Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Train Up Tuesday: Summer Planning

What do you do during the summer as a mom?

Some of us let it go unstructured, letting our kids have full reign of their days.  I remember summers like that.  Playing outside, watching cartoons for WAY too long inside, eating lots of sandwiches and spaghettiOs, reading books in preparation for school in the fall.

Some families continue intentional learning - visiting the library, reading LOTS of books, art and music projects, studying the backyard, going on hikes, scheduled playgroups.

Maybe you have a summer "bucket list".  They seem to be gaining popularity.  Pinterest has LOADS of ideas for these!

If you are a homeschooler (or considering homeschooling), perhaps you are wracking your brain and nerves over the summer deciding on a curriculum! ;-)

Wherever you are in starting your summer, we invite you to go through our archives to find some fun ideas to keep your summer fun and memorable!  Click our labels on the right panel ----------->
to explore Summer Time fun (reading ideas, travel boxes, summer activity lists, loads of ideas for fun with water/sand/nature/chalk); or perhaps you are considering homeschooling or have been doing it for a while but feel inadequate and overwhelmed, please check our Homeschooling label for encouragement and more information on stepping into it.

Hope your summer is off to a GREAT start!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Train Up Tuesday: Red, White and Blue Summer and Remembering

This past Sunday marked a milestone for my family.  It has been 30 years since my father passed away.  I guess you could say he "won" his battle with cancer in the ultimate healing.  I was only 5 at the time, but I'll NEVER forget the flag ceremony at the end of the funeral (my Daddy was a Marine Sergeant who died from complications of a brain tumor, no doubt resulting from work in his line of duty).  To this day, I still have a soft spot for veterans and active servicemen.  

The few memories I have of my father are still quite vivid, for I've replayed them in my mind over and over and over throughout the years.  My younger brother had just turned two a few weeks before Memorial Day that year, so he has no memories, only photos and a few stories.  There isn't much to speak of regarding Dad's extended family (adoption and other situations limiting that) so memories of his childhood are non-existent for us.  So, to commemorate this year, I relied on social networking (FB) and asked friends who knew him way back when to fill us in on any details, stories, glimpses into our Dad's life.  It was WONDERFUL to get back several responses.  Sunday morning, my brother and Mom and I sat down to breakfast together and I shared those stories.  It opened up opportunities to hear some things from my Mom that she might have otherwise not thought of sharing.

Memorial Day is special to me, because I'll NEVER forget.  Perhaps you've lost someone special and close in your life.  Maybe someone special in your life has lost someone.  Don't be afraid of memories.  Don't be afraid to explore them.  Don't be afraid to share them.  Most of our older adult friends have no idea what their little memories of our father mean to my brother and me.  "You look just like him." "You have his eyes."  "You walk like him."  "He was so kind and a gentleman."  "Your father was a good man."  Those simple phrases - they mean a world to some people!  They let you know a life mattered and didn't go unnoticed.  And for children who may not have rich memories on their own, it helps with healing, with putting "pieces together", and with helping to "never forget".  That can be a fear on its on - forgetting.  "What if I can't remember a smell, a voice, a laugh, a touch?!"  Stories from friends and loved ones aid in keeping the memory close to the surface in a good way.

As I've posted before, May through September can be a special time for patriots - Memorial Day, Flag Day, Fourth of July (my Daddy's FAVORITE!), Veteran's Day.  Don't let it all "jumble together".  Go to a ceremony.  Visit the grave of a fallen veteran and reminisce.  Drive down a Main Street and see the flags.  Go to a parade.  Celebrate your liberties. Buy a meal for a veteran.  Send poppies.  Make some Americana crafts.  Share stories, listen to stories of veterans.

Make the most of all of it this summer!  May it be a Red, White, and Blue one!  


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Train Up Tuesday: Thanks to Teachers...and Moms

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

I don't know if this is relatively "new" to this generation.  I don't remember anyone participating in this when I was growing up, but it is a lovely thought - thanking teachers. Teachers have to have great patience.  I know it's tough having patience with teaching my own children, and they forgive me when I "lose it", so I can't imagine what it would be like to try to get a dozen or more students on track that don't belong to me personally and not "lose it" with them!

Today, I'd like to thank the teachers who made a memorable impact on my life.  Certainly all of them did in their own way, but there are a few that stick out to me.

In first grade, Mrs. Dixon taught us many things, but it was memorizing John 3:14-19 that sticks out the most.  Imagine being a 6 year old and learning to quote 6 verses!  It felt like such a huge accomplishment.  I remember that as being one of the first things I learned that made me truly proud.  Thanks to those teachers who know that their students are capable and give them what may seem to the little minds "big things" to learn and to do.  It sets new levels of confidence in abilities AND, especially in the case with Scripture memorization, it plants something in their hearts and minds that they will never forget.

In second grade, (don't worry, I'm not going to take you through EACH grade), Mrs. Deal made learning so much fun.  I remember the joy of it being my turn to do a small task (line leader, anyone?), the "freedom" of going to the back table for exploring after completing my classwork, but mostly, it was the songs she taught us.  Silly songs.  Songs about God and Christ.  I can remember to this day almost each one.  And thankfully, I have children who are learning these songs from me now.  Thanks to the teachers who make school days something to look forward to, even in the smallest details without ever having to spend an extra dime to do so.  Thanks to those who teach things like music that are forever in our hearts and become a joy to share with others later in life.

There were certainly others who provided other wonderful things to my life throughout elementary school and junior high.  I mostly enjoyed school during those days.  As I moved into a new school with kids and teachers I didn't know as a freshman, my life took a hard turn.  As a new kid in a new school, along with other hard things my heart was going through, I was relentlessly picked on by a couple of students.  A boy in my grade and a girl a grade above me.  Mostly, it was this boy who made my life most miserable.  I had to start the day off with this kid in my homeroom, which was also my Bible class.  I think I was one of the few students who actually liked Bible class (in a Christian school!).  Even though starting the day with this boy's tormenting words was not something I liked, it was the teacher, Mr. Sandidge who helped make homeroom a safe place for me.

Honestly, I don't know if he was even aware of it.  I ran into him a few years ago and am certain he didn't remember me, but I thanked him for being the teacher he was in those days.  He didn't spend any special time talking to me in class or out of class.  He didn't try to "protect me" in front of the others.  But it was the fact that he seemed to notice that this little introverted, awkward girl seemed interested in the subject he taught and recognized my thoughts and ideas as something of value.  I can clearly remember him reading my papers or ideas aloud (something I would NOT have done myself in front of that class).  So, I'm thankful for those teachers who make "safe places" in their classes for kids like me who may be getting bullied but aren't speaking up; teachers who recognize ideas and thoughts of the new or introverted and share them in a way that doesn't make the child feel further terrified, but rather valued.

I also want to thank the public school (or even Christian school) teachers who reach out to students that they know need the Lord and even help in discipling them or fostering a love for things that are godly.  My husband was one such student attending public school.  After a radical conversion, it was a public school teacher who would pass him gospel music and fueled his love for Christ and godly music.

Just yesterday, a Facebook friend posted "Happy Teacher Appreciation Week" on my wall.  I'm a homeschool mom, so this is probably the only time I've had this said to me.  It was well received ;-)  This friend, though her children aren't home schooled and she and I don't get to connect in the "real world", recognized the value of the work I do.  I'm sure you have at least one friend who is a home school mom who could use your words of appreciation today!

I would be remissed if I didn't also thank mothers everywhere, especially with Mother's Day just around the corner.  Whether you homeschool or are teaching your children.  Teaching them is a command we are given.  Often, our "teaching" (along with other duties) is overlooked by others, not seen as having "worth", and often isn't given the appreciation it is due.  So, thank you, Mothers for all you do in molding your children.  It can be a thankless job...but you are appreciated ;-)


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Train Up Tuesday: Increased Faith

During our recent 2 months of chaos, we had lots of time home...which meant lots of time making due with what was in the cupboards to keep from going to the grocery store. We had plenty, but there are always those items you have to constantly replenish with 3 little boys. Top of the list? MILK!

I know you've heard the stories of the "saints" who needed food or supplies that were miraculously delivered in their times of real need...needs for themselves, orphans, or others. This particular "need" didn't rank up there with those. However, there we were, stuck with just a little milk (enough for one of them), food that "only tastes good when you are having milk with it" as a snack before bed, and the knowledge that there would not be milk for breakfast unless Nana arrived in time the next morning (she alone knew about our "need" and was bringing some by the next morning before church; my husband was out of town and could not fetch said milk or watch little sickly ones so that I could). boys and I did the only thing we knew to do. We prayed. They knew God hears prayers and answers them. I (though skeptical, honestly), thought this would be a great opportunity to see their faith increased....especially if milk "fell from the sky"! I mean, mine would have been increased, too! Those little voices asking God for something simple as milk, which, again, wasn't an urgent need, were so precious, honest, and sincere. We would have made it fine without the milk. But this need to pray was most important.

Fast forward about 20 minutes later. We await my saintly, very-pregnant-at-the-time sister who was dropping off homemade doughnuts her husband made. We were expecting her to come, but I was in no way going to ask her to stop for milk! She had 2 babies already of her own and things she needed to do.

Her car pulls in. I open the door to see her carrying the doughnuts and lugging a grocery bag obviously full of something heavy, and immediately I know what it is. I call for the boys to come to the door. They are all smiling and celebrating, "Praise the Lord! God gave us milk! God told Aunt Paige!"

He did indeed. My sis "happened" to talk to my mom before arriving at our house and my mom mentioned that we needed milk. You can call it "coincidence"...but God's timing is amazing. My boys told this story to EVERYONE for days! ....and they started praying for EVERYTHING that they saw we "needed" in the following days.

Faith increased? Check! Now to explain the difference between "need" (milk) and wants ("Oreos").

How has your faith been increased lately?


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Train Up Tuesday: Recipients of Encouragement

Are you one of those people that enjoy doing just about anything for someone else...but you almost cringe at the thought of someone having to help you out? Maybe you think you can handle it or you honestly don't want to burden anyone. Maybe it's that you think someone else could better use the offered help or encouragement.

Can I tell you that it might be pride that keeps you from allowing others to step in? How dare I say it? Oh, because I remember coming to that realization several years ago. And by "coming to", I really mean, having it pointed out. Yeah, it was by my immediate supervisor at a previous job. I was talking about my aggravation at having done something mindlessly stupid (locking my keys in a car hours away from home...and trust me, it wasn't a simple remedy like getting a was in a remote involved being driven home
late at night and having to make arrangements to go back to pick up the car the next day). I mentioned that I wouldn't have minded being the one helping someone in a fix, but I loathed being the one that needed the help IN the fix. Quite gently, my boss pointed out that sometimes not wanting others to help us out is a sign of pride in our own life. Ouchie. He said he didn't mean that was the case in my situation...just a thought.

That could have blown right over...except that same day...literally...same day, I had opened an new book and guess the topic...pride in handling things ourselves. Ugh!

So, all that to say I've been in a process of allowing more people to "help" and to "encourage" me in all that is "life". It's still not easy. I mean we all have ways of doing things in
manners that we prefer. Sometimes we can get caught up in our own ways that we can shut out the offers of others.

But people want to help, right? They don't simple want to be the recipients of love, they want to give love, too. And they are blessed for doing so. We shouldn't rob them of their poten
tial blessings. Nor should we shortchange ourselves the beauty of seeing them as caring for us.

My sister (who was VERY pregnant and I think actually due the week she offered help) organized a week's worth of meals for my family last month, when we had been in the thick of much sickness and doctors/hospital visits. It wasn't necessary, I could have handled it. Others were surely in more need than us, but God knew that WE were in need of seeing our "neighbors" in the light of His love. Everything fromhomemade meals, pizza delivery (with pepperoni shaped into a heart), and a catered buffet of sorts from Panera (the nearest one is 25 minutes away from us!), and giftcards for meals showed up at our home throughout the week. The neatest thing was seeing my boys light up at the deliveries. We talked about the graciousness of the friends/family represented in each meal. It was God's love in action. They witnessed it as recipients so now they know what it feels like to be cared for by a "neighbor" in Christ. My hope is that they will remember this in the future when we are able to care for another.

(oven fresh lovin'!)

(you don't always need a dozen flowers to brighten your day...a dozen sandwiches can do the trick, too)

Throughout that week, I remember asking, "Is it possible to be overwhelmed but not surprised?" We were overwhelmed by the outpouring, but knowing the people who gave of themselves, we were not surprised, because they have often showed their love for Christ in their actions, words and attitudes.

I also was overwhelmed by words of encouragement. A Facebook message. A card. A phone call with my Mom or sister. Earnest prayers. Also that "one" phone call. In the middle of caring for 3 boys, my husband answered the phone. It was a friend from a few years ago. Not a super close friend that I hung out with. One I attended church with for a few years and got to know a little. Although she has a Facebook account, I think the last time she checked it was 3 years ago :) However, she called me. She said, "I don't really know why I'm calling. It may be nothing. But I've had you on my heart for about 3 weeks now. God keeps putting little things in my way that make me think of you. So, of course I prayed for you, but God told me to call you...and now finally I have." WOW! She had not seen any "status updates" and hasn't been in my "circle" for years, yet God spoke to her to pray for me. And she did. And she called to encourage me. THAT is amazing!

So, friend, see someone in need? You don't have to look far to be a help. Most of us want to do that.

Friend, are you in need? Have there been offers to help minister to your soul in some way? Don't shut it out. YES, it will encourage you and let you see them in the light of Christ...but you also afford them the opportunity to be blessed with the "feel goods" or validation that their encouragement to you was a God send.

Hope you allow yourself to be encouraged ;-)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Train Up Tuesday: A REALLY Good Friday

I hope you had a wonderful Holy Week, a GREAT Good Friday, and a lovely Resurrection Day! It was the most memorable one for our little family. I'm wiped out, truly!

We enjoyed several of the activities I mentioned last week, and my Seder meal took quite a bit of time! We didn't eat until 7:30 which is VERY late for my family. But everyone was very patient. It was quite memorable and something I hope to long as I start roasting the lamb and preparing other items earlier in the day :)

The foot washing was so precious and sweet. My husband had planned to be the only one to wash our feet, but our boys (6 and 3 1/2) both wanted to serve as well and speak blessings to each of us. I'll never forget it!

We celebrated Saturday with a Super Hero birthday party for my middle son about to turn 4. It was a blast! And being one of those seasons, we had another 4 y.o. birthday party to attend later that day. Whew!

Sunday was so lovely. Service at church with so much of our family and friends. Then meeting again later that evening for a big family meal and the favorite "Resurre ction Rolls"! I just love weekends like these, but I'm glad they only happen a few times a year....I was wiped out on Monday! But it was a good kind of "wiped out". One I'd much rather have than the kind of "wiped out" I had for two months in a row...

As I mentioned last week, February and March were doozies of months for my family. Nothing "life altering" per se, but a lot of "life" happening all at one time. It felt like an avalanche or like I was treading water continually. February we had a "visitor" who didn't want to leave. Though not diagnosed, I'm guessing it was that nasty norovirus. It hit my youngest 2 boys (3 1/2 and my then 15 m.o.)....twice. The baby had it the second time for almost 3 days! AND I was trying to wean him....AND he was cutting about 6 teeth at one time (and no, we weren't successful in the weaning process...he needed some comfort, poor guy!). It was such a rough month, but my "positive outlook" was that at least my husband was home for much of this (the first quarter of the year is usually very heavy travel for him). I knew March would be rough because his travel would pick back up and he'd be gone for a few days every week...starting with a 10 day trip....and, of course, he got sick right before he left.

Amazingly, those 10 days went by okay. I suppose by that point, I knew that "God had this" seeing that I witnessed Him bringing me through February. I thought it would be smooth sailing after that....and then my middle son had another respiratory "attack". He's had pneumonia 3 times since he was an infant and struggles with each cold or allergy. We are working on how to better deal with this. This most recent attack led to a 2 night stay in the hospital. My husband stayed with him both nights (he's amazing!). During the second night, my baby began to struggle with similar respiratory problems due to a cold.

It was so scary for me. I cried out in desperation to God, not understanding. I immediately asked God to search my heart to reveal anything I was doing wrong. My husband and God's Word, however, helped me understand that God isn't always out to act punitively towards us, though we can often be led to believe that. Long story short, God brought us through all of that. I've learned (am learning) lessons from that time and I hope to share some of the sweetness with you.

Next week, I plan to tell you what ministered to me most during those 2 months. Again, it wasn't such a big deal in the grand scheme of life. But in the moments, it was very difficult to see any "good" or "worth" in it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Train Up Tuesday: What We're Up To

Hey gals, have any of you noticed our absence on Tuesdays lately? "Life" has been happening to me. I didn't just have ONE "month of Mondays", we were hit with craziness in February AND March! And from the sounds of it, it's been hitting a lot of my friends, family, andacquaintances. But more about that in a future post :)

For now, I'd just like to share a few things brewing in our home to help
us focus on "joy" and good stuff (I'm fond of Pollyanna's "glad game" concept...we'v
e certainly needed something like that around here lately). I found this cute idea on....wait for it....Pinterest and thought I'd introduce it to my family. It's a "warm fuzzies" jar. (Here is the original site that was pinned, which also has several REALLY great Resurrection week ideas!) I placed 100 pompoms (since we recently hit our 100th day of classwork) in the heart and when one family member notices someone else's kind deed or thoughtfulness within the family, the "doer" gets to put a "warm fuzzy" in the vase. Right now, that's all the motivation my little guys need to play the game....just getting to transfer the bright fuzzies. I guess you could have a "reward" for filling the other jar if you felt it necessary, but it is a bit nice to just find satisfaction in noting someone else's kindness, don'tcha think?

Also, I've really wanted to incorporate more celebration and awareness of Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday. It can be a new concept particularly to a Protestant who wasn't brought up much in the way of liturgy. Again, Pinterest was somewhat helpful, but some of my FAVORITE ideas have (once again) come
from Impress Your Kids. One of the posts has a collection of other readers' ideas. I really liked the Resurrection Garden. We made one together and it is quite lovely (even though I don't have a green thumb, I was thankful for being able to dig up grass and moss patches in our own yard....RESOURCEFUL!) ;-)

We are also mixing up our homeschool curriculum and focusing on the lessons that lead us through Holy Week (another reason I love "My Father's World). I'm adding some of the ideas from Impress Your Kids to make it a sensory experience with my boys.

Yesterday, we talked about "The Last Supper" and broke bread with my husband over Skype during his lunch break at work. My oldest (6 y.o.) read from his Bible Reader about the bread. It was lovely.

I hope to have a family foot washing on Maundy Thursday and then prepare our first Seder meal for Good Friday as we talk about Passover to really draw my boys into the story of that final week leading to the Resurrection. I find that recreating the scene really gets lodged into their little brains and hearts. (I saw it in action as we acted out the feeding of the 5000 recently...what fun they had trying to carry 12 "baskets"!) To find out more about a Seder Meal, check out Thriving Family.

Be sure to look back through posts from previous years to see what other Resurrection fun we've had here on the Roof! I know my oldest (AND my husband) looks forward to the Resurrection Rolls again this year!

He IS Risen!...we don't even have to wait until Sunday to celebrate!!!