Once Upon a Summer

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Enjoying a Church Fellowship Night

We don’t typically take a summer break from school.  But this year, we took two months off.  With their Grammie unexpectedly back from Sierra Leone, my organizational overhaul of the school room, and a whirlwind trip to New England, time off was exactly what we all needed.  Our time, however, was far from empty!

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I have often said that these kids know how to make the

dull and routine quite memorable.  I’m never sure just how they’ll accomplish this, but more often than not, Small Son’s antics are somehow involved.  He very decidedly does not like shopping.  But living with four girls has taught him to make the best of it!

 

Days filled with the ordinary and the exciting–days making memories of their all-too-fleeting childhood–each and every day is another gift from God.  Gifts that I would not trade for anything.

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My Goofy Girl

 

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Chic-Fil-A!

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He left a tooth in his sandwich

 

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The Takamine TB-10–way too much fun!

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Graduated to half-size cello

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Fixing Mama’s Sink…

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…Ever the clown!

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Fun with Friends

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Good Little Babysitter

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It’s a long trip to New England!

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Official Fire Tenders

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Watching all her great-grandchildren loving life

 

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Breakfast Buddies

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Gram’s Girl

 

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Birthday Date

 

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
Psalm 127:3

 

More Than These

“Give them to Mama.”

He looked at me solemnly.  His beautiful brown eyes betrayed the unspoken battle taking place within.  He wanted to obey my voice.  But he also deeply desired his prized possession.

“Give them to Mama.”

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Tears welled up within his eyes.  Correction and instruction.

“Give them to Mama.”

The grubby fist slowly opened to release a treasure that only a toddler could love–filthy, soggy Cheerios discovered under the breakfast table.

Amidst ample praise and smothering kisses for his obedience, I offered him a muchcleaner, fresher version of his cereal.  His big toothy grin emerged behind the tear streaks.

Then I heard it.

“Lovest thou me more than these?”

A piercing question.  More than these?  More than the little trinkets of this world?   More than the little things that steal my time, tightly gripped in the fist of my heart?

“Lovest thou me more than these?”

“These”.  Not sin.  Cheerios are not bad.  Yet I expected him to trust and obey me.  And when he did, I rewarded him with something better.

How much we learn about the Father’s great love through the lives of our children!  As I slowly release my grip on the soggy, worn-out things of this world, he lovingly replaces them with that which is eternal.

“Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.”

“Feed my sheep.”

Yes, Lord.  These little lambs belong to you.  Help me to feed them your Word and show them your love.

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The Facebook Phenomenon

Facebook is a strange thing.  As with most such inventions, it is simply a tool in the hands of man, whether used for good or for bad.  What began as a way to easily share pictures with old college friends and parents living on another continent, slowly morphed into a book of drama.

The more I tried to clean up my news feed, the more ridiculous and petty the onslaught of “viral” videos and news stories.  I must confess that I find it difficult to take interest in the latest, greatest, super-cool sandwich building recipe.  Or why vaccines kill people….or cure people.

But, still I kept my account.  I enjoy seeing pictures of friends.  I enjoy sharing the random piece of kid-logic I encounter throughout the day.

Then the entire country seemingly took to FB to vent their political feelings over a particularly sad group of candidates.  I was told that I couldn’t possibly be a Christian if I had voted for a particular candidate.  The very next user would be just as certain that no person could possibly be a follower of Christ unless they had voted for the candidate in question.  And I had enough.

The eternal security of my soul, and the out working of the Word of God in my life, thankfully, does not rest upon the shifting sands of my fellow-man’s minds.  But such pettiness is rather wearisome.  I have more important ways to spend my limited time.

But if you know anything about my family, you know we enjoy music.  In today’s world of social media and the Facebook frenzy, there are many groups that we enjoy, that are only accessible on Facebook.  Want to find out when a singing family is going to be in your area?  Check their FB page.  Want to know when the next recording is available?  Look it up on FB.

So my account stayed active, if largely unused.

Knowing  that the majority of people connect only via FB, I’ve reached an understanding.    A compromise, perhaps.  I will not read every pancake and sandwich recipe that gets posted.  I won’t follow every vaccine link.  Political posts?  Forget about it!!

Sharing a verse?  Great!  Posting an encouraging article?  I’m all over it.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Philippians 4:8

With my own girl testing the writing waters, she needs people to write for.  FB is the most available platform.  Is she a skilled writer at thirteen?  Not yet.  But she enjoys writing, and I want to cultivate that love, and help her grow it to maturity amongst a safe audience.  The best, controlled method for sharing blog posts remains squarely on Facebook.

Social media is a tool.  An aggravating one, certainly.  But useful nonetheless.  So if you see me lurking in the corners of the online world, please don’t think me rude or antisocial.  I’m simply trying, the best way I know how, to guard my heart and thoughts, while still staying connected with the far-flung body of believers.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:29–32

The Industrious Wife

career womanOur culture places an extreme emphasis on careers as a measure of success.  While it is important (and biblical!) to provide for one’s family, it is not God’s measure of success.  The Bible teaches that a relationship with him, honoring his Word, and godly character are of greater value than money.

But beyond all that, there is great, undue pressure placed upon the women and girls of our society.  We are told to be everything that men are.  We’re told to be independent.  With the rising costs of living, many are convinced that they cannot raise a family on a single income–especially if that income is blue-collar.

The conservative Christian community has done a rather good job of countering this clamor for supposed equality between the sexes.  (Ask any honest construction worker–men and women are neither equal, nor treated equally, and it’s not necessarily the way the news clips portray the picture!).

But in the quest to free women’s consciences to stay home to raise their children, we Mother and baby in home officehave created another problem.  The cost of living is rising.  Homeschooling is a financial burden.  Growing children Never. Stop. Eating!  So we wives got to work.  We sewed modest clothing to sell.  We learned digital photography.  We taught music lessons.  We sold our unwanted items on eBay.  We put our computers and phones to work.

And this became our own measure of success–a source of pride, perhaps.  I’m homeschooling, keeping the house, and earning money.  All of these are good, noble things and are not inherently the problem.  The problem is our own hearts–the human tendency to compare ourselves among ourselves, thereby being unwise.  Unconsciously, Christian women have placed their own measure of success upon themselves.  A truly industrious, Proverbs-31-wife will be able to do it all!

We must remember that, as Christian wives and mothers, our first priority is obedience to the Lord.  Under that umbrella, we find honoring our own husband, and guiding the house.  My primary, physical responsibility is to be my husband’s help.  If he needs me to devote my time in an area other than earning money, then that is all I need in order to find success and fulfillment.

God did not place the weight of financial burden upon the woman.  He placed it squarely on the broad, firm shoulders of my husband.  When I try to take that burden upon myself, I am unduly weighed down.  My spirit is grieved, and I am no longer the help to my husband that he needs.

After spending ten to twelve hours a day with ungodly, cursing, lying men, my husband needs to come home to a happy, godly household.  He needs that time of refreshment.  An overly stressed wife and under-nurtured children clamoring for attention are not going to refresh him.  He would rather do without the extra money, and know that his family is spiritually and emotionally sound.  The work-at-home job is excellent.  But so is not working at home.

I still teach music lessons.  But I know that I will drop it (again) when I am no longer able to juggle teaching someone else’s children as well as my own.  We might have to cut back on some things (books and music are my undoing!) but this season of raising children is so brief.
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Ladies, we have a high calling.  Let us find our worth and measure of success from God’s eyes, not our own!

 

Spreading Wings

Sometimes it’s the little things. A moment of kindness toward a sibling. Picking up a dropped item for a stranger. A growing sense of humor. The little things that remind me: they’re growing. Growing up. They are dreaming of their own future. Little by little, those dreams become more and more independent.

The little ones tell me they’ll always live at home–“I’m never leaving, Mama!” they insist. I just smile and hug them. The older ones assure me they’ll always live “close by.” Then they begin to talk of faraway lands, and bigger dreams. My mama-heart wants to both hold them close forever, never letting them go, and give them wings to fly. Knowing the former is neither possible nor beneficial, I try to daily choose the latter.

Again, it’s the little things. Continually letting go. It’s a process. And while we have much to work on, I am so blessed by the young ladies my girls are becoming. I love watching them grow.

A blog–such a little thing. Hours of choosing just the right pictures. Agonizing over what to say. Remembering to spell-check. It is difficult for me to not fix formatting and improve wording. But this is her project. I know the pressure of a broader audience will push her to new heights.

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Her latest project: Maiden Of Virtue

I was surprised at what was in her heart.  I know she would appreciate your time in reading her blog.  But remember–she is spreading her wings!

Be Strong, and Do It

David.  A man after God’s own heart.  A man of extremes.  A man whose failures were as wild as his successes.  David never went halfway.  He utterly annihilated the enemies of God.  And, in what seems like a heartbeat, he turned from battlefield victor to conniving adulterer and cold-blooded murderer.  Yet David’s genuine repentance allowed God to once again use him mightily.

But perhaps the most poignant moment in David’s life comes near the end.

Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and for the footstool of our God, and had made ready for the building: But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood.  (I Chron. 28:2–3)

The desire of David’s heart was pure and propelled by love and devotion to God.  Yet God refused him.  Sometimes our desires seem noble, our motives humble and pure before God, and yet the door of opportunity remains firmly shut.  But God’s resounding “no” did not harden David.  No bitterness or regret ensued.  God’s role for David had been that eliminating God’s enemies, which set the stage for Solomon.

And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.  Moreover I will establish his kingdom for ever, if he be constant to do my commandments and my judgments, as at this day.  Now therefore in the sight of all Israel the congregation of the LORD, and in the audience of our God, keep and seek for all the commandments of the LORD your God: that ye may possess this good land, and leave it for an inheritance for your children after you for ever… Take heed now; for the LORD hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it (I Chron. 28:6–10)

David’s charge to his son must have been deeply moving.  Yet David was not satisfied with simply passing the torch to his son.  David used his power as one of the most influential kings of his known world to enable his son to succeed.

Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlours thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat…He gave of gold by weight for things of gold, for all instruments of all manner of service; silver also for all instruments of silver by weight, for all instruments of every kind of service…Furthermore David the king said unto all the congregation, Solomon my son, whom alone God hath chosen, is yet young and tender, and the work is great: for the palace is not for man, but for the LORD God.  Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God the gold for things to be made of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and the brass for things of brass, the iron for things of iron, and wood for things of wood; onyx stones, and stones to be set, glistering stones, and of divers colours, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance. (I Chron. 28:11–29:2)

The most magnificent temple ever built–God’s dwelling place on earth–is known to this day as Solomon’s Temple.  Though the work was completed in Solomon’s day, under his direction, it is impossible to fully know what could have been lacking had David not prepared with all his might.

And it was those very words that struck a blow to my heart and conscience.  “With all my might.”  I see the next generation rising before me.  A generation that was seemingly born yesterday and are teenagers today.  I cannot say, honestly, that I have prepared them with all my might.  There are days…months, even, that my strength and diligence fails.  I am not consistent enough.  David displayed some glaring inconsistencies.  There are times I know what is good and right, yet I choose the wrong path.  Like David.  But O! Praise God for his love and mercy!

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile…I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
(Ps. 32:1–5)

And as this season of my life passes quickly as does a vapor, may I prepare the next generation for God’s work with all my might.

Take heed, now, my children.  Be strong and do it!

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Daddy’s Little Man

IMG_2876My baby.  The only boy amidst a gaggle of girls. The prankster.   A sweet, thoughtful, caring little boy.  How did he turn seven?  Seven! 

I enjoyed him as an infant.  I had fun with him as a toddler.  He was such a little ball of energy.  He didn’t stop then.  And he hasn’t stoIMG_2728pped yet.

As much as he loves me, he shares a sweet and special bond with his daddy.  They don’t always have very much time together with the busyness of life.  Often it’s the little things.  A cup of coffee together in bed.  A trip to Lowe’s.  A pencil behind the ear–“Like Daddy does.”

He often reminds me of how blessed we truly are.  “Daddy’s a good man.  He works hard for us.”  He thinks the world of this man.  I’m thankful they are so close.

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With each birthday, we build his tool supply.  It all began withIMG_2792 screw drivers and pliers for his little projects.  This year, his growth and interests warranted carpentry tools: a square, a hand saw and mitre box, and a drill. These gifts came with an exciting promise: a weekend spent together building a workbench on which to use these prizes.

The appointed day dawned cool and clear.  Small Son wasted no time in getting ready.

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Styling!

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Daddy’s Guidance

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Now you try!

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A hard little worker

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Mr. Cool

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Gaining Confidence

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Okay.  So maybe I do need math!

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Ready to move in!

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The Schoolroom now doubles as a workshop!

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Using the finished product

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I know every mother feels this way.  But I’ve never seen a cuter kid!! I’m not sure how much bookwork I’ll get out of him, now.  Who wants to practice 8-5 when there’s wood to cut and drill!?

Seeing him grow makes all the noise, dirt, and frustration seem small.  I am one blessed mama!