year. We surprised our kids with them this morning. I had so much fun shopping for this, adding some gift cards from a jewelry shop, lotions and special chocolates for the girls and itunes gift cards, electric toothbrushes and cool hats and gloves for the boys. I found a cute Hello Kitty electric toothbrush and some $1 stuffed monkeys for Annalise.

I also started a new tradition of giving each child a matching ornament to create their own collection of Christmas ornaments for their own Christmas trees when they have their own homes. I thought of the fun it would be for their children to see the same ornaments as they visit their aunts and uncles. These were inexpensive but I loved them ~ but then I love anything that makes me think of the snow of my childhood.

After stockings Ford and Pris went off to work, Kezzi and Hope went to help Grandpa roll meatballs, and the boys & Annalise are lugging bedding and presents over to Grandma and Grandpa's. I put the turkeys in the ovens - 32 lbs. between the two of them. I am cooking them like my grandmother used to with little sausages attached all over them with toothpicks. All I have left is the rolls and the vegetables and then we will be ready!

**Ok, Granny, here's the picture! This is the one cooking in the roaster oven so it's not pretty and brown yet. My sausages aren't working as well as my grandmother's because I used turkey sausage instead of pork. Next time I'll go with the pork because it's greasier and the juices drip down over the turkey while it's cooking.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

More Evidence of Christmas

Here is Priscilla, the Queen of Christmas this year. She has led the charge in Christmas decorating, even coming home with a wreath that she bought for the front door along with assorted ornaments and ribbons for the Christmas tree. Here she is armed with Christmas lights in her make-shift pouch before she goes outside to decorate the deck railings.

And here's our pretty tree with a few presents under it. We even have our mantle decorated.
Priscilla also made these ornaments to commemorate the mission trip to Kenya. She made one of these for each of the ladies who went with her, along with giving them a framed copy of her drawing of the Kenyan children.

She's inspired other clay-working around here by other children, but I'll have to see if I can get permission to post photos when those projects are finished. And there's another special project by another resident artist awaiting its unveiling on Christmas stay tuned for more.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Weird Things Boys Do When They Don't Have TV or Video Games

I spotted this strange creature passing by my windows. This is cousin Paul.

Then I was summoned to the door to see Luke looking like a walking bush. This is taking camouflage to a new height.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Happy 1st Birthday, Cousin Joe!

Our Favorite Lentil Soup Recipe

When I was a young mom I went to the library and checked out different ethnic cookbooks. This recipe was from a Greek cookbook from which I gathered several good recipes. This was the first way we learned to eat and like lentils. Many friends and family, who after declaring they did not like lentils, tried and liked this soup.

2c. lentils

8c. water

1/2 c. each of chopped onion, celery and carrots

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 c. olive oil

1 t. salt

1/2 t. pepper

3 T. tomato paste

2 bay leaves

1/2 t. oregano

3 T. red wine vinegar

Rinse the lentils and soak overnight in 2 c. of water. Saute onion, garlic, carrot and celery in olive oil. Add to the lentils along with 6 c. water, salt, pepper, oregano, tomato paste and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and cook 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until lentils are soft. (I cook mine all day in the crock pot.) Remove bay leaves and add red wine vinegar before serving. We usually double this now and serve it with homemade bread.

*note to Candace ~ This is something easy to make and inexpensive too! :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Playing with Dolls

On a rare day, when none of Annalise's cousins could play and all of her siblings were gone, I talked her into getting her neglected dolls out and giving them a good airing. She has quite a few between her own and ones that her sisters have loaned to her. It was quite a feat to get them all dressed and groomed. Since she doesn't frequently play with them and they were so cute lined up on the couch, we decided to get a picture. As I well knew, they were soon stacked back in her room and she continues to spend the majority of her free time outside with her cousins John and Elijah, who don't appreciate playing with dolls.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Art, Art and more Art

I love it when my kitchen table looks like this~with art projects under way!
We are having a great art year. I don't know what has clicked around here that has made me more diligent about having art time but it has. I think it started with the Draw Squad book. We started using that for daily drawing time and it's amazing when something becomes a regular part of our routine that I no longer hear complaints. It's like they just accept it and don't think about balking any more. I think another big help is that I am participating too, not just as the teacher, but as a student.

After successfully incorporating daily drawing, we are adding a weekly art project. This book has loads of fun ideas and I like the easy step-by-step instructions. My goal is to use this time to introduce different media and methods.

People always ask where our kids get their talent from since neither Ford nor I are active artists. This afternoon while we were working on the project pictured on the table Abel proudly stated, "That's where we get our art talent - it's Mom!" Ha Ha. I know it's in me but it's never been developed and I still fear the blank page. My artsy side comes out whenever I'm near art supplies. I love buying them. That's what I've done all of these years. I've bought the supplies and the kids have used them. That's why they do well. Practice and fearlessness. I'm trying to overcome my fears and at my older age learn to draw and paint. I'll probably be one of those old ladies that take art classes at the local art center or go to those week long classes at some folk art center.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bah, Humbug Reformed

Can you believe I'm forty years old and not only have I never read A Christmas Carol to my children, I've never even read it myself? Pathetic, I know. Well, we're reading it now as our first-thing-in-the-morning read aloud. It's one of the many Christmasy things we are doing this year. Funny how appropriate it is for us right now.

After years of struggling off and on with the to celebrate or not to celebrate Christmas, we're finally giving in. I don't know if it's just getting older and getting tired of making a big deal out of things or what. I know my parents are thrilled. How many years did we bring our Scrooge spirit into the holiday talking about the "origins of Christmas"? Bless their souls. May I be as gracious to my kids when they act like idiots.

I don't know what's gotten in to me but I've even ordered A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and other oldie Christmas movies from Netflix. I also printed off the Christmas poems off of the Ambleside site. I'm playing Christmas music and baking cookies. And having a great time.

Nature Study - Opposum

Last week the kids had the opportunity to see an opposum up close. Hope was coming home from her cousins' house and heard a rustling noise. After getting a flashlight, she found the creature in the rafters of the carport. Of course, it was an opportunity for some impromtu nature study. Here's the pages from Annalise, Abel and Hope's nature journals (Luke refused permission to publish his.).

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Christmas Gift Giving

After following the trail from Dewey's Treehouse to this post, I have been really appreciating our way of doing Christmas gifts. Actually, I have been appreciating it every time I hear of someone else's craziness over their Christmas shopping list.

Every year we draw names with Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Lori, Uncle Kenny and all the cousins. We each draw one name and that is all we have to buy for. This year we even set a price limit at $50. I love it. We have one person to think about, that's it. And now it's really great for our family because almost all of our kids are old enough to earn money themselves. This year I only have to think about my person and Annalise's.

We all spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa's and have Christmas day together. The day is more about being together than the gifts, though the gifts are fun. Usually we do a white elephant gift on Christmas Eve. My sister, mom and I cook a nice, big Christmas Eve dinner and then we eat leftovers and lots of Christmas goodies on Christmas Day while we are playing games and hanging out in our pajamas. This year we are adding a performance time on Christmas Eve where each person is supposed to recite something, sing something, dance or whatever.

It's the greatest day~and a stress free season!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Homeschool Blog Awards

The nominations are up at the Homeschool Blog Awards. Shadybrook Acres has been nominated for the Best Super-Homeschooler award. I don't know about being "super" (I can always call to mind many weaknesses) but I certainly do love homeschooling. That must be what it really means. :)

There are lots of great blogs to visit so stop on over there to visit some of the nominations and then vote.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Priscilla is Accepted to the College of Her Choice!

The latest reason to celebrate around here is that Priscilla has just received the news that she has been accepted into the college of her choice! The next hurdle is scholarships, grants, financial aid sorts of things...and then maybe we will have our first child in college this coming fall. Today she is submitting her bid for the Emerging Artist scholarship, which would greatly help towards the costs.

She went to visit the college a couple of weeks ago and stayed overnight in the dorms. The next day she wanted me to come up and go to the meetings and selected classes with her. I was glad she wanted me to come, but I always hate being away from home during the day. I guess it's that idea of trying to balance mothering the older and younger kids at the same time. This time I put priority on Priscilla's needs and, boy, was I in for a treat.

I arrived in time for a meeting with the Financial Aid representative, toured with someone from admissions and had lunch with the lady who was in charge of admissions (and the food was actually good!). After lunch we went to some of the classes. I was so impressed and excited. It made me want to go!

First we went to a drawing class. They had a live model come in for a portrait drawing and Pris joined right in. Luckily, I had brought my nature journal with me so she used a page out of that. I thought I would need something to do so I brought a few things with me in my book bag. (It ended up that I was fascinated to just watch everything going on around me and didn't need anything to do. ) I enjoyed watching the art professor interact with the students as she went around the room giving tips and encouragement.

Next we went to a class called something like 'Outreach to Contemporary Culture'. The professor immediately introduced himself to us and apologized for not having a regular class that day. Instead, there would be a guest professor lecturing on a series of children's books. Had I heard of Phillip Pullman and his trilogy of books, the first being The Golden Compass? Had I! I just happened to have that in my book bag too because I was planning on reading that while Priscilla was in these "boring" (ha ha) classes. I was so excited and settled in to hear what they had to say about this author. It was a great class. The professor gave a brief biography on the author and then put up quotes from various interviews on the overhead projector. She then lead discussion on analyzing his worldview and had them compare and contrast it with Christianity. It was so interesting. I had to practically put a clamp on my mouth in order to not participate, since after all, I was just a visitor and a mother! The professor recommended all of the students read the book and see the film in order to engage in discussion with others. This is exactly what I had planned to do. I wanted to read the controversial books for myself and not do what I did with the Harry Potter series, which was depend on the opinions of others.

After this second class, we spent a considerable amount of time talking with three professors. Two of the professors, who were married, had homeschooled their daughter all the way through and now she attended that college where they both taught. It was great fun to talk with them about books and education! One of them quickly acknowledged that Priscilla was the kind of student they wanted on campus and another said encouragingly, "If the Lord wants you here, you'll be here!"

I was so impressed with the school and the instructors. Before this visit, I was not real excited for any of the kids to attend college but I came away with a new appreciation and an encouragement to help prepare my other children who might want to go.

Pris is pretty excited even though this school doesn't fit every single thing she wanted. She had quite an extensive wish list - truly Christian, close to home so she could live here, close to the dance studio, close enough to still be able to come to our church, and with a major in art. It is truly Christian, not too far from home (she would have to live on campus but she could come home on weekends and therefore come to church), and they do offer an art major. She would have to give up dance though. Not too bad considering her list.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Some Recent Art from the Girls

Kezzi completed this piece after starting it in her oil painting class where they had to choose a photograph to paint. We were all "wowed" by it. We stood before it expecting her to look up and open her eyes any second. Priscilla drew this portrait of a little girl in Kenya after her visit there. She was especially touched by this girl because she was only seven years old but she carried her little brother everywhere and cared for him constantly.

This is Priscilla's picture that she started in the oil painting class and finished here at home.

Hope has neglected her art but has been very busy with music. After receiving a new keyboard for her birthday, she has been regularly working at composing songs. She is enjoying her music and voice lessons very much. And I hear tale of a new Christmas carol in the works.
I can't express how much fun it is to live with all of this wonderful creativity!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Our Seventh is 7 on 7th in '07

Last week Annalise turned seven years old. We had a big breakfast that morning and this is what her place looked like when she came to the table. She was thrilled with all of the new little horses.

Grandma and Grandpa, Uncle Kenny and Aunt Lori and the cousins all came over for dessert that night. Grandma and Grandpa bought her a stable and some more horses. Kezzi got her a present to, the pig mama and babies you can see here on the couch in the background. The babies are so cute and attach to the mama with magnets.
Priscilla also bought her a horse - a really big one! She was all smiles and loved all of the horse things she received. When you have big sisters who are earning money you really get spoiled!

My the years fly by!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

They Call Her Granny...

even though she's only eighteen years old. So, for fun she thought she'd dress the part. I came home from Wal-mart with this gray wig after raiding the clearance Halloween section for additions to the dress up collection. After going out again that evening, I came home to this:

The Tripods

Remember when I said I was letting the boys choose our morning read aloud in order to encourage their interest in books? Well, it's working. Yesterday I smiled as I saw Abel dashing in the house with Paul on his heels to gleefully show him the books from the Tripod series. We are currently on book 3 and they even eagerly came to living room last night for an extra chapter before bed. And somewhere in book 2, even I began to enjoy the readings.
I really like the "boy" issues in these books. There is plenty of adventure and the boys encounter the need for resourcefulness and survival techniques. They are forced to face and deal with their own character flaws. There are quite a few adults in the story and they are not buffoons waiting for the kids to save them, but instead they provide direction and admonition. The boys in the story have huge responsibility and that is what makes a boy into a man, according to my husband. These boys shoulder that like men and I happy to inspire my boys with that good example. I could say much more, but I really hate writing reviews ,so I'll conclude with saying if you get these and read them to your boys, you won't be sorry.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Crockpot Cooking

While talking to Candace on the phone last night, she brought to my attention the fact that she had never made anything in the crock pot. She was talking about how difficult it was to come home from working all day and make a good, wholesome meal. I suggested she throw something in the crock pot before she left in the morning and that's when the above piece of news was revealed. How we had missed this vital life skill, I don't know. My crock pot is one of my favorite and most indispensable kitchen tools. But the good news is that she says Michael declares that she is the best cook in the world. Ok, then. She is off to a good start.

Here is one of our favorite crock pot meals for my darling daughter and anyone else who might enjoy it.

Rosemary Chicken (only 5 ingredients):
Cut up carrots and celery and place them in the bottom of the crock pot. About 1 c. each.
Place raw chicken pieces over the vegetables - we like boneless, skinless thighs.
Pour over all about 1/2 of a bottle of Italian dressing and sprinkle about 1 tsp. or more of dried rosemary. Cook for about 8 hours on low. Before serving prepare some rice or pasta. Serve the crock pot ingredients over the rice or pasta.

Something new I tried last week was Teriyaki Beef. I had a bag of frozen shitake mushrooms and I took these and a bag of frozen asparagus and dumped them in the crock pot. I added a chuck roast on top and poured some teriyaki sauce over all. I cooked it all day and it was delicious but I had to remove the asparagus before the roast was done because it was getting so mushy. Next time I'll add that much later in the cooking process.

The crock pot is so fun to experiment with. You just have to add some meat, vegetables and a maybe a sauce of some kind and you have the basic components of your meal. I love my rice cooker too because once employed with the crock pot, we have a complete meal ready to eat.

Random Seasonal Notes

I love this time of year, waking up to frosty mornings before dawn and snuggling up with a hot cup of coffee and a warm blanket. There is just something more satisfying about that morning coffee when it's cold outside.
Kezzi, Hope and I have been enjoying a cozy time of Bible study before everyone else gets up. We are working our way through one of Kay Arthur's Bible studies, this one on the the book of Daniel. I've really been loving this quiet time with my middle girls. It's amazing how much you can get from the Scriptures when you go through them slowly.
One reason I am thankful that I had so many children is that I will get to enjoy so many different stages all at once. It should be quite a while before I have to deal with "empty nest syndrome" and by then I will most likely have a slew of grandchildren to love and spend time with. With the older kids I get to enjoy deep discussions and watch them search for their path in life while still bringing delight to the younger ones with special toys and dress up clothes. But then sometimes even the older ones still enjoy dressing up...ahem...more on that soon, right Pris?
I always look forward to this time of year when it gets dark early and we all find ourselves inside in the evenings pursuing our interests. Reading, drawing, singing, building....just the enjoyable hum of life. I know I'll be glad when spring arrives again but for now, this chilly, dark weather is wonderful!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Trip to the Corn Maze

We took a trip to the local corn maze yesterday evening, grabbing a couple of cousins on the way. We thought it would be crowded since it was Halloween but we ended up almost being the only ones there. After a run through the maze, we had a short hay ride and then everyone threw a football around in a field until it was almost dark. Nothing monumental, but a nice way to spend an evening outdoors. Of course, we had to take pictures by the giant corncob made of milk cartons!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The 2nd Mission Trip to Africa post

Priscilla's second Africa post is up on her blog here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Today's Dictation for the Boys

"Son, if you are going to live a genuine Christian life, you will spend much time feeling alone. That will be particularly true if you read your Bible and do what it says. You will not fit in with this world."

From Boyhood and Beyond

Watch and Pray

I've seen this being discussed all over the internet. The lastest I've seen with some specific details is this post at Life in a Shoe. Go read it, look into it, consider and pray. Not only our children, but the future of our country is at stake.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Our Dim Eyes Seek a Beacon

Our dim eyes seek a beacon,
And our weary feet a guide,
And our hearts of all life's mystery
Seek a meaning and a key;
But a cross shines on our pathway,
On it hangs the Crucified,
And he answers all our longings
With the whisper, "Follow Me."

Life is a duty - dare it;
Life is a burden - bear it;
Life is a thorn-crown - wear it;
Though it break thy heart in twain.
Though the burden bear thee down.
Close thy lips and stand the pain,
First the Cross, and then the Crown.

Author Unknown

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Everybody Dies Famous in a Small Town

Priscilla just played me a country song that was something like the title of this post. We laughed over it because it sounds like our small town. We have a segment of the population of our area who seem to thrive on rumors. I guess it gets old cruising around the new Wal-Mart Supercenter. And the older crowd must get bored with their lives too. Might I suggest more great literature? A hobby of some kind?

With Michael and Candace's elopement we thought we would keep a list of rumors - just for kicks. They get so wild around here that it makes for something to laugh about. We have to laugh, or we might cry. It's scary what some people will believe without verification. Are we surprised that our country's media has so much influence? No. We see how easily the blind follow the blind all the time. Others have trouble repeating a story accurately. Maybe they should take to heart Charlotte Mason's way of learning to tell the truth - narration. (I just knew I could tie homeschooling in here somehow.)

Recently, someone we met told us they were talking to someone whom we had never heard of before, and this stranger to our family asked if we were the ones with the daughter who was excommunicated. Excommunicated from what, we were not sure. Our family? A church? Don't know. Have no idea how that one came about. Candace called the other night and asked if I knew where the rumor that Michael scared her into marrying him came from. Again, I have no idea. Who knows what will come next. It's never dull for long around here. We try to be thankful that we can keep people so entertained. Maybe talking about us keeps them from wasting brain cells on time with the television. We can always hope.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Candace and Michael Eloped

Candace and Michael decided not to go through with the counseling and the big wedding. Instead they eloped with a private ceremony Wednesday night.

I apologize to those who were looking forward to celebrating this special time with them. All prayers for blessings in their life are greatly appreciated.

More Media that Impacts for the Good

I read about the new film, Bella, on the Rebulution blog and found that it is showing in a city near us.

Here's a story of the lead actors amazing experience doing research for the film at abortion clinics.

I'm planning on trying to make it out this weekend to see this film. I'll be back later with a review.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Lifehouse 'Everything' Skit

My sister sent me this link to a powerful skit on God Tube. It brought me to tears thinking of everything that young people have to fight in order to serve God and enjoy His presence. It also served as a reminder to pray for those who are in the midst of listening to all of those other voices and are separated from Him because of it. Especially one young person who, though circumstances separated us, we still love very much and grieve over his current state. We pray, that like the girl in this skit, he finds his way back to Him who loves him more than anyone on earth.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Our Monthly Women's Meeting

I know I always write about our monthly women's meetings at church, but I can't help it because they are so good! This was our second meeting of the season and I can't believe how much pleasure I find in being a table hostess and serving the other women and girls. This month the topic was about Bible study and the woman who did the speaking did a fabulous job. One thing I love about so many people at our church is that they are REAL. They might even be a little afraid to be open about who they are but they press through anyway.

The speaker last night shared her story, how she came to a living faith in God after 34 years of searching. She grew up in church and was surrounded by believers but it wasn't until later in life that it all really became hers. And now she has a passion for studying the Bible because it was from realizing that God wanted her to KNOW Him that she found what triggered her ability to accept Him.

Kezzi had the pleasure of sitting next to her at dinner and talking with her more afterwards. On the way home, there were such animated conversations and enthusiasm about Bible study. Kezzi, Hope and I decided to start getting up an hour before everyone else and dive into some in-depth Bible studies. This morning we started our study of Daniel using Kay Arthur's God's Blueprint for Bible Prophecy. I am generally not a fan of prepackaged Bible studies but I do like Kay Arthur's materials and have enjoyed my International Inductive Study Bible for years. When last night's speaker started describing her Bible study methods, I knew it sounded like Kay Arthur's materials -- and I was right. I was happy to hear this because I already owned quite a few of those studies and knew we could jump right in without waiting on something to be shipped to us.

Another thing we share in common with last night's speaker is a passion for interrelationships between the older and younger women - younger women meaning teenagers. And a passsion for NOT dumbing things down for the younger ones. I was pleased last night to see a handful of younger girls attending with their mothers. Priscilla saw another woman's young daughter come in and ask what we did in that room so Pris told her a little about it. When she saw another young girl there she said, "You come in here? I want to come!" To see fires like that lit is very exciting! It seems like every month Kezzi is expounding on how much the youth need to hear the messages, even more than the women do. To me it is nice to see things being shared that can minister to everyone, regardless of age.

Another woman and I were asked to meet with the speaker privately before the meeting and pray with her. When we came back into the main room, I was excited to see that my table was already full of women enjoying fellowship with each other. I think I heard that there was 57 women there last night. I'm so excited to get to meet more of them and to get to know more about the ones with whom I have already begun to form relationships.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Hits and Misses for this School Year So Far

Math is going well. Luke is plowing through Teaching Textbooks 7, Abel is in the Delta Math U See book, Hope is working through Teaching Textbooks' Algebra. Annalise is about half way through Miquon's orange book and I've been using a lot of other resources with her. A favorite is the Noble Knights of Knowledge progam. Most of the time we take Friday's off of the regular math work and play math games.

For the first time we have accomplished some regularity in the subject of Current Events. This year I purchased God's World newspapers for Annalise, Abel and Luke. Hope reads from World magazine. All I do is call them to the livingroom, hand out their papers and set the timer for them to read. At the end of 30 -45 minutes, I ask everyone to take turns telling about interesting things they have read. This method has two ingredients that are important to me: it's simple and it works.

We just started using Mark Kistler's Draw Squad and we are loving that. I make sure this is the last thing of the day so I don't have to hurry anyone away from the table when they want to keep drawing.

The Thinking Toolbox is something that everyone is enjoying once a week. I read this aloud and we do the exercises orally. I can't believe I'm teaching my kids how to argue. Like they really need any help in this area! Annalise always asks about when we are going to do this. She already acts and thinks like the older kids already so I hope I'm not creating a future monster. :)

We are still coming along in our Apologia science books but I put them aside when we have real life nature studies. We'll probably make more headway with these when it's too cold and nasty to go outside. I'm also planning on finishing up our Kamana One this winter. All we have left are some lessons in the Resource Trailhead, which mostly entails making nature journal pages for different topics. By Spring, I'd like to be ready to order Kamana Two.

As is usual with me and foreign languages, I haven't been making the time for our Latin study. We did one lesson and then haven't picked it back up. I'm planning on trying again when we begin Term 2 because the wedding will be past. Planning the wedding is my excuse and I'm sticking too it.

Somehow we've been interrupted on some of the days when we are supposed to do our US Geography with the book It Happened in America. We're still working through this book from last year. We have done a few this year. The last state we did was Minnesota and that evening we even made the Minnesota dinner from the recipe book Eat Your Way Through the USA. The dish was a tater tot casserole but we can't use tater tots because Ford is allergic to the preservatives in them. I just used our own home grown potatoes after I fried them up. The cookbook has been a great addition and I hope we will be successful in making time to use it with each state study. These two resources along with a state map coloring book have been rounding out that study nicely.

Kezzi is really enjoying Sonlight's Civics/American Government course . So far, it seems to be the perfect amount for her senior year since she's working part time down at Ford's shop learning how to do the office work.

Once again, I've been in the old debate with myself of whether to study history all together or separate. Separate is currently winning out. I'm planning on letting Hope begin Sonlight's Church History course as soon as we finish our Ancient Rome studies. I like that the planning is all done, the booklist looks good and the writing assignments are tied in with the reading. I was going to continue studying history together with Hope, the boys and Annalise but I don't think Hope is getting challenged enough and I like the look of the things she'll be diving into regarding Church History. And if we had continued on chronologically from Ancient Rome that would mean going into the Middle Ages. When it came down to it, I couldn't bear to do that again to the boys. They've spent years in their elementary grades in the Middle Ages. They really need to learn more American History now so I'm going to take them through the 1700's (they went up through the 1600's last year) and the American Revolution with a combination of Ambleside Year 4 and Sonlight's World History Part 2. Hope needs a review of the Middle Ages and I think she'll get that with the Church History course.

Nothing that we have used this year has turned out to be a dud yet. It's too early to tell about the Latin program but ask me later and we'll see how it goes.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Winner

I was discouraged with the boys' apathy towards our morning read aloud, especially Luke's, so I told him he could pick the next book. After consulting Kezzi, he brought The Perilous Gard to me. It was a hit with everyone. I love it when we are reading a book that everyone is excited about. I couldn't wait to get to it each day and I didn't have to coax anyone to agree to some extra readings in the afternoons. We don't celebrate Halloween but the climax of the story took place on All Hallows Eve so it was a good time to read it.

I really don't want to do a book review here. Amazon always has plenty of those. Luke said he "loved" it and that should be enough of a recommendation for anyone. Or at least anyone who knows Luke.

Enjoying October's Bright Blue Weather

This morning after our Bible time, Fiction Read Aloud and Math, we took off to a local river spot for a Wild Day of nature exploration and journaling. I forgot to take my camera (as usual) but I found this picture of the river we went to and the other pictures in the post by searching google images.

Within minutes of arriving we had seen many things to draw. I found a small snake in the little inlet that flowed into the bigger river. When Luke tried to catch it another one swam under his foot, so he ended up getting that one. We also saw cardinal flowers along the bank...

along with these asiatic dayflowers, which Luke identified immediately.

Luke also caught a frog and announced that he had a leopard frog. He always amazes me with his knowledge of the natural world. I guess he learns all of these things by browsing through the field guides. The frog was returned to the river, but the snake was brought home as a pet and now resides in the aquarium in the screenroom.

We lugged out all of our backpacks with nature journals, paints, pencils, poetry books and a field guide and took over two picnic tables near a little river-side fast food place. The river was down considerably from our summer of drought but the boys had fun hiking across and even managed to squeeze in a few swings off of the swimg that goes into the river before I called them back to get started on their journals.
I read a poem, October's Bright Blue Weather by Helen Hunt Jackson, aloud and copied this last stanza into my journal:
"O sun and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October's bright blue weather."
While they were finishing up, I ordered cheeseburgers and chocolate shakes and read to everyone from our historical fiction book (that I had smuggled into my backpack ) while they ate.
My plan is to take many such days as these this fall before the weather turns too cold. I've been inspired recently by reading these two blogs: Handbook of Nature Study and The Heart of Harmony. These are the kinds of days I will remember and be glad that I took the time to enjoy.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Go on over to The Prissy Closet

Priscilla finally has finished her first post about her mission trip to Africa, with parts 2 and maybe 3 to come.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Feast of Tabernacles

Last night started the first of eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles. We celebrate this simply by camping out on top of our hill. Every night we have a bonfire, singing, reading Scriptures and enjoying fellowship, smores and usually, popcorn! Last night a beautiful full moon rose over the mountains, which is my favorite part of the Feast. Kezzi is learning to play the guitar, so this year we have some music added to the mix.

We've mentioned it to quite a few family members and friends, some of which joined us last night. If I forgot to mention it to you, and you would like to come just email us for directions at And bring your instrument if you play one! We usually head up there around 7:30 every evening.
(Saturday night is the only night we won't be doing this.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Questions from a Reader, Answers from Me

From an anonymous reader:

"I hesitate to post this, because you seem to have fears that someone might post something ugly or nasty on your blog due to the approval delay, but I will post anyway.

I have a question that has been bugging me since your daughter got "engaged". My question is: Why would you want your daugher to go to marriage counseling if you knew that God was all in it? I mean, if you can only know a person for 2 whatever weeks, and then KNOW that God wants you to marry this person, why bother with the counsel?

have been following your blog for some time now, and find this very interesting subject. What if the counselor finds these two won't work out, or need more time, would you take the advice of the counselor? Would you take the advice to wait for a year? Or whatever he/she was to say to these young people? Would you pull the stops and cancel the "marriage?"

I am not a good writer, like you, but my question is why bother with the counselor? If God be for us, who can be against us? Why use man as a mediator?

I am for counseling, dont get me wrong. I truly think that it is wisdom and a good thing. But, the way this method seems to have some flaws that I do not understand, nor the intellectual faculities for.

I have several small children, and this is an issue that my wife and I have struggled with. "

Yes, sorry about the delay in posting comments. I do this for a couple of reasons. First of all, spam gets through. Secondly, I have had people post inappropriate things. So, since it is my blog, I control what gets put on it because I'm the one who bears responsibility for it.

Your question is a good one. Candace and Michael are going through counseling for several reasons. I think pre-marital counseling is not just for the purpose of finding out if you are meant for each other. It can help you build a good foundation, thinking through how you will handle issues before they arise. Candace and Michael have spent their whole lives getting our perspective on life and it's nice for them to have a chance to hear from someone else who we greatly respect and honor. We already know from hearing our pastor teach on Sunday mornings that he has a lot of wisdom and great things to say, so it's easy to trust him to give sound advice to our children. I think Candace and Michael greatly honor their parents and they are old enough to have had some time to judge whether or not they think their parents have had wisdom in their teaching or not, but even still, I think it's nice for them to hear it from someone else. And if he has differing views, it's still good for them to have a chance to think through what they believe. In fact, our pastor has asked Candace to review the book (in writing) that he has asked them to read. And both Candace and Michael have already read enough to see that they have differing views from the author. The times in my life when I have learned the most, is when I have questioned something I have heard that didn't set right with me and explored it for myself.

We did not recommend counseling in order to obtain a stamp of approval but if our pastor had serious reservations and recommended doing something other than following through with our plans, it is something we would take seriously and devote a lot of prayer to. I can’t say ahead of time whether we would agree with his advice or not. We would have to know what his advice was and how he arrived at it. We try to follow God, not man. But it is something we would weigh heavily. And no matter what we do, Candace and Michael are adults and are free to make that decision themselves. We do not have the power to cancel this marriage. All Ford and I have to do is decide whether we give our blessing or not. Candace and Michael would have to decide to proceed without it or not.

You are correct. There is no flawless way to go through this process. I have told the girls that there is no guarantee when it comes to marriage. There is no way to enter into that covenant without risk. There is incredible risk. We can only throw ourselves on the mercy of God and always try to trust Him no matter what happens. No human being deserves unconditional trust. A spouse will always have the power to hurt you. That risk doesn’t even end after twenty years of marriage. It’s always there. You have to take the risk and be vulnerable. It’s just the way it is because we live in a fallen world and people always have a choice to do what's right or not.

However, I do believe strongly that there are ways to reduce the risk of disaster. It is obvious that the modern method is NOT working. So, we've been willing to rethink the whole process and consider alternatives. Sometimes it's as simple as "considering the ancient paths".

We have made some mistakes and, I hope learned from them. We also have had some successes. By successes, I mean not just Candace and Michael, but other situations that have come about when the outcome has been realizing that the matches are not right without any damage or hurt on either side. I especially rejoice when the young men leave the process without any ill feelings toward us - and better yet, when they remain as one of our family friends. We have had two experiences like this recently.

Your questions do not offend me at all. On the contrary, I enjoy them and would love to have more conversations about this issue, especially with people with whom I go to church I'm real glad you are thinking about all of this and questioning what you see and hear. I wish everyone would. So many people just float along on the stream without thinking about what they are doing. As a parent, you are on the same journey as we are and I'm sure you want what is best for your kids. Since we are only human, none of us are perfect. But I serve a perfect God who does have answers and promises to give me wisdom if I will only ask and believe. My fault has been in barging ahead without taking the time to ask. Don't make that same mistake. Ask away.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Our Collision with a Deer

At 7am this morning Candace and I were on way to meet Michael for their pre-marital counseling class when all of a sudden a huge buck was on my windshield. All I remember is seeing the head of a deer right in front of me and looking right in it's eye and then hearing glass shatter. I stopped the car and then just starting screaming. The shock of it just brought back memories of other accidents and I felt as though I was reliving them. Candace was beside me and immediately asked if I was ok and started trying to calm me down and tell me it was ok. She was the one who had a level head throughout the whole thing. I just lost it.

Luckily, the deer did not break through the windshield, although you may be able to see from this picture that it almost did. It did kick out the passenger side window where Candace was sitting. When she turned her head to protect her face, she saw deer hooves coming in the side window. That glass went all over us. The picture below is where Candace was sitting. And we both had deer excrement all on our clothes. I even had some on my back! It must have come in through Candace's side window.

By the time we stopped and were able to get out, the deer was no where to be seen. It did leave some of it's insides on the road and hanging on the roadside fence. We are thankful that neither of us have any serious injuries. Candace has some tiny cuts on her face and arms and I have just a few. As we stood waiting for the police to arrive, we had to shake the glass off of our clothes and we could feel it come down our pants and land in our shoes. But it could have been a lot worse. Ford and Michael were both on the scene within minutes and Ford was able to drive the car back home.
This incident has made me really want to get the deer population under control around here. We need more hunters out here! We were talking to a guy at church last night and he mentioned wanting to come out to hunt. I think now I'll send him a written invitation!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Marys and Marthas

Last night was our first women's meeting of the new season. This year I volunteered to be a table hostess, which means that I help cook part of the meal and I'm responsible for serving the ladies at my table and leading the discussions after the speaker. I'm really excited about the coming year and am so thankful for the opportunity to serve the beautiful women of our church, even in this small way.

I was kind of nervous about the small talk time because I am horrible at instigating small talk, especially with strangers. Even when I am interested in the other person, I freeze up and can't think of a thing to say. However, I knew that if I prayed, God could help me. So pray I did.

Candace, Priscilla and I left early, picked up Michael's aunt Alana and arrived to a beautifully decorated room where we were to meet. I popped my casserole in the oven, helped set out a few things and then sat around visiting. People began to arrive and I went and stood by my table, waiting for the women to get seated. God's special blessing to me that night was to fill my table with women whom I knew already and had already come to love! As I looked around, I breathed a big sign of relief. I kept thinking that it was amazing that I've only known these women for a year, because it seems so much longer since they have become a part of what I look forward to so much.

We had a great time. One of our pastor's spoke, kicking us off for the year by encouraging us in the chosen path of topics, which is spiritual disciplines. He talked quite a bit about Mary and Martha in a way I had never heard before. "Martha always gets a bad rap," he said. And then he went on to elaborate on the scriptural evidence of Martha's character. Being a Martha, through and through, I was so blessed to see this other view of things. After he described some of the nature of Mary and Martha types of personalities, he had those who were like Mary stand up and then those of us like Martha. He encouraged us all to look around and seek friendships with the opposite types. Then he had us pair up with the opposite type personality and we all prayed together, asking God to help us learn from each other. A lot of times, things like this can be real hokey, but this wasn't like that. It was real.

I laughed to see both women who sat on either side of me, both of whom had become very dear to me, stand up as Marys. It really almost brought me to tears. God is so good. When we walk in faith, trusting His goodness, He blesses us beyond our imaginations! Much beyond what we deserve.

Smartening Us Up

Several of my friends are reading Gatto's Dumbing Us Down, so I thought they might appreciate this quote to go along with it.

"The child does not mind a bit if there are things he does not quite understand." To which I add: It's important that there be things he or she doesn't understand, or understands only partly, by guessing from the context. That's an excellent way to learn.

Books for very young children don't have to be Dick and Janeish, or even Goodnight Moonish. I see no need to dumb down in writing for the young. Why not smarten up instead? Brooke did.

Quote from A Child's Delight by Noel Perrin

I saw this book mentioned on a couple of other blogs, so always interested in children's literature, I ordered a used copy. I liked this quote and have noticed how true this is when I'm reading to Annalise. Today we were reading Beauty and the Beast from Andrew Lang's Blue Fairy Book. While I was reading, I knew there were many words she did not know but it did not diminish her enjoyment of the story. It's amazing what you can pick up by the context. And I agree that it is an excellent way to learn. Much more interesting than lists of vocabulary words.

For Instruction In Righteousness:A Topical Reference Guide for Biblical Child-Training

This is a little gem of a book we have used over the years. We are currently using it in our morning time together, reading through verses that talk about being kind to each other. It's really simple to use. Everyone comes with their Bibles and I call out a verse for each one to look up. They all take turns reading their assigned verse and then we talk about it. Simple and easy. Many times we prefer to read through whole books in order to grasp the content by reading it in context but it's nice to occasionally take a topic and see what God thinks about it.

It's been convicting to realize that I have not always enforced kindness in our home the way I should have. It's sobering to realize how serious God is about how we treat each other. We are a very close family but sometimes we are not very kind. Since we are so quick to forgive, we sometimes take that for granted. I think this study is waking us up a bit.

Monday, September 17, 2007

In Hopes of Helping to Alleviate Anyone's Fears

Some people have been concerned about the quickness of Candace's engagement. So far, everyone that we know of that had concerns, has been quickly reassured after spending any time with Michael or talking to Candace. And today, our pastor, Chad, was no exception. Chad had concerns after hearing how fast things went. He even called Ford to talk to him about it and to make sure we were ok with it. After their first counseling session today, he said his concerns were gone. They had a great time with him and are really looking forward to the six weeks of counseling ahead.

One of the young men came up to Kezzi at church and asked what was going on. How come Candace had a boyfriend when she had preached against dating to everyone else? Kezzi tried to quickly explain that they had not dated and they were engaged. The young man was shocked and Kezzi didn't have time to explain more. She was sure he left confused but she plans to try to explain more later. Most people don't understand how you can get to the point of engagment without the dating part.

I am really looking forward to the wedding and life with a married daughter and son-in-law. Michael has been so easy and we couldn't ask for a better man for Candace. Of course, we know he must not be perfect, but neither is she. Or any of us. People don't have to be perfect to be a part of God's perfect plan. I pray that the example of God's faithfulness and theirs will be an inspiration to many. I know it's encouraged me even more to trust God - that He is worthy to be trusted and He often has better plans for us than we can even imagine.

My Girl is Back and So Are We

Pris got back Thursday but we had to wait until Saturday night to lay eyes on her since we were still gone on vacation. It was so good to see her! I missed her so very much. She had an amazingly good time and brought us all gifts. Annalise especially enjoyed her tales of buying things in the marketplace. She brought back a t-shirt for Ford and I got a purple vase, coffee and a mug from Amsterdam. The girls got necklaces and the boys got knives and Kenyan money. Annalise got a sweet little doll and candy. Hopefully she'll blog soon because she has lots of great stories.

We left the beach a day early to spend some time with our family in Charlotte. It was a nice time visiting with everyone. My sister-in-law, Caroline, was my hero! When I told her the only thing about the upcoming wedding I was dreading was finding something to wear, she offered to take me shopping the next morning. I hate shopping. My wonderful mother-in-law volunteered to take Caroline's son to his karate class so Caroline would be free. And wonder of wonders - I found a dress! And even better yet it was the first and only thing I tried on! So, I'm set. And I'm very grateful for great family!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

It Has Been Great

This vacation has truly been what I had hoped for. Even though we've been pretty active, I've enjoyed a relaxed state of mind. Vacationing with my sister and her family is always so easy because we all enjoy being spontaneous and going with the flow.

Here are the little things that have made this vacation for me:

1. access to 24 hour news tv

2. a huge garden tub with jacuzzi jets that I can fill up any time I want to with no thought of the cost of all that hot water

3. listening to 24 hour news tv while I soak in the above described tub

4. eating the most delicious tuna steaks out at a fabulous restaurant and then finding a little market that sells the same kind of meat for us to grill on our own the next night

5. heading to the pool in the dark after everyone else is gone and swimming laps until I can't swim any more

6. having enough homemade bread to carry us through the week

7. having morning coffee with vanilla carmel brownie creamer while watching 24 hour news tv

8. having the constant company of an adorable and funny almost-two-year-old and a baby to cuddle at any time

9. seeing all kinds of local wildlife including dolphins twice this week

10. a suntan that was acquired effortlessly

We are heading out tomorrow, a day early, so we can stop and spend some time with some extended family on the way home. It's been wonderful but I'll enjoy getting home too.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Now it's Our Turn

It's 2:40pm and we are packed and loaded for the beach, the house is clean, all of the laundry is completely caught up and we are having leftovers for dinner! Kezzi is doing errands and Candace even had time to bake 6 loaves of bread. Whew! It's mighty rare that we are this ready this far ahead of time. We're not leaving until 6am tomorrow morning. Usually I'm running around like a drill sergeant barking orders at the kids and feeling overcome with anxiety over that something I must be forgetting. Maybe I'm getting smarter in my old age and finally learning to do things ahead of time - before the stress hits.
I'm hoping to be soon indulging in scenes like this before I come home and a flurry of activity hits. We will have nine weeks before the wedding from the time we get home. Two weeks in November are going to be insane. The girls are going to be performing their major production on the 10th, then the rehearsal and dinner on the 16th, wedding on the 17th, then my homeschool meeting on the Monday evening following, Tuesday night brings the night for our women's ministry meeting where I am to cook something and be a table hostess, then Wednesday we will leave for Charlotte for our family Thanksgiving celebration. I'm hoping to stock up on rest at the beach and save up for the crazy times ahead.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

She's Off...

Update: We received an email from Pris this afternoon (Friday, Sept. 7th) and she says she's having a amazing time but really missing all of us. They have already visited the orphanage, which turns out to be more like a school, and the kids were following them around begging to have their pictures taken, which she was only too happy to oblige. She says she has really felt the presence of the Lord the last couple of days and asks for prayer that they will have a strong impact and that they will grow in the Lord through it. Also, please pray that she won't get too homesick because she usually has a hard time being away from all of us - and I'm sure it won't help that she knows we are headed to the beach for a family vacation. The two trips coincided and we couldn't change them. But we know God is bigger than all of that and we trust His purposes!

Priscilla is on her way to Kenya on a mission trip. It's amazing to think she' ll be in a country bordering an ocean we've never even seen before. People have been asking me if I'm nervous or worried. Even the cashier at McDonalds, where we stopped to get ice cream on the way to the airport, asked me if I was ok with her going. (We told her about the trip because she was asking if all of the kids were off school) Maybe it's weird, but I'm fine. I can't wait to hear all about it. I'm excited for her and thrilled that she has had this opportunity.
Thank you to everyone who has helped with financial contributions and prayers. Please continue to pray for them this week.
She took our digital camera and a journal and has promised to write in it daily. I'm sure she'll be blogging about it when she gets home so stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Advice to the Father of the Bride

We were all cracking up today at lunch when I read this post from the Trivium Pursuit blog aloud. Especially Ford, who is gearing up for such things.

Labor Day Weekend

We started the weekend off by picking up Michael at his aunt's house Saturday morning and driving 2 1/2 hours away to visit some new friends of ours who live near the Virginia/Tennessee border. They fed us a great lunch and then we hiked over to their shop where they make ornamental metal gates. We even had a demonstration of the making of a metal rose. Their work is so beautiful that we determined to make plans to order a custom gate for the bottom of our driveway. Once back to the house, we made Michael play his guitar and sing for us and then Candace twisted Hope's arm and had her play a few of her songs on the piano. Later, the older kids all piled in our Durango and traveled about 30 minutes to visit a friend of theirs who recently married and returned home from her month-long honeymoon. Annalise missed them while they were gone but before they left she had her first horseback ride ever, something she has been bugging me about for years. Ford and I enjoyed hours of peaceful time with conversation with the parents and grandparents. Then the kids all invaded again and set up at the kitchen table to play cards. We had to drag ourselves away to make it home in time to get to bed since we have to leave for church so early but we left thanking God for answering our prayers for good friends with older kids.

On Sunday we went to church and then back home again for an afternoon at my parents' home. They cooked a wonderful meal for us. After we ate, most of us found ourselves dozing in different places of the house. It was a laid back, relaxing day to catch up on some much needed rest. That evening Ford talked a few of us into playing a little tennis before taking Michael back to his aunt's house. We arrived at his aunt's with every intention of staying for a few minutes while Candace opened a gift from her but we ended staying and yakking and laughing until the time we had set for our bedtime that night. (The gift was a beautiful photo of Candace and Michael with the words of a country song, Josh Turner's Go With Me, which has been special to them.)

The next morning we got up at 5am and left around 6am to head out to Michael's parent's home about 4 hours away. Again, we picked up Michael and had to stop at the 24 hour pharmacy to get Priscilla's malaria medicine. While we were in the store our alarm on the Durango went off so Ford went out to turn it off. After he turned it off, Michael was goofing off by pushing the horn of the car he was driving to make Ford think it was ours. The kids were cracking up to see Ford come out again to turn it off, only to realize it was Michael. After stopping at McDonald's for breakfast we were finally on the road. We stopped and saw the place where Candace and Michael will be living and met Michael's wonderful grandmother. After that we were whisked away to Michael's home to meet his mom, dad and siblings. My heart, which has already been at peace about Candace marrying and moving away, was even more so after spending time with such a wonderful family. I was instantly comfortable and we had a lovely afternoon filled with laughter and singing. Michael's mom played and sang some songs for us, along with a couple of songs she wrote when Michael was little. Michael and his mom played and sang some songs together and Candace and the girls sang a few songs they had worked up. (All of you who come to the wedding will get to hear those in the celebration time at the reception) All of us have such a peace about this marriage and it only continues to become more evident that Candace and Michael are meant for each other. We left making plans for his family to come stay with us some weekend and we are all really looking forward to that.

We arrived home at 9:30 last night to find a note on our door from a friend that we have all been missing. He stopped by while we were gone and all of us were bummed out that we had missed him. We need more weekends to have time for so many wonderful friends and family!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Encourage One Another

This letter was written by Candace's future father-in-law to some of their friends. We were so blessed by it and when I read it aloud to Ford, I got all choked up after just the second sentence.

"God works in mysterious ways is the understatement of the year. I can't tell you the amount of time that I have spent praying and trying to prepare my children for what the world will throw at them. Whatever time I have spent, Regina has spent 10 times more. There are times when you get weary and stop. There are times when you wonder does it really matter. There have been times when I was so discouraged that I was ready to let the world dictate how life would turn out for our family.

God has encouraged us along the way with His miracles and blessings. Many times you look back on your day and you say, "Today I saw the hand of the Lord." I think God knows when we need to be encouraged. He knows when we need saving from ourselves with a shove in the right direction.

If you have been discouraged, or maybe you are at this moment, they you must read the rest of this email.

We have always raised our children wit the understanding that dating was not going to be a part of their social life. We wanted them to grow up with purity and innocence. Part of the plan was to not date or be alone with members of the opposite sex. We were trusting that when the time was right, God would provide a mate just as He provided a sacrifice for Abraham. I can't tell you the ridicule we received from other people over this..."

"If I have your attention then you must go to this website and read how our oldest son met the woman he will marry in November. (

God has said, I will never leave you or forsake you." My faith has been strengthened, and I have renewed hope that Jesus is on the throne and I must keep moving toward eternity working for Him.



He sent this to Candace because it prompted a reply from one of his friends, who is a Baptist minister, and this friend addressed the reply to Candace also. Michael's parents are seeing this story bless many others. We all are praising God for the wonderful priviledge of encouraging God's people. Here is the letter from the friend.

"Philip, Regina, Michael and Candace,

I am speechless. (And Philip knows what a miracle that is!)

I can not begin to express the exhortation this story has provided me. I quickly read over the email last night and didn't go to the link because I was busy. Missy asked me if I had read it and how wonderful it was. I said yes, but thought, "It's just a wedding announcement." When I got up to have my quiet time, I felt impressed to see what I missed.

God used these two amazing young members of "The Family" to remind this old brother that He still is I AM. I live with the constant burden of seeing potential left unmet and often feel as if I'm running on borrowed fuel-weary encouraging others.

Michael and Candace, you have revived my heart! You both have been used by Him to shout "HE WILL BLESS IF WE WILL FOLLOW!"

I've noticed that Jeremiah 29:11 is overused lately. I see it as the theme for conferences from children to seniros. It's a great verse but I beleive God wants us to get to verses 12 & 13.

Jeremiah 29: 11-13

11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to propser you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

I pray blessings on your lives together in all your days and look forward to hearing what God has for you both in the coming years.

Thank you again for your encouragement!

When we do hard things and they end up blessing others, it makes it all worth it!

The Beginning of a Whirlwind

Wow, are things busy around here!

This morning I took Kezzi to get her driver's license so we now have three official extra drivers! Luke and Kezzi start guitar lessons today but I don't think I'm quite ready to send them in alone. I'm going to give Kezzi a little practice first by going out all by herself. Abel started piano lessons with Hope's teacher yesterday. We are starting to become quite a family of musicians. The addition of a son-in-law who is great on the guitar and has an awesome voice is quite a boost too!

Of course, we are in the beginning stages of planning a wedding and all of that excitement - trying to secure a date for the church building and a minister to marry them. I just finished typing out our plans for the next week and a half for my friend, and it's crazy. Between being dinner guests and having dinner guests, preparing for trips and wedding dress fittings, we are very, very busy.

Added to all of the new excitement is the fact that Priscilla is scheduled to leave for her mission trip to Kenya next week. Thank you to all of you who contributed funds for this trip. It looks like she is going to have enough. We are bustling around getting shots, malaria medicine, and other supplies. Two days after Pris leaves, we are going to the beach for our family vacation with my sister and her family. When we come back, we think we'll have nine weeks to plan the wedding. (We are currently waiting on confirmatin of a date with our church - which looks like it might be November 17th instead of the 10th.)

Even this weekend is nuts with day trips planned for both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday we are going to visit some friends who live about 2 1/2 hours from here and then Sunday, after church, we are going to drive 4 hours to stay with Michael's family overnight and spend Labor Day with them. The boys are super excited because all of the guys are going to sleep in tents so the girls can have the house. Michael's mom called us the other night and Candace and I both really enjoyed talking to her and can't wait to spend more time together this weekend.

So, things are very busy but full of FUN things to do.

Monday, August 27, 2007

One of Those Stories

Last night with a huge smile and a glowing face, Candace said, "Mom, this is like one of those stories you read to us, only this time it's ME!" She's was referring to stories of individuals I have read to her over the years about successful courtships where the couple never had to "date" and entered into the marriage covenant while still physically pure.
A short time ago, at one of our homeschool meetings, a new homeschooling mom showed up for the first time. She was trying to pay attention to the conversations about education that were going on but she was distracted by a beautiful young lady sitting next to her mom. She was distracted because she had an overwhelming feeling that this young lady should meet her nephew. That young lady was Candace.
Candace had recently gone through a process with God of laying down an idol in her life. You can read about it on her blog here. I smile when I look at the date stamp on that post - less than a month ago. What she didn't say is that the idol was the desire to get married. She was laying that down at the altar of the Lord. Part of that laying down for her involved what she felt was the calling to not be out and about much. She felt called for a time to stick pretty close to home and not run around to social events. Coming with me to the homeschool meeting was one of the few things she did over that time. She was planning to teach a nature study class and wanted to learn more about Charlotte Mason and her educational philosophy. Isn't that just like God? When you lay it down, he gives just what you were dreaming of (and more)?
During this time, I felt called to take up that burden for her and I was in an intense time of prayer for God to bring her husband. I am not the most disciplined prayer warrior but this was something beyond me. It was almost my every breath - when I woke up in the night, the first thing in the morning, while I drove in the car, every extra moment during the day. I was praying for her and asking God to SEND HIM NOW. This was not something I had to try to do, it was just with me so strongly I couldn't help it.
A couple of weeks went by after that homeschool meeting. Then we got an email from Aunt Alana. She had taken the time to pray about the matter and ventured to ask us what we thought about introducing Candace to her nephew. She told us a little about him and waited for our answer. Candace was thinking, "Oh brother, another relative wants me to meet someone. I've been through this how many times now?" So she half-heartedly told me to go ahead and email her back and tell them a little about herself. She wanted me to tell them the most radical things about her so that it would be sort of a sifting process, discouraging anything further if this young man's heart did not match up to hers. Some of the things we addressed were physical purity, Candace's desire for a large family, that homeschooling wasn't an option, but a requirement and that she didn't want to marry a tv watcher because she hated tv. She didn't want anyone to even think about pursuing her if they weren't ready for marriage right away and she had me convey that in the email. I said good things too but I did warn them that she was a bit crazy and liked to do near-dare-devil stunts. She didn't want someone who wanted her to be a prim and proper lady. We sent this thinking that this oughta scare him away but in fact, it had the opposite result.
When Michael and his family read the email, they had to chuckle because they didn't even own a tv and Michael did not want one in his own home either! When he read about her dare-devil nature, he said, "Sweet!" This was only the beginning of discovering how very much they lined up on every issue that was important to both of them. So Candace and Michael started emailing back and forth a little.
Since Michael lives four hours away, he came to visit his aunt and uncle that live here in town with us and they all came to visit our church on Sunday morning. He asked to sit next to her during the kids program and hung out with her during the middle school get together that she helps with. They talked and she got to watch him interact with the kids. He showed her his guitar and they sat outside and sang some songs together. Within a short couple of hours, he managed to completely impress her and take her from a "let's get this over with" sort of attitude to complete interest.
The next weekend Michael came prepared to talk to her father about getting to know her better. He spent the day with us and by the end of the night, they both knew they wanted to marry each other. Because they both knew that they were not interested in "dating" or interested in just friendship, they entered into serious and intense discussions immediately regarding their views and plans for life. They were shocked to find agreement on every side of every issue. Ford and I approved and they began having long discussions on the phone and things went quickly in the direction of plans for life together. Candace was reporting all about their conversations and we couldn't have been more pleased with the things he was saying.
Even though he had not officially proposed we all knew it was coming and knew they wanted a short engagement. So last week we went to a bridal boutique thinking we would just start looking. We left putting a deposit down on the wedding gown, tiara, veil, shoes and the bridesmaid dresses and shoes! Candace has always been very decisive and she loved the first dress she saw. She tried it on and it fit perfectly. The only alterations she needs is a hem. There was no need for her to keep looking or try anything else. She was set.

The next time he came, he came prepared to propose and he let us know ahead of time that he wanted to do it in front of the whole family. When they arrived from church, we thought we would have a little joke and Ford got all of his weapons and laid them on the table along with assorted ammunition. He put his hat on and sat at the table sharpening his hunting knife. When Michael came in Ford said, "So I hear you have something important to discuss with me." Candace got the joke right away because she has never seen Ford have all of his weapons out and she began to laugh, but Michael just thought it was cool that the guns were all out on the table and the joke was lost on him. How funny! Little did we know we were kindred spirits when it came to joking.
After some serious discussion about the future, Michael told us he was ready to propose. We gathered everyone together and he got down on his knee, asked her marry him and presented three rings from the bubble-gum machines for Candace to choose from. Candace had been in on the joke the whole time. We were all rolling on the floor laughing. Since this has all happened so fast, he hasn't had time to get a real ring, but that is coming soon.
So the date is set and we are in high gear preparing for the wedding. Our lofty goal is to have a stress free wedding. So many parents are so stressed out and glad to have it over and we really, really don't want to feel that way. Candace and Michael are so casual and easy that we have hopes this can be accomplished.
One of the most common comments she is hearing right now is, "I didn't even know you were dating! Well, that's because she wasn't, hasn't and won't be. And the most wonderful gift of all is that Michael has been raised with the same ideals! This has made it so easy since we are all on the same page. When discussing physical boundaries for the next couple of months, Michael said he didn't think they should be alone, not without at least a brother or sister. He understands that it will get tough for them to keep hold of their purity if they are alone and they are hoping to have their first kiss at the wedding altar. I can't begin to describe how nice it is to not feel like we are going to spend the next couple of months opposing each other. And we don't have to instruct him in these ways because his parents have already done that job and Michael has already made these ideals his own.
Thank you to all of you who have encouraged us along the way and for those who supported us with the belief that this could be done this way. A special thanks to Granny, who took the time to reach out to me as an older mom and gave me hope.
And most important of all a GREAT BIG thank you to Michael's parents because we know young men of his quality don't just happen! We are so very impressed and thankful - beyond what words can even begin to express. We have an appreciation for what it takes and we will always be eternally grateful to both of you!!!!