Week in Review – Catching Up Once Again

July 17 – 30

In the past couple of weeks…

we’ve celebrated eleven years of marriage,

had a fairly successful yard sale,

and purged our home of some unnecessary stuff.

We found out our light fixture was fairly valuable,

played miniature golf,

and swam and swam and swam some more.

We started school,

and finished our first week  – hooray!!!

Hoping your past couple of weeks have been filled with good times, great memories, and growing in grace.  Have a fantastic weekend, friends!

Twenty Minutes to Saving a Lot of Cash

I get a lot of requests for this recipe, so I am sharing it here for anyone who is interested….

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap – Front or Top Load Machine

This is reported to be Michelle Duggar’s recipe….not positive on that one, but it works for our family of six! It only costs a few cents/load and literally only takes fifteen to twenty minutes of effort.

4 cups hot tap water

1 Fels-Naptha soap bar

1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

½ cup Borax

Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water.

Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

(Personal Note:  wash your pan and grater by hand; I threw them in the dishwasher the first time I did this and had a soapy film on all of my dishes and ended up having to wash everything in my dishwasher by hand!)

Fill a 5-gallon bucket half full of hot tap water.

Add melted soap, washing soda, and Borax.

Stir well until all powder is dissolved.

Fill bucket to top with more hot water.

Stir, cover, and let sit overnight to thicken.

~Optional – add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons after soap has cooled.

Suggestions include:  lavendar, rosemary, tea tree, etc.

Yield = 5 gallons

You may either scoop your soap directly from your 5-gallon bucket, or I purchased a one-gallon juice pitcher at WalMart and fill it regularly from the bucket and keep it by my washing machine.

Top Load Machines:  5/8 cup per load (approximately 180 loads)

Front Load Machines:  ¼ cup per load (approximately 640 loads)

Thankful for You

Thanks to all of you who take the time to comment on my posts either here or on Facebook.  I appreciate your encouragement and just knowing you’re out there.  Now that we are back in school, my computer time is limited, so please accept my apologies if I do not respond in a timely manner (or, perhaps, at all).  I read everything you say and am so grateful to you for taking the time to stop by!

For His Glory ~

~Sara

Preparing Your Daughter – My Take Away

I recently finished part one of Preparing Your Daughter for Every Woman’s Battle by Shannon Ethridge.  While I don’t have a lengthy list of bullet points to share – in fact, I don’t think I underlined a single thing in the book – I *highly* recommend it to anyone with daughters.  I spent the first part of the book with my mouth gaping open at the statistics she shared about the knowledge many of our girls already possess.  It was shocking.  Truly.  Or maybe I live in a bubble.  That’s possible, too.

I stopped at the end of part one, as part two is designed to be worked through together with your daughter.  I am planning to start this soon with Grace.

The book covers a wide variety of topics including modesty, guarding our media intake, body image, and of course, boys.  It opened my eyes to the need to be willing to answer my girls’ questions more directly.  I’ve always been willing to answer but, in what I believe has been in an effort to protect their innocence, I would often abbreviate the answer as much as possible and I confess that I’ve used the “you’re not ready for that” answer for too long with a couple of them.  There are still things I want to protect them from, but when homosexuality, pornography, and abortion are being discussed plainly from the pulpit on Sunday’s, it’s hard to avoid it forever at home.  That, and when the oldest reads Genesis 19 in the NIV.

What about you?  Are you having these conversations with your kids?  How are you preparing them for puberty and beyond?

Monday

Thank you all for your grace last week.  I had a yard sale last week and you know how that goes….between the prep for that and daily life, there wasn’t room for everything.  And when the choice is between neglecting the blog or neglecting the kids…well, sorry blogosphere.  😉

Today I write, not with any great eloquence or depth, but in an effort to resume the habit.  Because I’ve learned that, at least for me, writing brings more writing.  So, even though I don’t necessarily feel like writing tonight, I will.  And I will count the blessings of the past couple of weeks.

And this is a no-photo post, as the camera hasn’t left the shelf in over a week.  😛  But I suppose it’s not about the pictures….it’s about remembering the blessings that have come from His hand…..

0674.  Monday at home

0675.  all day pajamas

0676.  re-arranging furniture

0677.  friends who are good at that

0678.  brother-in-law’s strong back

0679.  dinner with a really great couple

0680.  being flat out exhausted

0681.  vegging on the couch

0682.  new-to-us furniture

0683.  Grammy

0684.  bedtime prayers with children

0685.  Daddy’s silly songs

0686.  twelve years since our first date

0687.  friends at the swim beach

0688.  a real conversation

0689.  dinner with another great couple

0690.  unexpected friendship

0691.  eight hours of swimming

0692.  girls that sleep hard

0693.  pedicures

0694.  Barnes & Noble sales associate

0695.  eleven years of marriage

0696.  speaking each other’s love languages

0697.  Sabbath rest at home

0698.  running on a Monday

0699.  Camp Enosh

0700.  guitar lessons

0701.  internet repairs and faster connections!

0702.  new book case

0703.  husband’s help assembling it

0704.  school books stacked and shelved neatly

0705.  the promise of a new school year

0706.  profitable yard sale

0707.  the freedom of less stuff

0708.  mother-in-law taking the youngest two

0709.  mother cleaning my house for guests

0710.  gathering with friends

0711.  pool to ourselves

0712.  long Sunday afternoon nap

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~ I Thessalonians 5:18

What are you thankful for today?

Week in Review – Catching Up Edition

June 26 – July 16

We’ve celebrated a seven-year-old’s birthday.

We’ve been learning to swim.

On the board

We’ve had a bat in the basement and a dead, wet mouse on the living room floor.

I’ve been broken.

I’ve been forgetful.

We’ve enjoyed amazing weather and we’ve survived amazing heat.

We’ve driven out to the country to swim in a pond, play with goats, and visit with friends.

We’ve celebrated the birth of our country.

We’ve (sort of) celebrated the birth of our dog.

There have been date nights and family nights.

I’ve planned for next year’s school.

We’ve purchased new-to-us furniture and rearranged most of the first floor of our house.

We’ve been recipients of hospitality and givers of it.

Life has been good.


Have a great weekend!

Parenting Is Your Highest Calling – My Take Away

This past week or ten days I read Leslie Leyland Fields’ Parenting Is Your Highest Calling And 8 Other Myths that Trap Us in Worry and Guilt.  If you have ever struggled with mother-guilt it is highly recommended.

Here are the nine myths she covers just to give you an idea of what’s in the book:

Myth 1:  Having Children Makes You Happy and Fulfilled

Myth 2:  Nurturing Your Children is Natural and Instinctive

Myth 3:  Parenting Is Your Highest Calling

Myth 4:  Good Parenting Leads to Happy Children

Myth 5:  If You Find Parenting Difficult, You Must Not Be Following the Right Plan

Myth 6:  You Represent Jesus To Your Children

Myth 7:  You Will Always Feel Unconditional Love for Your Children

Myth 8:  Sucessful Parents Raise Godly Children

Myth 9:  God Approves of Only One Family Design

Here are some of the things I underlined throughout the book:

  • Page 2 had this quote:  “Why wasn’t I a more joyful and loving mother?  Why were my children so lacking?  Why did I always feel like a failure”  And I was wondering, when did I write this book because those exact thoughts are in my head nearly daily.  Especially during the school year.  *sigh*
  • In a survey conducted by Focus on the Family, the most frequent comment from mothers was that they felt like failures.
  • The Old Testament records God’s parental relationship as one of great desire, incomprehensible love, unending compassion – yet Israel’s response to this perfect parental love was disobedience.
  • All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people. (Isaiah 65:2)
  • Throughout the Scriptures, we seldom see God as a happy, blithe parent.  We see instead God hungering for more.
  • There is a section in Myth 1 about the All-American pursuit of happiness and how it has caused part of this uneasiness in our mothering.  We have somehow bought the myth that devoting ourselves to our families will make us happy when in reality they often serve more to make us holy – to smooth out our rough edges, to exposes our selfishness, to make us more aware of our need for a savior – which is the real point of following Christ anyway, right?
  • Children simply cost too much – and not just in dollar figures.  They undo us.  They show us how much and how little we’re made of.  It often seems that they come only to break our hearts. And we let them.  We invite it all.  We admit perfect strangers through our doors and decide to love them wildly, without condition, for as long as we live.
  • Our children reveal to us what we know we are:  beggars before God.
  • Not even Samson’s failure could prevent the accomplishment of God’s great purposes.
  • Am I parenting faithfully?  Am I parenting consistently?  Am I honoring God as I raise my children?  This is what I am responsible for.  God is responsible for all the rest.  (Stop and let that soak in….isn’t that an amazing feeling of freedom?)
  • How do we learn to love our children and spouses?  We learn from others who love well.
  • We need to stop pretending that loving our children as God requires is natural and instinctive.  No.  It’s messy.  It’s arduous.  It’s costly.
  • We may reason that as long as we do not replace God with ourselves, as long as the God substitutes are God-given – our children and spouse – and we are serving and loving them, as God commands, then this must be good and acceptable!
  • What God asks of us, He Himself will provide.
  • Knowing this, when my children disappoint me, I need not be shaken.  I am freed to love them as God loves them.  Simply because they are His.
  • We are asked to lose our lives in Christ’s life, not in our children’s lives.
  • God parents for holiness, not happiness.
  • Holiness permeates His very being.  As Wells warns,  without some understanding of the holiness of God, “our faith loses its meaning entirely.”
  • Our faith will fail, too, if we forget that God requires us to be holy.
  • How can I parent in such a way that they are rocked free from their peer’s obsessions with here-and-now gratification?
  • It is possible to spend ourselves in the labor of preserving our children’s happiness only to have them grow up weak, unable to withstand life, seeking their immediate happiness over lasting holiness and blessing.
  • Here, then, is how God prepared this couple (Samson’s parents) for parenting:  by calling them into a deep, daily, costly, dependent relationship with Himself.
  • But these laws (the Ten Commandments) were never meant to be ends in themselves.  They were always intended as means of knowing God, learning about His holiness, and entering into relationship with Him.  When the rules are followed as external behaviors in themselves, separated from a genuine relationship with God, perversion always results.
  • God has already shown us the way.  He parents, not according to an external list of rules, but according to His nature.  Because He is a God of abounding love, He showers love and tenderness upon His children.  Because He is a God of clarity and fairness, He provides definitive expectations for His children.  Because He is a God of justice, He punishes His children’s sin.  Because He is a God of truth, who always fulfills His word, He disciplines their violations just as He promised.  Because He is a God of mercy, He makes a way for theirs sins to be covered.  Because He is a God of hope, He offers restoration even in the midst of judgment.
  • Do we accomplish the character of Jesus Christ in our children’s lives, or does Christ do this?
  • It is possible to give ourselves so fully to our families that they only learn to take what we give.
  • God’s love does not lift Him beyond the sins and rebellion of His children.  Just the opposite.  God’s love draws Him near to His rebellious children.
  • When our children disobey, when they cause harm to another, when they choose attitudes and actions that cut against the holiness that God desires, we will have an emotional response – if we truly love them.  Loving them means that we desire their highest good:  to know God and live righteously before Him.
  • Will my discipline bring my child closer to being the person God wants him/her to be?
  • By our contemporary standards, most of these families (Old Testament families) were dismal failures.  Yet God transformed their weaknesses into a faith that accomplished His eternal purposes.  I am not sovereign over my children – God is.  And God will use every aspect of my human parenting, even my sins and failures, to shape my children into who He desires them to be, for the sake of His kingdom.
  • We have made far too much of ourselves and far too little of God.
  • Their (our children’s) questions are fair.  Their experiments with hair, clothes, music, and other markers of identity are not threats but an essential part of their movement toward autonomy.  As they grow toward adulthood and independence, it is not only natural but necessary for them to examine the beliefs we claim.  We need to extend grace to them as they begin a spiritual journey that might look different from our own.
  • We need to quit asking, Am I parenting successfully?  Instead we need to ask, Am I parenting faithfully?
  • Our children will make their choices, God will be sovereign,and God will advance His kingdom.
  • Now I can focus more on my obedience than on my children’s weaknesses.
  • This is the greatest parenting truth I can know:  my children belong to God.
  • the highest call upon my life:  to love God with all that I have and all that I am.  I hope to teach my children to do the same.

Obviously, these are only excerpts from the book; the sections I underlined because they spoke to me or reaffirmed something I already thought, so the quotes may seem disconnected or random.  I strongly encourage you to grab a copy and read through it.  It’s another quick read and very encouraging.

Heading Back

Last week I took a few days off from posting to focus on getting ready to start school up again.  I entered lesson plans for most of the year into to computer, made reading lists, and am still trying to figure out where to put all the books in my book case-less house.

We start back July 27.  This should allow us to finish by the end of April or first week of May.  Chandler and Ellie have been asking to do school since we finished last year’s work in April.  And even Grace and Emma have been making veiled comments about being ready to start again.  I wish I was.  This summer has been good, but not as slow as I like them to be.  Four weeks of being somewhere every day at 9 a.m. has, I think, made it feel less restful.  As I type this we are savoring a day of doing nothing.  We are all still in pajamas (if you know me well, you know this almost never happens at our house).  I have been working on the computer most of the morning.  The girls are enjoying romping around, making houses and forts on the mess of furniture that is presently strung throughout the first floor.  I have promised them a trip to the park (or a movie if it starts to rain) later.  I made it clear that they would need to get dressed if we go to the park.  🙂

I don’t have any overly-lofty expectations for myself or our school this year.  I have accepted my limits and my nature and have learned to stretch but not overwhelm myself.  I won’t say we are going to do an amazing science project every week because that is setting myself up to fail.  But we are studying human anatomy this year (my absolute favorite subject) and so I do look forward to doing some fun stuff.  We will never study botany because I am a plant killer.  They don’t stand a chance in my house.  Ask my husband who has bought me many beautiful plants that end up dead within a month.  Or ask my dad who has tried to save said plants.  We will work through as much of Story of the World Volume 2 as we can.  I don’t know that we will get through all of it.  Why those books are arranged into 42 chapters instead of the 36 that would make for very easy school year scheduling I don’t understand.  We will read some great books.  We will move forward in math and grammar and a dozen other subjects it seems.  And we will address heart issues and character issues and (hopefully) draw each of us closer to God.

In my heart this is why I home school.  We have a great education.  Our kids are bright and have done well on their standarized tests.  I want them to excel and work hard and find success in whatever their passion and calling are later in life.  But more than anything, I want them to learn to love God well, to follow hard after their Savior, to learn to forgive and show mercy and to make hard choices.  To be holy even at the expense of being happy.  I don’t feel like we could do these things if our children were in school every day.  Other families can.  Some don’t have any other choice.  For me, it takes the day-in-day-out exposure to all of our strengths and weaknesses, assets and faults to get to the heart of each child.  I am thankful for that privilege.

So in a few short days, it’s back to school we go.  Because we home school there will still be time for the pool or the swimming beach or the park or the zoo.  But the routine will return, followed soon by ballet and Friday classes and everything that comes with the school year.  And it will be a good thing because those months of diligently working through hard things make us appreciate the freedom that summer brings that much more.

Here’s to an amazing school year!