holidays

How to Make Mother’s Day More Meaningful

I don’t know about you, but bringing up Mother’s Day as a homeschool mom seems sort of . . .  I don’t know . . . anti-climactic? Where’s the surprise? And a child’s simple joy at surprising mom? I mean, you could gather all the supplies and leave the room. But we all know how that would turn out.

How to make Mother's Day More Meaningful

And it isn’t so much that you wouldn’t want the final result. After all, we all know that whatever mess your little ones make, when they present it with the pride only the youngest of artists can muster and announce, “I makeded this for you!” it will melt your heart. And you will love it. At least until bedtime when you are reasonably sure they won’t remember it in the morning, anyway. It isn’t that so much as the hours of cleaning afterward.

Of course, you could take charge of the situation.

“Hey, kids. This Sunday is Mother’s Day. We are going to have great fun making me something I actually want. Something I found on pinterest that doesn’t actually look impossible.”

I thought these butterfly footprints from Mommypotamus were adorable.

butterfly footprints

Then again, that seems a little self-serving. Sure, the kids will love it if it is messy enough. And you will love it because you picked it out yourself. But where is the fun in that?

OK, so you could wait and hope that dad remembers the holiday and thinks of something grand, whether it is burnt toast in bed with half a cup of coffee (try not to think where the rest might be) or dinner out. I’m not trying to say that dad can’t handle it. You just may be blessed with a husband more like mine. Who believes that mom should be honored and loved every day.

Which sounds great and all until you realize that it just means that he has no intention of doing something special on this or any other day.

So, no messy glue creations for me unless my children happen to take the initiative or I give some direction.

But really, what is it that I want to teach my children through this? Sure, appreciating what I do for them is great. But I get that already in their sweet little smiles, the artwork on the fridge and the dandelion bouquets presented as if they were the finest roses.

Really, I want them to learn to value others, to put the needs of others before their own and to recognize the importance of the contributions that they can make, regardless of how small. Basically, I want them to learn to serve.

That’s why I thought this year I would forgo the subtle (and not so-subtle) hints, the mess of art supplies and any thought that something I found on pinterest would end up anywhere but the trash once I tried to do something with it. Instead, I’m going to take them shopping for another mom.

A mom we don’t even know. And we’re going to drop it off at the Crisis Pregnancy Center to be given to a mom who may not be feeling very celebrated right now. Hopefully, many heart warming, messy crafts are in her future, but for now, we can help out with diapers, formula, some cute little outifts and maybe a toy.

Because serving others is the greatest gift.

Plus, it means I don’t have to stand in the two hour line at the restaurant!

 

Is God good?

A recent comment, words of encouragement.

“You will again call God good.”

Pause for reflection.

is god good

I’ve cried out in anguish with a sorrow so deep there were not words to attach to the prayer. I’ve cried out in anger over sliced hot dogs, snipped drawstrings and safety fences that in the end were not enough to spare my little boy from a terrible accident. I’ve wrestled with why. Why? Why isn’t my little boy here, asleep in his little bed with his bottom in the air and a car tucked under his arm?

But did I ever stop calling God good?

I think of recent conversations, Facebook statuses and Twitter updates with others extolling the virtues of God.

“Car needs over a thousand dollars worth of work. Didn’t know how we were going to afford it. Then we did our taxes and the money we’re getting back covers it almost exactly.

Isn’t God amazing?

“Had lots of errands. Forgot to fill the tank. Low fuel light came on as we came into a part of town where I did not want to stop. Ran out of gas, coasted down a hill, into a gas station and right to the pump.

Isn’t God faithful?”

“Hubby got the job! After over a year, our savings held out and he got the job!

Isn’t God good?”

Pause for reflection.

What about when things don’t turn out so well?

As I knelt on the floor, the weight of a dresser on my back, trying to keep my son’s head and neck straight as I rolled him to his side so he wouldn’t aspirate on his own vomit . . .

{Was God amazing?}

As I stood shaking in the ER, wanting to be with him (needing to be with him), terrified of being in the way as I heard them trying over and over and over to get him intubated . . .

{Was God faithful?}

And, only minutes after a nurse had told us he would be in room 201, went over the use of the respite rooms, admonished us to be strong for him, as the surgeon came in and told us he couldn’t save our son . . .

{Was God good?}

It isn’t really something we post to Facebook quite like that, but even in tragedy, God is amazing. He is faithful. He is good. Because His character is not dependent on my circumstances. His character is not revealed through my wealth nor through my safety nor through my comfort.

His character is revealed through the cross.

And as I think of my son crushed, his skull broken, his form lifeless, I can think of only one thing.

Our Father did it willingly. For me. For you. For the world He loved so much He gave His only begotten son.

Happy Easter.

(This was reposted for Easter.)

Free Holy Week Study: Walking With Jesus His Final Days

As Easter approaches, I am starting to get ready to celebrate the most significant holdiay on the Christian calendar with my children. The final days of Jesus leading from the triumphal entry to the crucifixion tell us so much about the God we serve and how it is we come to salvation. I think it is too important to just slip somewhere in between the other activities of the season. I like to slow it down a little and focus on what each step of what that week looked like. My favorite way to do this is with a little “walk” alongside Jesus his final days. We set up a small garden on the table and add the elements each day as we talk about Jesus’ last days. The hands on activities draw even my youngest children in and the ability to continue to play with the pieces throughout the week help reinforce what we have talked about.

Free unit for holy week

Unfortunately, the planter we have used in the past broke. We are going to set another one up, but we are a hopelessly last minute family. The first time I shared this study, I shared it the day after Palm Sunday which doesn’t give anyone any time to prepare. The number of people arriving here looking for that post, however, tells me that there are some people in the world that prepare things like this BEFORE the holiday starts.

In case that describes you, as well, I thought I better share this now rather than waiting until we have our garden put together! If you want to see how ours progresses, you can peek over at my facebook page. It’s all about lambing at the moment, but I suppose that is rather relevant to the coming Passover season as well. I’ll share pictures of our planter as the children build it and I’d love to see yours if you decide to do this along with us!

I hope you enjoy Walking With Jesus His Final Days. If you find it helpful, please share this link! The more successful these kinds of projects are, the more often I will put them together! This one does not require subscribing to my newsletter, but if you would like to make sure you don’t miss any other offers, you can subscribe to my newsletter or to just be notified of offers when they are available.

I hope you enjoy this little walk through Jesus’ final days!

Setting Goals for the New Year

2016 was pretty good to me.

New Year's Resolution

Nothing particularly spectacular happened. The railroad is slowing down so money is tighter. Watching the furloughs (basically lay offs) leaves a little anxiety as we wonder just how deep they will go and just how much seniority will be necessary to survive them. Demands on my time are greater. As my children get older, I stress more over their weak areas (and worry more about how much losing their brother will affect them academically rather than just . . . well . . . “just” the way losing loved ones affects everyone). I still battle feelings of failure and inadequacy. I still struggle with becoming suddenly and inexplicably overwhelmed by seemingly mundane tasks.

Except that it isn’t the task at hand. It’s the loss of a child.

So why would I say 2016 has been good to me?

Because this is the first year that I’ve been able to consistently do things like appreciate the small pleasures in life. Find the humor in everyday mishaps. In fact, while is seems to come out more on facebook, I’ve seen my sense of humor more and more over the last year. Little hiccups don’t regularly bring the day to a crashing halt. I have been able to plan things out, make goals and carry them through. I forget important things less. I can remember Mattias and smile. The feelings associated are bittersweet, but they no longer overwhelm me with grief. We’ve homeschooled every single day. And while we’re behind, it’s a normal behind, not an I-just-can’t-cope behind.

Life is moving forward.

And I’m looking forward more, too.

I like the idea of a New Year’s resolution. A time to reflect on the things we don’t like about ourselves and resolve to improve. A time to acknowledge our dreams and resolve to take steps toward achieving them. It’s a time to sweep away the failure and give ourselves a fresh start. Even if that start sputters and dies for all the reasons that brought us to this point to begin with.

But this year, I just have goals.

This year, I want to write.

I want to write more here. I want to get a few more articles published in magazines. I want to finish the e-books I started over the past two years. I want to start the novel that has been slowly developing in my thoughts over the last three years.

And I might be ready to pick up a project that was almost finished before Mattias died.

I purchased myself a nice big planner with room for plans and ideas and deadlines. I wrote my first query and have my first deadline.

My biggest challenge will simply be time. But my children are getting older and I am going to try to go to the library at least once a week to work. Alone. And during the day.

It takes discipline, which is where I’ve fallen short in the past.

So perhaps I have a resolution after all. Simply to be more disciplined.

What are your plans, goals, resolutions or words for the New Year? And maybe even a better question: Is there anything we can do to help you achieve them?

And a little more from around the homeschool web:

Heather from Wellermomma blog shares Ten Ways to Be a Happy {More} Relaxed Momma. (Pretty sure taking time to work on your own lifelong dreams counts, right?)

Becky from Homeschool ‘N Stuff is improving her relationship with God, reading more and getting to know her boys better. (And such a good thought. As homeschoolers, at home with our children ALL day, it seems like we know them. And of course we do. But learning to ask more questions and listen more deepens those relationships.)

Jody of Kitchen Table Classroom is sharing some super cute (and free!) New Year’s printables to help get your children started thinking about the new year and making their own resolutions.

Misty of Year Round Homeschooling is sharing how she prepares for a new year.

Crystal of Serving Joyfully shares the one resolution all of us (as Christians) should make.

And fellow homeschool mom Sarah Coller of Classical Homemaking even wrote a book: Purposeful Steps Toward a More Abundant Life. I have not read it, but we homeschoolers gotta stick together and help each other out, right? (Also, that link is an affiliate link.)

 

Capturing the wonder of Christmas

This year, I bought myself a present.

weihnachtspyramide

I took pretty much all of the money I had left from my blogging account and purchased myself one of my favorite Christmas traditions from my time in Germany: a Kerzenpyramide.

Each eveving when I light the candles, the children sit, waiting in anticipation for the blades to begin to turn. The shadows dance on the ceiling and the figures of the nativity begin to make their trek around and around. Asa’s eyes fill with wonder and I begin to tell him the Christmas story.

He hears it in snippets. One night, it is about the little lambs, under the care of their faithful shepherds while they graze. Another night, it is the angels singing. They are his favorite because he is still young enough to love listening to his mother sing. Each night we add on or repeat small pieces of the story as his eyes fill with wonder and his heart with joy.

I am a story teller at heart. I love how simple objects and favorite stories can capture the imagination of a child and carry them with you on a little adventure. The Christmas season is filled with object lessons and traditions passed down from generation to generation. There are so many opportunities to share the stories of my childhood, tell them about family members they hardly know and to draw in lessons from our faith.

It gives continuity between past and present . . . and each year it challenges me. Because this is more how I want parenting to look all year, not just at Christmas. “Here a little, there a little,” stories shared by the wayside, teaching about life while simply living it.

Because this is where connections are made.

Merry Christmas!