Friday, August 31, 2012

TGIF: Building Memories when Life Isn't Fun {Link up}


TGIF

Welcome to my link up -- Thank God It's {Family Fun} Friday!!

I want to encourage you to create memories, build family traditions, and have fun with your family!  Because children grow up faster than you think possible . . . 

Many families look forward to having a Family Fun Night on Fridays.  Is this something your family does?  Tell us about it!  What are your favorite Friday night activities?  How does your family have fun and create memories together?  Please share!






Remembering . . . 

Not all family times are fun times.  Some are sad and even painful; yet these times can also build memories and bond a family together.  Today, we are remembering Alan's Mom -- "Mum Mum" as we all called her.  Today would have been her 86th birthday.

Mum Mum died rather unexpectedly on May 28th, 2010.  You can read about it here.  I hope you will read my thoughts about her passing here.

After her death, we traveled to West Virginia for her burial and graveside service.  We stayed at Blackwater Falls, which prompted Alan and his sister, Janet, to relive many childhood memories, as they often vacationed there while growing up.  Even though it was a sad occasion, the time we spent together at Blackwater Falls and in Parsons, WV, was also a fun, bonding time for both of our families.  We shared memories of days gone by, made new memories, and sprinkled healing doses of laughter on our tears.

It is important for families to join together in both rejoicing and grieving, to come along side one another and lift each other up, to comfort and encourage, to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.  As we navigate the ups and downs of life together as a family, trusting in God's goodness even in the trying times, our hearts are knit together, relationships are solidified, and memories are made.  

If your family is going through dark days right now, don't think you have to wait until times are happy to create memories.  You are creating memories right now.  Your attitude can help to make even very difficult times bearable and even pleasant in retrospect.  Ever heard someone speak longingly of the "good ole days" growing up during the depression?  Certainly, their recollections of the past are seen through the "rose-colored glasses" of the passing of time; nevertheless, our attitude does much to make challenging times seem cheery. And remember, children don't wait for better times to grow up . . . so grab your children, give them a hug, and go make a memory! 


Your Turn to Share:

How have you built special memories and family traditions even during the difficult times of life?  Please share!

Please share your ideas in the comments section or link up your blog!  You can share any past or present blog post that shares ways to create memories, build family traditions, or have fun as a family!  Just be sure to link back to my blog or add my blog button to your post!   


TGIF


















linked up with:


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Honoring a Man that Hugely Impacted Our Lives!

As you know, if you read my Marriage Monday post about my weekend away with my husband, I spent Friday and Saturday soaking in the beauty and refreshment of the north Georgia mountains and spent Sunday in my hometown of Greenville, SC, where I enjoyed spending time with my beautiful daughter, Ashlyn, and visiting my parents.  My precious Mom has not been doing well, and it was good to see her up and feeling a bit stronger! 




Sunday night, we were blessed beyond measure to go to our "home church" in Greenville to hear our beloved former pastor, Ken Joner, deliver his final sermon.  His declining health brought about his retirement at the age of 82, after 61 years of preaching the gospel and 42 years of ministry at "the Fellowship," which is the church he started in obedience to the Lord back in 1970!!

Pastor Joner has devoted his life to diligently studying and faithfully preaching the Word of God.  He has been absolutely committed to rightly dividing the Word of Truth and to preaching the Word in season and out of season.  He is one of the best expository preachers I've ever heard, and Sunday night was no exception, as he carefully taught us the precise meaning and tenses of the Greek words used in the final verses of 1 John.  How fitting that he ended his ministry at GCF preaching from the same book that he started with 42 years earlier!  




When I think of Pastor Joner, I think of a faithful loving Shepherd who was always loving and ministering to his flock, no matter what time of day or night!  We were the blessed recipients of his loving care many times, as he met us in the Emergency Room, prayed with us before surgeries, helped us dig a french drain around our house, prayed with us while our precious 6-week old baby screamed her way through a spinal tap, ministered to us after our 15-passenger van rollover accident, and so much more.  He was also used of God to lead some members of our family to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, to baptize even the tallest among us, and to help shape our understanding of the Bible.  He has emphasized through the years the importance of considering the whole counsel of God's Word, the crucial need for repentance and the 2-sided "coin" of turning away from our sins and turning toward the Lord Jesus, and taught us over and over again that if Jesus Christ is not Lord of All, he is not Lord at all!!!




Thank you Pastor Joner for so many years of faithful service to our Lord Jesus Christ and for your life-changing ministry!  We are lives that were changed!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Marriage Monday: The Weekend Getaway! {Link up}


Marriage Mondays"


Welcome back to Marriage Monday!  Today's marriage post is on the importance of spending an occasional weekend away with your spouse. It is so hard to pull away from all the demands on our time and clear off a space on our calendars, but it is definitely worth it to invest in one of the most important relationships in our lives -- our marriages!!

I apologize for today's post being so very late -- I'm just getting back in town from a fabulous weekend away with my hubby!  :)  (I purposely chose to leave my laptop at home, so I wouldn't be distracted by blogging and checking my email!)

We were able to transform a required Orientation for international students and their host families (through the Georgia Rotary Club) into a refreshing retreat in the mountains of North Georgia!!  In addition to attending the required sessions, we enjoyed feasting on the abundance of delicious, down home food at The Dillard House, sightseeing in Rabun County, browsing in the fascinating shops of Clayton and Dillard, and filling our lungs with big breaths of fresh, mountain air!  

Want to see a few pictures from our weekend getaway?

This is Alan and Maria (our international student from El Salvador) looking for a place to eat lunch in the little town of Clayton, GA.  After lunch, we got Maria registered and left her to attend sessions with other international students and to stay with a local host family for the weekend.



This peaceful view is looking out the sliding glass doors of our room at The Dillard House, where we stayed in Dillard, GA.  It was very relaxing . . . and proved to be the perfect setting for a nap or two!  :)


And this, my friends, is the view of all the food that we were served for the overflowing, family-style breakfast at The Dillard House Restaurant!!!







Maria had a full day on Saturday, while we just had sessions in the morning and free time in the afternoon!  We were glad to see Maria at a break time and find out how her weekend was going!  :)


Saturday afternoon, Alan and I drove up to Black Rock Mountain State Park, where we gazed out over the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains at an altitude of 3640 feet.




We also checked out a popular "tourist trap" -- Goats on the Roof!  :)





Then, Saturday night, we attended the final banquet of the weekend, which was held at the The Dillard House Conference Center, and featured the most amazing buffet we've ever seen . . . or TASTED!  The highlight of the evening was the "cabaret" that the international students put on for us.  Each student shared a song, dance, skit, or other unique "talent" or "ability" that represented their country's culture.  Maria did an El Salvadorian dance with a young man from her country.  Here she is in her costume!  (Isn't she adorable??)


Maria and her American "Mom"!  :)


On Sunday morning, when the conference concluded, we found Maria a ride home with another host family who was headed towards the coast, and Alan and I crossed over the Chattooga River into South Carolina. Destination: Greenville!  We spent the day with our daughter, Ashlyn.  First stop -- Coffee Underground!  Then, lunch at Cheddar's, a tour of Ashlyn's house, and then a visit with my Mom and Dad for the rest of the afternoon, before attending a special event together Sunday evening.  I plan to share more about that tomorrow, Lord willing!  :)
  


It was a wonderful, refreshing weekend away with my Honey!  :)  (And I must add that the kids did a tremendous job of staying on track with their responsibilities while we were gone!  We were so proud of all of them!!)



Your Turn to Share:

Do you and your husband make it a point to get away together from time to time?  Do you think it is important for married couples to get away without the kids every now and then?  What do you do to make that a reality?  When was the last time you snuck away together for a weekend?


If you were blessed or encouraged by this post, please consider sharing it with your friends on Facebook or other social media sites.  Thank you!


Link up:

I'd love to have you link up your blog to mine!  Please link up any past or present posts related to Christian marriage.  Don't forget to link back to my blog!  Thanks!


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linked up with these fabulous blogs:







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The Alabaster Jar



Blog Button Final




Growing Home






a-wise-woman-builds-her-home



Beholding Glory

Friday, August 24, 2012

TGIF: A Facebook Find! {Link Up}


TGIF

Welcome to my link up -- Thank God It's {Family Fun} Friday !!

I want to encourage you to create memories, build family traditions, and have fun with your family!  Because children grow up faster than you think possible . . . 

Many families look forward to having a Family Fun Night on Fridays.  Is this something your family does?  Tell us about it!  What are your favorite Friday night activities?  How does your family have fun and create memories together?  Please share!

Reconnecting . . . 
Earlier this week I learned that a cousin whom I have not seen in well over 25 years was vacationing at the beach very near to where I live!!  Thanks to Facebook and texting, we connected and soon made plans to get together!  

It was a delight to have my cousin and her daughter come over last night and share a meal with us!  Thought you might like to see a picture of me and Barb -- giggling like we did when we were little girls at my grandmother's house!  :)

Your Turn to Share:

Have you ever reconnected with a relative that you had lost contact with?  Tell me about it!  How do you keep in contact with your extended family, especially if your family is all spread out in different areas? How does your family have fun and build memories?  What family traditions do you have?  Please share!

Please share your ideas in the comments section or link up your blog!  You can share any past or present blog post that shares ways to create memories, build family traditions, or have fun as a family!  Just be sure to link back to my blog or add my blog button to your post!   


TGIF












Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ten Tips for a Terrific Home School Year, Part 5

As I shared in my previous post, one of the tips to having a successful home school year is to give your days a "backbone" by establishing some type of daily schedule or routine.  The schedule eases a mom's workload by "directing traffic" for her at each "intersection" of the day.

And yet, as soon as you set up a fabulous schedule, you will be tested.  Why?  Because invariably your day will not go as planned and your carefully thought out schedule will come crashing down!  The "traffic jam" that results will test your flexibility!  Flexibility is sometimes defined as the ability to bend without breaking.







Tip #5.  Be Flexible.

Flexibility is a very important character quality; however, as I learned 20 years ago from Inge Cannon, you can't be flexible if you don't have anything to flex!


So, we must start with some kind of plan before we can "flex" that plan.  That means we need to have basic goals, simple plans for how we will accomplish those goals, some kind of daily routine or schedule, and some combination of curriculum, books and/or learning materials in place.  (Even an "unschooler" has a "plan" - it just may be more child-directed.)  

Once we have a basic plan and routine in place, we may discover that we don't like the way our days are going, or we don't like our carefully chosen curriculum after all, or the workload is too easy/hard for one of our children, or some of the children aren't getting enough sleep and are grouchy when they get up at our planned time, or the stomach virus hits, or any unexpected event happens --  that is when we practice flexibility.

Flexibility is a willingness to change plans or activities as needed without getting bent out of shape.  We must guard against setting our hopes and affections on our well-laid plans and schedules, because God is in control and I think He likes to remind us of that often!


A man's heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
As long as we stay flexible, putting our faith and hope in Him, we will not break when the Lord bends us through interruptions, challenges, testings, and trials.  Many times God allows the unexpected because He has a totally different lesson in mind for our children (and us) than what we have penciled in the lesson plan book!!  (I call that "God's Classroom.")

Some areas where we may need to practice flexibility:

  • curriculum we are using - do we like it? is it working?
  • a child's readiness for reading - Out of my ten children, some have read as early as 4 1/2 or 5, while some didn't catch on to reading until 8 or 9!  
  • a child with a different learning style - what worked for the rest of our children may not work for one of our children who learns differently
  • daily or weekly schedule - life happens or God may have other plans


I'm sure you can think of other opportunities for developing flexibility, as well.


Homework:


What are some areas where you may need to practice flexibility?  Did any specific area come to mind as you read this?  Do you struggle with being flexible? How can you bend and not break when life happens and when God interrupts your plans with His plans?  Please share in the comments or over on my Facebook page!



If you've missed the first few posts in this series, you may want to click on the links below to read the first four tips:

Tip #1:  Know why you are homeschooling.

Tip #2:  Set your priorities.


Tip #3:  Start slowly and finish strong.


Tip #4:  Give your day a backbone.

Coconut Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips

Usually, bananas disappear from the fruit bowl about as fast as I can buy them; but every now and then, we end up with an abundance of quickly ripening bananas.  On such happy occasions, I make up a batch of banana bread! Banana bread is not only fun to make and eat, but a perfect hostess gift and a welcome gift for neighbors and friends.  I've only had one person ever turn down a loaf of banana bread!  ;) 

I recently discovered a new recipe to add to my collection.  I like the fact that this recipe calls for coconut oil and coconut milk!




Coconut Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips

yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients:
4 bananas, mashed
1 cup sugar 
1 cup coconut oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease bread loaf pans.  
2. In large mixing bowl, combine bananas, sugar and coconut oil; mix well.  Then add: eggs, coconut milk, and vanilla.  Mix well.  
3. In a separate bowl, mix together flours, soda and salt. Fold dry ingredients into liquid ingredients.  Mix well, scraping bowl as needed.  
4. Pour batter into greased pans and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.
5. Let cool about 15 minutes in pan, and then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely before cutting.  Best when chilled.


Delicious!






I found this recipe (plus a version that uses 8 bananas!) here:  http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/09/coconut-banana-bread-with-choclate-chips-bulk-baking/  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ten Tips for a Terrific Home School Year, part 4



We officially started back to school on Monday!  Do you want to know what I dreaded the most about starting back to school?  Getting back into a schedule.  Do you want to know what I was looking forward to the most?  Getting back into a schedule!  ;)

Although I was reluctant to give up the free time and flexibility of summer, I also looked forward to the comfortable structure of having a routine or schedule in place, and knowing that the children would be constructively occupied throughout the bulk of the day.

The problem is, being on a school schedule means I have less time for blogging, working on my Lilla Rose business, selling books on Ebay (my newest "pastime"), exercising, and other such activities . . .  which explains, at least in part, why this post is a bit slow in coming.  (I trust you have not been holding your breath since reading Tip #3  . . . waiting for Tip #4 to be posted!!)  ;)

The fourth tip for having a terrific school year is to give your day tracks to run on by implementing a daily schedule or routine that guides your daily activities.





Tip #4.  Give your day a backbone.

As much as we may resist living on a schedule, I find that our days need a backbone.  Without a skeleton to give it shape, our days end up evolving into amoeba-like creatures, with no reliable form or shape, constantly morphing into directions that distract us from our real goals.

I have tried both ends of the spectrum -- from a very-structured, color-coded schedule that controlled our use of time in thirty-minute increments all day long to a free-spirited approach to our day that ignored the clock and let our day unfold naturally.  I find that both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages; however, as in every area of the Christian life, balance is the key.  From my experience, I believe that the ideal amount of structure lies on the spectrum somewhere between the two extremes.  

The truth is that we get a lot more accomplished when we are on a schedule and everyone knows what to expect from the day.  Having tracks to run on keeps the train moving smoothly down the tracks headed for a defined destination.  It also lets all the passengers know what to expect.


However, home and family life, unlike train stations, tends to defy schedules.  That's why we must allow enough flexibility and freedom to avoid frustration.

The appropriate balance will probably vary from family to family.  I've found that the more children you have, the more structure you need to reign in the chaos.  However, I've also discovered that as my children got older, it became harder and harder to stay on a schedule.  I found I was pulled away from home more, because I had to take kids to their jobs, outside classes, church activities, sports practices, service opportunities, etc., while also trying to keep younger students on task at home, and handling various emergencies, such as a phone call saying, "Mom I locked the keys in the car. Can you come to the college now and drop off the spare keys?"

However, in spite of the challenges, it is simply a fact that some type of daily schedule or routine increases productivity in the home, keeps everything running more smoothly, and helps children feel more secure in knowing and complying with what is expected of them.

There are many ways to create a daily schedule.  Let me know if you are interested, and I will explore this topic more in future posts.  (I consider myself somewhat of an expert, simply because I've created at least a hundred schedules through the years!)  For now, start by establishing rising times, bedtimes, and nap times (if applicable).  Add in meal times, including meal prep and clean up.  This simple structure will anchor your days.  Then, you can begin to build on these anchors by linking various activities to these anchors, such as, reading the Bible before Breakfast, doing chores after breakfast, reading aloud during lunch, etc.   

Homework:

Do you have a school schedule or routine in place?  If not, begin to create one by observing what is working now in your home and writing it down.  Then, start adding in what you would like to accomplish and when.  Work on it gradually, until you have a workable plan.  Don't be afraid to move things around and keep working on it until it "fits."

If you already have a schedule, evaluate its effectiveness.  What needs changed?  Identify problem areas and brainstorm solutions.  Tweak as needed.

I'd love it if you'd share your scheduling successes and challenges here in the comments section . . . or over on my Facebook page, where we can discuss solutions together.

And, I'm very interested in your thoughts on schedules in general.  Please speak up!  


If you've missed the first three posts in this series, you can click on the links below to catch up:

Tip #1:  Know why you are homeschooling.

Tip #2:  Set your priorities.

Tip #3:  Start slowly and finish strong.



Monday, August 20, 2012

Marriage Monday: A Christian Wedding and the Gospel {Link up}


Marriage Mondays"


Ever have a blog post (or presentation?) all planned out, and then at the last minute, you feel led to go in a different direction?  That is what happened to me this week.  After attending a wedding Saturday evening, I was struck with the fact that a Christian wedding presents the gospel, even if the minister doesn't preach the gospel in so many words. Wonder how?  Join me as I share some of the thoughts that have been swirling through my mind all weekend!



photo from bride's facebook page

1. The Pursuit

The groom has chosen the bride out of many available women and spent many weeks, months, or even years pursuing her.  During that time, he has sacrificed his money and time and devoted himself to showering her with devoted attention, acts of kindness, love letters (texts?) expressing his affection, and gifts both large and small.  All of these have had one purpose -- to woo her and win her heart!

God has also called us and wooed us to Himself and given the ultimate sacrifice for us.

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44)

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  (Romans 5:8)



2.  The Preparation

The bridegroom has been busy preparing for his bride. In addition to helping plan and get ready for the wedding, he has been preparing a place for them to live. He has also been preparing himself to provide for his wife's needs, and making plans for their future together. Likewise, the bride has been preparing herself physically and emotionally to become his wife. She must do more than just plan her dream wedding, she must prepare to leave her father and mother and cleave to her new husband, forsaking all others, and be his faithful wife.

Likewise, Jesus, our Bridegroom, is busy even now preparing a place for us!

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.  (John 14:2-3)
At the same time, He is preparing His bride:

That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:27)


photo from bride's facebook page


3. The Permanence

The bride and bridegroom are entering into a permanent covenant relationship. "Until death do we part" is a strange concept for those living in this era of "disposable marriages," but that is God's perfect plan, and one that pictures the covenant relationship that Christians have with Jesus. He doesn't just save us until we sin, and then "disown" us. God actually adopts us into his family and we become joint-heirs with Jesus! Sin breaks our fellowship, but not our relationship!  God's Word says that when a man and woman unite in marriage, they become "one flesh."  A one-flesh union cannot be separated without irreparable damage and destruction.

But ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ . . .  (Romans 8:15, 17)
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.  (Genesis 2:24)




4. The Picture
 
The bride and groom enter into a relationship that pictures the relationship between Christ and the church.  It is their responsibility to present the world with an accurate picture of that relationship, not one that is distorted or deceptive.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  (Ephesians 5:31-32)


 

5. The Party

Finally, a wedding is a time to "party" and celebrate!  There was a lot of rejoicing when the new couple was announced as Mr. and Mrs. and kissed for the very first time!!  Then, all the invited guests journeyed to a nearby location for the wedding reception, where we enjoyed a delicious feast that had been prepared for us.  Someday, we will all eat together at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb!
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. ~ Revelation 19:7-9.

photo from bride's facebook page


A Christian wedding is truly a joyous occasion!  One that should remind us of the joys that are ours when we come to know Jesus as our Savior!!  We are in the Preparation stage -- He has gone to prepare a place for us, and at the same time, He is orchestrating our lives to prepare us to be ready for the Wedding.  Someday we will be presented to our Bridegroom as the pure and spotless Bride!  What a day of rejoicing that will be! 

  

Your Turn to Share:

Have you ever considered how a Christian wedding and marriage portray the Gospel?  Do you have any additional points that you can add to this post?  What is the most special part of a wedding to you?  


If you were blessed or encouraged by this post, please consider sharing it with your friends on Facebook or other social media sites.  Thank you!


Link up:

I'd love to have you link up your blog to mine!  Please link up any past or present posts related to Christian marriage.  Don't forget to link back to my blog!  Thanks!


Photobucket





linked up with these fabulous blogs:







Photobucket


The Alabaster Jar






Blog Button Final




Growing Home






a-wise-woman-builds-her-home



Beholding Glory

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