Saturday, May 9, 2015

Cari Goes to Prom


The Sibling Picture




This photo includes Layne's cousin and his date who accompanied them for the evening

Sometimes your smile has to rest...








The moms

This crew found a random playhouse during the picture taking in town


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cynicism

I may not always know what I want or what I want to be when I grow up ;>), but I've recently realized something/someone I don't want to be.....

The opposite of a childlike spirit is a cynical spirit.

Cynicism begins with the wry assurance that everyone has an angle.  Behind every silver lining is a cloud.  The cynic is always observing, critiquing, but never engaged, loving, and hoping.

It protects you from crushing disappointment, but it paralyzes you from doing anything.

To be cynical is to be distant.  While offering a false intimacy of being "in the know," cynicism actually destroys intimacy.  It leads to a creeping bitterness that can deaden and even destroy the spirit.

Cynics imagine they are disinterested observers on a quest for authenticity.  They assume they are humble because they offer nothing.  In fact, they feel deeply superior because they think they see through everything.

Cynicism looks in the wrong direction.  It looks for the cracks in Christianity instead of looking for the presence of Jesus.

The above are quotes from a book I'm reading right now.  A Praying Life by Paul Miller.

A cynic.  The word itself just dampens my spirit.  Nope, I do not want to be one of those.

Cures for cynicism........

Matthew 18:2-4
And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Phillipians 4:6
In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Colossians 4:2
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

Humbleness.

Praying with a childlike faith.

Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cari's 16th Birthday!

Carolyn, as she likes to be called nowadays (although she'll probably always be Cari to me), celebrated 16 years of life this past weekend. 


The original plan had been for an outside party with a bonfire and such, but it rained every day last week and poured on Friday, so that was out of the question.  We planned ahead and cleared out the dining room (which we are using for storage right now), and she and Matthew and Amelia cleaned up and decorated the basement.

She put in a special request for an Avengers birthday balloon


Pool and ping pong

She and her BFF Melissa had the idea to set up a photo booth in the basement as well, and I think that was one of the highlights of the evening.






We enjoyed hotdogs with chili and slaw along with chocolate and vanilla cupcakes and her favorite cake, Red Velvet, which my dad whipped up for her.  He's the resident birthday cake expert around here.


Cousin Jenny, Madison, Aunt Jane, and Skylar - quick shot while they were waiting in line to eat

She's been super excited about turning 16 but it will still be a little while before she gets her license.  Needs a bit more practice and got a late start on Joshua's Law.....

Cari is a great party planner, and I think it was a fun night for everyone.  And what better wait to celebrate than with your family and your closest friends! 

Happy 16th!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Teaching and Training and Loving Diligently

I wish it was last Friday again.  I had the blessing of attending the Teach Them Diligently Conference in Atlanta, and it was amazing.

This was my second opportunity to attend - the first time was in South Carolina a couple of years ago.  I had already decided that there was no way this conference would be better than that one.  I mean, at that time I had the privilege of sitting in the same room with and listening to Ken Ham, Pam Tebow, Lou Priolo, Norm Wakefield.....

But I have to say, this was even better.  I was not prepared for the things I was going to hear.  Words that would be answers to prayers I have been praying for years. 

I attended sessions all day, and each one brought encouragement in different ways.  (The first session was a bit strange though.  I had planned my day before arrival, and so I went into the first session not realizing that the original speaker was unable to attend and I was in an alternate session.  It was a bit too conspiracy theory for me, but maybe there was some truth to what he was saying.  But I will be staying away from AP History books in the future.....)

The biggest prayer I had before attending was asking for direction on whether or not to continue with Classical Conversations next year and hoping that something I would hear there would help in that decision.  I didn't receive a blinding answer to that one, but I do believe pieces of that puzzle were shown to me during the conference, and over the past week I think I have made a decision - but more on that later.

I had the blessing of hearing Norm Wakefield teach once again.  He's an awesome teacher and such an encouragement to homeschoolers.  He taught on letting go of our fears and how we should not fear when Jesus is with us.  We must remember that He is with us on this journey!  I can't see Mr. Wakefield though without thinking about his daughter Alyssa's blog and what a HUGE encouragement it used to be to me.  I sure do miss it!!

The biggest impact on my day, though, was listening to Mark Hamby.  My second session was with him.  I had never heard him speak, but when I saw that he was in one of the big rooms, I figured he must be pretty good.  And I figured correctly.  At the end of the day, he was speaking again.  There was another session I was trying to decide between, but I ultimately decided to attend his.  Best.decision.ever.  His first session was great, but the second session was life changing. 

You see, for years I have been living under the burden of and been bound by the teaching of "first time, cheerful obedience" by my children.  In a perfect world, that's great.  But with four children, the odds of getting first time, cheerful obedience over the years has been quite low.  It's caused years of distress and has been quite a joy stealer in my life.  But I trudged on - always looking for ways to instill that way of thinking in my children.  I think for the most part, it left us all a bit (a lot) weary.

Then Mark Hamby taught on grace-filled parenting.  Yes!  This is what my spirit has longed for.  I've even practiced it at times but then felt guilty because I felt like I had failed because the above paragraph wasn't happening.  Then he stated the obvious, which I have overlooked for years.  God is the ultimate grace-filled parent!  Maybe those weren't his exact words, but that's what I got.  I mean, how many times do we have first time, cheerful obedience when God is asking us to do something?  What if we received immediate discipline every time we didn't?  We'd all be dead!!

My "load" got lighter last Friday evening.  I literally had tears of joy - almost felt like salvation all over again.  If you're reading this and would like to know more, go to Lamplighter.net and under seminars you can download some of his messages.  They're not identical to what I heard on Friday evening but are very similar (the one on education and the one on the four types of parenting).

(Speaking of Lamplighter.net, if you want some amazing books about virtue to read with your children - or have them read on their own, you don't need to look any further.  I had discovered these when Madison and Cari were little but had forgotten about them.  I pulled out one (Jessica's Prayer) to read with Amelia and Matthew, and I definitely want to add to our library.)

I'm already looking forward to next year's conference.  As homeschoolers, any additional encouragement we can receive along the way should be graciously and quickly received. The Teach Them Diligently Conference has definitely been a source of encouragement to me.  If you have the opportunity to attend in a city near you, I highly recommend it!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Other Side of the Coin

I had to laugh when I went back and read last Friday's post and the fretting over doughnuts.  It is quite funny how things can look different on a new day.  You can chalk it up to hormones or whatever, but bottom line, I think our humanness allows us to find too many ways to let little (and big) things steal our joy in Christ.

Lest I painted a bad picture of Aunt Jane, I must post a disclaimer.  Aunt Jane is who she is and that's just a fact that is not going to change, and she is definitely not a bad person.  The best way to describe her is a child trapped inside a 60-something-year-old body. 

It's definitely a learning and growing process to live with someone who is different, and I have to say it's a small price to pay in exchange for the generosity my dad is graciously showing our family right now in allowing us to stay here.

As I pondered over the things that were getting under my skin last Friday, I also prayed about some solutions.  One of the biggest problem solvers, which I knew already but chose to ignore, is to just not speak about it.  I've found that when I keep things like that to myself, the next day it is usually no big deal at all and there's no one to bring it up later to remind me.

As for the kids-playing-sports annoyances, I was convicted about my attitude in that area.  It was brought to my mind that if I'm loving on Matthew and encouraging and cheering for him while he's playing no matter where he's playing or how he's being coached, nothing else really matters.  I decided to experiment with that at his game this past Tuesday, and I believe it was successful.  It was so nice to come home happy.  It's not like we're waiting on his letter from the Atlanta Braves recruitment staff (although, as you will see in the picture below, he's already playing for the Braves, so no need for any letter).  I also came to the conclusion that if it's God's plan for him to do well in this sport, he'll do so in spite of his circumstances.  If it's part of the plan that we do this for fun and recreation only, then that's okay, too.

I love cheering for this little cutie!  He did get a hit and got on base by the way. :)

On another note in regards to that post I keep referring back to, I am getting anxious to get started on our new home.  For the past couple of months, we've been going over and over what we want to do.  We've looked at manufactured homes because we thought that would be easier and quicker, and we were real close to going that route.  But after all the additions we made to make it look like a stick-built house, the price became higher than what we could possibly build a reasonable-size house for, so we've decided against that.  Then we had to start looking through house plans.  Lots of house plans.  We ended up going back to two that I had printed out in years past - one in 2006 and one in 2013.  We're meeting with a friend of ours who is an architect this weekend to get started on the final design process, and I am so excited about that!

We've had the land tested for soil drainage, etc., to make sure it is a build-able lot, and that has passed the test.  Next we have to do the survey, and with the house plans complete, we should be ready to go! I'll definitely be blogging about the process along the way. :>)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter 2015


Cross paintings by Matthew, Amelia, and Madison - yes, I said Madison :)
Matthew, Amelia, and Skylar had fun decorating eggs with shaving cream and food coloring



Saturday, April 4, 2015

If yesterday was a test.....

At the end of the day, it was clear that I did not pass.  It was one of those off and on kind of days.  Not all bad.  Actually, I can't truly say it was a bad day (out of respect to truly bad days) - just one of those days when things drive you crazy that normally you can overlook.  I guess I really shouldn't blame the day for my own depravity.

Just keeping it real.

Maybe it was the fact that we'd been without TV for two days, and anyone who knows my Aunt Jane knows that was a terrible thing.  (Everybody needs an Aunt Jane.  I've often heard that as Christian parents, children aid in our sanctification process.  I can pretty well agree with that!  I've also decided that Aunt Janes aid in that process as well.)  But back to the TV.  The Direct TV technician arrived and after about five minutes realized the box in the den where Cari sleeps had been unplugged.  Seriously?  We've been without TV for two days because someone unplugged something?!?  How did we miss that?  I mean, Aunt Jane was so desperate that she actually sat down and watched The Hobbit with us on Thursday (actually she slept through it, which was good because I was afraid it might give her nightmares or something).  And the whole time, all would have been well had we just plugged something in.  Crazy.

After TV man left, Matthew, Aunt Jane, and I set out to run some errands.  Our first mission was to find Easter-inspired cemetery flowers.  My mom always felt it was important to keep loved ones' graves looking lovely with beautiful flowers, so this is a way we honor her.  That actually went pretty well.

Then we went to Home Depot to check out lawn mowers for Brad, and Matthew loved that.  He sat on them all and is now in the process of convincing Brad that we need the "green one."  He would like for this to be his new job.  Not sure if he can reach everything that needs to be reached at this time, but we'll see.



Then it was off to Ingles.  Not bad there.  Except for those doughnuts that would actually be eating at me later.  There is an Aunt Jane story here though.  Actually, the doughnuts are an Aunt Jane story, but this is a different one.  One of the nice workers passed us on the aisle and said "You all have a nice Easter!"  I said "Thanks!  You, too!"  Aunt Jane said, "God bless you!"  Then she told me, "I'm very religious so I say God bless you."  To which I say, "oh, okay."  I pretty much have the same replies for most of what she says.  It's either, "Okay," "Really," "That's nice......."  I have decided that most of her conversations are one sided, and no matter how I respond, it really doesn't matter.  Even if I disagree, in her mind it's still a fact.

For instance, Brad's Aunt Dana has gone to Germany to stay with her grandson while her daughter who is in the Air Force is away for a few months.  Aunt Jane is convinced that Aunt Dana has joined the military (which she can't even say without giving her a salute).  I've explained it several times but I've given up.  I think she's even convinced me.  So, Aunt Dana is now in the Air Force.

Yesterday was beautiful and extra warm, so we grilled some hamburgers and enjoyed being outside a lot.  Then we went to Matthew's ball practice later in the evening.  After years of having children participate in recreation sports, you'd think I'd be over a lot of the pettiness and frustrations that some coaches can bring about.  Obviously, I'm not.  I guess sports are part of my sanctification process as well.  Let's just say I have a long way to go.

Okay, I know you're dying to hear the doughnut story.  Aunt Jane bought a six-pack of doughnuts at the bakery.  She offered me one in the van, but I didn't want one.  She didn't offer Matthew one but whatever.  She said she'd just save them for the afternoon.  After we returned home, it didn't take a couple of my kiddos long to see that box of doughnuts sitting on her bed.  I told them she'd probably share them later.  Time went on and still no doughnuts.  They continued to question.  Not that this house isn't filled with way more sugar than any house should ever have - remember, we are at granddaddy's right now - but that's beside the point.  Lol!  So Aunt Jane goes to bed and the doughnuts have still not made an appearance.  What?!  They're doughnuts for crying out loud.  They'll be like bricks the next day (and I fully expect she'll offer them up then).  Now, I can fully understand hiding food around here.  If it's something people like, I promise it won't last long - like vultures on a dead possum is a good mind picture here.  But doughnuts?  They don't last long enough to hide. 

I said something to my daddy about it later, and (I'm doing most of the cooking around here) I told him I was going to start hiding her supper.

What a picture of grace and mercy and Christ likeness I exhibited!  Uh, no.

So at the end of the day Brad looks at me a little nervously and says, "It's time to get started on our house, isn't it?"  Yes, yes it is. When doughnuts become a source of contention, it's time to make some changes. ;>)

NOTE:  CLICK HERE for a followup to this post.....