Monday, February 27, 2012

Where Do Your Affections Lie?

We are blessed to have some excellent, thought-provoking sermons Rockport Baptist Church.  A few weeks ago, one of our elders-in-training (yes, elders and deacons go through a time of "testing" here, they don't just get the job because they are related to someone, or friends with someone, or tithe big, but I digress.....) Tim Dickmann delivered a sermon titled Seeking Christ.  The text for the sermon is Colossians 3:1-4,
3:1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

I have listened to this several times, and have pondered it over the last month.  

Am I setting my mind on the things above, instead of the things of the earth?  Am I engrossed in seeking Christ?  Above all else?

Where do my affections lie?  Our affections for the world diminish our affections for Christ.  Likewise, our affections for Christ will diminish our affection for the things of this world.

Where are my affections?  Do I do a bit of Bible study in the morning and then figure I've taken care of that for the day?  Go to church on Sunday and think that I've done my job and that should tide me over until next week?

No, a thousand times no.  I want my day to be filled with seeking Christ, in all that I do.  I want my affections to be for Him alone- my husband, the children, the work (even the schoolwork) can all wait - they must be put in their place. If something else is taking the place that Christ is to have in my life then I need to be violent with that, and remove it.  Lest someone misunderstand- does that mean that I should sit in my chair with my Bible all day, while my house falls apart, my husband is neglected and my children starve?  Of course not.  But it means that my desire is for Christ and that as I go about my day, I serve in order to glorify him.  My love and care for my family is to be a reflection of my love for Christ.  Without  Christ, I am unable to truly love them.  

This ties in with some of my ponderings the last few weeks about Martha.  You know Martha.  Overworked, trying to make a perfect dinner party, while Mary sits around.  Poor Martha.  I have always thought that Martha got a bum rap.

But wait - what is this - 
Luke 10:40-42

40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Christ was not chastising her for making dinner, or even for complaining.  But Martha was distracted.  Distracted - to have her mind stirred up or confused with conflicting emotions or motives. 

Her busyness, her projects, her worldly ambitions - these things distracted her from the one thing that is necessary - Christ.  

Can I say I love Christ if I do not sit at His feet?  Or care for His word?  If I do not spend time with him?  If I do not seek to obey, honor and glorify him in all things?  If I don't show love for the brethren?   I don't want to be distracted, I don't want my affections to be diminished by a love of this world.

 All things to ponder.

If you want to hear this wonderful preaching, here is the link:

It is Monday - What Are You Reading This Week?

This past week I finished The Hunger Games trilogy.  I have many thoughts about the books, which I will elaborate on later this week when I do the reviews for February.  I gave up on Organized Simplicity.  The littles and I finished Pippi Longstocking last night.  Tonight it is Henry's turn to pick our next read aloud.  The bigs and I are in chapter 5 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and we only read 15-20 minutes a night, so I expect we will be in that for a good month.

Saturday I started Hannah Fowler, by Janice Holt Giles.  This was highly recommended to me by a friend. As a matter of fact, she brought her copy to me and insisted I read it - and her copy was so "much beloved" that she carried it in a ziplock bag, to keep the cover and pages together!  I did take the liberty of taping the book together.  I am on chapter 2, and so far I think this is going to be one that has a place in my permanent library.  It is a pioneer story, my favorite kind. So far it reminds me of The Tall Woman, by Wilma Dykeman, another favorite book (and one that I am going to insist that my friend read in reciprocation!)

Other than that, I have put several books on hold at the library.  We live in a rural area that is not served by a public library.  There are several small libraries in the nearest town (only 15minutes away) that I could pay $20 a year for privileges too, but I pay $60 a year for the system that is 30 minutes away.  I have only been getting there once a month or so (our chess club meets there), so I may have to consider getting the other membership as well.  I find it somewhat vexing that I pay over $1,500 annually in real estate taxes for a school district I don't use, and still have no access to a free library.  Where is Andrew Carnegie when we need him?  (Okay, he is dead, I know that.).

As chess club is this week, I am anticipating picking up a handful of books.  I put several on hold, based on my recommendations.

Is anyone else completely loving Goodreads?  I think this has changed my life!

So.......what are YOU reading this week?

Monday, February 20, 2012

What Are You Reading This Monday?

It's another week - and where are those bookmarks moving?

I finished The Hunger Games last week, and started Catching Fire.  I am about 1/3 of the way into it.  I don't love-love-love these books so far.  I enjoy them, they are different from what I usually read.  We'll see how I feel when the series is over.

I also downloaded an ebook today from Generation Cedar, a short devotional book for moms. I will fit that in somewhere.

Last night the big guys and I started Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  As this is over 700 pages, we will be in that for quite some time.

And that is all that is new on the book front here.  What are you reading today?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I Hate Accounting

I have just spent over NINE HOURS of my Saturday at this computer, with piles of paper around me, getting all my information updated in Quickbooks.  I am not only assembling things from the last 8 months or so that I neglected, but am going back and fixing mistakes that I made years ago (before I knew what I was doing...hey, wait....).

Being self-employed definitely has its' ups and downs.  Today is a downs.

I have a headache, my eyes hurt, my shoulders hurt and I have barely talked to the boys that are home today.

Nevin is going to bring Chinese food.  I think I am done for today.  I am ready to escape this thing, take a shower, and put on my jammies and wait for my Chinese food to arrive.

Good night, all!

The Week In Review

The title makes it sound like something really important and newsworthy happened, doesn't it?  But it didn't.  Life was gentle this week.

Sunday was church, and an excellent service. Here is the link to the sermon.  After church we hung out and then the boys went to Awana, I went grocery shopping, and Nevin went to Systematic Theology.  Can I admit that I am looking forward to Awana being over this year so that I can start going to Systematic Theology as well?  In the meantime, our pastor is putting the lessons on the web and we have the textbook, so I can study on my own.

Did school this week, everything seems to be moving along.  I printed up the workshop schedule for the Greater St. Louis Home Educators Expo.  Next year I have my first high schooler, so I want to attend workshops on transcripts, college requirements, dual enrollment, SAT, etc.  It seems like just yesterday I was at my first homeschool meeting, with a four year old and two year old son.  Now they are thirteen (fourteen in a few weeks) and twelve, with an eight (soon to be nine) and a seven year old, too.  How did this happen so fast?  The Expo schedule got me looking at the vendors, got me pricing curriculum for next year.  This is about the point in each year when I start thinking about next year.  I don't know why, we still have four months left in this one (I run our year July 1-June 30).  But, hope springs eternal.

Tuesday was Valentine's Day.  We don't get crazy, but Nevin always gets me a little something.  This year a beautiful pot of red tulips and a big heart of chocolates.  What a guy!  I also got my hair done, went out for Mexican with one of my girlfriends, and then went to my ladies' Bible study.

Wednesdays are always crazy here.  I start picking up the house and getting ready around 7, and my science co-op starts at 9:30.  Fourteen students, ranging from 10-15 years old.  It can get wild, but I think they are learning something.  I am, anyway.  Then a quick lunch and start food for our Wednesday night fellowship.  We head out the door to guitar lessons in the afternoon.  Ben does guitar, Tony uses the weight room, and the littles meet up with some of their friends to play in the gym.  Then back home, fast showers, finish up food and head out for fellowship.  I love our c-(community)group.  We eat a meal together, then have a time of singing, sharing, Bible study (we are in 1 Corinthians) and prayer.

Nevin has been working on the church all week.  We have a very small fellowship hall that we have outgrown, so they are knocking out walls and re-arranging spaces and Sunday School rooms.  He has been taking the older boys to work with him.  Today he and Tony are gone for the day, yesterday Ben was gone.  Even though they miss "school", they are still learning.  I log construction work as "shop".  It is an elective, not a core course, but it still counts.  It is a shame, so many of the things that they do are elective in the eyes of the state, but to me they are the most important things.  Bible study, physical education, shop - these are what makes them.  The time they spend with the Word, the time spent exercising their bodies and in fellowship, and especially the time learning to work with other men.  I think these things are much more profitable than say.....diagramming sentences.  Sorry, Jennifer, had to toss that one in there!

And today, what am I going to do?  Well, I have a pile of accounting work to complete, a list of things for the business that need to be done and haven't, reports to compile, documents to file and assemble.  So I think most of my day is going to be spent at the table with my laptop and accordion files and color-coded files and calculator.  Part of being a small business owner, all this business stuff.  I am sort of curious to see how we did last year.  Sort of.  It was an incredible and unusual year, to say the least.

I guess I'd better get on it - there are animals looking in the door waiting to be fed and things to get done.

You have a lovely weekend, too!

Monday, February 13, 2012

It is Monday! And Where are Your Bookmarks This Week?

Some good reading going on this week.  In the last few days I have managed to read about 2/3 of The Hunger Games.  I had lots of bonus points at Scholastic from my Christmas purchases, so I got the trilogy, in the slipcase (woohoo, Buddy!).

Side note for bathtub readers - if you set your brand-new, never-opened, paperback copy of The Hunger Games on the edge of the tub, and there is a small pool of water there, the pages will puff up and not want to go back into the slipcase. Just an fyi.  Bathtub reading is why I am a Kindle hold-out!

Anyway, so far, it is really good and I am formulating all sorts of deep thoughts on it.  Will articulate those at my end-of-the-month roundup.

Between last Monday and today I also read The Pioneer Woman: From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond.  Again, review will be in the roundup.  It did not cause any deep thoughts.

Still reading my Bible studies, including (and especially) Knowing God by J.I. Packer. I HIGHLY recommend this book. I am on chapter 5, and it has already given me many things to consider.  I am reading it along with a sister in Christ, and looking forward to being able to discuss it together.  I love how the Lord encourages us not only with His word, but through the study and talents of other believers.

Still on Pippi Longstocking and Prisoner of Azkaban, but I think we will finish this Harry Potter in a few days.  The boys are excited - they love the books, and we do not watch the movie until after we finish the book, so they are looking forward to seeing it.  Next weekend, maybe????

I have not read any Organized Simplicity this week.  It may sit with the bookmark not moving for a few weeks, until I have time to do some of the activities.  When I get more organized.  Such a catch-22.

And.....what are YOU reading this week?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Chowder

This recipe comes from my good friend, Julie Bird.  Her husband Eric is the Pastor at Bloomsdale Baptist Church, in Bloomsdale, Missouri.  As the mama to 6 (so far), she knows how to make food that is quick and delicious.  She calls this "Corn Chowder" but I think the chicken and the south-of-the-border flavors should get the main emphasis.

Chicken Tortilla Chowder

1 1/2 lbs chicken breast
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
3T butter
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 cup hot water
1/2 to 1 tsp cumin
2 cup half-and-half
2 cup (8 oz) Monterrey Jack cheese (I personally prefer pepper jack)
1 can cream corn
1 can whole kernel corn
1 4 oz can chopped green chiles, undrained
1 medium tomato, chopped (I also like to substitute a can of Ro-Tel, drained)

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.  In a large pot, brown chicken, onion and garlic in butter until chicken is no longer pink.  Dissolve the bouillon in hot water.  Add to the pan along with the cumin; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Cook and stir over low heat until cheese is melted.

Serves 6-8.  I like to serve with a salad and some nachos!  Fiesta!

Saturday Morning on the Homestead

Good morning from our little corner of the world.  Saturdays are usually our "slow" days here.  Nevin usually (always) has a project of some sort going- today is the Men's Breakfast at church, then he will be moving some furniture, and then home for the day.

The boys are just now stirring.  We had an overnight guest, and he was up about 7.  My guys, though, are not early risers unless they have to be. And on Saturday, they usually don't have to be.

It is clear and cold today.  Here is the view off my front porch as the sunshine was just starting to spread.

The shop, the playset, the remains of the garden, asleep for the winter

And, here is the back deck view

My first morning project is my daily Bible reading.  I am using a plan from the YouVersion app.  I am also currently reading Knowing God by J.I. Packer.   Excellent book.

I also wanted to update our ongoing science experiment for the co-op I do on Wednesdays.
We have glasses of bouillon here - one also has salt, one vinegar, one is refrigerated, and one is a control.  The control is full of bacteria.  I only have this out to photograph, otherwise I grow bacteria in the laundry room cabinets.  Below the glasses are two slices of banana. One just has water on it, one has yeast.  Did you know yeast is a fungi, and a decomposer?  Yep, and it is eatin' up some banana.

All the animals have been fed and watered.  Hunter seems particularly content in his bed.  Daisy and Hunter like to spend most of their time in the shop with Nevin, but he is not home so they are locked out now.  They will be so happy when he gets home and lets them in.  Around here we don't have barn cats (even though that is what I call them) - we have shop cats.

And for the piece-de-resistance: breakfast.  Today it is sausage, nice fresh eggs from our hens, and I mixed up some biscuits.  Yum, yum.

Saturdays are my slow days - time to do accounting/bookwork for our business, time to update our school   records and plan a little for next week, time to plan a menu and grocery list.  Today, some of this may be curtailed, as it is also a BIRTHDAY here - my #2 son turned 12 today.  He got to pick the cake (chocolate layer cake) and the dinner (Chicken Tortilla Chowder), so I have a bit of baking and wrapping to do today.

I will post the recipes later today, though!

Have a glorious Saturday!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Is Learning Dangerous??

I was very impressed with this article today.  I do follow the Ladies Against Feminism blog, and while I don't agree with everything posted there, overall I find it refreshing and thought-provoking.

The link below is to a post from the Botkin sisters,

homeschool graduates, speakers, writers and authors of this book:

in response to an email they received.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Field Trip!

 Just a few pictures from our trip to The Magic House this week.  Once a month there is a Homeschool Morning.  The upside is that it is only $3 and it is generally not too crowded.  The downside - only two hours.  Last year I went twice so I could spend time on the younger kid stuff with my little guys, and then the second time to hit all the "big" kid stuff.

My crew, plus a few friends.  Tony is a good sport to get his picture taken in the Magic Tree House area, especially since he was about a foot taller than most people there!

The kids really  had a good time.

And, just to keep me humble..........

Monday, February 6, 2012

It is Monday! What are you reading this week?

I did one start-and-put-down last week - The Fairy Godmother, by Mercedes Lackey.  I love fairy tales re-told (I am devoted to ABC's Once Upon a Time series) but this was......dull.  I gave it about 50 pages, then dumped.

The littles and I started Pippi Longstocking last night, and the bigs and I are still in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  I am moving forward slowly in Organized Simplicity. I want to take it all in before I start organizing my life, and it is giving me a few things to chew on.

My biggie for the week is Knowing God by J.I. Packer.  This book is on my "goal" list for this year, and so far (2 chapters) I am really getting a lot out of it.  A thorough review will be provided at the end of the month.  But for now, suffice it to say that it is NOT stuffy or sleep-inducing, but moves at a good pace and is very convicting.

I also have an ongoing Bible study by Kay Arthur and am on a regular reading schedule in the ESV Study Bible.  All my current books are in the Goodreads box on the right.

I am stopping by the library today, so there is a chance I may come home with something new, too.

And what are YOU reading this week?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Priorities, priorities

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."  Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV

Life this week has been turned around and upside down. After managing to wax philosophical about the changes in my plans on Wednesday, it seems like I should have been ready for the rest of the week.

It certainly seems that way, doesn't it?  But, not much went according to plan Friday, either.

We did get school done, yjough.  The highlight of the day was our Bible study.  I was listening to Glenn Beck.  I don't usually, because I think he is an alarmist, and slightly off his rocker.  But, he was talking about the crash of society as we know it, and God used that. God showed me clearly that I have not got our priorities right.  There are a lot of days that the kids and I will get math, science, social studies, etc. done - especially Tony and Ben, since they can do most of theirs on their own.  But Bible study requires all of us, it requires time and me sitting down and going through scripture with them.  And sometimes that gets missed.  I will tell them to do some reading, or work on their AWANA, but not sit down myself with them.  And really, what is our priority?  God's Word is always our first, or should be.  The rest will come, if we have our priorities in line. I get myself in a tizzy over the things of this world - preparing for the SAT for instance.  While it is good to teach them math, language arts, science, etc. it has to come second to God's Word.  The Word is eternal, all the rest of this is so temporary.  I say I want to prepare them for a future by educating them, but what sort of future is there without God?  None at all.  Anyway, when I got back home all I wanted to do was crash with a cup of tea and play on the computer for a bit, but we all got our Bibles and continued where we left off in John.  We are just going straight through that book, reading and discussing, and when we finish we will do another.  We also had a great time of prayer together.  The littles are not quite ready to pray out loud, but that is okay.

I should have more unplanned days.  This is good stuff.  The Lord truly ministered to me through the little trials that I had.  If I could just learn to keep my focus on Him and not on my own little plans and ideas, how much better the days go.  And how much more useful to Him I can be.  How much more in tune with His great purposes.

Friday, February 3, 2012

And here is what I read last month - January, 2012

Overall, a good reading month.  Six books completed, several in progress, a few started and tossed aside.  No 5 stars, but a few 4s.  And heeerrrrreee they are:

1.  I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia De Luce Novel by Alan Bradley.  I only gave this a 3 (Liked it).  These usually earn a 4+.  It started slow and never seemed to pick up.  The only really interesting parts were the clues about Dogger's past, and some light being shed on the feelings of Ophelia for her sister Flavia.  I will certainly read the next one.

I Am Half Sick Of Shadows: A Flavia De Luce Novel

2.  True Christian Motherhood an ebook by June Fuentes.  Another 3.  I guess I have read so many of these sort of books that it would have to be really outstanding for me to take notice.  This book is really a series of blog posts.  Would be good reading for a new Christian or new mother, just discovering these things.

3.  The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis - 4 stars (really liked it alot).
The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game
 I was surprised how much of the book WASN'T about Michael Oher - it really is about the evolution in game strategies in the NFL, and how that trickled down to college and high school teams and recruiting.  I was also surprised at how different the chronology of the lives of the Tooheys and Michael were from that portrayed in the movie.

The books really ARE always better, aren't they?

4.  The Importance of Being Seven (44 Scotland Street #6) by Alexander McCall Smith - 2 stars (it was okay).  Not as good as some of the others.  The continuing saga of Bertie is getting to be more than I can bear.  Can I admit that when his mother Irene disappeared I was really hoping she wouldn't be back??  I can't stand the sadness in his life, yet Bertie keeps trying, keeps hoping for things the rest of us take for granted - like a friend.  Maybe in book #7 his new friendship will bloom and his father Stuart will grow a backbone.  If I don't see some improvement, Mr. Smith, the next installment will be my last!
5.  Free Land by Rose Wilder Lane - 4 stars.  In case there is a bibliovore out there who doesn't know, Rose is Laura Ingalls Wilder's daughter.  She is also strongly rumored to be the true "author" of the Little House books.  Laura wrote out her memories, and the Rose edited and assembled them into book form.  If you compare "The First Four Years" to any of the previous Little House books, you can see the difference (Rose did not edit TFFY).

Free Land

Free Land contains many elements from the LH books and Laura's experience as a pioneer, but it is told from  an adult perspective, so it is considerably darker.  David and Mary are a young couple, earning their "free land" in the Dakotas in the 1880s.  David especially is based on Almanzo Wilder - same names for his siblings, growing up in the same places (NewYork and Minnesota) and even raising Morgans.  Many other elements of the LH books, such as the Hard Winter, play key roles in this story.

6.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, 4 stars.  This should probably be 5 stars, but I have read it so many times that some of the wonder has faded I guess.  This was one of my favorite books as a child, and I read it to my older boys a few years ago.  This month I read it to my 7 and 8 year old sons, and they loved it.  After we read the book we compared it to the movie (1971 version with Gene Wilder).  One of the best parts of my day is when I get to share some of my favorite books with my sons.  Even the older boys, who are turning 12 and 14 in the next few weeks still enjoy that time each night to soak up a good book together.

And that is it for me- what did YOU read?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Unplanned Day

Every so often, the unplanned happens in my well-planned life.

I really don't care for it.

Not that I can't be all happy-go-lucky, and a free spirit.  I can.  I do.  It's just......I like to plan ahead, pencil in my happy-go-lucky days on the calendar.

I guess I could say that I LIKE it when the unplanned pleasant things happen - unexpected friends coming by, a last-minute invite, a toss everything and go to the park day.

I don't like the unpleasant.  Sudden car malfunctions are the worst, in my opinion, but they are pretty infrequent.  Illness, on the other hand..........

With four kids, even with the relative shelter from germs that homeschooling provides, there is going to be illness.  Usually when you are trying to go out of town, or have something planned that you really need to attend.

Today we are fortunate that all I had planned was science co-op, guitar lessons and family fellowship tonight. This is the first science I have had to cancel, and we are over halfway through the year, so I guess that isn't too bad. Next week will be a lot of catch-up. There are six other moms who could be writing posts just like this, since they all got texts and emails early this morning that their entire morning was cancelled.

So, what to do today?  It was a very busy day, now it is a suddenly....not busy day.  I don't know yet who if any of our family is going to fellowship, so I don't know if I need to be cooking food to send with my husband.  I can certainly do school with the well people.  I have many "paperwork" projects that have been waiting for my attention.  Show me a homeschool mom that DOESN'T have some paperwork or record-keeping calling out to them.  Always a lot of housework that I could be getting done, too.  If all else fails, I can always read a book.

But for now, my husband is working in the shop, one kid (sick) is on the couch, one kid (not sick) is complaining about how our usual Wednesday plans got cancelled (his mother's son, I am telling you) and two more are still in bed.  Usually the house is getting really noisy about this time of day, but right now the loudest thing is the washing machine.  I think I am going to try to absorb some of this peace, for just a few minutes.