I was going to blog about the $1800 expense that our van incurred this week, but that's depressing. So let's talk about something else: FOOTBALL!
The Huskers play their first official game of the 2008 season today! I'm so bummed because a.) I'm not there, and b.) my computer won't let me listen to the live radio broadcast for some reason. And it's not televised. To say I'm frustrated is an understatement, but in the grand scheme of things this is not a big deal. Right?
And really, neither is the van. In the end, what does it really matter?
And I will admit I'm trying to keep it all in perspective.
Even as I write it, this sounds so silly!
BUT THE HUSKERS. They are playing today. Sigh.
And my van. I can think of a million other ways I'd rather spend that kind of money.
And still, in the end, what does it matter? Onward and upward.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. ~Psalm 51:17
This afternoon, after a busy weekend at church, I decided to put on my workin' clothes so I could help Jerry finish the immense project that our front porch has become. I had a heat gun in one hand, a scraping tool in the other. I sat for a couple of hours on the porch in silence, working diligently as I attempted to break through the layers of paint that had accumulated over time.
As I sat and watched the paint bubble and melt as it was scraped away, layer after layer, all the paint began to pull away from the wall and soften as it was helped along. Soon, there was very little there but the bare wood. All it will need after this process is some thorough sanding and a fresh coat of white paint before it looks brand new again.
Interestingly, as I worked, God used the quiet of these hours to give me a vivid picture. I imagined my soul going through the same process. God is just like that, and sometimes He needs to walk us through refining seasons in our lives. He's always at work, peeling back layer after layer. The process is never easy, always painful, and very, very humbling. But we need it. It's necessary for Him to scrape away and sand the rough parts so that we might be soft before him, ready to be renewed again.
As my heart lay bare before Him today, I listened as He revealed my rough spots. The places that need softening. The areas that need to change. The people in my life who most need for my sharp edges to go away. Most importantly, He reminded me that I cannot do it alone.
Maybe you find yourself in a similar spot. Perhaps God is refining you by taking you through the fire. Like me, you may be in a season that finds you clinging to the hand of God more than ever.
Rest assured: God uses these seasons in a big way for good. Do not lose heart. Do not be dismayed. Your God surely walks with you, and He will be faithful each and every step of the way.
This morning, after getting little sleep (we all have colds and Caden has been night waking), I got myself up at the crack of dawn and drove myself to traffic safety school. You might remember my little run-in with the law a couple months back.
On the way there, I kept thinking, "This is going to stink. I have a zillion other things I could and should be doing today. Why did that cop have to be so unfair? What if I get a ticket on the way there for some silly thing like going 1 mile over the speed limit? OH I hope that light stays green, oh MAN it turned yellow. Go, Go Go!" and on and on. Yeah. My attitude needed some help (and perhaps my driving too).
When I arrived, I checked in with my instructor and, thankfully, found him to be quite pleasant. Right after he announced my name and handed me my handbook, a friendly faced turned around from her seat and smiled. "Happi!" she said. "Sherri! From the Homeschool Co-op! Come, let's sit together!"
The funny thing is, she and I had only met once, but she remembered me (of course, it's hard to forget a name like mine....but still!).
I was grateful for a friendly face and we laughed as we swapped stories about our respective driving mishaps.
I must say that I learned some things I didn't know before. Like: You can get a $1,000 fine for passing on the right side. I know I've done that on the highway at some point or another. And, if you drive 40+ mph over the speed limit, it's a $20,000 fine, a felony, and will get you 1 year in jail! (Don't worry, mom, I don't drive that fast!) And, in a city near us, if you go 1 mph over the speed limit, it's an automatic ticket, as they have ZERO tolerance for speeding. WOW. So, while I figured the class would be a total waste of time, I found myself driving more defensively on the way home....which was, of course, the whole purpose of the class!
Anyway, all in all, it was a good day, I got through it, I spent four hours with my new friend, and I no longer have a traffic violation on my permanent record.
But let me just leave you with these parting thoughts. Some words of wisdom for all you drivers out in bloggyland: Follow the rules of the road, or you too may see those lovely flashing red and blue lights in your rearview. And trust me, it's not as pretty as it sounds.
A year ago, I walked my sweet Cody to the end of the block and hid very red eyes behind sunglasses. When the bus pulled away, I turned to my husband, put my head on his chest, and bawled like a baby. It was rough. The entire day, I battled fears and emotions that were welling up inside: Is he okay? Does he like his teacher? Is she nice? Is he tired with such a long day?
I needn't have worried. He loved kindergarten and everything about it.
As I read many of your blogs this week, as you prepare to send your children off to school, I must admit that I have this feeling inside that I can't quite place. It's not sadness or guilt that we're not sending him to school this year. It's just....different. I'll openly admit that I have all kinds of things running through my head and heart this week. Of course I have doubts! I know this is normal. The truth is, many of my questions won't have answers until we've really put this year to the test and seen the actual outcome.
All I have to go on is trust in a God that led us here. And for now, that's going to have to be enough.
Our school year has begun and week one went great. Everyone did well, including Caden (this is a huge praise), and today is Friday, which means we're off. (Fridays are reserved for lots of fun field trips and the practical (necessary) errands. I know I will need a day to catch up!)
The kids in our neighborhood are preparing to go off to school and Jerry has started back with meetings. The fall is winding up with all kinds of new things just waiting to be discovered.
And just like last year, my daily prayers will be frequent and ongoing, for I know I cannot possibly do this without Him.
And just like last year, no one is more excited than me to see the year unfold.
And, just like last year, only in a different way, I will still place all my worries in the Lord's hands and trust him for the well-being of my kids.
The only real difference is that I won't be walking him to the bus.
And you can trust me on this one: I won't miss that part at all. ; )
I know, I know. Couldn't I have come up with a better title for my post?
No. Because I am burned out on creativity for one day.
I have been sitting on my oversized comfy chair in the living room for the last TWO hours working on our fall schedule. (Just a little F.Y.I: Hubby is out seeing a movie, because I told him to go and take a load off. The guy is so tired from working on this house. He deserves a break today. He either went to see the new "Batman" or the Paradise one whose name totally escapes me.)
Anyway, this post is not about him. Back to me. Ha!
I carefully put my new planner pages in my binder (have I ever mentioned that I absolutely LOVE Franklin Covey planners? No, I'm not all cool and digital and computerized with my organized life, what with my PDA or whatever you call 'ems). I'm not that techno-savvy-ish. I still don't even know how to use my cell phone.
This post is not about that though. So, let's move on.
After the planner pages were properly placed in their corresponding sections, I proceeded to pull out my teaching schedule. And the choir schedule. And the Awana schedule. And my homeschool group's schedule. And the Husker's schedule. (And another one I think I'm forgetting somehow.)
And did I mention my best girlfriend is getting married in a few months? And while I absolutely adore weddings and am already relishing the responsibility of being one of her maidens (or is it matrons? Ewwwwwww....I don't like that word), it too entails a wee bit of planning. But did I mention I adore weddings? I truly do. You will not hear me complain.
Back to the point...yes. Yes! I think I have one.
I'm seriously exhausted from just writing all this stuff down in my planner!!!! And you might be interested to know (though probably not) that this is what I call a "scaled back" schedule. I let a lot of things go this year, but apparently, my calendar hasn't quite figured that out yet!
And so, for all of you out in the world tonight who actually read my blog (Hi mom, hi Kari), I'd like to say:
We are blessed to live in an area where Nature Preserves and parks abound, and they can all be enjoyed for free. Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful day, and we decided to take full advantage of it. When we arrived at the park, we first went into the welcome center and found all kinds of wonderful things for the young and old to explore. There was a table just for kids where they could handle turkey feathers, racks from young and mature deer, skulls from a raccoon (it was so interesting to see their teeth and understand why they eat anything and everything they can sink their teeth into!), rocks and minerals and more. We learned about the history of the park, what they are doing to preserve the prairie, and the programs available to youth and adults. Almost every single one of them is free. Can you say FIELD TRIPS?
After we finished in the welcome center, we set off on a mile long hike (2 miles round trip), where we saw gorgeous flowers and trees and VIEWS. It was so breezy and open...what a wonderful way to celebrate God's greatness. (We are definitely going back in the fall!)
Once we climbed the steep uphill post-glacier formation, we arrived at the top for breathtaking views and some photo opportunities. Cody wrote in his journal (we are keeping track of everything we do this year), we had a snack of red and green grapes, caught our breath and headed back down. It was - put simply - a perfect, beautiful day. I just registered us for the many free programs we can participate in this year, a couple of which completely relate to our history curriculum! You'll hear more about those in the days to come...
Hello Friends. I wanted to tell you that my hubby has posted a reflective post on his blog. The last time he updated it was when the earth was rumblin' under the midwest during our earthquake. It's a good post about how Charity's news has affected him and his perspective.
Also, I wanted to give a shout out to my friend, Julie. We have become friends through church, but strangely enough, our blogs have helped us to get to know one another a bit better. : ) Julie came over today with her little boy, and we baked cookies. I so enjoyed my time with her and I know my boys loved getting to know little Asher better today too.
Tonight we made it a family night (a tradition we hope to continue every Friday), whereby we ate pizza, did the dishes, took a walk, watched a movie, popped popcorn and kicked back. The cool breeze blowing through the windows and my little guy sitting on my lap brought me such joy. We take so much for granted in this life. As Dave (Charity's brother) battles cancer, may it bring to light how blessed we are to take our next breath. God has ordered our days. May we live them to the fullest.
Let us all count our blessings and hold our loved ones a little tighter tonight.
My best gal pal Charity is asking all you prayer warriors to please, PLEASE pray for her brother Dave. You may remember my sharing that he is battling small cell lung cancer. He met with doctors today who told him that his tumor had grown significantly and that he most likely has two months to live without chemo treatment and possibly four with it. The family is understandably shaken, yet grounded in their faith. As you can imagine, this news is a blow, as it would be for any of us, and I am just pleading with you to stop right now and say a prayer for him and for the family.
Charity just recently got engaged to her sweetheart, Matt, and they now have some decisions to make about their wedding date. Please pray for wisdom as they proceed.
Thanks, everyone. Your prayers are greatly appreciated.
Well, we are still busy at work on the house. Now we're in the process of painting our front porch after tearing most of it out (except the floor and walls). We had some rotting wood that was being eaten by voracious ants (can you say disgusting?), and after pulling off board after board, and attempting to scrape off as much paint as we were able, we decided it really would be more beneficial to just replace it all. $150 later, we were home with stain for the porch, new beams, wood spindles and a railing for the porch, and trim paint. Thankfully, the floor boards were still in decent enough shape that they only required sanding and some minor repair. My poor hubby is feeling the push in a big way with school starting up soon. This means back to work for daddy. *sigh.* I've been so spoiled having him home all summer. Anyway, it's important that we get this wood installed and treated before the cold weather arrives. It's NEVER ENDING, this thing called home ownership.
I'll post pictures when it's looking presentable. Right now, you'd probably just look at your computer screen and go, "What on earth are they doing????" Heck, half the time I'm asking that same question! We are "do it yourself" (with a little help from our friends) all the way. And I gotta give props to Home Depot and Menard's. "You can do it. We can help!"
Whew. I'm glad to hear that.
Now here. Hold this hammer and 2x4 for Jerry so he can go put his feet up and sip some iced tea.
We've noticed that many of the homeschool co-ops and organizations we've researched in our area all have names that stand for something. There are too many to name, but a couple of examples are H.E.A.R.T and G.I.F.T.
One of the things I learned when I was reading about and researching homeschooling was that it's sometimes a good idea to give your school a name so it can have its own identity. I kept praying that God would give me a good acronym so we could not only name our school but also remind us of why we are doing this in the first place. I know there will be times in the next nine months or so that I'm going to question and doubt why I ever felt led to this task. I wanted all of us to be reminded, in a tangible way, that God led us to this decision and that He, above all, desires for our "school" to be centered around Him.
So, on our way home from visiting my family this week, we brainstormed some options for the name of our school. At first, we started with obvious words that might work, but we struggled to form coherent sentences from them. We had words like LIGHT and BRIGHT but neither of them worked their way into the goals we have for our family this year. It just wasn't flowing.
We switched gears and began talking about choosing a theme verse that we could use to keep us focused on our goals as a family and as a school. We decided upon Colossians 2:2-3 and have summarized it this way: "May we be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love and have complete confidence that we understand God's mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. For in Him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and understanding. (NLT version)."
After settling upon a verse, it was time to find an acronym that would work for us. I'll spare you the details of how we came to the world CIRCLE, but some of you reading may be able to figure it out.
And so, allow to me formally introduce you to the C.I.R.C.L.E. School. "Christ Igniting Righteousness,Character, Love and Education.
It is my prayer that He would do just that in our new school. I am excited, a bit anxious, sometimes overwhelmed, but always trusting that God will be faithful to guide us as we embark on this new journey. For anyone who may be interested, we are enrolled in three classes with one of our co-ops...a french language/music class, theatre for the whole family, and art. Cody will continue to take violin, which is great. He's really enjoying playing, which is so fun to see. We also have our first field trips scheduled with our co-op: A tour of the new Lego store near us (supposedly this is an educational trip!), and a concert performed by a college symphonic orchestra of "The Planets" by Gustav Holst, complete with projected images of planets and space going on during the music. Should be a great way to kick off the new school year.
Thanks for letting me share what God is doing and how He is leading us as we get started this month. I know many of you are gearing up for the start of school as well, buying all your school supplies, getting word on your children's classroom teachers, and preparing to usher them into a new year. May you all have a wonderful, blessed year!
Several of you have spoken about the rip-roarin' storms that flew across the Midwest on Monday night, so I thought I'd give you my perspective. Enjoy.
Armed with six children, my sister, her hubby, Jerry and I all made our way to our respective vehicles and began piling all the kids into their car seats. We had just enjoyed a family event at church and heard "rumblings" that there were tornado warnings covering the Chicago area. Little did we know the rumblings were right overhead, because as we were pulling out of the parking lot, I heard sirens indicating we were under a tornado warning.
My heart began to pound and my mouth went dry. I started frantically dialing the phone to call my husband who had two of the kids (ours) while also trying to fumble with the radio to find an AM station that would give me some weather.
My instinct was to pull off and seek shelter at the nearest place we could find. Unfortunately that place was a bowling alley. Not a good option.
Thankfully my sis called me and told me to keep driving and head to my mom's. We needed to get out of the immediate area and find safety elsewhere. (Thankfully, my mom and dad's house is a fortress of safety.)
The entire way, I was speeding (not good since I'm currently driving on a ticket until I go to driver school after my little episode a month ago), scanning the horizon for funnel clouds, STILL trying to find an AM station, nonchalantly cracking the windows so I could listen for more sirens, while calmly telling two little angel girls behind me that everything was just fine and to not worry about the massive thunder and lightening show that was going on all around us.
The thing I forgot to do was to keep myself calm and to remember that God is in control...even when we find ourselves in the eye of the storm.
I just really wanted my mommy.
But wait. I had to be the mommy.
Once we got home, Cody ran, NO sprinted, to the door while all the other kids seemed somewhat oblivious to what was going on. Cody learned about tornadoes at school. He was keenly aware of what was happening.
I was on phone and taking care of snack duty while Jerry turned on the TV and kept an eye on the ever-changing, increasingly dangerous weather. It was everything I could do to keep my voice and hands from shaking while taking care of the kids and not daring to let them see me quake.
I am the adult. I am the mommy. (AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!)
My mom and dad periodically called from their place of work to check in and give me instructions while calmly talking me down and telling me where to find emergency materials. Meanwhile, a roof is flying off an adjacent building where they were and trees and limbs were crashing down all around them. (God graciously spared them, their building, and all their students. He is so good.)
At one point, my dad cut out while we were talking, and I stood there with the phone to my ear, repeating "He's gone. He's GONE!" Stay calm, Happi. Stay calm.
Meanwhile, my sister Kari is calling to check in, telling me to "stay in the basement....just stay in the basement, okay?" (Seriously, people. What on earth did we ever do without cell phones?)
Next, my other sister Darci calls wanting to talk to her girls since she's out of town. I finally had to tell her we were in a slightly dangerous weather situation and that they really couldn't talk right now.
Back in I go to check on the kids, where I find that they have gotten out a little glass tea set with miniature plates and cups, finished off an entire bag of goldfish, eaten all the fruit snacks I'd given them and were now starting in on the grapes. My favorite moment was when one of them handed me the teeny tiny little tea kettle wanting me to fill it with all the goldfish it could hold. (I think I was able to fit two or three in there!) Each of them was glued to the television chomping food from their little fists (or tea cups) while happy little "Over the Hedge" creatures entertained them. Can you say oblivious? What a glorious thing to be three and totally unaware.
Suddenly, Jerry calls me out into the other room and updates me. The Weather Channel is saying this storm is WORSE than a tornado because of the widespread damage that can be caused by the 80 to 100 mph winds.
Back in I go to the kids, putting on my calm mommy smile and asking how they're all doing.
Cody looks me in the eye and says, "Mom. We need to pray. We just really need to pray."
Right. How could I have forgotten that part?
I looked to him to pray. Thankfully he took the cue.
"Dear Lord Jesus, heavenly Father," he said, "We know you can keep us safe. Please protect us all and watch over us. And in Jesus' Name, Amen."
Sometimes we need children to be the voice of reason when we adults just can't quite pull it together.
As it turned out, we all made it out of the storm and into safety. We were graciously protected. I'll tell you what, though. I have never been happier to see my mom and dad more than the moment they walked in the door. I practically fell like a rag doll into my dad's arms. (Love you, Papa!)
I learned a valuable lesson once again, that my trust is never to be in myself, but in the One who created me.
It is after midnight, and I'm dog-tired, but I am strangely wired at the same time.
There is so much going on in my head right now, and writing always helps me sort it out (a.k.a. sleep). So, here goes.
First of all, you can go here to see a bit of what we've been up to these past couple of days. Thank goodness my sister has taken the time to write on her blog. : )
There's much to say, but here's what I really NEED to say. I am so grateful for my family. I am blessed to have such precious people in my life. They've taught me so much and I'm grateful for each and every one of them....young and older. (Notice I didn't say "old." I'd get in trouble for that.)
But after this weekend, I'm even more grateful for my four nieces. I had the privilege of spending hours with these beautiful girls and I am so thankful for the time I had with them. It was definite bonding time that I enjoyed so much. I mean, I don't remember the last time I got to do a little girl's hair and pick out coordinating ribbons and barrettes to match! This doesn't happen in my world...ever...and I just LOVED that!
I have always said that God gave me boys for a very specific reason, and as time marches on, I'm beginning to understand what some of those reasons are. Don't get me wrong, I ADORE my boys and love being the Queen of the castle. But c'mon. Sometimes you just need "girl" time.
Well, my wish was granted and we took full advantage of the time together. It was a ball. My boys had a blast. There were quite a few tears shed (the majority coming from Cody's eyes) when it was time to say good-bye.
I'll post more about the trip another day, but please do check out my sister's blog to get the updates and see some of it in pictures. Her posts are great.
To Cass, Kenz, Lainashell and Clover, I love you to pieces. Love, Auntie Happi
First of all, let me just say that I appreciate all your kind comments about our abode. We are proud of the progress we've made over the last four years, and it was sweet to hear all of your encouraging words. (Since the last picture, the whole house is painted and just needs a second coat...which hubby started yesterday. I'll post a new pic soon!) Anyway, thank you. You all are just great!
Secondly, I received a notification in my email yesterday that said my blog was locked and I could not publish anything. Apparently the blog "robots" (yes, that's what they're called) detected something in my blog that they didn't like. Today, it's obviously unlocked and I received a note that said they had mistakenly identified my blog (and many others) as being problematic and that they were sorry for any inconvenience.
I have to say that the thought of not being able to post yesterday was so uncomfortable for me. Not that I had anything to say....it's just that this has become an outlet for me in a way that I guess I didn't realize. I knew I enjoyed blogging, of course, but I didn't realize how therapeutic it is. Maybe that sounds strange to some of you...or, maybe not.
I realized this has truly become an online journal for me....which is exactly why I started writing here in the first place. I talk about everything and anything that's on my heart at the time. I like to use this forum to encourage others. I talk about spiritual matters, things the Lord is teaching me, and what I'm learning. I put prayer requests here so fellow Believers will join me in lifting up our brothers and sisters. I love recording funny things my kids say and do because my memory will fail me at some point, but it's all in black and white here. Like my home, it's become a little "virtual house" where my thoughts and memories are stored so I'll remember them later. I've never been a good journalist (on paper). In the past, I'd buy these beautiful little books to write my deepest thoughts in, but after a week or so of writing, it would lie dormant for an indefinite amount of time.
This blog is also a great way to stay in touch with people I wouldn't normally get to "talk to" as often as I'd like. My mom even commented to my older sister and I that even she wouldn't know half of what's going on in our lives if not for our blogs!
And so, my dear blogging friends, I would like to say thanks for being a part of my little blogging world and letting me become a part of yours. I've met and reunited with some truly wonderful people here, and I'm very grateful.
I'm going home to see my family this weekend, so I'll be on hiatus for a bit. But you can bet I'll see you soon. I can't stay away long. : )