Monday, August 31, 2015

a secret


A little something fun Ila is working on this week...

We have a secret, just we three,
The robin and I and the sweet cherry tree;

The bird told the tree, and the tree told me,
And nobody knows it but just us three.

But of course the robin knows it best,

Because she built the --I shan’t tell the rest,--
And laid the four little --somethings in it--

I’m afraid I shall tell it every minute.

~Author Unknown

A sweet little rhyme that makes her giggle with delight while she does the voices and keeps the secret. What fun to hand my sweetling something that sets her imagination soaring and her feet dancing ♥

Friday, August 28, 2015

the great blueberry save

You know those days that you plan for? Those wonderful activities that you know your sweetlings are going to love and talk about for days? Well, I had one of those planned for today! In ECC (our curriculum this year), we wrap up the two week introduction unit on the Friday of the second week. We celebrate by baking a cake and frosting it to look like a world map or globe, complete with continents.

After the almost miss with the apple pie story last week, I set my list up early to make sure that we had the ingredients for the cake. Guess what? I forgot to transfer the ingredients from my white board to the grocery list this week. Ack!! Well then, Samuel and Ila and I stopped by the store yesterday to pick up a few things, but guess what? This "supermom" completely forgot the cake AGAIN.

Do you know when I remembered? Last night as I was reviewing our plans for today, it hit me. No cake ingredients, no pans, no icing. Yep, just call me mom of the mighty fail.

Now if you know me at all, you know I plan. I organize and fix and fluff and decorate. I make charts and lists (and tend to be a little overly enthusiastic about the whole process). All of that, first, because I like to ^_~ and also because it helps me not to forget stuff. Well, usually anyway.

So last night I shifted into, "Oh, dear goodness! What now?" mode. And just like He does, God stepped in with an idea. I know it was He, because I most assuredly would never have come up with blueberry continents on my own. I was rifling through the contents of our pantry by memory, when the blueberry muffin mixes tucked in there came to mind.
 
And the result? If you stopped by the house right now, you would be met with the scent of fresh baked blueberry muffins. If you stepped into the kitchen you would find cooling on the stove, not the muffins you expected, but a nine by thirteen casserole dish filled with Blueberry Continent Cake.

The best part of all? The sweetlings loved the project! They laughed out loud at the thought of arranging blueberries into the shapes of the continents on the top of the batter and had a blast working on it. They hoped and hoped when we put the cake in the oven that the blueberries would not sink or run all together. It turned out beautifully, and we are so excited to taste it for our afternoon snack.

The great blueberry save won't be something the sweetlings remember. They never knew the project today was meant to be anything but just what it was. They will remember the Blueberry Continent Cake and the fun.

But I will remember.

I will remember His faithfulness, His joy. A bit of His creativity, His imagination gifted just to me. His attention to what seems the tiniest detail in a world of bigger things.

I will remember, and I will praise Him for His love of the details.
And for the way He has His way and makes all things good ♥

Thursday, August 27, 2015

the gift of work

On seeing the work we do as a gift from God,
coming to us from the hand of God,
the very will of God for us...

If our children saw us doing "heartily as unto the Lord" all the work we do, they would learn true happiness. Boredom would flee and so would the attitude of entitlement so prevalent in these days. Instead of feeling that they must be allowed to do what they like, they would learn to like what they do. A living, working life of praise to Him who gifts us with all things.

Walking and working with this today with sore toes ^_~
Thankful for the reminder from my dear EE ♥

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

one and a half

Today we reached the one and a half weeks mark in our new school year, and the challenges came pouring down. It seems that the new schedule caught up with all of the sweetlings today, and everyone was not quite on-game this morning. We persevered through the morning hours and then took off for a little mission project for an hour or so around lunch time.

Amazing, isn't it, that when we take our eyes off of ourselves and look for ways we can serve others our whole attitude is transformed? What a joy and a blessing to know that the Father sees one mom struggling to help and hold her sweetlings and steps in with ideas, words, encouragement. He makes the day.

And  I am in awe, heart swelling with gratitude
and joy, for the privilege of living this one-and-a-half day ♥

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

a corn of wheat

"The secret of a disciple's life is devotion to Jesus Christ,
and the characteristic of the life is its unobtrusiveness.

It is like a corn of wheat, which falls to the ground and dies,
but presently it will spring up and alter the whole landscape."

Spending a little time this afternoon with John and Uncle Oswald.
Dreaming the whole landscape green and growing ♥

John 12:24 and My Utmost for His Highest
 

Monday, August 24, 2015

If I Knew

If I knew a box where the smiles are kept,
No matter how large the key
Or strong the bolt, I would try so hard
'Twould open, I know, for me;
Then over the land and the sea broadcast,
I'd scatter the smiles to play,
That the children's faces might hold them fast
For many and many a day.

If I knew a box that was large enough
To hold all the frowns I meet,
I would like to gather them every one,
From nursery, school, and street;
Then folding and holding, I'd pack them in,
And turning the monster key,
I'd hire a giant to drop the box
To the depths of the deep, deep sea.
~M Wyman

A little something Ila and I are working with this week.
It made us smile, and we wanted to help you tuck your frowns away, too ♥

Friday, August 21, 2015

in review: this first week of days

What a beautiful week.

Mind you, not a perfect week.

A gift it has been, all whole.

The Father met me in the moments of it.

He answered so many of my prayers directly.

He let me see some things I needed to know.

He held our hands and hearts as the challenges came.

He was there as we learned, and laughed, and even cried.
He was there as we sang, and memorized, and prayed.
He was there as we planned, and sketched, and celebrated.

As I worked and watched, He brought to fruition the plans
that were the work of many years and most especially these
past few months.

And again, I am astounded by His imagination, creativity,
love and grace as I do these daily days with my sweetlings.

Given the choice of all the world, I would choose this time and place.
It is a miracle, this contentment, this peace.

Walking gently and profoundly grateful among the last few hours
of this first week of school days ♥

Thursday, August 20, 2015

can never tell

Immersed in beautiful music today as I look ahead into fall,
and I discovered this verse of Come Thou Fount...

Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well

~R Robinson

Walking daily in His grace, His kindness
in awestruck wonder ♥

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

LaRue's Apple Pie

As promised, here is the recipe for the best apple pie I have ever put in my mouth, from one of the most precious ladies I have ever known.

=====
• 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
slice by hand or use coarsest side of grater
slice into salted water

• 2 pie shells
can be hand made or can use prepared ones
set out to thaw if frozen
 
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 tablespoons AP flour
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
mix well and sprinkle over apples

• 1/3 stick margarine
cut into pats and place on top just before adding top crust

Place top crust. Be sure to make small slits in it to vent!
Put the pie on a cookie sheet to prevent run over.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

• 1 tablespoon margarine, melted
• 2 tablespoons milk
• powdered sugar (to consistency)
mix well, until glossy - this is the glaze
drizzle by spoonfuls over pie as soon as it comes out of the oven

Can be served immediately or may sit until time to serve.
 =====

Notes from my kitchen...

Apples: I use six instead of four, 4 Granny Smith + 2 Gala

Building the pie: I sprinkle a little of the cinnamon mixture in the empty pie shell first, then I add the apples and the rest of the cinnamon mixture in layers until all apples and spices have been added. It will be a very full pie at this point ^_~  but that's OK, it will cook down. Add the margarine pats and then place the top crust, pinching the edges with the edges of the bottom crust. Don't forget to vent!

Do not skip the cookie sheet! I have yet to create one of these without a little spill over. That is part of the best part, though. It looks wonderful with a little filling on the edges of the crust.

Glaze: Relax and have fun with this! If you have ever made a glaze for cinnamon buns or spice cake or anything like, you will know what to do. If not, add the powdered sugar slowly and let it rest between mixing. You will see the top of the mixture change from "liquid" to "glossy". Be sure to stop adding powdered sugar before it gets too thick, as you want to drizzle the glaze, not spread it. You cannot make a mistake here, really, so be fearless! What ever you end up with for a drizzly glaze will taste wonderful ^_~

Serving: This pie is wonderful served hot or at room temperature. You will not need to top this one with ice cream, as it is the perfect blend of tart-sweet apples, spicy cinnamon, and sweet glaze. It can be served as dessert, at snack time, tea time or even with eggs for breakfast.

For the best possible result, serve and enjoy with a precious friend. Making this pie comes, for me, with smiles and lovely memories and thanks to the Father for the gentle, gorgeous friend who first shared it with me ♥

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

how to make an apple pie and see the world

Making an apple pie is as easy as, well, pie ^_^ IF you have the ingredients on hand... or if the market is open. But if your grocers have taken the day off for some fishing, you are in for a bit of a challenge! In this case it's more of an adventure, but oh! what an adventure.

Have a little imagination and a bit of time to spare? The rewards are the best, freshest ingredients in all the world! The happy adventure is traveling the world to get them.

This is simply a precious book! It's a super fun read, and a grand way to begin the year when you are studying countries and cultures. How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman is enchanting. Everyone in our house from youngest to eldest (ahem!) enjoyed it. The illustrations are fun, the colors well chosen, and the word-smithing spot on.

We laughed and tripped the world over as Meredith located all of the places we visited on our world map. And for the best possible ending? I was lamenting not having planned to make a pie today when I realized we had the ingredients! The children cheered, and we trooped into the kitchen to make an apple pie! The sweetlings chattering and giggling at top volume while wielding sharp knives is quite the adventure to be sure ^_~

So now there is a lovely pie waiting and warm on the stove for this afternoon's snack time. I cannot think of a better (stickier or more cinnamony) way to seal the lessons of the day, can you?

Hooray for wonderful books, apples, cinnamon and fun together ♥


PS • • • Years and years ago my precious friend, LaRue, shared her apple pie recipe with me. I am a Carolina girl, a mountain girl, and the daughter/granddaughter/niece of culinary wonders ^_^ and I have experienced wonderful apple pies in my life. LaRue's tops them all. Recipe here!

Monday, August 17, 2015

the first day

Today was our first day of school. If I could, I would jump and shout and dance a little right here, but I am a little weary in the best possible way this afternoon ^_~ It was a wonderful day!

I began it with this... "Teach me to treat all that comes to me with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all."

Continued later with this... "Love is very patient, very kind. Love never seeks its own. Love looks to God for grace to help."

And then finally this... "A cup brimful of sweetness cannot spill even a drop of bitter water, no matter how suddenly jarred."

And all of that was tucked into just the first half hour of my day! I hadn't even greeted the sweetlings with "good mornings" and hugs and cuddles and smiles yet, but the Father had me all wrapped up in his arms from the first few words of my time with Him.

It's going to be a gorgeous year -- ups and downs and upside-downs and all :) The sweetlings and I are traveling the world in our studies, in our projects, in our fun, and we are ready! We walked through our new schedule, hopped the US time zones repeatedly, learned some cool stuff and practiced some things we forgot to remember. We sang a little and read a lot. We dined in France for breakfast, Brazil for lunch, and in London for tea time. For dinner, we are striking out for Tanzania! I think that we will rest well and very well tonight!

Thanks more than I can say for praying with us as we began ♥

1st and 2nd quotes: E Elliot
3rd quote: A Carmichael

=====
Notebook Notes: I have updated the "our school year" tab with my study plan for each of the sweetlings. Our "what we are reading" tab has been updated except for this week's library books (will do this evening, I hope). I am adding a tag with this post that will collect the specific posts about our countries and cultures adventures all in one place (the tag is ECC). Hooray for school!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

the real world's story

From Meredith's heart for "the other ones"...

In the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth. And He made animals, and He made people. Humans. Two of them, Adam and Eve. They lived in a beautiful garden of Eden, and they talked with God, and everything was peace. There was no sin.

But there was one tree in the garden that God told Adam and Eve not to eat from. And Satan, otherwise known as the Devil, the enemy, and (by me) the Moron, tempted Eve to eat from the tree. Because Satan was jealous of God. Satan was/is set on turning everything away from God.

And Eve ate the fruit. Why? Don't ask ME. But she did, and Adam did, too. They sinned. 

God can't be with sin. So there was a barrier between God and humans. Now Adam and Eve were going to die, I mean, like they'd get old and die. Everyone would. And since God can't be with sin, we'd all go to hell. With the enemy.

BUT...

God made a promise. He said He would send a Savior to save everyone.

*****

It was some time before this happened. (Not everyone went to hell, though. Some trusted God and went to heaven.) When an empire called Rome was rising, and some had forgotten God, He sent His Son down to earth. This Son came into the world by being born to a woman named Mary. And He was named Jesus. As Jesus grew, He taught people about God. He showed them that He was God's Son by performing miracles that no person could. Though some refused to believe.

And Jesus lived without sinning. Because -- let me explain this -- sin has to be paid for. And if you sin, and everyone does, the payment is dying and going to hell. But if one man who lived a perfect, sinless life would die in our place, then we could be saved.

So, yes, Jesus had to die to save us. And they crucified Him. (I won't go into detail because it was horrible; you can read it in the Bible.) But GUESS WHAT? Jesus rose from the dead! He came back to life after that! Then, for a little while, He stayed on earth. Then He went back to heaven, and no, He didn't die. He floated up into the clouds.

Then two angels (God's messengers) appeared to Jesus' friends who had been watching Him go and said that Jesus is going to come back the same way He left. 

Later God said for them to go and tell everyone about Him. About how now, if they admit their sins to God and believe in Him and put their faith in Him, they can go to heaven.

*****

It has been 2000 years since Jesus was here. Things are very different. We have cars and electricity and stuff. We have improved medicine and so many things. And... people are forgetting. They don't believe Jesus ever came. They are becoming more and more sinful.

But some know the truth, like me. We are Christians. Some say we're stupid, sappy, religious folks, but we're really not. I believe in God. Because how, being so sinful, can we feel love and mercy without Him? And I can feel Him. And He's coming back someday. In a thousand or a million years? In one second? No one knows, but He knows.

He is coming. Sinners will be eternally punished. God's people will go to Him. He will make a whole new heaven and earth that are together. ~M

May all those who have eyes to see and ears to hear come to know and understand just how much they are loved, and just how critical is the truth. May it be as plain to them as this gentle telling from the heart of one who would, like the Father, have them all choose to be saved ♥

Friday, August 14, 2015

the other ones

I was working on my Sunday School lesson yesterday afternoon. We are studying Revelation this quarter, and I asked Meredith to draw her idea of the locusts from chapter nine. We talked through the chapter a little bit, and she made a wonderful, terrible piece of art.

Later in the evening, after she had gone to bed, she came back downstairs to say that she couldn't sleep. She was still thinking about our talk earlier in the day. I asked if it was the picture that she had drawn. No, it wasn't that. She said it was about judgement day and started to get teary. I told her that it was coming for sure, but that she did not need to worry. Jesus would call her His on that day and all would be well. She smiled and said that helped a little.

Clearly that wasn't the issue, so I asked her again what was upsetting her. "The other ones, Mom."  I asked her to try to use her words to help me understand. "The ones who will not be called His that day, Mom. It makes me so sad that there are other ones. Why? Why don't they listen and understand? Why can't they all be saved?"

O my heart! We went on to talk about the fact that God does not want anyone to die without knowing Him, without being His. He made us, we are His. He loves everyone so much. We talked about what Jesus did in His life here on earth and in His death. The joy of His resurrection and that He will be coming again. "But still... the other ones, Mom."

I told Meredith that crying for the people who do not know Him is a good thing. It signifies a squishy heart, one that is not made of stone. It helps us to always be watching for when the Father makes a way for us to share. I told her that is where the peace lies in this situation - asking the Father (as she prays for the other ones) to help her be ready to share, not to miss an opportunity, to know what to say, and to have the courage to speak up.

She nodded and smiled and headed upstairs again, only to return to me again with a paper in her hand. She has written something in her own words with those who don't know Jesus in mind.

I have asked permission to share it here and will do that tomorrow ♥

Thursday, August 13, 2015

four days and counting

Where did the summer go? I cannot imagine how, but it is mostly behind us now. The sweetlings and I begin our next schooling adventure on Monday! I am excited and a little nervous, and it all looks really enormous right now. For my part, things will settle in in a couple of weeks, and I will remember that I know something about doing this - lol! I wonder if the sweetlings feel that way, too? ^_^

We will have three weeks of getting used to our new school routine, and then the classes and activities begin. This year marks a real branching out for us. We are adding some things to our schedule (!!!), and we are all looking forward to the fun.

This year is also our final year before one begins high school, and it's our first year with all three in the same cycle. My heart aches with the passing of milestones even as I am delighted to see the sweetlings learning and growing so well.

OK, gotta stop writing right now. The big picture is making me teary and my "to do" list is a bit too involved to allow for a big cry. Pray with us? We are all in joyful anticipation of what the Father will do with our next ten months or so ♥


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

magic emeralds in the death star?

Cutest sweetling moment of the afternoon...

Ila came around the corner to my desk toting Samuel's Lego Death Star. She had rigged it with a string so that she could carry it like a purse. She sidled up to me and the following exchange took place in whispers:

I: Do you want to see the secret inside?
Q: Absolutely!

(Ila opens the Death Star to reveal a bright green ball that is actually Lloyd the Ninja's dragon's breath)

Q: What is it?
I: It's magical! It's an emerald!
Q: In the Death Star?
I: Mo-om, it's not the Death Star right now, it's a secret safe treasure holder.
Q: I see! Good idea!
I: That's right! No one would EVER guess that the magical emerald is in there.

(Ila walks away tucking the "magical emerald" into her pants pocket)

Q: Are you moving the "you know what" to your pocket?
I: SSssshhh, Mom! Yes!
Q: Why?
I: So all the villains won't find it, of course!

At the time of this writing the magical item of note is no longer in the Death Star or in her pocket. So curious to know where the sacred dragon's breath is now --hopefully still safe from all the villains ♥

Monday, August 10, 2015

from the caverns

My pastor shared this yesterday...

"No matter how dark a place may be,
it only takes a little light
to make a big difference."
~J. Bridges ♥

O to be a little light ♥

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

that's my dad

Spent the most delightful three and a half hours or so today. Enjoyed it more than I can express here, but I am going to take a turn at trying anyway ^_~ There were enormous, toothy smiles all around mixed with laughter. There were heart-deep discussions. We giggled and teared up. We talked health, friends, our own hearts, blessings, the tough stuff. Our family history is always woven in, and we cherish remembries together of so many of our own who are with the Father now. They are always present with us whenever we are together.

And his face. The way he smiles. The way he throws his head back to laugh. The lines - the glorious laugh lines. The way his heart shines full force when he speaks of the things the Father has done. The way he shares about the Father, oh the loveliest pictures of the Father in his face, in his memory, in his words, in his every days. His expression when he sees the sweetlings. His eyes, so much love there.

Just. so. much. love.

I am so proud of him, to be his daughter, to be his friend, to be becoming alongside him. I am so thankful for him. Just so very, very thankful ♥


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

it is He

"...when we find ourselves most hopeless, the road most taxing, we may also find that it is then that the risen Christ catches up to us on the way, better than our dreams, beyond all our hopes.

For it is He, not His gifts, not His power, not what He can do for us, but He Himself -- who comes and makes Himself known to us.
And this is the one pure joy for those who sorrow.

He makes something redemptive out of our broken hearts,
if those hearts are offered up to Him."

In my thoughtful spot again today with EE.
So grateful for the perspective ♥