Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Red apples hang from twisted branches, sun kissed and delicate.  A bird calls out in the distance as we breathe in the fragrance of dew speckled grass and sweet fruit.  The early Autumn bees buzz out the last of their energy.

We fill bags and marvel at how a tiny seed grows a tree and a tree, fruit and the fruit - seed again.  The Creator is close when you walk with His majesty - with His masterpieces.  And they're everywhere when we're out here.  This is His might canvas.

When foot meets cobbled path or wooded green - hearts meet God.

The whole earth is filled with His glory. 

Taking time to breathe from Facebook, Pinterest, media, and screens in general - it's an eye opening experience, friends.  You quickly realize what you've been missing.  Every moment I'm not engaged with these precious ones by my side - every moment I'm not living Mom-hood to the fullest, I'm wasting time.  Blowing time into that crisp Autumn breeze.  And it flies away, like the golden leaves.

All we really have is time.  It is our greatest commodity and it isn't even our own.  It is a gift.  All time belongs to God and all of us belong to God.  He holds it all.  Apple trees, children, orchards, moments, days, decades - they are His.  He decides how many days I have.  I get to decide how to use them.

But how will I use what He freely gives?


The Creator God decides how many moments He will give and every moment is grace over-flowing.

People often ask me 'why' I do this. 

You know, this whole home education thing

Among the many reasons is this one - time is greatest gift I can give my children. 

Time with God.  Time with me.  Time together.  Time invested in their hearts and souls.  Time in God's breath-taking creation.  Time to be still and grow quietly and peacefully.  Time to learn how to be a respecter of Time itself.

If we want to embrace every moment as Holy, we have to first embrace life itself.  And life happens in moments.  If we can't fully enter into the moments, how will we ever fully live our lives?

People also ask why we don't have a television and why we limit our kids' screen time to 15 minutes a day, if at all.   

Because we desperately want to hold time as precious and Holy.  How can time in front of the television ever by fully embraced?  Video games?  iPods?   And for myself - Facebook?  Twitter?  Internet?  Chatter and more chatter and hours adding up to days of screen time.  It is empty.  Empty time which leads to soul emptiness, friends.

So much screen time -  it is wasted time.  Forgive me if this offends, but it is truth.

And that truth has been blistering inside of me - this calling to really embrace God's gift of time here on earth.  It is limited.  So very, very limited.  And how much of it I have is unknown.  But my purpose of a follower of Christ is clear:

Love God.
Love others.
Make disciples by sharing the Good News of Christ Jesus.

All else, is all for not.

Time is the greatest sacrifice I can give to my Savior. 

He asks us for our whole life, and that means our every moment.  Our time.  And yeah, it means shutting off the computer and actually tuning in to His voice.  To tune into other people.  To pray.  To embrace long and hard those we love and leave a legacy of connection and wide awake living.

I mean, if we really, truly believe the Word of God to be true, we have to believe that all else is a waste of time.  It really comes down to this - do we take the scriptures literally?  Do we actually believe what we say we do?  Because if we're true disciples, we should look radically different from the world.

The way we spend our time should be radically different.  The question of 'am I producing fruit?' should be constantly on our hearts and minds.  The question of how we are honoring these moments God has graciously given us should be burning within us.  We are deserving of nothing, and yet - here we are.  Holders of time.

Ann Voskamp called it a Sanctuary of Time: 

"I speak it to God- I don't really want more time; I just want enough time.  Time to breathe deep and time to see real and time to laugh long, time to give You glory and rest deep and sing joy and just enough time in a day not to feel hounded, pressed, driven, or wild to get it all done - yesterday... in the beep and blink of the twenty-first century with its 'live in the moment' buss phrase that none of the whirl-weary seem to know how to do, who actually knows how to take time and live with soul and body and God all in sync?  To have time to grab the jacket off the hook and time to go out to all air and sky and green and time to wonder at all of them in all this light...

I just want time to do my one life well.

...this is where God is.  In the present.   I AM - His very name.  I want to take shoes off.  I AM - so full of the weight of the present, that time's river slows still... and God Himself is timeless....
When I fully enter time's swift current, enter into the moment with the weight of all my attention, 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..."  (One Thousand Gifts, A. Voskamp)

Back in the orchard, I gaze at our children counting their bountiful collection of God's fruits.  The sun is a patchwork of His glory all around them and I'm tearing up again.  His beauty - these moments, they are found right here.  When hands meet earth and hearts meet each other and God greets us when we slow down.

Slow down long enough to turn off screens, open hearts, and get out into open air.  Snuggle up close on the couch and read Squirrel Nutkin again and again and again.  To run crazy in the backyard, pretending to be an Ostrich with the kids.  To laugh deeply and roll in red leaves.  To make Tupperware castles with a five year old.  To open up His Word and sit long with a tea and breathe in what has survived the centuries.  To write love notes to the God of the universe who reads them with tenderness.  To call a friend.  To make a pie.  To stare out at the starry sky in the silence of the evening hours.

To pile apples high and bow low and thank God for His gifts.  The gift of crunchy fruit, the gift of grace, the gift of spiritual fruit, and yes, the gift of time.

May we all truly be awakened to the 'sanctuary' of time before us and embrace our days and our moments with wisdom.

Lean into the One who is the Giver of all time, and pray.  Still the world and enter into His awesome presence.  Turn off the distractions long enough to listen.  Long enough to realize how distracted we really are.  God Almighty, He cares.  He sees.  He will draw near to us when we draw near to Him. 

He will gently direct our days, our moments, our souls.

I love sharing my heart in this space, but I also want to walk in reverence of the time God has given me.  Please forgive me if I don't respond quickly or post often.  I'm still here, but I'm here more in spirit than I am physically. 

Facebook is still up - but I'll post only every once in a while.

God willing, here's the plan:

November - A weekly study on Prayer.

December - We're reading through the book of Matthew.

Big hugs. 

Praying we will embrace our time and live it well... on the journey with you, friends.


Ann Voskamp quoted from One Thousand Gifts, "A Sanctuary of Time"

Related reading:  Time for God.

Time for God.

Friday, October 18, 2013

I've come to this place where I've realized I'm truly not in control.  It's only taken thirty years, but I'm finally starting to get it.  I mean, the whole of this life is not in my hands at all. And lately, it's as if I can honestly hear God's tender voice beckoning me to Him.  That still, small, but majestic whisper of, "come".

I'm chatting with my Dad, it's a normal conversation on a Tuesday morning.  We're discussing a book I'm reading when all of a sudden I hear:

"Oh my... I gotta go."
"What, Dad?"
"Gotta go, they've got Grandpa on a stretcher, he's going in the ambulance.  Call you back."

And the line goes dead.  And everything stops.  We drop everything, the kids and I, and we pray.  We pray hard.  And we get another reminder of what really matters - people, God, eternity.

Oh, how we can pray when the need is dire - when someone you love is out flat on a hospital bed - you PRAY.  But, what if we prayed like that every day?  I mean, if the urgency for saving souls and saving lives was in the every step?  If the urgency of praying for our children and our neighbors and our family was the first thing on our mile-long to-do list.  Not the last thing we try to mutter out as we fall asleep at midnight. (Guilty.)

I desperately need to press the stop button to the craziness of life.  Literally, every day press that button.  Stop the click, click, click of the keyboard.  Stop the constant chatter of the newsfeed.  Stop the music, stop the cooking, stop the reading - just stop.  Stop, and enter into another place.  The place where I quietly meet with my deepest companion and the one I call Lord of my life.


The Holy God of the universe beckons me to sit with Him -

but do I have the time?

It's like Ann Voskamp said,  He is the creator of all time, but who among us has time for God?

I whine that things aren't turning out.  I worry hard.  I'm getting those frown lines my Dad warned me about.  I cry there's no money for NACHU, and the partnerships are falling through, and Grandpa's in the hospital and Grandma's not well.  And the house is falling apart and the children are arguing and Monday's to-dos are still not to-done and I stamp my feet like a child on the inside.  My poor husband.  Oh, I talk about things and I whine about them until I'm dry in the mouth but for what?  I'm convicted deep in my soul tonight - what I really need to do is bow and talk to the One who knows all and sees all and is all and has already conquered all.

We have time for Facebook, time for Twitter, time for YouTube, time for Pinterest, but who has time for Almighty God?  Who has time to read His word or seek His face?  YHWH, the Creator has invited us in and yet, we sell-out for mindless entertainment, clutter, and endless photos of re-worked mason jars.

Friends, I'm struggling.

My heart is aching.

I'm missing Him.

I'm hearing His gentle call to unplug.  To dial in to what He has for this child of His.  To plug IN to what I can do for those around me.  To actually seek the way Christ beckons us to seek.  To do that whole 'pray without ceasing' deal.  Yeah, for once, to try that on for size.  To see what God might do if I actually bend low and spend more time with Him than I do surfing the web.  Radical, I know.

Yesterday I read the words of Oswald Chambers, and my mouth dropped.  These words met me right where I am and sat deep in my spirit.  It's so simple, yet, perhaps the most revealing truth about the present-day Western Christian church.  (And me.)

 "Prayer does not equip us for greater works - prayer is the greater work.  Yet we think of prayer as some commonsense exercise of our higher powers that simply prepares us for God's work.  In the teachings of Jesus Christ, prayer is the working of the miracle of redemption in me, which produces the miracle of redemption in others, through the power of God.  The way fruit remains firm is through prayer...

Prayer is the battle, and it makes no difference where you are.  However god may engineer your circumstances, your duty is to pray.  Never allow yourself this thought, 'I am of no use where I am,' because you certainly cannot be used where you have not yet been placed.  Wherever God has placed you and whatever your circumstances, you should pray, continually offering up prayers to Him.  And He promises, 'Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do...'.  Yet we refuse to pray unless it thrills or excites us, which is the most intense form of spiritual selfishness. 

We must learn to work according to God's direction, and He says to pray.  'Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest...' (Matt. 9:38).  There is nothing thrilling about a laboring person's work, but it is the laboring person who makes the ideas of the genius possible.  And it is the laboring saint who makes the ideas of His Master possible.  When you labor at prayer, from God's perspective there are always results.  What an astonishment in will be to see, once the veil is finally listed, all the souls that have been reaped by you, simply because you have need in the habit of taking your orders from Jesus Christ."

(Oct 17th of My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers)

I want to start a new journey.  A journey where Facebook and Pinterest and every other form of distraction is laid down for the sake of prayer.  For the sake of getting on my face and laboring at the foot of His cross.

So, for the next several weeks, I'm humbly going to try a new series on prayer called simply, "Time for God".  I am really not sure what this series will consist of - I'm waiting to see what I read in God's word and what He whispers to me, by His grace.

I also have no idea how often I will post or when I'll pop on to Facebook, etc.  I pray through this series, you will journey with me and be called to Christ as well.

Let's dare to clear out the distractions, get honest about what holds us back, and press in to a lifestyle of intentional prayer and obedience.


Coming soon... 

Learning to 'let them be'

Monday, October 14, 2013

I often feel like I’ve stumbled through the past 8 years of parenting.  There have been so many ups and down and boy, have I had a LOT of lessons to learn. I’m still learning them daily.  But there’s a few that stick out as ‘life changers’ in my mind, and this is one of them-

I’ve learned, when they are engaged in something positive, children need to be left alone.


As a homeschooling Mom, I live this philosophy every single day.  To be clear, I’m not talking about leaving them to do ‘nothing’ for hours on end.  This is about spending lots of time engaging with the children and learning along side them but then, being in tune with when they are happily engaged with play, work, learning and exploration on their own.  And in that awareness,  choosing to let them be as they are.  If they are engaged, enlightened, naturally content and learning independently, I 'let them be'...

To read more, join me at The Better Mom.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

I'm sipping steaming Vanilla Rooibos tea and flipping through images of the day. Ordinary, everyday moments from an Ordinary, everyday life. The kitchen is a mess, there's a cupboard open, bowls are stacked askew, dishes piled by the sink, books everywhere. (Where do all the books comes from?)

I'm munching a piece of dry cereal when tears sting my eyes.  These faces.  Our children. I love them so deeply it physically hurts sometimes. The little five-year-old boy staring at me from behind a copy of “Philosophy of Education” - as if he's fully engaged in a good read. He whispers: it's actually a comic and Sonic is fighting the bad guy and its a 'really good one Mama'.   Simon, Audrey, and I laugh out loud and I refrain from mentioning, Mrs. Charlotte Mason wouldn't likely approve of Sonic as quality literature.
My heart burns inside of me - he's so sweet and so innocent and suddenly, somehow, in this photo, he looks older. Those eyes – I pray I will see them age creased with deep, deep laugh lines. But please, Alex – stay five forever.

People ask why I take so many photos. Because each photo captures a moment of my life. Every time I click the camera, I'm reminding myself how blessed I am. That I live a life worth capturing. It's a soul act – the physical click is like an alarm to myself to wake up and take it in. Because it's here today but it could be gone tomorrow. And it will be gone on one coming tomorrow – although, hopefully a distant one. Scripture says our lives are momentary.  Just a wave in the ocean, a vapor in the wind. 

I snap Audrey doing her Math in the early morning sunshine.

And our big bowl of apples as we bake Apple Pie together.

Alex – coloring on the floor and telling me all his Christmas wishes from the Playmobil catalog (yes, already).

Our glorious daily walk in the woods.

Making leaf collages.
Alex stealing a taste of crust.

Every snapshot is a heart reminder to wake up and open my heart to right now.

 Not every moment is an easy moment. Our life is crazy and busy and I can't even pee in peace most days. (A side-note: Just yesterday, I tried to sneak to the bathroom at Walmart. I begged the kids to come with me, but they wanted to 'wait outside'. So, they sat a millimeter from the bathroom door - I could hear them talking - I was so close. Mid-pee, I hear screaming. Alex has pinched his finger in between the buggy and the bench and the sales lady is tapping her foot with a concerned look on her face as I blaze out of the loo to hug my poor child. Yep. Negligent homeschooler with her kids at Walmart at 2pm...and everyone stares.)

I get it, Mamas – life isn't always strolling through Autumn leaves. I know, it can be hard. I've cried myself to sleep from exhaustion. I know that pain, friend.

But this life?
Yes, the one that surrounds you right now. Right at this moment – look around you and see.
Wide-eyed look – the mess, the toys, the books, the people, the home, everything... they are gifts. Here today but not forever. And yes, your life may feel very, very Ordinary, but you are called to be in it fully and completely.

Right now is your calling.

Oswald Chambers whispered to me in book-form last night:

“The true test of a person's spiritual life and character is not what her does in the extraordinary moments of life, but what he does during the ordinary times when there is nothing tremendous or exciting happening... Spiritual truth is learned through the atmosphere that surrounds us, not through intellectual reasoning...It is God's Spirit that changes the atmosphere of our way of looking at things, and then things begin to be possible which before were impossible...”

Yes. The impossible becoming possible in Christ. Because some days – homeschooling, and cooking and cleaning and trying to do age 9+ K'nex with no luck, and running after children through grocery stores, and going to a meeting at night, and trying my hardest to help where I feel so helpless, and coming home to prepare the next day's food, lessons, and readings until 1am – yes, that life?   Even though it's ordinary, it definitely feels impossible sometimes.

But with Him - ah, everything changes.  Because Christ comes in and His grace reigns supreme in a home and suddenly every day gushes with love and a peace that surpasses all understanding and the hard things become doable and the simple things become incredibly sacred.  And it is in this process of the simple becoming sacred that we wake up.   Suddenly, an ordinary moment brings us to our knees in joy and thanksgiving and we're so happy.  So overcome with joy and love - yes, that fullness of joy we are promised, it IS within reach.   And those moments of awe?  They'll get you through the tough ones.  Oh, yes they will.
And sometimes, us we all need to hear it just one more time:

There is no call more meaningful or life altering than embracing where you are right now.

Chambers is right – it is during those Ordinary times when mighty transformation is taking place.  As we draw closer to Jesus, we open our eyes wider and embrace what is right here around us.  We sit in reverence and thanksgiving in the plain days.  And the plain days become crazy gifts.
Yes, the Ordinary.
The Normal.
The Seemingly Invisible.
The Sometimes Mundane.

It's all Holy work and we are at the center. 

So, the Ordinary is never really Ordinary because through God lenses, the everyday is sacred and eternally valuable. 

In a crazy, fast-paced world, we don't take near enough time to truly, honestly notice the gifts around us every single day. To notice the depth of what we have.  A simple smile.  Feeling soft hands on mine as we roll out dough for a pie.  Sharp pencil crayons in a row.  Sweet girls mothering a stuffed animal lamb. Brothers shooting Nerf guns while pots bubble on the stove.  All these seconds, snapshots of grace and love.

A prayer for this weekend:

"Father God, thank you for the every moment you have given me.  Each and every breath and every day I walk this beautiful earth.  Open my eyes to the ones around me.  Show me your path, Lord. Help me see the radiance and beauty in the ordinary.  Open my heart to your truth and the wonder of your ways.  Make me more like You - full of grace, bursting with love.  Help me not be distracted - too distracted to really see.   Shake me, wake me up to eternity and the souls surrounding me.   Help me to fully engage with all my being and see the ones you've entrusted me with.  See my calling.  See my purpose.  See You, Father.  Hold me close, God - some days are so hard.  Show me how to walk in truth and light though all seasons and every single one of my moments.  Thank you for Your grace, so rich and so free.  In Jesus mighty name..."


Cultural Studies - Ancient Egypt

Thursday, October 10, 2013

We studied Ancient Egypt to go along with our work with Sonlight, Core B.  We are working our way through history from Creation to the fall of Rome so the past three weeks found us in Ancient Egypt.

Hope this post is helpful!

Egyptian Culture - what we covered

In our home, we believe in presenting our children with a "generous curriculum" as Charlotte Mason said.  But, with this generous curriculum comes a whole lot of careful discussion and thorough studies about all aspects of whatever we are discussing - especially cultures like Ancient Egypt.  The truth is, Egyptian culture is full of idolatry, false gods, satanic symbolism, and a whole bag full of potentially harmful ideals.  I found that so many of the crafts and projects related to Ancient Egypt called for creating and replicating symbolic idols, gods, and ancient amulets.  I wanted to stay away from these ideas, as I just wasn't comfortable presenting them to our children and having them sit around our house.

A speckle of Ancient Egypt symbolism is found in our stickers from a craft book and also in the hieroglyphics.  Just wanted to add this as a 'side note' so to speak - because I do very much believe in the spiritual darkness tied to Ancient Egyptian practices.  We tried to keep it 'light' and had the chance to have some GREAT talks about spiritual issues and truths.  And yes, the kids talked me into making Mummies... so...  *sigh*

It was, however, an incredible opportunity to have some deep discussions with the kids about eternity, the afterlife, and what we believe as followers of Jesus vs. what the Ancient Egyptians believed.

Some of the topics we covered included:

  • Locating Egypt on a map and learning about the Nile river
  • Life along the Nile, including weather patterns and farming techniques
  • Ancient Egyptian homes, food, clothing, and family life
  • Ancient Egyptian temples, beliefs, and gods
  • Going to school in Ancient Egypt
  • Hieroglyphics
  • Pyramids - why they were built, what was inside, how they were built
  • King Tut's life, death, burial, and the discovery of his tomb in the 1920s
  • Pharaoh and his court, battles, and burial practices
  • Mummification
  • History of Pharaohs
  • Bible - Moses and the Exodus out of Egypt, the story of Joseph.
  • Our faith as followers of Christ and how that compares to the beliefs of Ancient Egyptians (monotheistic vs. polytheistic)
  • Discussing how the bible lines up perfectly with non-biblical historical accounts of Egypt.

The Books and Resources

The books we used for our study of Ancient Egypt.

Our favorites - We LOVED reading through the Time Traveler section on Ancient Egypt, it's a fantastic living book.  We also really enjoyed Tut's Mummy, Lost and Found as an engaging book about the famous King Tut.  Egyptian Things to Make and Do from Usborne also came in handy for some great crafts and projects.  We loved their Hieroglyphics page at the back of the book and the glossy stickers!

This is a beautiful coloring book, if you can get your hands on it!

Here are the free Lapbook resources we used:

Homeschool Share's Ancient Egypt Unit Study/Lapbook
Practical Pages 3-D lapbook of Ancient Egypt

Google "Ancient Egypt Coloring Pages" and you will find the majority of the other pages you see in this post and in our lapbooks.  I didn't bookmark every page, because there were just too many.  I also created a bunch of the pages you see pretty easily in Word.

For the crafts, I want to mention - the ideas came from a Egyptian Things to Make and Do (Usborne).

Making Egyptian Arm Cuffs

These Egyptian Arm Cuffs were easy to make with simple materials.


Cardstock or a thick paper
Paints, stickers, decorations of your choosing

Make Them:

1. Cut strips of cardstock into pieces wide enough for cuffs and long enough to go around your child's wrist.
2. Cover the cardstock with tin foil, shiny side up and tape in place.
3. Wrap the cuff around your child's wrist and tape to the appropriate size.
4. Decorate and have fun!

Making Mummies and Royal Caskets

Alright, I loosened up a bit and had the kids make these Mummies/Caskets. Kind of morbid - but hey, it's Ancient Egypt... morbid is in!  We did opt out of the Canopic Jars though - a little too weird for me!

For the Mummies-

Tin Foil
Paper towel ripped into strips
White glue

Make it:
1. Using the Tin Foil, for each Mummy, make a small ball for the head, a longer oval shape (should be rounded) for the torso, two long rolls for the legs and two shorter rolls for arms.  Place all the parts in the shape of a person on a larger piece of Tin Foil and wrap it all together so they look like the first image below.
2. Dip pieces of paper towel in water and start coating the Mummies in pieces of 'cloth'.  Once you do a few strips, you won't need to soak the rest, they will absorb water from the other wet pieces.
3. Once the Mummies are completely covered in white 'cloth', set out to dry.
4. When they're dry, paint them with a good covering of white glue.  Once they're dry, they're done!

For the Burial Caskets-

A large piece of Bristol Board (one piece did three caskets)
White Tissue Paper
Gold Tissue Paper
White Glue
Paint to decorate

Make it:
1. Cut the base and top of the casket in the shape of an oval with a flat bottom.
2. Cut two long strips of paper for the sides of the bottom and top (about three times longer than your base).  The bottom strip will be wider (mine was about 3 inches) and the top strip will be about 1 1/2 inches.
3. Cut along one edge of the strips to create slits.
4. Wrap the long strips around your base and top by folding the flaps around and taping in place.
5. Once you have a top/bottom, you're ready to create your 3-D top.
6. Using white tissue paper, roll a flat-ish ball for the head and a flat-ish oval for the body (see below in the first image).  Take these in place on your lip/top.
7. Cover your casket top and bottom with strips of shiny gold tissue paper and glue in place.
8. Once your casket is dry, paint and decorate!

*This craft takes a lot of time and effort... just so you know. Ha.


Voila... only 8 hours later...  ;)

Our Ancient Egypt Lapbooks/Notebooks


Nile River art project.  The kids had fun with these sketches from Ancient Egyptian Things to Make and Do.

Fun with Hieroglyphics.  We decided it would be neat to write our names using Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics.  Here's how they turned out:



Ancient Egyptian art!

Learning about Egyptian homes.

Learning about the foods.
Coloring from the Ancient Egypt Coloring Book
Learning about Polytheistic societies and the gods of Egypt.

Learning what the Bible says about false gods.
The Plagues of Egypt and where they are found in Exodus.

How do you make a Mummy?  Also - the Crowns of Egypt.

Learning about The Rosetta Stone.

Three kinds of Ancient Egyptian writing.

Secret Messages -

Why not write a special message to your child/ren for them to find?  The trick - it's written in Hieroglyphics for them to decode!  I did this one morning and it was a hit. 

Thanks for reading!


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