Thursday, January 31, 2013

An Intimate God

I consider myself a treadmill philosopher.  My deepest thinking seems to take place when I am working the treadmill.  It takes most of my gumption to get on it by around seven each morning and to stick it out for 45 minutes or so.  Once I'm on, it's not too hard to stick with it. So long as I have my MP3 player charged and filled with motivating playlists.

I am a music lover and I always have been.  I appreciate all types of music from country western to the hair bands to opera (in limited amounts).  I can't say I have a favorite genre, unless we're talking 80s pop music.  All those one-hit wonders are still pretty wonderful to me.  I often think that, like a movie, my life has a soundtrack.  Music just takes me back to different times in my life, and can be the signature of a particular moment or a whole season.  Some I love to remember, some I'd like to forget.  It's got a  power over me.

I've always loved movie soundtracks, filled with songs you don't always hear overplayed on the radio.  Evocative songs. Songs that make a moment in a movie last forever in your mind.  It's the song that can make you laugh or make you cry.  It's no different when the reels are turning here in my life.

This morning as I pounded the treadmill pavement, one of the newest additions to my life soundtrack came on.  And my deep thinking led me to just praise the Lord for his wonderful intimacy with me.  I know there are books out there on intimacy with God.  Intimacy is a close familiarity and friendship.  I'm not sure what the books say about how to get it with God, but this morning the Lord taught me something about it first hand.

I listened to this song as I walked.

Hold on to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

These are words that just a few weeks ago I felt whispered in my ear as I did all I could to hold on to some illusive shreds of hope.  It was a rough morning, filled with emotion, one of those moments that I try to avoid because I desperately don't want to break down. I want to be a woman who is filled with faith and doesn't lose hope, but the truth is that sometimes I do.  But thankfully, it's often short lived.  God, in his kindness, whispers to me words of hope.  He reminds me of very specific promises he has made me.  He speaks scripture.  And in his very sweet way, he also whispers to me words like the ones in this song.  As I cried so hard I thought I might choke, this is what He said to me.

Just know you're not alone. I'm going to make this place your home.

This is sacrilege to some, to think that God can speak to you outside of Scripture.  But to me this is intimacy.  The God of the universe speaking to his beloved little girl, whom he created as a lover of music, a lover of simplistic words, using those very things to comfort my heart.  To remind me of how deeply he loves me. How real he is. How very close he is to me and how deeply he knows me.

I heard this song during the summer Olympics, It was used to highlight some of the personal stories of the ladies gymnastics team.  It's a catchy song.  I know it's popular and probably overplayed because the artist is the winner of American Idol.  But I haven't heard it too many times.  Just enough to recognize it.  And I know my Savior enough to know it was him speaking to me.

We all have this passion in our lives with which God can reach us and come close to us.  For some it is the poetic verse. I think of Ann Voskamp and her deeply personal, poetic writings.  I quickly become overwhelmed with her style and her way of expressing intimacy with God, but others are ushered into His presence as they read her words.  This is their way of being close to him.  For others it is physical exhilaration as they run or work hard with their bodies. As Olympic athlete and missionary Eric Liddell said, "God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure."  He found intimacy with God this way.  For others it is the beauties of nature, the study of science, the enjoyment of creation.  Some meet with God as they create with their hands, with paints, clay, wood, metal, or any other medium.

I meet with God in music and the simply written word. He made me a promise about a year ago as I read the book Amos Fortune, Free Man to my children.  For my husband, it is in working with his hands and being out in the wilderness.  I think we are all meant to find God in the Scriptures and in prayer, but then we develop an intimate, and one-of-a-kind friendship with him in other ways too.  We are all a reflection of God, made in his image, and he is the God of art, music, the universe, the landscape, the physical body, the written word, everything under the sun.

He knows me so well.  He spoke to me, through a song, exactly what I needed to hear.  And I cling to these words as a promise.  I am not alone. He will make this place where we are our home.  And he knows what a home means to me.

The most intimate relationship I have on earth is with my husband.  He knows me, the good, the bad, the ugly.  He knows my love of music and has added songs to my soundtrack.  One year on my birthday, he blindfolded me and took me for a ride to a surprise dinner.  On our way, he played "our song."  For our 10th anniversary he created a slide show, set to a song that reminded him of me.  He knows how to reach my heart.  It's not with flowers.  It's with simple words written in a card. And a song.

Whatever you may love or be passionate about, I just know God wants to meet you there.  If you love music, like I do, he's got some new songs for your soundtrack. If you love words on a page, he's got a book for you. If you love movies, he's got one for you.  If you love food... he's got a dish for you.  If you love to run, he's got a race for you.

I am blown away, simply blown away, sometimes, by how close the Lord of the universe will get to me.  He truly rejoices over me with singing, just as Zephaniah said.  He truly draws near to me as I draw near to him, headphones on, pounding the treadmill pavement.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Journal for January 25th

Join the meme here.

In our homeschool this week

I finished reading Heidi to the kids and we celebrated by watching the two part movie on Netflix.  The kids loved the book and I don't think they would have been as interested in the movie if they hadn't.  The movie was good but took some liberties, of course, which makes for great conversation with the kids.

We also began our trip to Africa, specifically Kenya, and made some cool baskets.

Have I ever mentioned that I love my job?

Helpful Homeschooling Tips or Advice

I was such a gung-ho mama when it came to  starting home education with my four-year-old son.  I'm so glad I introduced structure to him and we did a lot of fun things, but I just took it way too seriously at his young age.  Now I laugh (inside of course) at mamas who want to start homeschooling their three and four year olds.  They are so serious. Like I was.  And I just want to say:

Read to them.
Give them Play Dough and crayons and paints and glue sticks.
Get on the floor and build puzzles with them.
Take them outside more.
Sing to them.
Teach them as you spend time with them.
Relax and enjoy them.

These are my goals with my littlest one.  I have no intention of formally schooling her until she is at least five.  Of course, I hope she shows interest in reading and math.  But she already has a deep curiosity and desire to learn. I don't want to squash it by getting too formal too soon.

Places We're Going and People We're Seeing

We just got back from an ice skating field trip with friends from all through our past. And lots of new faces. Can I just say how great it was to get out and be with people?  And see my kids meeting other kids?  And just feeling the fellowship of homeschoolers.

Okay, okay, let me put my disclaimer out there.  I don't like to hang with just homeschoolers.  I am an equal opportunity friendship maker!  But there is just a camaraderie, an understanding, and an ease when I'm with other people who do what I do.  I don't have to explain why I homeschool. Even though we all have our different reasons and methods and philosophies, we don't have to defend them.

And I'll also say that yes, socialization is important and we needed it :)

My favorite thing this week

Two things.  Going out with my husband last night to a recognition dinner with his coworkers.  I actually really dreaded going to it.  I was hoping I would get sick and couldn't go.  But I love spending time with him, no matter what and no matter where.

And ice skating today.

My kiddos favorite thing this week

Ice skating today.  Brown Eyed Girl is beyond excited that she made a new friend!

I'm Cooking

Pizza tonight. The usual pepperoni and cheese for the kids. But for Josh and I, I'm thinking steak pizza.. We haven't BBQd all winter (we usually do), until this week. The coldest week of winter so far!  I took a package of steak out of the freezer to grill. And it was actually a double pack with two huge steaks in it. I probably froze them together thinking we would have a BBQ with friends over the summer.  Anyway, we have a ton of grilled steak to eat in the coming days.  Fajitas, steak salad, pizza.... what else?

I'm grateful for

Meeting another homeschool mom today who lives only two towns away!

I'm reading

Making Your Children's Ministry the Best Hour of Every Kid's Week.  Loving it.  Encouraging. Motivating.  Exciting.

I rewarded my kids this week by

Taking them to the Salvation Army and buying them a toy.  We love thrift stores.  Mister got a Muppet Kermit, Brown Eyed Girl a stuffed pink dolphin and a little wicker sofa, and Petite got a Mickey Mouse.

Something I've been ogling or had my eye on

I bought this wonderful book as a gift for a friend's baby shower... and I bought one too :)  The bargain price couldn't be beat.  I first saw the Julie Andrews Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies two years ago, back when Borders was still around. I was shopping for a baby shower gift at that time, too.  I love books, period, and thought this one was lovely.  I love collections.  And I love Julie Andrews.  Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, even her most recent roles and voice overs I love!  So I must admit that the bigger appeal in buying this was the CD that comes with it. To hear Julie Andrews reading some of her favorite poems to me sounds a bit like heaven.  My friend, who just had the baby, has mentioned this book a few times in the past as one she would like to have. So I'm hoping she is tickled by it.

Goals and plans for the weekend

Sleep in tomorrow.
Go to my friend's baby shower.
Stay warm in this arctic blast.

A picture from this week...

Josh brought me home the first sign of spring. Which more than likely came from some greenhouse down south :)  But I am enjoying them anyway.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Homeschool Mother's Journal for January 18th

In my life this week

Hurray, I found a local homeschool group!  After being here a year and experiencing the lonely side home educating, I have a teeny bit of hope that things might get better and that we might all start making some friends.

In our homeschool this week

We completed our two weeks in Germany, though it didn't seem like we touched on the country as much this week.  I continued reading Heidi aloud and it is such a phenomenal book.  We all love it. I only wish my voice didn't give out on me so quickly.

Helpful homeschool tips or advice to share

 I keep learning that home school is not a mini version of the typical public school. I'm not sure we really ought to compare the two as much as we do.  They are two completely different institutions.  One is a school, one is a family.  A lot of education happens in our home that is not measurable by the books.  Schools need to measure... I think our family does not need to so much.

Places we're going and people we're seeing

Next week we will be joining some "old" friends for an ice skating field trip.  The kids are so excited to be with other kids.  Seriously, we're all desperately seeking friends!

My favorite thing this week

Taking an afternoon to finish up my 2012 scrapbook and start this year's.

My kiddos favorite thing this week

The fresh snowfall we got right on the heels of the January thaw that took most of the old snow away.  They've been out sledding and snowboarding, getting the most of it.

Things I'm working on

Last night we started designing our school closet on IKEA.  The "closet" is a 10x8 foot room and one wall will hopefully be floor to ceiling bookcases!  Plus a counter, cabinets, and drawers. We're still trying to figure out how to best design it, but all I can say is, YEAH!

I'm cooking

Can I be honest and say I don't want to cook tonight?  I planned a German feast of hot dogs and hamburgers, but can we just go out and celebrate?

I'm grateful for

Being almost...almost...almost debt free.  We'll be paying our truck off soon and then we have nothing but our mortgage.  It's sweet.

I'm praying for

Connections to be made through the new homeschool group.  We're desperate. I mean it.

I rewarded my kids this week by

I rented the newest Ice Age movie for us to watch for movie night tonight.  If we go out to eat on top of that, it's quite a reward.

Something I'm ogling or have my eye on

IKEA seems like a wonderland.  I love the library ladders and think it would be so cool to have one in our new school closet.

I'm reading

Not much lately. I'm so tired at night.  Do catalogues count?

Join the Homeschool Mother's Journal here.  Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Different Fashion

This weekend I went out, alone. It's always such a treat.  I was meeting some girlfriends for dinner and a movie, but beforehand had some shopping to do.  My first stop was Target.  I bypassed the clothing department and the accessories department.  I went straight to the Rubbermaid containers and spent a ridiculous amount of money on those things, all in the name of organizing the basement.  It's worth it, but I thought of all the much more fun things I could buy with that money. Things like clothes. And accessories.

Next I went to the craft store.  Now that was too much fun!  As I wandered the aisles, enjoying the rare treat of actually being able to peruse at my leisure, I kind of chuckled to myself.  Life sure changes when you have children, I mused in my head.  I was in seventh-heaven looking at art and craft supplies for my kiddos.  I barely even looked in my favorite department, the scrapbooking supplies.  I was all about the kids and their creativity.  I picked up some art canvases, Sculpey clay, and beeswax for their crafting pleasure.  I got giddy inside as I thought of how giddy they would be when they saw all these goodies!

I lingered in the kids department, noticing lots of fun Klutz books and Melissa and Doug toys.  I almost bought them each another KinzKlip.  They are so hard to resist at only $1 each.  But I forced myself.

At Kohls, I spent most of my time in the girls department, digging through the clearance, but also in search of leggings for Brown-Eyed-Girl. Leggings are amazing!  Not on me, but for little girls, especially those who love to wear dresses even in the dead of winter.  And those who can't stand the seam in the toes of traditional tights.  I found a black sparkly pair and a hot pink pair with a discreet tiger stripe pattern on them. Perfect.

After dinner, a few of us girls made our way to the mall.  Our first stop was Claire's, that mecca of accessories for the preteen set.  Oh, it's fabulous, and all I could think was how much Brown-Eyed-Girl would love it.  I began planning our next Girl's Day in my head, with the intention of a trip to the mall.

We went to the theatre and saw The Guilt Trip, with Barbara Streisand. Not a romance, but a movie about a mom who dearly loves her one and only son.  A mom who put her son first in everything, but discovered it was time to start living her life again.

I think we're so prone to think we lose part of ourselves when we become a mom.  For sure, there are things that have to go, maybe just for a season.  But my life is so much richer and more interesting because I am a mother.  You'd never in a million year find me in the art supplies department pre-kids.  There are so many beautiful books I never would have read.  I wouldn't know what a Webkinz was or Ninjago.  I'd spend all my time and money in the clothing and accessories department.  I wouldn't experience the sweetness of a Girl's Day and squeals and giggles over Hello Kitty merchandise.

We say that we are "raising" kids.  It's true. I am raising them, molding them, laboring over them. And in the process, they are fashioning me, too.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Journal for the First Week of School in the New Year

Join the journaling meme here.

In my life this week

We're back to a state of normalcy since the holidays and I have to admit, being normal is under-rated!  There is nothing wrong with leading a quiet life at home.  Though at least one of my children might argue with this.

In my homeschool this week

We began our visit to Germany. The kids eased back into school better than expected!  Also, I confess, I'm starting to think about next year and all the exciting curriculum ahead for us!  But reminding myself that this year still has lots of excitement still to come.

Helpful homeschooling tips

Just do it!

Places we're going and people we're seeing

It's my desire to go nowhere for a long time, but that's not how it works out!  Next week we'll be taking a day to go ice-fishing and that will probably take everything out of me for a while.  I'm like a bear in winter. I just want to hibernate.

My favorite thing this week

Watching the kids utilize all the fun educational goodies they got for Christmas.  See my post on Craft boxes over on the family blog.  I also loved the hour I gave myself yesterday to work on my Project Life album.  I just feel recharged when I spend a little time doing something that won't have to be redone the next day (you know, like dishes).

My kiddos favorite thing this week

They loved their Pigeon activity books, they are really enjoying me reading Heidi aloud, and the mini "Christmas" we celebrated with Great Grampy on Tuesday.

I'm working on

Wrapping up my 2012 Project Life album.  And guess what????? My new kit comes today!!!!!
Okay, you may not be excited, but I sure am!

I'm cooking

It's pizza and movie night on Fridays, so that is the menu for this evening.  I have truly come to love homemade pizza better than store-bought. Except when it comes to stuffed crust at  Pizza Hut.
I also made pigs-in-a-blanket using homemade dough.  Better than crescent rolls, for sure.
My grandmother got me a subscription to the Food Network magazine for Christmas and my first issue came this week!  So I've got lots of new menu ideas rolling through my brain.  One recipe in there: homemade conversation hearts.  Yes, must try those!

I'm grateful for

All the little ways God provides for us.  My husband has a great job right now, but I love how the Lord takes care  of us outside of that paycheck.  I started a list for the new year of financial blessings.  Things like finding pretzels for 28 cents a bag because the shelf date was a few weeks away. Seriously, that's the Lord.

I'm praying for

Our neighbors. That we would be a light in our neighborhood.  

I rewarded my kids this week by

Hmmm... Movie night is our reward for a week of hard work.

Something I'm ogling or have my eye on

As I said, my latest Project Life core kit.  And I'm thinking curriculum thoughts for next year. Apologia Science has been on my radar for a while.  I think next year may be the year.   

Places I've been online this week

Youtube is so essential to my homeschooling! I'm amazed at all we can see on there.  This week we watched the Berlin Wall come down, the mechanical dolls of the Glockenspiel dancing, and we listened to this fun song.

I visited Europe in high school and our tour guide was German.  He sang us this song when we visited the village for which it is named. It's a German tongue twister... and sounds a bit like a German stein song.  After all they love their beer in Germany.
Oberamergau is famous for it's once-per-decade Passion Play and the murals on almost every building in the village.
We also visited this castle, Neuschwanstein.  Walt Disney modeled Cinderella's castle after this one.  And you can also see it in Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang.

Monday, January 7, 2013


Just sitting here, thankful.

For a normal day.  For the holidays being behind us and the rest of the school year in front of us.  Thankful for a smooth day back at it, and getting it "all" done by one o'clock.

Thankful for the fresh eggs our neighbor sells us for a mere $1.50 a dozen. He even delivers them to our door.  We have so many, I need to research ways to use them.  Today's lunch is pumpkin french toast.  No one is complaining.

I'm pretty thankful for that.

I got the woodstove cleaned out and managed to start a new fire.  It took me a while, but Mister cheered me on.

He got all of his spelling words right, too.  They were pretty easy, a review. But it doesn't matter.  I'm thankful.

I've got a hot cup of coffee. Starbucks.  My favorite. Pike's Place Roast.  Given to me by the love of my life who knows I kind of prefer this roast to his favorite darker roasts.  And I get to savor each cup in the afternoon, all by myself.  I do share.  But it's nice to know I don't have to.

The sun is shining and for some reason 16 degrees feels warm.  I look forward to tomorrow, when things will turn a balmy 35 degrees out.  

The kids are playing.  Not watching TV or playing with their thumbs on their little video game systems.  No fighting... yet.  I'll take it.

And be thankful for it.