Saturday, March 30, 2013

April Quests

Oh my! Can you believe March is nearly over? Another year is screaming by in my life. However, I have to say, doing my Heart & Spirit Monthly Quest, has given me something positive to focus on each day. 

It just dawned on me as I write this that by doing my Quests each month, I have accomplished something each and every day of 2013 so far.  How cool will it be on December 31st to look back on the year and know that I did something positive to create a pure heart and renew my spirit every single day for the entire year?

This 2013 Year Long Adventure has already been a growing, encouraging, and uplifting experience...and I am only three months into it!  I am excited to begin my fourth month in a couple days and I would love to have you join me.  What Quest would you like to accomplish every day for a month? 

I have been thinking and praying about what to do for April, and I have decided to tackle two Quests this month.  Both of these Quests have been on my mind and my heart. 

This morning I spent time reading, Praying for Strangers and fullfilled my March Quest for the day.  Taking a queue from this inspiring read, I plan to Pray For Someone Every Day in April.  Yes, I already pray for people daily, but this will be different because I'm going to pick someone special to focus on throughout the day that I know has a specific need.  It may be someone I know, and it may be a stranger. 
As a matter of fact, whether we are Friends In Real Life or Blog Friends, if you have a concern you would like me to spend a day praying over, please send me an email. Just send me your first name (or a Blog Name, if you prefer) along with your need, and I will chose a day to pray for you.

One thing I can promise you, when I say I will pray for you, I will.  Most of the time, when someone shares a prayer request, I pray for them right then and there, so that I don't forget to pray after I say I will.  With this Quest, I plan to pray for that person throughout the day.

My second Quest will be to Encourage Someone Every Day.  My idea for this Quest is to contact someone each day and share positive words with them.  Again, it might be someone I know or someone I don't know, but I do have a list of several people I know that I want to contact and I just haven't taken the time to do so.  
There are many options in how I will fullfill this Quest.  I may send a letter, note, card, message, email, text, or treat.  I might also call the person or just speak to them face to face.  The method will vary depending on the person and what I want to do or say to encourage him or her.

I am very excited about both of these Quests. 

Just to be clear, although I might blog some about these Quests, I will most certainly keep private what should stay private.  So if you would like to send a special prayer request to me, you can trust that I will not write anything in this blog that should not be shared here. 
Tomorrow our family will celebrate Our Risen Savior, Jesus Christ.  We will enjoy Easter Sunday with family.  Our Family wishes you and yours a very blessed day!
Happy Easter!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Just For Fun Friday: Clear Skies & A Peep!

Before we get to the Just For Fun's an update to yesterday's Gray Cloud Day:

If you read yesterday's post, you may remember when I left you last night, I was willingly "wallowing" in a Gray Cloud Day, and I was going to read from Psalms, try to ditch the gray cloud, and go to bed.

Today, I can tell you that I did just that.  I read Psalm 91 which comforted my soul and helped me finally let the gray cloud go.  It was time.  I said a little prayer, settled into the Hug Bed, and fell fast asleep. 

This morning I awoke crazy early (as usual) due to Hubby's work schedule, but I felt rested and ready to celebrate a special day for Christians around the word: Good Friday.  I knew the gray cloud from yesterday was long gone. 

After seeing Hubby off to work, I enjoyed a little quiet time and a warm cup of tea in the Hug Chair with the Twins cuddled up on my lap.  Before I knew it, the darkness of the early predawn hours was swept away with the rising of the sun, and beautiful sunshine was pouring into the living room reminding me of this:  It's Friday...but Sunday is coming! 

It was a dark day...that Friday when Jesus Christ was hung on a cross to die.  It was a horrible day and it greatly grieved his friends...his followers...his family.  But God had a plan.  He can use dark days.  He can make good out of bad.  

As my cousin, Pastor Cousin, wrote in his blog today, "It was the saddest greatest day ever."

Sunday dawned.  It was a new day and something glorious had happened.  Jesus, who died on the cross...had done exactly what he said he would:  He Arose!  The SON was shining.  The darkness of Friday was gone.  Sunday had come.  The Son of God did that for you and me.

This was on my mind this morning as the sun arose and warmed us up to temperatures we haven't seen here in the Midwest in quite some time.  The snow from last weekend has nearly melted away.  My Easter flowers - while "droopy" -  opened up a bit with the warmth of the sun shining down on them today. 

With Easter Sunday just a couple days away, we are finally seeing the hope of Spring here.  The Engineer and I sat down with our Bibles and took turns reading from Matthew 26, 27, 28 and John 19, 20.  It was a very blessed time and it touched me greatly that this was important to him and he wanted to do this with me.  It was a sacred, special time for both of us.

Later in the day, I sat down and completed my March Quest as I read a bit more in Prayer Walk.  Our Engineer has been joining me every day in this reading quest.  He is about half way through his 1200 page book.  The fact that he has joined me in this quest - on his own, I might add - means a great deal to me.

Yes...Yesterday was a darker day for me...but, today, a new day dawned and I was reminded of many wonderful reasons why I live life with a Rosie Outlook.  Good Friday, indeed.

Now...Just For Fun - because it's FRIDAY:

Yesterday, I discovered a new favorite Easter treat:  Chocolate Mousse Peeps dipped in Dark Chocolate....seriously...yum!

I am not a huge fan of regular Peeps, but these...oh my!

They are just so so yummy!

Here's hoping the Easter Bunny brings some more for Easter (hint hint, Hubby)!

Come back tomorrow and I will share my Quest for April!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dragging Around A Gray Cloud

Last night I didn't get a blog post written because I was off enjoying a beautiful Easter Musical at our church.  Dad and Mom drove up to join Hubby, our Engineer, and me for a delightful presentation of the Easter story through song. 

Today has been less Rosie than I like...and truthfully, as I sat down to write, I wondered if I could really pull off a Rosie Outlook tonight.  I'm not in a Blue Hue...but I've just had a tough day.  I've done a lot of praying and a little bit of crying.  I am exhausted and worn out.  And I really think I could just crawl into bed right now and fall asleep. 

I'm sure when I wake up in the morning, things will be more Rosie....but this day had a gray cloud that hung over me and I allowed it to be my focus.  Have you ever done that?  Have you ever allowed something beyond your control to hover over you all day - taking over your thoughts and messing up your day?  Or it is just me?

I'm thinking there are others out there that struggle with this from time to time as well.

It's frustrating because even as I am allowing it, I have full knowledge that I do not have to spend the day letting this problem hang over me and yet...admittedly I can be (as Hubby says) "a wallower".  Sometimes, I not only wallow in a problem, but I know I am wallowing, and really...I just want to wallow.  I don't want to fix it.  I don't want to try to let it go.  I just want to think, and worry, and cry over it...sometimes. 

I don't do this with every issue in my life, but...sometimes I do.  And today I did.

What can I do to fix that? I am writing this, it dawns on me that I never did my March Quest today.  I had a pretty busy day and I didn't stop for even a few minutes to sit down and read some of a book. 

Since I just realized this, I have also discovered an answer to my problem.  I'm going to get off this blog and take some time to read.  I think I need to turn to Psalms in the Bible. 

Tonight I will let God's Word fill my soul and lift this gray cloud that I have been dragging around all day.  It's time.  No more wallowing for me today...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I Come From A Praying People

With the exception of a melting little snowman standing guard in our front yard, things seem to be back to normal around here.  You know....our Engineer and I completed another day of 10th grade, snow is piled outside our door, temperatures are in the brisk mid 30s range...yep...Spring time in the Midwest. 

But, thankfully the sun was shining all day.  It warmed us up a bit and warmed our hearts as well.  How could we not have a happy day?  I do love the sunshine!

This afternoon, I settled into the Hug Chair to read a bit in a different book.  I checked off my March Quest for the day by reading the first several chapters in Prayer Walk.

I'm still reading my other book as well, but today I wanted to read a little in this book to see if I could add some prayer to my exercising time. 

As you know, I am training to run my first 5K in April, and I try to walk or run every day.  I also happen to have a list of people and needs that I try to pray over daily. 

I may have mentioned a time or two that I don't really enjoy exercising.  It's a sad, but true statement.  I think the biggest reason is that I get really bored with it.  I hate to even admit that because it's sounds like such a First World Problem, doesn't it?  Again...sad, but true statement. 

I'm always on the lookout for something to read, listen to, or watch while I walk or run on the treadmill.  Rediscovering a few of my prayer books made me realize that praying while I'm exercising might be the best "entertainment" I could find. 

Although I'm just a few chapters into the book, I am already enjoying it and thinking of ways I can make this work in my own life.

Prayer is really important to me.  It's one of the best ways for us to communicate with God...and by now you know how much I enjoy communicating.  Seriously...I can talk to God as much as I want and for as long as I need?  Now that I think about it, prayer seems to be tailor-made for me. 

I didn't always see it that way.  For many of my early years, prayer was something Mom and Aunt Prayer Warrior did.  I knew they were always praying because they talked about it.  They told me they were praying for me.  And I had no doubt that they were.  They both continue to be people in my life that I know without a doubt are praying, not just for me, but for many many others as well. 

Step into Mom's kitchen at any given time and you might find scraps of paper listed with names, dates, times, or concerns.  You might find a prayer list on the window ledge over the kitchen sink.

If you stop by Mom and Dad's house, you are most likely to find Mom tending her beautiful blossoms in her flower garden, gathering the fruit of her labors in her vegetable garden, or standing at her kitchen sink - washing dishes while something that smells delicious is baking in the oven. 

There's a good chance when you find Mom in her flower garden, or in her vegetable garden, or in her kitchen at the sink looking out the window over the family farmland, she is praying.  She is praying for family, friends, and even strangers.  She is praying for the people, places, times, dates, or worries on those scraps of paper.  She is praying for things she has heard on the news.  She is praying for leaders, churches, and neighbors.  This I know about Mom...she prays.

Her sister, Aunt Prayer Warrior is well known in our family to be someone who will pray for you.  If she tells you she will pray, you know that she will.  A couple months ago, we stopped by Aunt Prayer Warrior's restaurant and we spotted her bundled up walking briskly outside.  It is my understanding that she prays as she takes her walks.  It did not surprise me at all to learn this, because I know she is a praying woman. 

Mom and Aunt Prayer Warrior are wonderful examples of faithful women of prayer in my family.  They learned at a very young age from the teaching and examples of their parents: Grandpa Pastor and Grandma Gem.  Both of them faithfully prayed over their family every day. 

A vivid memory of my childhood comes from the treat of getting to stay the night at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  Grandma always made a big sit-down breakfast.  We would gather around the table; Grandpa's well-read Bible would be sitting next to his plate.  He would pick it up and read God's Word to us and then pray a heartfelt blessing over us, our day, and our breakfast.

To this day that special memory touches me deeply.  Grandpa and Grandma faithfully prayed every day and even as a tiny child I knew that was something special and important in my life.

Grandpa Pastor and Grandma Gem have gone on to their Heavenly Reward, but prayer continues in our family.  Not only do Mom and Aunt Prayer Warrior pray for our family, but I also know that Dad gets up early each morning and spends time in prayer as well.  What a blessing to know this!

I do not come from a family of great monetary wealth that I will one day inherit.  Instead, along with my siblings and cousins, I have been given something much more valuable.  We have had family that have prayed for us, with us, and over us.  They have passed this blessing on to us, and now we not only pray for each other, but for all kinds of people and prayer needs. 

We do this because we have faith that God hears our prayers.  We do this because we know that there is power in prayer.  We do this because our parents, grandparents, and even our great grandparents humbly knelt in prayer, leaving a legacy of a praying people.  We are not perfect people...but we are a praying people.

I come from these praying people.  I am a part of these praying people.  Handing this legacy down to the next generation, I pray for and with my own children.  They are part of these praying people too.

Thinking on all of this today, I decided I would try to combine my prayer time with my exercise time.  I hope to be more faithful and spend more time doing what my people do...pray.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Raising Men

This was the view from my front door this morning.  Somewhere under that pile of snow are my Easter flowers.  Off to the right, next to the pole, is my little snow covered Easter bunny.  Can you see his ears?  Turns out the 100% chance of snow forecast was correct. 

Happy Spring from the Midwest where snowbunnies are popping up in yards around us. 
True Story.

We did not take a full Snow Day today, but after a few hours of school work, the Engineer and I bundled up and made a traditional snowman in our front yard.  Neither one of us thought we could pull off a bunny.  The Engineer and Hubby shoveled snow off our driveway and then enjoyed a snowball fight. 

We have been complaining about this Never Ending Winter for several weeks now, but today we just accepted it and enjoyed some Fun in the Snow.  It's not the same as Fun in the Sun, but since that's not the offering in the Midwest at this time, we are making the best of it and trying to have a Rosie Outlook.

After has to warm up and stop snowing at some point, right?  If it doesn't, I might start crying for a ticket to the Beloved Southwest where I know there is warmth and sun - not only in the weather, but in people I love there as well. 

As I peek out the window, I discover the snow has stopped falling.  I have homemade Chicken Noodle Soup cooking on the stove. It is warm and toasty inside our home, and in a bit I plan to enjoy my March Quest, settle into the Hug Chair, and read a little more of Praying for Strangers.

Now that you have enjoyed the Midwest weather about some sports news?  As you may recall...I mentioned March Madness basketball and the 15th ranked Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles in my last post.  Yesterday they made history by being the very first 15th rank team to ever make the Sweet Sixteen.  They are the lowest rank team to every do so, as a matter of fact. 

Don't you just love a fabulous underdog story?  I sure do.  And it seems to me that this wide-eyed, super excited, surprise wonder of March Madness is filled with inspiring young men who are taking in every minute of this experience with joy and confidence. 

I had never heard of this school or their team before.  I have no connection with them in any way, but boy do I cheer for them!  I hope they make it all the way to the Final Four!

Yesterday, not only did we watch snow fall all day long, and the surprise win of the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast, but we also celebrated a very special day in our house - the birth of our first born son, our Scientist.  He turned 20 years old yesterday and Hubby and I are no longer the parents of teens, but the parents of a teen and a twentysomething. 

That, my friends, is the weirdest feeling.  I can't explain it, it just is.  Time is screaming by at an insane pace and Hubby and I are just trying to hold on while we raise MEN.  Babies...that quickly toddled into little boys...then ran full blast into teenagers...are now one by one coolly strolling into MEN. 

Just a few years ago, we were standing along the sidelines of a high school soccer game.  It was a rough game, and our Scientist ended up crashing to the ground.  His coach ran out to the field and knelt down beside him.  One of my friends standing next to me commented on how well I was handling it and annouced that if it were her son she would have run out on the field to check on him. 

I told her it was hard for me to see my son lying on the field in pain, but I could not run out there because I was raising men.  She gasped at my words.  Her sons were a few years younger and she was not ready to think of it that way. 

The next school year, there we were at a basketball game and this time one of her sons went down during the game.  I'm sure she really wanted to run out on the court, but she didn't.  Instead, I reached out and gave her a bit of comfort.  She was doing a good job.  She was raising men.

It's really hard for moms to raise men.  It's hard to stand back and let them experience the difficult parts of life, but sometimes we have to do this just so they can grow up to become strong men.  I'm sure you have met a few adult boys in your lifetime.  Of course, I have as well.  It makes me sad for them, and it makes me work harder to stick with raising mine into men.  I don't want to raise adult boys. 

There is a popular children's book about a mother and son.  In this story, the mother rocks her baby son and sings to him that he will always be her baby.  As the boy grows, the mother continues to do this all the way until he is an adult living in his own house.  Even then, the mother drives to the son's house to sing the song to him. 

Mothers of sons seem to love this book, but I have to admit I have never really liked it.  I get the message of the mother always loving her son.  That is a wonderful message.  When the mother is old, the son sings the song to the mother, and then goes home and sings the song to his own baby.  It's a very sweet story and I do understand why it touches so many moms.

However...I have reasons why I have never cared for this book.  Just like any other mother, I tease my boys that they will always be my babies, but the truth is...they won't.  And that's okay.  It really is.  I don't want them to always be my babies.  I want them to grow up and be amazing men.

That doesn't mean I won't always love them like only a momma can, but I think in wanting them to grow, mature, and be men of worth, I am loving them the best I can.

The book I prefer is Sam McBratney's Guess How
Much I Love You.   This sweet little read about Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare trying to outdo each other on guessing how much they love each other (just before Little Nutbrown Hare is tucked into bed) is a favorite with my guys and me.

Although the main characters are male, of course I can still relate to this story as a mother.  At the end, Little Nutbrown Hare "wins" by telling Big Nutbrown Hare, "I love you right up to the moon,' because nothing could be farther than the sky." 

But then, Little Nutbrown Hare falls asleep, and Big Nutbrown Hare tells his sleeping little hare, "I love you right up to the moon - and back." 

My guess is...Little Nutbrown Hare will never know or understand how much Big Nutbrown Hare truly loves least not until he has a Little Nutbrown Hare of his own.

Earlier today, after snowball fights and making snow angels, Hubby graded our Engineer's Algebra II math test he took today.  Together we celebrated the 100% he earned.  He works very hard on his school work and has set some great goals with his eye on college just a little over two years away. 

Our Engineer is very good about helping around the house.  He's a careful driver.  He's loving, but firm with the Twins.  We are pleased with the choices he makes.

Yesterday we called our Scientist at the perfect time.  Just as he answered FaceTime, we watched as he was surprised by a pancake with a candle on top.  We got to share in singing Happy Birthday to him with a group of his friends. 

We wished him well, said goodbye to his great group of friends, and hung up.  Hubby and I know he has made some great decisions at college.  He has chosen wonderful friends.  He has made good choices with his social time.  He's taking tough classes and working toward a promising future. 

We are proud of the men they are becoming, but we also know our job isn't quite finished yet.  They are really great guys, but they still need us from time to time to help, guide, instruct, and love on them.  And that's okay...because we are raising men and we love them right up to the moon...and back.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Tap On The Shoulder From God?

Happy Saturday!  I started the morning off (before I even got out of the Hug Bed) by enjoying several chapters in Praying for Strangers and checking off my March Quest.  While I am in the early part of this book, I have to say, I'm really enjoying it.  Just as I expected, it is a heartwarmingly inspirational book.

Today the sun was shining and the temperatures climbed up into the low 50s.  While we were out and about, I was still bundled up in a warm jacket, but we did see a lot of people without a coat or jacket and even one lady in shorts.  Yes..shorts in 40ish degree weather.  We are clearly so desperate for Spring in the Midwest.

Of course we were sitting under a Severe Winter Storm Watch all day that has now turned into a Severe Winter Storm Warning with a 100% chance of snow.   The temperatures are falling. 

This is the weirdest winter ever.

After our errands were complete, Hubby, Engineer, and I returned home and settled in to watch a little basketball.  I don't know if you are into March Madness, but I have come to enjoy it with Hubby.  Last night Florida Gulf Coast University (ranked 15th) beat Georgetown (ranked 2nd).  It was a huge upset and a very exciting game.  Plus I truly love an underdog story.  So...tonight I'm announcing that FGCU is my one of my picks for the Final Four. 

This made Hubby laugh, but I really do live with a Rosie Outlook, and I'm thinking this little team just might have what it takes to go to the end.  They play again tomorrow, so we will see, but I am going to root for them.

You might be wondering what Midwest weather or March Madness Basketball have to do with my March Quest.  Nothing really.  I don't have any weather or basketball related books I want to share with you today.  I'm just sharing some of my day with you.

Speaking of Praying....

Okay, I know we really weren't...unless I try to loosely tie the current book I'm reading (which I mentioned at the beginning of this post) to this part of the post.  Anyway, now that we are talking about it, I do have a couple thoughts on prayer.

Not only am I currently reading a book about a woman who prayed for a complete stranger every day for a year, but I happen to have several books about prayer on my bookshelves.  And it just so happens that in the last few days, I keep running across these books.  I'm starting to maybe see a pattern here.  Um...God?  Did you say something?

As I mentioned in my post a few days ago, I recently stumbled upon my signed copy of Lisa Whelchel's book, The Busy Mom's Guide to PrayerAfter I wrote about it, I thought I should probably skim through that book again, because there were several great tips that I need to reintroduce into my prayer time. 

Then today, as I looked for another book, I came upon Prayer Walk by Janet Holm McHenry.  It has a copyright date of 2001 and I am pretty sure I bought it shortly after it came out.  I may or may not have a read a bit of it.  I honestly don't remember. 

I'm sure it was purchased during a time when I decided I was going to exercise and pray more.  As I'm thinking this, I read the back cover and this is an excerpt from what it says - word for word: "Ask any Christian woman about her most recent New Year's resolutions, and you'll likely find that 'exercise reguarly' and 'pray more' were at the top of her list."  I'm not kidding.  It actually says that on the back of the book. 

While I have improved my prayer time over the years, as you know from my previous month's Quest, exercising regularly is a struggle for me.  And honestly, since I have not made it a daily Quest for March, I haven't exercised every day.  Not even close. 

I am still exercising and I am currently on Week 5 of my C25K training program for the 5K I'm doing with my niece in April, but since I don't have to be accountable to my readers every day, I haven't gotten on the treadmill every day in March.  It's really hard to admit that you, but it's the truth. 

Anyway, I haven't spent as much time praying lately as I had been, so it's been on my mind that I need to focus on that more.  It just might become part of my April Quest.  I'm starting to feel like God has an opinion on this subject....

There is an interesting connection in the Prayer Walk book and the Praying for Strangers book I am currently reading.  Both of these book's authors wrote about their personal account of trying to fulfill a New Year's Resolution.  As you know, I started this blog as a way to be accountable and share my 2013 Year Long Adventure of doing a Heart & Spirit Monthly Quest each month - my version of a New Year's Resolution.

This coming week will end with the celebration of Easter, and I think it's the perfect time to read these books on prayer, reevaluate my prayer time, and prepare for my next Quest.  Of course, I'm thinking it will have to have something to do with prayer. 

I'll talk it over with God and get back to you.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Just For Fun Friday: A Spring Photo

I had a wonderful day that included a long overdue visit with Warrior Mom and a surprise movie date with Hubby!  This evening I also enjoyed a little reading in my book as I marked off my March Quest for the day.

Guess what?  It's Just For Fun Friday...

As you know, it's been a long, snowy, cold winter here in the Midwest and the rumor is that we are getting more snow on Sunday.  In honor of that news, I wanted to share my Spring photo with you!

 Happy Friday!  I hope it was a good day for you as well!  Back to all seriousness tomorrow...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Loving A Little Mouse, But Not A Ground Hog...

Let me start off tonight by proclaiming:  I have learned over the last few weeks to never trust a ground hog...

We seem to be enduring the Year of the Never Ending Winter here in the Midwest.  With the temperatures barely in the 30s again today (in March, I might remind you), our Engineer and I stayed inside where it's warm and toasty. 

After a snuggle in the Hug Chair with some warm puppies, I continued my training for the 5K I am running with the Producer in a little over a month.  I am pleased with my progress.  My knee is much stronger.  I am no longer wearing the knee brace, and I started week five of my training today.  This means I am right on track with the eight week C25K training program I am using to get ready for the run.

Later in the afternoon, we completed another day of 10th grade, and I took a few minutes to do my March Quest: read a bit more in Praying for Strangers.  Hubby arrived home to offer a surprise dinner date where we set the dieting aside for an evening and enjoyed some yummy Mexican food.

Now I sit here ready to write a little bit about a favorite book when I remembered that I didn't share the exciting start to my day today!  This morning, shortly after getting up to see Hubby off to work, I checked my blog views and saw that someone from Australia read my post from yesterday

That just really tickled me because although I didn't highlight it, the main character of yesterday's book, Alexander, references Australia several times throughout the story.  I hope that down under reader enjoyed the post on Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  It just made me smile.  I love when stuff like that happens!

Anyway, I had so much fun remembering that cute little book, that it reminded me of my ALL TIME FAVORITE CHILDREN'S BOOK:  Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes.  If you aren't familiar with this adorable read, I encourage you stop by the library and check it out. 

The library happens to be exactly where we picked up this fantastic find.  It was many years ago when our Engineer was a cute little 1st grader.  We were on our regular visit to the local library.  I was sitting in a tiny little chair at a tiny little table in the Children's Area while the boys searched for an armful of books to take home for the week.  I was reading a book I had picked up for myself when my sweet little Engineer brought me a book he had picked out for me.

My boys are very boy boys and they are not interested in anything girlie.  So our Engineer saw this book, flipped through it, realized Lilly was a very girlie girl, and thought it was more a book for me than him....and he was SO right!

Lilly makes our Engineer's eyes roll...even now...all these years later.  He has no interest in her "movie star sunglasses - complete with glittery diamonds, nor her new purple plastic purse that plays a jaunty tune when it is opened, not even the three shiny quarters she carries inside".

But I LOVE Lilly!  I love her zest for life...her excitement about being at school...the way she loves her teacher...the way she feels so bad after she misbehaves...and the "very very sorry" note she writes when asking for forgiveness.  I get Lilly. 

I have had a few Lilly's in my own classroom. 

Heck...let's be honest...I am Lilly.

So that day, when our Engineer introduced me to this sweet, adorable little story, I was so touched by the fact that when he came across a book that he had no interest in, he didn't just forget it and move on.  No, even as a little seven year old guy, he looked it over, and thought of me and how much I might enjoy it. 

Of course, he had no idea that this simple little story of forgiveness and second chances for a girlie girl who loves life (and the way her red cowgirl boots go "clickety-clickety-click down the school hallway"...) would become my all time favorite children's book.  But it did.

It's my favorite because Lilly is so Lilly...and it's my favorite because my cute little round faced guy looked up at me with those sparkling brown eyes and a big grin when he handed me a book he thought I would love.  And I do.

As I have mentioned before, our family is fond of latching onto favorite phrases.  One of them is from this book.  After a day of bad decisions from Lilly, her teacher Mr. Slinger writes her a merciful little note that says: "Today was a difficult day.  Tomorrow will be better." 

The next day Lilly returns to school with a note of her own written to Mr. Slinger apologizing for the choices she made the day before.  Mr. Slinger forgives her and Lilly realizes "Mr. Slinger was right - it had been a better day"!

Sometimes when we face a difficult day in our house, Hubby will say, "Mr. Slinger is always right.  Tomorrow will be better."  And you know what?  It always seems to be. 

And I bet it is even in...Australia.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Some Days Are Like That...

"I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there's gum in my hair...."

Every time I read the opening line of Judith Viorst's adorable children's book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, I am instantly reminded of that day long ago when as a little bitty Rosie, I went to bed with gum in my mouth and woke up with gum in my hair. 
That's the day I received a new haircut.  I remember it being...a very bad day.  Of course, it wasn't my first horrible day and it certainly wasn't my last terrible day either.   As Alexander's wise mother tells him, some days are like that.

I love this little book.  I read it to both of my boys when they were little guys.  It also made an appearance every year in my classroom when I was teaching in a school.  Kids love this book.  Admittedly, adults do too.  And why wouldn't we?  Everyone can relate to Alexander as he goes throughout a day when everything seems to go wrong. 

It's funny, but don't we find comfort in knowing someone else has those days too?  It gives us some validation for how we feel when we learn someone else feels the same way. 

I know a few people who are going through some tough times right now.  They are very special to me and each of them are going through different issues, and yet, I can relate on some level to how each one is feeling. 

It's not because I have been through the exact same thing, but I have been in similar situations at different times in my life.  I can understand.  I can be sympathetic.  I can offer encouragement.  Most of all, I can pray.

Sometimes we go through tough days.  God does not promise that everything will always be Rosie.  What He does promise is that He is in control and will see us through the not-so-Rosie times.  Sometimes He sends comfort through those who have been there and can relate.  Sometimes He sends comfort through words...including His Holy Word. 

As I sat down to fulfill my March Quest and read a little in Praying For Strangers, I stopped to pray for those who are struggling tonight.  I prayed for those I care about that are facing a few Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days.   I even prayed for some strangers that I heard about that are dealing with their own difficult times.

As I prayed, I felt peaceful confidence that God will see them through and eventually their days will turn to Wonderful, Terrific, So Good, Very Happy Days.  Because as this momma says...some days are like that too.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

You Take The Good ~ You Take The Bad

The Engineer and I met up with some teens and moms for lunch today.  We do this every once in a while with a group of local homeschooling teens and their moms.  It's nice for our Engineer to meet up with friends and sit around a table and chat.  The moms are happy to gather at their own table and catch up as well.

The owner of the restaurant asked us what kind of group we were.  We told him we were homeschoolers.  He smiled and announced that we had pretty great kids and were welcome back anytime.  Today the response was positive.  But truth be told, I'm sure each mom braced for the reaction when that question was asked. 

We get that question from strangers almost every time our group meets in public.  Thankfully the response it usually positive, but even in a time when homeschooling is more common, we don't always get a supportive or even neutral reply.

In 2005, Lisa Whelchel wrote a book called So You're Thinking About Homeschooling.  I was thrilled and quickly purchased the book to read.  Lisa played the character of Blair on one of my favorite TV shows when I was growing up: The Facts of Life.  Of course, let's be real....Jo was my favorite character, but over the years I have read articles and learned that Lisa is nothing like Blair. 
It turns out Lisa grew up to become a homeschooling mom, author, and speaker.  In 2007, a special friend of mine, Care Giver, who (just as her name implies) is so wonderful to show care to all those around her, enjoyed the opportunity of hearing Lisa speak.  Care Giver called me all excited about meeting Lisa.  She told me that Lisa reminded her of me.

That meant so much to me, because I was already a fan of the grown up Lisa, having read her book on homeschooling and enjoyed it a great deal.  We were homeschooling our boys at the time and it was awesome to see a celebrity speak out about her own experience educating her children.

Care Giver did something very special for me.  She purchased a book of Lisa's titled The Busy Mom's Guide to Prayer and then waited in line to meet Lisa to have her sign the book for me.  I was so touched when I received the book in the mail. 

Not only did I enjoy Lisa's book on prayer, but I have kept it on my bookshelf as a reminder of another special friendship.  Care Giver and I were neighbors when our boys were little.  She and her husband kept our Scientist the night our Engineer was born.  Not yet parents themselves, they babysat our boys for us many times over the five years we lived across the street from each other. 

I have wonderful memories of late night scrapbooking, laughter over meals, sitting together at church, the excitement of when Carl's Jr opened in our town, visiting a flower farm, and talking, and talking, and talking.  We also prayed through tough times and once even rode out a F-5 tornado together! 

All of these memories came flooding back as I pulled that special book off the shelf today and opened to the page where Care Giver took the time to have Lisa Whelchel sign a book to me.

My copy of So You're Thinking About Homeschooling is long gone - having loaned it out one too many times and it didn't come back to me.  But that's okay, I hope it has been a blessing to many others who may have read it since the last time I saw it.

The book was written about fifteen different homeschooling families.  Each family had different reasons, different needs, and different approaches to homeschooling.  I loved the fact that someone had written about homeschooling in this way.  It really personalized it and offered encouragement and support to those who were thinking about tackling homeschooling and those who had already taken it on.

Today's experience at the restaurant, reminded me of this book, which got me to thinking...I haven't really blogged much about homeschooling, so today I want to share a few...or twelve thoughts with you while we are on the subject.

1. At this point in our lives it seems weird to me that homeschooling is weird to someone else.  It's been a part of our lives for so long, that it still catches me by surprise when someone finds it a strange choice.

2.  We are not your "typical" homeschoolers...although I'm not really sure what that is... I can assure you we do not grow our own wheat, grind it, and then bake it into bread.  I do however, know people that actually do this.  Personally, I buy the lowest calorie bread I can find.  It's an area in my life in which I do not want to waste calories.  Yes, even bread making is a choice in homeschooling.

3.  While I did once own a denim jumper, it was well before we began homeschooling.  On any given day you will find me in jeans and a sweater.  Admittedly I would prefer to spend my day in yoga pants, but (on most days) I force myself to shower and dress even if we aren't leaving the house. *Disclaimer: Snow Days don't count...

4.  Occasionally we have been known to have a jammie day...but come on...who doesn't?  I think homeschoolers are the only ones that actually admit to this.  I mean if we were going to label everyone who spends the day in their jammies, then you can find a lot of "homeschoolers" at our local Walmart.  Trust me...the homeschoolers I know at least dress for Walmart...
*Disclaimer: Snow Days don't count...

5.  I have never asked someone why their child is not in school.  Never.  I find it odd when strangers ask us this question. 

6.  I have never told a complete stranger my uninvited opinion on how they should educate and/or raise their children.  It would never occur to me to share these unsolicited thoughts with others.  Again...happens to us, and again...I find it so odd.

7.  We did not plan to homeschool our children.  The idea to educate our children ourselves came out of need.  We wanted to do the best we could for our boys and felt it was the best option at the time.  Over the years we have sent our children to public schools, a base school, and private Christian schools.  We have also homeschooled on our own and through a Charter school program.  Whatever was/is best at the time.

8.  We find comedian Tim Hawkins jokes about homeschoolers incredibly funny.  We find most jokes about homeschooling laughable.  Sometimes because they are so true, and sometimes because they are so far off the mark.

9.  Some homeschooling days, I spend the day in a state of thanksgiving for being allowed the blessing of being with my child, educating him, and guiding him. 

10.  Some homeschooling days, I want to run out of the house, chase that yellow school bus down, and put my child on it.

11.  There is nothing....I mean nothing like teaching a child to read and write, watching them grow and learn, and knowing you had a small part in it.  When that child is your own....I'm telling you, it's one of the greatest blessings of motherhood.

12.  Each year we evaluate our circumstances, pray for guidance, and do what God calls us to do.  In the end, it doesn't matter what others doesn't matter what others think we should only matters that we follow God's plan for our family.  And when we do...we find beautiful peace.

So, as Hubby goes over our Engineer's math lesson for the day, I can relax, knowing we are doing exactly what God has called us to do.  My lessons with our Engineer will begin again tomorrow morning. 

For now...I think I'll take a few minutes for my March Quest and read a little bit more in my book.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Little Southern Comfort

Oh my goodness!  Well, this has been the longest I have been away from my blog since I began regularly posting in December.  Just back from a wonderful Spring Break Adventure down south, we have some catching up to do! 

It was nice to enjoy some warmer weather, visit family and friends, and take a little break from our Midwest routine.  While I knew we would be staying in a remote location, I did not expect that an Internet connection would only be available once in the past week.

Admittedly, it was nice to just relax and have no deadlines or plans, but I did miss writing these blog posts and sharing my Quest Adventures with you.  Of course, I did read my book daily and checked off my March Quest.  I finished the book Girl Scout Mom recommended, read an entire local cookbook cover to cover, and began a new book:
One of the things I love about reading books on my Kindle, is that I can download a sample of a book, read a bit of it, and decide if I want to read the whole book.  I don't do this every time, but I do choose this option often, because occasionally I have started a book that turns out to be a disappointment and I wish I had not spent money on it. 

Because Kindle offers the sample feature, I have the opportunity to take in a few pages before deciding if I want to purchase the book and finish it.  I chose that option with this book, so I'm a few pages in and will probably decide tonight if I will purchase it and read the entire book.

The book description depicts a story of a mother's effort to cope with both of her sons going off to war by praying everyday for strangers.  It sounds like a heartwarming and inspiring book and I am in the mood for some heartwarming inspiration. 

Speaking of heartwarming inspiration...let me share a little about our Spring Break Adventure.

Our Adventure began with a road trip down south to visit Hubby's parents, his dad, Dodge, and his mom, Darol.  (This is not what I actually call my in-laws, but these names are family nicknames bestowed on them by a sweet little niece years ago, and I thought they would be the perfect Blog Names for them.)  They recently moved to a new location and this was our first visit to their new home.

It was a long, but thankfully uneventful drive in our loaded down van.  It was also our first time to take our Twins on a road trip with us and they did much better than expected.  It turns out they are INCREDIBLY well behaved away from home.  We didn't have any issues with them the entire trip. 

Of course, as soon as we arrived back home, they reverted to their "puppies out of control" state, and any hopes of an amazing transformation were quickly dashed.  Sigh. 

At least while we traveled, they were super easy, which made for a much more enjoyable trip. 

We were delighted to finally get to see Dodge and Darol's new place.  We toured their house, and surrounding land.  It's all very beautiful and peaceful and we are super happy for them.  They were, of course, very excited to have us visit.

Hubby, Scientist, and I ran down quiet country roads.  We ate Darol's yummy homemade food, met up with Dodge's brother, Uncle Hardly and his gal, drove through quaint little towns, walked along the banks of a beautiful lake, and played cards late into the night.  Dodge took Hubby and our boys out on the lake in his new boat.  They returned with ruddy faces and big smiles. 

A highlight for me was when we toured a glorious historical mansion guided by a gracious silver haired Southern Lady.  She mesmerized us with her picturesque stories of days of yore delivered with the most amazing southern accent!  It was just music to our ears and we all agreed that she made the experience!

When time to return home came, Hubby, Engineer and I loaded up the Twins and hugged Dodge, Darol, and our Scientist one more time.  Dodge and Darol drove our Scientist to the airport to return to school.  We headed north for another long awaited visit.

Over 21 years ago, before I was even a momma, new neighbors moved in next door to us and a very special friendship was born with the first hello in the front yard.  My sweet friend, Southern Belle, has been such a blessing in my life.  We clicked from the very beginning and there are just so many areas of our lives that parallel. 

We had baby boys just a few months apart, went to Bible study and Jazzercise together, shared happiness and heartache, prayed for each other, laughed, lunched, and supported each other as we supported our husbands who worked at the same place.  

Seventeen years have come and gone since our last visit with Southern Belle and her precious family.  We both moved a few more times...more babies were born...we chatted here and there, emailed, and sent Christmas cards.  Our babies grew up...we connected on Facebook...and last week we finally found ourselves driving to their home. 

And let me tell you, seventeen years just melted away in one hug as we found ourselves chatting as if those years had never happened.  Our afternoon flew by and soon it was time to hit the road again.  As we drove away, tears caught in my throat and I waved until Southern Belle was no longer in sight.  My heart was full with immense blessing to have such a special mentor and friend. 

The funny thing is, I really didn't even know how much I needed that visit with Southern Belle until it was over, but driving away I felt such gratefulness to have that time again with someone whom God has made a heart sister. 

In the wee hours of morning as we neared the little Midwestern town we call home, rain that would soon mix with a bit of snow, poured down around us.  A text from our Scientist let us know he was safe and sound back in his dorm.  We pulled into our garage, tired and ready for our own beds. 

Our little Adventure was over, but we made memories, relaxed, and renewed.  In the blink of an eye summer will warm us up and bring our little family back together...until then I will cherish our Spring Break Adventure with a thankful heart.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cooking Up a Secret

The last few days we have been enjoying a little break from real life that has even included a break from the Internet!  It has been a great time of being together as a family without all the stress and busyness of schedules, alarm clocks, and daily duties. 

This afternoon our Scientist and I slipped away for a bit in search of some free wifi and we now find ourselves sitting in the parking lot of a Hardees restaurant in an effort to connect with the outside world.

Even though you haven't heard from me in a few days, I have been checking off my March Quest.  The beauty of a break is that there is time to sit, relax, and read a book.  I'm still reading the book my friend recommended, but I have enjoyed a bit from a couple other books as well. 

Today, during a fun family outing, I picked up a local cookbook.  I have enjoyed paging through it, reading the recipes handed down through the local families, and also taking in all the tips and tricks sprinkled throughout the book. 

It's kind of an amusing story, but the biggest reason I purchased this cookbook today was because of a sweet little southern lady.  She's the one that sold me the book.  She shared a wonderful secret with me about a recipe in the book.  She pointed the recipe out and noted that it was a recipe from her sister. 

Her sister is well known for making a special kind of bread known by another name.  She also gave me a little tip that just might make mine taste extra yummy.  I can't wait to try the recipe and see how it comes out!

It really doesn't matter what type of book I am reading whether it is a memoir by a mom raising teenagers or a small town cookbook filled with family favorites passed down for generations, I truly enjoy time spent reading a book.

And if I can connect to the book in a special way, it makes it all the more delightful.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Just For Fun Friday....Even Though It's Saturday

What happened to the last two days?  They went by in a blur in my house.  They were busy days filled with laundry, housecleaning, errands, shopping, running C25k, texting with several friends, chatting with Sister and Gourmet Hostess, hosting Dad and Mom for a night, nursing our Engineer through a horrible feverish cold, and welcoming our Scientist home for Spring break!  Oh, and then, Hubby arrived back home today after a reunion adventure the last few days with some old friends. 

Hopefully you will understand why you didn't hear from me yesterday, and why this will be a short post today.  We have many plans for the coming days as well, so I'll post when I can this week.  BUT - I did take time to enjoy my March Quest the past two days, and I plan to spend a good deal of this week reading as well.  I'll let you know how it goes when I get a chance.

I hope you are enjoying the weekend, maybe getting a bit of a Spring break yourself, and maybe even getting some time to do something you want to do!

By the way, I came up with an idea to post something "Just For Fun" on Fridays, so I planned to post something fun yesterday, and totally ran out of time.  I didn't even settle into the Hug Bed until 1:30 am. 

So, even though it's Saturday.....

Here's my first Just For Fun Friday post (one day late)

After a long snowy cold winter....Thursday, I got the chance to get my toes done.  I LOVE getting my toes done.  I picked a color I have never worn before and I like it.  That night as I was getting into bed, I noticed my toes matched my bedding on the Hug Bed... so I took a picture....and that just cracked me up!  When I shared this discovery with Gourmet Hostess, she burst out laughing.  So I don't know if you find this fun, but we thought it was a hoot!
Please feel free to share something Just For Fun in the comments below!

Have a Blessed Weekend!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Taking The Time

Waking up to sunshine starts my day off on such a positive note, and that is exactly what happened today.  Once again our temperatures warmed up a bit and the sun shone down on us.

Early this morning, I enjoyed my March Quest when I turned on my Kindle and read several more chapters in my book.  This Quest has been such a gift to me, because I am finally taking the time to do something I want to do - and I'm doing it without feeling guilty for all the other things I "should" be doing while I'm reading.

Why do we do this to ourselves?  I wonder if this is more of an American trait?  I'm not sure.  Maybe it's more of a Mother/Wife/Woman issue.  Certainly, I know I'm not the only one who struggles with guilt for spending time doing something for enjoyment that isn't a benefit to everyone else around me.

Although, I guess others around us could benefit from the knowledge we might gain from reading.  I often share with family and friends interesting stories, thoughts, or ideas from the books I read.

There's a few people in my life that do the same for me.  I love that!  I truly delight in hearing about books that my family and friends have read.  Sometimes it inspires me to learn more about what they have told me or even read the book myself.

With our Engineer down with a horrible head cold and fever this week, he hasn't felt like doing much other than reading.  I'm so glad he relishes books the way he does.  It does my heart good to know that he can rest and heal while reading.  Hopefully, it takes his mind off how icky he feels.

Admittedly, there have been a few times in my own life when I thought the only silver lining in being home sick in bed, was that I could just rest and read without feeling like I needed to be doing something more productive.  Being ill actually gave me a legitimate excuse to take some time to read.

Doing this Quest to Read some of A Book Every Day, has reminded me that it doesn't mean I have to take a whole afternoon and ignore the commitments in my life.  I can actually just sit down for 15 minutes to relax and read between tasks.  Or I can throw my Kindle in my purse and savor a good book during those times I find myself waiting.

If I'm at an appointment, it might just be a handful of minutes, but I can still enjoy a page or two while I wait.  Instead of running errands or doing a task while our Engineer is in his music lessons, I have a good 30 to 60 minutes to sit, relax, and read a few chapters.

Recently, when discussing a possible daily activity with a friend, she quickly waved her hand and shook her head no in response.  She said she just didn't have the time to add that to her day.  At first, I understood.  Don't we all live such busy, schedule-filled lives? 

Later, as I thought about our conversation, I realized what we were talking about literally took less than 10 minutes a day.  She couldn't find 10 minutes in her day to do something she really wanted to do?  Even sadder, she didn't give it any thought. She didn't stop to consider (for even a minute) if she could add this to her life. She dismissed the idea the moment it was presented to her.

My friend couldn't spare 10 minutes in her entire day.  Either she didn't feel like she could allow herself to take the time or she didn't really have the interest in taking the time.  Maybe she didn't really want to add that activity to her day.  I'm not sure, but whatever the reason, that conversation really stuck with me.

I don't want to live my life quickly dismissing opportunities.  I don't want to be so busy that I might miss out on adding something wonderful to my life.  I certainly don't want to get to a season in life where I spend my days thinking about all those things I wish I had taken to the time to do while I was young and able! 

Instead, I want to be thinking about all the incredible opportunities I was blessed to experience......and all the great books I took the time to read. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Asking For Angels

It was a quiet relaxing day in our house.  Our Engineer spent a good deal of the day resting while he fights off a nasty cold.  We did a little bit of Chemistry, but otherwise I let him rest.  Bless his heart, I hope he recovers quickly.

With our Engineer taking a sick day from school, I had a little extra time on my hands to do a little housework and enjoy my March Quest: read some of my current book.

I also spent some time praying for several people I care about today.  I prayed specifically for a couple of loved ones who happen to be far away from me.  I petitioned God for Angels of Protection for them as they travel this weekend.

Growing up in a Christian home, I was introduced to both prayer and angels early in my life.  I'm so thankful to have been raised in a believing family where prayer was a normal part of our daily lives.  I know in my heart that no matter what I may encounter in my day, I have God to go to for a source of protection, comfort, love, forgiveness, understanding, help, and well...truly this list could just go on and on. 

In Psalm 91, God commands His angels to protect us.  I have no doubt that they do.  I have read several books on angels through the years.  They have included some amazing stories of protection from (what the authors of those stories believe were) heavenly angels. 

Whenever I feel unsettled or unsure, I'll ask God for some peace and I boldly request His angel's protection as well.  I'm not going to lie, I pray for the 10 foot armed kind myself.  It's true.  I have a picture in my head of what I think they might look like and it gives me comfort to think of those 10 foot angels standing guard.

When our Scientist was born, one of the gifts we received was a little children's book called Angels by Patricia Richardson Mattozzi.  It has a 1989 copyright date, and a google search came up pretty empty.  I am guessing it is out of print.

What a shame, because it is one of the sweetest books in our family collection of children's literature.  I LOVE this book.  I LOVED reading it to our boys when they were little.  They LOVED me reading it to them before they were tucked into bed for the night.

Clearly our copy has been well read and greatly loved.

Angels was written in a cute sing-songy rhyme with just a few words on each page.  The book tells the story of how angels are with us throughout our day as we go about our usual daily activities. 

It's filled with sweet comforting words.  What blessed thoughts to have in our minds as we to go to bed!  The illustrations are pretty adorable as well.

The very last page of this endearing little book promises us we can all rest in the gift of God's protection:
For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways  ~ Psalm 91:11

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Oh How You Fascinate Me, Mr. Lincoln!

Early this morning snow began to fall again in the Midwest.  Our Engineer woke up not feeling well.  Our plans to meet friends for lunch were quickly canceled.  It turned out to be a quiet morning with our Engineer napping on the sofa, and the Twins cuddled up in the Hug Chair with me.  I checked off my March Quest for the day and read some more in my book. 

Several months ago, I read Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard's book, Killing Lincoln.  The pages of this book are filled with interesting facts while telling this compelling story of the assassination of our 16th President in a novel-like format.  Although the story is well known, I still learned quite a bit of new information.  As I read page after page, I kept thinking, "I didn't know that!"

I've kind of been on a President Abraham Lincoln kick ever since. 

One afternoon, during Christmas break, I took our boys to see the Steven Spielberg movie, Lincoln.  We gave it three thumbs up and wished Hubby could have gone along with us to see it.  Daniel Day-Lewis did an excellent job in portraying the President and happily he has earned several awards for this role.

Recently, the National Geographic Channel did a "docudrama" based on the Killing Lincoln book.  It was part documentary (narrated by Tom Hanks) and part drama (with actors playing out the story).  Having read the book, I was quite interested in seeing this TV special.  I enjoyed it and thought it complimented the book well. 

While my President Lincoln fascination seems recent, I have been intrigued by this man as long as I can remember.  Over the years I have read other books about him, and watched a few other documentaries as well.  It's a true fact that one of my favorite shows at Disneyland is "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln."

One June day, several years ago, our family traveled to Springfield, Illinois to tour the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum with my parents, siblings, and their families.  Our family was pleased to be greeted by President Lincoln's family upon our arrival.  They even kindly posed for pictures with us after the tour.  It was the highlight of Mom's visit!

If you ever get a chance to visit, we highly recommend it.  It is very well done. 

While looking at the displays, I was reminded that politics can be a tough, nasty, angry business.  Of course, there are many wonderful positive advantages to becoming President of the United States of America.  However, it's so true that a person who pursues such a dream will also put themselves and their family at great risk. 

Abraham Lincoln accomplished many impressive feats in his presidency and his life.  He also endured huge loss, much hatred, and family turmoil.  He was loved and hated fiercely.

I am thankful for his willingness to serve our country.  He was not a perfect President.  There has never been one.  However, he is beloved today, and 148 years after his death, his legacy lives on in America's hearts, minds, movies, and books.

Monday, March 4, 2013

My New Favorite Author: Habakkuk

When our boys were little, they started calling Sundays "Church Day".  So yesterday was Church Day and our Pastor inspired my post for today.

Yesterday we enjoyed wonderful worship at our church, then Hubby, our Engineer, and I enjoyed a yummy Italian lunch (Engineer's pick).  After returning home, I spent some time fulfilling my March Quest by enjoying a couple chapters in my book before working on a project I needed to complete. 

Today, after a busy morning, I took a little time after lunch to read another chapter.  I also read a book in the Bible - the entire book of Habakkuk.  Yes, there really is a book in the Bible called Habakkuk.  It's near the end of the Old Testament sandwiched between Nahum and Zephaniah (yes, they are really books in the Bible too.)

While it may be a little known book, I was interested to find that it had a lot of relevance in our lives today.  I really can't remember if I have ever read this book before, so what caused my sudden interest in Habakkuk?  Our Pastor announced at the end of service on Sunday that he would be speaking on this book for next couple Sundays. 

It will be intriguing to hear what our Pastor will share about Habakkuk in his sermons.  As I began reading the book this afternoon, I was struck with how his very words could be ours today.  Here is what it says at the beginning of Chapter 1:

Habakkuk’s Complaint
2 How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.

This caught my attention quickly, because so many of Habakkuk's complaints to the Lord are ones we hear people complain about today: violence, injustice, wrongdoing, destruction, strife, conflict, laws seem to be useless, justice doesn't always prevail, the wicked are against the righteous, and justice seems twisted.  Sound familiar?  I guess we aren't the first country to have problems.

And interestingly, whenever problems arise, there seems be that question, "Where's God?  Is He listening?  Why didn't He step in and help, or better yet, stop it?  Why?

In the verses that follow, God lets Habakkuk know He is still God, He is in control, and He has a plan.  In chapter 1:5, God says:

Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.

God and Habakkuk continue their discussion for three chapters - the complete book of Habakkuk. 

In the end, Habakkuk knows he truly can rely on God to take care of everything.  At the end of chapter 3 in verses 17 - 19, he says this:

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

Verses 17 and 18 are special verses to me, because they are a set of verses my students memorized when I was teaching in a classroom.  We used a really good memorization program call "Memlok" and our students captured an amazing amount of God's Word in their hearts each school year. 

Whenever I read or hear a verse my students learned through Memlok, it just makes me smile.  I picture those sweet children lined up at my desk ready to recite their verses for me.  It was such a blessed time of my school day.

The last verse 19 has been a favorite of mine since I discovered it in my teens (so I'm guessing I read at least part of Habakkuk then!)  I believe I first heard this verse in Sunday School class taught by my Aunt.  I loved it from the first time I read it. 

I'm not exactly sure why I connected to it then, but I love the reminder that God is our strength.  Habakkuk is right!  God will enable us to accomplish whatever we need to do!

I enjoyed reading Habakkuk today and I look forward to hearing our Pastor's sermons in the coming Church Days.  I'll happily share the links to the sermons when they are posted on our church website.

Giving myself the time to read each day, means that instead of thinking about "reading ahead" before next week's sermon, I actually did it.   I'm so glad I did.  I like Habakkuk.  He's someone I can relate to more than I ever expected.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

It's Your Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Happy National Read Across America Day! 

Of course, on National Read Across America Day, I fulfilled my March Quest and spent some time reading my book.  I'm happy to report, our Engineer started his massive 1200+ page book today too!

This day is even more special because it is the day we celebrate the birth of an amazing American author.  Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!!!!

We are huge Dr. Seuss fans in this house, and in celebration of his birthday today, I thought about trying to write a Seuss inspired word rhyming post.  Of course, I quickly realized I could never come up with anything that would be even remotely worthy of honoring such an incredible author. 

Instead, I'll share some of our family favorite Dr. Seuss Delights:
Hubby, our Engineer, and our Nurse all choose Green Eggs and Ham as their favorite.  Not only is it a classic Dr. Seuss book, but it has inspired children across America to actually eat green eggs and ham!

My pick (HANDS DOWN!) is And to Think That I Saw it on MULBERRY STREET.  I have always loved this little guy's exciting trip home!  Truthfully, I wanted to read this one way more than the boys wanted me to read it to them!  Makes me smile. 

When I asked our Scientist which book was his favorite, he answered quickly, "THE CAT IN THE HAT, of course!"

His reply immediately brought back great memories of this momma snuggled up on the sofa with my two little guys.  Sweet little giggles erupted while I read these classics to them.

And many times two little voices would "read" right along with me as they soon memorized these delightful stories.

Here's a few more of our family favorites:

Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?

                         Fox In Socks

Ten Apples Up On Top!

                        HOP ON POP


                        Oh, The Places You'll Go!


        There's a WOCKET in my POCKET!

One fish
two fish
red fish
blue fish

     And the Christmas Classic:

Do these books bring back wonderful memories for you too?
As I read each title and look at the cover of each book, a crazy line from the book immediately comes back to me! I read them so many times, I can still remember many of the ridiculously ingenious rhyming lines that made up these giggle-out-loud stories.
And at least one Dr. Seuss book inspired a great family story of our own.
Once when the boys were around the ages of 10 and 6, we got up early on a Saturday morning to enjoy a fifth grade basketball game.  Our Scientist was playing, and as usual, we were in a rush to get out the door in time.
It was an away game and it took us a while to get there.  When we finally arrived (with plenty of time until the start of the game, I'm sure) I looked down as I was stepping out of the car to discover I was wearing one brown shoe and one blue shoe!
Of course, I was mortified, but there was nothing I could do about this major fashion faux pas as we were many miles from home and had no time to spare getting inside the gym.  I sat in the bleachers in total embarrassment the entire game, glancing down at my feet every few minutes in utter disbelief that I had actually left the house like that.
My sweet guys (all three of them) thought it was hilarious. 
After the game, they had a grand time singing "One shoe, two shoe, brown shoe, blue shoe" in  Dr. Seussian style all the way home.
Of course this "fun" family memory is easily brought up with just the words: brown shoe.

And wouldn't you know it?  When I sent our Scientist a text today asking him to name his favorite Dr. Seuss book, he quickly sent his answer, but then a few seconds later came this text: "One shoe, two shoe, brown shoe, blue shoe" - with a smiley face attached.
At least we can all laugh about it now... 
And trust me, I don't buy the same shoe in brown and blue anymore!

 Dr. Seuss!
And thank you, so very much for bringing such joy-filled giggles into our world!