Homeschool Conference!!!

Look at all those beautiful little feet two people can create!

Look at all those beautiful little feet two people can create!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Orchestra of Life

Peace...
how does one find peace when the things we “know” or have become accustomed to change?
 Is it possible to feel peaceful when one’s world turns upside down?
When the things that brought peace originally-- now fill a soul with doubt and uncertainty,
how does one move on to find stability, understanding and a restful heart?


A very dear friend of mine has finally found peace in her world by doing the seemingly impossible. She has turned her world upside down; leaving all that represents normalcy to most of us.

After many years of marriage, she has left what in the beginning held all of her dreams and later held what stifled her most.

As I write those words, I feel tears coming on again.

Why?

Because I feel so saddened when I look at others whose marriages do not fulfill all the dreams and desires of their hearts. I feel sorrow that what should have made her feel safe, alive, happy, free to be herself, has been the driving force for her leaving. She and her husband failed to be the very best of friends…they didn’t connect…She didn’t feel the love she so needed. She felt restricted, felt she could not think or express or BE…
(there is always more to the story, but this will need to suffice)

I would usually find myself torn apart by such a thing as her leaving her marriage and have numerous times counseled other friends to DO ANYTHING but let this happen in their world.

This was a different situation.
I was surprised at how I felt.
Shocked at how the Spirit touched me and consoled me and spoke to me that this was right.

At first, I wanted to help her “save” her marriage,
to save her family, to save herself from “losing her life.”

BUT, as I spoke with her,
she had clarity that I’d never witnessed in her,
she could make decisions,
she seemed alive, vibrant, confident…
all the things she had struggled with during the years we have been friends.
She didn’t seem to be “losing herself”, she seemed to have found herself within this trial, she found the courage to recognize the princess who’d been still and silent deep inside, she was able to become what had been patiently waiting just under the surface.
This is not to say that she was happy about her choice…it tore her heart to the very core, but she had the resolve that this is what she was truly to do.
In losing her marriage, she was able to find herself.

Having been through similar experiences in my life, I found myself listening to her, crying with her and rejoicing with her that she has the strength and the courage to stand up for herself.
This has been very difficult simply because of the fact that we are very close friends with both of them. I love them both, I love their family. We’ve spent a great deal of time together as families…have beautiful memories that will never be the same without them being “together”, but I feel peace. Not that it is important for me to have peace… this is not about me. But, I do, and I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for this sweet blessing. I know that He is helping those close to her to feel her spirit, to be assured of her new-found peace, and to have an understanding that this is what is truly best for their family. (at least for right now)

Deep inside, I secretly pray that HE will work His amazing “magic” on them and that someday they will have the desire and the ability to mend what is torn in their marriage, but for now knowing that Heavenly Father is inspiring her decisions makes all those around her know that this is what is best.

I am writing this post for one reason
~ this sweet friend of mine asked me to write in my journal (this would be “my journal”) so that one day I could look back and recall the day that I had answered a friends prayers. Tears freely flowed once again…we had shared buckets of tears together at this point. Tears of sorrow, tears of joy, tears of knowing that change would “change our friendship” ~ not end it, simply change it (and not for the worse, just different)…there will need to be more effort in seeing one another.
At this point, I just have to say I REALLY DO NOT LIKE CHANGE!!!

Okay…moving onto a positive thought…

I marvel at how Heavenly Father answers prayers.
Many, many times I have prayed to be an instrument in His hands…
to help others who may be in need.
While another person (let’s use my friend as an example)
desperately prays for answers to her prayers.
The beauty in this is that He is up there and He uses us to bring things to pass ~
He inspires us to make a phone call when the other person needs nothing more than a listening ear,
he inspires us to “be there” at just the right times,
He inspires us to say just the words that are so needed to be heard at exactly the moment that would make all the difference.

My family had the opportunity to deliver my friends’ belongings to her new home…to see where she will be living…to see their children’s new bedrooms, their school, their neighborhood, their surroundings…

Another peaceful blessing for me.

Again, I know this is not about me, but this is my journal…and I am right smack dab in the middle of expressing all my thoughts and feelings... so I guess maybe it is a little about me.  ANYWAY ~

It was so fantastic to see her walk about, head held high, no doubt in herself, as she showed us her new home. Tears came again as they have many times and I’m sure many more will flow…but as I left her home this morning, I can honestly answer with a beautiful resounding Yes, peace can be found in the midst of some of the hardest trials that come in our lives…I see it in her sweet eyes.

Thank you Heavenly Father for allowing me to be an instrument in your hands and for all of those who have so tenderly played in the orchestra of my life.

I love to close my eyes and imagine this "orchestra"try it…think of all those wonderful people in your life who have added something special…mighty magnificent to picture isn’t it???? 
I am in awe...He's really got it all together up there!  So happy to be down here living it up!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Comments...

I have heard from several of you that you cannot post comments to my blog...
not sure what I've done...I couldn't even post comments myself!
How Completely FRUSTRATING!!!
Hopefully that situation is now rectified. 
I've been pushing all sorts of buttons trying to fix the problem...
I guess time will tell if I've made it better or worse.  
(keepin' my fingers & toes crossed!)

Maybe people like me don't deserve to have their own blog ???
What a horrible thought! 
But I do have to wonder when I can't even figure out the simplest things. 
Oh well...it's probably not gonna stop me from writing!
I love it way too much...
it's my "me time" and I think I'm a little too attached to pouring out my heart and writing about all the wonderful things life holds. 
I've always been horrible at keeping journals or scrapbooks,
never consistent,
always lose them,
get bored with them and want to start something fresh and new,
run out of money and can't create what I'd love...
so many silly excuses...
but with my blog not a single one of those problems exist. 
We must be meant for each other! 

Anyway, thanks for your patience...  Boy, I can even ramble on when I'm talking about something as simple as making a comment.  Better let you get onto something important and worthwhile in your life.  :0)

Hope you don't give up on trying to send me little notes, cause I LOVE 'em!!!    Chow baby!  ;)


Have a simply splendid week! 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Quotes

I have come across some of the most amazing quotes lately...

This may be due to the fact that I am very drawn to beautiful, inspiring quotes ~
I search them out,
when I see one on a wall, I MUST stop to read it,
when reading I am forever digging for those little gems. 
They just jump out at me wherever I am.

One that I particularly LOVE right now, in fact, I love it so much that it will have to find a "place" in my home to have it ever present...the only question is where and how should I do it???  I guess that's actually two questions if we're counting...anyway, moving on...here is this little piece that I'd love my kiddos to see on a continual basis:

DRUM ROLL .....................ready???


You have a heritage
           Honor it


You will meet temptation
            Withstand it


You possess a testimony
             Share it


You know the truth
              Live it

Don't you just love that??? 
When you read that don't you think to yourself,
"Self...your kids NEED to see this everyday!"
Well, maybe I am the only one, but I see this as so empowering, so enabling, so tender, so true, and most importantly as such a beautiful reminder of what is really important...

That's it...it MUST happen right away ~ how should I do it??? 
Vinyl?  Paint?  On the wall?  On a board? 
On a frame with spots for family photos?  On a mirror?  Or a magnetic board?  OR, Or, or...
Oh my goodness ~ too many choices!  HELP!!!!

Pres. Message for September

I just LOVE this time of year… planning, organizing and anticipating a fabulous school year! What could be better???


I love planning our school schedules, meals, devotionals, co-ops, outings, read-aloud books…the list just goes on and on. I thrive on the excitement and the energy that I receive while working so closely with the Spirit to have the “perfect” year ready for all of our kiddos.

That perfectly-planned-year always begins “perfectly” and then something happens (usually just after the lovely month of September comes to a close.) LIFE gets in the way!!! I don’t know why this has to happen time and again ~ completely frustrating!

Up until a couple of years ago, I couldn’t even identify “the problem,” I just knew it lingered year after year and usually showed its ugly head at the close of each September.

After many years of trial and error, I am finally able to put my finger on it…

The “problem” is simply Lack of Balance…

We, as homeschooling Momma’s, are doing one magnificent balancing act! To visualize all the many things that we are responsible for, I like to see each as a single balloon in a very large, beautiful bouquet...reds, pinks, purples, blues, greens, yellows and oranges…all floating about. I see myself down below them, giving a little pat here and a little pat there, and then running to catch a straggler or two, then before I know it there are another twenty million or so that are about to drop to the floor. It is during those exhausting moments that I find myself wishing for an extra hand or two! But wish as I may, I’m pretty certain that an extra arm isn’t going to spring out of my body. So how do we find that peaceful balance in our lives when this is what we face day after day?

“Fifty” children needing attention (all at the same time,)
Mountains & mountains of laundry,
Fantastic Home-Schooling Time,
Ever-Hungry Kiddos ~ Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks and more snacks and MORE snacks,
Meaningful Devotionals with our families and for ourselves,

Paying the bills, Grocery Shopping,
Running Errands, Visiting Teaching,
Planning time, Busy Callings,
Household chores ~ those toilets don’t clean themselves,

Running kids here and there and everywhere,
Time for Friends, (both for kids and MOM,)
One on one time with kiddos,
Family Time, Hubby Time,
and hopefully a little “Me Time”…

Okay, just the above sampling of our lives “balloons” seems BIG; our lives all resemble this list, along with many additions for the “season of life” we find ourselves in. When you think of all that is at your hand, does it make you flip out just a tad inside? Of course it does, but instead of being flipped out, take a big refreshing deep breath and look at the ins and outs of Motherhood in a different light. This is how I see it…

I am not responsible to keep all of these balloons floating by myself ~ I am just responsible to make sure they stay afloat and that our home and family function on a daily basis. I must simply oversee and manage “life” around my home. I don’t have to do all the cooking and cleaning and laundry and chores and running here and there and everywhere. I don’t have to be the all-knowing, do-everything, be-everybody’s-everything all day long, every day! It took me a while to realize this and at times I still find myself falling into that little trap of trying to fix everything for everyone. It is my job to teach our kiddos to be productive and active in the realities of family life.

If I attempted, day after day after day, to do all of these things on my own I would no longer have a lovely balance in my world…I would be a wreck physically, emotionally and spiritually!

Now, please do not get me wrong, I do believe that all these things still need to be happening around me. My home MUST be clean and well-managed. My children MUST be learning and functioning. My household bills, errands and such MUST be handled. Meals and a million snacks each day MUST be available. A little time for me to do my own study and exercise and pondering MUST present itself somewhere in the day. Time for my hubby MUST happen and time to love, cuddle, play, and interact with all of my kiddos MUST happen! The reason for the MUST’s is that these things bring happiness and joy to me and without them that all important balance is missing.

Sooo, how do we keep ourselves from dropping one (or many) of our “colorful balloons” during this amazing balancing act of ours???

Below is a list of some ideas that you might find helpful in keeping balance after September has come and gone and reality has rocked your little homeschool world!

Regular Planning time -- Many of us plan like crazy during the summer months to have a wonderful school year; do we continue to have that same drive and desire throughout the year? Do we have a time either weekly or monthly, whatever is needed, to re-visit those plans, finalize them, put them into action, or to go in prayer about anything that may need altered to meet the ever-changing needs of our kiddos? With a little planning on a regular basis we can be Successful and Happy the whole year through. We can keep a peaceful balance as we continue to assess what might need a little fixin’!

Learn to say no -- This may be the very hardest one for me… It has taken me many years to be able to realize that by saying no to others, I am saying YES to my kids. YES that they are my first priority. YES that their education is important to me. YES that I value them enough to be there for them and with them. I believe that we have to treat our homeschooling just as a paid teacher at a school treats hers. She cannot babysit a host of other kiddos while performing her task of teaching. She cannot leave to go visiting teaching in the middle of a class. She cannot drop class time because someone thinks she should be doing something of greater importance. She is there for those kids and they must be her priority. We are no different! The only difference is that we are not away and others may not recognize that we have a very, very full-time job within the very walls of our homes. Learn to say YES to your kiddos by saying NO to others. (I know it’s hard, just give it a try, the first 50 times you say No are the worst, then it gets a little easier—I think)

Don’t over schedule yourselves or your children -- Do we over schedule out of fear that our kids might be missing out on something? We need to be careful that we don’t find ourselves goin’ crazy enrolling our kids in every available program on earth! There are some fantastic opportunities for our kids and for us out there; just be a little picky on which ones will benefit your family most and be the least intrusive on your sanity!

Perspective -- In which perspective do you view your life? Is it in pieces, such as a puzzle? One little piece being the mom, another the homeschool mom, another the cook, another the maid, another the taxi cab driver, another the wife, another the friend, another the mentor, and so on. Or do you view your life as one big whole? When we live our lives not trying to fit school into our days and just let our lives be all about teaching our kids, it is easier, it flows, it is real and alive. Many times I have thought that homeschooling is our lifestyle, now I prefer to think of it in this way; our lifestyle is homeschool and what we do and focus on are the teaching moments of life. This is simply a change of perspective, not a change of educational standards or expectations.

And speaking of Expectations, we need to regularly evaluate our expectations of others, namely our husbands, children and even ourselves. Expectations play a powerful role in relationships, especially in marriage. They influence the way we relate and respond to each other. I often need to take a step back and question whether or not my expectations are unrealistic or unfair. I have a bit of a problem with needing perfection…I cannot attain the level of perfection I’d like to see in myself and it is unfair and stifling to expect perfection of my dear hubby or kiddos. On the flip side of this, it is vital that our kids understand our expectations of them. They need a clear, concise view of what we wish to see of them so that they can meet, and more than likely, exceed what we dream for them.

Time for fun – We need to lighten up and have more fun! Yes, it is possible to have fun with our kids during our days of homeschooling. Not all school work needs to be drudgery, some of it just is, but it doesn’t all have to be. It is so important for our kids to see their Momma have a great time, laughing, playing and enjoying life. We need to model these things for our kids, so in your planning time make sure you leave ample space for these wonderful moments!!!

Time with our hubbies -- Just so you all know, this one certainly should not come last on your list…it just so happens to as I am writing. Without that sweet man in your life you wouldn’t have all these kiddos to be worrying about homeschooling, you wouldn’t have the balancing act to be contending with, your life would be less than what it is. We must be intentional about our marriages – intentionality is more than scheduling time together. It is finding meaningful ways to connect emotionally to one another. It is more than just going out and gazing across the table at one another. It is so many things…it is about loving and cherishing your time together. Our marriages must come first so that our families can be strong and happy. Too often, homeschooling mothers get so wrapped around their kiddos’ lives that they forget that wonderful man that helped to bring those kids into the world. He must be the center of your world…date him as much as you possibly can, kiss on him, dance with him and let him know he rocks your world…YOU and your kids (and your hubby, but that goes without saying) will be better because of it.

In closing, I pray that you will have a perfectly-lovely-balance in your home and heart.
Not every day will be blissful and easy,
but if we have the perspective that our lifestyle is homeschool
and that our families are always at the center of our heart
life will be joyfully abundant!

Here’s to an amazing September & beyond...

August Message

"If ever there is a tomorrow when we're not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think, but the most important thing is, even if we're apart… I'll always be with you.”  Winnie the Pooh

I absolutely LOVE this quote…makes my heart swell with joy each time I read it. I would love to put it on vinyl or paint it up and hang it in our boys’ and girls’ bedrooms having it come from “Mom” so that they always remember how deeply I love them. When I read this little gem, I can’t help but reflect on motherhood, specifically, my role as Momma and how well I do or do not fulfill this all-encompassing role.

A few of the thoughts that have been running through my mind…

“What is it like to be my child?”
“If I were a child of mine, would I be happy?”
“Would I love being around me?”
“Would I feel loved by me?”
“Would I feel special?”
“Would I feel worthy and important?”
“Would I want to be with me?”
“Am I the kind of Mother I would wish to have?”
“Do they feel welcome, wanted, valued?”
“Can my children see the love I feel for them in my eyes and in my countenance?”

I love the following scripture; I added a couple of things that I feel help in fully understanding the significance: (When it just says “brethren”, it doesn’t do it for me, but adding in those that are “real in my world” makes it such a strong & deeply important scripture for me to pay attention to)

“Therefore, strengthen your brethren (Husband, Sons & Daughters)
in ALL your conversation, in ALL your prayers, in ALL your exhortations, and in ALL your doings. (D&C 108:7)

It is up to us, up to ME and YOU, to strengthen these little families of ours in ALL that we do…this scripture points out four areas of focus: I plan to address how to strengthen our children (hubbies will have to be covered at another time)…

First, Strengthen (your children) in all your conversation~ As we converse with our children, we have the ability to build them up or tear them down…let it be our goal to always lift them, to help them see the beauty and the potential they each possess. As I think of this, I also wonder if I am the kind of listener that they need, that they deserve. Do they feel that what they have to say is important and worthwhile to me or do I shut them down, making them feel less than important? Body language is another major form of communication that we must remember ~ are we standoff-ish toward them or do we portray a welcoming, approachable attitude toward our kiddos? Hopefully, they feel like they are walking into a Giant Momma Bear Hug when they see us!

Second, Strengthen (your children) in all your prayers ~ As we pray for these kiddos of ours, as we pour out our hearts in their behalf…I so firmly believe that Heavenly Father will hear our prayers and that he will come to the aid of our babies…they need our strength, our hope, our faith, our belief – especially of them! We must always pray for these special little spirits that have been sent to us!

Third, Strengthen (your children) in all your exhortations ~ As we address these little people of ours, we can do so emphatically, we can urge them in doing “something”, whatever that something may be, but again we can do this in a manner that is strengthening and not damaging to their little spirits. As mothers, we are sure to exhort our children numerous times in their lives, let it be felt with love and tenderness, leaving harsh and abrupt feelings behind, always remembering that we are to strengthen & uplift them.

And finally, the scripture says “In ALL your Doings”…Strengthen (your children) in all your doings~ well, that pretty much sums it up…IN ALL THAT WE DO, in all of our moments with our kiddos, or in thought of them, or in prayer for them, in each and every moment of each and every day we have the opportunity to bless the lives of our children by strengthening them and building them and assisting them in gaining their own living testimonies.

It is my prayer that our children will see and feel the love that we have for them
…that they will never have cause to doubt the love of a mother.
That if there is ever a tomorrow when we’re not together…
they will know we will always be right there with them.

Wishing you a fabulous end to your summer days and a splendid beginning to your adventurous school days!

My July Homeschool Message

The Oak Tree
by Johnny Ray Ryder Jr.


A mighty wind blew night and day.
 It stole the Oak Tree’s leaves away.

Then snapped its boughs

and pulled its bark

until the Oak was tired and stark.

But still the Oak Tree held its ground

while other trees fell all around.

Bare Dead Tree Clip ArtThe weary wind gave up and spoke,

“How can you still be standing oak?”

The Oak Tree said, “I know that you

can break each branch of mine in two,

carry every leaf away,

shake my limbs and make me sway.

But I have roots stretched in the earth,

growing stronger since my birth.

You’ll never touch them, for you see

they are the deepest part of me.

Until today, I wasn’t sure

of just how much I could endure.

But now I’ve found with thanks to you,

I’m stronger than I ever knew.”

As I contemplate the beauty and truths found in this simple poem, I feel a deep appreciation for the freedoms that we all share….

Living in the United States is a blessing, and we have the added blessing of living in Idaho ~ freedoms abound here!

We have the freedom to help our kiddos establish the strongest, deepest roots during our days with them. The powerful influence that a homeschooling mother has is beautiful and can help to sustain our kids through the most difficult of times. Mighty winds will surely challenge our will, our strength, our endurance; we may feel helpless as these storms torment and try us ~ BUT it is in these moments of struggle that we and our children will recognize what this little oak tree so tenderly stated, “I’m stronger than I ever knew!”

For the Little Oak, it was the mighty wind that finally, through complete exasperation, became weary as the Oak never wavered and continued to stand tall and firm. For us, the challenges come in many forms, but just as that little oak, with its deep roots was able to endure, so are we able to push through anything that may come our way. My prayer for our children is that we, as mothers, will help them in establishing (and recognizing) roots that will make the most horrendous, terrifying storms weaken at the sight of their strength and ability to endure ALL!