Tag Archive | faith

The Inspired Life of a Homeschool Mom

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The other morning I got up early…well, earlier than everyone else anyway. It was the weekend so Dad was home. It had rained during the night. Really rained so that when I sat out on the porch with my coffee I could breathe in the wet earthy air. After living in the Pacific Northwest for sixteen years I grew to love the rain. I miss it here on the prairie. During the sparkly whiteness of the prairie winter I longed for the gray, cozy Washington winter.

I decided to go for a walk, enjoying the cool grayness. As I walked I thought about how we have lived in the Midwest for a year now. Moving is really hard, at least it was for me. Adjusting to everything being so different, the missing places in my heart where my friends should be. I left behind a life that I loved, fighting resentment, accepting what is. It hasn’t been easy. Grieving the loss of a baby. Sometimes it felt like my heart had grown flat. On auto pilot, trying to live from one day to the next.

As I walked I prayed and thought, along the fields, soy beans, corn, a gravel road. This is my life now. Cows stopped their grazing to look at me. I like them and I say,”Hi, good morning, cows.” They look at me with peaceful eyes, go back to their grass. Milk weed flowers grow in the ditches. They have a wonderful fragrance that wafts out to me in the mist. I pick some so I can hold it my nose and smell it as I go, letting the sticky milk drip onto my wrist. I think how we will be able now to hatch Monarch Butterflies in jars like I did when I was a girl. Year after year my siblings and I lined the pantry window sill with jars. We never tired of watching the life cycle of the beautiful butterfly. We always released them with a sort of hushed awe into my mom’s flower beds.

By the time I turn back the sun is burning away the mist. I can still see our place , even though I’m a good couple miles away. Distance is deceiving here.  You know they say where ever you go there you are? Well, I knew then that it’s true. I am still here. The inspired life that I want to live, full of poetry, music, art, good and beautiful things. Lofty aspirations of educating my children, capturing their hearts and souls. Those things can still be mine. My heart fills with praise because I know it’s true, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can be happy here just as well as there. I will grow here and flourish, I will live the inspired life of a homeschool mom.

And once I am being carried on the wings of inspiration, I know wonderful things will happen! I am planning a literature based study of The United States for this coming year. Not so much the ordinary history stuff but a study of the regions and people and geography. I am thinking of books that capture the hearts of the people that make the deep south, New England, the rugged cowboyness of the Southwest, the amazing, strong women who somehow still laughed and loved and accepted the wind and sod houses on the prairie….. it’s going to be good. We’ll do regional cooking and take field trips in our minds. We’ll make a huge map and a time line. We’ll live through the dust bowl and join the gold rush. We’ll slip away with the runaway slaves, following the drinking gourd.

I have a feeling it’ll be another good year this year. Please, if anything cool came to mind while reading this leave me a comment. The plans are still forming in my mind so I am definitely open to suggestions!

“Make yourselves nests of pleasant thoughts, bright fancies, faithful sayings; treasure houses of precious and restful thoughts, which care cannot disturb nor poverty take away from you, houses built without hands for your souls to live in.” John Ruskin

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The Lunar Eclipse; My God How Great Thou Art!

In the wee hours of morning, we woke up our five oldest kids to see the complete lunar eclipse. “The Blood Moon”. The moon was full, the stars shone glittery and bright. They stumbled down stairs, wrapped up in their blankets. We left all the lights off and watched through the window. The dark coziness made us talk in hushed voices.

We watched as the earth’s shadow slowly passed over the moon. And our hearts were full of praise, to think of the celestial bodies, set in their courses and moving in exact precision, like a beautifully wound clock  set by the hand of the Maker.

And I felt in my soul, that I was part of an ancient audience, watching as indeed “the heavens declare His handiwork.” Blue eyes stood with his arms around me and our children clustered in front of us before the window, awed into silent praise.

Earlier in the evening, we had talked of the Passover. Quietly we went back to our beds, knowing that the door posts of our hearts have been sprinkled with the blood of the true Passover Lamb. Knowing that because of this, the angel of death will pass over us and we have life through His name, and like the children of Israel, we are free from bondage and on our way to the promised land! Truly, we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good!

“When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.” Proverbs 3:24

Now today, my heart and mind is full of Carl Boberg’s

How Great Thou Art  

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power through out the universe displayed!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, how great Thou art, how great Thou art! Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee; How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;-That on the cross my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin;-

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee; How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Let Me Be a Mom Who Prays

blog 039Years ago when I was a new mom, my Grandmother gave me a book that she said she had enjoyed once upon a time herself. It was printed in 1957 and it has a charming vintage feel about it that I love. Back when life seemed less complex. When it was a given that moms were at home being housewives and raising up the next generation. When fathers provided for their families and a woman endeavored to make her home a haven of rest and comfort for her hardworking man.

The book is held together now by a headband(?!) Don’t ask……it must have been what was handy one night when the binding first started falling apart. I keep it in a vintage suitcase with some other meaningful letters, poems and writings pertaining to motherhood that I have received over the years. Many of them from my same dear Grandmother. I keep the suitcase beside my bed and sometimes when everybody’s tucked in and Blue eyes falls asleep before me and I am not quite feeling sleepy yet I dig around in my “mama encouragement box” for something nice to read.

Several times through out the years when I have been in the mood for something light and encouraging I have picked up this book. I still love it just as much as I did the first time I read it. I wanted to share with you some of what I read last night. It made my eyes fill with tears and my heart swell with inspiration and I fell asleep praying for the precious hardworking man sound asleep beside me and all the babies that the Lord has given to us.

A Mother’s Wages

by Elizabeth Walker Strachan

A Moody Press Publication 1957

Chapter 3: Prayer

“The truly wealthy children, the children to be envied, are those born to praying parents. Even the wisest do not fully understand prayer and all that it does. But one of the many remarkable things about prayer is that those who pray the most are those most convinced of its great potential. ……….And in spite of perplexing times, those who have prayed know that God does answer prayer, and there is a vast difference in prayed-for children and those of nonpraying parents. Prayer prepares a child’s heart for early conversion. Prayer can solve the many difficult problems of child rearing. Prayer enriches every single phase of a child’s life. Prayer brings our children that “blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich and He addeth no sorrow with it.” (Psalm 10:23)

“When should a mother pray? Before the birth of her child until her last breath is spent she should be holding that child before God for His blessing.  However else we may fail our children, may God help us not to fail them in prayer. May He make us women of prayer.”

I woke up still thinking about it this morning. (A little side note: I am getting ready to bring home two dairy goats! I am super excited! Before he fell asleep last night Blue eyes told me that he was sure I would be dreaming of goats and he was right! So after I wiped the cobwebs of dreamy goats who were playing on fancy wooden play structures (thanks to all those dear little goat pins I was pinning on pintrest last night!;) from my mind, I was still thinking about it.)

I was reminded of Job, the Bible tells us that he daily made supplication and offered sacrifices for each of his children “for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.” (Job 1:5) I thought of how we are exhorted to pray continually and without ceasing. I thought of my own prayerful Grandparents and the many ways their prayers have blessed my life.

Let us, Lord, be mamas who pray!

“If ye ask anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:14

There is Peace in the Midst of the Storm….

And so after roaming about like a gypsy………oh, so fun! and more about that later……….we are home. Home, where there are four walls around you and you can shut out the rest of the world, put your feet up and just be. I told my kids today home is not the structure we call our house, it is where love creates a haven from the world, home is where they are.

Of all the cool and amazing things we experienced on our trip everything dulls in comparison to the tornado. That’s right, we met up with a real life  twister. Coming right towards us across the field as we chugged along in our old van. And I would love to tell Christina Rossetti that I have indeed seen the wind.

My husband’s family was hosting a reunion at a camp ground near his home town in eastern South Dakota. After three days of swimming, horse back riding and cousins galore we were packing everything up when we heard that a severe storm and possibly a tornado was coming our way. We threw the last of our stuff haphazardly into the vehicles, rounded up the kids and headed out.

We were lagging behind because we went back to the camp ground to get a wicker chair that had been brought for rocking my sweet new born niece and been left behind. As we set out towards my in laws we could see the storm black and brewing on the sky line. Blue eyes thought we had plenty of time to cut across the storm before it reached us. We weren’t too worried, they have tornado and thunder storm warnings quite often. I was thinking it would be pretty cool for the kids to get to experience a good mid western storm and the van would be a safe place to be during a thunder storm.

We had the radio on to listen to the storm reports. They were telling people in certain areas to get into their basements or to emergency shelters. They said they were getting reports of golf ball sized hail and that a semi truck  had been blown right over.

Our plan would have worked except that the tornado had split into three and we missed our road. As we turned back towards his parents the storm appeared to be right at our side. Everything was strangely still and we saw animals gathered in dips in the fields. Then to our alarm we actually saw a tornado. It looked just like in the pictures, big and dark on the top with a tail low to the ground trailing along behind it.

Within minutes it started to get really dark and eerie looking, rain started to fall. The air felt oppressive and broody. I asked Blue eyes three times in the next minutes if this was normal and if he had seen other storms like this. He reassured me that he had seen a lot of storms. It wasn’t until later when we were safe that he told me he had never seen a storm quite like this one.

Then all of the sudden the fury of the storm was upon us. It got almost as black as night and we could see the wind. It was like huge waves billowing across the prairie. The rain was beating against us. Our whole van was rocking back and forth, even though the windows were shut the rain was streaming in onto the kids. Willy was whining and growling and the kids were screaming.

I just lost it, it was as if I had not a grain of faith. For a few horrible minutes I was completely overcome with fear. I kept saying over and over again that I was so afraid. My body felt like melted wax. We didn’t know what to do. There were no houses anywhere. Blue eyes decided that as long as he could see the road he would try to keep going. He told me later that some of the time he had the brake on and our fifteen passenger van was being pushed along in the wind. He told me I had to get control of myself  and talk to the kids. He reminded me that God with us.

As soon as I turned around and saw all the dear little faces of my children, white and terrified, I was able to pull myself together. Our five year old daughter was saying,”I just want to go to heaven and be with Jesus! I’m so scared, I just want to be with Jesus!” I thought Wow! The faith of a child…here I am afraid we might die and she is wishing to be with Jesus!

Several years ago a family from our church was in a terrible car accident. Both of the parents and five of the nine children were killed. I thought of them at that moment. I thought all or some of our lives could be taken today. Here we are all together and what do I have to offer my kids? I thought if today I should stand before the Holy God would I be ready?

I began to examine my heart and saw really quick that my own righteousness was off by a long shot but just when I started to doubt the Spirit reminded me that there is a Good Shepherd who has given his life for his sheep. I thought, “Yup, that’s what it’s all about. My faith is real and my Savior is real and there is peace in the midst of the storm.”

Just like little Much afraid in the story when I called for the good Shepherd there he was. I told the kids, “Remember in the Bible when Jesus was with the disciples and there was that awful storm and the disciples were so afraid?  Remember Jesus said to the wind “Peace! Be still!” and it was still?” (Mk 4:39)

Just as I told them that there was a few seconds lull in the wind. All their little faces relaxed and they started smiling and saying to each other, “He is with us! Jesus is here!”

I told them this is what it’s all about. This is why we believe because “whether we live or die we are the Lord’s” ( Romans 14:8).  I asked them if they were ok. If they knew in their hearts that Jesus had died for their sins and in turn each of them said, yes, they believed.

I asked them if they wanted to sing.

Almost every night at their request one of us sings  “the shepherd song” to our little girls. I think they like this song so much because we have read the book Hinds Feet on High Places a couple times aloud.  That book really made an impression on my kids and we refer to Much Afraid a lot.

Also we recently were able to baby sit our friend’s baby goat, who my son told me was a “Wilbur”( his way of saying a runt). My kids loved that little goat so much! I let it sleep in their room during the night so they could wake up to give it it’s bottle and in the morning they told me that they “lullabyed ” it to sleep.

Because of that experience we are currently reading The Tangled Woods Secrets by Patricia St.John. A beautiful story about a little girl who meets a real life shepherd who helps her know the Good Shepherd.  My kids really get the shepherd analogy that is used so often in God’s word. It comforts them to know that they are God’s little lambs and they relate to Jesus as a shepherd.

We all know “the shepherd song” by heart and as our van was pitching in the wind and tree branches and things were whipping by our windows we sang, really loud.

“There were ninety and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold but one was out in the hills away far off from the gates of gold. Away on the mountains, wild and bare, away from the tender shepherd’s care, away from the tender shepherd’s care.

Lord, thou hast here thy ninety and nine, are they not enough for thee? But the shepherd made answer this of mine has wandered away from me and although the road be rough bad steep I go to the desert to find my sheep,  I go to the desert to find my sheep.

But none of the ransomed ever knew how deep were the waters crossed nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through ere he found his sheep that was lost. Out in the desert he heard it’s cry, sick and helpless and ready to die, sick and helpless and ready to die.

“Lord, whence are those blood drops all the way that mark out the mountains path?” “They were shed for one who had gone astray ere the shepherd could bring him back.” “Lord, whence are thy hands so rent and torn?” “They are pierced tonight by many a thorn, they are pierced to night by many a thorn.”

But all through the mountains thunder riven and up from the rocky steep there arose a glad cry to the gate of heaven, Rejoice I have found my sheep! And the angels echoed around the throne, Rejoice, for the Lord brings back his own! Rejoice for the Lord brings back his own!”

Written by Elizabeth C. Clephane

You know, as we sang that song I thought, I cannot pray that God will spare our lives. It says in the Bible that our days are numbered before we are even born. I only want the Lord to be with us. I would never want to be outside of his perfect will “and though He slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job 13:15). “Because His loving kindness is BETTER than life my lips will praise Him” (Psalm 63:3). And, of course, He was with us. Later on one of the girls said to me,” Mom, how could anyone ever turn away from God after something like that because now we know he is REAL!”

Finally we made it to a gas station and parked with the wind at our rear. We told the kids to stay buckled up in case the van was thrown. Right across the road a full grown pine tree was completely uprooted and tossed down. Other huge trees were snapped in half. The roof of the bowling alley was blown off. Sections of chain link fencing was blown flat down to the ground.

Most of my husband’s family made it safely over to his parents before the storm hit but one of my sister in laws was also caught in the storm not far from where we were. She and her husband had driven separate rigs so he made it but she was alone with their seven little kids. They ended up taking shelter in someone’s garage. She put bicycle helmets on the kids and left a note telling the owner that they had been there.

Another one of my sister in laws climbed into a country church through a window with a little niece.

Then as quickly as it had come the storm was over. The temperature went from 90 something down to 65 in the space of a couple hours. The next day my kids found 12 birds nests on the ground, many with broken eggs inside. My son told me he was surprised that the birds were still singing. But like my heart they go on singing, maybe like Elijah they saw that God was not in the “great and strong wind, that rent the mountains and brake in pieces the  rocks” (1 Kings 19:11). Maybe they heard the still small voice that says “peace, peace to those who are near and to those who are afar off”.

“Hearken friends, and e’er remember, faithful is thy Lord to thee. Gave His life this Shepherd tender, now His sheep are blessed and free.” blog 110