Friday, November 9, 2012

Our New Schedule

We are on our 8th week of homeschooling and by all accounts and purposes, it's going great. Everyone is still enjoying school and are still motivated. There's a little bit of frustration over new topics as we're starting to move past reviewing the last year, but overall it's going smoothly.

But we were having this horrible problem of a chaotic morning. It all starts because I am a night owl. I love the quietness of the nighttime, and I would go to bed after midnight every night if it didn't affect the next day. But it does, and we weren't waking up until almost 9am every morning. Which meant breakfast was close to 10am, school didn't get started until around 11am, and we weren't ready for lunch until 2pm. Which messed up nap-time, afternoon subjects, snack time, cartoons, and pushed dinner and even bedtime later, which then started the whole mess over again. That may work for some people, but I'm a traditionalist and I think lunch should be at noon, so it wasn't working.

Because of all of this, I decided to get serious and start a new schedule. I made a list of everything that needed to get done during the day, and divided it into "morning", "afternoon", and "evening" sections. Most of these things are pretty simple like meals, chores, naps, etc, usually happen around the same time everyday. Then I figured out how long each of these things should take, and kind of worked around set times like bedtimes, lunch (of course at 12pm), and favorite cartoons. Our kids love Wild Kratts and it's really the only cartoon they HAVE to watch everyday, so I wanted to make sure they were able to watch it.

I wanted to have set times for each subject because I found myself having a pile of workbooks to check, and by the time I checked something, they were already halfway done with another subject, and we were going back and forth from subject to subject, and I really didn't feel like they were grasping the concepts, they were just getting the work done. So with set subjects for set amount of times, they don't have to rush and make mistakes, and there's plenty of time to check work and fix mistakes that do happen. There's also not the competition of "I got done before you did!" and "What subject are you on? I only have one left." that breeds discontent and causes others to hurry and not concentrate.

So here is our daily schedule:
Carter Family Schedule
7:30- Wake up, Get Dressed, Read your Bible, Start Chores
8:00- Eat Breakfast, Have Family Devotions
8:45- Clean up breakfast, Finish chores
9:30-10- Handwriting
10-10:30- English
10:30-11- Math
11-11:30- Reading
11:30-12- Spelling
12:00- Lunch
1-2:30 Rest time
2:30- snack
2:30-4- Afternoon Session
Tuesday- Art
Wednesday- Music
Thursday- Science
Friday- History
4-5:30- Free Time
6:00- Dinner
8:30- Anna and Elsa bedtime
8:45- Kayla and Lela bedtime
9:00- Noah bedtime
10:30- Mom and Dad bedtime

There are a few times on there can be moved or changed, depending on what we have going on (or what went on the night before), but for the most part, if we stick with this schedule, we will get everything done.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sick :(

Well this is not what I was thinking when I wrote this one down, but I guess life has a way of changing plans!

This morning I woke up at 6am with intense stomach pain. I won't give you details, but I was very sick all morning. I successfully slept way past noon!

I don't know if it was the Taco Bell I had Saturday night, or the delicious BBQ grilled chicken I had Sunday afternoon, or if I just got a stomach bug.

I'm so thankful for my husband that he works from home (or near home anyway) and he was able and willing to take care of the kids while I was sick. He was a very good nurse. He also got the morning chores done, and helped the kids with their school! I am very blessed.

Maybe I'll have another opportunity to sleep until noon. Let's hope so!

And no, I don't have a picture. ;)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bookshelf Re-do

Today I finished a project, I sanded and then painted this bookshelf for the girls' room. I liked it best after I sanded it, but the girls wanted it painted.
This is after I sanded it.

Me painting! I look lovely.

The finished product! It's not perfect, but Kayla said it was "awesome", so I'll be happy with that!

My first project on my "30 List" is officially done! Only 29 more to go.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

30 Things To Do While I'm 30

I am not one for New Year Resolution or anything like that, but I got inspiration for this and I think it will be fun! Lately I've felt like my life is in a rut and I don't do anything outside of my comfort zone (i.e. facebook and ebay), and my normal daily routine. So this list will help me get out of what I'm used to doing, and start my 30's off with a bang! Some might be simple things, some might take a lot of planning, and some might be a little bit personal. But I'm going to try to accomplish them all! When I finish one, I'll make a blog about it. If I remember!

1. Get an article published by a magazine
2. Go on a second honeymoon with Caleb. Even just for the weekend.
3. Cut my hair short (yikes!)
4. Get my legs waxed.
5. Sew something for me that I will actually wear.
6. Read the Bible entirely.
7. Sleep until Noon
8. Whiten my teeth with peroxide.
9. Lose 15 pounds.
10. Paint a tree in Anna and Elsa's room.
11. Finish Lela's baby scrapbook.
12. Complete an online class.
13. Make a really fancy cake.
14. Ride a horse.
15. Go to a Branson show.
16. Remake a piece of furniture.
17. Read "Mansfield Park"
18. Read "Gone With the Wind"
19. Watch "Gone With the Wind"
20. See BranDee Nissen and go out for dinner.
21. Have a Girls Day Out with friends.
22. Make Green Bay Sweatpants. (I just got a really cool idea in my head for this)
23. Go to Omaha/my parent's farm
24. Go to the Henry Doorly Zoo with my sister Sarah and her boys.
25. Make needlepoint birth announcement for Anna.
26. Make needlepoint birth announcement for Elsa.
27. Get my Conceal/Carry license.
28. Eat sushi
29. Pay for someone's meal behind me at a drive-thru.
30. Enjoy every day, and be thankful for what I'm able to do!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Simpler Life

There have been a lot of changes since we've moved to Missouri. Some are obvious like living in a house instead of a fifth wheel, or staying in one place instead of moving every few months. Having a steady, predictable income and taking care of a yard are other obvious changes. But there is one big change that I didn't really expect that came with moving here.

When we moved we found out we couldn't use our T-Mobile phones anymore, and now we have a basic Straight Talk phone that just calls or texts. At first it wasn't a big deal, although I knew I would miss my fancy smart phone that could run my life. But now after being without that necessary phone, I realize how completely unnecessary it was. Was it nice to be able to check Facebook at any moment? Yes. Was it fun to play games with friends? Absolutely. There were also a lot of other nice features that I used frequently. But I've discovered they weren't necessary and were probably distracting me more than I thought they were. Now I watch the cell phone commercials where a guy is walking through life staring at his phone and I think, was I that bad? The commercial is trying to tell you all of the neat things you can do while just walking down the street, or through the mall. But what I see now, removed from my former life of being that person, I realize how much that person is missing. Sure he's checking his email, updating his status, checking the weather, and finding the closest coffee shop all at the same time. But he's missing what's around him at that moment. And that's what I've discovered in our simpler life.

I miss two things about my smart phone: Pandora and Google Maps. But even those are not necessary, they were just nice.

Another area in our life that's simpler is the fact that we have very limited internet. And by limited I mean slow and unstable. In fact it took me 20 minutes and 9 page reloads to get this blog written. While this is really frustrating when I'm trying to search for something or just check Facebook, it also prevents me from wasting (yes, wasting) a lot of time on websites like blogs, pinterest, and countless other websites that are there just for perusing. And yes I realize I'm writing a blog I expect other people to read. But the fact is while those websites are nice and handy, they have the potential to be extreme time wasters! And not being able to go to those websites because it would take forever has really shown me that. Are they handy? Yes. Are they beneficial? Sometimes. Are they necessary? No.

Our life has also become simpler in our food. We live in a huge dairy and cattle community so we are able to get milk straight from a cow, meat from farm fresh animals, and eggs from farm chickens. We've also been given a lot of produce so we've learned how to can. There is a simple satisfaction in making a meal comprised entirely of ingredients that were grown or raised in a 30 mile radius from where you live. We aren't able to do every meal that way and we still make weekly treks to Walmart, but having those fresher options is really satisfying.

The fact is, we don't have a lot of luxuries that we used to have, and we've found that we don't miss them. We can spend an evening reading books or doing a family talent show. We can spend an evening cleaning up the yard to prepare for a storm. We can just sit and not have an electronic device in front of us and life will still go on. To be honest, it's nice. I like my simpler life.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Why I Like To Write Random Articles

1. I learn lots of things I wouldn't normally know. For instance, I know things about Florida custody laws that most people in Florida probably don't know. I also know the best filing cabinet for your type of workspace; and I can give wonderful tips on how to ace the ACT. I have written mind-numbing articles about spyware and anti-spyware software. I also consider myself somewhat of an expert on Celtic wedding bands.

2. I like to tell people what to do. When I write the articles I can pretend people will actually care about what I'm telling them to do. They weren't forced to read it, right?

3. I can marvel over how wonderful words are and how my mind can come up with words and thoughts, and my fingers effortlessly type them, and I can read my thoughts being typed out onto the computer screen. I know that was a run-on sentence, but I'm so fascinated watching my thoughts appear on the screen that I don't care.

4. I tell myself that I have a job besides being a mom and wife. Not to diminish the importance of those jobs, but sometimes it's nice to know that someone outside of this house wants me to do something for them and will pay me for it. In money.

5. It's really fun to buy new shoes, a shirt, or even school books for the children with the money I make.

6. It gives me an excuse to say, "I have some work to do, so nobody bother me while I'm at the computer." Sometimes they actually listen.

7. While I'm mulling over how to write an article about finding a good psychologist that sounds legit and will be interesting to read, it's a good excuse to browse Facebook and check my ebay listings. Hey, I'm working!

8. I just plain, flat-out like to write even though I've never had any professional training. I have two fiction novel ideas that I would love to write someday, but I know it will probably never happen. I like writing articles because it's a short commitment, it feeds my desire to be a writer, and I don't have to face a lot of rejection.

Now, you can remind me of this blog post the next time my crazy boss wants me to rewrite an article I wrote four times. Just kidding, I love her. But she's still crazy.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Words Devotion

This is a devotion I wrote for our Ladies Meeting and I had a few friends say I should put it on my blog. So here it is! I hope it can be a blessing and encouragement to someone.

Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer”
God gave us a special way to communicate that no other creature has. We can use words to communicate. We can speak words, write words, and even sign words. And amazingly, other people can understand our words and communicate back with their own words. When you think about it, it’s an amazing thing!
With our words we can project our feeling, our passion, our love, our hate, and our annoyances. Most of the time our words are negative more than they’re positive. What does the Bible say about our words? What should the majority of our words be?
In Hebrews 10:24 it says “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:” Our words should encourage others to do good, and to love. The word provoke is not always a negative word, but it means to persuade and push. When we speak, our words should persuade other to love and do good works.
The most important thing our words should contain are words of God’s love. Our words should be a sweet smelling savour (Ephesians 5:2) to God. We should use our words to be kind to others, to tell others about Jesus, and the share His love with those around us. We don’t have to constantly tell others about Jesus’s sacrifice and love for us, but our words should contain words about Jesus and His love for us.
Our words should also contain forgiveness. In 2 Cor. 2 Paul tells the Corinth church that if someone does something offensive or wrong, that’s it’s better to forgive them and comfort that person, that to hold it against them and cause bitterness in their hearts. He says that if you forgive that person, God will also forgive you, and it will be counted as a blessing toward you. Having a bitter spirit, and holding unforgiveness in your heart is shown through your words. People can hear your bitter heart, without out having to tell them it’s there. ii. We should be quick to forgive, and slow to judge. It’s easy to criticize and wonder why people do things, but it builds an unforgiving spirit and it affects the words you speak. It’s much better to learn to let things go, and to not let them bother you, unless you’re willing to face them and deal with the problem.
Eph. 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” In whatever we do, we should be able to say kind words to others. Sometimes it’s hardest to say kind words to those we’re around all the time. We can be kind to the check-out girl, the bank teller, and the person who calls the wrong number. But it isn’t always easy to temper our words with kindness when we’re talking to our family, or those we see often.
Don’t let words with no benefit pass through your lips. Gossip isn’t always stretching the truth or telling lies, most of gossip is truth that doesn’t need to be spread. Decide whether the words you’re about to say are words that are yours to say. If it’s someone else’s story or event, let them tell it themselves. And if it isn’t going to spread a kind spirit in the person you’re telling, keep it to yourself. Not all information needs to be shared. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Along with Kindness, our words need to contain truth. Eph. 4:17 “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” There’s always debate about whether or not a “little white lie” is bad. While we shouldn’t go around saying everything that’s on our mind, and giving every opinion we might have, it’s also not good to keep the truth hidden in your heart. Don’t lie to yourself and say everything is fine, when there’s something that needs to be dealt with; either between you and God, or between you and someone else.
Our words should not involve twisted truth about others. Sometimes it’s necessary to discuss an event that’s happened, and sometimes you need to talk to a trusted friend about something that’s bothering you. But make sure that the words you speak are truth, and not a twisted truth. And speak ALL of the truth. A lot of times we’re good about leaving out our part of the fight, or downplaying what we did to cause the disruption. Be as honest about your involvement in the problem, as you are about the other person’s involvement. Speak the truth.
God gave us the ability to use words, and he gave us the ability to communicate with them. Make sure that the words you speak are the words God wants you to use. Imagine using God as a filter and consider if your conversations and words would pass His test of approval.

Friday, July 6, 2012

10 Things You Have to Be a Mom to Do (Apparently)

1. Flush the toilet.

2. Put a new roll of toilet paper on the toilet paper holder.

3. Have the ability to pick up a toy off the floor once you drop it.

4. Find anything. And I mean anything.

5. Sleep past 7am.

6. See juice spilled all over the kitchen floor, and then know what to do about it.

7. Remember where pens go after you use them.

8. Stay up late into the night worrying about how you losing your temper that day is going to seal your child's fate of being a psychopath in the future.

9. Stay up late trying to figure out a clever way to get your children to do their chores, so you can blog about it and everyone will applaud your wonderful mothering skills.

10. Appreciate the sticky hugs and kisses that only you get because you're their Mom. <3

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fifth Wheel for Sale!

Because of our change in ministry, we are selling our Fifth Wheel.

It's a 38', two bedroom, rare Fifth Wheel with 4 slideouts. We lived in it with our family of 7 for 2 years comfortably, and the family before us that had it had 7 family members as well.

We would like to sell it quickly, and we would give a good deal to someone that is in the ministry. We also have a 1 ton Ford pickup for sale with a trailer hitch, if someone wants a packaged deal!

Please share this link with anyone you know that might be interested in a Fifth Wheel.

(Sorry for the double post, we just really need to sell it!)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Big Changes!

Almost a year ago my husband came to me and said he thought God was calling him to be a Pastor. I was less than thrilled. I was also skeptical. I admit, I was growing tired of living in a fifth wheel, traveling, and not having a home. But taking a church? That was a little bit much for me.
We didn't talk about it much after that, he would just casually mention it every once in a while. I told him I would follow him wherever he decided to go, but I didn't feel like God wanted me to be a Pastor's Wife! I didn't feel properly equipped.
When we went to Mississippi everything went wrong. Caleb kept getting hurt or sick, our children were fighting like crazy, Noah has started to have problems with sharing a room with his sisters, and I started to feel claustrophobic living in this trailer.
So I started praying about it, and God started to speak to my heart and He showed me a lot of things that I would like to share in a later blog; too much for right now!
In January we visited a church near where we were working in Mississippi and the Pastor preached on serving God and one of his main points was that we need more men to step up and be a Pastor. I just KNEW God was talking to my husband. And I couldn't deny God's working power, so that night I quietly told God that if Caleb talked to me about it again, I would be open and willing to follow him.
Well, he did, and I did, and we started praying that God would work things out, and that He would give us clear direction in leaving NTCP, USA and looking for a church to Pastor. Our burden was for small churches that would close if they didn't get a Pastor. We didn't want a cushy Pastor's job where we could relax. We wanted to serve and be used by the Lord.
When we came home the end of February we immediately took our Pastor (Caleb's Dad) and wife our for dinner. We told them that we wanted to look for a church to Pastor and Mom started laughing and said "I knew God wanted you to do that last time you were here!" That confirmed it in our hearts, that this was what God wanted. We had to go through a process of speaking to people in authoritative positions over us, and Caleb's knee injury gave us a good excuse to be home for a month or so, and not be doing any work. Everyone we talked to was on board and excited, and we just kept getting more and more excited! When we told our kids, it was like we were telling them we were going to Disney World! Kayla said "I've always wanted to be a Pastor's Kid!!"
We started praying about where God would want us, and Caleb and his Dad called different men to see if they knew of a church that needed a Pastor. We felt like God wanted us to stay in the Midwest, but we weren't limiting ourselves to that.
At the beginning of April a Pastor friend gave Caleb a number of a church in Missouri that needed a Pastor. He called, and they asked us to come candidate that Sunday! So we drove out there for the weekend and it was not what we expected. The church was extremely friendly but it didn't seem like the "struggling church" we had pictured in our mind. Plus it seemed like everyone was really eager to vote us in and it scared me. Was this too fast? Do we want to take the first church we candidate? Are we sure this is what God wants? We went home very unsure of what God wanted. They were going to vote that weekend, one week from when we had first heard of the church.
In my heart, I was hoping they would vote no because it was too fast, and I was too unsure. They ended up voting to have us come back for another weekend, so we did. The second weekend we went was completely different, in my heart. A few families were more open, and they shared with us some struggles the church is going through. The church decided to have us stay through Wednesday with preaching every night, and we had meals with the members before service.
I had a few questions, and some concerns, that I was praying God would settle in my heart. Some of them are personal, but some of them I might share in a later blog. And some of them, I didn't even know I had, but once it was discussed, I felt a huge burden lift. I'll just tell you that after Tuesday night, I went to bed knowing 100% that this church was where God wanted us, and I went to bed excited and overflowing with God's love and peace for where He was leading our family!
Wednesday night I was a ball of nerves, the church was going to vote on whether or not to call us. I could barely eat dinner, and I was having a hard time talking to anybody. It was like the huge elephant in the room that nobody wanted to discuss. The service was amazing and Caleb preached an awesome message, finalizing his Facing and Defeating Your Giants series he did that week. We left the auditorium and they had their meeting, and when they called us back in, I thought I was going to faint!
One of the things we were praying for was that we would get voted in 90% or more. We had several people tell us that number was impossible, that maybe we should consider a lower number. Caleb said if the vote was yes with a smaller number, we would still consider, but he really wanted that number. Well guess what, we got 92%! God did more than we asked, just to prove that He can!
Our last Sunday at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Mustang, OK is June 10th, and the next day we are going to officially move to Mound Baptist Church near Oldfield, MO. It's in the middle of nowhere, in beautiful Ozark, dairy country. I will give more details later.
Never doubt what God wants you to do. And don't be afraid to ask for confirmation either. God doesn't want us stumbling through life, unsure of what He wants, trying one thing after another. He is willing to give us perfect peace and rest, and He won't ask you to do something He won't equip you to do!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fear of Homeschooling

This post in inspired by some friends of mine, but definitely not aimed at them or a rant about them. I just want to make that clear! I think this is something that most people think, but not many actually say out loud. I just wanted to further expand my thoughts on the subject.
I've been homeschooling for 3 years now and I cannot tell you how many times I've heard people say they could never do it, or they are terrified of homeschooling. It's a reasonable fear! Our society teaches us that being a teacher is a hard job, that only the best can do it, and you have to go to school for years to become certified. Don't get me wrong, I know that teachers work hard and it isn't easy. But comparing a public school teacher to a homeschool mom is a little lopsided!
First of all, when you home-school you are teaching your own children. This is what you were created to do. You teach your children all kinds of things. You taught them how to walk, how to clap their hands, how to eat with a fork, how to use the toilet, how to pick up their clothes from the floor (although most children are still perfecting that art). You didn't have a chalkboard with a syllabus and a half hour a day teaching your one year old how to walk. You just looked for times when he was interested, and you encouraged him to keep trying. Home-schooling is basically the same way. Finding moments in the day when you can get your child's attention trained on some school facts. You do this at meal times when you teach them how to chew with their mouths closed. You didn't have to get a certificate to be qualified to teach them how to make their bed. You used your own life experience.
When you home-school you do not have to make up your own curricula, lesson plans, and research topics to teach your children. You can buy complete curriculum sets that literally tell you what to say, what to read, what to have your child do, and what you will need for the next day. You can be as involved or uninvolved in planning the school as you want. We use a rather involved curriculum and I don't have any prep work besides making sure they have basic school supplies. Any questions they have are addressed in the Teacher's Manuals. And by the way, "real" school teachers have those manuals as well. Most teachers do not make up their own school work to teach.
The biggest struggle for most home-school moms is not WHAT to teach, or HOW to teach it, but WHEN to teach it. When you're home and you see dishes in the sink, projects that need done, a nice day outside, or family that needs help, it's very hard to make yourself sit down and do school. And frankly, sometimes you just want to mess around on the computer or read a book. The beauty of home-school is that you can do that sometimes, but it really can be a struggle to actually get school work done. Some do better with a classroom setting, some like their kids in a central part of the house so they can do housework around them, some like to use library rooms for the majority of the work, and some incorporate the outside and different activities into school. And you know what? All of those things work! Because it's home-school, it's not public school. You don't have to sit at a desk from 8:30-3pm working on work. You can do a few hours in the morning, and some in the afternoon. You can take Mondays off. You can work in the evenings.
Home-schooling is a little frightening. It's different, there's a lot to sort through to find what works for you, and there are a lot of opinions on the subject. But the fear of not knowing enough, or not being able to teach your kids the right things should not be a fear. I read somewhere that 80% of 4th graders polled in the public schools could not recognize Abraham Lincoln. I've read that as many as 15% of High School graduates (not just Public School, but all types of schools) cannot read past a 2nd grade level. I'm not trying to speak bad about other types of schooling because every family has to decide what is right for their children. But what I am trying to say is that you can't do much worse than that! Especially if you have the help of a curricula that will help you teach your children what they need to know.
Don't be afraid, you won't be alone.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Wreath!

I finally got around to making a Spring Wreath, and now I'm finally getting around to uploading the pictures. This one is a little, shall we say, amateur, but that's because my girls wanted to help so we did whatever they wanted! I think it still turned out cute.

First we needed to take off the Valentine Themed one.

Lela cut the flowers off the vine.

The perfect frame for Anna!

Kayla helped pin the flowers on!

And then they wanted a picture of me in the wreath frame.

We had fun and although it isn't picture perfect, we enjoyed making it together.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Categories of Life

As I get older, and hopefully wiser, I start to see things and people around me more clearly. I find it easier to let things go, and to not be offended by what people do, because I've come to realize that we're all just human.

I used to see people as Good or Bad. There were some people who were close to me that were somewhere in the middle but for the most part, I would categorize people into those two categories, without even realizing it completely.

People at my church were more than likely Good, while there were some people outside of church that I heard about that were Bad. Family was mostly Good, but some were Bad. And Bad people would switch categories depending on how I felt about them at the time.

Remember, I was doing this subconsciously without thinking it through. There was no logic or reason for any of it.

But then we started traveling. First we went on deputation and met many different varieties of people. I started having a tough time figuring out who was Good and who was Bad. Then someone who was in my Good category hurt me deeply, and that person was moved to Bad. This upset my world and made me view everyone I knew with new eyes, and I had to start re-categorizing everyone I knew, because I didn't know who was Good and who was Bad anymore.

I started really struggling with this when we started working in churches and would really get to know the Pastor and his family, and their church members. One Pastor in particular would rotate from Good to Bad to Good, back to Bad in a single day. It was very stressful for me and extremely confusing to my psyche.

Then I had another tragic thing happened, and another person who was high on my Good list suddenly became very Bad and my brain couldn't process it. How could this be? How could a person go from being Good to Bad after one single conversation? Could I trust anyone? Was everyone lying to me and pretending to be Good when they're really Bad? I even started to doubt my Salvation. Was I such a bad judge of character because I didn't have God's Spirit and wisdom inside of me to guide me?

I talked it over with my husband many, many times and he told me verses like Mark 10:8 "And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God." and Psalm 14:3 "They are all gone aside, they are [all] together become filthy: [there is] none that doeth good, no, not one."

These are verses that I had heard all growing up, and could quote with him. But God saved them for when I really needed them. I started seeing people from a new light. I put everyone in the Bad category and then changed the name to Human. Because that's all we really are anyway, is Human.

Now there are subcategories like: Kind-of Creepy; Untrustworthy; Probably Okay, But Don't Trust Yet; and other similar categories.

And then there are my favorite categories: Friend; Prayer Warrior; Gives Great Hugs; Great Sense of Humor; Strong, and others. These categories sometimes blend together, and sometimes the good categories and bad categories blend together.

But the main thing that helps me keep them all in focus is that they're all under Human. We're all just Human and sometimes we're good, sometimes we're bad, sometimes we're somewhere in the middle. But because of God's mercy, love, and grace He loves us anyway. And it isn't up to me to decide who is Good or Bad, it's only up to me to follow God's example of "Loving Anyway".

Titus 3:5 "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;"

God doesn't judge our works and put us into Good or Bad categories. His only category is "Forgiven" with two subcategories: Saved or Unsaved. And we have that choice to accept His love and forgiveness, or to deny it. But either way we're forgiven and loved.

Have you accepted that forgiveness or are you still trying to fit yourself into a Good category that doesn't exist?

Are you stumbling through life not sure of whom you can trust, and always afraid of who will fail you? Only God can be a constant in your life, everyone else is just human. Give your expectations and works to God, and be free from the bondage of using works to earn favor.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mixing the World and God

The Bible is very clear about us keeping ourselves pure and separated from the World. We are to be the Light to the world, to show them the love of the Father.
Matthew 5:14 "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid."
We are also supposed to be different from the world, set apart and different as a testimony to God.
Titus 2:14 "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
Peculiar doesn't mean weird or strange, but different and unique. We should be a special prize that God would be proud to set apart and show off. I think of it as a peculiar vase you might find at an antique store. You're willing to pay more for it because it's different, not like the rest, and attracts attention for its good qualities.
This is a basic, easy concept to understand. And in Baptist circles we apply this concept to many things. We understand we should dress differently, we should listen to music that is holy and different from the world's music, we preach against bringing the world into our worship services, we even use these verses to purify our homes and provide a safe, nurturing environment for our children.
It's easy to understand that mixing unholy music with a Holy God does not please the Lord. It's easy to understand that Aaron and the Isrealites were wrong to make a golden calf and worship it, even though they said they were worshiping God. They thought they were doing what was right, they had good intentions. But it wasn't how God wanted to be worshiped. They had taken wrong worship and put God's name in it, and He wasn't pleased.
So why is it okay to take a pagan and worldly practice, put Jesus in it, and think it will please the Lord? Because our intentions are good? Were Aaron's intentions good enough? No, Moses had to beg God to not kill Aaron and the Isrealites. Is it okay to mix pagan practices and God's name because in our hearts we're sincere? No, the Bible says that our hearts are deceitful above ALL things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).
Just because in our hearts we are sincerely trying to honor the Lord, does not make it okay to worship and honor the Lord with pagan practices.
Sincerity did not help Cain when he made a wrong sacrifice to the Lord. God was not pleased with fruits and vegetables when He had made it clear that a proper sacrifice was a meat offering.
God doesn't want our good intentions and what we think is right. He's already told us what He wants, and how He wants to be worshiped. And He makes it vividly clear that He does not appreciate it when we take worldly practices, and try to worship or honor Him with them. He hates it, and it does not please Him. I think it would be fitting to search and discover how God would want His birthday to be celebrated, or His resurrection, or how He would want to be worshiped with music, instead of adapting traditions that stem from a completely anti-God belief system. He is worthy of our time and consideration of how He would like things to be done, isn't He?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Visiting Churches

There are so many things I wish I could tell churches of good things and bad things to do if a missionary visits your church. But I'm afraid it would be taken as complaining or ungrateful, or judgmental. We stop in to churches often on Sunday nights. We try to give the Pastor some warning, and let him know that we don't need or are asking for anything, but that we want to be a blessing if we can and possibly tell about our ministry. Most churches are very gracious and friendly, and some even let Caleb sing and present the ministry. We never expect a love offering!
But then there are churches that act offended that you dared to stop in. If they treat visitors how they treat us, I feel bad for them when they get to Heaven. Just a friendly handshake and smile, a question about our ministry or family, and a God bless you is really all a person needs, right?
I won't go on, because I don't want to complain and cast blame. I just thought maybe I could spread a word out there to church members that a kind word and a smile go a long way!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Nothing to Wear!

When Caleb and I got married I weighed 113 lbs and wore a Small in everything. Between having 5 children, going on deputation, and other life experiences, I've been all the way up to a size 16 and everywhere in between.

I've been trying to get healthy again. Not so I can be super-model thin, or even be thin, but just so that I can be healthy and feel good. I also have 2 storage tubs of size 6-8 clothes that I would really like to be able to wear!

But back on topic, I have been counting calories and exercising for about 4 weeks and although I've only lost 1 lb, I've lost several inches in various places. Yay me! But because of this my clothes that I currently have do not fit me anymore, but the clothes I do own that might fit me, are 13 hours away in a storage unit.

So until then, I've been trying to find cute, inexpensive clothes that fit me. This wouldn't be so hard, except I would also like them to be modest. Now I'm not a tent-wearing, don't show my ankles or elbows, nothing below the collarbone kind of person. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I'm not that strict. I just want clothes that will cover my shoulders (it is Winter, btw), go over my knees -especially while standing-, and allow me to bend over slightly without showing my stuff. I didn't think it would be so hard to find clothes that fit those standards, especially in Winter. But alas, it is proving to be difficult. And even cami's don't help, if your chest is larger than a 12 year old's. They are barely made to cover your undergarments, much less your chest.

Today I found three very cute dresses, in my size, for under $7. I was thrilled! Until I went into the dressing room. One was so tight in the chest, I could barely get it on. The next was so short, it wasn't even worth opening the dressing room door to show my husband. The third was suitable, but still pushing the "too short" category. And those were the 3 dresses out of about 40 different styles that I thought might be acceptable!

What is it with clothes being so short/low/skimpy? I know, we're living in a world where less is better, and showing more is cool and even accepted in a lot of churches. But doesn't anyone want to cover themselves? It's so discouraging to not be able to find anything even remotely modest. And if you do find something modest it's boxy and, well, made for Grandmas. I'm not quite there yet. Maybe in a few years it will be cool to cover yourself and we can find clothes at stores again. Until then, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with the few choices I do find.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Points System

For about 3 years now our kids have had specific daily chores to do, and at each birthday another chore would be added to their list. They have one chore for each year old they are. They've always been fairly good at getting their chores done in a timely manner, with a few reminders and redos. But since the older kids are getting older, we wanted to teach them responsibility with money, saving, etc. We've always taught them to tithe with birthday money and we involve them in offerings by giving them change to put in, but we wanted to step it up a notch!
This is when I came up with the points system. It's quite simple! They get points (in increments of 5) when they do extra chores, or have exceptionally good behavior. Every other Saturday they are allowed to use their points to "buy" prizes out of the prize bag.
This prize bag has things that we collect when we go to dollar stores, walk down clearance aisles, and even things we find at garage sales that are in good condition. We have nail polish, notebooks, cute pens, toys, stuffed animals, small games, etc. We keep track of the points on our dry-erase board in the kitchen.
So on Saturday nights we pull out the prize bag and according to the amount of points they have, they are allowed to buy prizes. We try to do it early enough in the evening that they can play with or use the things they buy. We go in the order of who has the most points gets to go first, and go down the line.
This system has really improved morale around here. They don't get points for doing their daily chores because those are expected of them. They get points for changing a diaper, washing the dishes when it isn't their turn, getting the clothes out of the dryer, fetching something for a parent, you get the idea. We also give points for good scores on test, and other school accomplishments. They also get points for Bible verses memorized.
There are a few exceptions. If they ask how many points they'll get, they have to do the assignment and not get points. And if they earn points and constantly remind us/bug us about giving them their points the said points are diminished or eliminated.
Since we're usually pretty tight with our money, and kids lose money all the time, this system has seemed to work really well. I hope it can give you an idea of how to reward your children for working without breaking the bank!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Valentine Wreath

This past Fall I got inspired to make a wreath. I think it had something to do with me living 15 minutes from my uber-crafty sister.
But anyway, I made a Fall wreath, then I turned it into a Winter wreath, and today I made a Valentine wreath, and I think it's really cute!

I found the idea on Pinterest from this blog.
I decided to go with a darker gray yarn. And when I went to buy felt to make the hearts, my husband found foam hearts that were already cut and had sticky backs. Saved me a ton of work!
I think it's really cute, and even my girls said it's "super adorable". A mom can't get a much better compliment than that!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Food Coloring and the amazing turn around.

Wow, I haven't blogged in a while! It's been a little busy around here I guess.

I noticed something during church yesterday, and someone else pointed out the same thing to me. We were told by two different people that our kids are well-behaved during church and one of the commenters said that she can't believe the difference between a year ago and now, especially with Noah.
This made me think back to a year ago and I tried to remember what church services were like then. I was pregnant and about to pop with Elsa, Anna was 1 1/2, and now that I remember, I didn't get to hear much of a message.
I remembered that I used to have to sit next to Noah either holding his hand, rubbing his back, or with my hand on his knee or he would be bouncing, sniffing, doodling, twirling his fingers, or some other nervous habit. Also, Kayla and Lela would often be fidgety and at least one of them would have to be taken out at least once during a single service.
But yesterday it was not so! Noah sat with his Bible and notebook taking notes and only being distracted a few times by noisy children. Kayla and Lela were not as fidgety, although they are still just kids. Kayla even tried to read her Bible along with the Preacher. Anna was....a 2 year old, and Elsa slept.
But I was amazed that I could also see such a difference! I guess the change was so gradual that I didn't notice. What do I attribute to this amazing change? I will definitely credit the absence of artificial food coloring.
Last year around April we cut out artificial food coloring and while we didn't really notice a difference without it, we really noticed a difference when they had some! It was remarkable.
I would suggest every parent research the affects of AFC in children. red40 causes attention problems, and yellow5 and 6 contribute to asthma problems. I'm not a doctor and I'm not a scientist, but I am a mom and I can tell you 100% that cutting out food coloring has helped our family drastically!
AFC is mostly found in things kids shouldn't eat anyway; candy, fruit snacks, "juice", sodas, and a lot of pre-packaged foods. Other weird things they're in is pickles (except the Claussen kind), Pillsbury doughs, chips, jelly, and some other things. If you want to cut out AFC just go through everything you have in your cupboard, or pick up to buy, and check the label. They're usually at the end of the ingredients list and if it's a color+a number, it's bad. You'll eventually know what things have it and what don't, and you can easily avoid it.
If our children are given candy with AFC, we exchange it for chocolate. We buy fruit instead of fruit snacks. We get chips that don't have AFC, we spend a little more for Claussens but eat pickles less. It's not hard to make the no-AFC switch, and I can tell you from personal experience, if your children have issues with asthma or hyper-activity, it will be worth it!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The kids have done 4 straight weeks of formal schooling, so I thought this week we would do some Casual Schooling and have some fun! Today I deemed "Outdoor Exploration Day". They were already playing outside since it's a cool, clear day. This was their mission:
Find 3 things outside that you can see, hear, touch, or smell. I excluded taste because I didn't want them licking everything outside. Then they came inside and they could write, draw, paint, color, or make their 3 things. This is what they did.

Noah drew a comic, and painted a picture.

First box: "Did you see that?" "Yeah" Second box: "That was awesome!" Third box: "It's windy." "Yeah" "I'm cold" Fourth box: "Ouch" "What was that?" Fifth box: "The trees!" Sixth Box: "They're attacking!"

Noah's 3 things: Wind, trees, a bird

Kayla wrote a song and painted a picture.
Her song, with her spelling:
I can her (hear) the berds (birds).
And I can cea (see) the trees swish arawnd (around).
And I can feal (feel) the wand (wind) blow on me.

She swears she saw a rainbow even though it hasn't rained in 4 days. I think she just wanted to paint one.

Lela just painted, since she can't write yet.

Lela painted a bird eating from a bird feeder (I think she did an excellent job!), the wind, and an acorn.

Anna also painted and she said it was the wind.

We had a lot of fun! They're outside again playing. I have some more things planned for the rest of the week. Hopefully it goes as well as today did.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Just Because

Sometimes when my kids get in trouble I ask them a really stupid question, "Why did you do that?" I don't know why I ask this because I know they probably don't know why, they're just kids. And also, they're already in trouble for the action, they won't want to get in trouble for their reasoning too. Because if Son hits Daughter and I ask "Why?" and he says "I was mad at her, and I wanted to get back at her." I probably wouldn't just shrug and commence punishment for the action. I would feel the need to give a lecture on why hitting is not a way to get even. So I completely understand why they say "Because". Or actually, they say "cuz", which drives me crazy for a completely different reason.
But I have come up with a pretty good comeback for the "cuz" answer which I think has backfired with my 2 year old, but that's another discussion. I usually say "Cuz is not a reason!" and then either demand a reason or commence punishment.
While I was pondering why I ask why, and why they say "cuz" instead of giving me a real reason, I started thinking about life and purpose. It seems that a lot of people are living life "just because". Parents are raising children "just because". Teenagers make bad choices and get in trouble "just because". Adults make bad choices and get in even bigger trouble, "just because". It doesn't seem like very many people have a purpose or a reason for their life. I see people wandering through life like the children of Israel wandered through the desert for 40 years. No purpose beyond that day, no goal beyond what is happening right now, no real reason for why they do things. They're living life "just because".
If you did a Google search (or Swagbucks search, as some may have it) on "The meaning of life" you would get 10,7000,000 results or more(I tried it, didn't win any Swagbucks). It seems everyone out there has their own opinion of the meaning of life. But what does God say our purpose is? Why are we here? Is it "just because"? Are we here because that's what happened in nature, and we'll live our life and die, and more people will live "just because"?
Mark 16:15 says "...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Simply put, our purpose in life is to tell other about the gospel; how Jesus died, was buried, and rose again, and is in Heaven preparing a place for us to last all of eternity.
What about our purpose as parents? So often I try to get through my day, going through the motions "just because" it's what I'm supposed to do. I forget why I have to do those things, and what my goal is in why I do those things. When I live my day "just because" I get more frustrated, because I can't understand why. I am more tired, because I have no real reason why I'm doing anything. I get more stressed out, because I'm wandering through the day, unconcerned about the effects of my actions.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 gives us clear direction for what our goal as parents should be. It tells us our reason for doing everything we do during the day, and a way to do it.
"And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
Deu 6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
Our goal as parents is similar to our goal as people, as children of God. It is to teach our children about the Lord, about His plan, and His Word. If we aren't doing that, we aren't fulfilling our purpose and we're living life "just because".
How frustrating it must be for God to see us living life "just because" when He has given us clear instructions on what we are supposed to do. I imagine how frustrated I get when I get the "just because" answer from my own children.
Lord, help my life to have purpose and direction. May I live each day for You because You gave me this life which I live. May I stand before You with a well-thought out life that accomplished much for you and not stand before you and say "just because". And thank you for my children who show me my own faults and for using them to bring me closer to You.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My New Year Resolution

First of all I want to point out that it is New YEAR not New Years. There's only one new year, not multiple.
Now that I have that pet peeve out of the way, I can move on to my blog post!
I have never been a New Year Resolution kind of person. But then a few years ago I started making them, and then I made "New Month" Resolutions to stay on top of them. But this year I had an epiphany: I can't do year-long resolutions. I make a resolution to lose weight, and I get pregnant. I resolve to reach out to my friends more, and I lose my best friend. I strive to work out, and I hurt my shoulder. I decide to put my all into my online article, and we move somewhere that I don't get internet. Life is too inconsistent for me to make those types of resolutions. They may work great for how my situation is in January, but then we go to a new job site and they don't work anymore.
So this year I'm making one Resolution and one alone: I resolve to roll with the punches this year, and to always look for an opportunity to serve the Lord more.
Maybe we'll be in a church where I can reach out to another young mother and be a friend. Maybe a church we help needs someone to work in the nursery or play the piano. Or we'll work in a place where I can exercise with the kids or be comfortable leaving them alone. Or God could lead us somewhere that I can't even dream of, but I can be a blessing to someone because of that situation.
I don't know what this year holds, and I can't even fathom. This past year has been crazy, wonderful, scary, and pretty great. It has had some awesome moments like living 10 minutes from my sister for 3 months; spending 3 weeks at my parents' house and relaxing; giving birth to Elsa and my mom being able to be there. There have been some bad moments too; some that involve family, some in our church, and some in our group. But through it all God has been faithful and has never left me, so this year I resolve to trust Him and to know that where He leads us, He has a purpose for not only my husband or my family, but for me as well.