Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Swim Suit

I think it was third grade. My mom was an incredible seamstress. She could make anything from scratch. The product of her hands was beautiful and exquisite. In the summer of 1975 she decided to make a swimsuit for the first time - my swimsuit.

There was no "mixed bathing" allowed in our home. No, that did not mean taking baths together! Boys and girls did not swim together. I remember the time Sabrina had a swimming party. I begged to go. I was positive (wink wink) there would be no boys there. I borrowed a swimsuit from my friend in order not to be the laughing stock of the party and Crestmont Elementary. I knew I had pulled one over until my Mom showed up early to the party. Many girls, a few boys and me in my friend's swimsuit - definitely not the one my Mom had sewn.

Yeah. Not so good.

I just wanted to be like everyone else. I wanted a store bought swimsuit that did not hang half way down to my knees. It would be nice if the material was not so heavy it weighed me down in the deep end as I held my nose with flair and expertise.

But my Mom knew what I did not know. She had a corner on the market of modesty that I could not comprehend. I saw modesty as a set of rules. She saw modesty as an attitude of the heart.

It took many years of God working on my heart for me to understand modesty. I know I have more to learn.

One of the most eye opening books for me was For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn. My husband confirmed everything I read about how a man's mind works. From that point forward, I evaluated many things differently. As our daughter has grown, we have been honest with her about her clothing choices and the effects those choices have on boys and men. Like my Mom, there are limits I have set that are non-negotiable.

As for swim suits, I don't sew. I did find a company that makes modest and fashionable suits for young ladies - Lime Ricki Swimwear.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Cheerleader I Will Be!

We were walking over the weekend at one of our favorite spots in town. The trails are also used for bicyclists. One of our kids decided to take his bike for the first time on the trails. I was impressed with how well he did for a first timer.

We realized at one point there were four adult men behind us as we were about to go up a steep incline filled with stumps and built in stairs (I am sure there is an official name for these stairs, but I am clueless as to what it is!). We decided to pull off to the side of the trail and let the men pass.

Okay. A little back story on me. I am a southerner. I speak to everyone I see on a trail, especially those who would never ever speak first! And I am sure those people are from the north - no offense to anyone north of the Mason Dixon!

Back to the bikers.

As the first guy was making his way up the incline - and it was DIFFICULT - I was overtaken with my inner cheerleading self. I couldn't contain it. I might as well had pom poms and everything. It was bad. It was really bad.

I started clapping and cheering him on...

the birds stopped chirping, the squirrels stopped scratching...possibly the sun stood still

The guy was almost to the top, and at the onset of my fabulous cheer he sorta lost momentum. He did not wreck, if that is what you are thinking!! He just lost momentum and tried his best to get away from the cheerleader woman.

I was quickly reprimanded by my man. I didn't realize there was bike etiquette. I would gladly want someone cheering me on if I were going up that incline...which I cannot fathom doing any time in the next fifty years or so. But I would be thrilled for anyone to cheer me on.

I have laughed at myself (and my family will not let me live this down for a loooong time) ever since.

The cheering squad needs to come out more often. Monday mornings, for example. Instead of drudgery over a new week, how about a shout out for all the opportunities God has for us this week? Sometimes the cheering squad makes boys in this house want to accomplish a lot more than they thought possible, because this cheerleader believes in them. It is amazing how cheering over how well a dusting job was done or how well the laundry was folded does for a young lady. Cheering for the man who works hard all week so we can have a home, clothes, food, a car to drive, bikes to ride, and a vacation or two, does something for the level of respect the children show him.

Don't be mistaken. I fall short of wearing the uniform too often. I focus on what has not been done and what needs to be corrected more than the other.

But remembering how quick I was to cheer for the lone biker, makes me realize I need to be the cheerleader this week. I need to rally the troops. It is going to be a great one!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Verse For Everything

It was a busy week. I arrived home Saturday night from a wonderful retreat
with the ladies in my church. It was a great time, but I was starting to feel
a little run-down and worn-out. Sure enough, within a few hours I had a
big, fat head cold.

Feeling pretty miserable, I spent most of Sunday and Monday
recuperating and taking all my vitamins. By Wednesday, I was all
better, just in time for the next round of busyness.

In the next few days, I had to "pull-off" several things for my kids.
I had promised my third child a birthday playdate, since what I had
planned for her birthday in the fall had totally fallen apart when a
serious rainstorm had the nerve to ruin our family camping trip. So, I
had invited several friends over for a Thursday afternoon Valentine
birthday playdate complete with mini cupcakes and making Valentines.

Thursday night was spent helping my oldest daughter pack up her things
for her trip with The Classical School to Washington, D.C. She needed
clothes for 7 days/6 nights, plus snacks, thermal underwear, etc.
Needless to say, it took a lot of thinking to get that organized....

Also, it was the youngest daughter's turn to go to the Father-Daughter
dance at church on Friday night, so I was ordering a wrist corsage and
making sure the dress, shoes and tights were ready. Her two older
sisters had previously had their turns. Dad accidentally forgot to buy
the tickets this year, so after I made all those plans, I had to
cancel them! (this might be a subject for another blog! ;-) )

Also on Friday, I had to figure out how I was going to get the 2nd
daughter to her gymnastics team tryout at the same time the third
daughter needed to get ready for the dance. But as it turned out, a
snow storm pushed the tryout to Saturday and relieved that scheduling
problem. Plus, we didn't have tickets to the dance!

By the time we got home in the snow on Friday from our afternoon
activities, the kids enjoyed some time in the snow and I enjoyed some
hot tea and some down time!

Whew, all that preparation and busyness!

We got the oldest daughter off on her trip and Saturday I took the second child
to her gym tryout.

I was feeling guilty because with all that had gone on, I had let some
things slide this week. One was the time I usually spend in training
my kids in Bible study and character issues. It seems like each
morning we were running late and something needed to give, and of
course, I let the hardest thing to do just fall off my plate.

As we were driving to the gym tryout, we were talking about the tryout
and she confided to me that she was a little nervous. I told her to
just do her best and we will see how it turns out. I reminded her of
our recent studies in the book of Daniel about how the Lord is the
Ruler over the Realm of Mankind. (It says that over and over in
Daniel!). And therefore, we can trust His will for whether she gets on
the team or not.

Then she reminded me of her favorite verse in the Bible--Jer. 29:11
which says that God has a plan for us, for our future. And that His
will is not to harm us.

And then she said, "There's also the verse in Joshua 1, where he says
He will be with you wherever you go. I guess there is a verse for
everything in the Bible, right, Mom?"

And I said, "You're right! There is!"

Relief flooded my soul as I realized that even during the busy week,
and my lack of training my kids in the way I SO desire to, that this
one is still getting it. Thank you, Lord, for your grace and mercy and
for covering my mistakes and filling in all the missing things I leave
out. Thank you that the time we have spent in the Word is "sticking"
and that You let me see a glimpse into what this special girl is
learning about You.

Isn't it a relief that He fills in all the places where we are lacking?

Friday, February 12, 2010

This is a Test

We have been working on the sin of pride in our home recently. One of the kids told me one of his superior's at work told him he was stubborn yesterday. He was asking me how that was the case based on the scenario. I pointed out his "stubbornness" was actually pride.

We discussed how his struggle was inherited from his parents. We have both struggled with it. Not much fun.

I gave him examples of how God has disciplined us, sometimes pretty severely. Job losses, business failures, financial struggles, marriage struggles. Not much fun.

He remarked, "Pride not only affects you, but those you love, too."

As only God would have it, today my Bible study was in Genesis 22, the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac. Testing. My stomach tightens thinking about it. God's tests are purposeful and always yield a result.

I had told him yesterday, "You know what is exciting? God is allowing you opportunities to kick pride out of your life. He has a great plan for you, and pride will stand in the way of His perfect plan. He cares about you, because He is bringing this to the surface."

Today I was faced with my own tests, realizing how often I have failed the tests over and over again.

Parenting, being the best wife I can be, self discipline...anyone feeling my pain?!

Then I remembered what I told him yesterday. Yeah, it applies to me, too.

All the while, God is full of grace and mercy, giving me tools to use to overcome, giving me the siren of my heart to shut my mouth, giving me LOVE. Unconditional. Fulfilling. Measureless.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


It started off to be an incredible Sunday morning. I awakened ready for a fresh Word and the fellowship the day had to offer. I was the first to be ready, and I quickly realized the other female in the house was running a tad behind. As her mom, I could sense and feel her stress. Meanwhile, the men of the house were ready and about to begin heckling over the one about to make us late. In a surreal moment, I told the gentlemen to give her some grace. I sensed her struggle and knew she needed some love. I strongly admonished them to KEEP THEIR MOUTHS SHUT.

We waited.

And waited.

When the door opened and she wasn't anywhere near ready, my blood began to simmer.

The attitude coming forth was not so nice.

Oh, yes. Where was my wonderful morning? I ignored the ringing bells going off all around me. I totally went from simmer to full on boil - as the gentlemen looked on with wide eyes and mouths opened.

I blew it. Really blew it. I did every thing I told the men not to do.

And off we went as one wonderful foursome to church. Not.

We go our separate ways for Sunday School. It was nice for me to have that hour - honestly, for the Lord to have that hour to work on ME. The conviction began.

We regrouped as a family for worship, which by the way, is one of the highlights of my week. She was standing by me. As we begain singing praises to God, I turned to her and asked forgiveness. I needed it from her before I could even utter anything else to the Lord. I wanted her to know how badly I messed up and how sorry I was. In her sweetness, she smiled and hugged me. Forgiveness was granted. We could worship.

Then it came. Communion. I was awashed anew by the blood of Christ.

If you are offering your gift at the alter and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the alter. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
words of Jesus ~ Matthew 5:23-24

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Turning Off the Television!

I recently had a friend ask me about our television habits. She was looking for ideas to inspire her and her family to turn off the television.

She has good reason - the impact the television, and our culture in general, can make on our homes is huge. We would be wise to be a guardian over that doorway into our lives. I believe that God has set us moms in place as a gatekeeper, a watchman on the wall to make sure no bad influences are coming into our homes.

In fact, in a book I read recently called The Marketing of Evil, a PBS documentary called The Merchants of Cool was quoted:

“Today, five enormous companies are responsible for selling nearly all of youth culture. These are the true merchants of cool: Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp, Disney, Viacom, Universal Vivendi, and AOL/Time Warner. The documentary demonstrates how big corporations literally send spies to infiltrate young people's social settings to gather intelligence on what they can induce these children to buy next.”

In her book, Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World, written in 2006, Jill Rigby states the following stats: 75% of 12 yr olds watch R movies at least once a month. 90% of 7 yr olds watch PG13 movies regularly. The PG13 movie of today would have received an R rating 15 yrs ago. More than 65% said their parents were the ones who allowed them to see the movies.

So, with that being said, here is the advice I gave my friend regarding shows we watch and what we do to fill the time so we are NOT watching shows! ;-)

First of all, our days are so busy with school, chores and sometimes sports/church stuff that there is not much time for sitting around "letting our brains turn to mush" as we call it.
So when we do watch tv, we try to pick wisely most of the time. I don't know if you mean kids or both of you so my suggestions will be for everyone. In general, what we do watch, we record on DVR and skip the commercials. Also, Craig gets home at 7 and bedtime is about 830 so we don't have tons of time we are trying to fill.

For the older kids:
1. We DO watch: Fetch with Ruff Ruffman (PBS show)- neat field trip kind of show for kids
2. We have also let them watch Mythbusters sometimes, but I don't always love the language on there - I still think our kids are too young for it. But the experiments are interesting so if you can preview it, it can really be learning fun.
3. I order movies from netflix or library that go along with the history we are studying. We are watching The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur this year since we are in ancients. I also found that Netflix has some IMAX type movies on DVD that have been good.
4. My kids are liking the new Electric Company show but honestly I don't know if that is good or not. I need to watch one and see..... ;-{
5. We limit freetime tv by making them pay for 30 minutes with a ticket they earned by doing chores. Sometimes they'd just rather not spend it and save it for buying something else.

Non TV ideas:
Here is what we do when the tv is not on. These are not necessarily in the order they are done in our home!

1. Learning game on computer: Rosetta Stone Spanish, for math game (it sends me reports on how they are doing); Carmen Sandiego for Geography, typing websites, or just letting them make a document they want to type up - we limit computer time to 30 min a day and not all days have computer time

2. Wii - we have enjoyed our wii - it is also a "screen" so we limit time but we have a lot of fun racing each other on mario karts, wii ski & snowboard, wii sports or doing Wii fit. It's hilarious watching our littlest one trying to do yoga on the wii fit. We probably do that once a week. Sometimes I am not in the room - doing laundry and catchup while they are hanging out with dad.

3. Games - We have lots of games. Just got Bananagrams. For boys, I would try Risk. They played that at game night at our hybrid school's game night and the boys and dads loved it. It takes a lot of time too!

4. Reading aloud - If I don't get the reading in during the afternoon, then we read aloud at night. Often I will read to the older ones while Craig helps the little ones get a bath. We are reading great books that are historical fiction, that really bring history and sometimes the Bible to life. Sometimes the language is hard, but that is good for vocabulary! Other times it is more simple.

You can find good book guides/lists in the catalog (download it for free), biblioplan (a history program that has great reading recommendations), veritas press catalog, truthquest history. I am using biblioplan mostly for our family reading and Sonlight for the little girls' reading assignments on their own.

5. Crafts - of course, you can always work on crafts! Especially for girls - knitting, sewing, making a miniature dollhouse, quilling. You can get a Keepers at Home girls handbook that guides you through lots of homemaking skills. My girls are in a keepers club but before that we had the book and were just learning things on our own. They also have a handbook for boys (Contenders for the Faith) but I have not checked those out yet since our boy is not old enough! Also boys like making models and stuff like that...

6. Books on CD - we do this in the car mostly but I know a friend who's boys listen to books each night. There are tons of great ones. We have the Narnia set from Focus on the family. It's exciting. We also love Odyssey and recently checked out The Penderwicks and laughed so hard as we were driving along. You can also get Story of the World on Cd from Amazon if you have a history buff among you. We listen to bits and pieces that go along with our history and it's pretty entertaining. The guy has a nasal sounding voice though so sometimes the kids make fun of him! ;-) We have also been listening to True Tales by Diana Waring. Fascinating stories about history and the Bible.

7. Chores & Skills - you can always ramp up their responsibilities to keep them busy. Help them learn a new skill to help out around the house and build confidence.

8. Memorize verses. We follow the scripture memory system at

9. Bible study--read a section and discuss

10. Quotes with Character -- a book of quotes-- we pick one and copy into spiral notebook either printing or cursive

11. Conversation with Character-- a speech class for ages 9 and up

12. Growing kids Gods way coloring book - great for teaching obedience and how to act for little ones

13. Our 24 Family Ways--short lesson and coloring page

14. Manners-- have a manners lesson and practice learning new manners. There are several books on the market for this.

I hope these tips give you some ideas of something new to try as you turn the tv off. And also, keep in mind that as you do this, you will not be like the rest of the world around you! In fact, you might even be called a dork! So for encouragement that it is okay to be a dork, I leave you with this blog at stuffchristianslike.

Blessings as we raise our dorks and turn off the television!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

sNOw Retreat

I was so ready for a getaway last weekend with other homeschool moms. Ready for girlfriend time, girlfriend laughter, girlfriend talk. Ready to hear from the Lord. Ready to soak Him up all by myself, with no children asking me what's for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Then came the first snow of 2010.

Really it was more ice than snow. I am saying first because I believe we will have a second--more intense and enough to build a snowman and snow angels!

A southern gal can dream!

Well, the snow postponed the retreat. I was bummed and really did not know what to do with myself for a few hours. Then I realized I needed to provide lunch, dinner, breakfast, etc.

My daughter asked me that afternoon if I was really disappointed. I paused. Thought about it. My response was, "No, I am not really disappointed. Did I want to go, Yes! But I trust God in the details of the retreat to know this was not our weekend to go."

At that moment, I realized I possibly have grown up - some. As much as that was the right answer, it was truly the answer of my heart.

I want that to be my heart's desire for 2010. I want what God wants and nothing else. I know His plans are for me to prosper and not to harm me. I want my tween to grasp the greatness of the God we serve and to know He does all things well. If my plans are not on His timeline, why do I want to carry them out?

Trust me, I have been on that path before, and it was not fun.

So instead of enjoying the North Georgia mountains, I got to sled with the kids, take walks, enjoy the beauty of frozen snow covered ponds, drink lots of hot chocolate, watch old movies...retreat, you could say.

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