Friday, September 12, 2014

The Books Piled Next to My Bed





Oh, how I love a good book.
They are entertainment, adventure, knowledge, old friends, dear mentors.
Some are read once and linger forever in your mind.
Others, must be read again and again and again, each return giving you more to savor, chew on, and digest into your very being.




Reading has not come easy to most of our family.
While I was an early reader, my hubby is a dyslexic, as is my firstborn.
We decided, though, that we wanted reading to be part of the fabric of our family.
So we read.
And read,
and read,
and read.
Though it has been difficult at times, frustrating at others, I can truly say we are the better for it.
It is worth the struggle.



Right now we are reading and rereading some excellent books ~

I am reading A Charlotte Mason Companion, a personal take on the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason. Well-thought out, practical, and thoroughly helpful, it is an excellent view of how to put CM's theories into practice in my own home. Perfect read as we start a new school year.

John is reading Third Culture Kids for the first time, but this is one I reread on a regular basis. This is a must-read not only to help me understand my kiddos, but also to help me through the inevitable transitions that are just part of my life as a missionary. This is also an excellent book for those who have family members on the mission field, or want to better know how to pray for their missionaries.
This one is also available on Kindle.

Carey, my ten-year old, is reading The Wheel on the School. A beautiful tale of hopes and dreams, and what can happen when you wonder. A favorite from my own childhood. Five-stars!

Ella, my 7 1/2 year old, is reading Pollyanna. I read this for the first time with Carey a few years ago, and couldn't wait to read it again with Ella. If you liked the movie, you will love the book! Who couldn't love a book about a talkative little girl who works so hard to be GLAD!
This is also available on Kindle, for free!

 


“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” 

What are you reading?
I'd love to hear........


Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Missing Piece ~ An Updated Tour of our Master Bedroom



I've really enjoyed sharing our home with you over the last year.
As I was looking through the pictures, my oldest sweetly said, "Mom, it's been a long time since our house was that clean!"
Yes, thank you for the reminder, dear child.
Ahem.
I will just remind us all that I had a baby right at the beginning of the school year, and a little one with a heart operation in another city right after Easter, and visitors for the month of June, and schooling that didn't get finished until the end of July.
I do have a good list of excuses.
In the midst of the chaos, though my house must have been a bit messy, I did get to work on a few house projects.
I had lots I wanted to get done before our visitors came.....some got done, and some didn't.
Such is life!


When I posted pictures of the master bedroom, I mentioned that I didn't feel that it was quite finished:
Reason One being my chair with a big chunk of foam for a cushion,
Reason Two being the need of an accent color.
As they say on good ol' HGTV, it needed something to make it *POP*

As I looked through an old Better Homes & Gardens magazine my mother had mailed me, a few pictures stuck out to me.
I had a germ of an idea.
I say a germ, because there is no such thing as a Target, a HomeGoods, a J.C. Penney, or a Bed, Bath, and Beyond here.
Decorating takes a good bit of patience, an imaginative eye, some "fortuosity", and having the money right when it's needed!
I knew my best bet was to find things in Accra, but we weren't planning a trip any time soon.
God soon changed all our plans.
Not long after I got my idea, we found out we'd be spending a few weeks in Accra for Lili's heart surgery.
I prayed for two things during Lili's recovery ~ that we'd have a little time after Lili was out of the hospital for our family to reconnect and that we'd have a little leftover money to buy some things for our bedroom.
God was gracious enough to answer both prayers.
The only thing I knew for sure was the color I was looking for. After that, it was a bit vague.

This is what I came home with:


And this is what we did with it!





We love it!
I'm quite sure that I've always secretly wanted a bright piece of furniture in my life and didn't even know it!

So I'm curious......

Yeah for lime green!!!!!
OR
Sorry, it's too bright for me!!!

Please share. 
Have you ever painted or wanted to paint something a bold color?
I'd love to hear what you think!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

For the Days When I Need Some New Habits & a Tour of our School Room


  "The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days;  while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with her children. Is she never to be at ease with her own children?"

These were the words with which I was first introduced to Miss Charlotte Mason.






I longed for the 'smooth and easy days' she described in such a clear way.
Days filled with the best books, the best minds, a sumptuous feast for the soul.
Art, music, poetry, and nature study added to the beauty of it all.

But I soon found a flaw in Miss Mason's ideal.......
well, not exactly in her idea,
but in me.
My children needed these 'good habits', but so did I.
And let me tell you, Mama learning a whole new way of doing things isn't the easiest thing in the world.



It has been almost a year since our bouncing, baby Mackay was born.
As much as I love her, it has been a bit of a wild ride since she arrived.
With a two year old and a newborn,
our school year, and yes, our life,
have been busy, frantic, frustrating, and ovewhelming
at various intervals on different days.
Not the 'smooth and easy days" I'd envisioned.



As I began preparing for our new school year with a cloud of apprehension hanging over my head and a growing fear in my heart, I realized that the hope for this school year had to begin with me.
I was the one who needed the training first.
Education is an atmosphere, and if I wasn't exhaling that truth, my children wouldn't be inhaling it either.



Listening ~
As I sit to plan our first term, I begin with a routine, a rhythm.
Our loving Father mandates that our globe spins on its center, and He has made us, His creatures to do the same.
My morning must start with Him.
Word First.
My children need this, too.
How can I expect their day to turn rightly without Him?
So we choose to make the time for Him before our day spins out of control.



Love ~
We take the second step for the day:  a prayer for God's help to love Him with all our being, and to love our neighbor as ourself.
This is a truth I must continually return to throughout the day, and usually I must lead my children back to this thought over and over again.
As I mother these babes, I must constantly sacrifice my desires, my wants, my time.
I choose to love in dying to myself.


Labor ~
As our day begins to speed up, we must make the time for work.
We will work with our hands and feet, reveling in the strength that God has blessed us with.
We will take the time to clean and straighten, wash and scrub, put away and pick up.
My mind can think better when there is no clutter to distract;
I crave things decently and in order.


Loveliness ~
As we move to our learning time, we will make time to appreciate the beautiful.
Why?
Because the Beautiful One made it.
We can see small glimpses of Him in poetry, music, art, nature.
He gives us a guide for what we should think on {Philippians 4:8}.
In our sinful world, I must make the effort for my sake and my children's to think on the good.
And on the days that aren't pretty, I have a reserve supply: quiet calming snippets of beauty to dwell on.


Literature ~
We will read the best books.
And I, the Mama, will make sure that I read them, too.
Education doesn't end when a certificate is in hand.
I must make the effort to read that which is worth reading....
things to challenge, things to enjoy, things to make me think.


Language ~
As my children learn, I will not only talk; I will listen.
My children will work on putting things their own way, using their words, their own thoughts.
I must be willing to turn off my endless chore list running through my head, and listen to what they are learning.
I will strive to speak properly, and I will work to speak wisely.
I must desire a tongue that obeys the law of kindness.



Logic ~
I will make time for the harder subjects for my children's sake.
I determine that when our world is rocking precariously, I won't pitch the heavier things overboard.
I will be disciplined enough to practice the math, and explore the science, and give my children time to reason through things.
I will give them space to grow their minds with the things that challenge them.
I will endeavor to be patient, even when I want them to just "hurry up and give an answer already!"


Live ~
My goal is for our us to live and learn together.
Really, the true learning doesn't come from the books, it comes from living it all out together.
And so I will strive to slow.......to linger and enjoy the moment.
I will remind myself to laugh, and rejoice in the now.
And the Lord of Life, He will make it full, and good, and perfect in the way only He can.


These are my thoughts, my goals, my desires as we prepare to begin this amazing, crazy thing called homeschooling again.
This has been mostly for my own benefit ~ a place to work out what I truly desire our home education to look like, but if you've set some things down that you desire to change as we jump into "school time" again, I'd love to hear them!



* These thoughts were originally inspired by Ann Voskamp here.
   Photo credit for the ladder picture belongs to ambientlight.ca.
   If you would like the second printable, please go to Ann Voskamp's free printable library.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The War Against the Soul


I want to write about how I've finally finished decorating our master bedroom.
I'd like to share the color I chose to give the room a bit more......character.
And I'd like to post a picture of my chair that now actually has a covered seat cushion, and not a big hunk of foam.
But I can't.
Not today.
There are days that no matter how hard I try to think about something different, I cannot.
The days that I remember that we are at war.
And, no, I don't mean the fighting exploding all over the Middle East, the hatred pulsing in the Midwest, or the monster of Ebola that swallows up families in vicious gulps.
I mean the war I was called to fight here.....
right where I live....
in Ghana.

Sunday morning starts early,
much earlier than I desire to be awake.
The wind is still, the cars and trucks on the main road are not yet honking and screeching there way into town, the dawn is still graying.
My dim mind struggles to find the source of the sound that has called me out of slumber, not sweetly, but harshly, jarringly.
It is drums.
They are a common sound here, one I've learned to lived with many days of my life.
But these drums, *these* are the hardest ones for me.
Someone's soul now living somewhere for eternity.
They continue as I drag myself out of my bed and into the day.

Now babes are stirring, and roosters are crowing, and clock is ticking, and I have just a few minutes to prepare my mind for the war I am in.......
and the drums beat on.
They sound like war drums to me......
the war for souls.

A dear friend's niece has been staying with her for the last month, and I've been sharing the gospel with her.
She's young.... 
a thinker......
a religious person.
As I've shared with her God's freeing plan of redemption, I've seen the understanding slowly begin to glow in her eyes.
She hears the stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Abraham and Isaac, the Passover Lamb, the Ten Commandments, and the Brasen Serpent.
As I tell them, the battle begins.
I can see the fear, sense the conviction, feel the push and pull in her soul.
Is what I'm telling her true?
Dare she believe it?
Can she really throw down her self-honed weapons of good works and twisted half-truths and surrender
or should she run away?

This is supposed to be my last day to meet with her.
My heart is heavy, my spirit troubled.
What if she doesn't come?
What if she flees from Truth?

When we arrive at our place of worship, the drums are pounding again.
The four "churches" within a few hundred yards of us are all beating out their calls.
They call it worship.
Worship it may be, but they do not worship the One we are gathering to praise and glorify.
Their drums are a cry to all those who want to dance until they are too tired to think of their troubles, and then sing them to sleep with visions of wealth and the destruction of their enemies.
These are war drums. 
The war against the soul.

I wait impatiently for her to arrive.
They are late.
The drums are incessant now: drilling into my thoughts, driving me to worry.
It is a constant fight to control my mind.

My friend steps around the corner......
but her niece does not.
"She said she had a headache......"
And at that moment, the beating stops.
The drums are quiet.
I've feel like Life has lost.



*The battle for souls never stops. I have one last chance to meet with N on Thursday. Would you please join us in prayer for her soul?



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lili


Take pictures.
Make time.
Play.
Read.
Hug.
Kiss.





Twirl.
Jump.
Run.
Giggle.
Make silly faces.






Teach.
Train.
Live.
Love.




Celebrate!



You never know what day will be your last.......or your child's last.
Rejoicing in God's mercy in giving us another year with our now 3 year old, Lili!