Week In Review and Links to Share

Ahhhh….Friday.  One of the best days of the week.

This week was a bit rough – school wasn’t what it should be and neither were attitudes if we’re honest.  It was one of the best running weeks I’ve had in quite some time, though.  This morning’s run kicked my rear; that’s always a good feeling!  Allergies are flaring up today and I can’t.stop.sneezing.  Which is also making me a little foggy and unable to remember many details of this week, so I’ll move on….

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Here are a few links to things on the “interwebs” that I have found interesting of late.  Some of you might enjoy them too.

A great post by Ann on How To Really Live.

I haven’t read the Fifty Shades of Gray series, but Christy over at Crayon and Camels has a really interesting perspective on it in this post.

April at Coal Creek Farm is great.  And she regularly makes me laugh out loud.  Moms (and Dads) will enjoy this one.

I realize the Olympics ended a couple of weeks ago, but I still really enjoyed this article on how we are all inspired by the Olympic spirit and why the games are so captivating.

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That’s it for me.  I hope your weekend is amazing and that you find time to bask in the love of a Savior who died to set you free.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

How Facebook is Killing Politics (for me, anyway)

Can I please have a filter on Facebook to block all political rants and posts?  No one is being persuaded to change their political affiliation as a result of these one-sided articles or one-line jabs at the opposing party.  People (their minds and hearts) are won through relationships not viral Facebook memes.  The endless nonsense of “This candidate’s an idiot!  No, this candidate is!*” only serves to divide us more and entrench us more deeply into our own opinons.  It does nothing to draw us together, to a place of focusing on what is best for the future of our nation.

(*those may not be the actual words….but the idea is the same.)

And the sad thing is politics do matter, the issues are important.  That’s what makes the fatigue and numbness that naturally follow the constant barrage of information so troublesome.

So, if you are really concerned about changing the political face of America, go out to coffee and have a friendly debate with someone you actually live life with.  Share an occasional article that informs rather than inflames.  Volunteer for a campaign.  Run for office.  Pray for our nation.  And VOTE.

And then let’s get back to when Facebook was fun.

Bearing Witness….

I will bear witness that the Lord is righteous;

I will praise the name of the Lord Most High.

~ Psalm 7:18

Praising His name by continuing to list His mercies, His faithfulness, and continuing to count the gifts… 

 

2028.  a milestone in a child’s life

2029.  being there for her

2030.  still daily learning how to do this mothering well

2031.  learning to listen to my spirit

2032.  soft dog at my feet

2033.  each one of my girls

2034.  swinging at the park

2035.  sticky counter tops

2036.  sink full of dishes

2037.  sleepover friend for the third-born

2038.  cooler mornings for running

2039.  early morning snuggles with  my Ellie

2040.  late night struggles with another

2041.  long talks in bed

2042.  knowing I can never be enough, but God already is

2043.  being chased by the grace of God

2044.  a gymnastics class for the human monkey

2045.  staying calm

2046.  a few days away with my beloved

2047.  sun

2048.  sand

2049.  salt-water

2050.  loving each other

2051.  uninterrupted thoughts, conversation

2052.  books read

2053.  pale orange sky

2054.  sunset from 30,000 feet

2055.  being welcomed home

2056.  hard days that leave me tired and empty

2057.  a God who fills if I only ask and slow to receive

2058.  a pile of laundry to fold as I pray and reflect

2059.  loud laughter after dinner

2060.  realizing I need to take time to linger longer with these people, my people

2061.  husband who brings lunch, makes dinner, prays for me

2062.  being awake at 3:15 – a Wednesday morning routine; more time to think, pray, sit with God

Praying that this day, your day, is filled with an increasing awareness of His presence, His faithfulness, His unrelenting grace.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Sometimes thanks come easy….

It’s one of those Monday’s when it’s easy to give thanks.  It’s been gloriously overcast and cool.  A perfect day for school work and lit candles.  Right now the girls are reading quietly and I am enjoying the relative silence.  It’s good to sit and remember and write down the days like this one.  They give courage and renewed energy for the other kinds of days.

Continuing to list the endless gifts He gives….

 

2006.  warm sunshine

2007.  take and bake pizza

2008.  a leisurely day

2009.  first day of school success

2010.  learning to manage time again

2011.  up early to run in the dark

2012.  a fever blister and a head cold

2013.  third-born’s nagging cough

2014.  freshly shorn labradoodle and her polka-dot scarf

2015.  first week of school complete

2016.  cooler evenings

2017.  continuing to learn patience and grace

2018.  girls night out with the in-law ladies

2019.  taking my girls to a real art museum

2020.  waking up to 59* outside

2021.  quiet Sunday morning at home

2022.  sleeping child, finally rest for her from coughing

2023.  overcast sky

2024.  open windows

2025.  start of a new week

2026.  quiet house

2027.  nature walk

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Week in Review And Some Links to Share

This week we wrapped up our first week back to school.  It was a good week overall.  Not perfect, but I’ll definitely take it.

Monday we enjoyed a leisurely last day of summer by sleeping in and spending the afternoon at the pool.  Other than the water feeling like an ice bath, it was a wonderful way to wrap up the summer.

Yesterday I took the girls to the Nelson Art Gallery in Kansas City.  We had a fun time walking around enjoying the incredible collection there and even toured the World’s Fair exhibit they have right now.

Last night I had a girls night out with Matt’s mom and the ladies on his side of the family.  We enjoyed walking around Lawrence, laughing and taking in the gorgeous weather we are finally experiencing.

Today has been a leisurely day of computer work and relaxing.  And tonight I’m looking forward to an evening out with my favorite man.

A friend on Facebook posted this great encouragement for the weary mom…here.  Go check it out!

That’s it around here.  A quiet week, but a good week.  May the rest of your weekend be blessed!

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Another Bedroom Makeover

So I posted a while back about Chandler and Ellie’s room make over.  Grace and Emma got a mini-make over too, this summer.  My main thing, again, was that I was NOT painting the room itself.  They don’t love their pink and beige room, but we found a way to make do.  With both of these girls being so close to the teen years, I know their tastes are going to change from the KU room they insisted they wanted this summer to (hopefully) something more “grown up” in just a few years.  🙂

A few before photos of the room:

Actually, just kidding!  Would you believe that in nearly 20,000 photos in storage I can’t find ONE photo of that room between the time it was a nursery and this makeover?  Wow.  Photo-journaling fail, my friends.

And now: (these photos courtesy of Emma)

They didn’t want their beds (or any other wood) painted – thank goodness!  We moved the bed to another wall and I let them take off the toile duvets, leaving just the white down comforter.  They were thrilled!

Then, we thrifted a dresser and a table out of a house we own and remodeled.

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(sorry for the blurry image)

I don’t love the dresser, but they do and it was free, so we’re all happy!

This is one of those 1950’s laminate tables.  It was white with grey starbursts on it.  I wrestled with painting but it didn’t match at all in it’s original state, so spray paint it, we did!

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The chairs were in really bad shape, but I didn’t (and don’t) have time to recover them.  I was impressed by the girls’ resourcefulness in using these blankets as make-shift covers and even used ribbon to make them look tied back.

I bought this awesome book case from a friend on Facebook.  I was so thankful to find something that matched the wood color of their beds.  On top of that blessing, it’s solid oak and huge, so it stores a ton of books and games for them.  And it was less than a crummy book case at WalMart.  Win-win-win!

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Anyway, that’s the girls’ room mini-makeover.  It felt good to make their room more functional and something they enjoy more, even if it’s not necessarily *my* style.  They are loving it, which makes me very happy.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Random Wednesday

…the back to school version.

This year we are doing three different Sonlight cores with four different students.  If you are not familiar with Sonlight click here to learn more, but let me summarize by saying it is a LOT of really great reading, which means a LOT of books to order and that can get pricey fast.

Historically, I have always just simply ordered the Sonlight core from Sonlight itself.  It’s fast, easy, and worry-free.  Almost everything in it is reusable, so I know we will always get our money’s worth.  This year, however, I was inspired by a friend who was going to try to piece together her own core.  So, I spent a morning comparing prices and instead of doing the simple “click and ship” from Sonlight, I also decided to piece together my own set from Amazon and used books and fill in with Sonlight where necessary.

Here are some pro’s and con’s on that experience:

Pro’s:

  • You can save almost enough on the (almost) two cores ordered to offset the cost of one brand new version of Teaching Textbooks (another item I had to buy) and a few other items.  No small savings!
  • You will be “green” and recycled by buying used books whenever possible.
  • It is like Christmas for a solid week as all the books come in one by one.  (I can only imagine what our mailman thought of all the packages we were getting!)

Con’s:

  • When you buy mostly used books, you lose that magical “new book” smell.  This is not the end of the world, but that smell does make the start of a new school year much more exciting.  You also never really know what you’re going to get when you buy used on-line, so some of your books may be pretty beat up.
  • You can easily spend at least 3 or 4 hours comparing prices and ordering items.
  • In your weariness after switching between so many windows on Google Chrome, you may inadvertently order multiple copies of a book.  Or of more than one book.  And you may forget to order other books entirely.
  • Sellers may accidentally send you the wrong book.  Then you are stuck with a crappy book that will cost more to return than it did to purchase and yet it’s still worth nothing.
  • When you order close to 100 items from various sellers on Amazon, you end up with a 23 page receipt print out and your credit card will get flagged for fraud.  🙂

Even with all of those negatives listed (and I’m laughing as I write them out), I think I will still order our Sonlight this way in the future.  The savings were definitely significant enough to offset the hassle.

In other home schooling news, I may or may not have handed the following document out first thing in the morning on our first day of school:

A School Year Agreement

I understand that school is for my benefit and is not some form of punishment devised by my parents to make my life miserable because Mom and Dad have nothing better to do with their time.  I realize that my parents are sacrificing to provide my education and because of that and because my future success depends upon it, I agree to the following:

1.  I will not argue or complain about the schoolwork given to me, either by Mom, Dad, or by any outside teachers.

2.  I will do my best to understand the assignment independently.  If I am unable to do so, I will politely and calmly ask for assistance without interrupting someone else’s time of instruction.

3.  I will resist the urge to take the fast, easy route by doing the minimum amount of work required.  Instead, I will complete my assignments thoroughly, making sure all questions have been answered to the best of my ability, even doing extra research if necessary.

4.  I will use my time wisely.  I will not be a distraction to others either when I am working, or when my schoolwork is complete.  I will do my schoolwork during the school day as much as possible. I will not purposely save significant amounts of reading to be completed at bedtime, unless I intend to go to bed very early to do said reading.  When I am finished with my work, I will find ways to be helpful to Mom or Dad.  If my help is not needed, I will find constructive ways to spend my time.

I understand that school is hard.  I realize that if it were easy, very little could be learned from it, and so I will rise to the challenge and expectations that my parents and teachers have set before me because they have faith in my ability to complete the work.  This year, I purpose to work hard, do my best, and do all for God’s glory.

And, yes, I made them all sign it.  🙂  I credit this little document (and God’s grace) for how well the past two days have gone.

I think that’s it for today.  I hope your Wednesday is wonderful, wherever it takes you!

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Age of Opportunity – My Take Away

This summer I read Age of Opportunity:  A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens by Paul David Tripp.  Tripp is the brother of Tedd Tripp, author of Shepherding a Child’s Heart, hands down the very best book I read for raising children during the little years, so I was hoping that this would be something similar for the teen years, and I was not disappointed.  The author does an incredible job of reminding parents that this time is an opportunity, not a burden, that these challenges are gifts, not punishments.  Below are just some of the things I took away from this incredible read…

In a section titled, “Struggles for Parents”, he writes:

These years are hard for us because they expose the wrong thoughts and desires of our own hearts….We don’t radically change in a moment of trial.  No, trials expose what we have always been….So, too, the teen years expose our self-righteousness, our impatience, our unforgiving spirit, our lack of servant love, the weakness of our faith, and our craving for comfort and ease.

He also writes:

It is time for us to reject the wholesale cynicism of our culture regarding adolescence.  Rather than years of undirected and unproductive struggle, these are years of unprecedented opportunity.

These are not years merely to be survived!  They are to be approached with a sense of hope and a sense of mission.  Almost every day brings a new opportunity to enter the life of your teen with help, hope,and truth.  We should not resign ourselves to an increasingly distant relationship.  This is the time to connect with our children as never before.  These are years of great opportunity.

And this:

All must be seen as something more than hassles that get in the way of an otherwise enjoyable life.  These are the moments God made parents for.

And that is all just Chapter 1.

In chapter 2, the author gets down to the business of dealing with idols – our idols as parents.  The ones we didn’t even realize we had and that are greatly interfering with our ability to parent for God’s glory.

Our idols have caused us to see opportunity as trial and caused us to strike back at our teenagers with bitter words of judgement, accusation, and condemnation, behaving toward them with intolerance and anger.  While God is calling us to love, accept, forgive, and serve, we are often barely able to be nice.

Life is war.  There is a war out there; it is being fought ont he turf of your heart.  It is being fought for the control of your soul

Parents who demand comfort, ease, regularity, peace, space, quiet, and harmony will be ill-equipped for this war.  They will begin to see their teenager as the enemy.  They will begin to fight with him rather than for him, and even worse, they will tend to forget the true nature of the battle and the identity of the real enemy.  They will act out of frustrated desire, doing and saying regrettable things, and they will fail to be effective and productive in those strategic moments of ministry in which God has placed them.

We begin to look at our children as our trophies rather than God’s creatures.  We secretly want to display them on the mantels of our lives as visible testimonies to a job well done.

It is so easy to lose sight of the fact that these are God’s children.  They do not belong to us.  They are given not to bring us glory, but Him….Our identity is rooted in Him and His call to us, not in our children and their performance.

Uh, wow.  This chapter cut deeply.

Moving on…

Our Christianity often becomes fuzzier the closer it gets to real life, every day experience.

All of life blows into a chaotic mass of meaningless choices unless it is rooted in the one fact that makes every other fact make sense – GOD.

We must be faithful to turn their eyes from what they desire to what God requires.

Teenagers desperately need to see the larger story.

The family is called to be the context in which what it means to love your neighbor as yourself is self-consciously taught at every turn.

When selfishness, individualism, and demandingness create conflict, strife, and tension in our homes, we must thank God for the opportunity to deal with something that He has said is second in importance only to our relationship to Him.  If we are truly thankful, we will not opt for quick, surface solutions, but we will work to uncover the issues of the heart that are the real reason for the conflict.

The family is the context where the teenager’s true heart toward relationships is consistently exposed….Situtaions must not be viewed as the groaning hassles of family life.  These are the moments when God is calling us to something greater than our own comfort and ease.  These are the times when God calls us to love our children with a second-great-command love, so that we are willing to take the time to do the second-great-command parenting that they so desperately need.  At such moments, we need to be ruled not by the rule of personal desire, but by God’s rule of love.

This is all from the first four chapters of the book.  Part two goes on to Godly goals and then part three gives practical strategies for parenting teens and both sections are heavily underlined in my copy.  I was both challenged and encouraged by this book, even though we technically do not have any teens yet.  As a parent who does greatly desire peace and space and general ease of life, I was convicted that my attitudes are wrong and that this time is an incredible opportunity to engage my children as young adults and to help steer them down the narrow path of life while the wide path calls with distractions and temptations.  As we enter a new school year this has served as an inspiration to me to persevere through the hard days and to continue counting each day as a gift.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

When I want to run away…

As we wait for tomorrow to dawn and bring with it the beginning of a new school year, fears from how last year was creep in and overwhelm and God gives words that comfort and encourage.  I didn’t know one could suffer from post-traumatic stress just by home schooling, but there is definitely a high level of anxiety as we prepare to open the books on a new year.  I know we are called to this and I am called to do something I am not gifted in so that He can fill me and enable me and all glory can go to Him because it’s definitely not me.

God will make all our obstacles serve His purposes.  We all have mountains in our lives, and often they are people and things that threaten to block the progress of our spiritual life.  The obstacles may be a untruths told about us; a difficult occupation; a thorn in the flesh; or our daily cross.  And often we pray for their removal, for we tend to think that if only these were removed we would live a more tender, pure, and holy life

‘How foolish you are and slow of heart…!’ (Luke 24:25).  These are the very conditions we need for achievement, and they have been put in our lives as the means of producing the gifts and qualities for which we have been praying so long.  We pray for patience for many years, and when something begins to test us beyond our endurance, we run from it.  We try to avoid it, we see it as some insurmountable obstacle to our desired goal, and we believe that if it was removed, we would experience immediate deliverance and victory.

This is not true! We would simply see the temptations to be impatient end.  This would not be patience.  The only way genuine patience can be acquired is by enduring the very trials that seem so unbearable today.

Turn from your running and submit….There is nothing in your life that distresses or concerns you that cannot become submissive to the highest purpose.  Remember they are God’s mountains.  He puts them there for a reason, and we know He will never fail to keep His promise.

I don’t know what this year will hold.  We have prayed and discussed and planned and done everything we can think of to make this year better.  But we’re still a family of fallen, broken sinners, so struggles will come.  We will pray to be stronger people and live on the grace He gives everyday.  We will cling to the hope that He is doing something great in our lives and that one day we will see the benefit of our struggles.

Never pray for an easier life – pray to be a stronger person!  Never pray for tasks equal to your power – pray for power equal to your tasks.  Then doing your work will be no miracle – you will be the miracle.

We must remember that Christ will not lead us to greatness through an easy or self-indulgent life.  An easy life does not lift us up but only takes us down.  Heaven is always above us, and we must continually be looking toward it.

Some people always avoid things that are costly, or things that require self-denial, self-restraint, and self-sacrifice.  Yet it is hard work and difficulties that ultimately lead us to greatness, for greatness is not found by walking the moss-covered path laid out for us through the meadow.  It is found by being sent to carve out our own path with our own hands.

For today and tomorrow and many days ahead, I will continue to count the gifts He gives.  I will count as blessings the beautiful days and the ugly days, the days I wish would never end and the days that cannot end soon enough.  Because if the good things are gifts – sunshine and flowers and laughing children – and all things come from God who only gives good gifts, then aren’t the days full of tears and broken arms and broken hearts gifts too?  Not because we are supposed to be all happy-Pollyanna about those hard things, but because of what God can do in our life if we will only submit to those trials.  As I look back, I am lying if I don’t say that it is the ugliest, darkest seasons of my life that have worked out the greatest beauty.  No, I don’t want them there, but my Jesus He did something amazing with those years and I wouldn’t know Him like I do, wouldn’t love Him like I do, if He hadn’t walked with me down those paths.  And He continues to do something amazing with these broken years.  Years where I struggle to lead and mother and love well and I fall into bed each night, feeling like I could have – should have – done more.  And yet, He’s always there to pick me up, hold me close, and whisper truth into my heart.  There’s something amazing about the grace that picks you up out of the mud and makes you clean and beautiful and lovely and once you’ve experienced it, you can never give thanks enough.

 

1984.  Olympic watching with friends

1985.  laughing hard

1986.  four and one half hours of sleep

1987.  coffee to get me moving

1988.  time in the Word to get me focused

1989.  long lasting rain

1990.  all asleep by 8:45 last night

1991.  candles flickering

1992.  morning coffee (again)

1993.  all these feelings of failing, inadequacy

1994.  my God who carries me

1995.  a twelve year old today

1996.  feeling less crazy

1997.  dinner at 9:00 p.m.

1998.  beef broth spilled everywhere – everyone helping clean it up, including the dog

1999.  only a few more days of summer

2000.  lovely, productive Saturday

2001.  date night happiness – finally cool enough to enjoy eating outside

2002.  extended family reunion

2003.  sleeping with windows open

2004.  lazy Monday morning, last day of our summer

2005.  all of this amazing grace

Praying that today you know His goodness and see the gifts He longs to give.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

quotes taken from my well-loved Streams in the Desert

Only Twelve

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Today she is twelve but for a whole year I’ve been trying to make her thirteen when others ask.  This child who has always seemed older than she is, growing up right before my eyes.

I’ve written before of how she’s my rock, this one; steady, reliable, dependable, and how she honestly makes me a better mother.  We’ve battled hard this past year, she and I, and it’s broken my heart to struggle with her this way, so uncharacteristic of our relationship.  I know this is a season and it’s her finding her own way in the world as she grows into a young adult.  And myself not being one of those attached, child-centered moms, I find it strange how much it hurts to think of her going on without me, when that’s been the goal all along.

But for now she is only twelve and in all my weakness and imperfection I continue to strive to make the most of this limited window of time.  I fail daily, but God gives grace and I trust that He will take my efforts and make them something beautiful in her life and her sister’s lives.

And this one, she is already beautiful and lovely and I pray that she sees that, she who has become camera shy and sometimes self conscious.  I pray that she sees that she is amazing, both inside and out.  I pray that she will look to God for her value and strength and identity and not to some lie sold to her on magazine covers and billboards.  I pray that she will know that “true beauty emanates from the woman who boldly and unabashedly knows who she is in Christ“.  I pray that no one will ever be able to make her forget that she is loved wildly and madly by the God of the universe and by a Savior who gave His life for her.

This year she is “only twelve”, although she seems so much older and I am thankful.  It means more time to enjoy her companionship, her humor, her budding insight into the world around her.  It means more time to develop her leadership and gentleness and God-given gifts.  It means, by God’s grace, more time with her.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara