Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Best Friend's...

I had a long conversation with my sister in law the other day,and it really got me thinking. The topic was making friends. Entering into my thirties this year, I realize just how difficult it can be to make new friends. And have been reminded of this since we have moved, and have been navigating churches and our community.

By this time in a typical  person's life, they have established friends. Friends that go way back. I am so blessed to have friends like this. I can name a handful of precious dear friends. I have known for over half of my life, or longer. These friends are spread out over the country. All of us at different places in this journey of life. But, that doesn't matter, because we have a history that goes back to when our lives were just starting.

Since moving I have found it difficult to make friends. Thankfully the junior high years I lived through, have prepared me well for being the odd girl out. Braces, head-gear (big teeth), homeschooled, ballet dancer (think sickly skinny), anne of green gables fanatic, and moving from a small southern town, to the far north in 7th grade. It was rough.

Now, I am the *almost* thirty year old (Almost people. Not yet.) in a new town, homeschooling her four children. Thank goodness the braces and head gear are gone. So many things have changed, and yet, so many haven't.

I have been challenged to work on being hospitable. I have to be honest, it seems as though that is really lacking in our society. Our schedules are so busy, we don't make time to minister to others. I am blessed that our schedule has been forced to slow down. Having a child that has special needs forces you to take life at a different pace.

I am resolving in my 30th year, to draw on my best friends strengths. They each have taught me so much about life. So much so, that I thought I would introduce you to my friends...
Em with Elliott. This was a big deal,because at this age he would not just go to anyone. All of my children, have always adored her. No matter if they remembered meeting her or not, it's as if they just knew she loved them. Some say she is a baby whisperer, I have to agree!

Emily H- Engages you,and is not afraid to speak scripture over you. She asks how she can pray for you, and remembers the next time we talk and ask's how that specific prayer request was answered. She can always bring back an old memory and make me laugh. She loves the Lord fiercely, and is always reminding me of His Truth's. We met in ballet, and though we haven't danced together in years, our friendship has danced over so much of our history together. She loves my children like they are her own, and plasters their pictures everywhere (from what I hear) because all of her friends seem to know my children. She travels all over the world, and always brings me back the coolest things. And with her crazy busy schedule, and a pretty big deal of a job, she makes time for me. No matter that we are at very different phases in our lives, we have so much common ground. And while we haven't lived in the same state since Graduating high school, we have maintained a very close friendship. She is the sister I never had, and always wanted. And it helps we have the same last name, so now people really DO think we are sisters!(No relation on my husband's side, just chance coincidence that I married a man with my best friends last name!) And what's funny, our parents have become great friends now, go figure!

Abigail and her precious baby girl.

 Abigail E.- She will drop everything to be there for you, will call you and not care in the slightest if there is a child screaming in the background, will invite you over to her house any time, and will in turn come to yours, never ever mentioning the current state of either of our homes. She will buy your babies the most beautiful clothes, and delight in seeing them wear it. She is not offended easily, and treat's my children like her own. She see's a need, and she does it, buys it, and shows up at your door with it. She too know's God's word, and when we were in quizzing together in junior high, I sat (because Lord know's I RARELY, if ever,stood.)next to her and would be in awe of her ability to memorize scripture. It's amazing. She is amazing. Friends that have known you since those awkward junior high years, and choose to still be your friend many years later, are rare gems! I have always known, no matter what I say, or mistakes I have made, Abigail loves me. And the feelings are mutual.

Becky and her precious baby girl.

Becky H- Is a talented cook, but would never ever say that. It's her love language. She will show up at your house with a croc pot of food, and amazing dessert, just to sit and talk and share. She too never judges the state of your home, and is perfectly content to let children run wild, while we listen to music and sip some coffee. She has the most gentle and sweet spirit. You can see it in how she loves her girls. She know's God's word, because she is in it daily. And she too, will speak it over you at the most needed times. She will show up at a hospital at 2am to bring you a latte and pray over your boy. She is always down for a last minute trip to the park, or will call and say "Hey, I made extra food for dinner, come over. Now.". She will delight in my children, just the way she watches them and laughs over the little things they do. It blesses me so much. What is crazy is I knew "of" Becky for a long time. I actually knew her Mom, because she worked as a leader in Emily's youth group. But we only became close friends when she moved back to the area, years later. But she is one of those friends, that feels like you have known her forever. And in a way, we both knew of each other for a very long time, and have so many friends and acquaintances in common, it's rather crazy we didn't become friends sooner. But, I am SOOOO thankful we are friends now. 

Michelle and her sweet boy.

Michelle M.- We met when we had babies, and would get together for "play dates." You know, the kind where they sleep in their car seat, and you quietly chat for two hours, because you haven't  had an adult conversation since the last time you got together. And we got together consistently, because that is who Michelle is, consistent. She was always on top of getting babies pictures every month, she scrapbooked their first year faithfully,  and I SO admire that about her. Michelle too, is an amazing cook. (Imagine having all these friends that are great at cooking, and I am,well. Not!!!) She taught "young mom me", how to buy ahead for kids clothes, organize toys, and plan ahead meals. I never cease to be amazed at her sacrificial spirit. The woman wakes up at the crack of dawn to make her husband breakfast, And  packs his lunch. Something I have never, ever, done consistently. And the birthday parties she throws for her children, amazing. Oh, and she cans a huge garden of food every year for her family. Incredible! She too is not easily offended at the state of my home, or a child throwing a tantrum, or me not calling her for weeks (months now that we have moved.). She loves Jesus too, and you can see it in the way she serves her family and friends. Oh, and fyi, don't play dutch blitz with her. You will always. loose.
I have been blessed with many friends through the years, and am thankful to stay in contact with so many. One day, I want to plan a trip with this group of girls. While they all know of each other, they don't really know each other. I do not doubt we would have the time of our lives. Hmm. I need to get on to planning something like that!

Needless to say, they are all very talented and gifted. They have taught me so much. And I am still learning from them. They are the friends the Bible talks about, they stick closer than a brother, they are iron sharpening iron type of friends. They are not afraid to speak the truth in love to you. And they love, really, really well.

Who are your closest friends? What have you learned from them? What qualities do you wish to emulate? I have so much to work on in this 30th year, and maybe I will share a list of what I am working on, to have all of you hold me accountable.

If any of my BFF's read this:

 Thank you. I don't deserve friends like you. You have been my rocks, lifeboats, line's from God, sisters. You have cooked for my family when I couldn't, loved on my babies, cleaned my house, washed my laundry, cried with me, laughed with me, helped pack and move our stuff multiple times, disciplined my babies, given of your time and money, and most of all, been the hands and feet of our Jesus in some of my darkest hours. You have loved me through my many, many faults. One being a lousy friend who is terrible about returning a phone call. I adore you, am blessed and a better person because of you. And I just had to write this post, because I want everyone to know,
 I have THE BEST FRIENDS. I am claiming this as our song. My favorite line: "I know we are growing older, can you imagine what that will bring? It's all a mystery to me now. Except this one thing, it will be half as hard, and twice as good." 

Thank you for making my life, half as hard, and twice as good. Forever XO,- B

P.S. Next time I see each of you, I am insisting on pictures of us. Together. Seriously, I had to search like crazy, and came up completely empty handed. (Well, I DO have some stellar pictures of a few of us from high school. You are SO welcome I didn't post those.)

Monday, August 19, 2013

First Day of School-Heart of Dakota!

Today was our first day back to homeschooling.

 It's also the first year (officially) all of my children are school age. Jackson is in 3rd grade, Clara is in 3rd grade, Elliott is in 1st grade and Riley is Kindergarten. And while it is so easy for everything to look just "so" in pictures. This is more realistic.

Let me tell you, our first day was hard. Re-adjusting schedules, figuring out how we are going to make it work, attempting to keep everyone's attention. Hard.

So, while the moments I captured in pictures may look picturesque. There were plenty of moments it was anything but. Like the moment Elliott threw his just sharpened pencil hitting Riley in the chest(think arrow in a target. Ouch!). Or the moment Riley decided he didn't want to fill out his "about me" page, and cried, and needed a moment to just breathe. Homeschooling is hard. For those of you who don't homeschool, I am doing a great job of selling it to ya, huh? Hang on.

But. Homeschooling is so rewarding. Like when Clara answered the question on her about me page, "What is the one thing you like most", and she answered "I love Jesus!". Or Jackson answering the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and answered "A Dad, like my Dad." Or when talking about God creating the world and saying "Let there be light". We played a game with a flashlight, shining the light on different objects in the room. Riley shines the light at a yellow paper lantern and says "It's yellow, and round. Like the sun. Just like Jesus' love warms my heart, the sun warms the world." Profound moments I will hold on to and treasure forever. As in, I will be a Grandma telling these stories over and over to my Grandchildren, kind of forever.
Watching your child's eyes light up when they suddenly "get" a math problem. Seeing them discover and learn, and learning along with them. It can be magical. And there are melt downs. Mountain highs, valley lows.

We had fun making a time capsule to open on the last day of school.
 Answering "About Me" pages, and drawing a picture on the back of one of their favorite things to do. I also made "Treat bags" for the kids. I never buy candy, so this was a HUGE deal at our house. I wanted to reinforce principles with the treats. And found some ideas on Pinterest.

 Here is what was in their bags:
Gum- "We stick together"
Smarties- "We each are smart at different things."
Kisses- "We love each other, and are kind."
Eraser- "No mistake is too big to be erased and learned from."
Sharpened Pencil- "You are one sharp kid!"
Reese Pieces- "You are loved to pieces". ( I *might* have burst out singing Patsy Cline's "I fall to pieces" while handing these out. Children were NOT amused.)

This is our fourth year using Heart of Dakota Curriculum. I love this curriculum and can not say enough good things about it. Jackson and Clara are using "Bigger Hearts for His Glory" and Elliott and Riley are using "Little Hearts for His Glory" (Elliott is using the extension package for 1st grade). I found a yahoo group that has MANY amazing free printables and utilized that for the older kids notebooks. Doing so has simplified my job SO much!

In the "bigger kids" curriculum we sang the Hymn "Holy, Holy, Holy." And we are focusing on the character trait "Persistence." As I was preparing everything last night, pandora played this song.Two thoughts ran through my mind while I was preparing all day yesterday. "What do I know God?" and "How can I do this?". Then to hear this song, just confirmed that, even in our failures, God can and does use us. My job as a parent is to point my children to Jesus Christ. He will do the rest. It's not my job to know everything, that is impossible. My job is to know Christ. It's not to make excuses, or try to make God promises. It's to fear God, that is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. And this is our Bible Verse for this week. I actually chose this verse, as the verse of the year to pray over my children. Having NO idea it would be the first memory verse for school. Only God can do that. And I was reminded yet again, how God is in the little details of our lives.

 My son, if you receive my words,

And treasure my commands within you,

So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-5

I have heard many times "I could never teach my children!" or "I don't have the patience to homeschool."  My disclaimer:
I am not "qualified", I don't have a degree. I am NOT the picture of patience. So how do I homeschool? Why do I homeschool? Because, "Through Christ I can do all things.". And I believe that. I know in my weakness, He gives me strength. I do not homeschool in my own strength. I can not.
And at the end of the day, I can think back over the many times I have seen The Glory of God, through these moments I spend daily with my children. That is what keeps me going, that is why I homeschool. Hope all of our friends, homeschool, public school, christian school, I hope you ALL have a wonderful year! May the Glory of God shine all around you, and may you be Blessed.