Smile for the Joy of Others

Smile for the Joy of Others

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Bama Boys

We recently took our boys to their first SEC football game.  (one day I will post my love/hate relationship with football but not today).  Just sharing a few pics of us as we enjoyed our day. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Don't Look Back

Our Bible lesson for today when reading about Lot and his wife...obey God's instructions no matter what. We don't always get to ask, "Why?" We don't always get reasons for his instructions. And do not hesitate when God gives the instruction.

God showed Lot mercy when He had his angel grab Lot's hand, his wife's hand and his daughters' hand and practically throw them out of Sodom. They were "piddling around' when they should have been hastening God's instructions. I than...k God for showing me mercy from the times I've "piddled' with His instructions. And, yet, at times, He has allowed my 'piddling' to become self disciplinary for me to learn just how important it is to heed his instructions. 
I believe that one reason God says "Do not look back" is that He knows the images of what can be seen, in the case of Lot and his wife and even in today's world...death and destruction. And He knows that is not something He always wants us to have seared in our minds. His instructions to not look back was to protect Lot and his family from such horrific images that could haunt them a lifetime, especially when the destruction was of their home and I'm sure friends, no matter how evil they were.

When God removes us from a situation whether it be physically or from an addiction...not looking back protects us. It keeps us from being tempted to return, it keeps our hearts guarded from the evil in which we have been instructed to leave behind. (just my opinion.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Feathered Friends




As part of one of our science projects, we were to put out several bird feeders with different bird food. We are supposed to record the times the birds eat and which birds are attracted to which food. We don't have any trees in our yard that make homes for birds. Our food has been out for many weeks with no birds even interested...until yesterday. It was like feast or famine. We've had no diners for weeks and then suddenly it was like the lunch buffet opening after church. We've even had doves coming to dine amongst the smaller feathered friends.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lost then Found

This ring. It was my mother's ring. She passed it down to me as a graduation gift. It had a diamond in the middle. She had the small diamond removed and replaced with a star sapphire. No, the star sapphire isn't more valuable but I had been asking for a star sapphire ring...this was her gift of both. (there are small diamonds circling the sapphire.)

Now rewind at the most 10 years ago or at t...he very least 5 years ago. I was in the hospital (since I can't remember which stay, that's why I give the previous time line). I had to take off my jewelry before surgery. The only ring I had on was this ring and another. I did not have on my wedding rings.

I have been trying to find this ring for at most the past 10 years or at the least the past 5 years. I remember giving it my mom but she didn't remember taking it. I'm sure due to the anxiety of surgery and the mix of drugs, I just couldn't remember which hospital stay it was to give her more info about her having my rings. I know I didn't immediately ask for them back after my stay. So time went by before I remembered them. But I when I did remember them, specifically this one, I just couldn't remember enough about where they would be and neither could she.

I searched so many different places thinking that maybe I just dreamed about giving them to her. I knew I had put some jewelry in our safe deposit box at one time during our multiple moves in recent years...but this ring wasn't with them. I then I would second guess myself thinking I just lost them our moves.
Now, fast forward to yesterday from the 10 or 5 years ago. I woke up yesterday thinking about this ring as I've often done for the past many years, still trying to remember what exactly happened to them. I typically end my thoughts succumbing to the idea that I just lost them or maybe they were stolen while in the hospital. Unlike most Sundays, yesterday morning, I asked my mom if she had any blankets to donate to a ministry for the homeless. She did, so after church I stopped by her house to help gather the blankets. While she was going through her cabinets, she came across some 'hidden' jewelry bags.

"I need to throw all these things away. They've just been up in this cabinet for I don't know how long".

"Well, you may want to look through them just to make sure they are empty. You never know"

And to my surprise that brought on a stream of tears...there were my rings and most importantly this one...the one I've been missing and trying to figure out where it could be for the past so many years. My mom still didn't remember me giving them to her but she remembered me losing them and wracking my brain and efforts to find them that up until this point, to no avail.

I know in the scheme of life, rings are just a material possession that stays on this earth long after we have left....but it's the sentimental value behind it that can't be replaced.

After having it resized to fit my finger, I'll once again wear it with as much love as it was given.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

From being Homeschooled to Homeschooling

The 'story' below is from a fellow homeschooling mom. She posted this as a response to a post on a homeschooling Facebook page. She, herself, was homeschooled and is now homeschooling her children. She struggled with the choice to homeschool and shares her story: It's kind of long but well worth read.

"I was homeschooled from 7th grade through graduation. Prior to that, I attended public and then private school. I have younger siblings who have been homeschooled all the way through. I know that one intends to home educate her child in a few years. I home educate mine and have never placed them in school.

I did question homeschooling, but never questioned whether it would be the best decision I could make for them academically and socially. I questioned leaving behind my job and my paycheck to stay home with them (and with that, forfeiting more than half of our income at the time). I wondered whether my husband would ever embrace homeschooling wholeheartedly and be excited to support that choice and participate in it.

I did leave my job. And God has always been so astonishingly faithful to meet our needs in such beautiful ways. I'm so blessed to have trusted Him and had the opportunities to rely on His provision and see His goodness and care extended to us as we walked in obedience and faith. Have finances been tough at times? Yes! Yes, they sure have. But through that we have grown and I am thankful for it!

My husband's heart toward homeschooling has changed in wonderful ways. At first, he was supportive of me, and willing to "try it out". But now, years later, he has shared with me how thankful he is that we are doing this; how impressed he is with the education our children are getting at home; how glad he is that we do not have the children in public education right now. He wants to teach them too. He doesn't just support me in choosing it, he is choosing it along with me. If anyone reading this has a spouse who is unsure or hesitant, be encouraged. It may take years and the opportunity to see the value of homeschooling first hand, but there is hope that homeschooling may eventually win them over in the end!

I don't use the same curricula, or necessarily homeschool the same as my Mom did with me. But I have learned a LOT from having watched her as she educated myself and my siblings.
My main positive take-aways from my education are: Children WILL way or another, they learn. They are smart and they absorb the information around them. Learning happens everywhere and there is value to recognizing opportunities in everyday life. Also, learning is not just about academics. And it is a beautiful thing to allow a child to explore their natural interests and develop the skills they are gifted in; there is no need to cookie-cutter everyone, instead we would benefit to treasure the unique differences in individuals which make for a world that is diverse and interesting and colorful and creative.

Probably the one thing I want to do a little differently is to recognize that although there is absolutely significant value to flexibility and creativity in education, there is also value to academic discipline. A child may not enjoy reading, but it may be to that child's benefit to MAKE them do it anyways so they will be able to take advantage of the skill later on. There is value to some routine and structure. Now, the balance of it all is sometimes hard to find, but I do try to implement a little more discipline in our school work than I had - and I think that will continue to be significant as my children grow. For now, they are still young and play is learning and that's a good thing. But my children definitely have some academic expectations to do things they don't like or that are hard, not because it's their natural interest, but because it's an important skill for them to develop, whether or not they necessarily enjoy it.

Personally, the discipline in education was not such a struggle for me, having already been in structured institutional school settings and beginning my home education in Jr.High/High School. But it was something I saw as a struggle for my younger siblings as they grew...especially venturing into studies in college. They are smart and capable, but from my perspective, a lack of preparation (by practicing personal academic discipline early on) has been somewhat of a detriment, although certainly it has not hindered them from achieving success in the things they choose to pursue. But if I can help my children by providing some structure and expectations appropriate for their age so they can grow up establishing self-discipline in this area, I think it will be a good thing for them in the long run.

My favorite thing about homeschooling was the freedom I enjoyed to pursue my interests. I wrote music and played/sang in a band in high school (along with my brother, future husband, and several other friends) and home education enabled me to travel and perform and enjoy some really exciting and wonderful experiences.

Looking back on my homeschooling as an adult, I will say that one of the BEST things about homeschool was the kind of "de-toxing" that took place in the nurturing environment of my home. I spent years unlearning so much of the wrong-thinking that had been drilled into my young heart by ignorant peers. I had to relearn to love my siblings and value them, rather than view them as a nuisance to be avoided. I had to re-establish my perspective of myself, and re-learn how to identify what defined my worth and beauty. I wish I could have simply avoided all of those pervasive lies. I'm still un-learning them. But I am so deeply thankful that my parents stepped in to re-direct us when they did. I did great in school, I was well-liked and 'popular'. But in the end I didn't need top grades or popularity. I needed love. I needed to be truly loved and to learn what love truly is and how to extend it to others. My home education provided a healthy environment for me to grow in that, and specifically as a Christian, to immerse myself in God's Word and be guided not by majority influence, but by the truth during those significant years of my development into maturity.

Least favorite part of homeschooling (from my perspective as a student) was that so much of what we did was catered to the whole family. Overall, this was a good thing, BUT in my academic studies, it was frustrating when my Mom attempted to have me work together with my siblings on most projects. There is an 8 and an 11 year difference between myself and the youngest and while some of it was good (I learned patience and compassion and being thoughtful of the younger ones...character lessons like that), it was irritating to feel held back to keep us all working together. I think there is a difference between encouraging older students to teach and lead younger students, (which can be a great thing for several reasons) and catering learning for all ages to work together as a general rule. Ultimately, it can become too challenging for younger students, while too childish for older students, and really, no one has their needs sufficiently met. Like I said, some of it was good. But I do remember feeling frustrated with that aspect - especially in homeschool group settings.
(Another note on homeschool groups, just because it is a "homeschool" group...even a "Christian" homeschool group, does not mean that it is free of negative influence, bullying, cliques, etc. Don't be naive. Kids were still sexually active, experimenting with drugs, judgmental of fashion and physical appearances...etc. within the Christian homeschool group I attended...and it was a distraction as it was in public school. Be aware and be involved and don't make assumptions. )

What would I say to my parents who homeschooled me? Well, I would (and DO) say, "Thank you." Thank you so much for the sacrifices I know you made to invest in us the way you did. It was the BEST thing you did for us and I am truly, truly grateful."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Protect this House

I couldn't sleep last night. I had so much running through my mind some of which I wrote last night. It's long. and it's for Christians. If you don't believe or live the Christian faith, I don't expect you to understand. If you are bitter towards men, you might not appreciate it either.

Dear Fathers, Husbands and Grandfathers:

I firmly believe, for Christians, God ordained men to the be head of their households. Not to dictate over the family, not to boast about his family with power but rather to lead his family, to provide for his family, and to protect his family. All of these responsibilities require much of men but none so much that God hasn't equipped him for. Yet all of them too big to be accomplished by his own ability and accord. All require a strong faith, a strong commitment and a strong desire to follow and seek God's will for his family. Leading his family also requires a very hard act of balance so much so that when 'off kilter', his family can fall apart or become victim to the cruelties of this world. For some reason, given today's culture and path America is taking, I can't help but think about our men and their role to protect. I'm not talking about men vs women in the military. I am talking about how men choose to protect their families and the great lengths they go about to do it. I, also, often think about men who don't protect bc of various reasons...they don't see the need, they don't know how, they are simply just lazy or they are so wrapped up with trying to be successful by other means than their family. When I think about men and how they are to protect, I can't help but think about how their families need them to protect, how their wives and children not only need it but want it. Our fathers and our husbands are the safety blanket of the home. They are the 'guardian' standing outside the door. However, when I see some of the issues that are being 'fought' across America...anywhere from education to religious freedoms to the subtle everyday dangers that don't always go noticed unless you are looking for them...I can't help but notice that there seems to be fewer men fighting these battles. I'm not saying that there are no men at all but it seems to be ever decreasing. I've noticed more moms and wives stepping up to the frontlines. Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong direction and if that is the case, I am ever so happy to be so wrong.

I hear of fathers and husbands not even aware of some of the most dangerous issues that plague the family. I hear of fathers and husbands apathetically ask, "what do you want me to do about it?" Well, if you really want to protect, you follow the greatest laws of protection...You prepare and you gain knowledge. Armies don't send their troops to battle without preparing them, without teaching them, without training them. Sports teams don't play their seasons and their next game without preparation, without training, without building endurance. Avid hunters don't on a hunt without preparation. One of the ways to prepare is certainly physically but another just as equally important...knowledge. And for the Christian family, you can add spiritual preparation. Militaries want to know everything there is to know about their enemy. They want to know their weaknesses, their strengths, their numbers, their strategy, their agenda and then take what they have learned and prepare the best way for victory. They further prepare for battles that may be lost realizing that there is still a war to defeat. Teams want to know everything there is to know about their opponents....their weaknesses, their strengths, their reactions to certain pressures, their strategy, their best players, their weakest players and from that knowledge, they prepare the best way to defeat them. Hunters learn about their prey. They research the best method to kill their prey. They learn the land, the environment. They aren't going hunt in the cold mountains without the proper wardrobe and necessities to survive. Even Under Armor understands this strategy..."Protect this House".

Dear Fathers, Dear Husbands, Dear Grandfathers...I plead with you to protect your family. I plead with you to prepare for the battles so that the war may be won. If you truly understand in the Christian faith, there is an enemy that roams this Earth seeking whom he may devour. He comes to steal, kill and destroy. And the 'whom' he seeks to devour and kill, is your family. No, he may not come so blatantly into your home and snatch your family, although, this is one way he acts..kidnapping, murder. But he comes in more subtle ways that can be just as of his most victorious strategies. He has a heart of evil but a presentation of beauty. You see, he uses television, the internet, social media, education, politics, hobbies, careers/jobs, books, relationships, and so many other outlets to destroy your family.

Fathers, Husbands and Grandfathers...I plead you to prepare. I plead for you to become knowledgeable of his deception and his ways. Do whatever it takes so that when he walks up to the door of your house, he's greeted with you as the guardian of your domain, standing there with the full armor of God (your way of showing 'protect this house') looking him in the eyes with no fear bc God has your back...saying to him... "Not with my family you won't."

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Today's Reading Lesson

I had no idea that this 'song' was originally a poem and that it was about Thanksgiving Day. Please excuse my ignorance.

Over the river and through the wood,...
To grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood-
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes
And bites the nose
As over the ground we go.
Over the river and through the wood
Trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground,
Like a hunting-hound!
For this is Thanksgiving Day.