Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Absurdity of Christmas

Has anyone else contemplated the absurdity of what Christmas has become? The shopping, the spending, the pressure, the stress, the weariness???  Apparently, YES! Read this wonderfully insightful tale by the brilliant C.S. Lewis:

A Lost Chapter from Herodotus
by C. S. Lewis

And beyond this there lies in the ocean, turned towards the west and the north, the island of Niatirb which Hecataeus indeed declares to be the same size and shape as Sicily, but it is larger, and though in calling it triangular a man would not miss the mark. It is densely inhabited by men who wear clothes not very different from other barbarians who occupy the north-western parts of Europe though they do not agree with them in language. These islanders, surpassing all the men of whom we know in patience and endurance, use the following customs.

In the middle of winter when fogs and rains most abound they have a great festival which they call Exmas, and for fifty days they prepare for it in the fashion I shall describe. First of all, every citizen is obliged to send to each of his friends and relations a square piece of hard paper stamped with a picture, which in their speech is called an Exmas-card. But the pictures represent birds sitting on branches, or trees with a dark green prickly leaf, or else men in such garments as the Niatirbians believe that their ancestors wore two hundred years ago riding in coaches such as their ancestors used, or houses with snow on their roofs. And the Niatirbians are unwilling to say what these pictures have to do with the festival, guarding (as I suppose) some sacred mystery. And because all men must send these cards the market-place is filled with the crowd of those buying them, so that there is great labour and weariness.

But having bought as many as they suppose to be sufficient, they return to their houses and find there the like cards which others have sent to them. And when they find cards from any to whom they also have sent cards, they throw them away and give thanks to the gods that this labour at least is over for another year. But when they find cards from any to whom they have not sent, then they beat their breasts and wail and utter curses against the sender; and, having sufficiently lamented their misfortune, they put on their boots again and go out into the fog and rain and buy a card for him also. And let this account suffice about Exmas-cards.

They also send gifts to one another, suffering the same things about the gifts as about the cards, or even worse. For every citizen has to guess the value of the gift which every friend will send to him so that he may send one of equal value, whether he can afford it or not. And they buy as gifts for one another such things as no man ever bought for himself. For the sellers, understanding the custom, put forth all kinds of trumpery, and whatever, being useless and ridiculous, sell as an Exmas gift. And though the Niatirbians profess themselves to lack sufficient necessary things, such as metal, leather, wood and paper, yet an incredible quantity of these things is wasted every year, being made into the gifts.

But during these fifty days the oldest, poorest and the most miserable of citizens put on false beards and red robes and walk in the market-place; being disguised (in my opinion) as Cronos. And the sellers of gifts no less than the purchasers become pale and weary, because of the crowds and the fog, so that any man who came into a Niatirbian city at this season would think that some great calamity had fallen on Niatirb. This fifty days of preparation is called in their barbarian speech the Exmas Rush.

But when the day of the festival comes, then most of the citizens, being exhausted with the Rush, lie in bed till noon. But in the evening they eat five times as much supper as on other days and, crowning themselves with crowns of paper, they become intoxicated. And on the day after Exmas they are very grave, being internally disordered by the supper and the drinking and reckoning how much they have spent on gifts and on the wine. For wine is so dear among the Niatirbians that a man must swallow the worth of a talent before he is well intoxicated.

Such, then, are their customs about the Exmas. But the few among the Niatirbians have also a festival, separate and to themselves, called Crissmas, which is on the same day as Exmas. And those who keep Crissmas, doing the opposite to the majority of the Niatirbians, rise early on that day with shining faces and go before sunrise to certain temples where they partake of a sacred feast. And in most of the temples they set out images of a fair woman with a new-born Child on her knees and certain animals and shepherds adoring the Child. (The reason of these images is given in a certain sacred story which I know but do not repeat.)

But I myself conversed with a priest in one of these temples and asked him why they kept Crissmas on the same day as Exmas; for it appeared to me inconvenient. But the priest replied, It is not lawful, O Stranger, for us to change the date of Crissmas, but would that Zeus would put it into the minds of the Niatirbians to keep Exmas at some other time or not to keep it at all. For Exmas and the Rush distract the minds even of the few from sacred things. And we indeed are glad that men should make merry at Crissmas; but in Exmas there is no merriment left. And when I asked him why they endured the Rush, he replied, It is, O Stranger, a racket; using (as I suppose) the words of some oracle and speaking unintelligibly to me (for a racket is an instrument which the barbarians use in a game called tennis).

But what Hecataeus says, that Exmas and Crissmas are the same, is not credible. For the first, the pictures which are stamped on the Exmas-cards have nothing to do with the sacred story which the priests tell about Crissmas. And secondly, the most part of the Niatirbians, not believing the religion of the few, nevertheless send the gifts and cards and participate in the Rush and drink, wearing paper caps. But it is not likely that men, even being barbarians, should suffer so many and great things in honour of a god they do not believe in. And now, enough about Niatirb.

I think it is high time that we all rethink the "holiday" season....what do you think?

Linked up at:
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kingdom Pen Magazine--An Excellent Resource for Aspiring Young Writers

Do you have any teen writers in your household who could use some encouragement, tips, and inspiration? Then look no further than Kingdom Pen, a wonderful free e-magazine written by homeschoolers around the globe who want to glorify Christ through their writing! The following excerpt was taken from their website:

By mission statement, Kingdom Pen is a small, free e-magazine that’s aim and goal is to encourage teens to write well, write purposefully, and to always write for Christ. Our goal is to start a charge against the lines of secular fiction that is poisoning the minds of our culture, and to encourage teen writers to flood the world with stories that shine the light of Christ and share His truth. The only thing that will ever fix the problems of this world is the atoning work of Christ, and we believe that one of the best ways to share the glory of His truth and work is through the timeless art of story telling. We are here to do what we can to encourage the promotion of that art and be ready to start a fire for Christ to burn through the hearts of our culture–a culture that is obsessed with stories.

Kingdom Pen is published bi-monthly, and is even accepting article submissions from other young writers, so it is an excellent opportunity for aspiring authors! Please help spread the word about this remarkable resource!

Linked up at:
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Our Simple Country Life 
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Growing Home 
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Football--Before and After

Before: My son is #4--that was an awesome catch, by the way!

After: Torn ACL, torn Patellar Tendon, deep bone bruise, micro-fracture of the Tibial Plateau, and completely destroyed Lateral Meniscus.

My son recently experienced a very serious knee injury during a football game. He got to be taken off the field in style--by squad. The surgeon said that he's only seen three knee injuries this bad in the 3,000 surgeries that he's done. He had the first of 2-3 surgeries he will need, two days ago.

We'd greatly appreciate your prayers.

I am so proud of my son, however; he is keeping a great attitude (despite this marking the end of his football career.) When he came to after surgery, he said, "I feel pretty good! That was the best sleep I've had in a long time!" He says that there is a reason that God has allowed this to happen, and that all things will work together for good (Romans 8:28--his favorite verse.) May we all keep this wonderful perspective!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Life is Short

This is an incredibly moving video from a friend who lost her 4 month old baby. You cannot watch without it making a lasting impression upon you.

Life is so short, yet we live as if we, and those we love, will be on earth forever, and that this life is all there is.

Don't waste your precious few minutes worrying about things that don't really matter.

Love your family and friends as if this day will be your last...or theirs...

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (Col 3:2)

And if you've lost someone dear to you, be encouraged that God loves you more than you will ever know, and that you will see them again in only a minute.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

But the Greatest of these is Love

1 If I can recite the Westminster Catechism by memory, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

2 If I have the gift of homeschooling a dozen children, and know how to conjugate Latin verbs; and if I dress modestly and commit to courtship, so as not to cause my brother to stumble, but do not have love, I am nothing.

3 And if I give up my suburban house to homestead, and if I surrender my body to locally-grown, organic food, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails.

~A personal adaptation of 1 Corinthians 13:1-8

Linked up at: Growing Home
Heavenly Homemakers Gratituesday
A Pause on the Path
Proverbs 31 Thursdays-Raising Mighty Arrows

Friday, September 16, 2011

How is Your Customer Service?

Today I experienced the absolute worst customer service ever! Here I was, a "valued customer," trying to place a special order, on a not-so-cheap item, and I was treated like I was a bother, a pain, and actually doing something wrong! Oh, you never heard such complaining from the customer service rep! Everything was wrong, not done the right way, and you want to use THAT coupon??? What huffing and puffing...I thought she might blow the store down! I tell you, it made me want to run out of there and never shop in that place again!

On the drive home, I mulled the situation over in my head. My initial hurt-feelings and anger turned to compassion, as I wondered what life was like for her--maybe she was going through some rough things at home, an unsettling medical diagnosis, a bad marriage--who knows? For some reason, she was unable to handle a stressful situation well.

Then my mind turned towards myself...am I l any better that employee when I encounter stressful situations at home? How is my "customer service" to my family? Do I complain about things I'm not happy with? Do I treat my children like they are a pain or bother when I am interrupted? Do I make them feel bad when they don't do things my way? DO I HUFF AND PUFF AND BLOW MY HOUSE DOWN??? Worse yet, do my "valued family members" even want to be near me when I am in such a state?

I am sure none of us would ever give such lousy customer service if we worked in a store or ran our own business. We would serve with a smile, and do all we could to make their time with us a joy, no matter the situation.

Please, dear mothers, reconsider your "customer service" to your husband and family. Stop the complaining, the huffing and puffing, and trying to get your own way. Serve them with the love and joy that overflows from a thankful heart, and instead of blowing your house down, build it up for the glory of God!

Linked up at

Far Above Rubies

My Memories Digital Scrapbooking Giveaway!

My daughter is having a wonderful My Memories Digital Scrapbooking Software giveaway on her blog! She'd love for you to come by for a visit!


Monday, September 5, 2011

How to Make Learning to Read Easy and Enjoyable!

The process of teaching our children to read can be a wonderful and rewarding experience. As a mother of seven children, one of the most important things I have come to understand is that every child has their own timetable for when they are ready to learn to read. The key to making the experience of learning to read productive, easy and enjoyable, is to discern for each child the optimal time to begin.

Pushing our children to read before they are developmentally ready is one of the biggest mistakes that we can make. Instead of being a cherished bonding experience, it will likely become an exercise full of frustration for both the mother and the child. Instead of creating a love of reading, it will produce an atmosphere that results in negative thoughts and feelings towards reading, which will be very hard to undo in subsequent years. Instead of learning efficiently in the least amount of time, our efforts will be very unproductive, and we will waste valuable time that would be better spent elsewhere.

If we will only wait for the right time, our children will make great strides each day as they learn to read in an accelerated manner that generates enthusiasm, confidence, and a well deserved sense of accomplishment.

I have successfully taught our six eldest children to read and I am here to tell you, dear mother, that there is absolutely no advantage to starting your child early, or to push reading in the preschool years. What would take you hours and hours of work and frustration for both you and your child, could be accomplished in a fraction of the time, and much more pleasantly, a few years later. Much of reading is based on readiness, which is developmental, and reached by children at different ages. Pushing when the child is not ready will only cause tears and damage to your relationship.

If a child enjoys reading lessons, and wants to do them, by all means go ahead! But always keep them short and enjoyable, with lots of hugs and laughter. If you begin, and find that after several lessons, it is only causing frustration for you both, then please put the curriculum away and try again later. For several children I had to do this. I put the book away for a good 6 months, then got it out again. You may even have to put it away for an additional 6 months or more, if they are still not ready. I never regretted doing this; once ready, they learned in much less time, and with much more enjoyment!

Only two of our six current readers were ready to learn to read prior to age five. Even for the two who were early readers, there was still a clear point in time around age six or seven where it suddenly became easier, and their ability to read grew in an accelerated fashion.

Studies have shown that by age 11, late readers have caught up, and perform at the same level as, early readers. So relax, and enjoy time with your dear children! Talk to them, laugh with them, sing with them, and smile at them! Take a walk in the park, and enjoy God's marvelous creation together! Bring a nature notebook , and have your child draw what he sees. Get lots of interesting books from the library and read, read, read to him! That will develop a love for books and reading in your child, and cause him to be motivated to learn how to read. It also teaches him about the world, and gives him a good vocabulary, so that he will know what he is reading when he does start reading.

The preschool years are for establishing your parent-child bond, growing in love and respect for each other, and for showing your child God's love, so that when the formal lessons start, you have a great foundation to build upon.

All parents must honestly ask themselves, "Why am I in such a hurry to get my child to read?" You may be susceptible to the admiration or criticism of family and friends. You may feel a need to prove that your choice to homeschool was a wise one. This is an understandable temptation, however, you need to remember that you are working for the glory of God alone, and not your own.

Two great books I highly recommend are The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook by Raymond and Dorothy Moore, great homeschool pioneers, and A Charlotte Mason Companion, by Karen Andreola. Oh, and I mustn't forget my favorite book on teaching reading: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann. This one book is all you need to teach your child how to read, and can be done in only 10-20 minutes a day. And the best part is that it is best done while cuddling on the couch together, or on the porch swing, or while lying on a blanket in the yard. :)

So read, talk, laugh, smile, and enjoy your precious gifts from God!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Many Blessings

I just had to share a pic of our wonderful children that God has blessed us with!
This was taken during one of our family council meetings on our deck. The kids just naturally decided to all pile on the swing together, and I just had to go grab my camera to capture the moment!

Thank God every single day for your precious children!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I Can't Make a Duck

Today, after a sleepless night thinking and worrying about all that needs done before school starts, and feeling perfectly inadequate for the task of the upcoming year of homeschooling, my dear husband told me to go for a walk...a long walk.

Now, to clarify, my husband knows that I cherish my long walks in the glorious sunshine through the beautiful nature preserve, and that they do amazing things to help me calm down and refocus.So, it was a truly loving suggestion.

When I got to the lake, I sat and watched the lovely ducks as they humorously dunked their heads in the water, with their feathery bottoms straight up in the air, and their little webbed feet wriggling. Whole groups of them were doing this, over and over, much to my amusement.

Then, as I was marveling over these amazing creatures and their entertaining ways, it occurred to me that I Can't Make a Duck! No matter how hard I try, I'm fairly certain that I will never be able to make a duck! I could think and worry as well, but I still would not be able to make a duck!

There is only one Person that I know of who could make a duck, and that is God. He is so incredibly wonderful, powerful, and creative, and I am simply dust. Who am I to think that I am anything, compared to the majesty of God?

In light of this new revelation, I realized that I Can't Be a Good Wife, Mother, or Homeschool Teacher, Either! I am simply unable to on my own. It really is an impossible task for someone who is only dust.

But God can, and does, make ducks! And God can, and will, help me be a good wife, mother, and homeschool teacher! That is, if I continue to abide in Him, and place all my trust in Him and not myself.

I am so thankful to God that I do not have to be perfect on my own, nor that I will ever be called upon to make a duck!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Football Determination

I'm proud of my two football players and their determination in their scrimmage last night. Here is a short clip of their top two plays; Lake's great tackle, and Reagan's catch-and-drag:

Friday, August 12, 2011

My One-Year Lilla Rose Anniversary!!!

One year ago today, I naively jumped headfirst into the life of a Lilla Rose consultant. It's been a crazy ride, but loads of fun, as I've met dozens of absolutely amazing ladies!

It all started the previous spring, at our local homeschool convention. While there, with thousands of products and curricula surrounding me, I only bought two things: the One Year Adventure Novel, and a Flexi-8 hair clip. As you can see by my previous post, the One Year Adventure novel was a huge success...my son loved it, and completed his first novel!

As for the Flexi-8, now going by the name "Flexi-Clip;" it was amazing, and I totally fell in love with it! I like to wear my hair up, as it is feminine and out of my way, but with my thick hair, barrettes would either break or pop out, and the plastic claw clip was cheap and ugly!

 My new hair clip was very elegant, and only took seconds to put in...I could be ready for the day in a flash. (Which I needed to be, since homeschooling moms of seven don't have lot of time to spend on their hair!) It worked in all types of hair...from one daughter's super-thick and curly hair, to another one's baby-fine hair! And there were so many beautiful hairstyles that it could do!

Well, that summer, our family went camping, and I lost my Flexi8! I couldn't believe it! I was so lost without it...what would I do with my hair now??? Spend hours straightening it again? No, thanks!

I went to the web and searched for a replacement...when I inquired at the Flexi8 site, I was asked, "You already love the Flexi...why not become a Lilla Rose consultant and sell them yourself?"

Well, why not, indeed? Surely if I loved it so much, others would love it as well! I truly believed the Lilla Rose Flexi-clip was an awesome product...I knew that there were many busy moms out there like me, who didn't have a lot of time for their hair!

And the rest is history...hundreds of moms have discovered the flexi for themselves, and have fallen in love with it as well! I have also made dozens of new friends, and am working with a wonderful team of ladies, who are as excited as I am about sharing it with others!

What a great year it's been!

*Postscript: Wouldn't you know, that as I was packing to go camping again this year, I found that original Flexi8 in my cosmetic bag???

Monday, March 28, 2011

Made Perfect Through Suffering

It is in the gymnasium of affliction that men are modelled and fashioned in the beauty of holiness, and all their spiritual powers are trained for harmonious action. It was meet also that they should suffer, in order to complete their service. Like their Lord, they had to be made perfect through suffering; and if they had not suffered they had not finished the work which he had given them to do. They needed tribulation, moreover, that they might be made like their Savior; for a saint untroubled, how can he be like the man who wore the thorn crown? Never smitten, never slandered, never despised, never mocked at, never crucified, then how could we be like our Head? Shall the servant be above his Master, or the disciple above his Lord?

From a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon entitled "What And Whence Are These?," delivered February 25, 1872.

Friday, March 25, 2011

“Earth is crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God; but only he who sees takes off his shoes.”    ~ Elizabeth Barret Browning