Tuesday, May 27, 2014

through a glass, darkly

How do you know?

How can you know that God is?

That He created it all?

That He is ever present in the soul of a believer?

You can't see Him.  You can't hear Him.  You weren't there when the world was formed.

For some it is hard to accept.  It's almost like there is a desire to believe but then reason or intellect or lack of understanding get in the way.

Sure there's a God.  But how do you know...really know?

For now we see through a glass, darkly.

We look through the glass and see a part, a shape that lacks fine details.

The Bible fills in a lot of the details, painting for us the picture of what we had, until that point, only seen through the glass, darkly.  But still, we see only part.

But face to face with God, when we meet Him in eternity, we shall know Him as He now knows us, completely, intimately, fully, deeply.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.  I Corinthians 13:12

So, basically, we believe in a God we've never seen, never heard, never touched??

Just as we breathe air we've never seen, never heard, never touched.

What is it then? What is it that allows me to know that God is? 

Surely it is not the image I see through the glass.  It is not even just the hope that He is.

What allows me to believe is faith.


Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1

Faith gives substance to hope.  It puts some skin on the idea, brings it to life.

See, I can hope for things all day long.  I can hope that God created me and everything around me.  I can hope He loves me.  But when I have FAITH in these things, there is the evidence of the things I can't see.

Faith gives proof of what is seen through the glass.  Faith makes God tangible.

Here is my belief.

And belief is where it all begins.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


It was an invitation we could not resist.  An invitation to a teen outing down in Portland, Oregon.  My husband was asked to speak to the teens.  We were invited to join in on the fun.
The time away was refreshing.  Being in Oregon is always like being home to me.  I was born there.  My children were born there.  And it always makes me breathe a little easier just being there.  It's just HOME.  Of course, I've not lived there for 11 years now.
Anyway, the teen activity.  We all had a good time.  The boys got reacquainted with old friends and made new friends.  I got to visit a little bit with old friends.
Me and my Sandi taking a selfie.  Are selfies ever NOT awkward?
Going down the slide with Sandi and Isaiah.  If we look like we are moving quickly...we're not.
Before heading home we ventured to downtown Portland where to my delight and surprise there was a weekend market.  We were a bit early and most of the vendors were still setting up, preparing for a busy day.  The food vendors were prepping food.  The craftsman were carefully displaying their wares.  It was exciting.  It was also the BIGGEST open market I've ever seen.

We walked some side streets.  I loved the look of this little street. It was strung with lights and had a great European feel to it.

See that crazy long line of people?  There are waiting to get into the famous Voodoo Doughnuts.  There were other, happier people snapping pictures of themselves posing with the pink box after successfully getting through that crazy long line.  That is dedication, people.

Thank you, Portland for being amazing!  I will be back, with more sensible walking shoes and well rested teenagers that are not dragging behind me like bags of wet cement. 
The End.

P.S.  Thank you Elyse for taking care of the pups and chicks!  They said you were very nice.  Ok, not really.  But if they could talk I imagine that's what they'd say.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

joy beyond measure

I feel like I should record the day to solidify the memories in my mind.  There are sounds and sights and feelings that I want to remember but I've learned that time has a way of dulling the edges, softening the details.

After church Aaron and I found a beam of warm sunshine on the couch.  We soaked up that beam for almost an hour with no where to go, no to-do list to complete, nothing else more important than just being.  Together.  In the sun.

We walked a block from our house to the neighborhood park.  The four of us, just walking down the middle of the road like there were no cars in the world.  There was a football tossed as we walked.  And a frisbee spun through the air, occasionally skidding across the bumpy pavement.  At the park, the sunlight shone down through the trees, creating patches of gold on the grass.  The air was warm, we were together.  And all that mattered in that time was completing the football pass or throwing just the right spin of the frisbee.

Later on, back at home, I introduced the chicks to the world outside of their coop.  One at a time I carried their warm bodies to the garden and let them check it out while the other four cried in jealousy or worry or uncertainty from the confines of the coop.  Each chicken behaved differently but they all shared one commonality; to my dismay, each one loved the taste of my sweet pea leaves.  Normally, the chickens won't be in the garden during the growing season but it was a good place to let them have some freedom with a boundary.

But the memory is in that little feathered life experiencing something new under my watchful eye.  My heart nearly burst with joy as I stood in my garden, my little patch of overturned earth, with pale green baby lettuce, tiny carrot leaves, sturdy sunflower starts, the hint of a zucchini plant, and my little chickens at my feet.  Only a moment.  But the magnitude of joy is beyond measure.

And it's those moments remembered that build a lifetime.  Moments that propel a person forward, through the rainy seasons, through the winters.  Simple moments that protect a quiet heart from a loud world.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

a tomboy grows up

When I was a kid I never played much with dolls.  It was the cars that I liked.  And the dirt.  And playing in the creek.  And catching snakes with my bare hands.  And riding my bike with my unruly hair whipping behind me.  Somewhere, along with getting married and becoming a mother, I became girly.  But, truth be told, I never lost my tomboy.  Sunday afternoon you'll find me dressed in my Sunday best, shoes long kicked off, in the backyard on the ground playing with my chickens.  I regard the absurdity of the scene but pay it no mind.

The girls (chickens) have grown so much.  Their big girl feathers are all coming in and the fluffy downy feathers stick out here and there making them look a little mangy.  They are great flyers and love to roost.  I try to allow them as much time outside as possible as their brooder box keeps getting smaller and smaller.

Pearl and Mintie
I have made them a dust bathing area.  Outside, it is in a tub about the size of a cat litter box.  Inside, they have a pie tin to bathe in.  The dust bath is made of sandy soil from our backyard mixed with Diatomaceous earth to kill mites.  So far, one little chick has taken a very serious bath.
Awhile back I saw in a store a product called Chicken Crack which, by the claims of the package, will "drive your flock crazy!".  I've been giving my girls my own version of chicken crack and they do love it.  Of course, if you give your chicks treats, you must also make sure they have grit to aid in digestion.  My chicken crack contains the following:
  • Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Hot Cereal (a bit expensive but I already had it on hand)
  • ground yellow corn meal
  • Flax seeds
  • rolled oats (crushed a little in my hand)
  • quinoa
Another treat that the chicks go crazy for is plain yogurt.  I give them a little every morning and they slurp it up like it was the best thing ever.  Very cute, by the way.  And the probiotics they are consuming help keep their systems healthy.

Garden update:

Tomato plants have sprouted.  I planted these as seeds so I wasn't sure if anything would come up.  It seems most people just buy tomato starts.

The potato tower has some plants sticking out of the top.  It is supposed to have growth out the sides too but I've not seen any evidence there.  I planted four different types and the ones on the top layer are Red Pontiacs.

Months and months ago I collected seeds from a spaghetti squash that we were having for dinner.  Those seeds have produced some very promising sprouts.  I planted them in a big plastic tub thinking they wouldn't really do anything and now they are showing more promise than the zucchini! 


Spaghetti Squash

The pea plants are about 5 inches tall now.  I planted them near the fence so they could climb but I am thinking it wasn't close enough.  I may hitch up some sort of trellis for them.  Hitch up?  See, that's the tomboy.

Beyond gardening and chickens I'm raising a couple kids.  We've been going on lots of bike rides.  The sunny spring weather is the perfect invitation to get outside.  Yesterday we rode about 5 miles.  Today was probably close to the same.  But it's never about the distance or the speed or even the destination.  Well, when the destination is Dairy Queen, it is most certainly about the destination.  But mostly, it's about a mom trying to tie the heart strings with her growing boys.

We are on week 22 in school.  Heads above water.  I've given up on Algebra and am looking into some outside help.  The 9th grader is flourishing in his art lessons.  He's learning about light in Science and it seems to have captured his interest.  The 7th grader chugs along like a steady reliable train.  He likes to do things right and well.

That's it for now.  The rest of the afternoon lies before me like an empty journal, awaiting thoughts to be penned onto it's pages.  And dinner time beyond that promises homemade biscuits with sausage gravy, and who in their right mind wouldn't be overjoyed with that idea!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

letting go of control

When preconceived notions are stripped away,

when someone else's convictions are not my own,

when peace intercedes after the laying down of control...

when we are free to step onto another path with no regrets...

this is when we can turn around and look at the path we have trod, notice that it has become dark, overgrown with vines, the trail bogged in stagnate mud.

Our homeschool adventure changes now as we shift into a new chapter.

I don't regret any of our adventure because while it has not always been easy it has always been best.  It has been ours, together.

When we began homeschooling we were fueled by conviction and for most of our journey that has been the driving force.  The conviction that our children and their education are our responsibility.  The conviction that it is the parents that ought to be teaching, guiding, rearing, disciplining, molding, encouraging, and raising their own children.

Another of my driving forces in this adventure has been fear (I'm just going to be honest here).  I've seen the dark side of this world.  I've seen sin, tasted it, battled it.  And from the moment my children were born I set out to protect them, to shield them from darkness, fiercely.  One way I have been able to protect them is through homeschooling, thus abating my fear.  Fear is a terrible motive by the way.

I understand that there have been times during these past 10 years of homeschooling that I was fueled by pride alone.  Sometimes when all other strengths failed me and I was sure we couldn't get through another week, it was that pride that picked me up, dusted me off, and proclaimed "you will go on!".  Truth be told, pride should never be the driving force behind anything.

In the quiet of my own heart I have found within myself a great need for control.  Control is my stability.  Control makes sure that I am protected, that those around me are protected, that my walls are up and fortified.  Control keeps everything at the end of my fingertips, right within reach should the need arise.

Control ran our homeschooling adventure for quite some time.  With my children ever present I had the ability to control what they hear, what they see, what they read, what they say, when they eat.  Can you say "MICROMANAGING"?  When a parent micromanages a child, said child will not learn how to handle themselves outside of the parent's presence.  Child stands up straight, behaves like an angel, when controlled.  But when the controlling presence is gone, parent is out of the room, the child is like a loaded weapon, now given the control over the bullet but without the ability to know how to use the gun.

Yes, parents should exercise some control over their children, it is our responsibility.  But micromanaging damages, leaving the child crippled, unable to know how to function if someone is not constantly controlling.

 To peer into a world where my control is laid down is frightening.  It's so much easier to just keep up the juggling game, keep my control where it has always been.  But my children are at stake in my game.  And it's time to lay it down.

From day one I've known that these children, they are not my own.  These boys belong to God and He allowed us the privilege of being their parents and the responsibility of raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  When they were wee babes we dedicated them right back to Him, knowing that our time with them was short and promising every effort to raise them for Him.

A fork in the road has been reached.  Just one of many we have faced in this journey of parenting.  One road continues on in fear, pride, and control.  The other road is new ground, requiring a complete trust in the ONE who loves our children more than we do.

And my mom heart cries.  Worries overshadow.  Pride creeps in.  But I lay it down.

And I lay it down again.  And again.

And next year one of my little birdies will go to high school full time.  And my other little birdie will continue on with school at home.  And our dynamics change.

And I reflect on how far we've come.  And I see where we've learned, where we've stumbled.  And it's okay.  And I understand that a change is required here.


And control falls from my hands and lays at HIS feet.

Monday, May 5, 2014


Listening...  The chicks are chirping contentedly, one of my favorite sounds.  A soft breeze is blowing my windchime, a gift from my sister ages ago.

Eating...  For lunch here in a bit we will be having chicken gyozas and brown rice/vegetable stir fry. 

Drinking...  If there is ever a question, this answer is most always COFFEE.  Today it is some Folgers with Bailey's caramel creamer.

Wearing...  My yoga gear and pigtail braids.

Feeling...  Said yoga gear was for my yoga class this morning which always leaves me feeling limber, warm, and strong.  Today we did inverted plow (translation: I'm on my back and my feet are on the floor behind my head) and some inverted wheels over a big exercise ball (translation: the ball is so soft I don't realize I'm bending in half backwards).

Weather...  Spring in the northwest is any combination of rain/sun/wind/clouds, with the combo changing every five minutes.  At this moment the sun is shining but there are dark clouds on the other side of the sky.

Enjoying... The smell of the lilac sprig I brought in the other day.  I was pleased to discover a lilac bush in bloom on the side of the house I rarely visit.  The scent of lilac brings back my childhood like almost no other scent.  We had a house whose yard was lined in lilacs.  I'd burrow under their smooth branches and play cars or build forts or pet kittens.  It was a happy place and always that scent transports me right back.

The chicks had their first taste of plain organic yogurt this morning.  I introduce new things in the palm of my hand so they've learned to associate my hands with good treats and come running.  They loved the yogurt but were so messy with it!  They also love crushed oats, cornmeal, quinoa, and worms.  Their wing feathers are coming in splendidly and their little tails are growing.
This is Pearl.  She likes new foods and spots bugs easily.

This is Braveheart.  She is brave.  She is daring.

Nuggets.  She likes to roost on the Tinkertoy roost we put in their brooder.

Mintie and Pearl take a nap.

Not pictured here is Elsa.  She is shy.  And possibly the prettiest of all.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

there is joy here

Starlings are building a nest in the eaves of our house just outside our bedroom window.  This was the racket we woke to this morning.  They are not graceful or quiet or lovely.  They found loose pieces of hay leftover from my potato tower and used that for building materials.  Of course they will be evicted, forced to set up house somewhere else.

It was a glorious morning to be at home.  I spent some time correcting schoolwork then took my baby chicks outside.  They enjoy the grass and bugs so much and I like that I can put them in their coop and it acts as a sort of playpen, keeping them safe and confined while allowing them to "play".  While they enjoyed the morning sunlight I set about to water my garden and various containers and flowers.

The joy I reap at home is beyond measure.  I love my kitchen and the things I create there.  I love watching my garden grow.  I love having dogs at my feet.  I love watching the birds that visit the feeders.  I love watching my boys grow and learn.  I love laying on the kitchen floor with chicks at my side eating cornmeal out of the palm of my hand.  There is peace here.  There is joy here.

Blake is off to the grocery store for me to pick up some sour cream.  I'm making beef fajitas tonight with green pepper, red onion, avocado, tomato, and lettuce.  Soon, I'll be able to harvest the tomato and lettuce from my very own garden!

As I type this I'm sitting on the back step, looking up now and again to see birds and watch the full dandelion heads sway.  A neighbor is mowing.  A dog is barking.  The breeze is perfect.  And my heart is full.