Gift (of time)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

For me, gifts come in various forms.  I've never been a lover of gifts nor expectant of them.  I'm appreciative of a pretty box wrapped in a bow, but, there are much deeper, more meaningful ways to tell me "I love you".  And I'm convinced there is a universal gift everyone deeply cherishes more than anything that can be packaged.

Time.  The gift of time.

After all, don't the majority of humans share that Love Language?  The native Love Tongue of time spent?  And in a culture where the phrase "time is money" is so often muttered, could time not be considered a kind of sacred currency?

Our time is short.  Our days are numbered.  One day the hourglass will run out.  So, to give someone your time is a gift deeper than we often consider.  But isn't it also the gift too often spared, overlooked.  Too undervalued.  Too wasted?

I've given too many minutes to complaint.  To ungratefulness.  To believing I was in 'the grind'.

I've wasted hours on entertaining myself with uselessness.

I've forgotten to pay attention.  Opten for the tune out rather than the plug in.  Maybe I'm just selfish.  Maybe I didn't realize it.  But, friends, I can't beging to describe how I've started to awaken wildly to this truth of the fragility of our days.

I've started to realize the holiness, the sacredness of time.  The truth behind the gift of time I can give to others, and they give to me.  The truth behind the gift of time God gives to ME.

Time is not to be trampled on.
Time is not to be wasted.
Time is a gift I can give back to God and invest in others.

Scripture tells us where our money is, there our heart will be also.

So, in our world of  'time is money', could the same not ring true of our hours?  Look where I spend my minutes, my days, my weeks, my years... there you will find my heart. 

I'll be transparant and tell you, this thought is freeing and scary... humbling.

The Gift of Time... I'm going to soak it up today, give it away today, accept it today, give thanks for it today, right now.  Right here.  In this very hour.

Written for:
Five Minute Friday

Not By Chance

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

This week, we've been studying the Solar System.  What a reminder of just how small we really are.  Never mind our province, country, continent... no, we're comparing ourselves to the GALAXY.

The vast, mysterious Universe created by God's very breath.  I'm awed at the magnitude of God's size, strength, ability.  And awakened to my notable weakness, inability, and well, microscopic existence.

It is easy to see how many people would feel helpless, useless in a world THIS big.  Not even a speck on the inconceivable map of our big wide world.  And isn't that the message most secular venues give children?  Whether it is subconscious, hidden, whispered, or blatant, the message remains.  The world says, this universe happened by chance.  Everything by chance.  The galaxies - just a miracle of science.  The planet, it flew together somehow over billions of years.  And you?  Well... you're just a random act of evolution.
But the notion that we are insignificant is a lie woven deep into the fabric of modern-day society, schooling, higher 'education', and mainstream media. 

Instead, how awesome - the Truth:
"For in Him, all things were created, everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see--such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him..."  Col. 1:16

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.   Psalm 139

This truth... the God of the Universe not only formed the galaxies but also knit me together.  HE made me.  Me.  My husband.  My children. And He made you.

Reading some secular material about our world almost makes me feel ill.  This world is not by chance.  There was no hap-hazard big 'bang'.  The complexity and perfect design of the planets, moons, orbits, stars, asteroid belts... Earth.  All this didn't just 'bang' into happening.  It wasn't by chance.  This mind-boggling Universe was created and that same creator wishes to have a relationship with little me and little you.  Let that soak.  Breathe it in.

He who causes the buds to burst in Spring, He who created land, oceans, plants, streams, the flowers...  those little people who keep my heart bursting like the beautiful buds...  THAT God wants me to talk to Him.  Wants us to talk to Him.  That God created me for a purpose.  Created you for a purpose. 

Just like the universe is not by chance,
neither are we.

What life to breathe into our children (and ourselves).  Child, you may feel small, but by God's grace you are never hopeless.  You are made for a reason - a divine purpose.  God loves you, knows you, calls you His own.  You have a place with Him forever.  This Earth is magnificent, yes... but even more magnificent is the place He is creating for His family in Heaven.  God has plans for you - to lift you up.  To give you LIFE and LIFE abundant.  We need to cherish these fleeting Earth moments - so we can thank Him for it all.  Imagine all this beauty - a gift from our Creator.  Yes, the same Creator who molded the planets in his palm.  Like my son rolls play-dough.  It was that easy.  That amazing.

Yes, child.  You were created on purpose.  Not by chance.  Not by a 'big bang'.  Not by evolution.  But by the One True God.  And you, yes you, will meet Him one day.  And He will embrace you so warmly, I'm sure you'll melt right into Him.

These are the lessons we 'teach' about our Solar System. About our world. This is what truly matters. This is the good stuff. The life giving, Truth breath we all crave. That we can actually find an answer to that pesky question... "Why am I here?"   Another reason why we educate at home... I can guarantee the school system isn't teaching THIS.

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  Plans to prosper you, not harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future."  Jer. 29:11

He is the Great Scientist.  Just like Proverbs says, I can't lean on my own understanding.  Instead, I trust in Him and in all my ways (including the ways we discuss the Solar System) acknowledge Him. 
I know He will make our path straight...  because only He has the road map.  And this journey is not by chance.  Be filled with hope today, friends.

As for me and my house... we will teach our children they were not by chance, but by design.    We want our children to be filled with hope, light, and the Truth of God.  Even sitting around a kitchen table in morning sunlight, they are learning - they are here, just like the planets, by His divine design.

Linked in:

Titus Tuesdays

The Hurried Life

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I started the week being inspired by an interview with Ann Voskamp over at The High Calling.  Is there ever a time Ann speaks that I don't hear abundant truth?  That God's words aren't whispered through hers?

As I read the line: “Sometimes instead of considering what is next, I have to simply consider what is—and He is and He is always enough.”

I remember reading through 1000 Gifts and the pages about hurry.  On page 67, I read it, and gasp.

Hurry always empties a soul.”

I sat right on this line for a long time.

I've hurried.  And I lived soul-empty for a long, long time.

We live in a culture trapped in the stronghold of 'hurry'.  I've been there.  I'm still there some days, through I desperately try not to be.  I see it everywhere I go, especially with three young children in tow.   People are intensely frustrated with our insistence to stroll.  To drive the speed limit.  To stop and smell flowers.  To Live Slow.

 Boy, has my heart changed since ten years ago when I studied to be a TV producer.   Now we don't even have a television.  I remember very clearly words we lived by in the studio and on location - “HURRY UP AND WAIT!”   The concept of "hurry up and wait" refers to the crazy rush (often accompanied with yelling and mad panic) to get the set, talent, and all technical and audio/visual equipment up and ready for live TV or shooting to tape. We had to prepare the scene, be ready to capture the footage – but then wait for quite some time (often hours) before we went live to air or live to tape.  It was a massive undertaking that could have been rewarding and fun - but we missed the joy in the process.   In fact, for me, there was no joy.   Rush killed the joy.   Then the 'wait' part was empty – void of anything. Starkly contrasted to the rush that proceeded it. And for some reason, I'd crave that 'hurry up' again, even though it drove me mad.
Don't so many of us live in this 'HURRY UP and wait' state? 

We hurry for reasons we don't even understandIt's like we're waiting for the day we can slow down but it doesn't come. We rush towards this 'set-up', this successful state of being – but then what? We can't stand the slowing of the 'wait'.

Life is the wait.  Life is found in the stillness.  Real life is found in those moments of contentment where we can just be and let God be with us.  Letting Him flow through our days and through our mind.  Not sometimes.  All the time.

I stop thinking about the void of my TV days and start thinking about a David Psalm -

 “Taste and see that the Lord is good...”

My tea-filled mouth speaks to me and my mind wanders to this idea: doesn't tasting to its fullest mean savoring?  Savoring what is in our mouth? Refusing to gulp it down so fast we barely let it sit on the taste buds?  We savor God by savoring what is right in front of us.   Unless we really, truly taste – aren't we robbing ourselves of seeing God's goodness?

Tasting means slowing down.  Refusing to rush through life wishing for the next thing.  When the kids are older.  When I'm in better shape.  When I have more time for myself.  When my marriage is better.  When my family reunites.  When I retire.  When I have more money, more freedom...

You may not make it to the "when".  None of us have a guarantee that we'll make it to tomorrow.  All we have is now.  All we have is the in-this-very-moment.  We are only given one chance to taste this life.  To really savor it.  There are no second chances - one life, and that's it.

When I watched my close Aunt die far too young of Cancer, I was jolted awake to the realization that LIFE is fleeting.  We are here now and gone - when God chooses.  Every day here is a gift.  And I soak this thought in daily as the bustle of home schooling three young children takes over my days.  But I don't want to look back and wish I had just savored.  Just enjoyed.  Just relaxed.  Just slowed down.  Just stopped hurrying through hours, through days, through seasons, through life.

I want to remember to look at all the small things and taste to sweetness of the crazy life, the quiet life, the messy life, the "Mama, I love you..." life.

  I'm back on page 68 of One Thousand Gifts and I read Ann Voskamp's words:

"I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here.  I can slow the torrent by being all here.  I only live the full life when I live fully in the moment... Weigh down this moment in time with attention full, and the whole of time's river slows, slows, slows."

In a world consumed with hurry, I want to stand apart.  I want to whisper at the sky, "Slow down...".  I want to gaze tenderly at a little girl watering flowers that peak out of the walkway.  I want to allow tears to flow at the sight of a precious son sticking his tongue out while painting.  I want to embrace the days as if they will never come again.  Because they won't.  This day is the only one we are given and guaranteed.

Don't rush it.

Linked in:
A Holy Experience
Women Living Well
Good Morning Girls

Literary Study: A Stranger in the Woods

Thursday, March 15, 2012

In our family we love books.   One of my favorite things to do in our 'homeschool' is to incorporate fantstic literature into our daily activities.  I'm sharing some photos from yesterday, when we built snowmen based on the beautiful story "A Stranger in the Woods".  In the story, two children make a snowman in the forest.  The animals are all curious, checking out the snowman to figure out who he is.  It's precious.  Eventually, the animals realize the snowman is a 'friendly' stranger since he's offering food in the carrots and seeds.
This is a heart-warming Literary and Nature study that allows for lots of time in nature and discussions about caring for our world and the creatures in it.  (We are feeding the winter birds with the seeds in the hats).

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. 

John Muir, 1913, in L.M. Wolfe, ed., John Muir, John of the Mountains:
  The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, 1938

God writes the gospel not in
the Bible alone, but on trees and
flowers and clouds and stars. 

Author unknown, commonly attributed to Martin Luther

Dressing to Attract (Post at The Better Mom)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Today I'm talking about modesty over at the Better Mom...

I mean, what are we to do with culture when it comes to what we wear?

As Moms, how do we honor God, our children, our husbands, and ourselves? Where do we stand in this mess that says ‘hot moms’ have it all and frumpy ones should just stay home in their jogging pants and save the world the unwanted view. Really, where do we stand?

Come join the discussion at The Better Mom!

Homeschooling 2011-2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

What We Learned in 2011-2012

(Unfortunately, I've lost our photos from much of 2011-2012 due to our computer crashing.  I'm posting some that happened to be on the other computer.)

Snapshots from the year:
Learning about air flow, wind, and static electricity.

Growing Seedlings

Preparing the Raised Beds

Botany and flowers - at the market

Having fun with Usborne cards

Horse Rides!

Balance and properties - marshmallow vs. raisin structures

Measuring Rainfall and how water passes through different materials.

Botany and Seeds

Studying Tulips

Saving and sorting seeds

Baby robins in our backyard.

Making Birdhouses

Organized their own 'sale'  ;)

Workspace for 2010- 2011

From Fall/Winter 2010 


A trip to see the model trains.

Learning more about trains

Making model trains

Our little kitchen work area...


Literary Studies and full-range Unit Studies through Five in a Row, Vol 1. 
This year, we plan on studying Madeline, The Story about Ping, Lentil, The Glorious Flight, Storm in the Night, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel,  Grandfather's Journey, The Rag Coat, Papa Piccolo,  A Pair of Red Clogs, Another Celebrated Dancing Bear, Night of the Moonjellies, and Very Last First Time.
The Five in a Row program includes read-alouds, narration, memorization, geography, mathematics, history, science, and character study.  If you haven't taken a look at this program, it's a must-see!  Our children absolutely LOVE Five in a Row!

Bible and Faith-based Study
  • Hands On Bible Explorations
  • Daily Bible Reading and Memory Verse Reading (for Bibles, we are using Ergermeier's Children's Bible, and Usborne Illustrated Children's Bible.
  • Milk'n'Honey Cookbook for Kids (Recipes based on favorite Bible Stories).
  • Growing Up Where Jesus Lived (A Beka) - unit studies and history lessons

  • Alexander and Audrey (pre-K and JK): Family Math for Young Children - fantastic hands-on approach to introducing Math in a fun and engaging way.
  • All three children use the Math activities in Five in a Row as well.

Phonics and Reading
  • Readers for Simon, including the “I Can Read” series and the Usborne Very First Reading and Usborne Reading Program, First Reading level 1 and 2.
  • Letter Boxes, Word Boxes, Word Building Chains, The Alphabet Tree, and various other Phonics and Reading Manipulatives and Games.
  • How to Teach your Childre to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
  • LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of reading aloud together!

Science and Nature Study
  • 15 Minutes Outside, used for ideas and as a leaping board for outdoor creativity
  • The Handbook of Nature Study
  • Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do
  • Science activities withing Five in a Row
  • Kitchen Table Make and Do

History and Geography
  • Much of these subjects will be covered within the Five in a Row studies, including topics such as France, China, People's of the World, among others.
  • Also to be studied - Johnny Appleseed, George Washington, and Martin Luther King Jr., among others.
Art and Music Appreciation
  • Harmony Fine Arts, First Grade
  • Program includes a close look at numerous Classical Composers and their music, varied classical music and an intensive Visual Art Study, looking at various famous art pieces and using the inspiration and techniques to create our own art.

Visual Arts
  • What Shall I Draw? (Usborne)
  • What Shall I Paint? (Usborne)
  • Visual arts withing Five in a Row
  • Harmony Arts program for 1st grade
  • Nature Journaling, each child with their own journal and choice of medium

  • Now We are Six by A.A. Milne
  • The Usborne Book of Poems for Little Children
  • All Day Long, complied and Edited by Mrs. Mark Yoder

Read-alouds and Books for Narration:

Chronicles of Narnia (A Horse and His Boy, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe), The Boxcar Children, MANY more to be listed...

Other Unit Studies:
Autumn Leaves


A peek at our Spring/Summer (2011)
Educational Plans and Activities:
(Feel free to use any of this!)

 (Download the free Summer Schedule fill-in sheet for Summer Planning)

Unit Studies Overview-

  • Horticulture/Botany – Plants, Seeds, and Flowers, Gardening – growing food, healthy eating, caring for a garden, harvesting food, farming
  • Insects – Caterpillars and Butterflies, Worms, identifying and investigating insects of all types
  • Gardening – growing food, healthy eating, caring for a garden, harvesting food, local farming
  • Eggs and Chicks
  • Tadpoles and Frogs
  • Puppies and Dogs
A selection of some of our Spring/Summer resources books.


-Seeds, Plants and Flowers

Overall Educational Goals:
Infuse an understanding of God's world and His power to make things grow.  The importance of seeds, plants, and how they make our world go around.  Seeds grow into plants that feed us.  
God's world and the beauty of flowers and various plants
Gaining a better understanding of types of seeds, plants, flowers, and how they grow.
Understanding and respect of farmers, farming, and why it is important to choose local produce.

Arts and Crafts and Experiments/Science:

  • Researching
  • deciding upon, and purchasing seeds and materials for our garden
  • Planting our Seedling Garden
  • Transplanting plants from our Seedling Garden to bigger pots, then to our garden bed.
  • Designing and constructing our Raised Bed Garden.
  • Growing Shoots (out of beans)
  •     Pg.14-15, Farmyard Tales Things to Make and Do
  • Growing Sprout Shapes (Vacation Activities)
  • Grow a Leaf into a Plant
  • Sweet Potato Experiments – Organic vs. Regular Produce and growing sprouts (Vacation  Activities)
  • Growing Tiny Islands in the Sea (Summer Activities)
  • Flower Candy (Summer Activities)
  • Lemon Slice Ice Cubes (Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do – Usborne)
  • Magic Flowers (Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do)
  • Tasty Bread rolls (Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do)
  • Strawberries (Summer Fun – Usborne)
  • Poppy's Paper Daisy Chains (Farmyard Tales Things to Make and Do)

Math Applications:

  • Sorting, identifying, and storing different types of dried seeds
  • Counting Apple Seeds
  • Keeping track of seed data, crop quantities and charting it.
  • Measuring and understanding how to build the Garden Bed
  • Collecting, sorting, and counting seeds and distances of planted seeds and seedlings


  • How Flowers Grow (Usborne)
  • Trees (Usborne)
  • First Encyclopedia of Our Earth, pg. 38-39 (Usborne)
  • Flip Flap Farm (Usborne)
  • Farmyard Tales Things to Make and Do (Usborne)
  • Johnnie Appleseed
  • National Audubon Society First Field Guide – wild flowers
  • Plants and Life by Sally Morgan
  • Plants are Living Things by Bobbi Kalman

Eggs and Chicks/Birds

  • Exploring, watching, and documenting the growth of our own Robin's eggs and chick in the backyard – inspiring awe in nature and the beauty of God's world at work
  • Understanding how eggs work
  • Connecting the power of God's hand in creating life inside an egg

Arts and Crafts, Experiments/Science:

  • Watching closely and discussing the developing Robin's eggs in the next on our fence
  • Taking photos and creating a Scrapbook, documenting the development of the chicks, from egg to fledgling. 
  • Visiting friends who have baby chickens and asking questions and interacting with the chicks.
  • Rock and Roll Eggs (Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do)
  • Bird Doodles (Animal Things to Make and Do)
  • Bird Hand-print Paintings (Farmyard Tales Things to Make and Do)Books/Resources:

Books and Resources:
  • Eggs and Chicks (Usborne)
  • In The Nest (Usborne)
  • Children's Encyclopedia (Usborne)
  • Over in the Meadow (A counting poem) by Olive Wadsworth
  • Off We Go!  By Jane Yolen
  • Lucky Duck by Ellen Weiss
  • Make Way for Ducklings!  Robert McCloskey

Tadpoles/Frogs and Toads

Overall Educational Goals:

Gain a better understanding of the life-cycles of Frogs and Toads and how they differ
Gain an appreciation for these amazing little bouncy creatures God has created

Arts and Crafts:
Sam's Froggy Door Sign (Usborne Farmyard Tales Things to Make and Do)
Frog life-cycle mobiles
Frog life-cycle projects

  • Finding toads, discovering their behaviours, studying their habitats 
  • Creating a large Terrarium for toads in our Science Room
  • Studying toads and tadpoles in their natural environment

Writing/Phonics Projects:
  • Labeling the parts of a Tadpole and Frog
  • Writing the phases of the life-cycle
  • Life-cycle of a frog mobiles
  • Tadpoles and Frogs (Usborne)
  • Quicklinks for Tadpoles and Frogs @
  • Growing Frogs  by Vivian French
  • Usborne Children's Encyclopedia
  • Wild Animals (Usborne)
  • Rain Brings Frogs – a little book of Hope by Maryann Cocca-Leffler


Overall Educational Goals:
Gain a better understanding of what makes an insect and why they are such wonderful little creations
How do insects work to help us?

Arts and Crafts and Experiments/Science:

  • Cheesy Worms and Caterpillars baking project (Vacation Activities)
  • Worm Pencil Toppers (Summer Activities)
  • Drawing Snails (Summer Activities)
  • Sugar Cookie Lady Bugs
  • Caterpillars out of Egg Cartons craft
  • Swirly Snake (worm) (Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do)
  • Busy Bumble Bees (Summer Fun -Usborne)
  • Bright Bugs (Animal Things to Make and Do)
  • Snail-trail Letter Paper (Farmyard Tales Things to Make and Do)
  • Leaf-print Butterflies  (F.T. Things to Make and Do)
  • Bright Bug Prints (F.T. Things to Make and Do)
  • Fluttering Fingerbugs (Summer Things to Make and Do)

Writing/Phonics Projects:
  • Labeling the parts of various insects, butterflies
  • Labeling life-cycle charts


  • Caterpillars and Butterflies (Usborne)
  • Bugs (Usborne)
  • Butterflies Fly by Yvonne Winer
  • Butterfly and Moth (DVD)
  • Are You a Lady Bug? Judy Allen
  • Are You a Snail?  Judy Allen
  • The Caterpillar by Judy Kentor Schmauss
  • Ladybugs by Claire Llewellyn
  • Butterflies by Fran Howard
  • Butterflies- Pollinators and Nectar-Sippers  (Bridgestone Books)
  • Butterflies (Let's Read About Insects by Weekly Reader)
  • Summer Birds – the Butterflies of Maria Merian

Dogs and Puppies

Overall Educational Goals:

Gain a better understanding of Puppies, Dogs, and how to care for them and how they grow, play, learn, form a bond with our new Puppy and learn how to train her using gentle techniques.

Arts and Crafts, Experiments/Science:
  • Choosing a breed and purchasing a puppy from a breeder
  • Discuss the importance of Ethical puppy purchases (Puppy Mills, etc.)
  • Training our own puppy
  • Creating a comfortable environment for our puppy
  • Taking our puppy to the Vet
  • Drawing Dogs (Little Book and Dogs and Puppies)

Writing/Phonics Projects:
  • “Molly” name cards
  • Parts of a dog label chart
  • Breeds charts
Math Applications:
  • How much food and water will Molly need?
  • What is the cost?
Books and Resources:
  • Dogs and Puppies (Usborne)
  • Dogs (Usborne)
  • Books about breeds and their characteristics 
  • Puppy Party DVD

A New Book I'd Recommend:

  • BACKYARD!  Fun Experiments for Budding Scientists  (Lisa Burke)


  • All About Animal Life Cycles DVD
  • Animal Atlas (Fun on the Farm!) DVD
  • Animal Atlas Puppy Party!  DVD 
  • Mist movies
  • Milo and Otis

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