Friday, July 13, 2018

Current photos (kinda)

Joshua learning to play roller hockey

Nelson finished Brain Balance in Nov 2017

Me and Josiah - fall 2017

Artwork from homeschool co-op

Rebecca, Lydia, and Nelson at the YMCA skating rink (our home away from home)

Jeremiah; photo credit our friend Kimberly - January 2018

Nelson; photo credit - our friend Kimberly - January 2018

Rebecca earned her yellow belt in Tae Kwon Do through our homeschool co-op - May 2018

Joshua earned his yellow belt in Tae Kwon Do through the homeschool co-op - May 2018

Rebecca was a skunk in the homeschool co-op's production on The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe - May 2018

Nelson and me - in June 2018, VBS week

June 2018 - VBS week - Rebecca, Lydia, and Nelson

I want that elephant so bad! I just included this for the baby bump and the new haircut. July 2018

Josiah - July 2018
I tried to find photos of all the kids, but not everyone wants their photo taken (and shared). I am also not terribly savvy at finding my phone photos through Rebecca's laptop. This whole laptop thing is a new challenge for me. For some reason I couldn't find my photos of Paul or the whole family. That will be a chore for another day. Unless google has changed, you ought to be able to click on any photo to bring up the enlargements page.

Thursday, July 12, 2018


Yesterday I had an appointment at a building where I had never been, in a town in which I am somewhat unfamiliar. I had to make a leap of faith and use my google maps app on my phone. So, the night before my adventure appointment, I planned ahead. I let the phone offer the fastest route and I planned my morning trip based on the app's suggestion. Yesterday morning I jumped in the car and followed the instructions the phone gave me. But, just minutes from my destination a road was closed. The city department was doing tree trimming and closed off the whole road. I thought to myself, “isn't that just a perfect analogy for life?”

We make plans. Educated plans. We make choices that we think will be the best for ourselves and our family. We pray and seek God's wisdom and instruction and we begin our adventure. But, sometimes, even after doing our due diligence of planning, there are roadblocks in the way.

This is the metaphorical picture of where our family is right now. We were navigating with the Lord to lead us and with wisdom and knowledge to guide us. We chose the path of homeschooling when our oldest was still in diapers. At that time, we made the best decision we could with the information that we had. And, it was a good choice for our family.

(At this point, I need to insert some news that will change the navigation of this story line. I am expecting a new baby boy in October. This has not been an easy pregnancy. Not just because I am almost 40. Not just because of my “normal” physical ailments of autoimmune hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue. But, also because ten weeks ago, I had an emergency appendectomy. Due to that difficult first trimester and appendix issues that were masked by the pregnancy/morning sickness, I lost an atypical amount of weight. Just this past week – at 25 weeks pregnant – I finally got back up to my pre-pregnancy weight.
Aside from that physical stress, there has been great emotional turmoil. I lost one of my best friends to cancer in my first trimester. Mindy was 40 years old and left behind 4 children and a grieving husband. My world was rocked by her death. I still miss her every day. Some days I think I see her and it takes my breath away. Some days I think about her and break down in tears. I am still grieving. But, that's not all. To add more duress, there has been an unexpected change in our housing situation. The landlords have decided to sell the house which we are currently renting. So, not only did I have to prep our rental home for sale with realtor photos and showings, but we had to find a new residence. I am happy to say that we have found a home to move to in August, but the process hasn't been easy. And, the emotions of pregnancy make all these issues even worse than they already would have been.)

Back to our story line. Our family was cruising along with our intention to homeschool every child through high school. It was our informed decision based on the circumstances that we were aware of at the time.

Enter the roadblock.

This pregnancy has been difficult and my health has been patchy. I am tired continually. My aches and pains that usually abate during pregnancy have not ceased. In fact, in many ways I am worse than I was 5 months ago. Baby Boy is due in October. So, I have made the heartbreaking decision that I am not currently able to continue homeschooling our 6 gems. I may keep some of them at home, but the little guys (especially the 6, 8, and 11 year olds) need more help than I expect that I will be able to give them.

Roadblocks are not always a bad thing. Yesterday, I had to pick up my phone map app and reroute my own trail (because google couldn't understand that my road was closed). So, I found a new path in the countryside and drove into town from a new direction. It was pretty. I even thought to myself, “I need to bring Paul here, maybe we could live in this area some day.” It was an unexpected trip, but it was still pretty. And, I ended up being only 10 minutes late to my appointment.

I will now tell you that my appointment was with the public school office to begin registering my three youngest for elementary and middle school. I was already emotionally frazzled just because of the nature of the appointment. Add in the stress of the road being blocked and I was kind of on edge. I am a planner. And I like to control everything my circumstances. I had intended to arrive a bit early. I had intended to go directly there. But, the best of my planning could not have foreseen the roadblock.

Lord willing, we will put three (or more) children into public school this year. It may or may not work out. We do not at all expect this transition to be easy. In many ways it will be more difficult, but if I list those reasons I will sound like Debbie Downer. I am choosing to focus on how public school can help our children and family, because I need to keep myself from coming undone.

This decision has not been easy. I don't want to be sick. I don't want to turn my kids over to the public school after sheltering them for so long (I don't deny it, my kids are indeed sheltered). I don't want to plan for the worst. But, with the information available to me now, it is time to re-route.

I am not writing this to start a debate (far from it, I really don't like arguments and confrontations). But, I am sharing my heart, because: 1) If I don't write, I will bust; and 2) Maybe my honest sharing of my struggles will bless someone. Maybe it will bless me. Maybe it will bless a random reader who stumbles upon my blog by “accident.” All I know is that my heart is bursting to write. I am compelled to share this journey, and to do so publicly.

There may be further roadblocks. Plans may change again. Any number of challenges could arise which could cause us to re-route or re-trace our path. We are doing our best to hold our children loosely while God does what He needs to do in their lives to shape them to be who He intends them to be. His purposes are even better than what we would choose for them, therefore His intended Path for them is greater than the one we map out in our limited knowledge.

May God bless us as we re-route this educational journey.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Update 08/17/2017

Wow! It has been a long time since I have written an update! I will try to get some recent pictures up in the next few days, but for now you will have to settle for words only.

 There've been a number of changes in our family life since 2016. In November 2016, Paul moved to Pittsfield, Illinois by himself to secure an Illinois residency in an effort to get a job working for the state of Illinois. The rest of our family moved to Illinois in January 2017.  Paul was indeed able to get hired by the state of Illinois, in the department of corrections.  Paul had his training academy in February and March. And then our family needed to move to be closer to the prison where he was to be working at full-time. Paul has now been working in the field of corrections for three years.

 Since March, our family has been living in a small house while we try to figure out where we would land more permanently. We needed to get to know the area better before entering a long-term commitment here. As it turns out, we have found that most of the activities of our daily life are located in Edwardsville, Illinois. We go to church in Edwardsville, we go to Brain Balance in Edwardsville, we go to the YMCA in Edwardsville. So we are pretty much there every day of the week! ( I will talk more about Brain Balance in another post!)

 We recently learned about a farmhouse for rent much closer to the town of Edwardsville, so it made perfect sense for us to arrange to rent it.  So, even though no one wants to move more than once in a year, we will be moving at the end of August. We hope to remain in the next house as long as is humanly possible. As much as I like to move, I don't care to move again for a long time. Enough is enough.  Seriously, I think I must've packed my brain in a box when Paul moved to Pittsfield last fall... Because I haven't seen it since. ;)

 Today I was reading through my old blog postings, and it struck me that in times past I have been very clever and quick-witted.  I'm not sure where that clever mama went off to, but I hope she will find her way back into my brain in the coming years.  I truly miss blogging. And I hope to begin doing it more. But, this is shaping up to be one of our busiest school years ever. Rebecca will be in 10th grade, Nelson 8th, Lydia 7th, Joshua 5th, Josiah 2nd, and Jeremiah kindergarten. I am thrilled to say that Edwardsville, Illinois has a phenomenal homeschool co-op, actually there's more than one. I have decided to plunge in headfirst by teaching a class! This is going to be a busy year!

 All the same, I really miss my blog posting and my blog friends! I will try not to be such a stranger! Keep your eye out for pictures in the coming days! 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Expectations at Christmas

Christmas. The day that most families are posting photos of smiling kids standing around a pile of presents. My Facebook feed was full this morning of family photos. I posted a photo of my own children last night.

But, what about the kids without the piles of glittering wrapping paper? What about the families who may have gifts, but no longer have a Daddy (or other relative)? What about those families separated by military service or a job at a store that stays open 365 blessed days a year?

As usual, my biggest struggle today is my own battle with unrealistic expectations. You know, the images in my head of kids playing with new toys, or sitting around a glorious, pinterest-worthy feast? Everyone is smiling. No one holds a grudge. No one breaks out into argument because “she got more mashed potatoes than I did.” We are all guilty of these expectations in some way or another.

What do we do when reality strikes? There are no presents, or there is no feast, or the kids continue to act as they do every other day of the year? Shining new gadgets and toys may forestall the naughtiness for a time. But, by the end of the day reality will come pouring down on us. Either your husband will start talking politics with Uncle George, or the kids will eat too much sugar and come crashing down in a tumult of blood sugar-spiked tears. Or, the toddler will take the baby's new toy . . . and break it. What then?

I am writing this now, to answer that question for myself. What is Christmas really? It's not just a day for glamorous photos in my FB timeline. It's not just about presents. And, let's face it, kids will be kids – even on Christmas. So, what should my realistic expectation be for this Christmas?

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 
I Cor. 10:31

It doesn't really matter if it's a random Tuesday in February or Christmas Day. Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God. Whether you are celebrating His incarnation with feasting and merriment, or sitting in an apartment fearing that tomorrow you will lose your electricity- Live for the glory of God.

Easier said than done, to be sure.

But, Christ is the only Standard by which we can live. Christ is the only Stable, Static Entity in our ever-transitioning lives. CHRIST!

So, whatever you do -whether you open presents, light candles, eat cake, play with kids, work at your job, cook a meal, go to school, etc – do it for the glory of Christ. Because Christ is the only un-changeable in our lives. Christ never fails.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

When daydreaming brings better vision...

As sometimes happens, I was hit with some deep thoughts while I was in the middle of daydreaming.
What would happen, what would it be like, if I became blind? (This isn't exactly prose... neither is it any type of poetry I am familiar with. We could call it meandering mind... or derailed train of thought that took me to the destination that was better than the one I anticipated.) Some of this was written with my actual weaknesses in mind, but some of it is written with every woman in mind.

What if I became blind?
If I became blind, would I finally see?
Would I more clearly see the people that surround me?
Would I fall more in love with my husband as he served me and daily laid down his life for me?
Would I hear the hurt in the voices of the broken, where previously my eyes were deceived by fake smiles and make-up?
Would I love people without seeing such things as tattoos and ear rings?
Would all the designations of beauty that the World gives mean anything at all?
Would I see for the first time that some of God's most beautiful souls are hidden in bodies of people who are "fat," "short," or "too tall?"
Would I love people more if I couldn't see the car they drove? The brand of clothes they wear? Or the color of their hair?
Would I love people more if I couldn't see acne or a smile muted by the crooked teeth it revealed?
Would I see my own daughter, who is covered with white patches (caused by vitiligo) as even more beautiful than I already know her to be?
How would it feel if I was no longer distracted by hair styles or eyebrows?
Would I be free of forming instant judgments about people?
Would I love more freely?
Would I more readily hug those who might presently make me cringe?
Would I see what true beauty is?
Would I better hear the cries of the hearts of others without the limitation of sight?
Would I love people from all walks of life with more fervor?
Would you drop me off on the "wrong side of town" and I could be free from the burden of such labels?
Would I see myself as beautiful, if I was no longer enslaved to a mirror and a scale?
Would I discover what really matters?

Lord, free me of my wretched human sight and let me see through Your Eyes! As I enjoy the rich colors of autumn, I rejoice! As I look forward to a day of daughters parading down the aisle in white, I rejoice! As I see my husband's eyes - so blue, so gentle - I rejoice! But, I want to see more than my human eyes can see. Remove the limitations of human sight and let me see people through the eyes of love! Transform my heart, that I would truly SEE! In Jesus Name, Amen.