"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace
that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding." Ephesians 1:7-8

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Do you ever pray and pray for something and feel tempted to be impatient with the Lord's timing? Well, I have a few things that I've been praying for for a while and it is hard to wait and know what God's plan is. I go through cycles of trusting and doubting. At times, I feel stuck and it feels hard to go on. All I can do is go back to the scriptures and trust what He tells me in His word. 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phillipians 4: 4-7

This song by John Waller really speaks to me. While I am waiting for Him to answer my prayer or change my heart, I want to be hopeful. I want to serve Him. I want to worship. It's not always easy, but it gives Him glory! Amen. 

While I'm Waiting

I'm waiting, I'm waiting on You Lord
And I am hopeful, I'm waiting on You Lord
Though it is painful, but patiently I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I'm waiting I will serve You
While I'm waiting I will worship
While I'm waiting I will not faint
I'll be running the race even while I wait

I'm waiting, I'm waiting on You Lord
And I am peaceful, I'm waiting on You Lord
Though it's not easy no, but faithfully I will wait
Yes, I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/j/john_waller/while_im_waiting.html ]
While I'm waiting I will serve You
While I'm waiting I will worship
While I'm waiting I will not faint
I'll be running the race even while I wait

I will move ahead bold and confident
I'll be taking every step in obedience, yeah

While I'm waiting I will serve You
While I'm waiting I will worship
While I'm waiting I will not faint

And I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You Lord

I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Prayer Walk

One of our new routines this year is a daily morning prayer walk. I love it and I think the boys do too!

We head out the door by 8:20 for our walk. I know my public school friends get out the door much earlier, but this is the best we can do. :) It allows time for me to run, shower, feed them a big breakfast, have Bible time and for the boys to do their morning kitchen jobs. 
Our walk usually lasts about 10 minutes. 

It has helped with our transition to school work a bunch! If I let them get involved playing 
after breakfast, it is a struggle to pull away from their imaginary play. This way, they eat, 
clean up, brush teeth and pop on their shoes. I hustle to finish up the breakfast cleaning and 
am ready to zip out the door when they are. (Usually with a wet head and flip flops!)
It's a hustle on my part, but worth it. :)

While we are out walking, we talk about what we'll be praying about that day. 
We have a different topic for each day of the week. Then, we each take turns praying aloud. 
As you can see from the pictures... there are interruptions to our prayer times. But I keep on 
praying aloud while they skip, wiggle, or collect worms. This past couple weeks the worms were excessive so we decided to bring a jar and collect the worms to dump in our garden. Completely grossed me out and I refused to hold their wormy hands, but they loved it! 
So we prayed that the worms would help the vegetables grow. 
Truthfully, sometimes I think the prayer walk is more for me then them. It calms me and 
prepares me for our day. I am confident they are soaking it in in the midst of the wiggles. 
I love that they get morning fresh air and extra exercise.  
Didn't want to make this photo full size. :)  Our collection! gross!

And remember how they like to dress precisely how the thermometer suggests? Well, this week they were quick to pull out their winter garb but by the time we got out the door the temperature had gone up by 15 degrees. They were a little toasty!

I am sure I will have to think about ways to change this up so they don't get bored, 
but for now it's working and I like it!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


The house is clean from top to bottom... or at least the best I can manage.
Now, NO ONE BREATHE until Grandma and Grandpa arrive today!!!
Ha!! :) 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Four Weeks, Distractions and Perseverance

Phew! We just finished our fourth week of school today and I can feel the affects of our busy schedule, late nights and early mornings. After yawning for the millionth time today, 
Aaron suggested that I bring the boys to Grammy and Poppy's for a few days so 
I can come home and sleep. ha! 
Great idea Aaron! :) Maybe another time. 

We are definitely off to a good start. We have a good routine, the boys know what is expected of them and for the most part are doing well. But this week was definitely the hardest week so far. I knew it was coming. I was expecting it, but I still do not welcome the resistance and the dragging of feet. 

[sometimes we need headphones to block out all the noise!]

As I look back on our first 4 weeks of school, my favorite part of our day is our prayer walk and quiet time before we actually start the school work. It's been a great addition to our day and deserves a post of its own. :)

[Luke reading his map and looking for the treasure I hid in the yard.]

I love the new math curriculum we are using this year. Luke and Ethan are doing a great job with it 
and it has been a great fit. They are learning a lot! We're spending a lot of time on math, but I think 
it's really worth it. There is a large portion of Luke's math work that is intended to be done independently. Each night I set it out in his room with a note and he completes it in the wee hours 
of the morning when everyone else is still sleeping and I'm out running. 
(He's my early bird. Always has been. 6:15 is sleeping in for him!)

[sometimes it is more fun to do school wrapped up in crazy blankets!]

Ethan's favorite time of the day is doing his math speed drill. In his math workbook, the speed drill is indicated by a horse galloping. He loves this! Who would have thought a little image would excite him to do his speed drill? He always finishes the problems before the timer even beeps. Hooray!

I've already mentioned in a previous post about how surprised I am by Aaron and his interest in learning. Seriously, just this summer I could not get him to even have any interest in his letters. 
Now, he is eager, excited and will randomly write his letters on paper - or his desk! ;{ - to show Daddy when he gets home. 

As I look back, we've had really great weeks. But, as I said in the beginning of this post, I'm tired. As the weeks have gone on, my fatigue is building and honestly I'm wondering if that's what has caused more of the problems this week? Maybe the "honeymoon" with school is over? The big boys have been so distracted by the fun things I've prepared in Aaron's workboxes and it makes me mad. It shouldn't make me mad, but it does. :( As Aaron works on his exciting letter activity, they crowd around him watching --- which is definitely not the point! When Aaron is happily working, I need them engaged with their work. And you see... as I'm tired, I tend to be more impatient and then use more harsh words then necessary and that never works, right? "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up trouble." Proverbs 15:1

[so excited about his tiny frog discovery on our nature walk!]

So today, as we were working and I felt myself slipping back into old patterns of becoming easily angered and less self-controlled with my tone and body language, I felt sad. And I prayed, Lord please help me to turn it around. Please help me to be joyful and enjoy these moments instead of making big deals about things that are not big deals. Lord, give me patience and help me to love and teach these boys well. 

Then it was time to read from our book Hero Tales by Dave & Neta Jackson. 
We're reading about Harriet Tubman and discussing character traits that she demonstrates. 
And wouldn't you know it, we're discussing how she PERSEVERES! I know that my struggles 
are nothing like hers. I am certainly not risking my life to help slaves escape on the Underground Railroad. But, the question today as we discussed Harriet was, "What did Harriet do 
when she felt too tired to go on?" And I burst into tears!!!! 

By now, my crazy boys are used to their emotional Momma and they all gathered around me 
hugging me. Ethan ran to get the tissues! I explained to them why I was crying. That I felt 
so encouraged by God to persevere in this job of homeschooling them and that I can pray to 
Him when I am too tired to go on, just like Harriet Tubman did. I'm so thankful for a 
God who knows when we need encouragement. With His strength I can persevere!! 
I'm ready for week 5... or at least I will be by Monday. :) 

Mock-up Table

We take our table shopping very seriously around here. 
Darin built a mock-up from some spare wood and we tried out the size. 

Smells a little too much like wood and the surface is very scratchy, but otherwise the size is great :) 
But don't lean on the edge or the temporary top flops off!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Ethan's recent journal assignment:

Remember Ethan's run-in with hornets? It seems like he's going to remember it for a very long time. 
I was totally not expecting this response, but way to go spelling Ethan!

And look what's missing in this brave little boys mouth...

Wow! Stop growing so fast Ethan!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Family Service Update

Remember my post here about our family service system?

Well, I have to say the system is mostly working well! The boys are having great success accomplishing their daily jobs. There is still a bit of whining and grumbling on occasion, but it is slowly becoming habit. SO, I'm sticking with it!

As far as our plan for weekly jobs, well... I just didn't follow through with making it happen weekly. My excuse is that I got worn out instructing. Is there a limit to how much instructing one mom can do in one day?? Sometimes, it was easier for me to do the weekly jobs on my own (ugh!). Other times, we were so busy that the weekly cleaning task didn't get done. (Hence the dirty toilets!)

Remember this handy dandy pocket chart? Well, it was attached to the door to the garage with magnets. It just so happens that if the door is closed too swiftly, down goes the chart and all the little cards. SO, I needed to come up with a new plan for the cards. I was also tired of the bright red chart in our kitchen area.

Here is our new system:
 I bought an inexpensive magnetic dry erase board and hung it in the kitchen to the wall adjacent to the door to the garage. I attached magnets on the back of the chore cards. I only have the daily jobs on display (and left out some of the no-brainers that are already habits). I've been changing out the Bible verse, but this one has been up there a little bit for my own benefit. :) And lots of space to jot down grocery needs.
Here they are up close. Luke is tall enough now to rinse dishes in the sink and load them in the dishwasher. This is super helpful!

I've decided the weekly jobs don't need to be on display. I've made an envelope and tucked them away. When we have a cleaning afternoon (or if the boys are eager to earn money), I lay them out on the counter and they take turns choosing one to complete. This works well. Then they put their completed card in envelopes with their names. These are all located on the back of the pantry door.

So that's the story and update. If you have any great ideas, I'd love to hear about them. 
Any tips for keeping the house clean are greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

B is for Butterflies

How cool is it that the week Aaron was working on his letter "b" 
we had butterflies galore in our backyard!?!?!

When we bought our house, it had amazing landscaping we've been working hard to maintain. 
One of the big bonuses is a huge butterfly bush outside our kitchen window. 
We chop it down 18 inches from the ground every spring and it grows back HUGE!

 Seriously, there were at least 10 butterflies on the bush at  all times. 

The view from inside

And this sweet boy is doing such a great job in school! I would have never guessed that 
he would be so eagerly learning and writing his letters. Just a couple months ago I could not 
get him even remotely interested in his letters or in any writing or coloring. 

So proud of him!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Kid-free 21 hours!

A couple weeks ago, I reluctantly asked my parents to keep the boys overnight. Ever since my parents moved to Virginia I've been very cautious about asking them to watch the boys. They love being with them, but are not overly eager to have them fully in their care.  Or at least that's my perception. :) I also want to respect their new routines and busy schedule, so I don't ask. (And yes, my parents have quickly found some very dear friends, a church, bridge groups, choir, fitness club, etc.! They are quite social!) Anyway, I threw caution to the wind and asked for an overnight expecting a "maybe" but most likely a "no."

And they said, "It's a possibility." Which later turned into "yes." Hooray!!

So a week ago Friday, we ate supper with them at their new house, got the boys tucked in bed and drove away. Our only instructions were, "Jill, no school work!" and "Darin, no painting!" It was the first time we had this opportunity in almost 5 years!! The last time we went away overnight I was pregnant with Aaron. We had a dinner meeting with Darin's co-workers out of town so I had to share our time. I'm not very good at sharing. ;)

This time, our kid-free 21 hours was absolutely wonderful. I loved not being on mom duty around the clock. I loved talking and listening to Darin. I loved dreaming together. I loved having the time together. We took a day trip to a nearby town to do some shopping for a new kitchen table. (We've outgrown our table intended for 2... by at least 3!) And while we didn't make a purchase, it was such a terrific day. We were just together. Sometimes in silence. Ahh... silence feels so good when I'm used to shrieking boys! And I have to be honest, I didn't miss my sweet boys until almost dinner time the next day. I feel just slightly guilty about that... but I did check in and all was going really well.

When we arrived back at supper time on Saturday night, I expected the boys to come running with wide open arms. But, they didn't. They said hello and then boldly told us, "I'm not going home." "I didn't even pack my bags. I'm staying another night!" Luke even said, "I'm staying all week!" Hmmm... is that okay Grammy and Poppy? Maybe next time boys.

So watch out Grammy and Poppy! This Momma is ready for another kid free 21 hours and maybe next time we can make it 48?? Pretty please?? Thank you! Thank you!