Sunday, May 8, 2016

Exciting Things Happening!

I know it's been awhile since I've posted.  I'm sorry if I've left you wondering what's going on.  So I'm here to share a little of what's going on!

First, I've been having fun over on my blog's facebook page ( producing daily under-five-minute thoughs for mamas.  If you click on over there, "like" the page and then turn on notifications, you should see them pop up in your news feed (most) every day Monday through Friday.  As I say in the videos, I try to do them every morning, where "morning" is defined loosely as "before lunch".

The other bit of news, the news that has me almost giddy with excitement, is that we are about to move!  No, not houses.  Blog locations!!  Coming soon (very, very soon!) you can find me over at!!  If you click on that link now you'll just get an ugly screen that says the blog is "coming soon" so here's a sneak peek at part of the new design and color scheme:

Don't worry - all of the content from this blog has been imported over there.  Some of the posts are "live" now and some I'll roll out a little at a time going forward.  Everything is in place; I just need a little more time to work on the "window dressing" and we'll be open for business!  If you are reading this post in e-mail, your address has already been uploaded for inclusion in the new blog's e-mail list.  (The first time you visit the new blog you will probably be prompted to give your e-mail address.  Go ahead and put it in.  You won't receive duplicate e-mails, but the blog will stop bothering you about it.)

I'm planning some fun "grand opening" events.  I'll keep you posted as I get closer to "go time"!  Would you please pray that I will make wise choices about managing this new space?  The moment one purchases a domain name, one is inundated with plugs from all kinds of services to "grow your subscriber list!" and "increase traffic!".  I'll be honest; I do want people to see the blog.  I do want the work that I put into writing and designing posts to be of benefit to people.  I do need to put some effort (and perhaps some money) into letting folks know that there is something available.

But I also know that numbers are not the clearest measure of whether or not the blog is a blessing to others.  And I'm not really interested in numbers showing up at my blog.  I want people (mostly moms or parents) who can be encouraged or inspired to think about things from a different angle.  It's not a popularity contest.  But it is a marketplace of ideas in which one needs to put out a shingle in order for folks to know that there might be interesting stuff happening inside.

Big adventures ahead.  And big challenges, too, I'm sure.  The support of those who have followed me here is more precious than I can say!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Wisdom is the Principal Thing

Today I am guest blogging over at They Call Me Blessed for Ana Willis' "31 Reasons We Love Homeschooling" Blog Party!  Come check out the fun ...

Our family has been homeschooling for a little over seven years.  We now have four "school aged" children and three others waiting in the wings.  So, what gets me out of bed, day after day?  Why have we chosen this lifestyle for our family?  Many of the previous posts in this blog party have hit on some of our top answers.  We, too, want strong family relationships.  We want to raise children who have a hunger for knowledge and who are able to be self-directed in their learning.  We love the freedom and flexibility that homeschooling offers and the opportunity to tailor what we do to meet the needs and gifts of each of our children.  But if I had to pick one overarching reason why we love homeschooling, I guess I'd have to go with the motto that my husband chose for our homeschool:

"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom.  And with all your getting, get understanding."
~ Proverbs 4:7

(Follow me over to They Call Me Blessed for the rest of the post ...)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

1 Corinthians 13 for Siblings

We often talk about love and wanting our children to love each other.  But what does "love" actually look like?  Are we talking about some warm fuzzy feelings? Or is love an intentional choice, an attitude, a purposeful reaction?

Let's examine a familiar passage about love and lay it out as it might look applied to the relationships of brothers and sisters.

Love is patient

I know that I have struggles.  I know that she does, too.  I want to keep on loving her, even when it seems like it will take a long time for her to understand or improve.

and kind;

God gives generously and without reproach.  I want to do the same for him.

love does not envy

I can be happy for her to enjoy something that I don't have or get.  It gives me joy to see her happy!

or boast;

When I talk to him, I want to think about how I can encourage and bless him, not on how I can promote myself or make myself feel (or him think) that I am better than him.

it is not arrogant

I do not assume that my opinion is the only right opinion or that my perspective is the only one that matters.  Instead, I assume that there is much I can learn from her and that her thoughts and ideas are valuable.

or rude.

I know that the words I choose, the tone of voice I use and what my body language says matter.  I know that, while my intentions are important, it is also important that I communicate them carefully.

It does not insist on its own way;

The universe does not revolve around me.  My needs and my desires are important.  But they are not the only ones that are important.  Letting him have his way can tell him that his needs and desires matter to me.

it is not irritable

I know that I am a sinner.  Other people around me have to deal with my sins.  Isn't it a little silly of me to behave as though I don't deserve to have to deal with her sins?

or resentful;

I need to keep a clean slate with him.  I want to deal with problems quickly, rather than keeping a list of his faults and offences.  If I find myself quickly reacting negatively, or saying things like "He always ..." or "He keeps on ..." this might be a sign that I'm not keeping short accounts.

it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,

My value does not come from being better than other people around me.  Therefore, when I see her fail or fall, that doesn't make me any better of a person.  My reaction to her struggles should be compassion, not delight.

but rejoices with the truth.

When we have a dispute, I should be most interested in getting to the bottom of the matter.  I want to know what is true (even about my own heart) more than I want to be "the winner".

Love bears all things,

Jesus bore my sins on the cross to death.  And through his grace I can bear the hardships and sufferings that come as a part of my relationship with him.

believes all things,

I should not jump to conclusions about her.  I should not assume the worst.  Instead, I should give her the benefit of the doubt and approach her with questions rather than accusations.

hopes all things,

The same God that is living and active in me is living and active in him.  I am watching with hopeful expectations to see the beautiful things God will work in his heart and life and in our relationship with each other.  Like a sailor in the crow's nest scouting for the next bit of land, I'm ready to take note and to give thanks when I see what I'm on the look-out to catch sight of!

endures all things.

I will not give up on her.  She might need some space.  I might need some space.  But we're not "done".  How many chances does she get?  Not seven.  Seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:22)

Love never ends...
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Dear Mother,

If you are anything like me, you might be rubbing your hands together, cracking your knuckles and preparing to print this out and go preach a morality sermon to your children.  Could I ask you to do one thing before you head down that road?  Would you please go through this list one more time and instead of reading from the perspective of one sibling to another, read it from the perspective of a mother to her children.

(Go ahead.  I'll wait while you look it over.)

Was that painful?  If so, don't panic.  All of the "ouch" moments are actually extremely, hugely, magnificently excellently valuable opportunities for modeling love to your children.  Pull out your heart and place it on the table in front of your children.  Get out the microscope and let them take a look.  Point out what you see that doesn't match what you read above.  Tell them you are sorry for the times you've treated your agenda like it was the only one that mattered.  Explain that speaking rudely to them - or anyone - isn't loving and you want to grow in that area.

Then, take them with you as you go to the cross.  Pray - out loud, right there in front of them - and show them what we do with sins and failures when we find them.  Confess.  Thank the Lord for his free grace and forgiveness.  And then invite them to do the same with you.  That would be a great way to start the "sermon" (Matthew 7:4). ;-)

This post is a part of the Mama Marriage Counselor series.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Enchanted Learning

There is value in "learning to love what must be done".  But there is also value in embracing the natural passions that flow out of a child and his or her particular gifts.  One of my takeaways from last weekend's session "with" Julie Bogart of Brave Writer was this:

"One of our goals in partnering with our children in their education is getting the feelings they have about the things they are passionate about into the things we want them to care about."

I've been thinking a lot about this since I returned from my trip.  My son, Luke, definitely has a knack for sketching.  He loves to draw and any time he's not required to be doing something else, you can often find him drawing.  He is also a huge fan of Mega Man video games, especially the classic, old-school Mega Man.

Recently, my brother told him about a website gallery ( full of Mega Man images.  Every boss, every hero, every character is represented.  Luke still spends a lot of his free time drawing, but now his preferred method is to observe one of the images on the computer screen and try his best to copy it on paper.

Luke busy drawing.
Mega Man soundtrack playing in the background.

Several years ago, we gave Luke Mark Kistler's "Imagination Station" - a book all about how to "draw 3D".  In that book, Kistler says this:

"Some folks have told me that copying artwork is wrong or bad.  I don't agree at all.  I believe copying artwork is great, fantastic and wonderful! The best way to learn how to draw in 3D is by copying other 3D art! When you are coping, you are learning techniques that will help you create your own 3D drawings.  The more you copy, the more you will learn.  The more you learn, the more you will draw.  The more you draw, the less you will have to copy.  Got it?"
So this week, when my son asked to use my computer again to copy more Mega Man drawings, I squelched my "hmmm ... is that a video game obsession?" and instead thought "His passion for Mega Man is driving him to self-train as an artist."  And do you know what happened?  Just this week (maybe because God knew I needed a little reassurance that we were moving in the right direction) Luke came and said to me "You know what?  I'm not just copying what I see anymore.  Now I'm kind of looking at the picture to get an idea and then I'm making my own drawing."  Apparently, Mark Kistler's prophecy is coming true!

But I think that the best win of all was when he laid out all of his art work on the floor and I asked if I could take a picture of it to share on the blog.  He was astonished that I was so enthusiastic to document and appreciate his art work.  I couldn't decide whether I was thrilled that he was so encouraged ... or whether I was chagrined that my enthusiasm was so astonishing to him!

Another sweet blessing has been his siblings' fascination with his work.  Once he has completed a drawing in black-line, he photocopies it and they have hours of coloring fun!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Poetry Fun!

In our house, poetry tea time has landed on Wednesday afternoons.  If we can manage it, we make a quick trip to the library before lunch.  Today, when we finished lunch, everyone slowly trickled into the school room and all of the new books came out and were being read by children stretched out on the floor.  We almost didn't manage an actual "tea time"!  This library haul included some fun new combinations of poetry material.

First, I've joined a poetry workshop by Jenny White over at wHere Life is Real.  We're each supposed to pick one poet to study for the first half of the workshop.  I decided to choose Edgar Allan Poe since there is actually an Edgar Allan Poe museum here in Richmond.  So, today at the library, I picked up a few Poe books ...

I told the kids that these are for me (and that I got the juvenile biographies because I didn't know how much time I'd have to read).  One has already been "stolen".  Oh dear.  Whatever will I do?

That pretty yellow book is "Edgar Allan Poe's Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems" by J. Patrick Lewis.

We also nabbed "Science Verse" by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith (Scieszka is also the author of "Math Curse" and many other fun books).

Bonus: It comes with a CD recording of the authors reading the poems and joking around, after the fashion of the Car Talk episodes on public radio!  (Brief video on our Instagram account.)

Both of these books used well-known poems as the forms for their math- or science-themed verses, so it's given us a chance to read through some of the originals for comparison.  After all, parodies are always most enjoyable when the originals are familiar!

We also checked out "Mirror Mirror" by Marilyn Singer (recommended by Mary @notbefore7 and interviewed here on

Marilyn writes Reverso poems.  She writes a few words a line in one column, and then it the second column, she writes exactly the same lines, but in reverse order, like this:

We also grabbed "Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word" by Bob Raczka.  

As the title suggests, every poem is composed of words that can be made from the letters in the (single-word) title!  One of our favorites is this one:




How fun to be introduced to two entirely new forms of poetry!  I am somewhat attracted to the idea of trying my hand at composing Reverso and one-word poems, though I have a feeling it won't be as easy as these poets make it seem!

And finally, just because it was emanating awesomeness, we got "Blackbeard the Pirate King" by J. Patrick Lewis (which, I just realized as I typed this, is the same author as Edgar Allan Poe's Pie listed above!).  As I kid, I watched Blackbeard's Ghost (which, as wonderfully silly as it can be, is a tincy-wincy bit based on actual history).  This book tells, in lyrical style, supplemented with little fact-blurbs what we actually know to be true of Edward Teach (or Thatch or Tach) who became the character of legend: Blackbeard the Pirate!

If you check out and like any of these books, please leave a comment below to share.  Or, if you try a Reverso or one-word poem, please share the poem or a link with us.  Happy poetry-ing, friends!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Last night Luke and I got to Scope together to share Telestrations with the world - but most importantly, with Uncle Ryan. :-)

Outdo One Another in Showing Honor

We often hear about "sibling rivalry" or "sibling squabbles" and want to know how to manage those episodes.  And, let's face it, those moments arise and those issues have to be addressed.  But the heat of the moment isn't the best time to start talking about how we should relate to each other.  That would be like waiting to start a savings account until you have a major home repair that you cannot afford.  However, if you find yourself in that spot, perhaps it will spur you on to think proactively in the future.

This same principle applies to relationships.  Of course, conflict will happen and will need to be addressed.  But the best case scenario is for there to be a regular, ongoing pattern of relationship building and strengthening in the "good times" so that there is a stock of trust to draw on for a "rainy day".  Rest assured, this is already happening in your home.  Siblings are building relationships.  Trust is being established and is growing.  But it can be helpful for us as mamas to know how to talk about it proactively, intentionally and positively (not just "Quit doing that to your brother!").

We have started to look at Romans 12 and we've seen these themes:
  1. Live peaceably with all.
  2. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
  3. Outdo one another in showing honor.
  4. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
We've discussed the living peaceably here and the rejoicing and weeping here.  But one of the best guides for positive, active relationship building is the concept "outdo one another in showing honor".  Here are some of the verses from Romans 12 that speak to that idea.

Rom 12:10  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 

Rom 12:11  Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Rom 12:13  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Rom 12:16b ... Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

When read out of context "Outdo one another in showing honor" sounds like some kind of ostentatious flattery contest.  But when you look at the other verses, you realize that we're not talking about fake honor that is a kind of back door to self-promotion.  First, this honor comes from a zealous, fervent spirit intent on serving the Lord (v.11).  Secondly, it is related to meeting the needs of others and even looking for opportunity to do so (v.13).  And finally, it is something we do for "the lowly" - in other words, this is service we render to those whom we would not expect to be able to return the favor (v.16).

When my brother worked for Chick-Fil-A, he was trained to respond to a customer's "Thank You" with "It is my pleasure!"  My father picked up that habit because he felt it was a beautiful response.  I've picked up that habit because I also think it is a beautiful response, and because I have seen the glow in my children's eyes when I tell them that it gives me pleasure to do good for them.   I have also adopted that habit because I hope that by saying it, I can give a little nudge to my heart in those times when it doesn't quite agree with my mouth!

We've talked, in our house, about how diligently we would search if we knew that there were coins hidden in the house.  Since caring for and outwardly demonstrating love to those with whom we most want to build trust is far more valuable than coins, how much more should we be actively seeking out ways to do it.  When someone says "Can you hand me the box of markers?" instead of being annoyed or feeling inconvenienced, instead we want to think "Oh, good!  I've just found another way I can show love!"  Do we naturally respond this way?  Nope.  It takes practice.  It takes intentionality.  And it takes repentance.  "I'm sorry I got irritated when you asked for the markers.  I really want to be helpful to you.  I'm sorry I didn't respond that way earlier."

Want to know a little secret?  You, as a mother, have a tremendous (seriously, do not underestimate this!) power to enhance and multiply the effects of the little acts of kindness that may go unnoticed.  Lean over to your daughter and whisper "Did you know that was the last page of his sketch book that he tore out for you to use?  You really are very important to him!"  Mention to your son "I've noticed how your sister has started making a point to ask you before she uses your tools.  That tells me that your respect and trust is very precious to her."  Try it.  I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Please don't leave this post with the impression that our home is a continual festival of little acts of kindness and beaming cherub children.  What I'm illustrating here is not what we've achieved so much as a vision of what we should be thinking about and working towards.  Every day is a new day.  His mercies are new every morning.  And for this I am eternally thankful!

This post is a part of the Mama Marriage Counselor series.