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I love to write personal posts as I have been lately.  Posts that share my feelings, my God, what I’m learning about God and what I feel he’s showing me.

I also miss posting the carefree Life Exquisite posts.  The posts that are “Capturing Life One Exquisite Moment At A Time”.  I want to share my crafts, the things I do with my kids, recipes, birthday parties and more.

I feel that I need to keep Life Exquisite as it use to be, minus the outfit posts.  Sorry to those of you who like them, I’m over it though.  Maybe if I have a truly “exquisite” outfit I’ll post…but no promises.

I do promise to bring you the fun carefree posts of the past though.  So continue to follow me here at Life Exquisite!

I don’t plan on giving up my writings because I truly enjoy them.  They are a great outlet for me to be able to process what I’m feeling and going through and I want people who are going through the same things to be able to gain some hope or at least just the knowing that they aren’t alone.

I have copied my most recent LE reflective posts to my new blog Considering Lilies and this is where all my personal, reflective, spiritual posts (call them what you like) will be posted from here out.  I would love to have you follow me there and enjoy reading your comments, so please keep them coming!

If you connected with Monday’s “Words” post on my struggles with being a gentle and calm wife and mom then you’ll definitely want to join me over on my new blog because I have some follow up posts coming up!

You can also follow Considering Lilies on Facebook where I plan to post motivational quotes, scripture, maybe even a link to a song that’s speaking to me, if not daily then as much as possible!  All of my Considering Lilies blog posts will also be linked on the Facebook page just as Life Exquisite’s are to its Facebook page.

Oh…if you’re wondering why I chose the name “Considering Lilies” it’s because I want to truly trust in the promises of God.  As I mentioned before I have a hard time trusting anyone, even a God who’s never failed me.  Luke 12:27-28 is a verse that tells us to trust in God to provide for our every need, physical and emotional.  If he cares so much for the lilies in the fields how much more does he care for us?

God is able to do abundantly more than we can ever dream (Ephesians 3:20).  I’m standing on these promises and doing my part in seeing them through.

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Words.  They are whispered out on winds of sweetness.  They are laughed out with joyful bliss.  They flow out with loving adoration.  They are shared with everyone we come in contact with on a daily basis. Especially those nearest and dearest to us.

Words.  They are yelled out with frustrated sighs.  They are spat out with bitter sarcasm.  They are screamed out with fury’s venom.  Especially at those nearest and dearest to us.

I lay in bed reflecting on hurtful words.  Words, that though I know were not meant, caused my mind to wonder for a moment if perhaps they were ever truly felt at times, and my heart hurts.  The pain tightens my chest and tears pool in my eyes.

I reflect on what I just started working towards myself the dawn of the very same day.  A desire to have self-control.  Starting with…my words.

It’s a goal I’ve made many times throughout my life.  One that I’ve obviously failed at, or I wouldn’t still be trying to conquer the unconquerable.  And it feels just like that unconquerable…perhaps that’s because James 3:7-8 tells me so…

This is scary; you can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue-it’s never been done.  The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. (The Message)

Indeed that makes it seem pretty hopeless.

Many times words of fury, hurt, bitterness or anger travel from my mouth before I’ve even had time to think of them.  In my anger and pain I don’t take time to think of the other person and how the dagger I’m about to deliver with my words will hurt them.  My tongue runs wild…a wanton killer.  And all too often it runs wild on those I love most.

The man who stole my heart as a teenage girl, who looks to me as his helpmate and encourager will be quickly discouraged as I toss hates “eternal” words like “you always” or “you never” at him.

The precious jewels that make up this proud mama’s crown are so beautiful  and wonderful.  I tell them how much I love them as I hug and kiss on them, thanking God for their sweet, tender hearts.  But if in the next hour they pose too much a challenge to me, I forget their young tender hearts and nag, and yell until we’re all in tears.

These occasions, I’ll call them natural disasters (for they are just that to a family), should not happen.  I never wanted to admit to anyone that we have a home that suffers from natural disasters.  I never wanted anyone to know that sweet, little, has it all together me come undone on her family.

But I also don’t want to be like this.  I don’t want my children to remember me as a ranting, raving, mother, who has bipolar tendencies.  I knew I wasn’t the only derailed mother out there and I yearned to connect with other mom’s like this.

I began to subtly share some of my difficulty with friends, being careful not to reveal too much.  I didn’t want anyone judging my imperfection after all.  Yet I was desperate.  Desperate to be real with someone and have them be real with me.  Desperate to truly know I wasn’t alone.

Luckily God blessed me with friends who are imperfect too and together we found Lysa Terkeurst book Unglued.  I could relate to her unglued  stories and laughed when I read this in her 5 Day Unglued Challenge (link here)…

This is exactly what I’m afraid of!  This is what I fear my husband and children think of me, yet it’s the exact opposite of how I want to be known and thought of.

I want to have the quiet and gentle spirit that Peter speaks of in 1 Peter 3:4-5.  I want to be the Proverbs 31 woman whose husband rises up with words of praise and tells her “Many women have done well but you excel them all!”.  I want my children to call me blessed and be proud that I’m their mom.

So here I stand at the starting line of the very same race I’ve failed at a thousand times, with determination that I will do my best to prevent natural disasters from this point on.

I know that even though James 3:7-8 makes it seem impossible I serve a God who makes all things possible.

Philippians 4:13 

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 

Yes, I will have moments of weakness and words will be hastily spoken in anger or out of hurt, but maybe I can prevent the light drizzle from turning into a hurricane.

Wish me luck and maybe say a little prayer for me too.

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When faced with difficult circumstances I find myself grasping for something to hang onto.  Something that can help soften the pain, hurt, or fear I’m feeling at the time.  Something to keep me going when, quite honestly I’d rather sit down with a package of Oreos and a large glass of milk and wallow in my pain.

Finding hope, joy, a spark of happiness during a storm is not a new concept.  It’s a little piece of wisdom that is ages old…

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

When I was young I heard a pastor say that we are supposed to be thankful for everything and he then quoted the verse above.  I remember being very annoyed by that.  How are you supposed to be thankful for everything?  So someone who is dying of cancer is supposed to be thankful for that?  A parent is supposed to be thankful that they lost their child?  Am I really supposed to be thankful, even for the bad things?

No. Let me say that again in case you missed it.  No, you do not have to be thankful for cancer, death or anything that is bad or difficult that happens to you.  You can mourn that cancer has taken over your body.  You can grieve the death of you loved one.  You can even be angry when something bad happens, no matter how big or small it is.

Christ wept in John 11:35 at the death of his friend Lazarus.  Why then should we feel that we can’t grieve?

Christ didn’t want to face a torturous death. In fact, in Luke 22:42 he asked God that if there was any other way to heal the world to please do that instead.  If Christ bagged to be spared pain and death, why can’t we?

You see it’s okay to not want to walk through unfortunate, painful, scary and stressful times.  It’s human.  And it’s okay to not be thankful for these unfortunate, painful and scary things.  I’m sure Christ wasn’t thankful that he had to die on the cross.  If it was something he was thankful for then why would he ask for it to not happen?

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 doesn’t say to give thanks for all circumstances it says to give thanks in all circumstances.  This means to find something to be thankful for during the storm.  Even when we face the most difficult circumstances that the devil can dish out…

It’s difficult to find sometimes as we wallow in self-pity or let fear take captive of the little bit of hope we were clinging to.  But it’s true there is always a nugget of happiness to be found somewhere.

Ann Voskamp is famous for her bestseller book, One Thousand Gifts (http://onethousandgifts.com/about), where she learns to find gifts in the ugly.  So many people were blown away by this book and the concept Ann presented in it, and while I enjoyed her book and transparency, I wasn’t as awed by the idea of finding gifts each day as some of my friends were.  This is something I have done for years on my own, long before I read One Thousand Gifts.  

I think I first learned this lesson at a young age from Pollyanna.  It was the little blonde orphan girl that taught me the Glad Game!

When I’m struggling to find joy in my circumstances I frequently find it in the sound of my children’s laughter, a warm loving hug from my husband, or a word of encouragement from a friend.

Something I have started doing since reading One Thousand Gifts a little over two years ago,  is recording the things I’m thankful for in a  journal.  It’s good to look back on what made me smile each day and helps to remind me that there is always something to be thankful for.

This is a picture of my thankful journal a couple weeks ago…

bible

As you can see it is usually in my family that God helps me to find nuggets of joy!

But don’t feel discouraged if finding a gift in the midst of your circumstances seems impossible.  Sometimes our questions are too many and cloud out our blessings.  Feel free to go to God and ask your questions, cry to him and if you feel like it, yell to him.  He get’s it.  He understands your pain.

My sister sent me a link to a blog post from Grace Covers Me (link here – http://www.gracecoversme.com/2014/01/when-you-have-more-questions-than.html) a couple weeks ago when I was stressed and questions and worry were covering my blessings with a thick fog. This post helped me a lot and I read and reread it several times.

I know it’s difficult sometimes.  I know you’d rather scream and cry.  I know you’d rather shake your fists in anger.  And that’s okay to do.  After you’ve vented and questioned God as to why…take the time to thank God for the blessings in your life.  Be like little Pollyanna and play the Glad Game…

Find a nugget of joy and hold onto it!

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Extravagant Love

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I awoke this morning with a smile on my face and super excited to surprise my hubby with a coffee drink at work, greet my kiddos with good morning hugs and kisses and spend the day loving on my family.

It was as I was lovingly cutting heart shapes into my kids sandwiches for school lunches today that I thought, “God is just as excited to show his love to us, as I am to show it to my family!” .  He’s ready for us when we wake up, waiting with excitement, arms open wide and a huge smile on his face, to shower his love upon us.  And his love is not like human love.  It’s far greater!  

One of my favorite verses is Ephesians 5:2

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His love is EXTRAVAGANT!!!  

Extravagant…if you look up the meaning of that word you’ll find amongst all the descriptions…

…exceeding the limits of reason or necessity…

…lacking in moderation, balance, and restraint…

… extremely or excessively elaborate <an extravagant display>…

…extremely or unreasonably high in price.

His love is without reason, he’d love you no matter what!

His love knows no restraint or moderation, he pours out his all upon us!

He displays his love in extreme and excessive ways, showering us with gifts and blessings daily!

His love was paid with an extreme and unreasonable price, the death of his son.  But because he loved you so much he was willing to give all he had for you!

Wow!  To be loved extravagantly like this is everyone’s dream.  His love isn’t a dream though…

IT’S REAL!

Thank you, God, for your extravagant love!  

*excerpts taken from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extravagant

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A couple of Sunday’s ago at church I received a few, “I’m sorry you guys had the flu this week,” from friends and family.

I replied with a smile on my face saying, “Thank you, but I’m really not complaining.  I felt bad that my kids were sick, and I felt awful myself, but after the last few winters we’ve had I can handle a single flu bug.”

Fast forward 3 days, to Wednesday, December 5th…

Tears streaming down my face and clenched fists at my side as I yelled out, “Okay God, now I’m complaining!  Did you hear me?  NOW I”M COMPLAINING!” There may have been a foot stomped down with my fit throwing also.

My husband, I and our four kids were now living a 1950’s horror film.  You know the kind where there’s a giant bug stomping through town attacking and feeding on all the unsuspecting people who clasp hands to their mouths as they scream, wide-eyed, in terror.

Okay so it wasn’t a giant bug we were dealing with…it was an infestation of many bugs.  Many, many…bed bugs!!!  Okay, to be honest it was only 3 that were seen, 1 living and 2 dead, but we were told that where there’s one there are plenty more. Plenty more is the nice way of saying many more, thank you Mr. Bug Man for trying to spare my feelings.

The first man to come to our house looked at the ziplock bag and confirmed my fear with six horrifying words, “Yep, those are definitely bed bugs.”  I wanted to cry, I’m pretty sure I moaned.   BED BUGS!?!

You hear stories of bed bugs.  Scary stories, of people who have been infested and fed on by these parasites for years.  You hear how they’ve tried everything under the sun and still can’t get rid of these tiny fiends.   They are an embarrassing plague, like head lice, that you pray you’ll never have to deal with.

In fact, with an upcoming trip to Mexico, I’ve been looking online at how to avoid bringing these nasty creatures back with us.  I’ve heard so many stories of people coming home from Mexican vacations with these guys stowing away in luggage and wanted to be sure we wouldn’t have that issue.  Lo and behold…we already had the issue!

The Orkin man made his way through our bedrooms looking for these evasive creatures finding no signs anywhere.  He puzzled and “hmm’d” over the fact that there were absolutely no signs of bed bugs anywhere in our home but said that since I had put some in a bag we obviously had a problem.  He left with the bag of intruders in hand and gave me long list of things for us to do to prepare for fumigation and what to do to avoid spreading them.

The list was extensive and I spent the rest of the week bagging up my home, and what felt like my life.  We were to purchase encasements for our mattresses and keep them on for at least 18 months, because that’s how long these disgusting bugs can live without a feeding.  We were to launder all clothing and cloth items in our home on the highest settings for at least an hour and then bag them in industrial garbage bags.  And because they couldn’t be put back in rooms to get more bugs on them, they were set outside.  Any hard items, that could stand it were soaked in a bleach bath and, you guessed it bagged up and set outside.  Anything that couldn’t be laundered or bathed in bleach would be bagged for 18 months and set outside.  This meant some of my kids toys, my daughters art supplies, bagged and gone from our life for 18 months.  A part of who we are gone for at least 18 months!  My lawn and porch are littered with literally dozens of bags.  I’m sure everyone driving by thinks we look like rednecks.

We had to seal all outlets, just incase some superfluous creatures were hiding out in them.  We had to wash all our walls, night stands, dressers, basically any furniture that was wooden/plastic/medal with rubbing alcohol.  Move furniture around and steam carpets.

I’m pretty sure this was one of the most stressful weeks of my life.  And, yes, I realize that things could be far worse than bed bugs.  A woman I am very close to is fighting for her life against cancer right now, and thoughts of her during this week are the only things that helped me keep in mind that this isn’t as big of an issue as my fears say it is.  So, yes, things could be worse.  But, I couldn’t keep myself from thinking that things could be better too.

Since having school aged children I have feared them coming home with lice and having to deal with those nasty bugs.  And since bed bugs started making their come back a few years ago I have feared these things would somehow make it into my home (Hence preparing for the Mexico trip by looking up how to avoid bed bugs. Most people look up what to do for a good time in Mexico…I look up how to avoid getting bed bugs.)  I can’t tell you how many times when I hear of these bugs and lice I pray that I will never have to deal with them.

It seems that my prayers would go unanswered.  And I was angry with God for not keeping these evil creatures away.  We have some catastrophe every winter and I thought that just maybe we were going to make it through this one without one, but I guess not.  This thought left me crying and yelling out “WHY!?!” again and again.

From everything I’ve heard and read about bed bugs during my life my understanding is that these are an aggressive enemy you never want to do battle with.  If there’s a bug you don’t want in your home its these guys.   Every time I looked up what to do if you have a bed bug infestation I would read story after story of people who were covered in bugs and have been trying to get rid of these villainous creatures for 2 or more years.  I was already stressing out and exhausted from all of the work we’d been doing to prepare for treating our home.  The lack of sleep I was getting due to nightmare, upon nightmare of bed bugs crawling all over me and my family didn’t help my exhaustion.  They woke me up all night long.  That was after it took me hours to fall asleep in the first place because I swore I felt bugs crawling on me.  I itched all day long and swore there were bugs watching me just waiting to pounce on me and suck my blood as soon as I lay in my bed!  I was finding that people deal with these for years!  No wonder why they say the psychological issues are worse than the actual bugs themselves!

Nobody wants you at their home or to go to yours if you have bed bugs.  (Though we did have some wonderful friends who gave our kids a break from the stress.  You know who you are and thank you so much for being so supportive!) Most people who we had to warn that we had bed bugs were very nice.  Others meant well, I think, but their lectures on how we don’t want to be responsible for spreading bed bugs around was very hurtful.  We know this, that’s why we’re calling you.

My daughter’s birthday is just around the corner and we had to warn her that there would probably be no birthday party, with promises that as soon as we knew we were bug free we’d then celebrate.  She just cried, and then I hugged her…and cried some more myself.

My emotional state was so bad that when my four-year-old asked to watch A Bugs Life I broke down in tears!  Yes, I was going a bit insane but I kept telling myself and my husband, who thinks I may have been certifiable, that I’m not as bad as other people.  Some people literally took all their furniture outside and lit a match.  So, you see, I was sane enough not to do that.  Though lighting a match may have been a lot less work.

Luckily we decided that we needed a second opinion due to that we had no signs, zero, at all and that we were told it was going to cost us at least $3800 to rid our homes of these vampires.  $3800!  And that was if it actually worked the first time, which we saw many stories that it didn’t.  The services were only guaranteed for 30 days, yet online we were reading that the bugs will remain dormant for up to 55 days after a home is treated because they’re a bit too stunned to come out but still alive and ready to get back at you as soon as they have the energy to.  Yes, another reason to stress…a lot of money for a problem that would quite possibly resurface soon after the guarantee expired.

Enter second opinion…The second man told us that since we have no signs of bed bugs anywhere in our home and that two of them were dead was very strange to him.  Supposedly people don’t find dead bed bugs unless their home has been treated for them.  Ours had not.  Luckily we had found another one (That’s four intruders scurrying around my home now, 2 living and 2 dead.).  Though I didn’t feel very lucky at the time we found it.  In fact I cried.  The more we found meant the bigger the issue was in my mind.

“So if it isn’t a bed bug, Sir, what is it?” is the question my husband and I asked.  His reply. “Well, the only way to tell for certain is microscopic examination, but I’m thinking you have bat bugs, not bed bugs.”

You see, supposedly a bat bug has hairs that are longer than it’s relative the bed bug.  A bed bugs are short while a bat bugs hairs are long and will extend past the eyes.  (Photo of differences between a bed bug and a bat bug are here http://blog.bedbugsupply.com/faq/bat-bugs-vs-bed-bugs-what-are-you-dealing-with/)  The hairs on either are impossible to see with the naked eye so if you think you have a bed bug problem always have them examined under a microscope before you stress too much.  I wish I would have known this.

Well guess what?  All of our cleaning and stressing out and wondering if we would be able to have lives ever again were for naught.  We have bat bugs…not bed bugs!

While saying the words, “Praise God!” to any bugs in my house seems extremely odd for a girly girl like me who despises all bugs seems weird, they’ve been said MANY times over the last few days.

We got the other bugs back from the first man who came and they were confirmed to be bat bugs by two different sources.  So while we still have a bug problem it’s nowhere near the issue that bed bugs are.  All the cleaning and work we did was, yes, a huge waste of time and, we were told by two other pest control people, completely unnecessary but I now have a super clean house.  It’s probably the most sanitary house in the world right now.  Our work isn’t done because we now have dozens of bags to bring back into our home and need to put everything back where it belongs.  I’m still feeling stressed and still have nightmares of bed bugs crawling all over me and nightmares of waking up with huge bites all over my body.  But the stress level is lowering and slowly my home is coming back together.  Best of all…no bed bugs!

So what did I learn from all of this?  Well…

– I learned that if you think you’ve found a bed bug have it examined under a microscope to make sure that you are actually dealing with bed bugs.

– If you were told you don’t have bed bugs but still fear you may, because I had that fear also, pay to have a bed bug sniffing dog come to your home.  Most likely he will smell nothing and you’ll feel much better.  I said much better, not completely better.  It takes a while to get over the fear that they are lurking somewhere in your home.  I’m still working on that myself, but in my defense it’s only been 3 days since finding out we don’t have bed bugs.

– If it’s confirmed that you have bed bugs don’t bag up your life.  No matter what someone tells you or what you read online.  Leave everything as is and pay to have your home heat treated by someone who has a 60 day guarantee.  The heat will get through everything and kill all bugs and you will save yourself A LOT of work.

After this, I don’t know what to say.  My heart truly hurts for the people who have been fighting with these darn bugs for months or years.  My one week experience showed me that they are worse than I actually thought.  The horror stories of bed bugs I read online gave me nightmares (That’s another piece of advice…avoid going online and reading stories!  They are awful!).  The psychological issues people were dealing with.  Kids losing friends because they couldn’t go to their homes or friends couldn’t come spend the night.   Stories of people whose families didn’t want them around at Christmas for fear they would spread the bugs.

That story impacted me the most.  When I read that I just pictured hugging my crying children as we snuggled on our bug infested furniture gazing at the spot that should showcase our Christmas tree, but wouldn’t because we couldn’t take it out of its storage bag for fear it would become bug infested.  No presents because we couldn’t go shopping or because we felt no need to get more things that would just get bugs on them.  Yes, these are things real people are actually dealing with because of these darned bugs!  And I feared it would be us.

All last week I kept crying out to God, in pain, admittedly in anger, and just plain exhaustion and frustration.  The question that springs up every time I’m faced with a catastrophe resurfaced with this one…

If God is supposed to be such a loving, caring father why would he let this happen? Yes, I know some of you are thinking this is a bit dramatic over bed bugs…but if you haven’t been there, please don’t judge.  They are traumatizing.

Matthew 7:9-11

New International Version (NIV)

9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

When ever I am faced with a difficult situation I look on this verse and wonder about it.  As two of my kids have been rushed to emergency rooms for dog attacks, as an aunt dies of cancer and another woman, who is like a second mother to me, battles cancer for her life, I wonder “Why, God?  Why if you are a God who cares for us even more than an earthly parent does, why do you allow these things to happen?”

As a mother I would do anything in my power to make sure my kids never have to be sick or face difficult situations.  God has all the power in all the world, he could stop a dog from attacking my kids, he could have made it so cancer didn’t attack my loved ones?  He could have stopped these bugs from coming into my house and wasting my time?  I wouldn’t have to be suffering from a new anxiety and nightmares.  My back wouldn’t be on the verge of going out on me because of all the work I’ve done the past week and all I have yet to do.   He could have stopped my sisters two miscarriages and helped her to have two more beautiful children happily laughing in her home. So if he can…why doesn’t he?  If I could stop these things I would. Why doesn’t God?

I don’t know.  I wont know the answer to this until I reach heaven.  And, yes, this is very frustrating to me.

Around Christmas time I was laying in bed one night thinking and talking to God and asking him what I could do differently to help my relationship with him grow.  His answer was a very difficult one, yet I knew it was the answer I would get…let go.

Letting go and trusting in anyone, even a sovereign God is not easy for me.  I am a typical type A, need to have a plan and need to know everything type of gal.  Trusting anyone isn’t easy for me.  It’s much easier to trust myself and do what I know because then I know it will work.  And if it doesn’t work then I have nobody to blame but myself.

Letting go and letting God is a near impossibility for me.  In fact I truly look on it as an impossibility.  It just isn’t me.  I’ve tried and yes, it works out sometimes but other times it doesn’t and then I withdraw a bit and keep God at a comfortable distance where I can talk to him and vent to him, share my dreams and my fears, but not have to rely on him for more than my basic needs.  Trusting in more than that and relinquishing control is just to scary.

So what do I do?  Not sure yet…but I’m working on letting go and letting God.  Even though I feel like His parenting style is lacking at times, I know that I don’t see the big picture.  I don’t see the accident that may have occurred if I had been on time for an appointment.  I don’t see all the sicknesses that he has helped my family avoid.  I don’t see all the major injuries and hurts that may have occurred if minor catastrophes hadn’t stopped me from going somewhere or doing something.

There is so much that is unseen that I’m learning to be grateful for and hopefully they’ll help me let go and let God.  Baby steps will get me there eventually and until then I’m going to thank him for the most recent victory in my life…

We’re a bed bug free home!  PRAISE GOD!

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Last Day Emotions

It’s the last day of school and I am finding myself for the first time ever looking upon this day with mixed emotions.  Normally I am ecstatic, overjoyed and elated on this day!  I cannot wait to have my kids home with me for the summer!  These feeling are all still there, as you who follow LE’s facebook page can tell by our countdown Summer Bucker List we’ve been posting daily.  But this year as I peeked out the window and watched my son hand his bus driver a plate full of goodies and a thank you I felt a little sad.

You see my little man and I are embarking on a new adventure next school year.  He and I are trying out homeschooling.  He has asked several times throughout the year to homeschool and I’ve always wanted to homeschool my kids so my husband and I thought, “Why not give it a try?!”  At first my girls were on board with the homeschooling idea also but decided they would miss their friends too much so will be staying in the public school system.  My husband and I wanted them to make this decision on their own, praying God would lead them the way he wanted them to go, and we feel they both made a good decision.  They love school and truly would miss the social aspect of it as well as their teachers!

My son, however, is a little bit like his mama.  If my mama wasn’t a working mom I would have loved to have been homeschooled.  I’m a bit of a homebody and feel best when snuggled in my nest.  Not to mention that he still loves to nap (Admittedly I still love to do that too!) and frequently falls asleep either on the bus or in our van on the trip home from school.

I am feeling a little sad because this may be the last day that he ever gets on a school bus, may be the last day he walks the SES halls as a student, not just a visitor for his sister’s concerts or class plays.  Don’t get me wrong I am so excited to homeschool him.  So excited!  And I love the thought of having my little man at home with me all day too but while I’m excited about all the time we’ll share together I’m sad for what he may miss out on.

But these are choices we make in life.  When we choose one path, we are choosing not to partake in the things that may occur along another path.  It doesn’t mean one is better than another or more fun.  It just may be what’s best for you at that time and blessing will flow forth on whatever path you choose.  I am looking forward to what blessings I will have next year with my boy as I homeschool him!  There will be some exquisite memories made, for sure!

I also have to say that I am thrilled that my girls decided to stay in the public school system.   It was with tears in my eyes that I walked out of the Spooner Elementary School building last Thursday.  I love my time volunteering at the school.  I love the opportunity to get to know my kids’ teachers and classmates better.  I love spending time with all the kids!  The things they say crack me up and they are so encouraging and sweet!  When I left Thursday I didn’t know yet that my middle daughter would decide to stay at SES thus giving me an opportunity to still be involved in the school!  I am hoping homeschooling will not keep me so busy that I can’t volunteer there still next year.

So there it is, a mama with a heart full of emotions…excitement for summer, joy about her kiddos being home for three months of fun at the beach, camping and other fun activities, thrill of a new adventure with my boy in homeschooling, a little bit scared to homeschool too, haha.  Also I’m amazed and sad at how fast this year went and how big my kids are getting!  But the joy of watching them become the little men and women God has created them to be is awesome!

I hope you all have an amazing summer vacation!!!

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Our week free from electronic/gaming devices (PlayStations, Television, Computers, etc.) was in a word…EXQUISITE!

It truly was.  It went far better than my husband and I anticipated.  There was not one fight or argument in our household all week long.   Our kids rediscovered the joy of playing games that aren’t on an electronic device.  They played together outside, far more than they would have if electronics were allowed, they used their imaginations, they read far more than usual.

I was even amazed at how much better our mornings went.  No joke, mornings were amazing!  All of my kids were up each morning before their alarms went off, I never had to get on them about getting dressed quickly or to brush their hair better.  They were ready so fast and did most everything on their own, that I had time to make waffles, eggs, etc. every morning.  I was able to be the mom I always dreamt I would be, haha.

Midway through the week I wanted to encourage their fantastic behavior so gave them all stickers and told them if they kept it up we would make some snacks to eat while we played some games together.  They succeeded and we enjoyed some delicious treats!

The image below is from Friday night while playing a game and enjoying our snacks of puppy chow and caramel corn after their week of awesome school mornings!

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Tuesday nights in our home is game night, and when my children are asked what they want to play they will usually choose something on the PlaySation.  The only time we play a card or board game is when I insist upon it.  One of the new rules my husband and I have decided to instate is that we are only allowing a PlayStation game night one Tuesday night a month, the other Tuesday’s are card or board games.  This isn’t to say we will only play our PS3 only once a month, we’ll have weekends also (though there are the usual time limits for that also) we just think they’re little brains are a bit more challenged when it comes to a board or card game.

Besides a lot of game playing we spent a few evenings after school outdoors.  This Saturday we went ice fishing (My first time since high school!) with my husband’s workplace…

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When we weren’t spending time together as a family in its entirety my kids were off playing together outside, coloring or crafting together, playing in their rooms together…without fighting!  I love to sneak up on my kids and take pictures of them when they don’t know I’m photographing them.  If they know I’m there then they are trying to show off for the camera or, in some cases, trying to hide from the camera, haha.  It’s hard to sneak up on them in our creaky old farmhouse but occasionally I’m able to capture them like this…

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We’ve always had limits to the amount of television/movies that is allowed to be watched in our home, but like most mom’s sometimes the television has been my babysitter when I need to get things done.  I didn’t have that option this week so my youngest daughter spent a lot more time helping me with things than usual, which was really fun, although albeit a bit slow.  When she didn’t want to help me with chores she was busy coloring, playing, and beading with her new fray free string/plastic type stuff that stays tied super well!

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She also learned how to separate her Twizzlers on her own last week while we played Bingo!

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I reached the end of my love for winter!  Well, not really, I still love winter…I’m just ready for some 50-60• temps instead of 20-30•.  I want color in my wardrobe and my home.  With Easter on its way I took down our Valentine’s decorations and put some Easter/Spring decor up.  I’m only giving you a little peak because I’m not completely done and plan to show you it all next week.  For now here’s a look at a banner my youngest daughter and I made together last week…

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Speaking for myself of this week, it was a week of revelations to me. For sometime, a couple of years actually, God has been showing me things about his love and grace. This week he showed me scripture that, though I’ve read several times before, has kindled something new in me.  I believe he’s about to bring me down a new path in my life.  A lot of this I’m going to keep to myself for the time being but hope to maybe share with you someday.

Last week I also began waking up EARLY in the morning with my husband again.  I use to do this for the first couple of years in our marriage but stopped when I was up sleepless nights with my babies.  I don’t really have this excuse very often anymore and I knew it meant a lot to my husband to have me up with him in the mornings spending time with him so, as difficult as it is, I’m up with the rooster now, actually before the rooster and enjoying some wonderful mornings with my husband.   Thank God for my cappuccino machine because cinnamon roll cappuccino and cinnamon swirl bread, makes waking up at 5 am a little easier!  (I’ll share the recipe with you later this week!)

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We ended our media/electronic free week with a trip across the lake in our snowshoes with my mama, yesterday after church!

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They went directly inside to play Call Of Duty with Grandma, haha!

All in all we truly enjoyed good, fun, quality family time.  There was so much joy and laughter in our home last week that I was kind of walking around in a state of euphoria.  My oldest daughter really enjoyed it also, which surprised me since I thought she’d struggle with it the most, but she really enjoyed the time off.  My husband and I were tempted to see if we could drag the week out a bit longer…maybe a month or so, or at least another week…it was so enjoyable.  Since our kids had been so good, and my middle daughter was keeping track of the calendar, we couldn’t do that and are now back to electronics   This time with much more limitations than we originally had set.

 I see many more electronic free weeks in our future.  We’ve discovered that we can survive for a little while without them, and in fact, enjoy it!

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