"Your greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise." ~Andy Stanley

June 28, 2013

An inspiring summer read

There are times, when due to dyslexia, my kids have to work a little harder to do what comes easy to others. One asked me yesterday if dyslexia would 'limit' them.
I reminded this Dear One that 'they can do all things through Christ who strengthens' them!
I also couldn't resist reminding them of the BLIND boy who taught himself echolocation so that he could ride a bike in his neighborhood. This book tells the amazing true story of a man who did not let BLINDNESS limit him.
He didn't see it as a disability! Determination, hard work and practice go a long way, no matter what you are dealing with.
Imagine having to learn geometry by having the problems described to you since you were unable to see them. He did them in his head! He was so good at it that he got on the math quiz bowl team! The list of things he was determined to do is amazing.
The remarkable thing about this story isn't that the author walked out of the World Trade Center during the attack on 9/11 with his guide dog. (although that was incredible) I think what is remarkable, is all that he accomplished in life before that day that caused him to be working there in the first place.
An inspiring story if you are looking for a good summer read.

It reminded this mom of what a small thing dyslexia is and that determination is the key to anything any of us feel called to do in life.


June 26, 2013

Wednesdays in the Word

Gardenias and Purity

Some of my favorite weeks every year are the ones in which our huge gardenia bush blooms! 
I'm a firm believer that the blooms don't belong outside 
so I pick every.single.one. 

And I put them in vases all over our house. 
What smells better than gardenias? 
Pretty much, nothing. ; )

 In the process of picking so many gardenias, I've learned something! If you touch the petals, they will turn brown by morning.
 (maybe everyone knows that but I just figured it out a couple of years ago)

Recently, I've been reading A Man Called Peter, which is about the life and sermons of Peter Marshall. (written by his wife, Catherine Marshall, who also authored Christy, among other titles)
 I was soooo excited to read that he used this fact in a sermon illustration:

"You know how a gardenia's petals reveal any telltale fingermarks by turning brown. . .Your lives are like that. Purity is like that. . . Young people, don't give anything to the world to destroy..."  ~Peter Marshall

This illustration reminds me of the book of James which talks about "pure and undefiled religion" and says we are to "keep oneself unspotted from the world." 

I'm crazy about gardenias! They will forever remind me of my grandmother who wore gardenia perfume and is holding one in this picture AND of PURITY.


 (sorry this scanned picture throws everything off, but I think it is worth it) : )

June 25, 2013

'The most precious thing in you'

"St. Augustine once preached a sermon in which he promised a kind of self-test to see if we truly love God: 

Suppose God proposed to you a deal and said, 
'I will give you anything you want. You can possess the whole world. Nothing will be impossible for you...Nothing will be a sin, nothing forbidden. You will never die, never have pain, never have anything you do not want and always have anything you do want
-except for just one thing: you will never see My face." 

Augustine closed with a question:

Did a chill rise in your hearts, when you heard the words, 'you will never see My face?' That chill is the most precious thing in you: that is the pure love of God."  

Taken from A Mary Heart in a Martha World


June 22, 2013

The rain in Spain...I mean Florida

Our dog, Bree, loves to go for a car ride,  so she came along with me to the bank when it wasn't raining.
When we got home, it looked like we were caught in a monsoon and she thought we were crazy for getting out of the car.

I love this picture!
She couldn't be coaxed out for anything. Not even when cute kids held an umbrella for her! ; )

-They certainly don't care if they get wet, evidenced by the fact that they are barefooted rain or shine!


June 20, 2013

Summer so far:

Segway riding and a tour of St. Pete!
(rescheduled from Spring Break)
Sooo much fun!!

Our Girl, fixed up her Toms to hide the hole in the toe! She's so talented. Love what she did with them.

She's also been gardening. 
but isn't a fan of radishes
We received our end of the year testing results back and were so very pleased! Hooray!

We've been dog sitting for a puppy for a week! Exhausting! 

Thankfully, once in awhile she was exhausted too.

We've been playing this for the past 3 days whenever we get a chance! 

We just got one kid back and two more are leaving! (Oh, the laundry!)
Nathan, who went to CA for a week, is back!
 Instead of 8 hours worth of travel time, it took them 29 hrs. (flying stand by) I'm pretty sure he might sleep today away.

Tonight, our youngest two are heading off to youth camp!!!
What will I do with myself for 4 days?!

Hope you are enjoying a happy Summer!

June 19, 2013

Wednesdays in the Word

Oswald Chambers on criticizing others:

"...the Holy Ghost is the only One in the true position to criticize. He alone is able to show what is wrong without hurting and wounding."
When you are criticizing "it makes you hard and vindictive and cruel and leaves you with the flattering unction that you are a superior person." (ouch!)
Jesus would have us "cultivate an uncritical temper."


June 18, 2013

Debbie Strayer: A mentor, evaluator and friend to so many

A gift of God left this earth on Saturday night.
I was completely in shock to learn of Debbie Strayer's passing.
It felt like we on earth were cheated. Definitely cheated.
We, in the homeschooling community still had so much to learn from her. She was a voice of encouragement. Or maybe I should say it this way, she was a voice of enCOURAGEment.
 She certainly gave me the courage I needed to continue on this journey, to accept my kiddos the way God made them and to enjoy every minute of homeschooling.
She watered my soul during our evaluations. I left her office feeling like I was the best homeschooling mom ever, which was the polar opposite of how I'd walk in. She had a gift for making nervous moms and nervous kids, feel completely at ease. She could evaluate children, almost without them even realizing it, because she was just that fun to talk to. My kids loved going to see her. She could correct a reader without needing them to share the book with her. -I remember admiring this skill for basically being able to read upside down, and wished I had it. ; )
She blessed every home school mom she ever spoke to. But at the same time, she didn't sugar coat things. She told you what was what. I remember when she told me that God had not given me 'Abeka children' and that's all there was to it. They were "the hands-on kind" and she encouraged me to do unit studies with them. She loved hearing about every single unit study we did too. The deeper and crazier into a topic we dealved, the better. The more excited the kids were about a subject they discussed with her, the more her eyes sparkled. (and she had THE greatest laugh!) I remember her telling me that when my kids are grown, I will sit and reread all of their portfolios just for fun, and I have no doubt that she is right. She's the reason our school was fun! I think one of the most important things she taught me, was to use these homeschooling years as a tool to build strong relationships with my children that will last long past the 12 grade! She was a perfect example of that very thing.
 I'll always be so thankful for God's voice, speaking encouragement to me through this precious woman.


June 17, 2013

Recent yumminess

When my best friend and I gave our two seniors a graduation party, her sister-in-law made a great bow tie pasta salad. Yesterday I tried to make it and didn't quite have all the ingredients she mentioned. So, I got creative and added a couple more ingredients that sounded good and it turned out REALLY well. My picky boy liked it and we had some unexpected company for dinner and they LOVED it.
(or they lied really well) : )

Yummy Bow Tie Pasta  (how is that for a title?)

Cook your pasta according to directions and drain. In a bowl, mix the pasta with:
 one jar of cut up roasted red peppers
One packet of dry Ranch dressing mix
 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/2 of mayonnaise
1/4 cup of cream cheese
Cut up and cook some kielbasa sausage in olive oil and then add to the pasta. STIR.

Then make the Pioneer Woman's corn casserole to go with it. It is so summery and colorful because it has red peppers and jalapenos in it. And while you are shucking the corn your husband can make all kinds of corny jokes or at least, that is what mine did. : )

We had some more birthdays in our girls' Bible class and to celebrate, Joy and I tried an Oreo Cupcake recipe! You put an open Oreo in the bottom of each cupcake holder before you add the batter! You also put crushed Oreos in the batter and on top.

All the 'lids' went on top for decoration.  
Not only were they yummy, we also found out they are sturdy, because I took a sharp turn in the car and they turned upside down and still looked nice afterwards. ugh! Thanks for sharing Julie!

June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

to my wonderful Dad!!!


June 15, 2013

Their favorite things about Dad

For a Father's Day project, I asked our kids to tell me some of their FAVORITE things about their Dad. 
When we read back over the complied list, Andrew said, "Anyone with this many good things, is like the perfect man, Mom. You are really lucky." : ) 
Yes, I am!!! (and so are our kids!) Thank you, Jesus! 

Here are some of them: 

Dad's optimism about absolutely everything

Dad is a great father and there aren't very many of
those around these days

That Dad introduced me to an instrument-the guitar

Dad's generosity

Dad's positive outlook and attitude -always!

Dad's good judgment 

How encouraging he is to us

His servant's heart 

His wise words on every subject. He knows about everything! 

That Dad cares about things we care about and he gets excited with us.

Dad's knowledge of the Bible

He always compliments me 

His work ethic

That you can always depend on him

Dad is always willing to hear you.

You can ask always ask him questions

He can go into any social environment and talk to anyone!  

Happy Father's Day to my wonderful Hubby! 


June 14, 2013

A reason to read this summer

This really struck me. It is from Sally Clarkson's blog and there is so much truth here! A good motivator for summer reading if you ask me!
Young people who are well read, have excellent character and a good work ethic are going to stand out in their generation! Amen!

"Recently, I was in a meeting, observing some leaders who were making important decisions about urgent responsibilities that needed to be managed by some new employees of this organization. An elderly CEO, an advisor of the other leaders in the room said,
'The problem is, most younger college graduates who are applying for these positions are ill prepared to take on such responsibility.  They have not read broadly on many subjects or world view and so they have almost no perspective of historical issues. Because they are media dependent, they are subject to believing popular views espoused in media. Raised on television and entertained to death, with a constant appetite for movies, their opinions are shallow and reactionary. Thinking clearly and well and synthesizing ideas from reading profoundly and exposing themselves to great thinkers is clearly not even a part of their training or a part of their daily habit or routine. Add to that a lack of character training and an inability to work hard and long through difficult seasons of work, and you will find it almost impossible to find an excellent candidate who can handle such important responsibilities. ' "

June 12, 2013

Wednesdays in the Word

Our Limitless God from Numbers 11:

Bless Moses' heart! The whole tribe of Israel started craving meat to eat because manna wasn't good enough for some reason even though "Human beings ate the bread of angels; He sent them all the food they could eat." Ps. 78:5  Actually, craving it might even be an understatement because they all started weeping about it. Pretty sure I've never craved anything enough to cry even when I was pregnant. Although I did cry when the fryer was broken and I couldn't buy Checkers fries when I was 9 months pregnant, so maybe that does count. Anyway, poor Moses. He said "for they weep all over me." Good grief.
Then God says that He will give them meat "until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you" and that He will give it to them for a not a day or a week but a whole month!

Here's the part that makes me smile.
Moses points out to the CREATOR of the Universe,
that there are A LOT of people to feed. "The people...are six hundred thousand men on foot, yet you have said 'I will give you meat, that they may eat for a whole month." Or in other words, 'Are you crazy?!' ; )
Then Moses goes further and lets the Creator of the Universe know that this could be really hard to pull off because it really is A LOT of meat we're talking about! He wants to know if God plans to kill herds of sheep "Or shall all the fish of the sea be gather up together to provide for them?" Now he's trying to help HIM figure out how to do what He said.

Here's where Moses and I have a couple things in common.
I know I've tried to tell God how to do things.
I know I've tried to tell Him what He's promised sounds too hard for Him to really do.
I know I've said "are you crazy?" at times to the things He wants me to do.

Moses must've thought he had God's back. I'm guessing the parting of the Red Sea has slipped everyone's minds... I'm pretty sure the CREATOR of the Universe didn't need Moses' help to keep His word and He doesn't even need mine. : )
I love God's response! Literally in Hebrew, it reads 

"Is the Lord's power limited?" 
I think that is a good question to ask ourselves from time to time.
"Is the Lord's power limited?"

Then He says "Now you will see whether what I say will happen or not."
(or 'look out, here comes the meat-fest!')

-Do we really believe that what God says will come to pass in every situation and that He is not in any way limited? And that He has EVERYTHING under control? 
I don't always, but I want to!
We serve a limitless, promise-keeping God!

June 10, 2013

Big happenings

Joy started her internship at the bakery this week. 
She MADE apple turnovers, guava and cheese pastries, frosted cookies and filled cannolies!

Doesn't she look cute in her uniform?

She was asked to plan and help prepare desserts for 400 people for a church related event tonight. But the 400 turned out to be at least 500.
She came up with those cute trifles in the clear cups. (a layer of chocolate cake, then chocolate pudding and whip cream)
Wouldn't Grandmum love that she wanted to top them with MINT leaves and raspberries! : )
And she made a hundred of these cookie dough truffles 
which were to die for.
We were so happy that she tested them out on us first. : )

Nathan is heading to CA today!!!!
He's going to see if God's plan for his life includes going into ministry out there as well as going to school. We've all been praying for him and we will be looking forward to seeing what God's answer is. A sweet, unexpected bonus is that he gets to spend Father's Day with my parents! Yay! (I'm jealous!)

Twenty five years ago today, a certain guy and I started dating! My favorite part is that three years later there was a wedding! : )

Very blessed!!!!


June 7, 2013

Book purses!

A sweet girl in our lives loves Wuthering Heights.
When Joy and I discovered book purses, she decided she just had to make her one, so we ordered an old but pretty copy of Jane Eyre's book. 
Then, she got to work and wow, was it a lot of work!
(I'm hoping she forgets that part and wants to make one for me)  ; ) 

It turned out beautifully!!!
These pictures do not in any way, do it justice. 

I love it sooo much! Next up is one out of an antique copy of the Hobbit for herself! Hooray! : ) 


June 5, 2013

Wednesdays in the Word

The other day, I had a bunch of errands to run for a party and something odd kept happening. Well, maybe  the trip to Wal*art doesn't count, because something odd happens there all the time. ; )
Anyway, it also happened at the library and the dollar store. In each of these places I ran into people who were talking to themselves out loud.
It was not the kind of talking that takes you by surprise until you realize they are really on the phone. It was not the kind of talking that I do when I'm trying to decide if I've checked everything off my to-do list either.
It was sad. It was a one-sided conversation because they didn't have anyone on the other side. (so to speak)
The Lord put on my heart that 'People are talking and no one is listening.'
And then I thought 'what if I didn't know God and didn't know I could cast all my cares on Him and that He cares for me?' I bet I'd be talking to myself in disturbing tones outside the library too.

The fact that I didn't stop my day and engage in a conversation with any of them bothered me. Then I ran across these verses and I've personalized them and I"m praying them.
I want to have His heart of love to lavish on the people I encounter in life, instead of my own tiny heart, that keeps going down the isle past the hurting...

"And may the Lord make me increase and abound in love to one another and and to all...so that He may establish my heart blameless in holiness before my God and Father at the coming of my Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." 1 Thess. 3: 12-13

"And this I pray, that my love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that I may approve the things that are excellent, that I man be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God." Phil.1:9


June 4, 2013

I think we are officially done celebrating!

Wow. Sooo many graduations and celebrations.

We attended two public high school graduations on Saturday and Sunday. (and let's just say, it is a good thing that they don't tell you what each graduate accomplished in high school and what they plan to do next, like ours does, or you'd never get to leave) : )

We worked hard last week making a video of pictures of Nathan's life for the double graduation party that my best friend and I gave Nathan and her daughter. (his girlfriend)
My friend made her daughter's video and it was a beautiful surprise for her at the party. Nathan is the techie one of our family and so he had to help me, I mean, make the video himself. LOL
I did scan the photos though and helped by arguing with him about what song to put the video to. -I know he was really glad to have me around. ; ) Anyway, after me stressing over it all week, Nathan did a beautiful job and used a perfect song that made me cry!
 (Grandparents, remind me to send you a link so that you can watch it!) : )
In the midst of fighting over the music, putting together this awesome keepsake, I kept thinking that if these two end up marrying each other, we have videos ready to show at the wedding reception and so we are ahead of the game, right?

We had the graduation party on Sunday night and it was a blast. There were over 50 sweet kids from the youth group there, along with some parents. We showed the videos and fellow-shipped over lots of food. Thankfully, the rain stayed away and the kids swam in the pool and and then played on a homemade slip and slide covered with baby oil and bubble bath. It was a crazy, fun time.

Last night we attended the last of all the graduation/celebrations, which was the advancement ceremony that our home school group gives every year. It was fun to celebrate the achievements of all our kids together with people we've been on this journey with for such a long time. One of the other moms who has a senior, was saying that she believes this ceremony "is important because it gives hope to the younger homeschooling parents and lets them know that if we can do it and not kill our kids in the process they can too." ; ) Amen, Sister!
Andrew completed 8th grade
Joy completed 10th
Nathan and the other seniors
NOW, it is finally starting to feel like summer vacation around here. Hooray!
 So, I have some kids to try and beat at Spiderman Monopoly while watching Spiderman 3.
-Pretty sure they will be better at that kind of multi-tasking!

Hope your summer has started too!