Category Archives: Spiritual Blessings

Time for a change…

…if you’re looking for fresh posts from me, you can find them over at be.loved chronicles starting now!  http://belovedchronicles.com/

Don’t worry, you can still read all my old posts here at Blessings for awhile longer.  Looking forward to seeing you at my new blog!

Jen


Bike Ride

We took the kiddos on a bike ride/jog this evening.  Olivia learned to ride her two-wheeler!  Beautiful weather and scenery, tho we were a hot mess all over the trail.  I felt sorry for the other joggers, walkers, and bikers as they tried to politely maneuver around us.  We saw a couple of friends along the way and managed to get in a good workout and wear out the kiddos at the same time.  Hubs has been taking the older four on the trail quite a bit this summer, letting me stay behind to catch up on chores or sleep or just enjoy some peace and quiet.  I’m so glad I joined them today!  I couldn’t help but praise God the entire time…for His faithfulness to us, for our beautiful kids, for our marriage, for so many good and perfect gifts.

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Remember

I was at home, dressed and ready for work, but resting my weary pregnant body on the couch.  I was flipping through the TV stations when Katie Couric said something about planes flying into buildings.  I don’t remember many details about the rest of that day, but I do remember rubbing my belly all day, wondering what kind of world my baby was about to be born into.

The fears of that day have long subsided, but I haven’t forgotten the effect they had on me…on so many others.  I haven’t forgotten how bonded I felt to total strangers, just because we were all Americans.  I haven’t forgotten how good it was to hear Hubs’ voice on the phone that day, or how good it felt to feel his strong arms around me that night.  I haven’t forgotten how fervent the prayers were the next Sunday, or the hundreds of flags hung on houses, in stores, from vehicles.  I haven’t forgotten how faithful God was to calm my fears and how His name was invoked by so many.  I haven’t forgotten.

This morning, I took our girls and a friend to see the 9-11 lawn memorial at our nearby college.  I was moved to tears as I told them about the plane crashing into a field in Pennsylvania and the bravery of the people onboard.  The girls walked around the flags so quietly and reverently, stopping to read the story of a young woman who worked in one of the towers.  They asked a few questions, but mostly looked.  On the way home, I caught snippets of the two oldest girls talking about mission work and wondering aloud if it would have mattered if someone had explained who Jesus is to the terrorists.  I love that they were so sure that it would have mattered.  I love that it was the first thing they thought of.  I love them.

Today, we all remember…the grace of God, the Love that drives out fear, the sacrifice of Jesus.  We remember.

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Helpful Homeschooling and Learning Links

This is our sixth year of educating our kids at home and while I would never consider myself an expert, I have come across a few websites that have helpful information and/or games.  I always appreciate it when others share what’s working for them…that’s probably the way I found most of these sites!  So to the homeschool mama or the mama who just wants to help her kids learn better, here we go!

1.  VARK    As part of their Fall assessments, the online school we are using this year asked the kids to complete a VARK questionnaire.  While I don’t know a lot about the founder of this system, the questionnaire portion of the website has been so helpful to us.  Our youngest school-aged daughter seemed so bored with her studies.  We discovered that she scored high in the kinesthetic area of this quiz.  Basically, she likes more hand-on learning experiences.  Incorporating more activities that involve puzzles, alphabet tiles, and math counters has helped get her more engaged in the learning process.

2.  Orisinal:  Morning Sunshine  Sometime, you just need something to occupy one of your kids for a few minutes while you work with another child.  Our kids can earn time to play on the computer and this is one of their favorite places to spend that time.  All the games are clean and the music is just lovely.  There are about 60 games to choose from…my favorites are the cats and the train:)

3.  Free Rice   Free Rice is a site with a LOT of great learning quizzes.  For ever correct answer, 10 grains of rice are donated to the World Food Programme to help end hunger.  Our kids LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this site!!!  I challenged them to earn 10,000 grains of rice each and they are nearly halfway there:)  They especially love the foreign language quizzes.

4.  Math Blaster  Organized by both grade level and skill, Math Blaster has helped my kids hone their skills in an area that might have been tricky for them.  They also offer worksheets you can print for extra help.

5.  Home Spelling Words  I used this last year instead of ordering spelling workbooks.  It worked beautifully.  I also appreciated that I could customize the lists, incorporating words from the books they were currently reading.

6.  Homeschooling Methods  One of the biggest choices we faced when we began teaching our own children was concerning the method we would employ.  This site gives a decent overview of the variety of methods without trying to sell the reader on a particular path.  We chose a “classical” method, but have adapted to a much more fly by the seat of your pants “eclectic” method as we have come to understand our children as learners and ourselves as teachers.  At any rate, this is a nice, compact way to learn about a variety of homeschooling options.

7.  Just Good Reading  There are tons and tons of great books out there.  Tons.  This is a good little post about great classic children’s books.  I could compile my own, but why? 🙂   As a side note, I also really love a lot of things about Passionate Homemaking’s blog…great ideas about simplified homekeeping.

I’m sure there are more great sites out there…what are your favorites?  I’d love to hear about them!

 


The Boy is Four!

Sweet Boy, you turned four today.  Four years of loving, laughing, changing.  You challenge me.  You make me pray.  You are honest.  You make me laugh so hard my stomach hurts.  You are LOUD, dirty, wild.  I love watching you with your baby sister.  I love how you have started conquering the world around you.  I love…you.  Happy birthday, sweet Samuel.

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And so we had another baby…

A nice, long bloggy break was long overdue.  Time to write for myself, for God, for no reason at all.  And time to live this life, instead of just recording what seems note-worthy.

And time to have another baby.

Sweet Selah (say lah) Joy joined us in early July…also overdue, but full of God’s goodness and faithfulness.  I wonder so much these days…How did our family ever feel complete without her in it?

I am spending these days connecting truths…the mothering truths God has already shown to me, to truths I am seeing now.  Wrestling in the familiar tug-o-war of flesh (I need sleep! and coffee! and clean clothes, for Pete’s sake!) and spirit (lay down…die to self…love others.) Watching my older children change before my eyes…my babies holding my baby.

More thoughts on mothering and discipleship and the goodness of God to come….for now, a little peek into our world.

Blessings, friends.

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Pregnant Pause

Pregnant.

Not exactly the Thanksgiving news I was expecting.  I wasn’t expecting to be expecting again.  In fact, I expected the next baby born into our family to be a grandchild!

After the shock wore off (and that took a few weeks), I battled with some unexpected feelings.  I wanted the baby…was already in love with this little person…but did not want to be pregnant.  Did not want to go through 9 months of feeling…bleh.  Swollen feet.  Sleepless nights.  Aching back.  Fatigue.

I also battled with feeling overwhelmed.  Mother to five?  It took a good year for me to understand how to manage the four I have now. And I feel…old.  Really.  At nearly forty, pregnancy and childbirth is a different experience.  To start all over 10 years after our oldest was born…it was all a little hard to take in.  I even think Hubs (who is Mr. Laid Back) was a little overwhelmed at the thought of adding another person to the dinner table.

I navigated nauseously through the holidays, taking daily cat naps and going to bed at 8.  We had our first OB appointment with a new doctor (Dr. Laid Back) close to Christmas, complete with a peek at our newest family member, affectionately dubbed “Baby Cinco.”  Still, I was wrestling with the prospect of our family growing and…changing.

About this time, the Lord started to speak to me about pausing.  As I’ve prayed about how to pause and be still and wait on the Lord, I’ve also confessed my lack of enthusiasm about being pregnant.  Grateful for this new life…just wishing it didn’t require the accompanying pregnancy and limitations.  I’ve grieved over a writing conference I was planning to attend…about 2 weeks after this baby is due.  Been disappointed not to be able to take a planned trip to California…Hubs’ mind will be more at ease of I stick closer to home.  Wrestled over the fact that a photography class I wanted to take would require me to crawl around on the floor at 8.5 months pregnant…not a likely scenario.

Basically, I’ve had a hard time putting things I want to do on pause.

Selfish?  Maybe.  Maybe I wanted those things for myself a little too much.  Maybe I felt like I deserved them.  Mostly, I think I have struggled because I thought I understood where God was leading me…out of diapers and sippy cups and toddler-hood and into being able to do some things a little more independently.

But, that isn’t the path I find myself on.  It doesn’t feel like “no,” but rather “not yet.”  And that is hard.  Harder than I really want to admit.  Harder than I like.  I’d really like to joyfully embrace whatever God has planned for me, however He has it timed.  But, in reality that isn’t exactly where I find myself.  I don’t doubt God’s plan is the very best for me and for my family…just having a hard time getting enthusiastic about it.

So, in this pregnant pause of sorts…I wait.  For the Lord to change my heart.  For Him to speak to me.  For Him to revive me, strengthen me, fill me with.  I wait for this baby…who will he or she be?  How will mothering and loving this person change me…change us all?  What new things of God will I learn?

I wait.  With hope.

Father, thank You for You.  Thank You for this pause…though I don’t fully understand the purpose.  I trust You in it and with it.  Change me.  Help me to know you more.  Fill me with Your Spirit.  Revive my heart.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.


2012 Word for the Year: Pause?

The last few years, I’ve read about and enjoyed posts from friends (and bloggers I admire) who have chosen a word to focus in on for the year.  Some of them have blogged about gratitude, joy, contentment, relationship, peace, and purity.  Their posts and transparency have blessed me and encouraged me.  As this new year dawned, I prayed and asked the Lord if He had anything…a word, a concept, a verse…that He wanted me to focus on for the year.  Over and over again, the same word and concept kept coming to the surface.  Ready for it?  It’s a beaut…

Pause.

I know, I just blew your mind.  What an amazing, spiritual concept, right?

Actually, I was pretty confused at first.  Okay, Lord.  Pause?  That’s not exactly the word I was looking for.  I was thinking of something more glamorous…like Kindness, or Mercy, or Grace.  But, Pause?  What am I supposed to do with that?!

And that’s the point…He doesn’t want me to do anything with it.  He wants me to pause.  Wait.  Stop.  Think.  Reflect.  Look around.  Listen.  Observe.

Pause.

The more time I’ve spent praying and studying the Word, looking back through my journals and study notes, the more I realize that I’ve been doing a lot.  A lot of ministry, a lot of teaching, a lot of mothering, a lot of counseling…a lot of activity.  It isn’t that I think any of the things I’ve done have been done with wrong motives or out of step with God, but it’s been a busy, busy season.  Really busy.  Sometimes you need to stop and just…breathe.

That part I get.  The breathing part.  The part where I look up from my trek up the mountain and stop to enjoy the view.  The part where I stop to smell the roses, feel the warmth of the sun on my face.  I get that part.

But a whole year of…pausing?  Ummm…how is that going to work?

Really, I don’t know yet.  It is, after all, January 11.  I’ve had about 10 whole days to really reflect on this:)  But this is what I do know:  before I make any commitments, offer to help, pick up the phone to counsel another woman, start my day teaching my kids…I’m pausing.  Sometimes it’s just for a moment.  To thank God.  To ask God for His leading.  Sometimes, the pause is longer.  To ask the Lord if this is what He wants me to do.  To ask God to provide for the need of another if it clearly isn’t for me to do.  For wisdom to know what His will is.

Pause.

And though it’s only been a few days, the pause feels good.  Hard…but, good.  Hard to say “no.”  Hard to say “not yet.”  Hard to watch without doing.  Hard to find my value in Christ without doing for Christ.             But so very good.

Loving God, thank You for this pause.  Thank You for reaching out to me in truth.  Thank You for showing me the truth about myself.  Forgive me for doing for You, more than knowing You.  Help me learn to wait.  Help me learn to look.  Help me.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Birthday Gifts

I really wanted to start celebrating my birthday differently.  By giving instead of receiving…I’ve already received this beautiful gift of life.  So I made a little list…most of it I was able to accomplish today.

  • Crafts with each of my kids
  • Art for an artist friend
  • 10 dollar bills planted in the toy aisle of the dollar store
  • Cookies for our 2 elderly neighborss
  • Choosing 10 friends to lift in prayer today
  • Organizing Hubs’ dresser drawers
  • A phone call to someone feeling lonely this first holiday without a loved one
  • Food for a family in need
  • Cookies for our letter carrier
  • Thanking my mama for loving me every day of my life
  • Buying baby #5 his or her first book
  • Starting a crochet project for a dear friend
  • Homemade play dough for 3 of the kids’ playmates
  • 2 anonymous care packages

And if you can count that high, you’ll know just how many years I celebrated today!


December Rose

She’s holding on fiercely through wind, rain, snow, ice.  Clinging to the vine that climbs wildly around the railing of our wrap-around porch.  She’s a beauty, though.  A spot of crimson against the dreary landscape.  A little bit of hope, a reminder of warmer, sunnier, brighter days.  December rose…

And then there’s this December Rose…

And she is so lovely.  Her bright eyes, warm smile.  Her tender heart, her generous spirit.  10 Decembers ago, I held her in my arms, wondering how I would mother such a wonder.  Would I teach her well?  Would I know how to help her grow into the woman God means for her to be?

And now I know…it is she who is teaching me well.  It is she who is showing me how to be the mother God means for me to be.  It is she (and her sisters and brother) who challenge what I know about love and grace and forgiveness and compassion.

Today, I held her in my arms (all nearly five feet of her!) and wondered still at the marvel of who she is.  Her beauty, her gifts, her spirit.  Beautiful.  I see now that the baby, toddler and little girl I have loved is just a preview of what is to become…who she is becoming.  It…she…takes my breath away.

December Rose…