Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Olympic Style Shopping

I just love running around town in search of those perfect gifts for my friends and family. I love the music, the lights, the people...but I only like to do it when I am all alone. Even one tag along Sweetie Pie makes the whole endeavour a bit trying. Just one person to hold me back from my carefully mapped out shopping course and my detailed synchronized time schedule, can make the festive mission fall apart.

There is little time for potty stops and snack breaks. With my list in hand and my purse harnessed securely to my back, I set off for my Christmas expedition in the iron jungle. That's what we country folk often call the city. The city at Christmastime is exciting and fun, but I am very thankful that when the day is done, I can escape the commotion and fly to my peaceful, green, open aired home for rest and recharging. I have been very fortunate not to have the dreaded car trouble, difficult salesclerk or bad driving weather to wreck my holiday shopping spree. I've not once been challenged by non-Christ-mass celebrators after wishing "Merry Christmas" to them. Everyone I've met has joined with me in using His special name to mark the season.

So, I gather my parcels, quickly accumulating in the back seat, cross items off my list with great pleasure and revel in some unplanned perfect find. I love those...those little "deals" that you come across that are just right for so-and-so. I absolutely cannot buy just anything for my people. It has to have their name on it, in some sense. So, it has to be tailor made for them AND fit within my budget...thus, such an expedition is necessary.

I had two days of this retail marathon this year...from about 9:00 am until 5:00 pm...without stopping. Along with quite a few homemade gifts, my Santa bag was full. I didn't even notice my aching hips (my feet are's the hips that suffer) or my low blood sugar from forgetting to eat, until I got home. I crash on my bed with sugar plums dancing in my head. Wanting to share my exciting gift discoveries, but I can't...must wait for the 25th...giggling like a child. It really is greater to give than to receive, I just had to get a lot older to realize it.

Most people become paralyzingly fatigued upon entrance of a shopping mall. For some reason, I get charged up. The adrenalin starts pumping and my mind is set on a course. I take my sport very seriously. I am a dedicated athlete. I'm sure I lost weight during those shopping days, only to regain them with Christmas cookies and egg nog. So now the wrapping begins. That part is not so much fun for me. I love gift bags.

I know, I's not the presents that matter...but it is when you are GIVING them. They absolutely do not have to be expensive, just from the heart. Jesus gave so much to us by coming here and He wants us to give too. Personalized, thoughtful gifts that let people know how much we love them. If you can't find anything, just call me. I am a trained, experienced shopper. If chess is considered a sport, then why can't shopping?

Happy shopping!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Quest for the Buckwheat Pillow"

Every morning, I get up before daylight. I'm the only one awake. I could lay there longer, my body would not object, but my mind is relentless. As soon as I am almost conscious, my cerebellum, cerebrum and every other cognitive part are in cahoots to keep me from more slumber. So...I get up. I search for my slippers in the dark. Every morning. I try to remember to strategically place them beside the bed the night before, but alas, I never remember. One time I did, and my stealthy exit was successful, but only once. It's a mental block. I really don't want to wake up my husband. There is no need for him to be up at 5:00ish am, and I need the time all alone in the morning.

The cat, who is generally antisocial and somewhat narcissistic, decides to be affectionate at this time, aiming at my stumbling feet. I run the short cat gauntlet to the stove light and coffee pot without tripping. My body is not too far behind my mind in the morning, but has to run to catch up. Lately, it's Christmas gifts on my mind. As soon as the stage curtain of my mind opens, I am calculating the Christmas budget, reminding myself of a forgotten gift recipient or deciding which candy cane flavor to give the kids this year. Eventually, after two or three sips of beloved Folgers, I raise my mug toasting the morning and welcoming Jesus to my day. I spend some time talking to Him, reading His lovely words to me and preparing my heart for whatever is to come.

Once I do this, my mind calms a bit and I gain some control over the thoughts. The "to do" list is written, the email is answered (blogs are written) and the daylight begins to appear, a necessary reminder that the other people in the house need to be revived. The dog goes out, I make my rounds with the torturous "rise and shine" song and flex my arm muscles dragging 5 people into the morning. My spirits are up, my energy is at its peak and much is accomplished...until about 1:oo pm.

If an afternoon siesta is avoided and my exercise routine is honored, production continues. Energy is definitely lost and my thoughts sort of coast instead of accelerate. Activities of a more enjoyable flavor happen in the afternoon, so as not to provoke my mental stability. Cooking, music, going outside even housework (yes, I like housework) keep my happy boat afloat until evening.

Early evening is when I have to slap in the Anthony Robbins tape (really...just kidding) for motivation not to go to bed at 6:oo pm. Hockey games and church meetings are timely scheduled here, redeeming the last third of the day. By about 9:00 pm, the curtain of my mind is closing, my body is happy to be still, but my hands have not yet settled. Thank goodness for knitting, or I would be 200lbs from the popcorn bowl to mouth hobby. About the only thing passing through my mind at this time is "knit one, purl one", "Are the little ones asleep yet?" or some kind of static like sound with muffles and snippets of the days conversations. The slightest seed of worrisome situations can sprout into mental panic at this fragile time, so light entertainment is well justified in my production oriented mind.

The day is done. I revel in joy of what has been accomplished, thank God for another splash of His grace and mercy, kiss the faces of the most treasured people in my world and rest my head on my buckwheat pillow (I mention this because buckwheat pillows are so awesome) for precious sleep.

I'm not sure that what goes on in my mind during sleep would be bloggable. Interesting, but subject to much psychological scrutiny and that is just not necessary...nor's early morning and I have things to do.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Science, Reason and Shortbread Cookies

Confidence has never been one of my strongest features. It might seem so, but that is just because acting is a stronger one. Struggling with confidence is a good thing, an ongoing exercise of finding the right balance. You don't want to be a soft, weak, unstable pushover, full of fear and headed for the Funny Farm, nor do you want to be an arrogant, over-informed fool who is headed for a humbling, shameful fall. The plight of the Atheist at Christmastime has been causing me to think about this lately. Have you seen the billboard, somewhere in the US, on the news? It says (with a nativity scene in the background):

"You KNOW it's a Myth. This Season, Celebrate REASON"

It will always be a mystery to me, how anyone could have so much confidence in oneself or other people, to the point of rejecting a diety of any kind over their own mind and body. You would think that with the plethora (that means a REALLY large amount...I just love how it sounds) of absolutely terrifying history of war, mental/spiritual disaster and other human tragedy, we would know better by now. Yet people still hold the human mind up as their Messiah. I know it's not all bad...but it is mostly. Sure, there is the odd hero story here and there in history of human achievement, but that's why they are so highlighted...because of the sea of failure we are constantly drowning in. We need these episodes of grace to give us a breather. They help us through as we continue to reject God and insist on pursuing man. I don't want to sound too negative, but the good news just loses it's effect when there is no bad news in the background. If we can accept and get over the truth of our helplessness, jump that critical hurdle, then the finish line would be in sight and the race can be won.

I appreciate science and reason. Philosophy class was one of my favorites in University and my favorite subject in our homeschool is "Think" class, formally known as Logic. It's an ongoing, all day long class, realized when Mom or Dad responds to kid questions or dilemmas by the simple "Think" directive. No other subject in my education amazed and drew me more than Biology. The pure sciences are a whole world of awesome. They are a never ending, mind boggling place for us to explore and test...and we should. But to come to a humanistic conclusion after having realized the depth of biology and the vastness of astronomy, to me, is foolishness. To elevate the human mind and body in light of what we now know through science itself, and to ignore or invalidate that which we cannot see or understand, will be our fall...and is the cause of our inability to achieve "Peace on Earth".

Science and reason fail when the supernatural occurs. You don't have to be a Ghost Whisperer to experience the supernatural. You simply need to have known love, heard a symphony or watched a child recover from disease under a perplexed surgeon. Robots, we are not. Gods, we are not. Dependent, limited, talented and very much loved...we are. Confidence comes from knowing we belong to a perfect God. Anything else is a masquerade. Having said all of this, I still have no problem sharing my shortbread cookies at Christmastime with any Atheist friend...just don't take away my shortbread cookies.

"We have a right to believe whatever we want, but not everything we believe is right."
Ravi Zacharias

Ravi Zacharias is likely the best apologist I have ever read when it comes to reason and theology. Check him out.

Galatians 6:14-15 "But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Homeschooling Hurdles

My 15 year old started kindergarten this year.

We homeschoolers sometimes think we are getting away with the tormenting first day of school with our kids. The dreaded day when we send them off into the cold world with all the necessary tools for survival in their backpack. We watch them go, without Mom there to protect and guide, not knowing what kind of dangers or difficulties await them. Wanting to run through everything we have ever taught them in their entire life in a quick 5 minute window before they disappear from our presence. Well, for most people, that happens when their child is about 5. For me, he's 15.

I hope my friends and family are patient with me and understanding. You see, I know how crazy and silly it must sound hearing me lament about letting my son go off and do things without me at his age. I also know that I can't just throw him into the world on his own at 18 or so, expecting him to successfully adjust and find his way on his own, without some safer field training beforehand. I'm trying to do so without whining and worrying. I've got my feet wet in various ways, like letting him have a summer job that required tearing away the bubble wrap I had him wearing for many years, but he was still very close to home. Now he goes off farther away...out of my codling reach. To Mom, he is still that big, bald, precious baby that I would die protecting. In reality, he is a trustworthy, God honoring, respectable young man whom I need to let experience the world...just him and the Holy Spirit...making their way together.

I know it's a Mom thing, because my husband doesn't struggle with it much at all. Once all the facts are set out and the situation is accessed as acceptable, he sleeps like a baby. His reassurance is vital for me. So is the experience of older moms whose sons are all grown up, parachuting out of airplanes, braving the high seas and backpacking across Europe. It's just plain funny how we homeschoolers think we are "off the hook" by having them home for so long. Unless we want little Johnny living with us at 50 years old, with no family of his own or spiritual muscle, we had better start thinking about when and how the field training will take place. I write this because I really didn't prepare myself for the trauma. I didn't know it would be traumatic. I thought the fact that he is taller than me would make it doesn't. But faith in Jesus and the grace of my son's character does.

This hurdle in our lifestyle choice is being overcome. I will be better prepared for the next boy when he stretches his wings...naa...who am I fooling...kindergarten is kindergarten, no matter how many times you go through it in your mind. The age old "apron string cutting" is inevitable. I'll just rest on prayer and the firm foundation God has allowed us to give them through the bubble wrapped years.

Wading into the icy water, rather than diving in has always been my preference. But you need to make sure they can swim well on their own before expecting the waves not to overcome...and this world is pretty wavy.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mr and Mrs Smith Myers

Equilibrium: The condition of a system in which the competing influences are balanced.

Quite unintentionally, my husband and I ended up playing "good cop, bad cop" at Canadian Tire the other night...only I was the bad cop. Usually, my Better Half is the outspoken, the truthful, the one more concerned about fairness than keeping peace with all men. Not this night. We had been in town all afternoon, with both vehicles, 4 kids and a "To Do" list about a foot long. We had both vehicles because one of them needed snow tires put on and would carry the 2 weeks worth of groceries home while the van would carry the kids and the side of pork to be picked up at the butchers on the way home. Yes, we buy our meat in sides...from real farmers, with plaid shirts and toothpicks in their mouths...that's the only way to know for sure that the meat doesn't have hormones, steroids and other fancy chemicals in it. Plus, I am a true New Brunswicker.

This was not a typical trip to town for us, but it just had to be done this particular day. It was about 8:00 pm and Mom was getting pretty worn out. At that time of night I can get a bit grumpy and my self control is not at it's peek, operationally, especially with tired little ones wanting eat, to buy, to ride and to play with. Not the best time to charge us a significant amount more than we were quoted for the installation of the winter tires, and then give us the old "Sorry, there is nothing we can do about it" line. My first reaction was more frustration than anger and a bit of concern as my husband's face showed the early signs of a confrontation with the sales clerk. Actually, his defences had been primed earlier on while I was in the waiting room with the kids.

Apparently, one young, careless sales clerk had pushed his protective button by making some crude remark about me. You see, I was in the waiting room while my Knight was waiting at the sales counter. The young man didn't know we were together and made an age old "locker room" joke about me and at that point, my man made his identity known quite CLEARLY. When I came out to join him, I noticed the tight lips and the redish face on my Sweetheart. That was the beginning of the end.

Something took a crazy twist, however. As we presented our case to the clerk and he continued to push buttons, on the computer this time. I started to get a bit aggressive and my husband calmed. I will not quote my two or three telling off lines because I am not proud of them. Some people think aggressive, smart mouthed women are cool. I don't. We clap after their brilliant comebacks in the movies and high five our fair fellow maidens in the age of feminism, but it's still just plain old pride. I made the poor man's hands shake and felt more like a husky army captain than a true woman. That's not the identity I'm going for. "A gentle and quiet spirit is precious in God's sight" 1 Peter 3:4

My husband stepped in and took control of the situation. He humbly and quietly requested that the clerk help us out, and he did. I apologized to the man for my aggressiveness and he expressed understanding (with a shameful glance at the "locker room" guy). All was calm...all was settled...we are now exchanging Christmas gifts with the sales clerk.

Upon analyzing the situation, I wonder if I was subconciously distracting my husband from tearing someone's limbs off. After all, It's harder to be mad at a tired old woman, with two little punks hanging off of her than a tall, confident man clad in a John Deere jean jacket. On the other hand...I think I just snapped.

As we walked back to our vehicles, my husband looked at me with a bit of bewilderment in his eyes and asked me, "Were you playing 'Good Cop, Bad Cop' ?" I really wasn't...I'm just glad my Good Cop has my back and I have his. We have great equilibrium. Yet another example of how chemistry is vital in a healthy relationship. That's about the only thing we have in common with Brad and Angelina :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My Not So Secret Identities

I still marvel at how my life has turned out. I mean, in the sense that I'm really not living the life I imagined I'd be. I'm not sure what I expected, but I don't recall ever desiring certain things to be part of my daily routine, yet here they are. Like chickens....and such busyness...and not wearing makeup...just to name a few. I've always wanted to be a mom and to work from home, but I didn't REALLY know that it would require such energy and be so glamorous! What happened to the perfectly clean and decorated home, the obedient and calming children and the hours in the morning to pamper myself with bubble baths and hair sculpting?? My dream bubble has burst...has bursting?...whatever.

I felt a bit like Wonder Woman the other day. It was chicken processing day, if ya know what I mean, so we were up and at em', bright and early with grunts of readiness for the age old task. It was cold, so on with the worn out parka, the winter hat that no one will wear and armed with the dreaded utensils necessary to bring you Cordon Blue and Kiev. You see, for every high fashion, elegant table of gourmet cuisine there is one scary looking chick on the farm, working hard to bring you such pleasure. Those are the moments when I stand in the mirror, thinking philosophically, wondering who switched the train track on me.

The Wonder Woman part comes when we had to abruptly quit our jobs and get ready for the Remembrance Day service scheduled. We had 15 minutes to get 4 rather icky looking and smelling farmers and two little ones dressed respectfully and loaded in the van. Fortunately, I am past the "hand holding" phase of childhood and the kids are pretty good at taking care of themselves, but we are still 6 people with 2 bathrooms. A little perfume, dangly earings, outfit a la Frenchies and those beloved hats...fashionable hats are a Godsend for me...never mind the hair sculpting, pony tail the hair and throw on a pretty hat. Instant dress up.

I went from Home Home on the Range to Mary Tyler Moore in minutes. One person, at the service, commented on my well put together attire and I smiled graciously while thinking, "If you could have seen me just a few minutes ago!!" That good ole' telephone booth thing, where you transform appearance in an instant, happened that day. Unfortunately, I had to go back in the phone booth and emerge as Farmer Fran again for the rest of the afternoon, but at the end of the day, it was bubble bath, candles and soothing music for this mamma...the rest and relaxation between outfits. There is the farmer Holly, the counsellor Holly, the house-cleaner Holly, the hockey mom Holly and the teacher Holly...all with their appropriate outfit.

Even though glam and ease do not characterize my life, nor that of most people, I'm very happy. Circumstance doesn't determine your contentment. Having all of your ducks (or chickens) in a row will not guarantee joy. We think we know what will make us happy. We plan and "make it happen", masters of our destiny, only to find that we aren't as smart as we thought we were. There is only One who knows you better than you. He plans and designs your life according to His best judgement. We fight for control, like a child wanting candy for breakfast, while God holds out pleasures unimaginable, in Him. People always say, "It is our relationships that matter in life, not our stuff, or what we do", and they are right on...except they aren't usually referring to their relationship with God, but people.

It's freeing and funny to stand in the middle of a "life unexpected" and smile, contently, realizing that doing what I want is not necessary anymore. It isn't the answer. Really knowing this allows you to laugh in the face of Life because it has no real hold on you anymore. I really can "do all things through Christ who strengthens me", and being the loving, affectionate Father he is, he always sends moments of pampering my way, when I need it most.

Today, I am hockey Mom...lined jeans, a cold rink and a van full of smelly gear await. A wonderful multifaceted existence :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Music All Day Long

If music were a color, I think it would have to be a rainbow. I can't imagine a day without it. Whatever mood you are in, whatever issue you may be dealing with, for it there is a song. Music is a huge part of our family. We all love it, share it and make it in various ways. It's interesting to see what musical abilities God has planted in each of our kids and to grab hold of it for tuning.

Our oldest has been tapping, stomping and vocalizing beats from toddlerhood. His first drum set was worn and beaten to death, not suitable for passing on to the next child. His "big boy" drum set is starting to fall apart, but he is now old enough to care for it better. Much to Mom and Dad's joy, he is shopping for an electric drum set that has a VOLUME CONTROL on it...I like. Drum lessons are not an option when you live in Boonyville, so apart from the odd instructional DVD, he has taught himself and does quite well. I actually don't mind the dulled drum beats I hear from his basement bedroom...I have been caught inadvertently dancing around to them.

I've often wondered why God gave our second son such an ENORMOUS MOUTH. I'm not kidding, his mouth/jaw is really a handsome,Val Kilmer kind of way. One friend calls him Mick Jagger. I hesitantly had to agree. He is even just as skinny as Mick. It's a bit of a riddle how I can agree with his likeness to Mick Jagger and still think he is gorgeous. My family will tell you that I have always had a fascination with lips. Some people notice eyes, hair and smiles...I notice mouths. Some day, maybe I will post pictures of all the most handsome men I have had pictured on my teenage bedroom walls, and you will notice one thing in common...the lips. I digress...the God given facial structure of our second son lends itself to his amazing singing ability. He can sing any song he has heard, without music and never miss a note. Harmonize on demand and make up his own silly songs for family entertainment.

The music inclinations of the youngest two have yet to be unveiled, but hints are appearing. I love God's musical design in my kids, but some of it takes some getting used to. Like their love of rap music. Listening to rap music is somewhat like having to endure Chinese water torture, for me. It's continuous, monotone flavor slowly builds in my ears until it brings me to a breaking point. I can take it no more and I need escape. Fortunately, some of the Christian rap they have been listening to is enhanced by some very nice, melodic choruses. These redeeming interludes make the rappy verses tolerable as I look forward to the, usually female, MUSIC interspersed. My kids love the fact that I can share their music appreciation now, and so do I :)

The wonderful thing about the rap music my boys listen to is the content. I was absolutely amazed at the great theology, doctrine and general messages in the lyrics. One of their songs (I think it is called "Rebel") has little snippets of Mark Driscoll and John Piper quoting from their sermons! It was so heartwarming to hear this song where two worlds kids' music with our worldview...a happy moment in my parenting. Another happy moment was when, in the middle of one of my husband's sermons, my oldest turns to me in great excitement after a lightbulb when on in his mind. A lyric (scripture based) he had been listening to, and not understanding was explained by Dad in the middle of the sermon. Good stuff.

Some smart person, one time said, "Give me society's music, and I'll have your child's mind". I couldn't find the actual quote, but the idea is there. Every song has a message and those messages are teaching our kids. We need to oversee that process very carefully. I am learning that the sound of the music is not so important, but the message it contains is.

I still play classical/instrumental music while the kids do their bookwork in the morning. That way, they become familiar with some of the classics and various instrument sounds. I play mostly my own preferences later in the day, but there is lots of room for diversity here. I want my kids to appreciate all kinds of good music, and to be familiar with the "Greats" of musical history. With the addition of reading many of their biographies and encouraging/supporting the kids' own musical abilities, "music class" reveals itself.

We certainly aren't the vonTrapp family. I highly doubt that we are headed to be one of those sweet homeschool families that travel around the globe, wearing matching outfits and sharing their high quality musical talents, but we sure have fun blasting the tunes and singing together in the van. Everything from Steve Camp to Trip Lee to...well, they don't let me play John Tesh in the van, but I understand...that's their version of Chinese water torture.

"You can't possibly hear the last movement of Beethoven's Seventh and go slow." ~Oscar Levant, explaining his way out of a speeding ticket

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

So, I survived the dreaded crossing over...from 39, to that other decade. It was really no big deal for me from the beginning, especially when your husband in 6 1/2 years older than you are. That kind of makes you feel forever young. It was a lovely weekend of well wishes, pampering and gifts. Very thoughtful and appreciated gifts. It's not that I like people spending money on me or that I am terribly materialistic, it's just that they were such nice, "feel good" kind of things. I was reminded of how important sisters and moms are.

I grew up in a household of three girls, with a very lovely, feminine, stylish, mom. She always appreciated and enjoyed simple and beautiful flowers, gardens, modest jewelry, homemade bread, hand sewn dresses and classical music. We didn't have hoards and hoards of money, but my mom could make the simplest thing look like a million dollars, and my dad's love and provision for her made us all FEEL like a million dollars. We were very rich in that sense. The three daughters learned to love beautiful and simple things. That's part of being a woman, I think. Allow me to generalize a bit...

I have three sons. Daily, I see rusting bikes and various weaponry...I smell well used hockey gear...I feel bread crumbs under my feet at meals and whiskery kisses... and I hear the sound of battle cries, sword fights and armpit farts, like an Old Spice symphony. Sometimes I forget what beautiful things feel like. Then...I get presents from my sisters and Mom.

A beautiful stone necklace, a pine scented candle, African coffee, gorgeous wine colored flowers, green apple skin cream, chocolate covered dried cherries!!!! I have died and gone to an epicurean heaven!!!!! I remember! I remember that I am female and I LOVE beautiful things! I was drowning in the sea of Jock Boyness and I have been thrown the floral printed lifeline. What a breath of fresh air...literally. I have been basking in these pleasantries for days now and intend on not neglecting my inclinations toward these treasured things ever again. I think my boys kinda like them too, surprisingly. I've heard nice comments about the flowers and they especially appreciate the apple face cream...I've been getting more kisses lately :)

I do have a young daughter who is pink, sparkly and high heeled in full force. She will be my ally and fellow shopper for years to come, I am sure. God knew that I would need reinforcements.

I've been immersed in a girls' world as a child and then transferred to a boys' world as an adult. The temperature change is a bit of a shock, but what a great experience. I love them both and cherish each person who enriches them. I have to say though, those little gifts from "my girls" made my wonderful life even better...things smell and look better, and you have no idea how important that can be on those days of snakes and snails and puppy dog tails.

Thank you...from my heart...T, J and Mom.

Thursday, October 28, 2010 BFF

I think it's about time to do a little writing about one of my favorite subjects: homeschooling!!! Often, otherwise known as home educating, wrecking your children, socially isolating, brainwashing and many more, it is in my opinion, one of the greatest blessing of my life...and that, a complete surprise to me.

While in college, I did a random paper on homeschooling for a Philosophy class. That was the seed planted for what would be my "career". As I fumbled around for 6 years in University, the puzzle pieces of my mystery purpose finally came together in the LAST year. As I walked across the stage to accept my Education degree, I was bubbling with excitement. Not because of the piece of paper in my hand, but because of the little life that was blossoming in my womb. My husband and I had just found out that we were having a baby that week and it kind of overshadowed my graduation. There began my infatuation with home education.

It has been about 10 years since we began "officially" home educating our oldest son and I love it more now than I did then. It was much more difficult at the beginning, with uncertainties, infants and high expectations. Those were the hardest times. As our 4 kids have grown and I have learned so much, homeschooling is like a comfortable glove on my hand, a lifestyle fitting perfectly to our family's needs. It was difficult to let go of the reins in those college years, but God was faithful and guided us perfectly into His plan for us. I don't plan to go into every aspect of the last 10 years...for which I am sure you are grateful. I'm sure you don't really want to know where I store our erasers, what my kid's copywork looks like or watch a video of us eating organic hot oatmeal for breakfast while listening to a Henty audiobook (people make these kind of videos...I've seen a few). I do want to share, however, some homeschooling things that I love...some sunbeams that I have taken the time to bask in over the years.

The first thing spot. You could call it the teacher's desk, the "Bridge", the driver's seat or Command Central, I just call it "my spot". It is somewhat sacred. Somewhat necessary for my sanity and absolutely heavenly. Every mom who works from home should have her "spot", or maybe even a couple of "spots"...a place to rest, think, put her knitting, her clipboard with the week's agenda on it and her tea. Mine is a rocking chair right beside the big picture window where, you guessed it, the sun shines right on through on me, all morning long :)

Not that I actually sit there all morning long, that would not be good for any of us either. I do sit there for the duration of the dreaded Math class though, then it's up and down for the rest of the book work time. We try to get all of our book work done in the morning, because real life education happens the rest of the day. By book work I mean the necessary, brief assignments that require proper writing and problem solving. Every homeschooler should learn the discipline of good study habits and brain done in the done in short done, then the fun stuff can happen the rest of the day. By fun stuff I mean music, cooking, wood work, painting, more reading, visitation, projects and any valuable thing you want your kids to appreciate and practice...or that they love and you need to appreciate and let them practice :)

The last category of things that happen in a run-of-the-mill day is FREE TIME. I like how Charlotte Mason terms it "Masterly Inactivity"...sounds much more credible to me, but harder to say and write, so I'll call it FREE TIME. She calls it that because it refers to giving your kids time to do what they want and relax, but always things that have been given your approval so that Dungeons and Dragons, ouija boards and video game marathons can be excluded.

So, we have book work, fun stuff and free time involved in homeschooling ('s an friends forever). Some gems from each of these categories will be given some air time on my blog. Air time? What do you call it? Blog time? Cyber time? Help me out here.

Time to go do some fun stuff and masterly inactivity...going to an apple cider farm and then coffee and cookies at a friend's house. Ahhhh...homeschooling :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Surrendering to the Curls

I had to publicly apologize to my Mom and sisters recently, as it dawned on me just how intolerable I was as a teenage ego maniac. Of course, we aren't quite aware of how we are behaving in those turbulent, hormone bathed years of me-ness, but eventually, our self awareness grows and the dark truth comes into the light. The hair had to be just right, the clothes had to be brand named (borrowed form sister-thanks Trace) and the clock had to wait for these vital signs to stabilize before we presented ourselves to our audience...who wasn't paying that much attention to us in the first place. Our poor bus driver waited EVERY day, with a honk of the horn as I put the last hair in it's place. He even overlooked the assigned bus stop and waited right outside our house, so I didn't have to walk those grueling few feet and brave the weather in my so carefully put together attire. My sweet, blond and beautiful sisters, with their much more relaxed personalities, tolerated my demands for the bathroom mirror and my Mom just snickered...she really knows how to handle me.

OF COURSE I'm not like that anymore!!!! Although, I think it lasted a lot longer than I thought because my husband remembers me taking much time taken to get ready for front of the mirror. Eventually, I gave up. I have accepted that God made my hair curly and trying to straighten it is futile...that Calvin's name on my jeans doesn't make me sweeter...that laugh lines are actually quite attractive...that if you have a great smile, no one notices the Mount Everest pimple on your face and that Mom was right all along...beautiful is not seen on the surface.

Another freedom for women everywhere is in this...that wading in the shallows of vanity is a prison. Brave the waves and wade out a little deeper. Throw off the Vogue brainwashing and think truthfully and real. Enjoy beautiful clothes, fun hairstyles and love your shoes, but once they are on, forget about them! Change your focus to those around you and on what you can learn and do.

Disclaimer: Now that those wise words are out there, it must be said that four children, pets, house cleaning, church ministries, minor health issues and...age...kind of speed the enlightenment along.

I've been having this conversation with my daughter...we call her the Fashion Flaky. She is indeed very pretty and has a love of clothes...sparkly, multicolored, trendy clothes that need changing about every 40 minutes or so. She also has an extremely messy room and too many hand-me-downs. After she has dressed herself and done her hair in a reasonable amount of time, I say to her, "Ok, now that that's done, come away from the mirror and forget about what you look like." Fortunately, she has much more confidence than I did and doesn't really worry about it...did I mention that she is only seven? Ya...mostly playing, but now is the time to start the training so that the teen years are not such a Diva war.

It amazes me how many older women appear to still be caught in the beauty/confidence lie. You would think that they would get it by now, but apparently not. Hair color, weight perfection and anti aging creams are still at the end of the yellow brick road. Remember the teeter todder...balance the weight of value we put on beautiful things or we'll get a painful bump on the rear from the harsh, dirty reality of life.

The breathtaking colors of the fall leaves is a reminder to us of what true beauty is. The leaves are giving up all of their life giving chemicals to the it can live through the winter. The sacrifice causes them to lose their lush green and turn other colors. The beauty of the leaves' death is a natural wonder that causes people to travel from afar, in busloads, to behold.

Matthew 6:28-30 "And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith?"

Just as a side note, I wasn't all THAT bad a teenager. Aside from the hair thing, I don't think I was obsessive about much else...except Rob Lowe...and eating on time...and...never mind.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Dream Sorting

I've had a touch of writers' block. Searching for something to write about, because I really want to...need to almost...but too many things bobbing around in my head to focus on one thing. That makes it difficult. Some ideas are deep and philosophical, some are strong and pointed and not many are funny and lighthearted...I like those the best, but they are harder to carve out of my psyche. Chasing my thoughts around all day is a full time job. When there is laundry to be done, meals to prepare, fights to break up and school to be done, my thoughts need to be quickly lassoed and put into a corral for the right time. Schooling with the kids is best because it occupies my limited mind space and pushed other thoughts away...far away.

Guess what really cool thing is happening in one month?? It will be my 40th birthday!! November 1st...I leave the hip 30's and join the graying 40's. I have been watching my peers make the dreaded transition all year long. Some don't care, but for most is seems to be somewhat tragic. I think it is a very dangerous time in a person's life. It's that "midlife" time of evaluation, reflection and decisions. We realize that we are sort of half way through our life and wonder how we've done, what we've done and what we still want to do. It can be depressing...if we look at it through the wrong glasses. It can make or break a person's life and that of those directly around them.

I haven't done a lot of things.
All of my dreams have not been fulfilled.
I'm still dreaming and dreaming in high definition.
But...I'm not depressed.
I'm not regretful.
I'm not looking for a change.
I'm not in crisis.
I'm still 20.

If anyone could get depressed and set off in midlife crisis, it would be me. I'm the type. It's not that my life is so perfect...that's funny. My life is simple, unexciting, unimpressive and can be very stressful. But it's also simple, stable, real and victorious. I'm living my dream of having an amazing husband and family, having a mountain view every morning and waking up to a job I love. I still haven't gone to Africa to help starving children, heard Il Divo live at the Coliseum nor bought an old cottage home in rural England...but I'm not dead yet. I'm letting go of my dreams of being a track and field athlete, raising kids on a spacious horse ranch and being a Dancing With the Stars (Jon Bon Jovi) partner. My point is that you learn contentment, you work at understanding what is important and you determine to do and respond to life in a humble, trusting way.

My life is not my own. I was bought at a price and what happens in me is not up to me completely. I am not desiring to have "My best life now" as is the modern mindset. My best life will come later, after the work is done here. My Father has a job for me to do and He makes it enjoyable because He is in it constantly. Being in His will and with Him IS joy. It's all in how you look at life, not what happens in life...and that part is a everyday, every hour choice. Coffee and music helps a lot too :)

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Horatio Spafford

Pushing aside the "get r' done" part of me that always tries to make things happen is difficult, but key. It's great to a point, but then, when all is said and done, I am persuaded to give my will up to someone much wiser and deserving the I. He knows what I really want, better that I do. He has given me 40 years on this planet and He will guide and direct however many are left...they belong to Him. I will kick and scream at times, but I will more often grab His gentle, faithful hand enjoy the walk. Letting go of the American dream and holding to the Lord. Yeah...that's the secret. Whatever my lot, good or bad, I am learning to say "It is well with my soul". Probably the hardest hymn to sing in all honesty.

I've enjoyed the rain and wind this morning, and now the sun and blue sky are showing...I'm going to enjoy them too...and keep dreaming.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Truth About Sunsets

Copernicus. I think his discovery is one of the most important ones of all time. Before him, everyone believed that the sun revolved around the earth. With the help of Galileo's telescope, he brought humanity the shocking, humbling truth into the light. Is it really any surprise that we thought we were the center of the universe?? In fact, I think most of us still do. It amazes me how schools, the media, parents and even churches tote the notion that the most important thing in life is that YOU are happy. That YOU are at peace with yourself and that YOUR needs are being met.

Hold the bus for a minute...I thought it was better to give than to receive, that the needs of others was supposed to be more important than mine and that true courage and heroism was shown when someone sacrificed for another. "Greater love hath no man than this...that he do what is best for him, no matter what the cost to others?" I don't think it goes that way. I'm sure I learned about loving others most in the first 5 years of my life. Thanks Mom and Dad. Not that I PRACTICE it every day...but at least I know it and believe it. If I feel like fish for supper, then fish it is, our home decor is not based on the team colors of the Dallas Cowboys and Newsboys tend to get more air time in the van than does Trip Lee...but everything needs balance right?

Trying to find the balance between giving people what they WANT and giving people what we think is BEST for them, is a tight rope walk. I am so saddened by the youth culture right now. It is frightening how even those who claim to know and follow Jesus, follow their own heart's desires rather than His teachings...and adults pat them on the back with the old "You have to do what is best for you" lie. I'm pretty sure that if I took a poll, most people would SAY that they believe and teach their kids to put the needs of others before themself, but I really don't SEE it happening much these days. We are cultivating a society of blood suckers, with little or none of Jesus character. I know there are exceptions to this. There are some kids out there who have been nurtured and trained to be a blessing to the world and they will shine in their time. I hope there are enough of them to lead our families and country someday.

The latest "Joe" commercial (Superstore clothing brand) says it pretty clearly. It shows kids of all ages wearing really cool clothes, dancing around to music. The music says something about building a wall around your heart and going and doing whatever you want. This precious little frizzy haired kids, of about 6 or 7, is wearing a T shirt that says "I Love Me" on it. I don't understand why people can't see it. Self love will kill a person quicker than arsenic. In fact, God says that we already love ourselves, the key is to learn to love others more, and Him first:

"But no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes it and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church." Ephesians 5:29

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."
Luke 10:27

The "as yourself" part means "as you love yourself"...implying that you already love YOU.

I think I might have to spit the next time I hear someone say "Well, as long as they are happy" after someone stomps on another's heart in order to grab their dream. Hey, I'm all for happy, but certainly not at the cost of joy...the joy that we have in trusting Jesus and loving in His giving, selfless, others oriented kind of way.

The next time you look up into the starry sky, remember Copernicus. The sun isn't actually going down...we are moving away from it. It stays securely in place while we on Earth revolve around it. Eventually, we should realize who is at the center of the universe, our orientation is changed and then we can enjoy the sunbeams we so desperately chase.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Earth Tones Make Me Happy :)

With school starting and the garden demanding my attention, blogging hasn't been high on the priority list. Got the writing bug again, so here we go...

If I were a Star Trek character, I'd be Deanna Troy. Not because of her beautiful, long curly hair, or her shortness, or the load of makeup on her empathic face, but because of her hyper sensitivity to all stimulus around her. All five of my senses seem to be turned up to "Max" most of the time. I'm very effected by my surroundings. Emotional reactions flow from every bit of input, whether good or bad, the mental/spiritual side of me must be on constant guard...not to let my senses rule me.

I was walking through Winners the other day, killing some time (imagine that) and found myself engulfed in an epicurean dream. I slowly run my hand over every textured pillow, my eyes over the colorful writing paper and sharp dishes and my nose over every candle and pot pourri I met. As I was trying to find the source of one particular scent, I said "What is it that smells so good around here??" to my daughter. A tall, non-Winners type man, with bored hands in pockets came around the corner and responded confidently"It's just me." His wife rolled her eyes playfully and I, after my surprised laugh said "That was my second guess." I left the store feeling refreshed and positive. As long as I don't focus on the fact that I can't take all of these things home with me, the visit is a good experience.

Our house's interior was painted entirely white when we moved in, 15 years ago. After a few years, I was visually starving and medics called for resuscitation. A coat of brick red in the kitchen, moss green in the living room and earthy brown in the bathroom revived my soul. Beautiful paintings, natural wood furniture and lots of window light help Mom stay smiling. Keeping the kitty litter box clean, baking bread and opening windows for fresh air are regular, necessary jobs. Music MUST be played often and selectively. My sweet husband bought me an awesome speaker set for my computer to enhance my frequent, impromptu dance sessions while cooking in the kitchen and schooling in the living room. Again, Maximum is a great volume setting for "Viva La Vida".

I am presently soaking up the crisp September air and the beginnings of one of the most amazing color shows in the world...maritime trees in Fall. Patiently waiting for the first crackles of the fireplace and the first cuddles with my cozy sweaters. Today, we pile's gonna smell fantastic! Everything about Fall says cozy, homey and earthy. That is one of the things I love most about where we live, the change of seasons. Each one has it's own beauty and pleasure from the finest creator of all. I immerse myself in each one and anticipate the next. I love the senses seem to need the change. They dull with prolonged sameness. Isn't that just so totally human and fallen? We always bore of every pleasure eventually. That's why God is the only constant that always satisfies...but that is an entirely other blog.

I think solitary confinement would be by far, the most effective discipline for me...not that I expect that to be necessary... just saying. I would go quickly insane, I'm sure, to have my senses deprived for more than a day. At least other forms of corporal punishment would keep my senses alive, or send me into a delirious mental state with other new things to experience. I figure, I've endured childbirth and kidney stones, so I sort of have a superhero suit on all the time.

Realizing that these pleasures are not necessary and that MANY people live without them, I am truly thankful for everything around me. Noticing the little things, loving what you have and embracing God's goodness are all part of His plan for our joy.

Genesis 1:31
"God saw everything He had made, and indeed, it was very good."

Now, I have to get off of this computer because the loud hum of the fan is DRIVING ME CRAZY! See what I mean? :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

She...Wore...An...Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny...

We decided to take one week of our vacation this summer to stay home and do some SERIOUS CLEANING. Doesn't that sound exciting?! Well, it really is for me. I love to get rid of stuff and organize my surroundings, it just feel so good. BUT, we had to break up the work week with a little fun, so we headed for Magic Mountain Water Park for one entire day of fun, sun and loop-de-looping in the refreshing water. It really was a wonderful day, especially now that my kids are all old enough to stand, swim and think (somewhat) on their own. I hated going to those places when they were little. I watched empatheticaly as one mom was being dragged around by her two barely walking sweeties, both clad in life jackets, sunhats and soothers. Now that's love...or maybe insanity, depending on your perspective. My daughter spent most of her time in the "warm tub" too big to be a hot tub, and the rest of the boys were paired up and blissfully climbing the hills and sliding down the beloved plastic joy makers...for 7 hours straight....with Dad leading the way.

I tried a couple of slides, just to appease my curiosity, but spent most of the time watching my daughter, soaking up the sun, sipping Dr Pepper and people watching. I love people watching. When I get old and physically useless, just plunk me in a park somewhere with lots of activity and I'll pass the time analyzing and enjoying anthropolgy at it's best. My blog is meant to share some of the more...personal thoughts that I have and may not always sit right with some readers. Feel free to block my link if you disagree. It was, lets say, extremely obvious that people today have NO trouble exposing themselves in public. My eyes and those of my family are not used to, nor meant to be continually feasting on the mostly unkept bare flesh of strangers. I'm not sure if there is a fabric shortage in the world today, or if people just like "hangin' loose" but...holy bikini Batman...or maybe I should say HOLEY bikini Batman. It didn't matter what shape or size they were, they were so barely covered that I wondered how on Earth they swimsuits stayed on going down the water slides. I would feel so uncomfortable constantly adjusting, checking and fixing myself all day long, not at all free to jump, run and play securely. I guess they just don't care how others think or see them.

I'm all for being free from the opinions and judgments of others, but what about the welfare of those around you. Aren't we supposed to be thinking of others before ourselves? I never grew up with a brother, so I had to learn about the mindset of boys as an adult. I now have three sons, two of whom are very healthy, normal, adolescents with "boy brains" not "girl brains" if you know what I'm talkin' about. After 15 minutes of being at Bikini Central, they were both wide eyed and a bit visually overwhelmed. They have been taught to respect girls and to "make a covenant with their eyes" as Job said to protect themselves...this place would surely challenge that ideal. Wearing little scraps of fabric over your unmentionables can cause people to either lust (ya, lusting is wrong...FYI) or throw up (which isn't wrong, just extremely unpleasant). After a little pep talk from Dad and instruction on how to handle the situation, they were off and running with a proper focus...on the slides, that is.

I know it sounds a bit old fashioned, but it isn't. It's human nature and it hasn't changed from the beginning of time. God's mandate for purity is still in effect in 2010, no matter what the status quo says. I wasn't angry at the world for the lack of modesty, just sad. Sad that all of these precious girls had no idea that their bodies were being exploited and no one was telling them that they've been duped. Feminism has told them that freedom of expression will be good for them and society in general. I think enough time has passed since the birth of that notion to prove people are neither psychologically healthier nor is society more stable due to the bra burning philosophy. Now don't get all extreme on me and say "So you want us all to wear potato sacks to beach then??" No, I saw some gorgeous bathing suits there too that kept all the treasures in the storehouse. You just have to make an extra effort to find one. Also, sad that my boys can't go to a place like this for fun and relaxation without having to have a spiritual workout the whole time. But that's life, and we have to learn how to be in the world, but not "of it". It was a very good experience and I'm glad we went.

It's funny how a person can be little "nervous" to write a post like this. Nervous to say "Modesty is important, cleavage is not. Guard your heart and eyes for you own health and God's glory"...but someone has to do it. I love my fellow man and have no judgmental attitude in my heart, just concern for people and passion for the wisdom of God.

I'm just one beggar showing another beggar where to find bread...and maybe that perfect little bathing suit :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hurricanes and Baseball Games

Tomorrow will be our 19th wedding anniversary. I have now been with Guy one year longer than I was with my parents. Yes, 19 years ago my sweetheart and I blissfully made that vow to one another in glory and splendor. My memory provides me with a choppy, hazed version of the pinnacle day in a young girl's life. My mom did most of the work as I ignorantly went about enjoying the moments. Young girls can be like that sometimes...I'm not like that anymore, of course :) Guy was at the height of a throat infection and I was sick with it by the end of the day, but we were still able to function and the day was redeemed. Here are my top 10 memory snippets:

1. Guy's surprise solo to me...face to face.
2. Picking out a pair of earings to wear, last minute.
3. The flowers being the wrong color.
4. My perfect, amazing, Mom-made wedding gown.
5. Being ticked that Guy didn't get his hair cut beforehand.
6. Being overwhelmed with all of the wonderful gifts.
7. Mom's seafood chowder.
8. Dad's kisses.
9. Dr Hobson's heartfelt and wise address to all of us in the ceremony.
10. Having all my loved ones in one place at one

The wedding day was followed by a 4 day honeymoon in Prince Edward island, during Hurricane Hugo. So much for the horseback riding, swimming and whale watching. I guess I didn't matter too much since I was sick in bed most of the time with one of those sore throats that burns to even swallow.

The story does get better though. After a few YEARS of trial and error, we finally started to get the hang of this self-sacrifice, loving patience and total commitment thing. It was well worth the effort. Even though we don't look nearly as good as we used to and we aren't nearly as energetic as we used to be, we are truly more "in love" than we were then. I can honestly say that I understand, feel and want that oneness that marriage produces. I think the effort, the history, the original qualities that attracted me to Guy and the grace and blessing of God have cemented our relationship...but in a more soft and textured kind of cement. In the words of Huey Lewis..."I'm happy to be stuck with you".

It helps to see God's plan in the whole thing. When I was in Jr High school, I attended a baseball game with a bunch of 30 something men playing and their families watching. I was daydreaming (as usual) and talking to God at the same time. As many young girls do, I was trying to imagine myself married and growing a family. A little prayer conversation followed:

"God, would you just show me a quick glimpse of the face of the man I'm going to marry?"

Hoping for Rob Lowe's face to appear before me, nothing happened.

"Ok, that's fine God, but maybe you could just tell me what his name will be? Whatever that man's name is written on his baseball shirt sleeve, that will be the name of my future husband."

I had randomly selected a brown haired, mustached man to carry the prophetic information on his shirtsleeve. I anxiously waited for him to turn in such a way for me to read the name.

"Guy", the sleeve read. I said it in the typical NB french accented way.

"I don't really like that name, God", I casually reacted. Then I abandoned my dreaminess and headed back to real life.

It wasn't until several years after my wedding day that I remembered that baseball game and that conversation with God. He wasn't giving me supernatural direction, but He used my childlike, casual conversation with him to show me his sovereignty and presence much later in life. Seek Him...He does hear you.

Our anniversary is somewhat overshadowed now by our third son's birthday. He was born on our tenth anniversary, so we have to pick a different day of the week to go out for's been hot dogs and corn on the cob from then on.

Marriage, when done God's way, is the grace of life. It's the foundation of society, the security for children and an endangered species. I can't think of too many things that are more important to preserve, protect and fight for. I thank God for His absolutely vital hand in mine and for the hope and pleasure His guidance has brought to our family.

One year till the big 20! Maybe we'll try PEI again...with NO hurricane or illness :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Bouncing Baby Boy

"Train up a child (in keeping with his individual gift or bent)...."

This is the amplified translation of Proverbs 22:6. This means that I am to take the natural, God given abilities and interests of my little nose miners and help develop them, encourage them and point them in the direction God has already started them on. I must not let MY dreams and desires for my kids interfere with what God has planned for their little lives. So...I watch God unwrap His precious gifts to me a little more everyday and see the wonders that they bring with them to my world. Like my 3rd boy...the physicist...the calculator...the observer...the gymnast and the sci fi lover. Only 9 years old and his "bent" as the scripture calls it, is obvious and flourishing.

Sometimes these bents are so strong that they can cause some concern. Yesterday, this lab coat boy of mine decided to try to do a backflip from the living room floor onto the couch. His calculations were not exactly accurate and he ended up with a severe nose bleed and much pain. Upon a quick trip to a neighboring nurse friend, we decided that his nose is not likely broken, but he will be looking racoonish next week with the bruising and swelling under his eyes. It's kind of funny that we just purchased a second hand, 14 foot trampoline for him for his birthday this month. Now I'm not sure that's a good idea.

The overprotective mother in me says "the boy is going to kill himself on this thing" and the mother who is trying to carefully develop his God given gifts and abilities says "teach the boy how to do these flippy things properly and safely". I guess since we bought the thing before the incident, the question is already answered. Fortunately, we have a professional trampoline- teacher-guy friend who will come and give him the first lesson on what not to do and how to stay alive and in one piece on his new play toy.

Have I mentioned lately how hard it can be being a mom sometimes? I should really be thankful that all I had to deal with was a could be broken, but nothing would be done about it in the hospital anyway. This nose incident gives new meaning to training them up according to their BENT.

Hopefully, his nasal soreness will prevent him from continuing his recent picking infatuation. They are all such adorable little bundles of total depravity...and he is "flipping" sweet :)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dreamers and Calculators

My dad has this ongoing joke about people being "right brained" or "left brained". One side of the brain is more active than the other, producing artistic, dreamy, deep thinker types on one side, while the other hemisphere fills people with logical, mechanical, practical thoughts. If you are really lucky, you have a good balance of both, which makes people like you more, because you appear less weird...supposedly. Again, it's all about balance.

Ever meet someone who thinks absolutely, completely and entirely different than you? You know, like people who blog? They think these odd thoughts, then take precious time to write them down, then risk life and limb by posting them on the internet for all the world to see? Such strange and twisted people, they are. I've met some really "interesting" people who think so differently than me that they are actually interesting to talk to. Their stories are off the wall and I like taking one of those brief vacations from my way of thinking in order to go where no man has gone before, into their world...I stress the word brief. It's like going to the ocean and just sticking your feet in the cold, uncertain expanse flowing before you. Don't dive in, you might choke on the unfamiliar salt water or even drown. Just dabble and let God's great, diverse creativity overwhelm you for a moment.

Fortunately, I have been taught not to make fun of people who think from the opposite hemisphere. That is just ignorant and proud...unless of course you are married to one and then it provides YEARS of entertainment. Opposite thinkers often marry, because they balance each other out. Two extremists, blended together in order to make a healthy, functioning single being. Whether it's a spouse or just a dear friend, we need to give each other liberty and respect for different ways of thinking. God made us to depend on one another so that we would learn to appreciate one another...that's my very cool God being wise again. It takes all kinds of people to make the world go 'round, both the dreamers and the calculators are God's design. We may never understand them, but we can love them, live with them and benefit from their strangeness...I mean uniqueness...whatever, just refrain from calling them names or tripping them as they walk through the grocery store isle with arms full of tofu.

I posted a video on facebook once of Luccino Pavarati and Jon Bon Jovi singing "Let it Rain" together. It is still one of my favorite things to watch. Two absolutely different worlds colliding to make something really beautiful. Pavarati didn't snicker at Bon Jovi's black leather suit (that we know of) and Bon Jovi didn't expect his duet partner to dance around the stage seductively (thank goodness). They used their God given talents together for a good and honorable cause.

That's what my husband and I do...I dance around the living room in flowing white dresses while he sits and figures out how to balance the bass and treble on the stereo better. He's so cute :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thanks for Nothin' Nietzsche

So, here is a nutshell history of human thought:

Ancient Times (Prehistory is an oxymoron)- "I know God exists because I just talked with him"

Middle Ages- "God exists, but I'm not sure what He's saying, so let's make up a story about Him and do crazy things in response"

The Enlightenment- "I've decided that God might not exist because I'm thinking more now and He doesn't make logical sense to the way, I'm really smart and basically good"

Modern Era- "If we just follow reason and science, we will find God and the truth!"

Postmodern Era- "We couldn't find God and the truth because all the rest of the idiot world isn't reasonable like us and we can't agree. There are limits to what science can prove, so I guess I can't really know God after all. HEY...LET"S JUST ALL MAKE UP OUR OWN GOD STORY AND MAKE IT OUR OWN LITTLE TRUTH! " There can be a gazillion God stories out there to believe...only one will be true and saving, but we'll have fun and peace in the meantime!

I'm trying to understand the history of philosophy better these days. Am I sort of close to accurate in my summary? I was more of a science student and missed out on a lot of amazing information through my school years...another reason why I love homeschooling :) History is the only academic subject I insist on doing WITH the kids because Mom needs to know these things! Although we have heard the saying before "History repeats itself" I don't think we are paying enough attention to how knowing that can help us. We just continue to think the same thoughts, come up with the same answers or un-answers and forget that others before us did the same and we can read about it. Read about the dangers of abandoning the notion of God in exchange for self worship or even the dark, hopeless beliefs of Nietzsche. This postmodern German philosopher is famous for his brilliant quote "God is dead." He suffered from severe mental illness leading to death, by the way.

Postmodern thought has contributed, I believe, to much of the rebellion, suffering and suicide our culture experiences today. Believing that there must be a God, but we can't know Him is a very depressing and hopeless thought. You CAN know God. You can know what He is like, what He has done and will do, how you were made and what will make you happy, both now and even after this temporal life. It's the simplicity of trusting His word, the Bible. Many think this is foolish thinking, but I believe it anyway and have daily joy in it. Everyone is thought of as a fool by someone. The important thing is not to be RIGHT all the time in your thinking, but to be right with God in His thinking.

I love the way Michael card puts it:

So surrender the hunger to say you must know,
Have the courage to say I believe,
For the power of paradox opens your eyes,
And blinds those who say they can see.

"God is alive and well"

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How 'bout Rome...for Lunch??

Ok, so I'm having one of those 'can't shut my brain off" kind of weeks. I would like someone to invent a robot pill that allows me to just do the laundry, make dinner, help the kids and wait in the doctor's office contently without thinking about the meaning of life or world peace. We dreamers sometimes have a hard time with the regular, the familiar and the boring. Even though I may be wearing Levis and a ponytail, In my mind I'm dressed for safari or planning my second honeymoon. It can be a bit difficult, on those days to do the responsible things and not hop on a plane to Rome to check out the ruins. Seriously, you have no idea of the daydreams one crazy housewife can muster up.

It used to be a bit of an emotional problem in my younger years, but I'm getting the hang of how to handle it now. I have a great coach who helps me find the balance between reality and fantasy. It's really quite entertaining for him to hear my ponderings, fortunately, he doesn't call me a nutbar or a try to make me like him, he just helps me sort those things that can really happen from those that might have to wait...for hell to freeze over...then we will consider the adventure. Sometimes his advice involves the words "Just roll over and go to sleep. You'll feel better in the morning." I used to be offended by that, but not anymore. Now, I remember that not every thought needs to be entertained and analyzed, sometimes I need to "take every thought captive" as the Bible says and exercise self control, for my own peace of mind.

Smothering the dreaminess is not good either. Use your powers for good, not evil. It really helps make homeschooling exciting and creative. It transforms into entertainment and brief adrenalin rushes of laughter for the whole family to enjoy. It just colors the world a bit when things are looking a little gray. It helps to remember that King David, Peter the disciple of Jesus and even Martin Luther were passionate dreamers. Left to full expression, it would be tragic...sort of Lady Gaga tragic...but kept in check and properly dispersed, it can be a wonderful, creative, God honoring masterpiece.

God knows what I need even before I need it. When I feel the need for "fun", creative expression or some kind of change, I tell Him, then watch for His leading. He doesn't make us this way then tell us to "put a cork in it", but He doesn't intend for it to be used for our own satisfaction or intentions either. I think that is why so many famous artists, entertainers or writers end up depressed and suicidal. The passions of the mind are not managed well and given to the Creator for healthy expression. In the words of Rich Mullins, "We are not as strong as we think we are". My own imagination and dreams cannot become my god, but can be used by God and will bring Him glory and me, satisfaction.

Gotta go make breakfast and weed the garden...pretending to be Julia Childs and planning the second honeymoon all the while :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Name is Holly...and I am a Plate Spinner

Ever have the eye opening experience of living with yourself? Children are truly a gift from God, and His gifts are sometimes practical jokes. You know when your parents have said to you, "I hope you get a kid JUST LIKE YOU when you grow up!" Well, I did, and God, in His humor and wisdom gave me a kid that is time urgent, spontaneous, rough and allergic to details. My oldest child, a whopping 10lb 4oz baby boy, almost died shortly after his birth 15 years ago. It was the most exciting and frightening time of my life. God's grace and mercy sustained his life, and my sanity at that time and gazillions of times since then, I am sure. Besides all of the wonder and pure joy his personality pours out on us daily, he is often like a walking mirror for me, sending clear images of things I do and have never seen before.

I can always tell when he has been in the Kitchen. Nothing is put back in its place, cupboard doors are left open, and an Archie comic lays on the counter beside the tell tale glob of jam dripping from the counter edge onto the floor. Every room that has recently been blessed with his presence holds an aura of displacement and energy. Kind of like a small town after a tornado has passed through. Small children have been physically hurt and many furniture pieces broken after a short experience with his untamed physical passion. But the compassion and concern that follows the damage are just as obvious and sincere as the roughness. I pray daily that he will master self control.

I'm not sure that I was quite that dangerous as a child, but the speed with which he performs and the bypassing of details is definitely convicting. Many a jest have been sent my way as people find loose ends and temporary fixes around my work. I honestly can't decide if this character trait is a blessing or a curse. I know that certain things must be done "right", but this household would never function properly if I devoted that kind of time to each job. I guess I have decided that getting everything done "sufficiently" rather than "perfectly" is better than having half the jobs not done at all. Am I making any sense?? I am resolved to endure the little digs and jokes in order to keep our boat afloat. I'll reserve my attention to detail and slowing down for administering medication and driving a van full of kids. I just love moving fast and getting a lot done... except at coffee break.

There aren't too many things that drive me more crazy than watching someone do something really slowly. Sometimes it's like watching surgery...I can't even's too painful. I want to grab the tool from the turtle and do it myself. By the way, I married a turtle. It's a good thing though, as the balance is necessary for survival. My son has helped me access my situation, weigh the pros and cons and make an informed decision. My decision is...full steam ahead except for medical emergencies and wounded emotions. What can I say? God made us fast for a reason...and the world needs more professional plate spinners. We must grab the hands of the turtles and drag them along with us. Things need to be done, and done yesterday! Put on your seatbelt Myers clan and learn to enjoy the ride, cause Momma can't slow down! She's on a roll and Daddy's smiling in the passenger's seat. He has the map and the car keys, but MY foot is on the gas pedal. That is the way we work and it's been working for almost 19 years. He is the direction (thank goodness for that) and I'm the motivator. Bonnie and Clyde? Sonny and Cher? Louise and George Jefferson? Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog? Whatever...matches made in heaven :)

Knowing yourself really helps you handle your kids with more patience and hug harder too. Maybe when I am in my 80's I'll slow down...hopefully they'll have high tech, hover craft walkers by then so I can get to Bingo quicker, and I'll send for my son to get me where I want to go :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Seashells and Transisters

There is just something about the beach along the river that is magical to me. My family and I were at a homeschool graduation party on one such beach lately. Lots of people, food, fireworks and celebration of one young man's very hard work completed. People from a few weeks old to those in their eighties were together. I've never been to a grad party like that before. The warmth of the fire, laughter of teenagers out on the river, the hum of boats and the glorious covering of the starry sky cast it's spell on me again.

We lived on the beach as kids. The same tranquility was felt then, but with much more excitement in my ignorant bliss of childhood. We spent long hours in the narrow length of woods along the beach building forts...houses really, with many rooms filled with log couches, rock tables and floors swept clean to earthy, brown carpeting. Nature provided everything for the domestic details a young woman desires. A clay hole near the water provided moulded and dried bowls and plates (and sometimes body paint). I even remember a broken rock in the form of a telephone, and tree roots which were divinely shaped into a spiral staircase of three steps leading to the upper level of our homestead.

My "first kiss" involved a leaning old tree who was Rob Lowe one day and John Schneider on another...whispering sweet nothings into its bark. I have two wonderful sisters and Mim who shared my creative endeavours and whose chronic laughter appreciated my silly imagination. I also have a dear "sister" friend who shares these memories and added MUCH to the dreaming and pretending I was a slave to. They are like treasure boxes, holding secrets and gems of experiences, locked away, but always there for nostalgic pondering.

Funny, I don't recall any cell phones, video games or Internet getting us through the day. Our attention was totally centered on exploring, swimming, sunbathing, creating and talking...a lot of talking and singing. All we had for technology was a little transistor radio which played "It's Hard to say I'm Sorry" and "Love Rules" over and over as we lay beside the beach fire, wishing we didn't have to end the night and walk home to bed. A tent soon went up on the beach so that broken engagement with the night sky would not have to happen again. Short trips to the house for food and hard wood kept Mom informed and content. No email, just long hard shouts or twitters of short messages from beach to house kept all parents involved updated on our "status". One neighbor even had a big seashell that they would blow into as a signal for their daughter to come home. Everyone knew the signal, and there was no opportunity for argument or debate with that shell Teen magazines kept us stocked with pictures of Springfield, Leif, Ponyboy, Dillon, ...who am I forgetting?? We each had our favorite "friends" added to our imaginary profile...some deleted and some added as our loyalty swayed. It was a brief time of getting to know the world, God and ourselves. We weren't trying to figure out who who wanted to be yet, just enjoying the present and dreaming of what was ahead.

Sure, times have changed as far as activities and opportunities are concerned, but human nature is the same. Kids are still kids and one needful thing we, as big people, can give them is lots of time interacting with the real world. They need to form some kind of relationship with it, attach themselves to it in a healthy way. Unplug for awhile and live in the real world, face to face with people and nature. How grateful I am for that childhood, those friends, that little radio, my grand imagination and the great outdoors.

The summer has just begun...make the best of it :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

German Chocolate Red Peppers

Something very unusual and exciting happened to me the other night. I was attending a lovely graduation ceremony for a special homeschooled young woman. The elegant and happy atmosphere was accentuated with a dozen or so gorgeous, tantalizing layer cakes in the fellowship room downstairs. Carrot cake, berry cheesecakes, German chocolate (my fave), black forest, you name it, it was there...with open arms of engagement. That must be why they call it a "fellowship" room...sweet fellowship with those culinary soul mates called cakes. Anyway, as I was saying, something odd happened. There was a peripheral table, sort of back in the corner of the room with veggies and dip and cheese and cracker plates. Poor table...having to be sidelined by the adored cake table in the center of the room, with a crowd of droolers hovering and moaning over her. I guess I took pity on the veggie table, and forgot my football gear which helps to plow through the people and get to the beloved cakes, so I heroically let the crowd have at it and I sampled the red peppers. Maybe I was just hungry, but those veggies were amazing, and the just have to know that life without cheese just wouldn't be worth living. I ate my fair share of the cheese and veggies and was absolutely loving it. All by myself, not because of a diet, just really loving it!
Finally, I saw an opening at the cake table and took it stealthily. I ingeniously cut small samples of my four finalists on the cake table, then dug in. They were good. That's it...just good. I tried again to get that euphoric cake experience, but all I could get was just good. What was wrong? I'm supposed to be in seventh heaven by now, according to every "normal" woman alive with taste buds in tact. I finished my plate, and still nothing more than good. After momentary disappointment, I realized that I had much more fun and pleasure at that poor old cheese and veggie table than the cake table. Being the pseudo scientist that I am, I went back to try those rejected veggies again and found the same positive results. Call me crazy, sick or old, but I just parked myself beside those peppers and accepted my dysfunction.

It's amazing how determined we are. Later on, I eyed the German Chocolate cake again thinking that the third try might be the winner, but I resisted, thinking of how ridiculous it was to make myself eat something I should be avoiding anyway. What is it about the relentless pursuit of pleasure??? Little children aren't hung up on what others tell them is fun, they just do their thing...pick their nose and wear mix matched clothes. We adults, however have to get over the hill of worldly brainwashing and accept that we don't always enjoy what most do. Some people don't have this problem, but most do, I suspect.

So now, my eyes are wide open. No more blind following the blind. I'm going to keep low waisted jeans out of my closet, plain old soda water in my fridge and continue watching Dukes of Hazzard reruns with the kids.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My second son composed this as he was shoveling out the chicken coup. I guess life's dirty jobs makes us think about getting "cleaned up" :)

Jesus Christ is the one that forgave me of my sin,
He’s the only one that could ever cleanse me from within,
Looking at the world I don't want that anymore,
Since he died on the cross he opened up salvation's door,
Jesus is my father he’s my God he’s my king,
And the least I could do is give him back everything,
Now we are forgiven just because he sent his son,
To be a sacrifice and to love everyone,
Now we can live because he died on the cross,
And in my books Christ is the boss,
Boy if I were you I would take this advice,
Give your life to Christ because he paid the price.

Christians? Playing in the Mud?

I just finished watching an episode of "Larry King Live" where a pastor is debating with a person who says she is a Christian and yet unashamedly continues to live a life highlighted by sin. He lovingly says she needs to leave her life of sin in order to be called "Christian" or "saved". She says that everyone sins, even him, and therefore she is no different than him. Don't judge her, don't point the finger, and you can't use scriptures to conclude anything...just love, love , love and accept.

Because Larry hasn't called me yet to give my thoughts on the issue, and I burn with ideas that might clarify the pastor's Not to say he didn't do a good job defending the truth and Jesus personality, he did, but I don't think Larry's ultimate question was answered. Larry wants to know why sinful Christians are better off than sinful non Christians and who says what a Christian is anyway? By Christians, I mean people who hold to the scriptures as authoritative and clear...not as a suggestion and a contemplation. Why won't we leave them alone and quit saying they need something or are doing anything wrong? Quit "judging' them and look at your own life.

Larry, if you have Chasing Sunbeams in your bookmarks, this is for you:

It's like a baby playing in the mud. Some love the mud, and have no intention of getting out and into the bath water. Some even agree that the mud is dirty and full of nasty critters that may hurt them. Others agree with the nature of the mud and have decided to get out because Dad is offering his hands to help him out and into the bath water. We look to the mud often, and daily stick our feet and hands in just for that little thrill it brings, but eventually, due to a different conscience, reach for Dad again. Dad doesn't hate us because of our momentary failings, his acceptance of us is based on the DESIRE in our hearts and the subsequent obedience to HIS standard.

The other baby, still happily playing in the mud, has no desire to get out and has buddies in other puddles who are doing the same. They babble and google back and forth, temporarily appeasing each others' guilt and celebrating their "freedom", but end up going to bed that night with annoying sand in their diaper and biting bugs in their hair. They are perplexed as to why Dad will not allow them in the family picture, with all that mud caking their face and even believe that he eventually will. He does want them in the picture, he just requires that they be cleaned off first...and only Dad can do that. The other baby isn't judging them, he just knows the refreshing experience of being bathed and how to get into the family picture. He longs for his brother to have the same and cannot stop encouraging him to get out of the mud, because of love.

So Larry, we Christians sometimes point fingers at people because we love them, but be assured, any true believer is dealing with the rest of the fingers being pointed back at himself as well. The problem is the attitude with which the person corrects the other, not the correction itself. Jesus has no tolerance for a judgemental attitude ("Speak the truth in love"), but He commands us to make righteous judgements (John 7). You would never catch Jesus sitting on a fence. The pastor uses the story of Jesus defending the adulterous woman in John chapter 8. He clearly protects, defends and loves her, but confronts her on her sinful lifestyle and commands her to "go and sin no more". He doesn't accept a freedom of choice to live any way she wants and still have a right relationship with Him. She experiences a change of heart because of the power of His love and as a result, her lifestyle changes too. If we refrain from ever correcting or confronting people about their sin (as defined by scripture), and act like it's no big deal, then we are being selfish. We place more value of our relationship with them then their spiritual health. They may reject your outreach, but Christ's love compels us.

I don't think that we, within the Christian church, will ever be able to reconcile differences of opinion on moral issues until we agree on the authority, inerrancy and CLARITY of don't waste time, breath and energy on a discussion unless that is established. Just live, let live and pray.

There, got that off my mind. Now I can go teach how to find the area of a trapezoid, make bread, plant some flowers and swing in my hammock. Thanks for listening, Larry, and good luck with the show. I do find it very interesting...but have you considered getting a new style of eyeglasses?

I promise, the next blog will be more lighthearted.