Archive for January, 2011

Multitude Monday

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Awhile back, I posted about a gratitude list I planned to keep. I had trouble linking to Ann Voskamp’s site, so that list got put on hold. I love to write but I really stink when it comes to technical stuff! I have figured out how to be a part of her gratitude community and so I am excited about counting my blessings up to 1,000 – and maybe even beyond!

holy experience

This week’s list all pertain to my weekend away at the Resolve Conference.

On Monday, January 31st, 2011, I thank my Father for:

18. Role Models for my daughter. See my previous post, Dream On! So thankful! We truly had a God-orchestrated meeting with Kathryn McCormick. Thank you, Lord!

19. Chad Eastham who spoke about teen relationships at the Resolve conference. Good, good stuff!

Eating at Changs!

20. A memory-making weekend away with my two oldest daughters – a great conference, fun music, lots of laughs, a bet they won (Yes, they swam in an outdoor pool in 58 degree weather for 10 minutes all for Chick-fil-a milkshakes), a fun night at the Mall of Georgia, dinner at P.F. Changs, movies on my computer at night, hot chocolate and mochas…)

21. Volence, our new World Vision child we are sponsoring. We signed up with World Vision at the conference. We now have a precious 11 year old girl from Africa to pray and care for.

22. Safety as we traveled.

23. Bethany, who helped her daddy with running the house while I was gone. She would have rather attended the conference with me and her big sisters, but graciously accepted that she is not quite old enough. That child is precious!

24. The ability to video a snippet of the conference (I chose an especially loud snippet of Hawk Nelson playing live) to e-mail to the children at home. It thrilled them! Makes the miles that separated us seem not so far. Iphones are cool.

25. Esther who has finally mastered going to the potty and did not have a singe accident while I was gone! For those who’ve read this you know how much this means to me!

26. Dear friends who came to my house and took my four children to church. Daniel had to be there by 7 am Sunday because he was the worship leader. That was WAY to early for him to have the four younger children up and ready. Neighbors stopped by and picked up the gang at 9. They had to take two cars to do so. Thankful my gang could be at church in my absence.

27. This same sweet family fed my hubby and children lunch!

28. The joy of returning home.

29. Our friends we went to the conference with. These are fun, fun people. Love them and praise God for dear friends both for me and my girls!

30. Reconnecting with a friend I haven’t seen in 23 years! Yes, also at the Resolve conference. More to come on this one!

31. 6500 girls present at the conference! There was so much energy in that place and it thrilled my heart to be a part of it!

32. My husband’s willingness to let me make memories with my girls. He juggled much – 4 kiddos, being the worship leader, dishes, food, etc! I’m thankful for my man!

Dream On!

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

What are your dreams?

This was a question asked many times at the 2011 Revolve tour this weekend in Atlanta – a gathering of 6500 mothers, youth workers but mostly teen girls. These young girls were challenged to dream big and to trust God daily with their lives.

My daughter, Anna, loves to dance. She loves Jesus. She loves to dance for the Lord now and desires to do so after high school. In what capacity, she doesn’t know. She’d love to one day tour with Ballet Magnificat, a professional Christian dance company, or at least participate in their summer intensives. Dancing is a dream for her.

It was for Kathryn McCormick as well. Kathryn was a speaker at the Revolve conference. She told of being faithful in the little things… how her senior year of high school she wanted to dance to a Christian song by Britt Nicole but was scared. She was afraid she’d be misunderstood or ridiculed. She knew, however, God placed that song in her heart so she danced to it out of conviction and because it expressed her faith. Through that small act of obedience, the Lord eventually provided the opportunity for her to tour and dance with Britt – a dream even bigger than placing 3rd place in So You Think You Can Dance! She is living her dream – using her gifts for the Lord and speaking of His goodness to thousands of young girls. Her dance is a platform for her greater love – her Lord!

As I listened to this young woman speak, I was overcome with gratitude. “Thank you, Lord for this woman’s testimony. Thank you that my dance-loving Anna can hear this. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!” I found myself saying over and over.

The next day, during lunch at the conference, I told my friend and our Women’s Ministry director, Marci, how I felt God placed Kathryn on the Revolve tour just for us. Kathryn spoke to Anna’s heart. She inspired her and I expressed that I sure wished Anna could meet her.

I think I said, “Marci, it would mean so much to Anna to meet Kathryn. I sure wish I’d thought ahead to get a ticket. I’m sure she’s ministered to many, but I felt her testimony was delivered especially to my daughter. There couldn’t possibly be anyone who could relate to Kathryn’s journey more…”

… And then without missing a beat, a young girl sweetly appeared from the masses of teens in the fast food line to our little huddle of friends. She was holding a ticket and approached us and asked, “Would one of you like to go meet Kathryn McCormick? I have a ticket but I don’t have time to stand in line and use it.” She then looked at Anna and handed it to her. For the next few minutes, I breathlessly attempted to keep my daughter in sight as she darted through the crowds to meet Kathryn during the allotted time of her ticket. As I ran, I prayed that I too would be able to accompany Anna even though I had no entry pass. Thankfully, I was privileged to witness their encounter and listen to their brief but encouraging conversation.

Kathryn encouraged Anna to follow after Jesus! “I am in awe that God has used my dancing like he has. I was absolutely terrified of public speaking – yet through my dance I know God is telling me to speak as well.” Anna told her how she wanted to dance with Ballet Magnificat and actually enjoys speaking and is taking Gavel Club (speech) now. Kathryn then encouraged her, “God will use that! That is so wonderful! Dance for Him and speak for him! Just be faithful daily and He will reveal to you His plan!

And then we ran back to our little group of friends as the BIGNESS of the previous 10 minutes sunk in and became a reality. Just as I praised Him as Kathryn spoke to 6500 girls, I praised Him again as we made our way back across the conference center. God revealed to me that He did indeed orchestrate that little meeting between my daughter and Kathryn.

That was SO COOL!” Anna exclaimed to her friends as she found the digital image of Kathryn and her on my camera to share with everyone.

And I am thankful – thankful for role models who can inspire my girl to dream on! God has a plan for her life and He is faithful! No doubt, Anna’s picture with Kathryn will be a reminder to her over these next few years that no matter what lies ahead, she can trust the Lord with her dreams and her future.

Will You Be My Friend?

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

As if “Facebook friending” weren’t enough, I have another friend request. My techie-hating self figured out how to do the “Google friend connect” thingy on my blog. It’s not that I care to have “followers” although I’m sure it appears that I do. There may be a better way to have blog subscribers. I have no idea. So why did I do it?

I’d like to do some curriculum reviews for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and a requirement for that is to have a Google friend connect on my blog. My assumption is that I’d also need a few people that actually subscribe. So… if you read my blog would you consider being my friend? Just look to the bottom of my sidebar on the right and click “join.” You will then be walked through the steps of setting up a Google account if you don’t already have one.

Thanks so much, dear friends!

Esther Skis at Three

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Someone got to go skiing last week!

We’ve never taken a child under the age of 6 or 7 to the slopes. However, youngest children occasionally find themselves at an advantage. Christina had to wait until she was 9 to get a puppy. Esther thinks our yorkie, Tanner, is her big brother. Anna begged to ski until she was seven. Esther got to try out the bunny slope last week just two months after turning three. She also was born into a home equipped with two dollhouses, 6 bitty babies, a decade of dance costumes for dress-ups and a Playmobil castle. I remember when Anna was three thinking, “We really need some girl toys.” That was 12 years and 4 daughters and a bazillion birthday parties ago. Anyway… Daniel and I are guilty of “not being fair.” Esther gets to ski at three.

And she did GREAT!

Because this preschool-ski thing was new to us, we had no idea how she’d do. We were so surprised that after a few runs, she wanted to try it “all by myself!!” I was pleased to capture her first run down where Daniel “lets her go.”

Way to go, Esther! 🙂

Eating My Frogs

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

It’s been nearly two weeks since I’ve blogged. I think my day off scrapbooking carried some consequences. Frogs began taking over my house and I’ve been eating them one by one!

Let me explain what I mean by “eating my frogs.” My daughter participates in gavel club, a home school speech club. Last week, I was privileged to hear one of the best inspirational speeches on procrastination. “Frogs,” said the young speaker, “are tasks on your to-do list. They are those unpleasant jobs you should do but tend to put off. We should daily “eat” the biggest, ugliest frog first. Eating it provides us with energy and productivity. However, if we put off eating it, that little amphibian will just get bigger and fatter throughout the day and will stare at us leaving us feeling weighted and overwhelmed.”

Loved it! I’m a big fan of checking things off my list. The analogy comparing unpleasant tasks to slimy frogs made me smile. So, since my delightful day in my comfy chair making a family album (which I still do not regret doing!), I’ve been dining on some frog legs! I’ve researched and ordered/borrowed a new history curriculum. I’ve made menus. I’ve done laundry and graded papers. I’ve resumed teaching at our co-op, meaning I’ve planned some writing lessons. I’ve called doctors and dealt with Esther’s on-going ear infection. I’ve tackled desk work and I’ve exercised. I’ve not been blogging because blogging isn’t a frog. It’s enjoyable. It’s a way I unwind. It’s kind of like dessert.

And yet their are still frogs in this house. As a matter of fact, I think I hear a “ribbit” coming from the kitchen sink as I type…

True Treasures (book review)

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Back in November, I agreed to be a “Gabby Mom.” I can just hear the chuckles from those who know me well.  Most of you know I’ve been gabby well before November so I’ll explain.  🙂

The Gabby Moms are a group of homeschooling mothers who’ve agreed to review materials from Eternal Encouragement Magazine, which until just last month was called TEACH. Before last fall, I’d never heard of this publication. Lorrie Flemm, the owner of the magazine, “friended” me on facebook. Because I love receiving homeschooling encouragement in my news feed and we shared many homeschooling friends, I accepted. From there, I have enjoyed getting to “know” her through her positive, edifying posts that encourage me in my roles as a wife and mother. When I saw she wanted bloggers to be “gabby moms” to review her resources, I enthusiastically agreed. Monthly, I’ll receive a product, review it and then link my review to the Gabby Moms site.

Shortly after Christmas, I received the first TEACH publication to review entitled True Treasures  – 10 Years of TEACH Magazine. What a lovely little book! It arrived just a few days after Christmas and I felt like I’d received a late gift. This little book, which came wrapped in a glittery blue bow, was exactly what I needed after an extremely tiring Christmas season. As the new year became inevitable and I lacked the energy to even “undecorate” our Christmas-y home, I knew I needed inspiration. Let me tell you – I received just that! See if you aren’t inspired just from the following snippets contained withing this resource:

If we are faithful, we will reap the treasure in Heaven that we sow here on Earth.” (page 17)

Never let yourself get so busy or focused on what you didn’t get done that you don’t enjoy what you did get done.” (page 63)

Some days, being a godly mother is all we can accomplish, and it is a BIG accomplishment.” (p. 17)

Put your first and best energies into things that matter eternally.” (page 38)

If I am to be an instrument of God’s peace, I must have a quiet heart.” (page 12)

Remember you can’t do it all yourself!” (page 64)

As you plan, pray, prepare and then proceed, you will have the joy of finishing those things you’ve dreaded for years.” (page 20)

The truth is there are no little people or little jobs when you are fulfilling the work asked of you by the king!”

If you aim at a bull’s eye you might hit it, but if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time!” (page 65)

Our husband’s heartbeat must be our heartbeat.” (page 30)

No’s should be no’s!” (page 33)

As you can see, I received INSPIRATION to parent well, love my husband and children, keep our home running as smoothly as possible and work on academics and character building in our home school! I received words of wisdom to focus on the eternal and not the temporal, set goals, and limit the unnecessary. I was encouraged that little things matter and that some days all the little things I do add up to be BIG! I was also encouraged not to allow the busyness of homeschooling to take priority over my marriage, and I was reminded that I am incapable of being a godly wife, mother or homemaker on my own. No! I need the Lord!

True Treasures is indeed a treasure. It contains over 100 pages of short, inspiring articles. While I had not heard of Eternal Encouragement until recently, I immediately realized that I am familiar with many of its authors. I was delighted to see submissions by Marilyn Boyer who spoke several years ago at our state’s home school conference and MaryBeth Whalen, a somewhat local friend and author! I very much enjoyed the short, readable articles… just the right length to read before turning out the light at night (usually a double spread – about 5-10 minutes!)

My local friends, I am happy to pass my copy around! If you’d like your own, use the coupon code GabbyMom at check-out at for a $4 discount. At the same address, you can download a free PDF of TEACH magazine. If you like the freebie, you’ll love True Treasures!

I received this product for honest review from TEACH Magazine as part of The Gabby Moms blogging program. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

A Day Well Spent

Monday, January 10th, 2011

It’s snowing. There are no extracurricular lessons. My children (kind of) did school today – at least what they can do without assistance because I’ve been just a little preoccupied. As a matter of fact, I’ve not moved out of my chair all day. But, I did something BIG! I made our 2010 family scrapbook!

I feel accomplished. Very accomplished.

The house is a wreck. The laundry is out of control. When Bethany asked if I could watch her math video with her, I gave her permission to put it off until tomorrow. Esther has watched four videos. I don’t know what’s for supper and it’s 5:30. I didn’t exercise. I am actually still in my PJs. But… I made a scrapbook!

I’ll clean up later and I’ll figure something out for dinner. I don’t allow myself to be creative often because I am very “all or none” with artsy endeavors. Sadly, for six years, I’ve been “none” when it comes to archiving family memories. I will not regret my lazy day working on this book! It is a book that will not be “undone” like the dishes and the laundry. Skipping math and watching four movies once every few years will do my children no permanent damage. (At least I hope not!)

When the children were little, before they took dance, music, art and were involved in church activities, I carved out a monthly time to work on books. I loved it. It was my mommy- and friend-time and it made feel like I’d spent my time profitably – on something that would last.

I realized today how much I’ve missed that feeling! What I did today will not get undone! I made a scrapbook and I would love to share it with you…


Please, oh please brag on my accomplishment! 🙂

This was my first digital album and it was easy, easy, easy! Now, I realize it is not very creative. I used iPhoto which is where my pictures are stored. I basically just dropped my pictures into the templates and wrote a little text. I’d LOVE to learn more about digital scrapbooking and plan to contact my friend who is a Creative Memories consultant very soon. While I enjoyed the no mess, quick results, I’d like more creative license than this program offers! However, I know I have a lot to learn and at least this one didn’t stress my brain cells. Also, it was incredibly fast because I didn’t have to upload pictures until the album was complete!

I do still plan on doing old-fashioned albums for my children – the type with printed photos and pretty papers. I have five started and will finish them… eventually. Poor Esther has no baby pictures printed but I’m determined she will have Mommy’s handwriting in her photo album too! I have two friends who host crops and I need to go!

However, our family albums are going digital. It’s the only way they’ll ever make it off the computer and into books. What I did today use to take me weeks to do!

I’d like your opinion, dear friends. What do you use? Have you found an economical way to do digital books? (iPhoto was pretty pricey, I think). Has anyone used Shutterfly or Snapfish? If so, how long did it take to upload the pictures? I actually tried Shutterfly but lost patience. What are your picture archiving opinions? Oh, and who local wants to work on pictures this year with me? Does anyone still set time aside for this?

I need to make more scrapbooks. Yet, my family needs to eat and my children need help with math. Days like this don’t happen often… a whole day in my chair. A completed project. A very happy me.

Maybe Daniel will go get some pizza. Wait, I forgot- it’s snowing…

Dance In The New Year

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

We usually have a low key New Year’s Eve, but this year we celebrated with friends, food and lots of fun. The dad’s Wii dance off was entertaining… to say the least.

Yes, there is some sort of comment around 1:13 saying, “This better not be on your blog tomorrow!” I am so sorry. I just couldn’t resist! And it’s not tomorrow… I waited a whole week.

We had eight adults, five teens, 4 tweens and 10 children under 10! They all (except for Esther) stayed up until midnight… even these two little ones!

Total cuteness!

Happy 2011 everyone. May this new year bring you lots of laughs 🙂

Esther’s Big Pink Pocketbook

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

This is Esther and her big pink pocketbook. When it’s time to run errands, she flings it over her darling little shoulder and exclaims, “I’ve got my pocketbook! We can go now!” In it is she keeps her essentials. Today, there is a little book, a bracelet, some “lip-stuff” and a stuffed animal. Tomorrow, the contents most likely will change. She holds it carefully in her lap in her car seat. If she is given a treasure as we run around town, she has a perfect place to put it.

Esther could have decided to carry a purse for her treasures all on her own. Many little girls do, and she does have four purse-carrying big sisters as well as a purse-carrying mommy. However, modeling for purse carrying came from another little girl – one with cartoon-like blond hair, beady black eyes and green pants. We’ve read of her adventures about town with her mommy so many times that it’s a shame this child speaks in first person and never shares her name with us. This is a picture of our nameless friend, who happens to carry a big green pocketbook – much like her mother’s blue one… and, Esther believes, much like her hand-me-down-from-big-sister pink one.

Esther adores this story that we borrowed from a friend of mine. While I enjoyed reading it to her, I wouldn’t say it’s one of my all time favorites. It’s sweet, but it has only taught my daughter to carry around a pocketbook. Every time I see my cute three year old with her pocketbook of treasures, I am reminded of the powerful influence that stories can have in our children’s lives. If a little cartoon friend can convince Esther to carry a purse everywhere she goes, what else might she learn from stories? My hope is she’ll learn far more during our read-aloud times than the joy of pocketbook ownership.

I once heard, “You are only changed by the people you know and the books you read.” God changes us most definitely, but there is no doubt that He often uses other people and words (spoken or written) to do so.

I most certainly desire the truths of God’s Word to penetrate the hearts of my children. Yet there are so many good stories that testify of God’s faithfulness as well –  missionary stories, biographies and fiction that direct little hearts toward the Lord. Might the Bible story of the little boy who shared his lunch inspire my children to be giving and trust Jesus? Might a missionary in Africa become their hero? Might my children be influenced toward gratitude after reading of Laura Ingall’s joy in receiving a penny and a piece of peppermint as her only gifts on Christmas Day? The answer to those questions is yes! I’ve seen the power of a book’s influence time and time again in the lives of my children.

May I choose treasures to fill my daughter’s heart in the stories that I share with her. Just like she collects trinkets for her purse, may I collect and read edifying, wholesome books – books, full of life-giving, encouraging words and godly influence! And while I’m at it, I may just pick up our own personal copy of The Big Green Pocketbook – just for fun!

New Year’s Resolutions (without a spreadsheet)

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

I typically don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I used to. I’d make goals and spreadsheets breaking huge goals into manageable daily, weekly, monthly achievements. For example, I once remembered having categories – marriage, children, spiritual life, health, home management, friendships, etc. For each category, I’d write a weekly, monthly and yearly goal. It looked impressive and just filling out the spreadsheet gave me a huge sense of accomplishment.

Somewhere about a decade ago, I quit doing this. I got too busy living life to plan each moment of it. Once my twins were born, I lost the privilege of sitting down to “think” until… about now. I had four children under four and then five under seven and then six when my oldest was twelve. The goal-setting spreadsheets just haven’t happened. But life has.

And now that my oldest is making a New Year’s brunch for us and my youngest is “helping” her, I’m sitting at my computer and “thinking” about my goals for this year. Now I approach the goal setting differently. Instead of spreadsheets, I prefer to just think, “What has been a good thing this past year?  What do I not regret?” I don’t like to think of approaching this negatively. Don’t ask me to change!

1.  I’ve never regretted spending time in God’s word. I want more of that, so I intend to read through the entire Bible. That is something I’ve never done in a year.  My prayer is that not only would I be a hearer of the word, but a doer of it as well. While I was unable to attend church last Sunday because of inclement weather, I listened to our pastor’s podcast, In Pursuit of a Happy New Year, as I made my way through yesterday’s mountain of laundry. If you need some encouragement to stay in the word in 2011, I encourage you to listen to it too!

Lord, as I seek you, may you direct my path!

2. I’ve never regretted spending time with my husband and children.  I think this year needs to bring more of that. More games. More books. More family time. I think even some trips to Carowinds would be nice:) I have built-in babysitters now. I plan to take advantage of that and actually date my hubby once in a while.

3. I’ve never regretted exercising or eating healthily. Bethany is my new workout buddy and she is awesome. I don’t need to break this goal down any further.  She keeps me accountable enough! Now that our Chick-fil-A coupons are gone, maybe the eating healthy part will be a little easier too!

4. I’ve never regretted cultivating relationships with my girlfriends. This one gets tough at times because I’m busy and so are they. However, I feel it’s important to be intentional with friendships.  Women do need one another! A couple of retreats are on my calendar. Can’t wait! And some moms nights out definitely need to happen.

There are lots of thinks I’d like to do. My pictures are a mess and I’d like to see them in better order. The attic needs some organization. I’d love to try new recipes and read more books. Might I ever gain victory over the laundry pile that seems to live on my bedroom floor? Maybe. But that and those other things probably would require filling out some kind of spreadsheet to make them happen. I don’t have time for that because our pancakes are now ready and Bethany wants to exercise! I think my fifteen minutes of goal setting are over!

Happy 2011 friends! What do you hope to accomplish this year?