Monthly Archives

August 2010

Faith, Family, Prayer


It won’t come as a surprise to most of you that I’m a little Type A about things. Not even important things, necessarily. For example, I can’t keep all the dog hair off the ground but if a recipe calls for a teaspoon, it’s painful for me to try and “guesstimate” without the actual measuring spoon. Weird, I know.

Last week I had an epiphany about my prayer life and it’s probably going to look pitiful on paper but it really did make a big difference to me and I want to share it in the event that you can relate. When I talk to the Lord, I have realized I do it like He doesn’t know who I am. I originally thought I had to be on my knees next to my bed (left side, candle burning) in order for Him to hear me but then years later I rebelled and just did it while sitting straight up. I like to push the envelope, what can I say?

It seemed like I was still connecting despite the fact that I wasn’t following my little rules, so I went with it. I became accustomed to just talking to Him wherever I was (madness, I tell you), but until recently I didn’t realize that I still had some learning to do. I’m kind of laughing as I write this because it sounds funny to even say, but the truth is that I typically pray like this:

“Dear Jesus (wait until He has had a chance to turn His eternal gaze on me instead of the other thing He was doing. Not scripturally accurate but nonetheless, I do), I would like to lift up so-and-so to you. She is really processing her divorce and I’m concerned for her. Lord, what can I do to help? What should I be saying to her?”

It goes on like this for a few minutes, me talking like I’m talking to a psychiatrist who just pulled my file. And sometimes (gasp!) I get distracted and then I start over. “Sorry Lord. I just started thinking about how this other person really irritates me and I kind of chased the rabbit trail a little. I also ate some Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls but now I’m back and I’m ready to focus.”

It’s like I have to have a powerpoint presentation before I feel like I’ve prayed efficiently.

For crying out loud, how weird is that? And yet, some of you are  nodding your heads right now because you have felt the same thing. You feel like you’re talking to Someone Who has other things to do and you just want to walk away feeling like you did it “right.” Because certainly the God of the heavens can’t piece it together if I don’t help Him out.

Last night Amy (from Selah) and I were getting ready to go to a movie (Inception, if you must know. And don’t think the irony isn’t lost on me. And also, I’m still confused about the whole thing, start to finish). Charlotte was crying about something and Todd had taken her into the bedroom to try and calm her down. It wasn’t going very well so he brought her back out and Amy took her. All the while I was acutely aware that she wanted to be swaddled, turned slightly into someone’s chest with her pacifier in her mouth and her lamb making the ocean wave sound. I’m pretty sure Miss Kelsey (who has saved our lives and is currently watching the kids so I can hide in the bedroom and write) just shouted Amen because she knows the drill too. But it’s a recent development and Todd was out of town for a few days so he didn’t know about the magic of the lamb (once again, the irony is kind of like a sack of potatoes falling on my head. Subtle, you know?).

I picked her up and walked her into her nursery and a few minutes later she was completely asleep and Todd came in to see what I had done to calm her down. After he walked out I continued to rock her and I had one of those moments where you just know the Lord is trying to impress something upon your heart so you listen.

She didn’t say a thing. She didn’t label her needs and desires with boxes to check off. You knew them already because you know her. You know the sound of her hungry cry and the sound she makes when she’s falling asleep contented. You don’t need her to explain, because you love her well enough to know.

Well, that’s because I’m her mother. Naturally I know.

And exactly Who do you think I am?

God likes to trump me with one-liners. He knows I appreciate timing and punch.

I start to realize that I pray to Him as if He doesn’t already know everything. As if I’m another customer in the long line of people Who want to talk to Him. I’m like three steps away from making an appointment.

I don’t even hear the little Lamb playing because I’m so darned convinced that I need to show Him where the swaddle is. He doesn’t need a preface. He doesn’t want a 5 step plan. He wants me to be with Him. I have this weighted feeling that if I forget to pray specifically, it won’t happen. If someone writes me and asks me to pray for their child and I screw up and forget, what will happen? It will all fall apart, right? Because it was dependent on me to explain. He didn’t understand and I would have been the one person who could have intervened. Logic at it’s finest, folks. Hope you picked up on that.

I know it in my head and I believe I love Him this way but for some reason the praying is different. When I saw Charlotte sleeping I knew He was trying to teach me something that would deepen our relationship. Instead of rattling off a list last night, I laid in bed (Oh yes I did. And He heard me anyway) and I thought of a person in my life who has really wounded me. As the face of that person sat in my mind, I just let it sit. I didn’t try to pepper it with my side or explain how wronged I had been, I just rested knowing that He knew it already. And it was a relief. And then He told me I was right and that person was wrong, wrong, wrong. Well, I’m pretty sure anyway.

I freak out when I don’t have control (airplanes, anyone? I’d probably be fine if I was the pilot!) and I feel the need to fill in all the gaps. I’m really going to try and change this, and I have worked out a very specific checklist in order to free myself from it.

That last part was a joke. Kind of.

I want to let Him be Him in my prayer. I want to be able to rest knowing that I don’t have to work to pray, because He is in the business of knowing already. Does that make sense? If not, you should see Inception because this will be really simple after that.

I just wanted to encourage you all to reach out to the God who has already filled the gaps, and embrace Him as the Father Who doesn’t need anything from you. You are freed from responsibility, and enabled, through grace, to be a part of the miracle.

Ahhh. Doesn’t that feel nice?

Rest in Him today, friend.

With much love and an alarming selection of highlighters,

P.S. Thank you Miss Kelsey! We love you!

Dad, Just for Fun

Need A Good Laugh?

My dad sent these to me tonight and I thought they were pretty funny…hope you get a good laugh and feel free to leave your own “kid quotes” in the comments!!! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend…

creativity, Family, Homeschooling

Learning On A Quilt

Well the Smith family is about to go on another school-year adventure. I’m so excited to dig in to the new stuff we got this year and also to invite you all to share your classrooms with us! I have gotten so many emails through the past few years asking about my homeschooling and I haven’t done a great job of sharing on here, so I’ll just tell you a little about where we are now.

I started Kindergarten with Abby and Ellie and used Sonlight. I liked it a lot but was still on the hunt. As a first time teacher I was so nervous I was going to leave something out that would completely ruin my child’s future. I needed to order the whole kit and kaboodle. And an extra couple kaboodles just in case. Everything had to be in neat folders, perfectly arranged, classroom poised and ready for the learning to happen.

I’ve swayed away from that a little bit, although I am still a complete sucker for back to school supplies. And don’t get me started on Curriculum Fairs. I am a dangerous woman at one of those. And despite the fact that they are better for the environment, I must say I miss the white Crayola markers. Have you seen the new ones? Anyway. I love the gear.

Last year we did Calvert, which I also liked. At this point I was starting to find my style of teaching and their style of learning and I don’t think that was the best curriculum for us. I think it would have helped if I could have let it go when we didn’t finish everything we were supposed to for each day.

What you’ll find is that there isn’t one magical curriculum you can order and have it all be perfect for every child. So, you have to do the hard thing (gulp) and start to piecemeal. I don’t really do piecemeal well. I would like it in a box, with my instructions inside, perfectly arranged so that nothing can be left up to me because I will certainly fail them…

With that said, I have grown stronger in my teaching and am trusting my instincts a little more. We are going to be altering this next year to fit the season we’ll be in. I chose *after much obsessing* “My Father’s World” as our main curriculum because it will allow me to easily include Kate in Abby and Ellie’s work, and also because they send a person to your house to care for your baby while you teach. No? That one would get my vote.

If you aren’t familiar with Charlotte Mason, you should be. She was an incredible woman with some amazing ideas about children and the way they learn. I just adore her, and honestly, it’s probably why the name Charlotte was one of my favorites. To me, it brings me to a time in life where children did their lessons outside while they explored. I love this idea, and we are going to be incorporating it more this year than we have in the past. One of her strongest beliefs is that children should not be read “twaddle.” In other words, read original, unabridged, masterpieces of literature and you will be brought up to that level. During the past few years I have seen that happen with my kids, and I love the natural way they ask about words they don’t understand and concepts they aren’t familiar with as we read.

A lot of people asked about curriculum and scheduling so I wanted to touch on them. In addition to My Father’s World, we are using Math-U-See for math and Apologia science (we are doing astronomy this year). I like this program because it does a great job of blending science and Christian beliefs. And, they threw in a denim jumper. That’s a lie. I bought it. I just wanted to see if you were still reading.

For spelling, MFW recommends a Rod and Staff program called “Spelling By Sound and Structure,” and also “Primary Language Lessons“by Emma Serl.  I love Rod and Staff…we have used their preschool stuff in the past as well and really liked it.

I tend to gravitate towards learning which is simple, classic, and inspiring. It may go back to my love of Little House, but I just think that we tend to complicate things sometimes. Literature saturated days, clean basics, and room for some outside time is the plan for this year.

The way we will structure our days is to start in the morning and finish up with formal lessons before lunch. We’ll take a short break to milk the cows and grind some wheat, and then we’ll pick up with nature study and art. Charlotte Mason also put a heavy emphasis on the role of nature study and I haven’t done a great job of this in the past. I don’t know. Maybe it’s the mosquitos and the heat, but let’s just say it hasn’t always gone according to plan. I have tried to plan these elaborate things and it just ends up being stressful, so we’re throwing down the big quilt and going with it. I guess that’s the theme this year 🙂

A friend of mine (and newbie homeschooler this year!) Kelly (Faithful Provisions) is meeting with a wonderful homeschool mom and author we heard speak a few weeks ago and we are going to try and have her set up a workshop for our readers. Once I get the scoop I’ll pass it along and if you’re interested we would love to have you come!

This is a really basic sketch of a couple things we are planning, but this is my favorite part. I’m going to put a Linky on here and I would love for you to put your site on here if you homeschool and want to share the way you do things. It’s so great to be inspired by other people’s creativity 🙂 Feel free to leave comments too…I’m not really familiar with the Linky but I think you can do either one.

Talk to you all soon…


P.S. Please leave any homeschool advice, tips, pictures, or anything else you want to share. I am seriously so excited to read them all! Does this make me a dufus? Don’t answer that.