December 15, 2009

Is It the Right Season?

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish." - Psalm 1 (New International Version)

For more than a couple years now, I have been wondering how and when God might use me in some type of ministry to point people to Him.  As a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother of three, and a military spouse, you can bet there is plenty to keep me busy.  My priorities lie with my husband, my children and my responsibilities as homeschool teacher.  Outside of that, I find that I don't have a lot of time to focus on anything else to do it well.  However, I have a huge passion for people, and for sharing the hope and eternal life that comes through Christ.  But how and where do I do this?  Or is it even the right season of my life to serve in this way?

Of course, I try in any way I can to be Christlike to those around me, whether it be in the grocery store or at my child's gymnastics lesson.  Yet I long for something more.  So my question is, has God given me this passion so that I will pursue something more for His service?  Or am I just jealous of public ministries that others have, and discontent with what God has me doing right now?  If God would give me a clear answer to that question, I would be grateful, so that I would know how to proceed.  I could then give myself fully to the work of managing the home and teaching the children; or carve out the time and work necessary to pursue whatever assignment God might give to me.

There is one thing for sure.  As Psalm 1 says, I will be like a tree bearing fruit in season if I delight myself in the law of the Lord, and meditate on His Word day and night.  Sounds like an assignment to me.

Update June 12, 2011 - It was fun to re-discover this entry, but not surprising to realize I feel I'm still in the same place I was 1 1/2 years ago when I wrote it.

It's easy to see the fruit of my husband's job and ministry as an army chaplain.  Even easier to view my life as ordinary, and possibly fruitless.  Although, as a mother, and an advocate that motherhood is a valuable investment of one's time, I have to agree with friends who often remind me that I'm doing right by my children by my conscientious training of and caring for them.  As someone pointed out, this is one thing no one else can do or be for one's children, and doing it well is my goal.

So while I sit here trying to type an article with multiple interruptions, and it seems nearly impossible to put a complete thought together, I will try to remember that the most important fruit I can nurture in this season of my life are the well-loved, well-cared for children in our family, and the growing marriage I am very grateful for.

There are still other interests I have, and pursuits I hope to find time for in carved out moments and planned getaways when my husband takes our children out of the house so I can have a break.  So we'll see where God leads, in His time. 

October 07, 2009

M's Birthday Party

Score one for supermom who pulled off the 6 year-old's birthday party, and a good time was had by all.

    We had to have something that was easy enough for me to handle without my husband's help, and fun enough for M and her friends.  So her science party accomplished that.  She had a funfetti cake with sprinkles (which she applied herself), and we found these candles that spelled out "Happy Birthday" and a separate set with her name.  Funny thing was, her name candles didn't light, but the happy birthday ones did.  Different materials used in the making?  I don't know.

    So we started by letting the kids drop a dissolving colored pellet in warm water and watching it grow into a animal-shaped sponge.  Then when everyone was here, we broke out the Insta-Snow powder we got from Steve Spangler Science.  It was a hit.  They just cupped their hands together, I put a small scoop of powder in their hands, poured on the 1/3 cup of water, and voila!  They said it tickled their hands.  It was really cool to watch, and with 8 children, we got to watch it 8 times.  Then they got to play with it for awhile.  Very cool stuff.  I wish I'd had someone there to video tape their reactions.

Then we made our own root beer.  The kit came with root beer extract and champaign yeast, and I provided the tap water and sugar.  I also had ordered 1-liter bottles from the science website.  The kids each made their own special labels for their root beer.  It takes 10-15 days to "brew" while the yeast make the carbonation.  So they got to take those home with instructions on what temp and how long to let it brew.

    Next we went outside again to do a few "tricks".  I had a kit that contained all the supplies.  Some of them were the same things we'd done at this summer's Group VBS, so half our guests recognized them.  These included "disappearing water" using water gel powder (polycrystals that absorb the water and turn it into gel so it sticks in the cup and you can surprise unsuspecting children that the water "disappeared"); stretching a banana (an optical illusion) and blowing up a large windbag with a single breath (using positive air flow, instead of the intuitive balloon-blowing method).

    The one fun thing M was aware we were going to do (the rest were surprises) was a geyser, done by dropping Mentos into a 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke.  Having never done this, I was unsure of what to expect.  It turned out well, and the kids were amazed, and I managed to avoid getting doused with diet coke spewing into the air about 15 feet or more.  We even strained out the Mentos afterward and the kids ate them.

Then it was birthday cake and ice cream time.  It'll take us awhile to eat the gallon of Neapolitan ice cream we bought.  I think I'll reuse the bucket for storing all these science supplies I've acquired.  Now, I had hired one of my favorite teen babysitters to help me with our youngest child, so she could be here but not be a nuisance to me pulling off the party successfully.  However, my sitter was more of a party assistant up to this point, because A slept the whole time up until it was time for cake and ice cream.  (Good timing!)

    Then M opened her presents, and the kids were asking me, "are we going to do any more science experiments?"  So I pulled out the last one I had prepared, where you stick a hex-nut into a balloon, and blow it up and tie it, and swirl it around and it makes a screaming sound.  That kept the kids entertained until it the parents came to pick them up.  Their goodie bags included a pair of safety goggles, their own windbag, and a giant plastic test tube with their own Insta-Snow powder, and more science ideas they can do with the test tube.
 I think one of the moms thinks I'm a science geek.  She attributed my party plans to the fact that I'm a "homeschooling mom".  Guilty as charged.  However, I'm not sure the kids actually learned anything.  I filled them up with sugar, we played games, and I sent them home with more sugar.  Isn't that what birthday parties are all about?  Next year, we may have to do another science theme so I have an excuse to buy more of the really cool products I've discovered.  Now that is probably more indicative of my tendencies as a homeschooling mom - looking for ways to justify buying more cool school supplies!

September 20, 2009

I would have slept well . . .

    So I talked to my husband who is doing training with his soldiers in the field on base.  It was about 6 p.m.  He said they were rolling out for night fire exercises, and that he expected it wouldn't take long, and they'd get to actually have some decent sleep that night.  After the call, I finished our normal evening routine, and everyone went to bed.

    About 12:30 a.m., I was awakened by... was that thunder?  I didn't think we were expecting any rain or storms for another day or two.  I noticed the blasts were shorter and closer together than thunder rumbles usually sound like.  Then I heard my 2-year-old wandering around.  She had heard the noises too.  Then I wondered, could it really be the firing exercises on base?  We live East of the ranges, and I had heard noises from there before.  Sure enough, I looked out the window, and straight West of the house, over the top of our neighbor's rooftops, I could see, in the distance, flashes of white going off.  I think I counted about 60 seconds before hearing the accompanying noise from each blast.

    It was a strange connection to my husband I hadn't seen for a week, and I considered calling his cell phone to ask if they could keep it down a bit so we could sleep.  (Not seriously.)  They went on for about 45 minutes, then my daughter and I got back to sleep.

    Yep, no thunderstorms even on the horizon.  The stars were out in a clear night sky.  Really neat to see.  I'd rather have been sleeping though.

September 05, 2009

What I've learned in the first 3 weeks of 2nd grade

As many of you know, I am teaching my oldest daughter 2nd grade this year.  I have learned a lot in the first 3 weeks of school!

Did you know that a Viking explorer, Leif Ericson, was probably the first European to discover North America about 1000 AD?   This is 500 years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492.  I had heard of Lief before, but didn't remember or know who he was.  There is archaological evidence on the North tip of Newfoundland that Vikings had a settlement there.  Fascinating!  By the way, Leif later became a Christian, and took a priest and a teacher to Greenland to spread the Gospel.

Did you know that during the Dark Ages, Benedictine monks played a very important role in preserving writings and knowledge that otherwise would have been lost?  They also provided several services to needy people, including food, lodging, and education.  Out goes my previous view of monks as hermits who don't want to interact with the world for fear of being corrupted.  Seems like they served more as lights in a dark world.

Did you know that there is an island off the coast of Naples, Italy called Capri, and in one of the coves is a tunnel called the Blue Grotto?  We read a fictional book about it called "Red Sails to Capri", but the place it's set in is real.

Ok, raise your hand if you know the smallest country in the world.  Anyone?  The answer is Vatican City.  Where is Vatican City you ask?  It is in the middle of Rome.  It's where the Apostle, Peter was buried, and St. Peter's Basillica is built.  Maybe if I was Catholic I would have known this before I was confirmed.  However, I'm Protestant (though I wouldn't say I'm protesting anything) and I went to public school, and if I ever learned this stuff, I didn't retain it.

There are more things I learned these last 3 weeks in 2nd grade, but I don't remember them right now. . . so I may be repeating 2nd grade. . . again.

Enhancing Your Marriage

Last Spring semester, a friend and I led a group of ladies through this wonderful Bible study on marriage, "Enhancing Your Marriage" by Judy Rossi.  It takes 12 weeks of 5 days/week of work to get through the study, and I recommend doing it with a group, to help you stay motivated to keep at it.  If you have ever done an in-depth study such as one by Beth Moore, or "Experiencing God", you will know to expect to look up a lot of verses in the Bible, and do a lot of writing and note-taking in your book each day.  The rewards are worth the work! 

What I specifically appreciate about this study is how much time she spends on leading the reader to study who God is.  If you understand His unlimited power and ability and love, you realize any issue in your marriage, big or small, can be handled with His help.  I am currently going back through the first five chapters where she discusses the nature of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, because it was a lot to take in then, and I want to soak it in more slowly.  Hopefully I'll retain more this time through!

The ironic thing for me in this study was, while the book asked questions to apply principles to my marriage relationship, I found myself being convicted more in the area of parenting!  It happened over and over throughout the class!  I'm sure it had to do with the fact that my husband was deployed to Iraq for the first two months of the class, so he wasn't too hard to get along with then.  But also, my husband is quite mature and patient with me, so even with him home, our marriage issues often stem from my own shortcomings!  So her newest study, "Raising Responsive Children" may have to be my next venture!

This study is applicable to any married woman, whether newlywed, married for many years.  It could also prove helpful to a single woman or engaged woman looking forward to marriage in the future, or even a divorcee, or widow hoping to remarry.  Judy Rossi also does an excellent job of making the material applicable to Christian women who have unbelieving husbands.  This is a very common situation, and she handles how to act in this type of marriage very well.

With marriages under so much strain, and being considered so easily discardable by so many, this study is a valuable resource for any group of women looking to enhance their marriage.  I highly recommend it for all!

July 01, 2009

Colorado Springs!

     After 20 days of traveling in OH, WV, and IL to visit friends and family, we have arrived at our new duty station.  We thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins, and several friends.  Our youngest kept wondering when we were actually going to get to Colorado.  When we finally did, and told her so, she didn't believe us.

    It's a relief to finally be here, and yet we have so much to do in the coming month!  Today, my husband signs in to his new unit, and will begin the formal process of house hunting.  We intend to buy a home off base, so we meet with a realtor this evening, and start looking at some tomorrow.  Meanwhile, we have 10 days reserved at the on-post lodge, and can extend it if we need to.  We have two adjoining rooms with a kitchen in the middle.  The lodge provides free continental breakfast.  I'm planning to go to the commissary this afternoon to get some groceries to make our lunches and dinners.

    The weather is sunny and warm.  The scenery (what little of it I've seen so far) is interesting!  So glad to finally be here.

May 28, 2009

Moving soon

So 13 days from now, we fly off Oahu as we move to our next military assignment.  So much has had to be done in preparation.  Sorting, purging, organizing, packing, notifying, planning, confirming.  Feels like juggling.  Fortunately I don't have to do it all myself.  After 15 months without my husband home, and now having had him home for 3 months, it's so nice to have someone else to talk through decisions with.

    Nearly every corner of our home has been sorted through, looking for things that need to be put elsewhere, things that should be thrown away, given away or sold.  I have a closet full of things to consign, and an appointment to do so next week.  They told me I could bring a maximum of 45 things.  That inspired me, and I have exactly 45 things.  We've donated bags of things to the thrift store.  We've thrown away lots of old papers, and some old broken or worn items.  I've organized the girls' toys into Rubbermaid containers and kept them off-limits so they don't get lost and mixed together again.  I've done the same with their craft supplies, games, and books.  The books aren't off limits, but they must put them back where they found them, exactly, with the other books that are like them.

    We've notified important people of our move, and asked the USPS to forward our mail (starting tomorrow).  We've made arrangements with housing, the movers, hotels, rental car places, airlines, and family members and friends.  We've made extensive to-do lists and conquered much of them.  We've debated how many checked bags we'll have, how many carry-ons, and which ones, and whether or not it will all fit in our car, or in the rental car going to and from the airport.  I've made packing lists for myself and the girls, and modified those once we realized how little space we have to work with.

    We've said goodbyes and "see you laters" to many great friends and acquaintances made here, and there are more to be said.  We've turned over responsibilities and roles to others who will remain here.  We've given things we can't move to friends who can use them.  (There's more of that to be done too.)  We've creatively used up most of the food in our kitchen, though I'm sure I can squeeze a few more meals out for the few days we're still in our house.

    We've researched and explored things about our next location, both on post and off.  We've gotten pre-approved for a mortgage and have looked extensively at houses on the market through the internet.  We've seen several we like in our price range, and anticipate seeing what's on the market when we can actually view them in person.  My husband has priced used Honda S2000's in the area, and has determined the price he wants to pay, and what colors he does or doesn't want.  We've gotten names and tips about people and places in the area we should find when we get there.

    So it's been a busy time.  Monday the movers will come and start boxing up our "unaccompanied baggage", necessities that arrive first to Colorado.  We're allowed not quite a ton of weight for this group of stuff, so my husband told me to picture a pile the size of our car.  Then Wednesday and Thursday the other movers will come and box up the rest of our household goods.  We'll start staying at the hotel on post this Thursday, and check out of our house completely on Monday June 8th.  We fly early in the morning on Wednesday, June 10th.

    We're anxious to go and see family and friends, and to then get to know our new location, but also sad to leave good friends, familiar places, and tropical paradise behind.  It's an odd mixture of stress and excitement.  Strange, but we've been through it a couple of times before.

    We feel truly blessed to be a military family, and we accept the challenges involved in the moving process, because we know that our jobs here are done, and that God will use the jobs that we face ahead of us in the next place will grow us in the way that He desires.  It's an adventure, and we are enjoying the ride!

May 14, 2009

Waffles and Spaghetti anyone?

Recently I had a chance to hear Bill & Pam Farrel speak on their book, "Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti". I had heard of the book before, and was amused by the title, but never had picked it up to read. I have been exposed to so many great Christian books on marriage, and figured it would be more of the same. I was wrong!

From their presentation, I gained several practical how-to's for better communication. For example, if you are a wife trying to draw out communication from your husband, you should learn how to go into his box and stay there, and listen to him, and repeat back key phrases. I recommend reading the full explanation on this from the book.

Also, their explanations of how men and women think differently are illustrated so well, and so uniquely that it made even more sense to me having been explained differently. Did you know that we as women sometimes tend to cut the walls between the waffle boxes down in our husbands' brains? That doesn't work well, because then the syrup all runs together, and it's now how God intended for them to process things! God's design for the way we each think differently was a very good design, and we need to learn about each others' differences, and accept and appreciate them, and the benefits of our two differing approaches to life.

To view a video clip of their presentation that I heard, go here.

I thought that Mark Gungor's "Laugh Your Way to A Better Marriage" series was my favorite resource, and it still is, but the Waffles and Spaghetti book, as I call it, has definitely come to the forefront of my recommended resources!

May 10, 2009

What we're looking for in a house

We are planning ahead to buy a house in Colorado Springs!  It's not the first house we will own, but the last house we owned was pre-military, and we thought we were going to live there a lot longer than 3 years!  Well, we didn't.  We sold it using the methods found in the book, "How to Sell Your Home in 5 Days" and made a profit from the sale.  It was a situation blessed by God in many ways, because we then went debt-free into my husband starting Seminary to complete his M.Div., which was required to become an Army chaplain.

Now it's 5 years later, and we're ready to own again.  We expect to re-sell the house in 3 years, or if it seems more prudent to do so, rent it.  The house will be an investment, so we plan to buy it with a 15-year mortgage to have more of our payments going to principal, which means it won't be the most we can afford, but rather more middle-of-the-road.

So what are we looking for in this house?  Here is our list of "must haves":

Good bones - good strong structure.
4+ bedrooms
1+ car garage
2+ full bathrooms, one must be a master bath
Washer/dryer hookups in a laundry room (no laundry closets please)
A house we are confident will sell in 3 years
Livable basement (our first house had a cellar-type basement)
25 minutes or less drive away from Ft. Carson
Back yard suitable for our children to play in
Plenty of storage space
Adequate kitchen (we both love to cook)
Low/no maintenance windows/siding (we don't want to have to paint siding, or maintain wood-frame windows)
Good roof
Good insulation and efficiency (to keep energy costs down)

And here is our list of "would be nices":

2 car garage
5+ bedrooms
15-20 minute or less commute
Central Air
3+ bathrooms
Level lot
Office space
Gas appliances and heat
Not a split-level
Not a busy corner lot
Efficient water usage fixtures
Garden space

One side-note - we aren't highly concerned about the school district because we plan to homeschool.  That is a huge freedom that many families with children don't have when deciding where to live.

We've put a lot of thought into this, and have searched for such houses online through several venues.  Craigslist, the MLS, For Sale By Owner sites, etc.  There are actually several houses on the market that fit all our criteria and are in our price range.  Too bad we can't just hop over and check them out now.  So we'll see how God works things out - what will be on the market when we actually arrive July 1st.  Meanwhile, it's fun to look, and fine-tune our preferences!

May 09, 2009

Our last month in Hawaii

We're enjoying a lovely day in Hawaii today.  We notice it because the last month or two have been wet, cold, cloudy or voggy.  Vog is the haze that comes from the volcano on the Big Island, and many of us have allergic reactions to it.  Without the breeze that usually comes with the tradewinds, the Vog had built up and hung stagnant over our islands for a few days.

One month from tomorrow, we'll be flying off this island to the mainland, as we move from this duty station to Ft. Carson, CO.  A lot of things are happening in the  meantime.  This Sunday and next will be my final times as chapel pianist.  We are having some friends over for on birthday for BBQ pork chops.  The two older girls are doing swimming lessons this week and next each afternoon.  They also continue in their gymnastics class throughout the month.  My husband will lead a portion of this weekend's marriage retreat for over 100 couples.  The following weekend, he'll lead the entirety of two back-to-back marriage retreats.  We have a couple of social events to attend - hail and farewells which are common in May and December when lots of people are coming and going; a couple of coffees which are for the wives; and some random other things with the spouse's club and the chapel.

The last week of May we'll start prepping our house for the move:
- unhang pictures and curtains
- sort things so that like things are together that I want to be packed together (and hopefully the movers will oblige)
- give away food and cleaners that we can't move with us
- Separate the "unaccompanied baggage" that gets shipped faster (things we want sooner, like linens, dishes, other necessities, as well as my husband's "professional gear" - the stuff he has in his office for work) from the "household goods" that come to us last, and includes everything else.
- Pack our suitcases that we'll take with us on the plane, and that will sustain us through 3 weeks of travel around the Midwest to see family and friends.

The unaccompanied baggage gets packed June 1st.  The household goods get packed June 3-5.  June 4-10 we stay at the hotel on post.  We have final inspection and check-out of our house June 8.  June 10 we fly to St. Louis.  The next morning we'll go to the VPC (Vehicle Processing Center) and pick up our car, which we shipped 3 days ago.

After that, we'll be driving figure 8's around IL, IN, OH, and WV to catch up with family and friends.  June 30 we leave for CO, and arrive there July 1st.

Once we arrive in CO, there will be a continued flurry of activity as:
- my husband reports to his duty station and begins inprocessing.
- we set up a P.O. box to have our mail forwarded to us
- we search for a house to buy in the area that fits our needs
- we find a church home, which may be the on-post chapel, or a civilian church in the area
- we explore our new surroundings, see what the area has to offer
- we order and gather together supplies for beginning homeschool for M's 2nd grade year
- we hopefully close on a house soon after (or if we're lucky, right before) our household goods arrive
- we settle into our new house
- my husband finds and purchases a used Honda S2000 (hopefully yellow) for our 2nd car

We're searching online for houses on the market and are finding several that fit our needs, and in the price range we want to pay.

Three months from now we should finally be settling down into a routine and a "normal" lifestyle.

I plan to start homeschool in August, with M in 2nd grade, and J in as much K material as she seems ready for.  A will just absorb and imitate whatever they're doing.  (Bonus learning!)  We've chosen to use Sonlight Curriculum for 2nd grade.  Their headquarters is in Littleton, CO, less than an hour's drive North of Colorado Springs.  For Kindergarten, I'll use the multiple resources I have lying around that I used with M already.

There is a good chance my husband will deploy mid 2010 to Afghanistan, so we are thinking ahead to that.  With the Army trying to make the necessary changes to retain soldiers and keep families healthy, they are moving toward 9 months as the longest deployment, and 24 months as the dwell time between deployments.  We're hoping that will be instituted before my husband's deployment begins.  Whereas we thought he would be going to a Cavalry unit, now it looks like he'll actually go to another Infantry unit.

So there is definitely a lot happening for us this summer, and we're excited about it.

January 04, 2009

Online Books and Reference Materials

My last post about the Old Fashioned Education had several resources from Project Gutenberg which can be found at This is a fascinating project that is ongoing to make public domain works available in digital format for people around the world. They even have works in many different languages.

Along the same lines is Here you can find online books and reference materials. Dictonaries, encyclopedias, thesauri, etc. You will also find Fannie Farmer's cookbook! That was my first discovery on Several works of poetry, fiction and non-fiction exist here. You'll find the King James Version of the Bible, works of Shakespeare, Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States, and Thomas A'Kempis' "The Imitation of Christ" to name a few.

I'm excited to discover all the quality reading material available. Now I just need more time, and a more comfortable chair.

January 02, 2009

An Old-Fashioned Education

I'm so excited to share this first post of 2009. I've come across this resource before, but am only now understanding its value. The website is and there, you can find links to all kinds of free online teaching resources and books. Many of them are public domain educational textbooks, written in a time when Christianity was the prevailing worldview in education. However, there are links to contemporary resources as well.

Would you like to teach your child Latin (or learn it yourself)? There are several resources for that and other languages. Would you like to read the entire Anne of Green Gables series? How about studying art and artists? How about a complete Scott Foresman grammar curriculum for K-6? You can read biographies by Hellen Keller or Adolph Hitler. Study works of history, or read historical fiction. Teach your child old fashioned manners, or how to write neatly. There's something for everyone here.

The links are easy to follow, as they are categorized by topic. Just today, I downloaded "The Real Mother Goose", and "A Child's Garden of Verses", both classics. Now without owning these books in book form, I can still read them to my children and let their imaginations blossom.

But that's not all. The premise behind the web page author's project is being able to homeschool without spending tons of money on curriculum. So you can view her complete K-12 outlines, and then print out weekly assignment checklists for your students. She even explains how to use it, how to tailor it to fit your family and your individual student. I'm looking at the Kindergarten curriculum and my mouth is watering to try it this Fall with my middle child.

There's a wealth of resources here, and if you're thrifty like me and like free things with lots of value, you'll love what you find here. Enjoy!